Biden press conference - live: President gets damning approval poll as Senate to vote on filibuster changes

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President Joe Biden’s approval rating is sitting at just 40 per cent, one year into his presidency.

A new poll from Morning Consult/Politico showed that 56 percent of respondents disapproved of his job performance so far, while 68 per cent also felt the US was moving in the wrong direction.

The poll results come as the White House plans a Wednesday press conference for Joe Biden to promote his administration’s efforts to combat the Omicron surge and the greater availability of home testing kits.

The president will also announce a plan to distribute hundreds of millions of N95 masks for free to Americans, according to Politico.

The masks will reportedly come from the federal government’s stockpile of 737 million N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile, which have been sourced from 12 domestic manufacturers.

Last week Mr Biden acknowledged that for some Americans getting hold of high-quality masks was “not always affordable or convenient.”

Meanwhile, the House committee investigating the January 6 insurrection of the US Capitol has subpoenaed and obtained records of phone numbers linked to Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr’s fiancee, according to CNN.

It comes as additional subpoenas have been issued on Tuesday to other members of Donald Trump’s inner circle, including Rudy Giuliani, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, and Boris Epshteyn.

Key points

  • Biden to speak to reporters on Wednesday

  • Trump holds first 2022 rally in Arizona

  • Trump attacks Democrats, disloyal Republicans at rally in Arizona

  • First sedition charges handed down in Capitol riot cases

  • New poll shows Biden approval rating at 40 per cent

Activists continue push for voting rights as Senate filibuster vote appears imminent

19:20 , John Bowden

Activists continued to push for passage of the Democrats’ voting rights legislation as the Senate appears poised to vote on rule changes to the filibuster that would allow it to pass within hours.

The vote is likely to fail absent some deal between Sens Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and the rest of the Democratic caucus. The apparently lack of progress has infuriated activists, leading to dozens including groups of faith leaders to resume hunger strikes in an effort to persuade the pair.

On Tuesday, a group of those involved in hunger strikes were arrested at the US Senate while carrying out a demonstration.

Majority of independents, four in ten Republicans support voter rights bill

19:00 , John Bowden

The Data 4 Progress poll found that the Freedom to Vote: John Lewis Act, a combination of previous iterations of the Democrats’ voter rights legislation, finds significant levels of support among both independents and Republicans despite the GOP’s claims that the bill is a partisan power grab.

More than half, 62 per cent, of independents said they supported the legislation to ban gerrymandering, restore parts of the Voting Rights Act, and create national standards for mail-in voting and early voting. 42 per cent of Republicans said the same.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans have uniformly opposed the legislation; the GOP Senate leader referred to the bill recently as an attempt by the Democratic Party to “seize control over election laws all across America”.

Biden holds virtual meeting with bipartisan group of senators on Ukraine

18:41 , Alex Woodward

Biden met virtually on Wednesday with a bipartisan group of senators to discuss the build up of Russian forces along its border with Ukraine, according to White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

The president and senators “exchanged views on the best ways the United States can continue to work closely with our allies and partners in support of Ukraine, including both ongoing diplomacy to try to resolve the current crisis and deterrence measures,” according to Ms Psaki.

Biden “agreed to keep working closely with Congress as the administration prepares to impose significant consequences in response to further Russian aggression against Ukraine,” she added.

The briefing included Senators Rob Portman, Jeanne Shaheen, Kevin Cramer, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Murphy, Richard Blumenthal, Roger Wicker and Jim Risch.

Poll: Significant majority of Democrats want filibuster scrapped or changed to pass voter rights bill

18:30 , John Bowden

A new poll from Data 4 Progress, provided to The Independent, indicates that a staggering 81 per cent of likely Democratic voters want the Senate to change the filibuster if it is the only way to pass voter rights legislation. A similar number supports the legislation’s provisions in general.

Somewhat surprisingly, the poll also found support for changing the filibuster from nearly half (46 per cent) of independent voters and a fourth (26 per cent) of Republicans.

The poll results are indicative of the frustration that many parts of the country feel about the Senate and the stagnation that has defined the upper chamber for years.

Democrats working on round two of Build Back Better

18:04 , John Bowden

Senate Democrats are back at the drawing board working on a new version of President Joe Biden’s signature Build Back Better Act that would be palatable for Sen Joe Manchin, a key holdout on the bill whose lack of support tanked the original version last month.

NBC News reported the development on Wednesday, suggesting that Democrats are serious about getting some form of a social safety net bill passed before the 2022 midterm elections.

Read more from NBC News:

No. 2 Senate Republican issues threat to Democrats on filibuster

17:39 , John Bowden

Sen John Thune delivered a floor speech on Wednesday threatening further changes by Republicans to weaken the filibuster in retaliation should Democrats go through with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s plan to debate and pass changed to the 60-vote threshold rule.

Mr Thune, a senator from South Dakota, is next in line behind Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in leadership. He is one of many senators on the Republican side who publicly flirted with former President Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election, but did not support objections to the Electoral College count on January 6.

"We're not gonna do it, not if you don't. If you do, sure. Then it's all bets are off,” he said, referring to attempts to weaken the filibuster or scrap it entirely.

Republicans previously changed Senate rules in 2017 to remove the 60-vote threshold for the confirmation of Supreme Court justices after Democrats did the same previously for some federal appointments.

Watch Mr Thune speak here:

Warren excoriates Senate GOP in floor speech on voting rights

17:05 , John Bowden

Sen Elizabeth Warren, one of the Senate’s leading progressives, spoke about the Democrats’ voting rights legislation on Tuesday while ripping the Republican Party for what she said was a transparent push to end “free and fair elections” in America.

Notably, her speech did not call out Sens Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema, two Democratic holdouts against modifying the filibuster rule in a way that would allow passage of the legislation despite unified GOP opposition.

“American democracy is under attack, and fifty Democratic Senators agree on the right response to this attack,” said Ms Warren.

She added: “Unfortunately, Senate Republicans would rather destroy our democracy than have free and fair elections. And so they support those around the country who are trying to block access to voting and who are trying to rig how votes get counted.”

White House previews no further actions from Harris ahead of voting rights vote

16:48 , John Bowden

While President Joe Biden is set to speak with reporters later today and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to have the upper chamber vote on elections and voting legislation, Vice President Kamala Harris had only one public event scheduled - the swearing-in of an ambassador.

The former senator and current tiebreaking vote in the equally-divided Senate, Ms Harris was assigned to head the administration’s push to rally Congress and pass a bill protecting voting rights and access by Mr Biden last year. But in recent weeks, much of the public-facing actions on that issue have been headed up by Mr Biden himself, with Ms Harris’s main contribution being a speech alongside the president in Georgia.

As the latest push by Democrats looks poised to fail despite furious renewed activism on the issue from around the country, questions remain about how effective the two former senators in the White House have been in moving the stagnant Senate to action.

Biden to speak today

15:44 , John Bowden

President Joe Biden will speak this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. from the White House’s East Room, where he is planning to hold the first presidential press conference of 2022.

Expect questions to center around the last-ditch attempts by the White House and Democrats in the Senate to push Sens Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in favour of changing the filibuster rule, which forces legislation to reach 60 votes before passing the Senate.

The president will also likely face tough inquiries about his dismal approval rating, negotiations over his signature Build Back Better Act, and his administration’s Covid-19 response.

How has Biden fared in his first year in office?

14:50 , Harriet Sinclair

A year into his presidency, Joe Biden’s approval rating stands at just 40 per cent, a new poll has shown. Did the Democrat promise too much? Or did he simply inherit problems too large to fix in such a short space of time?

Andrew Buncombe has the Premium analysis on Biden’s first year in office.

Whatever happened to Biden’s promised ‘return to normal’?

Psaki shares Tweet defending Biden over Colleyville comments

14:25 , Harriet Sinclair

Jen Psaki has hit out at the suggestion President Joe Biden did not acknowledge the antisemitic attack in Colleyville as an act of terror.

The White House Press Secretary shared a tweet on Tuesday evening damning the suggestion and branding it a political attack.

What the Biden administration’s masks announcement means

12:51 , Andrew Naughtie

CNN’s Dr Sanjay Gupta has this report on the new release of hundreds of millions of high-grade Covid-19 masks from the strategic national stockpile.

White House’s Ukraine warnings grow more dire

12:29 , Andrew Naughtie

As Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Kiev to meet with Ukrainian officials before talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, the Biden administration is warning that the anticipated Russian invasion of Ukraine could begin at any moment.

Catch up here:

Russia could invade Ukraine ‘at any point’, US warns as Blinken lands in Kiev

How voting rights manoeuvre will play out in the the Senate today

12:10 , Andrew Naughtie

Senate Democrats led by Chuck Schumer are planning a procedural move tonight that will put their voting rights legislation to the test. It is not expected to work, but could at least force some senators who have stayed at arm’s length from the debate to nail their colours to the mast. Here’s a sense of what will happen later.

Read: Florida’s Governor proposes election enforcement squad

11:50 , Andrew Naughtie

Ron DeSantis, one of the US’s highest-profile Republican governors, is taking steps to shore up his credentials as an election security hardliner. Alex Woodward reports on his latest plan: to secure millions of dollars to fund a state “Office of Election Crime and Security”.

The few cases of voter fraud that have been uncovered in his state since 2020 have mainly been the work of Trump supporters.

Ron DeSantis asks Florida lawmakers for $6m for election police agency

Manchin defends position on voting rights

11:29 , Andrew Naughtie

Via the Washington Post’s JM Rieger, watch below as Joe Manchin tries to explain his position on the voting rights legislation that he and Kyrsten Sinema are blocking by refusing to allow modifications to the filibuster.

How voter suppression laws are playing out in Texas

11:11 , Andrew Naughtie

As pressure mounts on Senate Democrats to shore up voting rights to at least some degree with new legislation, reports from Texas give some sense of the obstacles that new laws on voter registration have put in place.

Florida State Senator condemns push for more voting restrictions

10:50 , Holly Bancroft

Florida State Senator Audrey Gibson has criticised a push in the state to introduce further voting restrictions as “utterly ridiculous” and “an effort against minority voters”.

She said she was “alarmed” at what “was coming out of the governor’s office”.

She added: “It seems that the governor wants to out-Trump Trump.”

Watch her comments here:

Democrats press for talking filibuster for voting rights

10:30 , Holly Bancroft

Senate Democrats plan to move forward with their plan to enact a talking filibuster to pass voting rights despite Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema continuing to oppose the changes.

Read my colleague Eric Michael Garcia’s write up of what is happening in the Senate here:

Democrats plan talking filibuster for voting rights – without Manchin and Sinema

What is the new Voting Rights Act, and why do Republicans (and some Democrats) stand in the way of it?

10:10 , Holly Bancroft

Congressional Democrats have been pushing for years to expand voting access with little success.

Last week, House Democrats passed a voting reform package that would set federal minimum requirements for early and mail-in voting and allow for same-day voter registration, among other things.

Many Democrats in Congress are pushing to change the filibuster, a parliamentary delay tactic.

However Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have both opposed changing the rule.

Read more details about voting rights reform here:

What is the new Voting Rights Act, and why don’t Republicans like it?

Prosecutors reportedly asked defendant about Trump’s role in the Capitol riot

09:55 , Andrew Naughtie

Prosecutors in the Capitol riot case have reportedly asked at least one January 6 defendant about the involvement of Donald Trump in the attack, according to court papers and reports from The New York Times.

The papers were filed by a defense lawyer in the case of Brandon Straka, a former hair stylist who spoke at a pro-Trump rally in Washington the day before the Capitol was stormed.

In a memo, written by Mr Straka’s lawyer Bilal Essayli, a description was given about the interview Mr Straka had with prosecutors.

Mr Essayli reportedly noted: “the government was focused on establishing an organized conspiracy between defendant, President Donald J Trump, and allies of the former president to disrupt the joint session of Congress on January 6.”

Brandon Straka “answered all questions truthfully and denied the existence of any such plot”, the memo said.

What time is President Joe Biden’s press conference?

09:31 , Andrew Naughtie

President Joe Biden is to hold a press conference at the White House on Wednesday afternoon.

Scheduled for 4pm ET, this is Mr Biden’s first press conference of 2022.

The President will arrive in the East Room under pressure to set out how he has tackled the coronavirus pandemic and whether his administration’s renewed push for testing will prove effective.

Read more details about the upcoming conference here:

When is Joe Biden’s press conference?

Could Biden be about to bounce back?

09:12 , Andrew Naughtie

Joe Biden’s poor approval ratings have sent many in his party into a state of abject gloom, with his numbers now approaching Trumpian lows. But as Politico’s Jack Shafer sees it, the president might be in for a comeback.

“This isn’t to suggest that Biden is about to become so popular that they’re going to break ground for his presidential memorial next week,” he writes. “But there’s most of a year before the 2022 elections, and nearly three years before Americans vote for president again — and two big things have sorted themselves out over the last couple of weeks that could play to the president’s political advantage over the long haul.”

US website for free at-home Covid-19 tests launches

08:51 , Holly Bancroft

The Biden administration has launched a website for Americans to order free at-home Covid-19 tests.

More than a million visitors were ordering the tests at one point on Tuesday evening. The launch went ahead earlier than announced, with President Biden’s press secretary saying that the site had begun taking orders during a “beta testing phase”.

The White House is also expected to announce on Wednesday that it is making 400 million N95 masks available for free at community health centres and pharmacies.

Jan 6 panel to obtain records Trump tried to conceal

08:08 , Shweta Sharma

Four pages of White House records that Donald Trump has tried to shield from the 6 January House select committee by asserting privilege could soon be released.

Trump’s request to block the handover of these records among others is still pending at the Supreme Court

Arpan Rai has more details.

Capitol riot committee set to get pages of Trump records he tried to hide: Report

Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle’s phone records subpoenaed

08:00 , Shweta Sharma

The House committee investigating the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol has subpoenaed and obtained records of phone numbers linked to Eric Trump and American television personality Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is also the fiancee of Donald Trump Jr, according to a report.

Both were part of the rally at Ellipse and addressed a crowd before the mob stormed the Capitol.

Read Shweta Sharma’s detailed report here:

January 6 committee subpoenas phone records of Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle

DeSantis could be 'far more dangerous' than Trump

07:30 , Shweta Sharma

Ron DeSantis would be “far more dangerous” than Donald Trump as the leader of the MAGA wing of the party, former US Republican lawmaker David Jolly says.

In an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday, Mr Jolly described relations between Mr Trump and Mr DeSantis as “icy” as speculation continues of a widening rift between the two Republican politicians.

“No one learned better at the knee of Donald Trump than Ron DeSantis, but no one in American politics has more successfully used Donald Trump than Ron DeSantis — and I mean used almost in a personal way,” said Mr Jolly.

“Ron DeSantis was an early spokesperson for Trump on Fox News, not because he supported Trump, but because he wanted to be the frontrunner for the governorship.”

He also accused the Florida governor of using Mr Trump “to get to Tallahassee”.

“Ron DeSantis is far more dangerous than Donald Trump because he’s more savvy, he’s more coy, and he doesn’t have the pitfalls that Donald Trump does,” Mr Jolly said.

New York AG ‘uncovered significant evidence’ of Trump Organization fraud

06:45 , Shweta Sharma

New York attorney general Letitia James filed a motion on Tuesday in a bid to compel former president Donald Trump and his two children to testify, citing “significant evidence” of fraud.

“For more than two years, the Trump Organization has used delay tactics and litigation in an attempt to thwart a legitimate investigation into its financial dealings,” said Ms James.

“Thus far in our investigation, we have uncovered significant evidence that suggests Donald J Trump and the Trump Organization falsely and fraudulently valued multiple assets and misrepresented those values to financial institutions for economic benefit.”

She said the former president must comply with lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony because “no one in this country can pick and choose if and how the law applies to them.”

The statement noted that the evidence has been found that the Trump Organization intentionally used wrong property valuations “to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”

Giuliani and ‘Kraken’ lawyer among four Trump allies subpoenaed

05:32 , Shweta Sharma

The House select committee investigating the 6 January insurrection has issued subpoenas to ex-New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, attorney Sidney Powell, and two other attorneys involved in ex-president Donald Trump’s push to overturn 2020 election results with nonsensical legal claims.

Mr Giuliani and Ms Powell are already facing the permanent loss of their law licences for their involvement in former president Donald Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election

Read The Independent’s Andrew Feinberg detailed report.

January 6 committee subpoenas Rudy Giuliani and ‘kraken’ lawyer Sidney Powell

What time is President Joe Biden’s press conference?

03:01 , Graeme Massie

President Joe Biden will hold a formal press conference on Wednesday 19 January at the White House.

Scheduled for 4pm ET on Wednesday, this is Mr Biden’s first press conference of 2022 and will occur on the eve of the anniversary of his inauguration.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki made the announcement on Friday, saying: “The president looks forward to speaking directly to the American people.”

Trump-DeSantis feud continues as Florida governor scorches ex-president on Covid

02:00 , John Bowden

Florida Gov Ron DeSantis returned fire in his ongoing feud with ex-President Donald Trump in a podcast interview recorded last week and released over the weekend.

Speaking with the Ruthless podcast, Mr DeSantis hit Mr Trump on the issue of Covid-19 lockdowns in response to Mr Trump’s criticism of politicians who refuse to support vaccinations and do not share their own vaccine status.

"I was probably the first governor in January of 2020 to call for travel restrictions from China. I supported President Trump when he did that," Mr DeSantis said. "But we have to take a step back and acknowledge that those travel restrictions just didn't work."

Mr Trump touted that travel restriction as recently as Saturday during a rally with supporters in Arizona, where he did not mention the Florida governor.

The two men are considered to be among the most likely contenders for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.

Candidate running for governor in New York begs for leniency for rioter

01:30 , John Bowden

A New York state sheriff who is running for the Republican Party’s nomination in the state’s 2022 gubernatorial race is asking for leniency from a judge set to sentence his friend for his role in the attack on the US Capitol.

According to prosecutors, William Tryon was told explicitly by officers as the attack unfolded that entry into the Capitol was not allowed, only to enter the building when law enforcement was overwhelmed.

Sheriff Michael Carpinelli wrote to a judge before 71-year-old Mr Tryon was sentenced last week to 50 days in jail, asking for leniency for his “good friend”, who he said had good intentions clouded by poor judgement. The letter came in on official letterhead from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office according to CBS News.

Wife of Supreme Court justice claims rioters did ‘nothing wrong’ on January 6

01:00 , John Bowden

Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, wrote in a shocking letter signed last month that those jailed for storming the Capitol in a riot where Trump supporters were heard threatening the lives of members of Congress did “nothing wrong”, and were being persecuted.

The bizarre claim came in the form of a group letter to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy urging him to remove two Republicans serving on the January 6 investigative committee to be removed from the GOP conference.

“The actions of Reps [Liz] Cheney and [Adam] Kinzinger on behalf of House Democrats have given supposedly bipartisan justification to an overtly partisan political persecution that brings disrespect to our country’s rule of law, legal harassment to private citizens who have done nothing wrong, and which demeans the standing of the House,” wrote the letter signed by Ms Thomas.

A conservative activist, Ms Thomas has long been a controversial figure and supported “Stop the Steal” efforts before the riot at the US Capitol that lead to the deaths of several police and rioters.

Poll shows more than 2 in 3 Republicans want Trump to run in 2024

00:30 , John Bowden

As the nation passes the one-year anniversary of the attack on the US Capitol, Donald Trump’s grip on the GOP remains strong.

In a Quinnipiac poll published last week, the former president saw support from 69 percent of Republican voters who said they would like to see him run again.

But among Americans overall, his numbers remain much less favourable: Just 33 per cent of the whole population wanted to see the former president launch a third bid for the White House.

WaPo’s Carl Bernstein rips ‘seditious’ Trump and GOP that supports him

00:00 , John Bowden

Legendary Washington Post journalist Carl Bernstein, one half of the pair of reporters who broke Watergate and took down former President Richard Nixon, unloaded on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election defeat in an interview about his new autobiography.

Speaking about Mr Trump and the Republican Party, he said: “[W]hat you have [today] is a Republican Party that has now thrown itself wholly into the agenda of an authoritarian criminal president of the United States, a seditious president of the United States, such as we’ve never had in our history.”

His reporting partner Bob Woodward famously broke numerous stories about the Trump administration in a series of books about the former president’s White House term, including Mr Trump’s private admission that Covid-19 was much more serious than he was letting on to his fans.

Jan 6 defendant accepts plea deal with federal prosecutors

Tuesday 18 January 2022 23:30 , John Bowden

Matthew Miller, one of hundreds accused of entering the Capitol grounds illegally during January 6, has accepted a plea deal offered by the US government.

HuffPost first reported the deal on Sunday. Mr Miller originally rejected a plea deal in November after being hit with multiple charges related to the riot in the days immediately following the attack. He is accused of using a police barricade to scale a wall outside of the building, and also was accused of using a fire extinguisher spray against police.

Mr Miller’s attorney said last year that his client “got caught up in the moment and acted against his better instincts,” but did not enter the building itself. His plea agreement hearing is set for early next month.

Member of new anti-Trump effort disses Lincoln Project

Tuesday 18 January 2022 23:00 , John Bowden

An unnamed individual who was part of a new group of former Trump administration officials who met last week to consider strategies for combatting Donald Trump’s efforts to install loyalists in state governments around the country told CNN that the call’s participants expressed a desire to not end up as a reboot of the Lincoln Project, a conservative anti-Trump group celebrated by some liberals by pilloried widely for a series of controversies.

“[T]his cannot just be a professional trolling operation, putting out ads like the Lincoln group,” said the unnamed former Trump official.

Jan 6 panel subpoenas members of Trump legal team

Tuesday 18 January 2022 22:28 , John Bowden

The January 6 committee moved on Tuesday afternoon to issue another round of subpoenas as part of its investigation into the Capitol riot and attempts by Donald Trump’s team to overturn the 2020 election.

To that end, the panel targeted much of Mr Trump’s former legal team, including Rudy Giuliani, Boris Ephsteyn, and Jenna Ellis. The subpoenas also targeted Sidney Powell, who was cut from the president’s inner circle in late 2020 as she began to support increasingly wild conspiracies about the election.

She was famous for attempting to link supposed efforts to defeat Mr Trump at the ballot box during a press conference to Hugo Chavez, the former Venezuelan socialist leader who died in 2013.

Activists arrested in the Senate as voting rights fight escalates

Tuesday 18 January 2022 22:00 , John Bowden

Activists including a former CEO of the NAACP and two founding board members of the Women’s March were arrested at the US Senate on Tuesday as protests and backlash escalate in response to the growing unlikelihood that Democrats will pass voter rights legislation.

A press release indicated that the arrests included members of activist groups leading hunger strikes that began in the home state of Sen Kyrsten Sinema, one of two Democratic holdouts to changes to the filibuster that would allow the legislation to pass.

“We are coming together to honor the tradition of John Lewis and engage in good trouble to redeem the soul of this nation and protect our democracy,” said Rev Stephen Green, one of those arrested. “Now is the time for the Senate to go on record and vote to determine whether or not this country will choose fascism or choose democracy.”

Others arrested included two co-founders of Black Voters Matter, an advocacy group that focuses on voter registration efforts in Black communities.

Jan 6 committee member hesitates on whether panel will subpoena members of Congress

Tuesday 18 January 2022 21:46 , John Bowden

A member of the January 6 committee’s Democratic majority was hesitant to say that the panel will move to subpoena members of Congress such as Rep Jim Jordan if they, like Mr Jordan, refuse voluntary requests for information from the panel.

The Guardian reported on Tuesday that Rep Adama Schiff indicated that his colleagues “would probably not pursue criminal contempt of Congress proceedings with recalcitrant lawmakers as it did with Trump’s former aides Mark Meadows and Steve Bannon” during comments made on MSNBC

Some Democrats have publicly fretted that utilising the congressional power of subpoena against Republicans would result in the GOP launching retaliatory investigations should they return to power in the House.

Riot committee target appears at Trump rally

Tuesday 18 January 2022 21:00 , John Bowden

Ali Alexander, a right-wing provocateur and activist who organised a “Stop the Steal” rally outside the US Capitol on January 6, was in attendance at Donald Trump’s rally in Arizona on Saturday.

CNN first reported Mr Alexander’s attendance; the Trump loyalist is one of many who have been subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating January 6. The committee is particularly interested in whether Mr Alexander or other organisers, and potentially the White House, knew that violence was likely to occur before the attack began.

Biden to hold first press conference of 2022 on Wednesday

Tuesday 18 January 2022 20:43 , John Bowden

President Joe Biden will speak directly to reporters and take questions tomorrow for his first press conference of the year, marking one day before the first anniversary of his inauguration.

While it isn’t clear if the president will have a specific agenda on his mind, it will come as the Senate is set to see his push for voting rights legislation fail thanks to unified opposition from Republicans and a refusal to modify the Senate’s filibuster rules by two Democrats, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin.

Judge sentences Jan 6 rioter to home detention, probation and hefty fine

Tuesday 18 January 2022 20:20 , John Bowden

Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia sentenced a man to three months of home detention, two years of probation, and a fine of $1,500 for what she referred to on Tuesday as “minimal” involvement in the Capitol siege.

Tanner Bryce Sells received the sentence for entering the Capitol building during the riot, where according to Justice Department prosecutors he entered the Capitol rotunda area and walked around for about 10 minutes before exiting the building. He isn’t accused of any violent acts or vandalism.

Still, prosecutors asked for a sentence of two weeks in jail for the Oklahoma man because he committed the unauthorised entry after witnessing violence against members of law enforcement committed by other rioters.

His sentence was first reported by HuffPost’s Ryan J. Reilly:

Dan Crenshaw says he “wishes” he could help jailed Jan 6 rioters

Tuesday 18 January 2022 20:03 , John Bowden

GOP Rep Dan Crenshaw said on Tuesday that he “wishes” he could do more for jailed persons accused of participating in January 6-related crimes.

Agreeing with a questioner at a town hall event who referred to the accused rioters as “political prisoners” supposedly having their rights to due process violated, Mr Crenshaw said: “I wish that I could tell you something, that there was a bill we could pass, that we had the majorities.”

Under repeated questioning from the man, he added: "I wish I had the authority to help."

Watch here:

CNN: Former Trump staffers hold strategy call to combat their ex-boss

Tuesday 18 January 2022 19:42 , John Bowden

A large contingent of former Trump administration officials and staffers were on a conference call this week strategising about efforts to stop their former boss from eroding US democracy, CNN reported on Tuesday.

The call, which was attended by roughly three dozen people including many formerly in the White House and others scattered throughout the government during the Trump era, did not end with participants agreeing on a strategy, according to CNN. But the group agreed that something needed to be done about Donald Trump’s well-reported efforts to back loyalists in local and national elections around the country with the intent of removing those who stood in the way of his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly was the most notable participant, according to CNN, though he reportedly was only in the discussion for a few minutes due to a prior commitment.

Jan 6 panel member says committee unsure about fate of Jordan, other Republicans

Tuesday 18 January 2022 18:45 , John Bowden

Rep Jamie Raskin said on Monday that the January 6 committee had yet to decide whether it would take the route of issuing congressional subpoenas to Republican lawmakers who decline voluntary requests for information from his panel.

The Maryland Democrat told MSNBC that his colleagues had not decided whether to take the step of issuing congressional subpoenas, which chairman Bennie Thompson has raised as a possibility.

"The committee has not yet decided what to do about different levels of interference and noncooperation that we have received from various witnesses," he said on All In with Chris Hayes, guest hosted by Medhi Hasan.

"So that's something that's going to, you know, require us to show some tactical nimbleness,” Mr Raskin continued. “We don't want to get pulled down into some wild goose chases. On the other hand, everybody has a responsibility to comply with congressional orders when it comes to an investigation, and nobody knows that better than Mark Meadows or Jim Jordan, people who in the Benghazi investigation or any number of other investigations against Democratic presidents, insisted upon absolute compliance.”

Two Democrats announce exit from Congress

Tuesday 18 January 2022 18:20 , John Bowden

The House on Tuesday saw another shake-up in the battle for control of the lower chamber in the fall. Two congressional Democrats, Reps Jerry McNerney of California and Jim Langevin of Rhode Island announced their plans to not seek reelection.

Their districts are both favourable territories for the Democratic Party, but are not guaranteed to return to blue hands in the fall given the exit of their incumbents and a potential lack of candidates with name recognition in their respective areas.

The Democrats currently hold an advantage of less than 20 seats in the lower chamber, meaning that they can only afford a few defeats in areas they currently control and still retain control of the House.

Trump adviser says to expect more campaigning in months ahead

Tuesday 18 January 2022 18:00 , John Bowden

An adviser to former President Donald Trump told CNN this week that the ex-president is eager to show his relevance to the GOP this midterm season.

In that regard, he’s likely to step up his campaigning efforts in the months ahead, even as he has yet to say whether he will run again in 2024.

“[W]e will see more engagement from him in the coming months,” Bryan Lanza told the network.

Raskin: Jan 6 committee will have Watergate-style hearings

Tuesday 18 January 2022 17:23 , John Bowden

Rep Jamie Raskin, a member of the January 6 panel, said on Monday that he and his fellow lawmakers would be in for daily hearings throughout 2022 as the committee sought to educate the American people about what led up to the attack on the Capitol.

He made the comments to Medhi Hasan on MSNBC.

“[W]e're going to have hearings for the American people, which I hope will seem somewhat like the Watergate hearings did, in that they will be a daily occurrence so people can follow the unfolding narrative,” said the congressman.

Roger Stone’s view on Ron DeSantis

Tuesday 18 January 2022 17:01 , Andrew Naughtie

Daily Beast reporter Zachary Petrizzo writes that longtime Trump ally and hardcore right-wing agitator Roger Stone has taken to railing against the Florida governor in private – including in the most personal of terms.

Report: DeSantis-Trump tensions still on the rise

Tuesday 18 January 2022 16:40 , Andrew Naughtie

The New York Times’s Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman write that Donald Trump’s irritation about Ron DeSantis goes back “months” – and that the dispute is about more than a former president’s easily bruised ego:

At its core, the dispute amounts to a stand-in for the broader challenge confronting Republicans at the outset of midterm elections. They are led by a defeated former president who demands total fealty, brooks no criticism and is determined to sniff out, and then snuff out, any threat to his control of the party.

That includes the 43-year-old DeSantis, who has told friends he believes Mr. Trump’s expectation that he bend the knee is asking too much. That refusal has set up a generational clash and a test of loyalty in the de facto capital of today’s G.O.P., one watched by Republicans elsewhere who’ve ridden to power on Mr. Trump’s coattails.

Read the full report here.

Trumpist Texas governor posts stunning fundraising numbers

Tuesday 18 January 2022 16:20 , Andrew Naughtie

Popular ex-Congressman Beto O’Rourke is the Democrats’ leading contender to take on Republican Greg Abbott in this year’s Texas gubernatorial contest – but based on newly released fundraising data, it looks like Mr Abbott’s ability to rake in money will make him a formidable opponent indeed.

Mr O’Rourke ran a strong campaign against Texas Senator Ted Cruz in 2018, a race that catapulted him to national fame despite the fact he lost. However, his subsequent presidential campaign failed to take off despite attracting top-tier staff and millions of dollars in donations.

Top Republican on why he isn’t running for winnable Senate seat

Tuesday 18 January 2022 15:58 , Andrew Naughtie

Chris Sununu, the sitting Republican governor of New Hampshire, was long talked about as one of the strongest possible contenders for the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Maggie Hassan, who is up for re-election this year. Yet despite his ample popularity, Mr Sununu has declined to run, depriving of the party of their best chance to take a crucial spot in the Senate in a year where every race counts.

Explaining his reasoning for not running, Mr Sununu pointed a finger at the Senate Republicans whose ranks he would have joined had he run and won, describing how they explicitly told him that their strategy between now and 2024 is essentially to do little besides obstruct Joe Biden.

The fracas over Trump’s “presidential seal"

Tuesday 18 January 2022 15:35 , Andrew Naughtie

Tom Fenton explains why Donald Trump’s use of what looks like an official presidential seal for his golf club announcement really matters – and why it’s been met with such consternation.

Trump under fire for using presidential seal and office to promote golf course

Trump’s next stop: Conroe, Texas

Tuesday 18 January 2022 15:13 , Andrew Naughtie

Having met with a warm reception in Arizona this weekend, Donald Trump has another rally on his schedule for 29 January. His destination this time will be Conroe, Texas, which sits just north of Houston.

The state, which at one point in 2020 was thought to be within Joe Biden’s reach, is home to some of Mr Trump’s loudest and proudest supporters, among them Senator Ted Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott – both of whom are thought to be likely presidentical contenders if the ex-president does not or cannot run in 2024.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Mr Trump has already doled out endorsements in 20 of Texas’s various primary races, with more expected as the electoral clock counts down towards November.

Australians mock Trump fans dismayed at Novak Djokovic standoff

Tuesday 18 January 2022 14:52 , Andrew Naughtie

After Australian authorities finally forced tennis star Novak Djokovic to leave the country because he is not vaccinated against Covid-19, many MAGA supporters took to social media to tweet their dismay – some of them declaring that “#AustraliaHasFallen” and calling the country a “prison”.

Many Australians, angry that Djokovic sought an exemption after they endured some of the world’s most punishing Covid-19 restrictions, have responded with mirth.

Gino Spocchia has the story.

MAGA fans mocked for ‘Australia Has Fallen’ hashtag

An Oath Keeper appears with Trump

Tuesday 18 January 2022 14:32 , Andrew Naughtie

Among the many wilder audience members and guests at Trump’s Arizona rally was, it seems, a self-declared member of the Oath Keepers – the militia group that has seen its founder and several members indicted on sedition charges over the US Capitol attack. On MSNBC, Mehdi Hasan unpacked the details.

Kinzinger rips pro-Trump candidate over Arizona rant

Tuesday 18 January 2022 14:10 , Andrew Naughtie

Adam Kinzinger, the retiring GOP Congressman who stands as one of Mr Trump’s few consistent critics in the House of Representatives, has lately been calling out more and more of his fellow Republicans over their support for the ex-president and the belligerent rhetoric they direct at his dissenters.

His latest target is Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers, a hardcore Trump fan who has previously appeared at QAnon-linked events and spoken in support of various fringe ideas.

Fox News’s Ingraham celebrates Mark Milley’s Covid-19 diagnosis

Tuesday 18 January 2022 13:40 , John Bowden

The news that Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has tested positive for Covid-19 (albeit with mild symptoms) has been met with concern in some quarters – and delight in others. Watch Laura Ingraham announcing the news below:

The Fox host would later go on to insist that “[w]e certainly hope they are all healthy and fine”.

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