OnPolitics: Trump, Giuliani and right-wing extremists' lawyers ask for dismissal of cases

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In this file photo taken on November 20, 2016, then President-elect Donald Trump meets with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the clubhouse of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
In this file photo taken on November 20, 2016, then President-elect Donald Trump meets with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the clubhouse of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Good afternoon, OnPolitics readers!

Sen. Rand Paul and Anthony Fauci had yet another heated exchange during a COVID-19 Senate hearing today.

Paul, R-Ky., has sharply criticized Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, again and again in Senate hearings for his approach to the pandemic. Fauci consistently has pushed back, saying the Kentuckian's claims about him are inaccurate.

Their exchange got particularly tense as Fauci drew a connection between Paul's public remarks and threats Fauci has faced to his personal safety.

"What happens when he gets out and accuses me of things that are completely untrue is that all of a sudden that kindles the crazies out there, and I have threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls, because people are lying about me," Fauci said.

It's Amy and Chelsey with today's top stories out of Washington.

Lawyers for Trump, Giuliani, Oath Keepers and Proud Boys urge court to dismiss cases from Congress, police

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and extremist groups Oath Keepers and Proud Boys urged a federal judge to throw out a trio of lawsuits accusing them of inciting the Capitol riot a year ago.

Breaking down the cases: A dozen House Democrats and a pair of Capitol Police officers filed three lawsuits against Trump by arguing his calls for supporters to fight for their country spurred the violence. The riot injured 140 officers and left four people dead, while temporarily halting Congress from counting Electoral College votes that certified President Joe Biden’s victory. A police officer died of a stroke the next day after he was attacked in the riot, though a medical examiner attributed the death to natural causes.

Trump’s lawyer Jesse Binnall argued the former president had immunity for anything he said at a rally Jan. 6, 2021, and couldn’t be sued for damages. Binnall also said he couldn’t be part of any conspiracy to incite the violence because he urged participants to “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard” at the Capitol.

In deciding whether to allow the cases to go forward, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta must decide whether Trump had immunity from such lawsuits, whether his speech was protected by the First Amendment and whether the law allows lawmakers and officers to bring the cases.

“I hope that one thing this hearing has demonstrated is that this is not an easy case,” Mehta said. “I have struggled with a lot of these issues because they raise a lot of important constitutional questions.”

Real quick: stories you'll want to read

  • Supreme Court debates indefinite detention for immigrants awaiting deportation: Justices heard a pair of cases in which immigrants detained for lengthy periods of time after repeatedly entering the U.S. illegally asserted they are entitled under federal law to a bond hearing after six months. The Biden administration argued such a requirement is not federally mandated.

  • Past 11 years Earth's hottest on record: The main drivers behind global warming — worldwide concentrations of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane — continued to increase in 2021 despite the global pandemic.

  • Self-closing doors cited as factor in deadly Bronx apartment fire: The fire, which killed 17 people Sunday, was caused by a malfunctioning space heater. But self-closing doors in the building failed to shut properly, allowing spoke to spread.

  • Health officials say cloth masks are not as effective against omicron: The masks do little to block tiny virus particles from entering the mouth and nose, experts say, and should be replaced with face coverings offering more protection.

Voting rights advocates tell the President they want action, not 'platitudes'

President Joe Biden issued an urgent call to act on voting rights during an Atlanta rally.

"The right to vote and to have that vote counted is democracy's threshold of liberty," Biden said. "Without it, nothing is possible. But with it, anything is possible."

Biden's speech was designed to garner support for legislation, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, that has stalled in the Senate. His words come on the heels of the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and days before the holiday honoring Atlanta native and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Civil rights leaders and liberals in the Democratic party have pushed the White House to take more aggressive action on getting the bills passed, citing frustration over Republicans' use of the filibuster to block progress.

Biden said recently he would be open to changing the filibuster rules to pass voting rights legislation, but only as a last resort. He appeared to reiterate the stance Tuesday.

"Sadly, the United States Senate, designed to be the world's greatest deliberative body, has been rendered a shell of its former self," Biden said.

"But as an institutionalist, I believe the threat to our democracy is so grave, that we must find a way to pass these voting rights bills. Debate them, vote, let the majority prevail. And if that bare minimum is blocked, we have no option but to change the Senate rules, including getting rid of the filibuster for this," the president said.

Looking for more to read? From USA TODAY's Money team: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Tuesday that the economy must grow for an extended period to put as many Americans back to work as possible. — Amy and Chelsey

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump, Giuliani, right-wing extremists' lawyers ask for case dismissal

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