Republican investigation into Biden ‘rising to the level of impeachment inquiry’

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is sharply reducing the size of his presidential campaign staff, cutting a third of his campaign staff, according to campaign aides.

The cuts will amount to a total of 38 jobs across an array of departments, Politico reported, citing sources. They will include the roughly 10 event planning positions that were announced several weeks ago, as well as the recent departures of two senior DeSantis campaign advisers, Dave Abrams and Tucker Obenshain.

Today began with Democrats reacting with fury to comments from Kevin McCarthy that seemed to support impeaching Joe Biden, though he later clarified any such effort won’t happen this week. The remarks underscore the seriousness with which Republicans are taking their investigations against the president and his family, as well as the degree of influence the party’s right wing wields in the House. At the White House, Biden and Kamala Harris held a public ceremony to designate new national monuments in honor of Emmett Till, but made a point of condemning book bans and changes to Florida’s school curriculum that make light of slavery, respectively.

Here’s what else happened today:

  • Ron DeSantis slashed his campaign staff by a third, the latest sign that his presidential campaign is not going as well as he hoped.

  • Strike averted: the Teamster and UPS have tentatively agreed to a new contract ahead of what would have been one of the biggest single-employer work stoppages in US history.

  • Biden’s immigration policies lost in court.

  • House Republicans will consider on Thursday whether to hold Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in contempt of Congress, arguing he has not complied with a subpoena.

  • A Democratic congressman from Texas is on a thirst and hunger strike after the state’s Republican governor signed legislation blocking regulations that gave construction workers water breaks amid intensifying heat.

A federal judge has ruled against a recently enacted Biden administration policy intended to discourage people from claiming asylum at the US southern border.

The policy is among a slew of new rules Joe Biden announced earlier this year to crack down on irregular migration, after pandemic-era regulations turning away many asylum seekers expired. Immigrants right groups have criticized the restrictions, saying they’re similar to the hardline policies championed by Donald Trump.

Here’s more on the judge’s ruling, from the Associated Press:

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked a rule that allows immigration authorities to deny asylum to migrants who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border without first applying online or seeking protection in a country they passed through. But the judge delayed his ruling from taking effect immediately to give President Joe Biden’s administration time to appeal.

The order from U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar of the Northern District of California takes away a key enforcement tool set in place by the Biden administration as coronavirus-based restrictions on asylum expired in May. The new rule imposes severe limitations on migrants seeking asylum but includes room for exceptions and does not apply to children traveling alone.

“The Rule — which has been in effect for two months — cannot remain in place,” Tigar wrote in an order that will not take effect for two weeks.

The Justice Department said it would seek to prevent the judge’s ruling from taking effect and that it’s confident the rule is lawful.

House Republican lawmaker Darrell Issa predicts an impeachment inquiry into Joe Biden could be opened as soon as September.

He also predicts that some Democrats would support the effort, casting it as a “bipartisan inquiry to get to the truth”. Here’s a clip of his interview, on Fox News:

The Republican-controlled House judiciary committee will on Thursday consider whether to hold Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in contempt of Congress:

Led by Jim Jordan, a staunch Donald Trump ally, Republicans on the committee allege that Zuckerberg, whose company owns Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms, has not fully responded to a February subpoena demanding information about its communications with the Biden administration. The GOP has alleged that the White House is working with social media firms to censor conservatives, and earlier this month a federal judge ordered some Biden administration officials to stop communicating with the companies, though that order has since been put on pause by an appeals panel.

“Meta and its Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg have willfully refused to comply in full with a congressional subpoena directed to Mr. Zuckerberg stemming from an investigation conducted by the House Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government into the Executive Branch’s coordination with social media companies and other third parties to censor free speech on digital platforms,” according to a report from Jordan.

“This censorship by proxy is a serious threat to fundamental American civil liberties.”

Joe Biden has released a statement congratulating UPS and the Teamsters union for reaching a tentative agreement to prevent a strike from starting next month, which would have been one of the biggest organized labor walkouts from a single employer in US history.

Biden has long sought to keep unions on his side, and in his statement, he called the deal “a testament to the power of employers and employees coming together to work out their differences at the bargaining table in a manner that helps businesses succeed while helping workers secure pay and benefits they can raise a family on and retire with dignity and respect.”

You can read the full statement here.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, House speaker Kevin McCarthy said an impeachment inquiry could be used to force the Biden administration to hand over information it has resisted providing to the Republicans:

Since taking control of the House earlier this year, Republicans have stepped up investigations of Joe Biden and his family, particularly his son Hunter Biden, accusing them of corruption, while alleging the White House is stonewalling their investigation. The Biden administration has responded by saying the GOP is demanding information about ongoing investigations and confidential sources, two matters it does not discuss publicly.

If McCarthy moves forward with impeachment, it won’t happen this week, Punchbowl News reports, nor will the House consider GOP-backed resolutions to expunge Donald Trump’s twin impeachments:

In a statement, DeSantis campaign manager Generra Peck said:

Following a top-to-bottom review of our organization, we have taken additional, aggressive steps to streamline operations and put Ron DeSantis in the strongest position to win this primary and defeat Joe Biden.

Gov. DeSantis is going to lead the Great American Comeback and we’re ready to hit the ground running as we head into an important month of the campaign.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is sharply reducing the size of his presidential campaign staff, cutting a third of his campaign staff, according to campaign aides.

The cuts will amount to a total of 38 jobs across an array of departments, Politico reported, citing sources. They will include the roughly 10 event planning positions that were announced several weeks ago, as well as the recent departures of two senior DeSantis campaign advisers, Dave Abrams and Tucker Obenshain.

Donald Trump’s appeal has sunk among Republicans, a new poll has found.

Pew research found that 63% of Americans of all political affiliations have an unfavorable opinion of Trump – an increase from 60% last year.

At 66%, the majority of those who identify as Republicans or Republican-leaning still view the former president in a favorable light, but that is nine percentage points lower than last July’s 75%.

Last July, about a quarter of those on the right viewed him as very or mostly unfavorably, but that figure has risen to 32%.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats’ opinion of Trump is also low, though consistent with recent years. Ninety-one percent of Democrats polled viewed Trump unfavorably. Of that, 78% viewed him as very unfavorable.

A mere 8% of Democrats view him favorably.

By contrast, Biden’s popularity among the general popularity slipped about 4% since last year. Positive opinions of Vice-President Kamala Harris were worse, dropping from 43% to 36% since last year.

Trump still remains the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, ahead of the far-right Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Read the full story here.

Joe Biden’s German shepherd dog, Commander, bit or attacked Secret Service officers at least 10 times between October 2022 and January, according to records from the department of homeland security obtained by a conservative watchdog group.

The emails released today by Judicial Watch, which it said were obtained following a Freedom of Information Act request lawsuit, show nearly 200 pages of Secret Service records. The group said it filed the request after receiving a tip about Commander’s behavior.

On 3 November 2022, a Secret Service official emailed colleagues to say that Commander had bitten a uniformed officer twice – on the upper right arm and thigh – and that the officer had to use a steel cart to protect himself from another attack. Staff from the White House medical unit treated the officer and decided to have him taken to a hospital, the emails say.

Commander has been “exhibiting extremely aggressive behavior”, a uniform division officer wrote in an email. It continues:

Today, while posted, he came charging at me. The First Lady couldn’t regain control of [Commander] and he continued to circle me.

The note adds:

I believe it’s only a matter of time before an agent/officer is attacked or bit.

Commander is the second dog of Biden’s to behave aggressively, including biting Secret Service officers and White House staff, AP reported. The first, a German shepherd named Major, was sent to live with friends in Delaware after those incidents.

President Joe Biden and US first lady Jill Biden with Commander on 25 December 2021.

Former Texas congressman and long-shot Republican presidential candidate, Will Hurd, once again criticized his rival, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, for showing a “lack of leadership” over the state’s new curriculum that contends some Black people benefited from being enslaved.

“It’s a bit shocking to me,” Hurd said in an interview with CNN.

There is no there was no upside to slavery. Slavery was not a jobs programme.

Hurd was referring to the DeSantis’s response to vice-president Kamala Harris, who has called Florida’s new Black history education standards “propaganda”. The Florida governor said he wasn’t involved in drafting the document but defended the standards.

DeSantis “showed a lack of leadership by acting like it was somebody else’s fault and not something that was done on his watch,” Hurd said on Tuesday.

To imply there was an upside to slavery “is unacceptable”, he added.

Today began with Democrats reacting with fury to comments from Kevin McCarthy that seemed to support impeaching Joe Biden. While it’s unclear if the House speaker will follow through on his threats, the remarks underscore the seriousness with which Republicans are taking their investigations against the president and his family, as well as the degree of influence the party’s right wing wields in the House. At the White House, Biden and Kamala Harris held a public ceremony to designate new national monuments in honor of Emmett Till, but made a point of condemning book bans and changes to Florida’s school curriculum that make light of slavery, respectively.

Here’s what else has happened today:

  • Ron DeSantis was involved in a car accident while on the campaign trail in Tennessee, but was not injured.

  • Strike averted: the Teamster and UPS have tentatively agreed to a new contract ahead of what would have been one of the biggest single-employer work stoppages in US history.

  • A Democratic congressman from Texas is on a thirst and hunger strike after the state’s Republican governor signed legislation blocking regulations that gave construction workers water breaks amid intensifying heat.

As he signed a proclamation at the White House that creates new national monuments to honor Emmett Till, a Black teenager whose 1955 murder in Mississippi was a turning point in the civil rights movement, Joe Biden spoke out against conservative activists’ campaigns to ban books.

“At a time when there are those who seek to ban books, bury history, we’re making it clear, crystal, crystal clear,” Biden said. “We can’t just choose to learn what we want to know. We have to learn what we should know. We should know about our country. We should know everything, the good, the bad, the truth of who we are as a nation.”

Writers’ organization Pen America reports that book bans in public schools rose 28% in the first half of the 2022-2023 academic year, and are most common in Republican-led states. Its April report added that “of the 1,477 books banned this school year, 30% are about race, racism or include characters of color”.

In a ceremony to designate new national monuments related to the murder of Emmett Till, Kamala Harris made a veiled attack on a new curriculum in Florida backed by Republican governor Ron DeSantis that contends some Black people benefited from enslavement.

“Today, there are those in our nation who would prefer to erase or even rewrite the ugly parts of our past, those who attempt to teach that enslaved people benefited from slavery,” said Harris, the first woman and first African America in the position of vice-president.

“Those who insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, who try to divide our nation with unnecessary debates. Let us not be seduced into believing that, somehow. we will be better if we forget.”

Last week, Harris visited Florida and forcefully condemned the state board of education’s new standards for Black history, which will see students learn that some slaves received “personal benefit” from skills they learned in their forced servitude.

What would have been the largest single-employer labor strike in US history appears to have been averted, after UPS and the Teamsters union reached a tentative deal on a new contract.

Here’s the Guardian’s Michael Sainato with the latest on the agreement:

The Teamsters union announced today that leadership has reached a tentative agreement with UPS, averting a strike that was set to begin on 1 August involving 340,000 workers.

The national bargaining committee unanimously endorsed the five-year tentative agreement.

Highlights of the agreement include wage increases of $2.75 per hour for full-time and part-time workers this year and $7.50 more per hour over the length of the contract, and part-timers will see wage increases immediately of at least $21 an hour. The wage gains are double the gains from the previous five-year contract that was in effect from 2018, and a 48% increase for part-timers over the life of the contract. Full-timers will see their average top rate increase to $49 per hour.

The agreement also ends a two-tiered classification for drivers, provides part-timers with longevity raises, adds Martin Luther King Day as a paid holiday off, and ends forced overtime on off days.

“Rank-and-file UPS Teamsters sacrificed everything to get this country through a pandemic and enabled UPS to reap record-setting profits. Teamster labor moves America. The union went into this fight committed to winning for our members. We demanded the best contract in the history of UPS, and we got it,” said the Teamsters general president, Sean M O’Brien in a press release announcing the agreement.

Meanwhile, the jail sentences keep coming in for people convicted of involvement in the violence on January 6. Here’s the Associated Press with the latest:

An Arkansas truck driver who beat a police officer with a flagpole attached to an American flag during the US Capitol riot was sentenced Monday to more than four years in prison.

Peter Francis Stager struck the Metropolitan police department officer with his flagpole at least three times as other rioters pulled the officer, head first, into the crowd outside the Capitol on 6 January 2021. The bruised officer was among more than 100 police officers injured during the riot.

Stager also stood over and screamed profanities at another officer, who was seriously injured when several other rioters dragged him into the mob and beat him, according to federal prosecutors.

After the beatings, Stager was captured on video saying, “Every single one of those Capitol law enforcement officers, death is the remedy. That is the only remedy they get.”

US Judge Rudolph Contreras sentenced Stager to four years and four months in prison, according to a spokesperson for the prosecutors’ office.

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