If yIf you are pro-Life and just so happen to live in Florida, then you are elated to hear that the Florida legislature is ready to vote on parental consent bills that would mandate teens to get permission from their parents before they can get an abortion.
Conservatives like Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expecting his third little rug rat, favors the bill and wants to see them land on his desk so he can sign them into law.
Democrats, on the other hand, view the bills as an affront against women’s rights and are once again preaching to their pro-choice choir. What else is new? READ MORE HERE
“This bill isn’t about protecting our children, it’s about putting up new barriers to the most vulnerable people in our society and is an attack on abortion rights,” stated Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo If they succeed in chipping away abortion rights with this bill, it will open the floodgates on anti-choice legislation. Florida is one of the last places in the southeast where access to abortion isn’t heavily restricted. If the GOP succeeds, we may have a future where women in the South have no control over our own bodies.”
Rizzo added, “The fact that Republicans chose to vote on SB 404 on the anniversary of Roe V. Wade shows their true motives are to end abortion rights in the Sunshine State.”
Here is the daily session shakedown (not to be confused with anyone living in Pinellas County)
GENETIC INFORMATION TARGETED: The House Commerce Committee will take up a bill (HB 1189), filed by Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and Rep. Jayer Williamson, R-Pace, that would prevent insurance companies from using customers’ genetic information in making decisions about life-insurance policies and long-term care coverage. (9:30 a.m., 212 Knott Building, the Capitol.)
EXCESS CAMPAIGN CASH AT ISSUE: The House Public Integrity & Ethics Committee will consider a proposal (HB 491), filed by Rep. Bobby Payne, R-Palatka, that would prevent political candidates from donating excess campaign funds to charitable organizations that employ the candidates. (9:30 a.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
BEARS ON AGENDA: The House State Affairs Committee will take up a bill (HB 327), filed by Rep. David Smith, R-Winter Springs, that would increase penalties for people who kill bears or possess freshly killed bears during closed seasons. (9:30 a.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
SENATORS GET BUDGET PRESENTATION: The Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to receive a presentation about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ proposed $91.4 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The proposal is a starting point as the House and Senate prepare to negotiate a final spending plan. (10 a.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)
ATHLETE HEAT STROKES AT ISSUE: The House Education Committee will take up a bill (HB 7011), filed by Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, that would require the Florida High School Athletic Association to take a series of steps to try to prevent heat strokes involving high-school athletes. (Noon, Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
CONTINGENCY FEE LIMITS PROPOSED: The House Judiciary Committee will consider a proposal (PCB JDC 20-02) that would place limits on attorney contingency fees that local governments could approve in contracts. (Noon, 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
LOCAL PROJECTS TEED UP: The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee will consider dozens of bills seeking funding for local projects. (2:30 p.m., Morris Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
HEALTH CARE MONEY ON AGENDA: The House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee will consider numerous bills seeking money for local projects and programs across the state. (2:30 p.m., Reed Hall, House Office Building, the Capitol.)
IMPASSE ISSUES ON TABLE: The Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining will hold a public hearing on issues at impasse with state workers. (2:30 p.m., 412 Knott Building, the Capitol.)
HOUSE SPECIAL ORDER SET: The House Rules Committee will set a special-order calendar that will list bills to be heard Jan. 29 on the House floor. (5 p.m., 404 House Office Building, the Capitol.)
DESANTIS, POMPEO HOLD ROUNDTABLE: Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will hold a roundtable discussion in Miami-Dade County. (9 a.m., Four Points by Sheraton Miami Airport, 3570 N.W. 74th Ave., Miami.)
VISIT FLORIDA BOARD GATHERS: The Visit Florida Board of Directors will meet and take up issues such as strategic plan. The tourism-marketing agency faces the prospect of going out of business without reauthorization from lawmakers during the legislative session that started Tuesday. (9 a.m. Hotel Duval, 415 North Monroe St., Tallahassee.)
FIRST LADY MAKES PANHANDLE ANNOUNCEMENT: Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis, Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz and Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell will make an announcement in Bay County. (10 a.m. Central time, Bay County Emergency Operations Center, 700 Highway 2300, Southport.)
SUPREME COURT RELEASES OPINIONS: The Florida Supreme Court is scheduled to release its weekly opinions. (11 a.m.)
CENSUS JOB FAIR HELD: U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., will host a job fair for people seeking to work on the U.S. Census. (11 a.m., Miami Dade College, Homestead Campus, 500 College Terrace, Homestead.)
DEPORTATION POLICIES CRITICIZED: State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, and U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., will take part in a news conference to criticize Trump administration policies that lead to detaining and deporting people fleeing dictatorships. (12:30 p.m., Freedom Tower, 600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.)
NORTHWEST FLORIDA WATER BOARD MEETS: The Northwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board will meet in Jackson County. (1 p.m., Jackson County Commission chamber, 2864 Madison St., Marianna.)
ALGAE WOES ADDRESSED: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Harmful Algal Bloom Task Force will meet in Pinellas County. (3:30 p.m., Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, 100 Eighth Ave. S.E., St. Petersburg.)
MEDICAL MARIJUANA AT ISSUE: The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Medical Cannabis Advisory Committee will hold a conference call. (4 p.m. Call-in number: 1-866-899-4679. Code: 535849565.)
SUNCOAST PARKWAY ON AGENDA: The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a meeting on the design of a Suncoast Parkway “Phase 2” project from State Road 44 to County Road 486, in Citrus County. (4 p.m., Citrus County National Guard Armory, 8551 West Venable St., Crystal River.)
POMPEO SPEAKS IN SUMTER COUNTY: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will speak about foreign policy during an appearance in Sumter County. (4 p.m., Sumter County Fairgrounds, 7620 State Road 471, Bushnell.)
I-95 INTERCHANGE DISCUSSED: The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing in Brevard County about improvements to the interchange of Fiske Boulevard and Interstate 95. (5:30 p.m., Rockledge City Council chamber, 1600 Huntington Lane, Rockledge.)
WATER RATE HIKE EYED: The Florida Public Service Commission will hold a customer meeting in Gulf County about a proposed increase in water rates by Lighthouse Utilities Company, Inc. (6 p.m. Centennial Building, 300 Allen Memorial Way, Port St. Joe.)
NORTH CENTRAL PLANNING COUNCIL MEETS: The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council will meet in Columbia County. (7 p.m., Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites, 213 S.W. Commerce Blvd., Lake City.)
Throwing the “Book” at Ammo Background Checks
State Rep. Lauren Book is backing the gun violence play that would require individuals to pass a background check to purchase any kind of ammunition. The idea makes sense to many, but will it fly in the Republican-controlled Florida legislature?
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“Parental consent bill headed to FL Senate floor” by News Service of Florida – A Senate panel on Wednesday split along party lines as Republicans pushed through a bill that would require teenage girls to get consent from their parents before having abortions. The Senate bill (SB 404) cleared the Rules Committee in a 9-7 vote on the 47th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which held women have a fundamental right to decide whether to have abortions. Bill sponsor Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, said she wasn’t aware of the timing of the bill being taken up on the Roe v. Wade anniversary. She and other supporters of the bill say parents need to be involved in minors’ decisions about having abortions. “That’s not an anniversary that I actually look to, so I actually didn’t even know that was actually occurring,” Stargel said. “Again, I think this is strengthening the family and making sure that when you have those difficult situations that there is a conversation. A discussion.” Wednesday’s vote positions the bill to go to the Senate floor and keeps the measure on track to pass during this year’s legislative session, handing conservatives a victory ahead of the November elections. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in his State of the State address last week said he hopes the issue will “make its way to my desk during this session.”
“Ilhan Omar Faces Tough Congressional Challenge from Fellow Muslim” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – In New York, Scherie Murray is running for the House of Representatives, looking to unseat Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and turn the seat red. Well, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar (D), another member of “the Squad” will also be facing a tough reelection campaign, and her challenger is Republican Dalia al-Aqidi. Al-Aqidi is a Muslim Iraqi refugee who has made waves in the political arena since announcing her intention to unseat Rep. Omar. Arguing that Omar “needs to be stopped,” Al-Aqidi added, “I truly believe that I’m strong enough to beat her at her own game” during a Fox News interview. When speaking to the Washington Examiner, Al-Aqidi explained that she “chose to launch this campaign after thinking, watching, and researching.” In commenting on the job that Rep. Omar has done on behalf of Minnesota and the United States, Al-Aqidi detailed that she thinks “that Ilhan Omar is doing irreparable harm to her district, to Minnesota, and to the whole country,” noting that “somebody needs to stop her” as “she continues to spread anti-Semitism and hateful rhetoric.” During her early 20s and joined by her family, Al-Aqidi fled an Iraq governed by Saddam Hussein. She moved to the United States, became a citizen and she pursued a career in television journalism. She felt motivated to run in the 2020 election because she believes that Rep. Omar’s “far-left politics are the politics of extremism and grievance and anti-Americanism.”
“Hillary Clinton blows up fragile Democratic Party unity” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – The bitter 2016 Democratic presidential primary between Secretary Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders appears to have grown another pair of legs, as Clinton ripped open the past campaign cycles slow-healing wound by taking a huge swipe at Sanders during an interview with The Reporter. Clinton is still holding on to a grudge and still thinks very low of the self-styled Socialist Democrat. “Nobody likes him, nobody wants to work with him, he got nothing done. He was a career politician,” she said. “It’s all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it.” Asked by The Reporter recently if that assessment still held, she replied, “Yes, it does. Sanders responded to reporters: “On a good day, my wife likes me, so let’s clear the air on that one,” Sanders said when asked by reporters to respond to the remark. “Secretary Clinton is entitled to her point of view,” he added. “My job today is to focus on the impeachment trial. My job today is to put together a team that can defeat the most dangerous president in the history of the United States of America.” Clinton then walked back her slam of Sanders: “I thought everyone wanted my authentic, unvarnished views! But to be serious, the number one priority for our country and world is retiring Trump, and, as I always have, I will do whatever I can to support our nominee.” This can’t be good for Democrats as the perception that they are a party divided has now been chiseled in stone.
“City of Miami Police Capt. Javier Ortiz suspended with pay” by Channel 10 News’s Terrell Forney and David Dwork – City of Miami Police Capt. Javier Ortiz has been suspended with pay, Local 10 News has learned. Ortiz, the former president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, is known for his brash personality but may have taken things too far during the City of Miami Commission meeting last Friday. Ortiz was talking about his racial identity when he referred to an old Jim Crow law that was used to thwart racial equality during segregation.
“If you know anything about the One-Drop Rule, which started in the 20th century, which is what identifies and defines what a black male is, or a negro, you would know that if you have one drop of black in you, you are considered black,” Ortiz said. He also said that he is not Hispanic because he was born in the United States. Ortiz has faced criticism for identifying as black in a promotion exam. In the aftermath of Ortiz comments, a firestorm fueled in with the black community has many up in arms. “For him to make the assertion that he’s black and not Hispanic, is an outright lie and as a law enforcement officer he should be standing for truth and representing truth,” said Miami-Dade County NAACP President Ruban Roberts.
“DeSantis defends Galvano as Gaetz and Trump Jr. take aim” by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout – Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday publicly rebutted charges from Donald Trump Jr. that Florida’s Senate president is a fake Republican because he took money in 2018 from groups affiliated with presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg — a Democrat. DeSantis gave a forceful and unsolicited defense of state Senate President Bill Galvano after a dust-up in which Galvano’s support of a gun control bill prompted waves of criticism from fellow Republicans including Trump Jr. and Rep. Matt Gaetz. Trump Jr. on Saturday told The Daily Wire that anyone who accepts money from Bloomberg is a “stone cold RINO” — Republican in name only — and “the last thing Florida Republicans need is a liberal, gun-grabbing Bloomberg minion leading them in the State Senate.” Gaetz tweeted his own dismay with Galvano on Friday. “Republicans. Taking money from Bloomberg. In Florida. To pass gun control. No. No. No.” DeSantis came to Galvano’s defense Wednesday, calling him “100 percent supportive of the president.” “Bill’s been a very strong supporter of a lot of great conservative policies,” DeSantis told reporters. “He’s done a good job of managing the Senate and he’s a friend of mine.” DeSantis said he didn’t know Galvano when he accepted money from Bloomberg’s groups back in 2018. But he said Galvano was instrumental in winning legislation last year that banned sanctuary cities and expanded school choice.
“Florida Senate condemns Nicaraguan President Ortega” by Associated Press – The Florida Senate unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday condemning Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega for what it denounced as the oppression of that nation’s citizens. The vote comes after Democratic Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez said Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, resorted to election fraud to consolidate power, and then turned to violence to repress anti-government protests starting in April 2018. “Ortega and Murillo responded with violence and brutal repression. Hundreds have been killed and thousands wounded as a result. They’ve exiled, jailed or killed anyone considered to be opposing them,” Rodriguez said. The resolution itself says government forces beat detained protesters and in some cases tortured them through waterboarding, electric shock, acid burns, removal of fingernails and rape. Rodriguez said the resolution was important because of the number of Nicaraguans who now live in Florida. Florida had almost 160,000 Nicaraguans in 2018, the most of any U.S. state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. “It would send a strong message that we here in the state of Florida stand in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua and against the oppression of the Nicaraguan people at the hands of the Ortega regime,” Rodriguez said.
“Florida creates task force on sea-level rise” by Associated Press – After years of mostly ignoring climate change, Florida lawmakers waded deeper into the matter on Tuesday, advancing a proposal that would create a statewide Office of Resiliency and establish a task force to begin looking into how best to protect the state’s 1350 miles of coastline from rising oceans. It’s a marked change from just a few years ago, when the issue of climate change couldn’t get any traction in Florida’s Republican-run Capitol under then-Gov. Rick Scott, who is now a U.S. Senator. But with Gov. Ron DeSantis exerting political muscle behind the effort, environmentalists see an opportunity to begin addressing the problem, even if they say the current legislative proposals fall short of a comprehensive response to climate change. “We’ve seen bills that will help communities plan for rising sea levels — all of which is very, very important, and we need to do that — but without focusing on the cause of the problem, it just seems kind of lackluster. It’s not addressing the full problem,” said Jonathan Scott Webber, the deputy director of Florida Conservation Voters. The legislation considered Tuesday would establish an Office of Resiliency headed by the governor’s chief “resilience officer,” who was appointed last summer as part of a broader effort to address the state’s environmental challenges.
“At Florida base, a mix of relief, anxiety in Saudi shooting aftermath” by Reuters’ Phil Stewart – With an FBI investigation underway, Navy security officer David Link still is not allowed to talk about what he saw when a Saudi gunman killed three U.S. sailors at this sprawling Florida naval base last month. But Link, one of the first responders at the scene, makes clear he appreciates just how badly things could have gone for him on Dec. 6 at Naval Air Station Pensacola. “When I got home, it was kind of immediate relief. I got to see my wife and daughter, to know that I got out of that situation — and with my life,” said Link, a master-at-arms 3rd class. Link and other base personnel met U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday during a visit that highlighted the Pentagon’s efforts to restore a sense of security at U.S. military bases across the country. The facilities host about 5,000 military students from 150 countries, including more than 800 from Saudi Arabia. It is an uphill battle in Pensacola. Three U.S. sailors were killed in cold blood and eight other people were wounded before the gunman, Saudi Air Force Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was himself shot dead. Families at the base were already on edge after the shooting. Then, earlier this month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr declared it an act of terrorism and announced 21 Saudi cadets training in the United States were being sent home after an investigation turned up child pornography or social media accounts containing Islamic extremist or anti-American content. Twelve of them had been training at the Pensacola base.
“Matt Gaetz Urges Florida Republicans to Implement Mandatory E-Verify Statewide” by National Review’s Zachary Evans – Representative Matt Gaetz (R., Fla.) urged Florida Republicans on Monday to mandate statewide use of E-Verify, a program used by employers to check whether a prospective hire is an illegal immigrant. “Requiring the statewide use of E-Verify will curb illegal immigration while creating jobs and raising wages for Floridians,” Gaetz wrote in an op-ed for the Tallahasee Democrat. “Most importantly, it will make the agriculture sector of Florida’s economy less of a magnet for those entering the country illegally.” Gaetz pointed to the program’s effectiveness in the state of Arizona, where E-Verify was made mandatory in 2008. The state saw a subsequent 33 percent drop in the number of illegal immigrant workers, according to a 2017 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. The Florida Representative also touted the program’s effectiveness in another area, writing that implementation of E-Verify “increase[s] wages for low-skilled workers born in the United States.” President Trump praised E-Verify during his 2016 presidential campaign, touting it as part of an immigration reform agenda. “We will ensure that E-Verify is used to the fullest extent possible under existing law, and we will work with Congress to strengthen and expand its use across the country,” Trump said in a 2016 speech. However, the push to mandate E-Verify nationwide has since slowed.
“Whistleblowers say Florida investment firm has inflated value, earnings of its main fund” by NBC News’ Gretchen Morgenson – A Florida-based investment firm that oversees $500 million in assets has inflated its main hedge fund’s assets and returns since 2017, according to three employees who have filed a whistleblower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission and who spoke exclusively with NBC News. The TCA Fund Management Group’s Global Credit Master Fund, which lends money to small and mid-sized companies in distress, has failed to book losses on defaulted loans and has recorded fee revenues it has not received and never will, the employees said. Bloomberg Law reported on Wednesday that in a letter to investors TCA said that the Global Credit Master Fund had “received redemption and withdrawal requests in excess” of available cash, and it planned to liquidate the fund amid an ongoing SEC investigation. NBC News has not independently confirmed the contents of the letter. Robert Press, the founder and chairman of TCA, did not respond to a request for comment. TCA’s lawyer, Carl Schoeppl, said in a statement that “TCA Fund Management Group Corp. treats this matter very seriously and has taken immediate steps to address the SEC whistleblower complaint by launching an internal investigation into the known allegations to determine the truth and has been in contact with the SEC and has offered full cooperation since first becoming aware of the complaint.” Schoeppl did not respond to questions about the reported closure of the fund. An SEC spokeswoman declined to comment. Overstated investment returns are an investor’s worst nightmare and some of Wall Street’s biggest scandals have involved phantom numbers. Because fund managers are typically paid as a percentage of the assets they oversee, padding returns can be lucrative. After a decade-long bull market in stocks, the drive to attract investor money only increases the temptation among fund managers to inflate returns.
Ilhan Omar Faces Tough Congressional Challenge from Fellow Muslim” by Hispolitica’s Mona Salama – In New York, Scherie Murray is running for the House of Representatives, looking to unseat Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and turn the seat red. Well, Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar (D), another member of “the Squad” will also be facing a tough reelection campaign, and her challenger is Republican Dalia al-Aqidi. Al-Aqidi is a Muslim Iraqi refugee who has made waves in the political arena since announcing her intention to unseat Rep. Omar. Arguing that Omar “needs to be stopped,” Al-Aqidi added, “I truly believe that I’m strong enough to beat her at her own game” during a Fox News interview. When speaking to the Washington Examiner, Al-Aqidi explained that she “chose to launch this campaign after thinking, watching, and researching.” In commenting on the job that Rep. Omar has done on behalf of Minnesota and the United States, Al-Aqidi detailed that she thinks “that Ilhan Omar is doing irreparable harm to her district, to Minnesota, and to the whole country,” noting that “somebody needs to stop her” as “she continues to spread anti-Semitism and hateful rhetoric.”
“Hunter Biden ordered to appear at Arkansas court hearing” by Fox News’s Ronn Blitzer – A judge has ordered Hunter Biden to appear in court next week for a hearing in the high-profile paternity lawsuit brought by an Arkansas woman. The order from an Arkansas judge in the case brought by Lunden Alexis Roberts comes after Biden, the son of former vice president Joe Biden, failed to provide financial information in violation of a separate court order. Hunter Biden must appear and “show cause, if any exists, as to why he should not be held in contempt for any of the alleged violations of this Court’s orders,” Independence County Circuit Court Judge Holly Meyer wrote in a one-sentence order calling for him to appear in court on Jan. 29. Hunter Biden has been a frequent subject of conversation among Republicans as President Trump faces impeachment. Trump is accused of abuse of power for allegedly using military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s efforts to remove a prosecutor who had been looking into Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings, where Hunter Biden served on the board. Trump has indicated that he would like Hunter Biden to testify at the Senate’s impeachment trial, though some GOP senators have been against the idea of having any witnesses testify during the trial. Roberts’ attorney Clinton Lancaster noted that the paternity case has nothing to do with Trump’s impeachment, according to Arkansas Online.
“Trump to become first president to speak at the March for Life” by Fox News’s Sam Dorman – President Trump announced Wednesday that he plans to attend the March for Life this week, which would make him the first president in history to speak at the largest annual gathering of pro-life activists. “See you on Friday…Big Crowd!” Trump tweeted. The event is scheduled for Friday in Washington. Organizers confirmed the president’s attendance. “We are deeply honored to welcome President Trump to the 47th annual March for Life,” March for Life president Jeanne Mancini said in a statement provided to Fox News. “He will be the first president in history to attend and we are so excited for him to experience in person how passionate our marchers are about life and protecting the unborn.” The march is expected to draw 100,000 activists to the nation’s capital as Republicans like Trump pursue an ambitious pro-life agenda. While pro-life activists have heaped praise on the president for his pro-life policies, his actions have sparked lawsuits and condemnation from groups like Planned Parenthood. “From the appointment of pro-life judges and federal workers, to cutting taxpayer funding for abortions here and abroad, to calling for an end to late-term abortions, President Trump and his Administration have been consistent champions for life and their support for the March for Life has been unwavering. We are grateful for all these pro-life accomplishments and look forward to gaining more victories for life in the future,” Mancini wrote.
“Schiff warns of Russian attack on US mainland, as Day 2 of Trump’s Senate impeachment trial concludes” by Fox News’s Gregg Re – House Democrats launched into lengthy arguments that broke little ground, if any, in President Trump’s impeachment trial Wednesday — as the head impeachment manager, California Rep. Adam Schiff, suggested that Russians could attack the U.S. and insisted that removing Trump from office was necessary because the integrity of the 2020 election could not be “assured.” Trump’s lawyers sat by, waiting their turn, as the president blasted the proceedings from afar, threatening jokingly to face off with the Democrats by coming to “sit right in the front row and stare at their corrupt faces.” The challenge before the House managers has been clear. Democrats were given 24 hours over three days to prosecute the charges against Trump, trying to win over not just fidgety senators sitting silently in the chamber but an American public, deeply divided over the president and his impeachment in an election year. Most senators sat at their desks throughout the day, as the rules stipulated, though some stretched their legs, standing behind the desks or against the back wall of the chamber, passing the time. Visitors watched from the galleries, one briefly interrupting in protest. Almost immediately after Chief Justice John Roberts gaveled in Wednesday’s session, bored and weary senators started openly flouting some basic guidelines. The Associated Press reported that a Democrat in the back row leaned on his right arm, covered his eyes and stayed that way for nearly a half-hour, and some lawmakers openly snickered when Schiff said he’d speak for only 10 minutes.
“Two Legal Teams With Contrasting Strategies Face Off in the Capitol” by New York Times’ Charlie Savage – When President Trump’s impeachment trial opened this week, the Democratic House managers prosecuting the case piled their table high with binders and notepads. Only a few rested on the defense table. The contrasting amount of material the two legal teams brought into the Senate chamber to support their initial arguments foreshadowed a broader difference in their approaches to the trial. In its opening days, the House managers have focused on the facts. They are trying to build a clear and coherent story around their theme that the president abused his power — delving into the details, putting up slides to summarize major points, and playing a well-organized selection of video clips of statements by Mr. Trump and by House witnesses. Eschewing props, the defense team has focused instead on the process. They have used their time to reinforce the House Republican theme that impeachment is a sham and unfair to Mr. Trump — urging the Senate to swiftly dispose of the case without subpoenaing any additional documents or testimony. Their strategy appears based on a narrative that is familiar from Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed and Fox News programming — that the impeachment is unfair — and amplify it to a group that already believes it: Mr. Trump’s core supporters, a bloc in the Republican Party that can threaten the political future of any Republican senator either by backing a primary challenger or by failing to turn out during a general election. “They have the senators in mind, but also the broader public,” said David Alan Sklansky, a Stanford University criminal law professor and former prosecutor. “The president’s side wants to keep the heat on Republican senators to make sure they stay inside the tent.”
“Tom Railsback, Who Reconciled G.O.P. to Oust Nixon, Dies at 87” by New York Times’ Sam Roberts – Tom Railsback, an eight-term Illinois congressman who forged what he called a “fragile bipartisan coalition” between his fellow Republicans and the Democratic majority on the House Judiciary Committee in 1974 to draft articles of impeachment against President Richard M. Nixon, died on Monday in Mesa, Ariz. He was 87.
His death, in a nursing home there, was confirmed by former Representative Raymond H. LaHood, another moderate Republican, who was Mr. Railsback’s protégé and served as secretary of transportation in the Obama administration. On July 27, 1974, the judiciary committee voted 27 to 11, with 6 of the panel’s 17 Republicans joining all 21 Democrats, to send to the full House an article of impeachment. The article accused the president of unlawful tactics that constituted a “course of conduct or plan” to obstruct the investigation of the break-in at the offices of the Democratic opposition in the Watergate complex in Washington by a White House team of burglars. “Railsback and Walter Flowers, a Democrat, basically created the coalition that was necessary to make the House Judiciary Committee vote a bipartisan one,” Michael Koncewicz, the author of “They Said No to Nixon: Republicans Who Stood Up to the President’s Abuses of Power” (2018), wrote in an email. “Several moderates and conservatives met in Railsback’s office that summer to make sure that there was an article of impeachment that they could vote for,” Mr. Koncewicz, a historian at New York University, said. “Their work not only gave the vote credibility, but it also arguably made Nixon’s conviction more likely in the Senate.” Rather than face impeachment and a trial in the Senate, Nixon resigned in August 1974.
“Kushner’s FBI interviews to be held for review, Justice Department says” by CNN’s Katelyn Polantz – The Justice Department did not hand over the FBI’s summary of Jared Kushner’s interviews with special counsel Robert Mueller last week — despite a judge’s order to do so — because “a member of the intelligence community” needs to ensure the material has been properly redacted, a department attorney said Wednesday. DOJ lawyer Courtney Enlow informed CNN as part of an ongoing lawsuit that Kushner’s memo, also known as a “302, will be released with the appropriate redactions” after the intelligence agency has finished its review.
Enlow did not say which intelligence agency is working on the document’s release or how long that review would take. Judge Reggie Walton had ordered the FBI to give CNN and BuzzFeed access to Mueller witness memos that the US House previously reviewed in secret, including Kushner’s, by January 17. Multiple memos from Mueller’s interviews with counterintelligence investigation targets including Paul Manafort, Carter Page and George Papadopoulos were released by the deadline. It’s not clear why Kushner’s memo would merit the delay.
The FBI has been consulting with other agencies as it makes public redacted versions of thousands of pages of Mueller witness memos. The releases of the documents began in November, 500 pages or less at a time, after CNN and BuzzFeed sued to access them. More Mueller memos are scheduled to be released in early February. The release of documents comes as Trump administration agencies have released heavily redacted documents related to Ukraine and impeachment public records for which groups have sued. The same agencies refused to turn over those documents to the House.
“Susan Collins sent note to dais before John Roberts admonished legal teams, source says” by CNN’s Jamie Gangel, Ted Barrett and Dan Berman – Sen. Susan Collins sent a written note early Wednesday morning during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial minutes before Chief Justice John Roberts admonished both legal teams, a source with knowledge of the event tells CNN. It is unclear if the note from Collins, a Maine Republican, led directly to Roberts’ comments, or had specific language for him, but the note came shortly before the chief justice spoke. The note was sent as House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a Democrat from New York, spoke and appeared to accuse senators of a “cover-up.” Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough was seen on TV cameras speaking to Roberts at 12:48 a.m. ET. It is not clear what the conversation between the two was about, but Roberts addressed the Senate at 12:55 a.m.
There were also heated language from one of the President’s attorneys, Pat Cipollone, in the preceding 30 minutes, and Roberts specifically addressed both legal teams in his remarks. “I think it is appropriate at this point for me to admonish both the House managers and the President’s counsel, in equal terms, to remember that they are addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” Roberts said, appearing to refer to notes on the dais. The Supreme Court’s public information officer did not comment. Collins was reluctant to acknowledge any contribution to the remarkable rebuke of the parties arguing the impeachment trial. When she came off the floor about 2 a.m. ET Wednesday, a reporter told her that she was seen handing a note up to the dais, to the parliamentarian, she replied coyly: “Who me? I did that?
President Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump – Tweeting
Adam Schiff @RepAdamSchiff – Americans know about Trump’s Ukraine scheme because people with a sense of duty were willing to step forward and speak out. People like Ambassadors Yovanovitch and Taylor, Lt. Col. Vindman, Dr. Hill. They were willing to risk their careers. Can Members of Congress do the same?
Rick Scott @SenRickScott -Day 1 of House Dems’ presentation has been like Groundhog Day: the same thing over and over and over again. It’s not convincing. The Democrats hate @realDonaldTrump, hate that he won in 2016 and are desperately trying to hurt his chances in 2020. It will backfire.
House began presenting their case over course of 8 hours. Offered detailed timeline of the events underpinning their case. We heard recorded testimony of witnesses,supplemented by transcripts & evidence gathered from press & social media. Will continue tomorrow
Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell @RepDMP – Such an honor to present Juan Carlos Espinosa, Dean of @fiuhonors, an award for his service to our community, & to meet some of his outstanding students. He & his students are going above & beyond in their work, & we’re lucky to have them shaping the future of South Florida!
Matt Gaetz @mattgaetz – Weird. I’m an American person. I didn’t feel extorted. Not a single Ukrainian has said they were extorted. Their President and Foreign Minister said the opposite.
, which will receive $500K to research & preserve our region’s underwater cultural & historical artifacts!
Rep. Ted Deutch @RepTedDeutch – I can’t believe the day before I attend an event at Yad Vashem marking 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, anti-Semites were given WH credentials to broadcast from European soil.
AG Ashley Moody @AGAshleyMoody – ncredibly honored to serve as the sole AG on @realDonaldTrump ’s National Law Enforcement Commission. @POTUS‘ support of our brave LEOs and his commitment to protecting law-abiding Americans is inspiring and I will work to further this worthy mission.
“Dozens arrested as ATV and dirt bike riders take to South Florida streets,” by the Sun-Sentinel’s Andrew Boryga – An ATV rider does a wheelie while riding in Miami during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend in 2018. Year after year, riders of similar vehicles descend on South Florida with the stated aim of advocating for civil rights and gun violence. However, the weekend tends to end with scores of arrests and gun confiscations as it did this year.
Some call it “Bikes up, Guns down.” Others say “Wheels up, Guns down.”
Both monikers, which refer to hundreds of brash riders of off-road vehicles and bikes on South Florida streets during the Martin Luther King Jr. day weekend ― supposedly in support of civil rights and reducing gun violence — failed to live up to their name yet again this year in South Florida.
According to figures from the Miami-Dade Police Department, between Saturday, Jan. 18 and Monday at 8 p.m. there were at least two guns recovered from riders of ATVs, dirt bikes and other vehicles that popped wheelies and zipped in and out of roads across the county.
The reckless riding resulted in 34 impounded vehicles, 28 arrests and 41 traffic citations in Miami-Dade.
Before the weekend, South Florida police agencies warned that they would be out in full force to round up careless riders that tend to wreak havoc on South Florida streets during the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend and break multiple traffic laws along the way.
A few days ago, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said his agency would be sending a “clear and strong message” to those who decide to violate the laws on the roads over the weekend.
Other police agencies across South Florida made similar announcements, as they tend to make year after year during this time.