Honoring a Monster
We all remember the PULSE nightclub shooting where 49 innocent gay Americans were killed by some deranged Islamic terrorist.
Omar Mateen was not alone when he planned the murders. Is wife Noor Salama admitted to the FBI that she helped him plan and even scout out venues to commit the crime.
Salama was acquitted of all charges, even though she signed off on her admission, and now the Muslim-American group that helped her is now honoring her at their annual charity fundraiser.
The Floridian broke the story late Thursday night.
THIS IS TRULY UNBELIEVABLE!
Paging Rep. Stephanie Murphy (R) and state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who represent the area that the shooting took place. We expect nothing but outrage from both of these legislatures, but nothing yet. READ MORE
Rick Scott @SenRickScott–As we celebrate the end of #HispanicHeritageMonth, I want to recognize every Hispanic American that has made Florida a diverse and vibrant state. I am proud of the incredible melting pot that we live in and these cultures should always be celebrated.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz @DWStweets-It’s scary that Judge Barrett proclaims to be so ignorant on climate change & thinks it’s not relevant to her job. #SCOTUS just agreed to hear an appeal from Shell (where her dad worked) on climate change. We don’t need a climate denier on the court.
Rep. Brian Mast @RepBrianMast-Harmony Allen has been a relentless fighter to hold her rapist accountable. It was my honor to help elevate her case to the Supreme Court & listen to yesterday’s momentous hearing with Harmony. Now we fight to pass Harmony’s Law & prevent convicted rapists from being released!
“Widow of PULSE nightclub shooting terrorist honored by Muslim-American group” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Noor Salman, the widow of Islamic terrorist Omar Mateen, the PULSE nightclub mass shooter, is now being honored by the Muslim Legal Fund of America Center (MLFA) at their annual “The Angel’s Await” charity fundraiser. Salman is listed as a guest speaker and as a past beneficiary of the MLFA’s work. Salman was acquitted by a jury of providing material support to the ISIS and obstructing justice in 2018, even after she admitted that she knew her late husband Omar Mateen was going to commit the mass murder, and that she went with him to scout out the nightclub and other locations. In the end, 49 innocent Americans were killed before police shot and killed Mateen. “I knew when he left the house he was going to Orlando to attack the Pulse nightclub,” she stated. Added that her husband had discussed jihad with her for two years. Salman advised Mateen to lie to his mother when she inquired about his whereabouts on the night of the shooting, prosecutors said. Salman also said in the statement that she had accompanied Mateen while casing Pulse and other potential targets. But during the course of the trial, it was revealed that GPS and cellphone data showed that neither Mateen nor Salman had been near the nightclub before the attack.” (USA Today). The prosecution was also compromised when it was learned that Mateen’s father was an FBI informant, a fact that defense attorney’s used to their advantage to raise doubt.
“Pete Buttigieg backs Shevrin Jones’ senate campaign” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – In a very blue Florida State Senate district, with virtually no Republican opposition, garnering and promoting the endorsement of former Democratic Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is overkill. So what. State Senate candidate in District 35 and Rep. Shevrin Jones (D) is all but assured to win his senate race, but just because this is his race to lose, why should he stop campaigning? Jones announced the big endorsement Thursday afternoon. “I am so proud to be endorsing my friend Shevrin Jones,” Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Thursday. “He has a strong record as a state representative and is now looking to bring that experience to the state senate in Florida in district 35. As a former AP Chemistry teacher in Broward County Public Schools, Shevrin will help fight to build prosperity for families across Florida — in every community. He will also make history as the first openly LGBTQ person ever elected to the Florida Senate.” “It’s an honor to have Mayor Pete on our side as we lift up the issues that impact people’s daily lives, champion an equitable recovery from this pandemic, and put forth bold ideas that will strengthen Florida for years to come,” Shevrin Jones said. “This moment in our history calls for forward-focused leadership at every level of the ballot, and I’m proud to play a small part as we create a path to prosperity for everyone who calls our community home.”
“Buchanan Announces Medicare Open Enrollment” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Considering that Medicare open season begins today, Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan (R) announced that seniors should review their Medicare coverage and ensure that they have the best plan that meets their needs as open enrollment for Medicare begins. The annual open season runs from October 15th to December 17th, and it’s the only time that those enrolled in Medicare can change their prescription and health drug plans. Any changes made will take effect on January 1st, 2021. In a statement, the Florida lawmaker commented that “those on Medicare should review their coverage to make the best decision for their health needs because some plans and benefits may change in the upcoming year.” Buchanan asserted that “Medicare is one of the government’s most successful programs and I hope Florida’s seniors will use this opportunity to find the best plan that fits their health care needs,” warning that Americans shouldn’t “let anything catch you off guard next year.” “Comparing different Medicare plan options could help bring down your out-of-pocket costs,” he concluded.
“Rubio Discusses His Faith and Policy Making” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) joined Dr. Andrew Abela, the dean of Catholic University’s Busch School of Business & Economics, to discuss his faith, the common good of capitalism, and the Florida lawmaker also discussed the dignity of work at the 2020 Principled Entrepreneurship Conference. Amidst the hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, her Catholic faith has been at the center of controversy, and it has even been criticized for putting in danger the future of the Supreme Court. In response, for those that follow Senator Marco Rubio on Twitter, the sunshine state lawmaker is known to post scripture from time to time in between commenting on legislation, current affairs and the occasional sports commentary. When asked why he posted a daily scripture, Rubio commented that “it’s based on the daily reading in the Catholic church, from the mass.” “For the most part… it’ll give you an Old Testament verse, it’ll give you a Psalm, it’ll give you a New Testament, and then it’ll give. You a Gospel,” he explained. Furthermore, the Florida Republican expressed that it takes on the form of a meditative exercise for him, detailing that “one of the things that’s most amazing as you do that every day is you look at this ancient document, the most read book in the history of the world, and you realize that even if you’re not a believer, even if you’re an atheist, or an agnostic, or whatever it may be, it’s extraordinary how it captures the essence of so much of our human psychology and instinct and behavior and the nature of humanity that applies to this very day.”
“Trump launches ad slamming Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – A dark cloud that has loomed over former Vice President Joe Biden’s (D) campaign has been Hunter Biden’s foreign business deals and his board membership in Burisma, an energy firm in Ukraine. In a recently released email, Hunter Biden is now back in the spotlight after it was revealed that he had introduced a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm to his father, then-Vice President of the United States, a year before Vice President Biden pressured Ukrainian government officials into firing a prosecutor. That was investigating the company. The meeting is acknowledged in a message sent from Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma, that was allegedly sent on April 17th, 2015, which is a year after Hunter joined the board of Burisma at a reported salary of $50,000 a month. In the message, Pozharskyi is alleged to have written “Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together.” “It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure,” he added. There is also an alleged earlier email dated 2014 that shows Porzharskyi, reported to be Burisma’s No. 3. Exec, asking the younger Biden for “advice on how you could use your influence” on behalf of Burisma. In light of the emails being released, President Donald Trump’s (R) reelection campaign has launched an advertisement “asking why Joe Biden never stopped his son from selling access to his powerful father.” It also “details Hunter’s… $1.5 billion business deal with a communist Chinese bank, and his legal work with a corrupt businessman in Romania, all while his father was Vice President of the United States.”
“Florida sex offender arrested after having sex with missing teen following prison release: Deputies” by Nexstar Media Wire – A sex offender released from a Florida prison in July was arrested again last week for having sex with a missing Pinellas County teenager, deputies said. Flor-Adam Brandon Cruz, 24, was one of 22 men arrested by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office during “Operation Social Bust,” where detectives posed as underage girls and boys to locate sexual predators, KTLA sister station WFLA reported. In September, an undercover detective posing as a 15-year-old girl came in contact with Cruz after he initiated a conversation online. Deputies said Cruz sent explicit messages describing the sexual acts he wanted to perform on the underage girl. Cruz, a high-risk sex offender who was just released from state prison in July, was on felony probation until 2032 for lewd and lascivious battery on a minor. After a search of Cruz’s phone, the Sheriff’s Office said detectives found a real 15-year-old girl Cruz was engaging in sex with. Detectives learned Cruz used Uber to transport the teenager, who was reported as missing out of Pinellas County, to his home to have sex with her on two separate occasions, according to deputies. Cruz allegedly filmed the sexual acts, which were found on his cellphone. “It sickens me that this convicted sex offender continued to prey on children even after serving time in prison for his heinous acts,” said Sheriff Chad Chronister. “Had it not been for the thorough investigative work of our detectives well after Operation Social Bust ended, we would have never known about this juvenile who Cruz was taking advantage of repeatedly.”
“More than 2 million votes already counted in Florida” by WMFE’s Joe Byrnes – As of Thursday, more than 2 million votes have been counted already in Florida — weeks before the November 3rd election. Half of those mail-in ballots are from Democrats, as just over 1 million of them have voted. As for the Republicans, they’re at 623,000. The Florida Democratic Party says their strong turnout reflects enthusiasm for former Vice President Joe Biden. In Central Florida, including Marion County, at least 438,000 votes have been cast. Sumter County has the best turnout in the region so far with at least 22 percent. About 18 percent have already voted in Volusia County, and 17 percent in Marion. Early in-person voting starts on Monday throughout the region, except Sumter County. The early sites open there on Tuesday.
“Florida GOP closes gap on Democrats in voter registration, but Dems take mail-in lead” by Orlando Sentinel’s Steven Lemongello – Florida Republicans have closed the registration gap with Democrats for the Nov. 3 election, according to final numbers released Thursday by the state. But Democrats are currently well ahead in the vote-by-mail race as total mail-in ballots returned passed the 2 million mark. Statistics released Thursday show 5,169,012 registered Republicans, 5,303,254 Democrats and 3,753,286 non-party affiliated voters in the state. That’s an almost 14% increase over the GOP’s numbers in 2016, while Democrats gained just about 9%. The registration gap between the two parties of about 134,000 is a “historic low,” Republican Party of Florida spokeswoman Emma Vaughn said. In 2016, the gap was about 327,000. “The Democrats talk a big game, but are falling short in the face of the enthusiasm behind President Trump and the GOP, as well as Florida Trump Victory’s superior ground game,” Vaughn said. The results are disappointing for Florida Democrats, who had hoped to conduct massive voter registration drives this year. But an organization founded by former candidate for governor Andrew Gillum to register 1 million people fizzled even before police found him passed out in a Miami Beach hotel room with an overdosed escort, and he withdrew from public life.
“Trump amplifies tax-cut message in Florida town hall” by Market Watch’s Robert Schroeder – President Donald Trump used a Florida town-hall meeting Thursday night to call for a middle-class tax cut if he’s re-elected, appealing to voters’ pocketbooks as he lags his rival Joe Biden in Sunshine State polls. Appearing in Miami as Biden held a separate town hall in Philadelphia, Trump pressed for a “middle-income tax package,” reiterating a call he’s made in recent days while criticizing Biden’s tax plans. Trump offered no specifics. Biden has said he would raise taxes on households earning more than $400,000 a year. Trump also floated a middle-class tax cut before the 2018 elections, but a plan never materialized. Trump and Biden were originally scheduled to spend Thursday night in a debate in Miami. But after Trump tested positive for COVID-19, organizers changed it to a virtual format, and the president objected. That event was canceled, leading Biden to first schedule his town hall. Pressed by NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, Trump said he would accept a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November election to Biden. Earlier in the day, he told Fox Business News that “all I want is a fair election,” when asked about what circumstances would lead him to concede. Trump addressed his experience with COVID, saying his lungs were “a little bit, perhaps, infected,” and that he had “a little bit of a temperature.” But he could not answer for certain whether he took a COVID test on the day of the first debate with Biden, and did not definitively answer whether he would support “herd immunity” as a strategy to fight the disease.
“Florida Republicans cut Democrats’ registration edge to historic low” by Politico’s Matt Dixon – Republicans in Florida, a must-win state for President Donald Trump, have narrowed the voter registration gap with Democrats to the lowest level in at least three decades, giving the GOP a shot of momentum as they continue to trail in early turnout. Republicans now lag Democrats by just 134,242 registered voters, down from 327,483 when Trump won Florida by fewer than 113,000 votes in 2016. The gain is a byproduct of the Trump campaign’s extensive face-to-face ground game and voter registration operation, which continued as Joe Biden and Florida Democrats pulled back from those traditional activities after the coronavirus pandemic erupted in March. The shift means the two parties, statistically speaking, are almost evenly matched when it comes to raw numbers, with Democrats holding a narrow 1 percent lead. Final voter registration data released Thursday by Florida election officials show 5.3 million Democrats, 5.1 million Republicans and 3.7 million people with no major party affiliation. Florida Democrats turned much of their focus to boosting vote-by-mail turnout, which has helped them bank 430,000 more votes than Republicans three weeks ahead of Election Day. Democrats can’t compete with the Trump campaign’s “superior ground game and infrastructure,” Trump Victory spokesperson Emma Vaughn said in an email. “The Sunshine State is ready to deliver.” The Biden campaign has no regrets about pulling back traditional get-out-the-vote activities amid a global pandemic, even as Democrats’ once-dominant advantage has been whittled down.
“Watch Florida sheriff’s deputy save life of student” by Fox News’ Paul Best – A Florida sheriff’s deputy helped save the life of a high school student this week who was having a seizure in the cafeteria. School resource Deputy Pedro Colon received an alert that a student was having a medical emergency during lunch and rushed to his aid. Body camera footage of the incident shows the student face down seizing on the ground. The deputy immediately began performing CPR on the student and after several minutes, the student was alert and sitting up. “Deputy Colon’s quick call to action was heroic, and had it not been for his efforts, we might be looking at a very different situation today,” Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a statement. “This incident goes to show the importance of the CPR training all of our deputies receive. It’s a prime example of being ready to serve when called upon.”
“Florida Republicans narrow voter registration gap with Democrats” by Fox 35 Orlando’s Jim Turner – Republicans have narrowed the Democratic advantage in registered voters in Florida, as more than 14.4 million residents are eligible to cast ballots in the Nov. 3 elections, according to numbers posted Thursday by state elections officials. In all, 14,441,869 Floridians were registered before a “book closing” deadline last week for the general election, including 5,303,254 Democrats and 5,169,012 Republicans. Another 3,753,286 Floridians are registered without ties to any political party. Emma Vaughn, Florida spokeswoman for President Donald Trump’s campaign, called the updated numbers “proof of Florida’s enthusiasm for President Trump and Republicans.” “Democrats just can’t compete with that type of passion and Trump Victory’s superior ground game and infrastructure,” Vaughn added in a text. Carlie Waibel, Florida spokeswoman for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign, countered by pointing to Democrats’ “overwhelming” vote-by-mail lead in the November election, as well as record turnout in the August primaries. “Democrats are leading in the metrics that will determine this election and returning their ballots at a higher rate than Republicans — and we aren’t letting up,” Waibel said in an email. The overall number of registered voters is up 550,499 from the August primaries and is nearly 1.58 million more than were registered to vote in the 2016 presidential contest, when votes were cast by 9.58 million Floridians — 74.5 percent of the then-registered voters.
“Florida Democrats Hold Slim Lead on Voter Registration” by Associated Press – Florida Democrats still have a voter registration advantage over Republicans, but it’s getting slimmer. Democrats have just more than 5.3 million voters registered for the November 3 election, compared to nearly 5.2 million for Republicans, according to statistic released by the Florida Department of State. The overall difference is 134,242 in favor of Democrats. But that’s down from a 327,435 advantage Democrats had in the last presidential election, when President Donald Trump carried Florida over Hillary Clinton by a mere 1.2 percentage points. This year’s contest between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden is also expected to be close, and Florida’s 29 electoral college votes are considered crucial for Trump. Nearly 2.1 million votes have already been cast by mail. As of Thursday morning, more than 1 million Democrats have cast votes compared to just over 623,000 Republicans. About 425,000 voters not registered with either major party have returned ballots. In 2016, Republicans slightly topped Democrats by in vote-by-mail ballots, casting about 59,000 more. Democrats cast about 155,000 more ballots at in-person early voting sites. Trump largely won with turnout on Election Day. Vote-by-mail ballots will continue to be accepted until polls close. In person early voting begins in some Florida counties on Monday and statewide on October 24.
“Florida acts to remove felons from voter rolls as election looms” by Politico’s Gary Fineout – Florida will seek to push former felons from voter rolls if they have outstanding court debts, a surprise, late-hour move that comes after more than 2 million people already have voted in the presidential battleground. The announcement, which was distributed to local election officials but not the wider public, drew immediate pushback from county election supervisors and suspicion from Democrats who say it could be used to challenge the eventual election results. Division of Elections Director Maria Matthews, in an email to the state’s 67 local election supervisors late Tuesday, said they would “begin to see” files on registered voters “whose potential ineligibility is based on not having satisfied the legal financial obligations of their sentence.” Unwritten in the email, which was obtained by POLITICO, was the assumption that local officials should start acting on any information they receive. The email also instructed supervisors to act on information from other sources, including court clerks, that raises eligibility questions. The move is one of the state’s most consequential actions to meet the terms of a 2019 law on felon voting rights. Florida voters in 2018 overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4, a ballot measure that ended a lifetime voting ban for most felons. But state legislators the following year limited that right to those people who have paid any court-ordered fees, fines and restitution. The action lands late in a presidential campaign cycle that has President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden scrambling for every ballot in Florida, where Trump won with fewer than 113,000 votes in 2016.
“Critics pan NBC town hall, Savannah Guthrie for ‘debating’ Trump, ABC for giving ‘softballs’ to Biden” by Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn – Critics piled on the NBC News town hall for what appeared to be a “debate” between President Trump and moderator Savannah Guthrie while the ABC News town hall lobbed “softballs” to Joe Biden. Viewers who tuned into the Peacock Network expected to hear questions from voters, but similarly to the NBC town hall with Biden, questions for nearly the first 20 minutes of the program came from the moderator. Guthrie spent much of that time grilling Trump on masks and white supremacy. That didn’t sit well with many. “How long will NBC go before giving an actual voter the chance to ask a question?” pollster Frank Luntz asked, who later called the “town hall” descriptor of the program “false advertising.” “A third of the way into the NBC town hall and NO questions from the PEOPLE!!!” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany exclaimed. “Savannah Guthrie posture toward Trump compared to Lester Holt’s toward Biden is night and day,” The Hill media reporter Joe Concha wrote, recalling the previous NBC town hall with the former VP. “Trump went from debating Biden to Guthrie! Not sure whether this is good or bad yet … but he’s definitely debating tonight,” CNN commentator Scott Jennings said. “The questions from the NBC audience are actually pretty good and fair–so far–and it’s only been Savannah Guthrie that has been awful,” Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra tweeted. “The fake pretense of a ‘town hall’ when every aspect of it has been orchestrated in advance by the producers is such obnoxious BS,” progressive journalist Michael Tracey wrote.
“Appeals court potentially saves House subpoena power with ruling in McGahn case” by CNN’s Katelyn Polantz – A federal appeals court in Washington stepped in to potentially save the subpoena power of the US House of Representatives, wiping away on Thursday a previous court ruling that made it essentially impossible for the House to force a witness’s testimony without passing a new law. The move by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals revived the case House Democrats are pursuing against former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn, who has avoided testifying about the President’s attempts to shut down the Mueller investigation for more than a year-and-a-half. The Justice Department has stopped McGahn from appearing under the House subpoena and instead kept the case in court through multiple appeals, arguing for the courts to stay out of the interbranch standoff. The case won’t be resolved until after the presidential election. But the DC Circuit now gives a boost to the House in the major, long-running separation of powers fight. It’s a standoff that, as it progresses in court, has been risky for both the executive branch and Congress. So far in the case, the House has earned a ruling from the DC Circuit that certified its ability to go to court. But nine judges on the appeals court will now consider other preliminary questions related to the McGahn subpoena, such as whether the House has a law it can invoke in court that allows it to sue. The House also seeks to stop the administration from claiming blanket immunity from testimony for its top officials.
“White House Agrees to Democrats’ National Coronavirus-Testing Strategy” by WSJ’s Kate Davidson and Andrew Duehren – White House and Democratic negotiators agreed Thursday on including a national coronavirus-testing strategy in broader economic-relief legislation, as President Trump again signaled his desire for an aid package approaching $2 trillion despite opposition from Senate Republicans. During a nearly 90-minute conversation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) on Thursday afternoon, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he would accept the Democratic coronavirus testing plan with minor edits, according to a spokesman for Mrs. Pelosi and another person familiar with the call. Democrats have pushed for a centralized, federally led approach to testing with consistent data collection that they say would more efficiently route resources to where they are needed. The Trump administration has favored leaving decisions on testing to the states. The progress between Mr. Mnuchin and Mrs. Pelosi on a national testing plan comes as President Trump called on Mr. Mnuchin to accept a price tag even larger than the administration’s most recent offer of $1.88 trillion. An agreement over a national testing plan would remove one of the biggest, but not the only, concern Democrats had raised last weekend with the White House’s proposal. The two sides remain at odds on several other topics. “Go big or go home,” Mr. Trump said on Fox Business Network. The president said he had pressed Mr. Mnuchin to reach a larger deal. “I’ve told him. So far he hasn’t come home with the bacon,” Mr. Trump said on Fox Business.
“House Republicans ask FBI if it had Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop during Trump’s impeachment” by Fox News’ Adam Shaw – House Republicans are calling on the FBI to reveal whether it was in possession of a laptop that reportedly contained emails by Hunter Biden during the impeachment of President Trump — and claiming the agency committed a “gross error in judgement” if it did not inform the White House. “If the FBI was, in fact, in possession of this evidence and failed to alert the White House to its existence that would have given even more weight to the president’s legal defense, this was a gross error in judgement and a severe violation of trust,” the letter says. The letter was signed by 19 House Republicans, including Reps. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Louie Gohmert, R-Texas; Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz.; and Jody Hice, R-Ga. The letter was written after the New York Post published emails suggesting that Hunter Biden introduced his father to a top executive at Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings in 2015 — one year before his father allegedly pressured the country’s government to fire a prosecutor who had launched an investigation into the company. The Post reported that the FBI was in possession of the laptop on which the emails were found in December 2019 — right in the middle of the impeachment of President Trump over remarks he made to the Ukrainian president about Biden’s conduct in the country. Trump was impeached by the Democratic-controlled House but later acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.
“Chris Christie says he spent 7 days in ICU before recovering from Covid” by CNN’s Paul LeBlanc – Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Thursday he spent seven days in an intensive care unit before recovering from Covid-19 in a new statement that details the severity of his case and urges people to take the pandemic seriously. “Having had this virus, I can also assure those who have not had it of a few things. It is something to take very seriously,” Christie said. “The ramifications are wildly random and potentially deadly. No one should be happy to get the virus and no one should be cavalier about being infected or infecting others.” Christie’s warning comes after he tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this month and checked himself into Morristown Medical Center as a precautionary measure. News of his positive diagnosis — which came a day after President Donald Trump announced that he and first lady Melania Trump had both contracted the virus — followed his assistance to Trump in preparing for the first presidential debate in a series of sessions where no one wore masks. Christie, who is overweight and asthmatic, had also attended a Supreme Court nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett on September 26, now believed to have been a superspreader event.
Both indoors and out, participants at the September 26 event were observed without masks and not practicing recommended social distancing measures. At least 12 attendees tested positive after attending. Reflecting on his own thought process before contracting the virus, Christie conceded Thursday that he had believed “when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that and I and many others underwent every day.
“Amy Coney Barrett’s Character, Qualifications Discussed by Witnesses” by WSJ’s Lindsay Wise – The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee set Oct. 22 as the date for the panel’s vote on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, overruling Democratic objections on the fourth day of confirmation hearings to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Senators on Thursday wrapped up a heated but largely civil four-day hearing process for President Trump’s nominee, meeting to debate and hear witnesses testify about her character and qualifications—and about the threat Democrats say she poses to health care, voting and other civil rights. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans were on track to confirm Judge Barrett before the election. “We have the votes,” he told reporters in Kentucky. Judge Barrett made it through a gantlet of questioning on Tuesday and Wednesday without high drama or any major surprises. She didn’t attend Thursday’s proceedings. The morning started with a protest by Democrats on the committee, who only had one member, Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), in the room as the committee came to order. Rules require two members of the minority party to conduct business. Mr. Durbin pointed out the situation and called for lawmakers to adjourn. The panel’s chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), said the committee would proceed anyway. In a 10-12 vote along party lines, Senators agreed to set a committee vote on Oct. 22 to advance Judge Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate. Mr. Durbin voted for all but one of his colleagues, who gradually trickled in, by proxy.
“Romney says he will vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court” by Fox News’ Morgan Phillips – Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said he will vote to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, after being the lone Republican to vote to convict President Trump during the impeachment hearings. “After meeting with Judge Barrett and carefully reviewing her record and her testimony, I intend to vote in favor of her confirmation to the Supreme Court,” Romney said in a statement released Thursday. “She is impressive, and her distinguished legal and academic credentials make it clear that she is exceptionally well qualified to serve as our next Supreme Court justice.” He added: “I am confident that she will faithfully apply the law and our Constitution, impartially and regardless of policy preferences.” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, still maintains that she will not vote to confirm a nominee so close to the election, while Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak., has not revealed how she will vote. Barrett’s fourth and final day of interrogation from Senators concluded Thursday, with the Senate Judiciary Committee voting on her nomination on Oct. 22 and the full Senate likely voting the following week. In September, Romney said he would vote for a nominee based on their qualifications, not based on the hearing’s proximity to the election. “My decision regarding a Supreme Court nomination is not the result of a subjective test of ‘fairness’ which, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder,” Romney, R-Utah, said in a September statement. “It is based on the immutable fairness of following the law, which in this case is the Constitution and precedent. The historical precedent of election year nominations is that the Senate generally does not confirm an opposing party’s nominee but does confirm a nominee of its own.”
“Senate Democrats handled Barrett cautiously, prompting some activists to fume over Feinstein” by CNN’s Alex Rogers and Manu Raju – Democratic senators recognized early on that there was little they could do to stop Republicans from rushing to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. So this week, they spent her hearings with an eye on Election Day, opting to avoid overly aggressive exchanges that could hurt their candidates, and cautioning over and over again that Barrett could undermine the Affordable Care Act, inserting their most potent political issue — health care — into the fight. But in the end, Democrats offered a mixed message over the process, with some top senators praising the handling of the hearings at the same time as characterizing it as a “sham.” Four days of hearings culminated with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, gushing over Chairman Lindsey Graham’s “fairness” in the hearings. After the hearings concluded, Feinstein told Graham, who is in a tough race against Democrat Jaime Harrison, “This is one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in,” and hugged him. Some on the left were apoplectic about her approach over the four days. “It’s time for Sen. Feinstein to step down from her leadership position on the Senate Judiciary Committee,” said Brian Fallon, a former top aide to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who now runs the liberal group Demand Justice, which has spent hundreds of thousands on TV ads opposing the Barrett nomination. “If she won’t, her colleagues need to intervene. Feinstein, 87, and a Judiciary Committee member for about a quarter century, has faced increased criticism from liberal activists, and questions from some of her allies about her ability to serve as the top committee member.
“Trump Pressed on Coronavirus Response in Town Hall, Biden Asked to Outline Alternative Plan” by WSJ’s Sabrina Siddiqui and Rebecca Ballhaus – President Trump was pressed on his handling of the pandemic amid rising coronavirus cases during a contentious town hall on Thursday, while Democratic nominee Joe Biden was asked what he would do differently. The candidates were given dueling opportunities to make their case directly to American voters live from two swing states with less than three weeks until the November election and only one remaining presidential debate. Polls show Mr. Biden leading Mr. Trump nationally and in several battleground states. Mr. Trump, in his NBC News town hall in Miami, faced several questions from voters about why he hadn’t acted earlier to respond to the pandemic, which has claimed more than 217,000 lives across the U.S. Defending his response, Mr. Trump pointed to his decision to restrict travel from China in January and said he didn’t want to “panic” the country by raising alarms early in the year. “We have done an amazing job, and it’s rounding the corner,” he said. In a competing town hall hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia, Mr. Biden said the president had “panicked” in the face of crisis and was directly responsible for the rising death toll and spread of the virus, bringing the nation’s total to more than 7.9 million confirmed cases. “He missed enormous opportunities and kept saying things that weren’t true,” Mr. Biden said. “It is the presidential responsibility to lead.” Mr. Trump struggled to answer a question about why he didn’t encourage his supporters to wear masks, saying that he supported mask-wearing but questioned whether they were always effective. When a voter asked whether his contraction of Covid-19 has changed his mind on wearing masks, the president said it hadn’t.
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump– Steve Scully of @cspan had a very bad week. When his name was announced, I said he would not be appropriate because of conflicts. I was right! Then he said he was hacked, he wasn’t. I was right again! But his biggest mistake was “confiding” in a lowlife loser like the Mooch. Sad!