JUICE — Florida Politics’ Juicy Read — 12.16.20 -— Nikki Fried Really Dislikes DeSantis — China Hacks U.S — Rick Scott, Rubio, Vaccines, Iran, More…

JUICE — Florida Politics’ Juicy Read — 12.16.20 -— Nikki Fried Really Dislikes DeSantis — China Hacks U.S — Rick Scott, Rubio, Vaccines, Iran, More…

Javier Manjarres
Javier Manjarres
December 16, 2020


Happy Chanukah


It’s the holiday season, and millions of our Jewish friends around the world are celebrating Chanukah this week, including Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

So with that said, we would like to give AG Fried’s most recent ranting in defiance against Gov. Ron DeSantis one great big OY VEY!

Fried got her knish all in a bunch after Gov. DeSantis refused to say whether he “accepted” Joe Biden as the new President-elect.

Why would DeSantis acknowledge Biden?

Does Fried accept President Trump as her president, or is she part of the millions of Progressives who disavowed the 2016 presidential election, calling it nothing more than a Russian heist?

Where does Fried stand on the impeachment of Trump? READ MORE


Joe Biden @JoeBiden -Today, the members of the Electoral College cast their votes for president and vice president.

And once again, the rule of law, our Constitution, and the will of the people have prevailed.. Our democracy—pushed, tested, and threatened—proved to be resilient, true, and strong.

Rep. Carlos G Smith @CarlosGSmithYES! Can’t wait to hear President @JoeBiden‘s latest victory speech!

Shevrin “COUNT EVERY VOTE” Jones @ShevrinJonesFor the 100th time, @JoeBiden is the winner, and we love to see it.

“DeSantis won’t accept or acknowledge Joe Biden’s presidency” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was asked by the Tallahassee press corps if he would now “accept Joe Biden as the President-elect” on Tuesday. DeSantis’s response was not to the liking of his probable 2022 gubernatorial candidate and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D), who asserted that because she believes DeSantis owes President Donald Trump his job, the sitting Florida governor answered the way he did. What the heck DeSantis say?! DeSantis did not say that he acknowledge Biden as the new president-elect but rather gave an explanation as to why many millions of Americans may not support Biden’s presidency. DeSantis reminded reporters that back in 2016, the then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said that Russian President Vladimir Putin stole the election from her. Democrats embraced Clinton’s narrative which led to the now-debunked Trump-Russian collusion hoax. Over the past four years, as DeSantis points out, Democrats have refused to accept President Trump’s presidency. “Its’ not for me to do,” said DeSantis. “Here’s what I would say. Obviously, we did our thing in Florida, the college voted you know… But I can tell you I think a lot of the frustration for folks that supported the president was, you know we were four years with people not accepting him. I mean Hillary the last week of the election was saying Putin stole it.”

“Scott: Biden Would Allow China to “Steal Our Tech & Jobs”” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – In light of China perpetrating cybersecurity breaches against U.S. government agencies, Florida Senator Rick Scott (R) is warning that incoming President Biden (D) would only make the United States an easier target for China and Russia to steal from. Today, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R), the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, notified the public that China had attempted to spy on the United States. He also informed that a hearing would follow with the incoming Congress to investigate the nature of this attack. Now, Senator Scott, the former Governor of Florida, and a lawmaker that has criticized China in the past questioned what a President Biden would mean for the American people when it comes to China. On social media, Scott warned about the danger that a Biden administration poses, expressing that “his foreign policy nominees have a tired way of thinking about China, one that’s allowed the CCP to steal our tech & jobs, & threaten our standing in the world. “If we care about the future of our country & human rights, we must take on Communist China,” Scott asserted. Both Senators Scott and Rubio have been weary of Biden’s potential China emissaries, questioning their fortitude to stand up to the Chinese regime as many of them are Obama-Biden retreads that have already allowed China to steal from the U.S.

“China’s spying on the United States “just tip of the iceberg” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R), the acting-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been taken China to task regarding the technological threat it poses to the United States’ national security, and the espionage or spying it is involved in. The criticism against the Communist regime has culminated in the Florida lawmaker being sanctioned by China. In response, Rubio continues his critique of the Chinese government just as the United States faces numerous cybersecurity breaches. This week, reports surfaced that the Department of Homeland Security had been the victim of hacks from Russia. However, the DHS is the third government institution to be compromised following attacks on the Treasury Department and the Commerce Department. Earlier this year, Russia and Iran had even been blamed for foreign intervention ahead of the November 3rd elections, but both countries have maintained their innocence. As the United States continues to understand the nature of Russia’s hacking attempts, Senator Rubio has brought to light that new reports indicate that China has also attempted to hack United States government agencies. On Twitter, Rubio announced that “recent reports of Chinese espionage are just the tip of the iceberg.” He further expressed that “the very first hearing of the Senate Intel Committee next congress must be on China’s efforts to spy on, influence & potentially coerce government officials in the U.S., including members of Congress.”

“McConnell Acknowledges Biden As President-Elect” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) officially acknowledged Joe Biden as the president-elect for the first time since the Nov. 3 election Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking Republican in congratulating the Democrat just a day after the Electoral College formally made the election results official. McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor said that while millions wished the election would have yielded a different result, “the Electoral College has spoken.” “Many of us hoped that the presidential election would yield a different result, but our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20. As of this morning, our country has, officially, a president-elect and a vice president-elect,” McConnell, declared from the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “So today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden. The president-elect is no stranger to the Senate. He’s devoted himself to public service for many years.” The majority leader also congratulated Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on becoming the nation’s first vice president. “I also want to congratulate the vice president-elect, our colleague from California — Senator Harris. Beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president-elect for the very first time.” McConnell’s congratulatory remarks came after a lengthy speech, where the Senate top Republican touted President Trump’s accomplishments the last four years. He described the accomplishment as “nearly endless,” pointing to policies including the 2017 GOP tax law and “perhaps most importantly” the confirmation of three conservative Supreme Court justices, as well as “economic prosperity,” “foreign policy,” and “bold regulatory changes.”

“Florida burglar climbing into home killed by falling window: sheriff” by Fox News’ Robert Gearty – A freak accident involving a falling window killed a Florida burglar, according to a report. It happened Saturday during the attempted burglary of a home in Lehigh Acres, NBC 2 Fort Myers reported. Lee County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that the window killed Jonathan Hernandez when it slammed down on him as he was climbing through it. The incident report says the window came down on the 32-year-old man’s neck, the station reported. Deputies found him dead when they arrived on the scene. Tyrone Lane told the station he and Hernandez were friends. He questioned the account of what happened. “He is not a burglar,” he said “He’s not a thief. He’s not a bad guy. That’s not what he is.”

“DeSantis begins to acknowledge Biden win even if he has trouble saying it” by Politico’s Gary Fineout – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a top ally of President Donald Trump, all but acknowledged on Tuesday that Joe Biden won the presidential election even if he appeared to have difficulty saying it out loud. DeSantis’ attempt to deflect answering a question about Biden’s win came the same day that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell directly acknowledged Biden as president-elect a day after he officially won 306 electoral college votes. The state’s Republican governor — who won his election due in part to an early endorsement by Trump — has been a staunch and vocal supporter of the president. Trump is expected to continue to loom large in GOP politics in his newly adopted home state once he leaves the White House. When asked directly by reporters if he accepted a Biden win, DeSantis said, “It’s not for me to do. But here’s what I would say: Obviously we did our thing in Florida. The college voted. What’s going to happen is going to happen.” DeSantis added there was a “lot of frustration” for Trump supporters because he said the president’s opponents did not accept Trump as president during the preceding four years. “I mean Hillary [Clinton] the last week of the election was saying [Russian President Vladimir] Putin stole it,” DeSantis said. “And I just think that’s left a lot of people really frustrated with how it’s going to go. But we’re going to do the job for Florida. We’re going to push ahead. We’ll work with whoever we need to be able to do right by the state of Florida.” DeSantis said that Trump’s departure is “unfortunate” for the state because he may no longer “be a phone call away from getting everything done soon.” Since getting elected governor in 2018, DeSantis constantly urged Trump to help out Florida on everything from hurricane aid to Everglades restoration to signing off on the state’s attempt to import drugs from Canada. During his campaign rallies in Florida, Trump would joke about how often he got asked for money by DeSantis.

“DeSantis attorneys call for sanctions against Northwest Florida lawyer critical of him” by WKRG’s Daniel Smithson – A Northwest Florida lawyer who sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic could possibly face sanctions after from an appellate court. In an 11-page document filed to the First District Court of Appeal in Florida, DeSantis’s attorneys argue Walton County lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder appealing a lower court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, which asserts DeSantis should have closed Florida’s beaches and issued a stay-at-home order during the pandemic, is “frivolous” and warrants sanctions. “Florida law authorizes appellate courts to sanction attorneys and litigants for frivolous filings,” the document reads in part. “Section 57.105(1)(b) provides that a court ‘shall award a reasonable attorney’s fee’ on its own initiative when it finds that the losing party or their attorney ‘knew or should have known’ that ‘the application of then- existing law to . . . material facts’ did not support a “claim or defense.” The document goes on to say that such an appeal occupied much of DeSantis’s time. The document argues that time could have been “spent on innumerable other pressing matters related to the health, welfare, and safety of Floridians. (Uhlfelder) knew or should have known that filing this appeal was frivolous. Appellant and his counsel should be sanctioned accordingly.” WKRG News 5 spoke with Uhlfelder Tuesday afternoon, and he doesn’t agree with the document’s claims. He argues the lawsuit and subsequent appeal was aimed at protecting Floridians from COVID-19.

“Florida seniors start getting coronavirus vaccine Wednesday — and then what?” by Local 10’s Andrew Perez – As frontline medical workers have started getting the COVID-19 vaccine the past two days, senior citizens in long-term care facilities are now getting ready for the shots. Vaccinations will begin at those facilities Wednesday across Florida. The state’s health department is working with several different agencies, as well as CVS and Walgreens, to administer the shots. “Having the vaccine come out is almost like an Independence Day, where you’re finally getting your freedom back, where you can almost get back to old life” said Charlotte Mather-Taylor, director of the Area Agency on Aging Broward County. But she’s worried about seniors stuck at home — some alone — saying they too should be prioritized. Jared Moskowitz, Florida’s emergency management director, describes the process like a tidal wave. More vials are coming, and more groups will be vaccinated. “After healthcare workers, after long-term care residents and staff, we’ll be doing EMS, paramedics, fire, and I think after that you’ll see folks 65 and older with comorbidities,” he said. The state is already planning for mass vaccination, too, with setups similar to the virus testing sites. Moskowitz said those are expected in February or March. On top of drug manufacturer Pfizer pushing out its vaccine this week, Moderna is expected to have its vaccine approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis said, which could mean shipments to Florida this weekend.

“DeSantis: Florida’s Next 2 Weeks of COVID Vaccine Shipments “On Hold”” by Spectrum News’ Dale Greenstein and Cait McVey – It was heralded as the beginning of the end for Florida’s long and deadly fight against COVID-19. But one day after front-line health care workers started getting vaccinated, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state’s next shipments of the vaccine are being delayed. “We were supposed to get for next week 205,000 Pfizer and then the next week 247,000. Those next two weeks shipments of Pfizer are on hold right now,” DeSantis said Tuesday in West Palm Beach. “We don’t know whether we will get any or not. And we’re just going to have to wait.” That’s disappointing news for the people most vulnerable to the virus, who were hoping to be vaccinated as soon as possible. DeSantis says the problem is at the source. “It’s a production issue with Pfizer. It has nothing to do with the federal government or nothing to do specifically with Florida. This is just what’s happening nationwide,” he said. Spectrum News is reaching out to Pfizer for a statement on the governor’s explanation for the delayed vaccine shipments. DeSantis said he is hoping the Food and Drug Adminisration approves Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use by the end of this week. According to the governor, if that happens, the first shipments will go out over the weekend, and Florida is slated to receive 370,000 doses in the first round.

“Florida’s Electoral College votes officially go to Trump and Pence” by Orlando Sentinel’s Gray Rohrer – Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes officially were cast for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on Monday during a brief ceremony in the Senate chambers of the Capitol. Trump won Florida with 51% of the vote to Biden’s 48%, by a margin of 371,686 votes out of more than 11 million cast. While other states where Trump is challenging his losses to Democrat Joe Biden saw failed attempts to seat alternative electors or held ceremonies in undisclosed locations due to security threats, Florida’s Electoral College vote was largely uneventful. The only disruption occurred ahead of the vote when Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson tested positive for COVID-19. Simpson, 56, was slated to be an elector and took a test ahead of the event. Because of his positive result, he didn’t attend the ceremony and the other elector chose state Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg to replace him.

“Florida Congress Members Send Letter To State’s Chief Inspector General Wanting To Know What Led To Raid Of Rebekah Jones’ Home” by CBS Miami – New calls Tuesday night for an investigation into the search of a former Florida COVID data scientist’s home. A group of Florida Congress members, all Democrats, sent a letter to the state’s chief inspector general. They want to know more about what led the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to show up at the home of Rebekah Jones in Tallahassee, taking her computer and other property. She’s now accused of hacking into a state system to communicate with her former colleagues. But Tuesday the FDLE chief insisted there’s no way Jones could have been personally targeted for that search, even after the breach set off alerts at the Florida Department of Health. Jones was fired after claiming the department of health was manipulating COVID data to support the governor’s reopening plan.

“A mysterious gap in COVID-19 deaths appeared in Florida before the presidential election” by Sun Sentinel’s Cindy Krischer Goodman and David Fleshler – An astonishing pattern has emerged in Florida’s COVID death tally — one that suggests the state manipulated a backlog of unrecorded fatalities, presenting more favorable death counts in the days leading up to the 2020 presidential election. At issue is the state’s handling of the lag between the date someone dies and the date Florida reports that death in the public count. With minor exceptions, Florida quit including long-backlogged deaths in its daily counts on Oct. 24, 10 days before the Nov. 3 election, and resumed consistently including them on Nov. 17, two weeks after the election. The result: The daily death numbers Floridians saw during that time were significantly lower than they otherwise would have been. The change came just three days after the administration of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that it would conduct an additional review of every suspected COVID death before adding it to Florida’s count.

“Florida announces delay in delivery of Pfizer vaccine” by Click Orlando’s Bobby Caina Calcan and Adriana Gomez Licon – Florida’s largest hospital system says it is on track to immunize nearly 20,000 health care workers against COVID-19. The news comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday announced a delay in hundreds of thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine. But DeSantis says the first batch of the Moderna vaccine could begin heading to his state as soon as this weekend, allowing wider distribution of the medicine to hospitals across the state. Florida began receiving its share of the coronavirus vaccine on Monday, and the state had expected to receive about 450,000 doses produced by Pfizer over the next two weeks. But production issues could prevent them from being delivered.

“White House National Security Adviser O’Brien Cuts Trip Short to Address SolarWinds Hack” by WSJ’s Dustin Voltz – White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien has cut short a multicountry trip to Europe to return to the U.S. to address the suspected Russian hack of government agencies, signaling growing alarm within the Trump administration about a cyber espionage campaign considered potentially one of the most damaging in years. The change of plans for Mr. O’Brien comes two days after it was disclosed that multiple federal agencies had been hacked as part of a global hacking campaign that is believed to have also ensnared private corporate networks across the globe. “Ambassador O’Brien is returning to address the hacking incident,” John Ullyot, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement. Mr. O’Brien will hold meetings Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning and convene “a high level interagency meeting” this week, Mr. Ullyot said. Mr. O’Brien had been scheduled to return Saturday after planned stops in Italy on Tuesday and visits later in the week to Germany, Switzerland and the U.K. He had already met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and President Emmanuel Macron in France. The hack continued for months, largely undetected by the Trump administration and cybersecurity firms, until the past week, according to people familiar with the matter. Current and former officials and cybersecurity experts have described the hack as an espionage operation rather than one aimed at damaging computer networks, and said it represents a significant counterintelligence failure.

“Biden Visits Georgia to Rally Support for Democrats in Senate Runoffs” by WSJ’s Ken Thomas – President-elect Joe Biden sought Tuesday to galvanize early voting in Georgia’s pivotal Senate runoff elections, imploring Democrats to help give him a working majority at the start of his administration. Mr. Biden made his first post-election campaign appearance in Atlanta on behalf of Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who will face incumbent Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the Jan. 5 runoffs. Republicans currently have a 50-48 majority in next year’s Senate. If Mr. Biden’s party can win both runoffs, Democrats would seize control of the Senate because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as president of the Senate, would be able to break any tie votes. “Don’t wait!” Mr. Biden said at a drive-in event in Atlanta, urging people to make a plan to vote early, prompting honks from the assembled vehicles. “I think Georgia is going to shock the nation with the number of people who vote on Jan. 5.” Mr. Biden added: “I need two senators from this state. I want to get something done—not two senators who are just going to get in the way. Because look, getting nothing done just hurts Georgia.” Mr. Biden narrowly defeated President Trump in Georgia last month by about 12,000 votes, becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since Bill Clinton in 1992. The outdoor event during the coronavirus pandemic came hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) publicly congratulated Mr. Biden for his victory and referred to him as the president-elect, something Mr. Trump has refused to do. Mr. McConnell’s comments came a day after the Electoral College formalized Mr. Biden’s victory.

“GOP Senate Leaders Warn Against Long Shot Election Challenge” by WSJ’s Lindsay Wise and Siobhan Hughes – Senate Republican leaders united Tuesday in calling Democrat Joe Biden the winner of the presidential race, while warning colleagues not to join a long shot bid to challenge the results when Congress certifies electoral votes in January. “Our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20. The Electoral College has spoken,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.). “So today, I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.” Mr. McConnell was the latest in a series of top Republicans to recognize Mr. Biden as president-elect this week. His comments came a day after the Electoral College formally counted the ballots and capped more than a month of unsuccessful GOP efforts to get courts and state officials to overturn the election results in favor of Republican President Trump. Mr. Biden said he called Mr. McConnell to thank him on Tuesday and pledged to seek areas of common ground. Other Republican lawmakers still hope to contest the results at a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, when federal law requires Congress to count and certify the results of each state’s electoral vote. Rep. Mo Brooks (R., Ala.) said he would press ahead with a plan to object to votes in multiple states. It takes one member of the House and one senator to formally object and force votes in both chambers.

“Iranian Oil Exports Rise as Tehran Circumvents Sanctions, Finds New Buyers” by WSJ’s Benoit Faucon – Iran has circumvented U.S. sanctions and exported more oil to China and other countries in recent months, providing a lifeline for its struggling economy and undermining the Trump administration’s so-called maximum pressure campaign against Tehran. The scale of Iran’s petroleum sales is difficult to gauge, given their often covert nature. Several firms that monitor the global oil trade say shipments from Iran have roughly doubled from the low levels seen earlier this year, although estimates vary widely. On the high end, U.S.-based TankerTrackers.com, which uses satellite imagery to follow deliveries, estimated Iranian crude oil exports hit 1.2 million barrels a day over the fall, up from 481,000 barrels a day in February. Meanwhile, SVB International in Washington said Iran exported 585,000 barrels of crude oil a day in November, up from 230,000 earlier in 2020. Petro-Logistics saw an increase in exports to about 447,000 barrels a day, from 222,000. The more conservative figures suggest U.S. sanctions have kept most Iranian crude bottled up. But the sharp increase seen across the three market trackers suggests Tehran has been more successful recently in selling its oil. The more conservative figures suggest U.S. sanctions have kept most Iranian crude bottled up. But the sharp increase seen across the three market trackers suggests Tehran has been more successful recently in selling its oil.

“Georgia to Review Mail-in Ballot Signatures to Boost Confidence in Elections” by WSJ’s Alexa Corse – Georgia will audit signatures submitted by absentee voters in one county, after President Trump and his allies called for such a review as they continued to question President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who announced the review on Monday, has said the audit wouldn’t change the outcome of the presidential race in Georgia. “Now that the signature matching has been attacked again and again with no evidence, I feel we need to take steps to restore confidence in our elections,” Mr. Raffensperger, a Republican, said Monday at the state Capitol. The secretary of state’s office will work with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to audit signatures in the Atlanta suburb of Cobb County, which is expected to take two weeks, Mr. Raffensperger said. The secretary of state’s office also plans to work with a university to conduct a statewide signature match audit, he said. Also in Georgia, voting is under way for the hotly contested Jan. 5 Senate runoffs, which will determine control of the U.S. Senate. More than 482,000 votes already have been cast, including roughly 314,000 absentee by-mail ballots and 168,000 early in-person votes as of Tuesday morning, the secretary of state’s office said. Election officials were already required to verify signatures before ballots were counted in Georgia. Absentee voters had to sign the outside of the envelope, not the ballot. Election officials had to compare that signature with the voter’s registration file. If the signatures were consistent, the envelopes were then separated from the ballots to protect the privacy of voter’s choices. Election officials also verified signatures on paper applications for an absentee ballot.

“Explaining the Supreme Court’s ruling denying Trump and how Alito and Thomas didn’t dissent” by CNN’s Dan Berman – The Supreme Court’s order Friday tossing out Texas’ attempt to void millions of votes in four states and help President Donald Trump capture a second term was clear and concise. Texas didn’t have the right to sue Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin over their election rules and laws. Meaning the case was over and done. No dissents were issued. But Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas made a separate legal point. They issued a statement — and importantly, not a dissent — accompanying the order saying that the court shouldn’t summarily block the types of lawsuits Texas brought. But they also said this one wasn’t worthwhile. Meaning the case was over and done. The Supreme Court has long been opaque to the American public. It doesn’t allow television cameras. Recording devices are banned in courtroom. Opinions and orders are issued on its website with little explanation for non-experts and experts alike. Oyez, Oyez, Oyez, here’s what you need to know about Friday’s action: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton brought an unexpected and unprecedented lawsuit Monday night against the four battleground states, citing evidence of widespread voter fraud that federal and state courts have repeatedly rejected. Paxton’s overall argument was based on an interpretation of Article II in the US Constitution. “Thus, only the State legislatures are permitted to create or modify the respective State’s rules for the appointment of presidential electors,” Paxton wrote.

“State Department receiving limited number of coronavirus vaccines this week” by CNN’s Kylie Atwood – The State Department will be receiving a “very limited number of vaccines” protecting against the coronavirus this week and plans to distribute them to prioritized individuals — a group that includes front-line medical personnel and American personnel in Kabul, Baghdad and Mogadishu, the department revealed in a memo Tuesday from a top department official. “While we would have preferred to vaccinate our entire Department workforce at once, we will have to do so incrementally based on vaccine availability,” State Department Under Secretary for Management Brian Bulatao wrote in a memo to the department that was reviewed by CNN. “We advise employees to continue to wear face coverings, physically distance, and follow the guidance issued through Diplomacy Strong and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” In addition to front-line medical personnel and American personnel in Kabul, Baghdad and Mogadishu, Bulatao said, the department will initially “prioritize vaccination” of personnel supporting its 24/7 watch centers, critical operations, maintenance, custodial staff and mission-critical diplomatic security personnel in the national capital region. The news comes after the first doses of coronavirus vaccines were administered to the American public on Monday, after the US Food and Drug Administration authorized the groundbreaking vaccine late last week. The initial batch is being focused on health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, per CDC recommendations, but some government officials are also slated to be inoculated in the early rounds of the vaccine.

“Stimulus negotiations: A deal is within reach. Can Hill leaders finally strike one?” by CNN’s Manu Raju and Clare Foran – It’s now time for congressional leaders to finally show their cards — and make some critical decisions. With government funding running out Friday night, lawmakers have to release a massive, $1.4 trillion package as soon as Tuesday if it has any chance of passing Congress and keeping agencies from shutting down by the weekend.

That means Americans could learn Tuesday whether leaders on Capitol Hill have agreed to provide desperately needed relief since they want to add the Covid-19 provisions onto the omnibus spending package. Or struggling Americans could once again be disappointed if there’s no agreement and they’re forced to wait even longer as lawmakers continue to haggle.

Top congressional leaders — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — convened for a meeting on Covid and government funding at 4 p.m. ET and will reconvene at 7:30 p.m. ET. Departing the meeting, congressional leaders sounded upbeat. “I’ll just say it was a good meeting,” Schumer said. McCarthy said, “We’re continuing to work. I think there’s progress. We’ll get back together.” McConnell told reporters, “We’re still talking to each other, and I think there’s an agreement that we’re not going to leave here without the omni and a Covid package,” referring to both a relief deal and government funding.

Leaders may have a bit more time to finalize a Covid deal under the procedure that the leaders are now looking at.

“Pence likely to get the coronavirus vaccine by Friday” by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Maegan Vazquez – Vice President Mike Pence is likely to receive the coronavirus vaccine by Friday, two sources familiar with the plans tell CNN. It’s unclear if he will receive it before President Donald Trump. Tentative plans are being made for Pence to receive it on camera.

Earlier Tuesday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeated that Trump would be open to taking the coronavirus vaccine, but would not commit to the timing or the President being inoculated in public to inspire confidence in its efficacy. She also confirmed that senior administration officials will be injected with the vaccine in coming days to instill public confidence. “(Trump) is absolutely open to taking the vaccine. He’s been emphatic about that to me privately and to you all publicly. But he did recently recover from Covid. He has the continued protective effects of the monoclonal antibody cocktail that I mentioned, and he will receive the vaccine as soon as his medical team determines it’s best,” McEnany said during a press briefing. “But his priority is frontline workers, those in long term care facilities, and he wants to make sure that the vulnerable get access first.” Dr. Anthony Fauci would recommend that both Trump and Pence receive the Covid-19 vaccine, which has been approved for emergency use authorization and is being rolled out nationwide. “You still want to protect people who are, you know, very important to our country right now,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Even though the President himself was infected and he has likely antibodies that likely would be protective, we’re not sure how long that protection lasts.”

“Linda Sarsour, too radical for Joe Biden, to campaign for Ossoff and Warnock in Georgia Senate race” by Fox News’ Bradford Betz – Former Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour said on Monday she plans to canvass in Georgia on behalf of Democratic U.S. Senate candidates Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff for the Jan. 5 runoff election. Appearing on a virtual “vote-a-thon” hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Sarsour told Georgians she “would probably be coming to a door near you.” “You, the Muslim community in Georgia, by yourselves can literally swing this entire election and send two Democrats to the U.S. Senate, which makes [Vice President-elect] Kamala Harris the deciding voter,” Sarsour said at the event, which was attended by Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. Sarsour said that by voting for Warnock and Ossoff, Georgia’s Muslim community “can actually alleviate harm and suffering on millions of immigrants in this country, particularly on this issue of immigration reform, on issues of climate change.” Sarsour has garnered a controversial reputation for her incendiary rhetoric against Israel and her support of the BDS movement that calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against the state. The Women’s March last year cut ties with Sarsour and two other founding board members following accusations of anti-Semitic rhetoric weakening the group’s mission. And in August, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign distanced itself from Sarsour, after she was seen participating in the Democratic National Convention. “Joe Biden has been a strong supporter of Israel and a vehement opponent of anti-Semitism his entire life, and he obviously condemns her views and opposes BDS, as does the Democratic platform,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement, referring to Sarsour. “She has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.”

“Ossoff says ICE should make sure illegal immigrants are paid minimum wage” by Fox News’ Michael Ruiz – Jon Ossoff, a Democratic challenger in one of the two Georgia Senate runoffs next month, suggested Sunday that federal immigration authorities should enforce workplace protections for illegal immigrants. A young woman at a campaign event Sunday identified herself as a “Dreamer,” a beneficiary of the controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The policy allows people who grew up in the U.S. after being brought to the country illegally as children to remain. The woman told the candidate she lived in fear of being separated from her daughter or deported, then asked him what his plan was for people like her. “Dreamers, DACA recipients are every bit as American as any of us, and I will have your back in the U.S. Senate,” Ossoff said. He posted a video of the exchange to Twitter, arguing in favor of immigration reform that protects DACA recipients and creates a path to obtain legal status. But he also suggested federal immigration authorities ought to enforce minimum wage and workplace-condition standards for illegal immigrants in the U.S. “In Georgia’s agricultural sector, the campesinos (farm workers) who work in the fields, enduring some of the most brutal conditions of labor anywhere in this country to keep America fed, paid less than the minimum wage, [are] often subject to abuse by employers,” he said. “When federal agents arrive at one of these farms it should be to make sure people are being paid the minimum wage, working in humane conditions.” About a third of Georgia’s Latino community is made up of illegal immigrants, the Associated Press reported over the weekend. “We should have gratitude for those who keep us fed, who toil in the fields, and show humanity and compassion for those who are a part of our society, but living in the shadows,” Ossoff told the questioner. “So I will be there for you and for all Dreamers.”

“Slew of federal departments issue rule to protect faith-based grant recipients” by Fox News’ Sam Dorman – Nine federal entities announced Monday a new rule loosening requirements on faith-based organizations that receive federal grant money. According to the AP, the rule allows faith-based organizations to receive funding without requiring them to tell clients about their religious affiliation, provide them with a written notice of their rights, and refer them to different programs upon request. The new rule follows an executive order President Trump signed in 2018 on the issue and will presumably have a widespread impact as it included the following departments: Homeland Security, Education, Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, and Labor. It also impacted the U.S. Agency for International Development. In announcing the rule, the administration argued it would treat religious organizations equally and allow them to maintain legal protections even while participating in federal programs. First Liberty Institute, a conservative non-profit, praised the new rule. “With these new protections, faith-based organizations are protected from having to abandon their religious identity in order to partner with the federal government in providing services to underserved Americans,” said Mike Berry, General Counsel at First Liberty. “Faith-based organizations efficiently and effectively provide a plethora of services to Americans in need. They should be treated fairly and not face barriers to helping those in need simply because of their religious identity. The rule faced backlash from some left-leaning groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which called on President-elect Biden to reverse it when he enters office.

“17 House GOP members send letter to Pelosi urging Swalwell’s removal from Intel Committee” by Fox News’ Michael Ruiz – A group of 17 Republican House members sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tuesday urging her to “immediately remove” Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee. It comes in response to reports over his past ties to a spy from China, who posed as a college student, networked with up-and-coming American officials and allegedly slept with a pair of Midwestern mayors. “Because of Rep. Swalwell’s position on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, his close interactions with Chinese intelligence services, however unintentional they may be, are an unacceptable national security risk,” the letter reads. Noting that the committee “handles some of the most sensitive information our government possesses—information critical to our national defense,” the letter continued, “we urge you to immediately remove Rep. Swalwell from his position on the House Intelligence Committee.” Representatives who signed the letter include Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), and Reps. Jim Banks (Ind.), Chip Roy (Texas), Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.). They noted that Pelosi blasted former Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “not fit to serve” in 2017 after reports emerged that he failed to disclose to Congress a pair of meetings with the Russian ambassador. She called for him to resign at the time.

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning political journalist. Diverse New Media, Corp. publishes Floridianpress.com, Hispolitica.com, shark-tank.com, and Texaspolitics.com He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming, and biking. Javier is also a political consultant and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Learn more at www.brownpeople.org Email him at [email protected]

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