Democrats only expect a handful of Republicans to be fair game in potentially casting supportive votes for Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court. With a slight majority in the Senate, the Democrats won’t need Republican votes to get Jackson onto the court, though having bipartisan credentials would boost her nomination, at least in terms of optics.
Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski recently indicated she has not decided whether she will support Jackson or not. Murkowski was one of just three Republican who nominated Jackson to her current role as an appeals judge on the DC circuit.
“The difference is, you have nine people who sit on the highest court in the land, who are there for life, and it requires a level of review and scrutiny that is in line with the position,” Murkowski told CNN. “So yeah, this is a different game.”
Murkowski in August will be defending her seat against a Trump-backed GOP candidate during Alaska’s primary in August. Murkowksi said that the upcoming race will not affect her decision on Jackson.
“This is not about me,” she said. “This is about her. This is about the Supreme Court.”
The labor department reported today that inflation has jumped 7.9% over the last year, the highest spike since 1982. The inflation rate reported today did not reflect the increase in oil and gas prices that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Since the start of the invasion, the average price of a gallon of gas increased 62 cents to $4.32.
Increased consumer spending, rising wages and supply shortages have all contributed to inflation. Along with gas prices, housing costs have also risen sharply.
The Federal Reserve is set to raise interest rates at the end of the month, though the central bank has said that it is paying attention to instability caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Inflation is teeing up to be a major talking point in the upcoming midterm elections, with Republicans slamming Democrats for inflation. Speaking in front of the Senate this morning, minority leader Mitch McConnell said that the Democrats are trying to blame inflation on Russia – a preview of what will likely be a common talking point among Republicans.
A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice highlights the increased hardship election workers are facing after Donald Trump’s misleading claims of election fraud in the 2020 election.
One out of six election officials in a survey said that they experienced threats because of their jobs, with 77% saying that these threats have increased in recent years. One in three workers know at least one election worker who quit because of fear for their safety, increased threats or intimidation. Nearly two of three workers said that they are concerned about threats, harassment and intimidation in the long-run.
Larry Norden, senior director of elections and government at the Brennan Center, told NPR that the report shows that election administrators are concerned and are “not getting the support they need”.
“There’s a crisis in election administration,” Norden said.
Hugo Lowell, who has been covering the House investigation into the January 6 Capitol attack for the Guardian, reports:
Interrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s election win on January 6 last year as part of the scheme to return Donald Trump to office was known to be unlawful by at least one of the former president’s lawyers, according to an email exchange about the potential conspiracy.
The former Trump lawyer John Eastman – who helped coordinate the scheme from the Trump “war room” at the Willard hotel in Washington – conceded in an email to counsel for then vice-president Mike Pence, Greg Jacob, that the plan was a violation of the Electoral Count Act.
But Eastman then urged Pence to move ahead with the scheme anyway, pressuring the former vice-president’s counsel to consider supporting the effort on the basis that it was only a “minor violation” of the statute that governed the certification procedure.
The admission that the scheme was unlawful undercuts arguments by Eastman and the Willard war room team that they believed there was no wrongdoing in seeking to have Pence delay the certification past January 6 – one of the strategies they sought to return Trump to power.
It additionally raises the prospect that the other members of the Willard war room – including Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon – were also aware that the scheme to delay or stop the certification was unlawful from the start.
The death of a police officer who was assaulted during the January 6 Capitol insurrection and died by suicide days later has been ruled a line-of-duty death by the DC Police and Firefighters’ Retirement Relief Board.
Erin Smith, the widow of Jeffrey Smith, petitioned for her husband’s death to be considered line-of-duty, which would allow her to receive full benefits offered to the family of those who die in the line of duty, including health insurance.
Video footage from the attack shows Smith being hit with a flying metal pole. His wife also reports him telling her that he was also punched in the face. A former DC chief medical examiner said there was a “direct cause and effect relationship” between the trauma Smith experienced from his assault and his death as he had no prior history of depression or mental health issues.
According to NBC News, the retirement and relief board said in a letter that “his injury was the sole and direct cause of his death.”
Florida’s Republican-controlled House last night passed a bill that overhauls voting laws in the state and includes a police force that will be dedicated to investigating election crimes.
Governor Ron DeSantis has called for the creation of the creation of a police unit, saying last year that voter fraud – claims of which he did not specify – is rampant and needs to be more severely punished. The bill passed last night also increases penalties for violating state election laws.
Voting rights advocates say that the bill is a way for DeSantis – a formidable Trump ally – to play to a base that believes there was fraud in the 2020 election.
“It is very clearly an attempt to satiate a certain sector of the base that has been bombarded with misinformation about the 2020 Election and the Big Lie,” Brad Ashwell, Florida state director of the advocacy group All Voting is Local, told the Miami Herald.
Bernice King tweeted that “Florida is going full steam ahead with bills that deter democracy”.
US joins calls for war crimes investigation into Russia’s actions in Ukraine
Good morning, and welcome to the US politics live blog.
The US is joining in on calls for an international war crimes investigation into Russia’s actions in Ukraine, with Kamala Harris saying earlier today that “we should all be watching”.
“Absolutely there should be an investigation,” Harris said while standing next to Polish president Andrzej Duda during a joint news conference in Warsaw. “I have no question the eyes of the world are on this war and what Russia has done in terms of this aggression and these atrocities.”
The international criminal court (ICC) said last week that it is launching a war crimes investigation into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine following a referral for investigation from 39 countries.
While Harris emphasized that the US and Poland are united in efforts to help Ukraine, she did not directly address the US dismissing Poland’s plan to provide fighter jets to be sent to Ukraine.
Harris also announced that the US will provide $53m in humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian civilians affected by the invasion.
Here’s what else is happening:
- Congress is racing to get a spending bill on Joe Biden’s desk as funding for the government is set to expire Friday night. The House late last night passed a huge $1.5tn spending bill that includes $13.6bn in military and humanitarian support to Ukraine and European allies. The bill earmarks $6.5bn in funds to send troops and weapons to eastern Europe to aid allied forces and another $6.8bn in aid to refugees and support to allies.
- The spending bill passed without the $15.6bn the White House asked Congress for to help fund its Covid response plan. The White House said the money is needed to secure Covid-19 treatment and aid next-generation vaccine development and without the funding, treatment and testing will be in short supply.
- Biden is set to meet with Colombia president Ivan Duque today. The two leaders are set to discuss migration. Biden is also speaking to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan this morning.
Stay tuned for more live updates.