You can watch the senator’s press conference here.
A Connecticut jury began hearing arguments Tuesday in a trial to decide how much money conspiracy theorist and right-winger Alex Jones should pay relatives of victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy, for spreading a lie that the massacre was a hoax, The Associated Press reports.
A settlement was ordered at trial against Jones last month in a civil case in Texas brought by parents of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting with the current case in Connecticut pending.
Critics have said many things of Jones and his platform Infowars, among them the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate and extremist groups in the US, whose spokesman said in August: “He has probably done more to further the cause of hate in this country than almost anyone outside of Donald Trump himself.”
The AP writes today of this trial in Waterbury, Connecticut, not far from Sandy Hook:
More than a dozen family members, including parents of some victims, filed into the courtroom to listen to the opening statements and first day of evidence.
A jury of three men and three women along with several alternates will decide how much the conspiracy theorist should pay relatives of eight victims and an FBI agent who responded to the school.
Judge Barbara Bellis found Jones liable without a trial last year after he failed to turn over documents to the families’ lawyers.
On Tuesday, she sanctioned Jones for failing to turn over analytic data related to his website and the popularity of his show.
She told his lawyers that because of that failure, they will not be allowed to argue he didn’t profit from his Sandy Hook remarks.
Jones did not attend the opening of the trial Tuesday.
He said on his show Monday that he would be traveling to Connecticut next week.
The trial is expected to last about a month and feature testimony from both Jones and the families.
More of the Guardian piece that contains that SPLC quote, above, here.
Indiana to ban abortion on Thursday
As the news cycle today has focused on senator Lindsey Graham’s proposals for a national abortion ban from 15 weeks, its worth remembering that Republican-controlled Indiana will bring in its almost total ban on Thursday.
As ABC reports, there is a challenge to the extreme law in the state’s courts, but that won’t be heard until next week – after it comes into effect.
ABC says: An Indiana judge won’t hear arguments until next week on a lawsuit seeking to block the state’s abortion ban, leaving that new law set to take effect on Thursday.
The special judge overseeing the case issued an order Monday setting a court hearing for Sept. 19, which is four days after the ban’s effective date.
Indiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature approved the tighter abortion restrictions during a two-week special legislative session that ended Aug. 5, making it the first state to do so since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated federal abortion protections by overturning Roe v. Wade in June.
Indiana abortion clinic operators filed the lawsuit Aug. 31, saying the ban, which includes limited exceptions, “strips away the fundamental rights of people seeking abortion care” in violation of the Indiana Constitution.
The stock trading activities of lawmakers have become increasingly controversial this year.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi has come under scrutiny for the trading activities of her husband, Paul Pelosi, a venture capitalist whose stock transactions Republicans have raised their eyebrows at. However, as The New York Times investigation released today makes clear, Pelosi is far from the only lawmaker whose family members engage in trading.
There seems to be an awareness in some corners of Congress that these trades are too problematic to continue. In February, a bipartisan group of senators and House representatives introduced legislation to ban owning and trading stocks. Punchbowl News reported in July that House Democrats would propose their own ban on trading in August.
That month has come and gone with no proposal made public, but lawmakers are now back in Washington, meaning that could change in the coming weeks.
Be they Democrat or Republican, House or Senate, a New York Times investigation published today has found dozens of Congress members trading stocks in companies that their committees are involved with.
Here are a few examples, from the Times’ report:
Senator Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama and a member of the agriculture committee, regularly reported buying and selling contracts tied to cattle prices starting last year, even as the panel, by Mr. Tuberville’s own account, had “been talking about the cattle markets.”
Representative Bob Gibbs, an Ohio Republican on the House Oversight Committee, reported buying shares of the pharmaceutical company AbbVie in 2020 and 2021, while the committee was investigating AbbVie and five rivals over high drug prices.
The timing of one trade by the wife of Representative Alan Lowenthal, Democrat of California, was especially striking: His disclosure statement said she had sold Boeing shares on March 5, 2020 — one day before a House committee on which he sits released damaging findings on the company’s handling of its 737 Max jet, which was involved in two fatal crashes.
All told, 97 lawmakers or their family members traded securities in companies that were affected by their congressional work, the Times’ investigation found, in what will surely add to calls to ban lawmakers from trading stocks, bonds and other investments.
An advocacy group linked to the Biden administration has joined in on attacking Republicans for their upcoming proposal to ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
“Republicans in Congress have shown yet again that they will impose a nationwide abortion ban if given the opportunity,” Danielle Melfi, executive director of Building Back Together, said in a statement.
“This bill underscores just how out of touch they are with the vast majority of the American people, who overwhelmingly oppose proposals to take away our rights and freedoms. While today President Biden will highlight the Inflation Reduction Act and his work to lower costs for working families, Republicans in Congress are continuing their fight to take personal freedoms away from millions of Americans.”
“The decision to get an abortion is a deeply personal one that should only ever be between a woman and her doctor — not politicians. It’s essential that we have more allies in Congress who will stand up for the right of all people to make decisions about their own health for themselves.”
Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator backing the legislation, will unveil it at a 12 noon eastern time event with anti-abortion activists.
Speaking of the justice department’s January 6 investigation, Reuters yesterday reported new details of the inquiry into the attack on the Capitol, which appears to be widening:
The US Justice Department has issued about 40 subpoenas over the past week seeking information about efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election, the New York Times reported on Monday.
Boris Epshteyn, a longtime Trump adviser, and Mike Roman, a campaign strategist for Trump, had their phones seized last week as evidence, the Times said, citing people familiar with the situation.
Dan Scavino, Trump’s former social media director, was also among those who were subpoenaed, according to the paper, which said the group included low-level aides as well as senior advisers.
An attorney for Scavino did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters, while Reuters was unable to contact Roman and Epshteyn.
The subpoenas seek information on a failed bid by the former president and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election by submitting alternative slates of fake electors.
The inquiry is also looking at the assault on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 by Trump supporters.
Some of the subpoenas also seek information on Trump’s Save America political fundraising group, which the Times said was a new line of inquiry by the justice department.
A criminal referral from the January 6 committee to the justice department is “likely”, Adam Kinzinger, one of the committee’s two Republican members, said on Tuesday.
“When it comes to criminality, that’s not our role,” Kinzinger said in an interview on MSNBC, describing the justice department as in the midst of a “pretty fulsome investigation.”
“And that’s going to be where this baton, so to speak, is handed to. Not by us, we may have a criminal referral, I think that’s likely, but with their investigation from here on out.”
The January 6 committee has publicly aired a trove of evidence about Donald Trump’s efforts to disrupt the 2020 election and his actions before and during the attack on the US Capitol. It’s been unclear what the end result of the bipartisan House panel’s investigation will be, but Kinzinger’s comments make it clear he thinks the justice department may act on their findings.
The January 6 committee is expected to resume its hearings later this month, which Kinzinger described as “must-watch TV” for those who care about the fate of the US government: