Kansas’ vote to protect abortion rights upends US midterm elections – live – The Guardian US

Kansas is an unlikely place for a triumph of abortion rights.

Starting in the 1990s, abortion providers in the state were repeated targets of violence, and in 2009, physician George Tiller was assassinated in Wichita. The state is a reliable GOP vote in presidential elections, and mostly sends Republicans to represent it in the Senate and House of Representatives – all of whom currently oppose abortion.

But as last night’s vote to keep abortion protections in the constitutions shows, its residents don’t necessarily share their views. Around 59 percent of voters rejected a measure to change the constitution to allow the procedure to be cracked down on – about matching the 58 percent of Americans Gallup found did not want Roe v. Wade overturned.

Whether red or blue, many states appear to share this dynamic. The Public Religion Research Institute says only in 10 states do majorities of voters want to make abortion illegal in all or most cases. Nationally, only 40 percent of people would support doing that.

Key events

There was an unusual and dramatic turn in the defamation trial of Alex Jones this afternoon, when it was revealed that his attorney accidentally sent a copy of the data from Jones’ phone to a lawyer for the Sandy Hook parents who are suing him.

The revelations seem to open up the possibility that Jones could have perjured himself during his testimony. Here’s the account of what happened from Ben Collins of NBC News:

Wow. Sandy Hook parents’ lawyer is revealing that Alex Jones’ lawyers sent him the contents of Jones’ phone BY MISTAKE.

“12 days ago, your attorneys messed up and sent me a digital copy of every text” Jones has sent for years.

“You know what perjury is?” the lawyer asks.

— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) August 3, 2022

Sandy Hook parents’ lawyer is now asking Jones about the times he has emailed about Sandy Hook over the last several years, despite testifying under oath he couldn’t find any emails about Sandy Hook. There are apparently a lot of them. One is on a screen right now.

— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) August 3, 2022

Even Jones is stunned by the fact Sandy Hook parents seem to have his emails. Jones just called it their lawyers’ “Perry Mason moment.” It’s shocking.

— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) August 3, 2022

Judge instructing the jury on the entire contents of Alex Jones’ phone, which was accidentally handed over from Jones’ lawyers to the Sandy Hook parents’ lawyers:

“What we do know is that it was not properly turned over when it should have been.”

— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) August 3, 2022

These texts and emails are FINALLY revealing financials behind Infowars.

Some days in 2018, InfoWars was making $800,000 a day.

“Well after your deplatforming, your numbers keep getting better,” Sandy Hook parents’ lawyer says.

If they keep that up, that’s ~$300 mill. a year.

— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) August 3, 2022

Per the Associated Press, closing arguments in the case are expected to begin today.

The defamation trial of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones appears to be nearing a conclusion in Texas. The Associated Press reports Jones acknowledged in court that the Sandy Hook school shooting happened, after years in which he insisted it was a hoax:

The conspiracy theorist Alex Jones said on Wednesday he now understands it was irresponsible to declare the Sandy Hook school shooting a hoax, and now believes it was “100% real”.

He was speaking in his own defamation trial, a day after the parents of a six-year-old boy killed in the 2012 attack testified about suffering, death threats and harassment they have endured because of what Jones has trumpeted on his media platforms.

“It was … especially since I’ve met the parents. It’s 100% real,” Jones said, at the trial that will determine how much he owes for defaming the parents of Jesse Lewis, one of 20 children and six adults killed at the school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate minority leader, has said Finland and Sweden’s applications for membership of Nato – motivated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – are “a slam dunk for national security that deserves unanimous bipartisan support”.

McConnell made the remarks on the Senate floor today, before a vote scheduled later. The short version of what he said, provided by his office, is as follows:

Today, the Senate will approve ratification protocols to welcome Finland and Sweden as the two newest members of Nato … There is just no question that admitting these robust democratic countries with modern economies and capable, interoperable militaries will only strengthen the most successful military alliance in human history … This is a slam dunk for national security that deserves unanimous bipartisan support.

Approval is expected, though one prominent (and notably sprightly) Republican has said he will vote no.

In an op ed last month, Josh Hawley of Missouri said: “Finland and Sweden want to join the Atlantic Alliance to head off further Russian aggression in Europe. That is entirely understandable given their location and security needs.

“But America’s greatest foreign adversary doesn’t loom over Europe. It looms in Asia. I am talking of course about the People’s Republic of China. And when it comes to Chinese imperialism, the American people should know the truth: the United States is not ready to resist it. Expanding American security commitments in Europe now would only make that problem worse – and America, less safe.”

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Joe Manchin, the man in the middle of most things in Washington these days, spoke to the Senate rules committee this morning about reforming the Electoral Count Act, the creaky old mechanism which just about stood up to Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his defeat in 2020.

Joe Manchin.
Joe Manchin. Photograph: Shawn Thew/EPA

Reform to the act has emerged as a rare subject of bipartisan interest on Capitol Hill – and Manchin, being the only Democrat in statewide office in otherwise deep Republican red West Virginia, is generally a fan of bipartisan things.

He said: “As we saw on 6 January 2021, a lot of the ‘fixes’ established by the original Electoral Count Act are not merely outdated but actually serve as the very mechanisms that bad actors have zeroed in on as a way to potentially invalidate presidential election results.

“As I am sure you will hear from the panel of distinguished experts who will testify before you today – the time to reform the ECA is long overdue. The time for Congress to act is now.

“To that end, I am proud of the bipartisan bill introduced by [the Republican] Senator [Susan] Collins [of Maine], myself, and my colleagues last month: The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act.”

Manchin said the new act would “unambiguously clarifie that the vice-president is prohibited from interfering with the electoral votes; raise the objection [to electoral results] threshold from a single representative and a single senator to 20% of the members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate; and set a hard deadline for state governors to certify … electoral results – and if they fail to do so or submit a slate that does not match with the electoral results from the state, it creates an expedited judicial process to resolve”.

Manchin and Sinema act out of ego, not principle

Robert Reich

Robert Reich

This week, the spotlight once again will be on Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (dubbed “Manchinema” by the Washington press corps when the two blocked much of Joe Biden’s agenda).

Which is exactly where both of these politicians want it.

It’s the Democrats’ last chance for a large package – Manchin agreed last week to $790bn – on the climate and healthcare, financed by a tax increase on the rich and big corporations. But will Sinema go along?

It’s been joked that the word “politics” is derived from the Latin “poli”, meaning “many”, and “ticks”, meaning small blood-sucking insects. I don’t hold such a cynical view. But I do know from 50 years’ experience in and around Washington that most of the people who serve in our nation’s capital have very, very large – shall we say? – egos.

Full column:

The day so far

Could things be looking up for Democrats? Between the defeat of an anti-abortion ballot measure in Kansas and some positive polling data, president Joe Biden’s party has seen signs pulling out of the slump it fell into recently – but there’s still months to go before the November midterms.

Here’s a look back at what has happened so far today:

The supreme court has announced a new argument calendar for its cases in the fall, where the conservative majority could again move to upend laws across the United States.

Of note is the 31 October argument of two cases against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in which the court could bar the usage of race as a factor in college admissions.

Biden remains positive for Covid-19 but is otherwise feeling well, the White House doctor said in an update on the president’s health.

“The President continues to feel well,” Kevin O’Connor wrote, noting Biden “remains fever-free and in good spirits” and had completed “a light workout” today.

Biden contracted the virus last month and appeared to have recovered, testing negative last week. But over the weekend, he tested positive again.

New York Democratic House representative Carolyn Maloney is doing a bit of clean-up this morning after suggesting in a debate last night that president Biden won’t run for re-election.

“I don’t believe he’s running for reelection,” Maloney said during the debate, according to CNN. The lawmaker appeared to be saying the quiet part out loud when it comes to Biden’s viability as a candidate in 2024, given his age (he’ll be 81 when the election is held) and dismal approval ratings.

In a series of tweets Wednesday, Maloney tried to clear the matter up:

I will absolutely support President Biden, if he decides to run for re-election.

Biden’s leadership securing historic investments for healthcare, climate & economic justice prove once again why he is the strong and effective leader we need right now. 🧵

— Carolyn B. Maloney (@CarolynBMaloney) August 3, 2022

I urge all Democrats to stay united & focused on working towards winning the midterms.

Right now, I am concentrating on the upcoming Democratic primary on August 23rd & the issues that matter to the voters of #NY12. Request your absentee ballot by Monday, August 8th

— Carolyn B. Maloney (@CarolynBMaloney) August 3, 2022

Maloney represents a district that encompasses part of New York City, but after redistricting, she’s vying to keep her seat against congressman Jerry Nadler, a fellow Democrat.

Congress’ support for Taiwan ‘remains ironclad’, Pelosi says as she concludes trip

Following her visit to Taiwan and China’s furious response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has reiterated her commitment to standing up for the country and said it’s shared by lawmakers across the US Congress.

“Our Congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as a strong statement that America stands with Taiwan. We came to Taiwan to listen to, learn from and show our support for the people of Taiwan, who have built a thriving Democracy that stands as one of the freest and most open in the world,” Pelosi said in a statement after the trip.

“Our partnership remains unwavering, and support in the Congress – House and Senate, Democrats and Republicans – remains ironclad.”

Much of her statement recapped what she did during the visit to the island, which lasted about a day, and saw Pelosi discuss topics ranging from climate change to Taiwan’s semiconductor industry to “Congress’ ongoing commitment to helping Taiwan defend its freedom in the face of aggression”.

Things could be looking up for Democrats: poll

Monmouth University has this morning released a poll that contains some glimmers of hope for Democrats, who have been beaten down over the past year by high inflation and dissatisfaction with president Joe Biden.

The data from the survey conducted from July 28 through August 1 shows 50 percent of respondents would prefer Democrats in control of Congress – putting the party ahead of Republicans on that question after the GOP took the lead earlier this year.

“Recent events, such as the Jan. 6th committee hearings and Supreme Court decisions, seem to have generated a bit more energy for the Democrats”, said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. However, “It is not clear that this is actual momentum. It may simply be ongoing volatility in a public largely unhappy with the way things are going in Washington.”

The poll also found some stabilization in views of Biden’s job performance, which still remains dismal with 38 percent approving, and 56 percent disapproving. But, that approval ratings was up from 36 percent in June, while the disapproval rating was down from 58 percent the same month.

The Biden administration just announced that the president will sign the CHIPS and Science Act on August 9 in the White House Rose Garden.

The $280 billion bill is meant to incentivize semiconductor producers to build more factories in the United States, and also funds scientific research. It was approved with bipartisan support in Congress, though did face opposition from some conservative Republicans and Bernie Sanders. While their objections did not completely align, they generally viewed the measure as “corporate welfare”.

Maanvi Singh

Later today, President Joe Biden will sign a second executive order concerning abortion rights, this one intended to help people travel to access reproductive care, as Maanvi Singh reports:

Joe Biden is set to sign a second executive order on Wednesday that aims to protect access to reproductive healthcare after the US supreme court struck down the constitutional right to abortion.

Most significantly, the order directs the health and human services department to consider ways to expand coverage for patients traveling out of state for reproductive healthcare. Biden’s order does not detail how this could be achieved; currently, government-subsidized Medicaid health insurance plans cover medically necessary abortions in only 16 states and do not reimburse patients who leave their state to seek an abortion.

A senior administration official told the Guardian that HHS will soon have more details on provisions to help women served by Medicaid health coverage cover certain costs of traveling for reproductive care.

Helen Davidson

Helen Davidson

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has wrapped up her trip to Taiwan, one of the more dramatic foreign trips of a US politician in recent history due to China’s threats of retaliation, as Helen Davidson reports:

The US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has left Taiwan after a historic visit in which she promised the US’s “crucial” solidarity with the self-ruled democracy that faces major military threats from China’s government.

Beijing has announced “military operations” including missile tests and live fire exercises in the waters around Taiwan, scheduled to begin on Wednesday night after Pelosi departs, but Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, has vowed to not back down.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Pelosi questioned the motivations of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, when asked about his strong response to her visit. Beijing has vowed “consequences” and said it would begin live fire drills close to Taiwan on Thursday.

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

While some races remain to be called, Martin Pengelly reports that Peter Meijer, a Michigan Republican who voted to impeach Donald Trump after the January 6 attack, lost his primary – thanks in part to Democratic meddling:

Peter Meijier of Michigan, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump over the Capitol attack, will not return to Congress next year.

Meijer lost his primary on Tuesday to a Trump-backed election denier – while Trump supporters and election deniers won primaries across the country.

Meijer, a first-term congressman, was beaten by John Gibbs. In a statement, Meijer said: “I’m proud to have remained true to my principles, even when doing so came at a significant political cost.”

He published angrier words on Monday, lambasting Democrats who spent campaign dollars in support of Gibbs, seeing him as beatable in the midterms in November.

Kansans weren’t alone in going to the polls yesterday. Four other states held primary elections, and Sam Levine and Lauren Gambino have a rundown of what happened:

On one of the most consequential nights of this year’s primary season, Donald Trump’s sway in a series of Republican races remained unclear but voters in red-state Kansas resoundingly rejected an amendment aimed at restricting abortion rights.

Tuesday night’s marquee races were in Arizona, where Republicans are on the verge of tapping prominent election deniers to be their nominees in contests for governor, secretary of state and US Senate.

In the governor’s race, Trump-backed Kari Lake, a former news anchor who has built her campaign around misinformation about the 2020 election, was trailing Karrin Taylor Robson, a wealthy real-estate developer who is endorsed by Mike Pence and the current Arizona governor, Doug Ducey. The winner will take on Katie Hobbs, Arizona’s current secretary of state, who was projected to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Down the ballot, Mark Finchem, a close ally of Trump who aggressively sought to overturn Arizona’s election results, was on the verge of clinching the GOP nomination to be secretary of state in a four-way primary. Trump has endorsed Finchem in the contest, which typically gets little attention, boosting him to the front of the field.

If elected in November, Finchem would wield considerable power over elections in Arizona, including how ballots are counted and there is a loud alarm he could use that power to throw out an election result he doesn’t like, especially given his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 race.

Underscoring how deeply embedded Trump’s election lies are among Republicans in Arizona, the New York Times reported on Tuesday that two politicians involved in the efforts to overturn Biden’s victory in the state worried the scheme could “appear treasonous”.

Poppy Noor

Poppy Noor

The Guardian’s Poppy Noor is on the ground in Kansas, with full coverage of the state’s vote to protect abortion rights:

Kansans secured a huge win for abortion rights in the US on Tuesday night when they voted to continue to protect abortion in the state constitution.

The race was called by a host of US groups including NBC News, the New York Times and Decision Desk HQ.

The move will be seen as huge a loss for the anti-abortion movement and a major win for abortion rights advocates across America, who will see the result as a bellwether for popular opinion.

Kansas – a deeply conservative and usually reliably Republican state – is the first US state to put abortion rights to a vote since the US supreme court ruled to overturn constitutional protections for abortion in late June.

Kansas is an unlikely place for a triumph of abortion rights.

Starting in the 1990s, abortion providers in the state were repeated targets of violence, and in 2009, physician George Tiller was assassinated in Wichita. The state is a reliable GOP vote in presidential elections, and mostly sends Republicans to represent it in the Senate and House of Representatives – all of whom currently oppose abortion.

But as last night’s vote to keep abortion protections in the constitutions shows, its residents don’t necessarily share their views. Around 59 percent of voters rejected a measure to change the constitution to allow the procedure to be cracked down on – about matching the 58 percent of Americans Gallup found did not want Roe v. Wade overturned.

Whether red or blue, many states appear to share this dynamic. The Public Religion Research Institute says only in 10 states do majorities of voters want to make abortion illegal in all or most cases. Nationally, only 40 percent of people would support doing that.

Kansas’ vote to protect abortion rights upends midterms

Good morning, US politics blog readers. Last night, voters in Kansas backed a measure to protect abortion rights in the state constitution, and the contest wasn’t even close. The state is a Republican stronghold but Kansans surged to the polls to resoundingly reject the measure, in one of the first signs that the supreme court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade is having unpredictable political effects ahead of the November elections, where voters will decide who controls Congress.

That’s not all that happened last night:

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