Ok folks, that’s it from me (Sabrina) for today. A big thanks to my colleague Lauren Gambino for also briefly taking the reins of the blog — you can credit her for bringing you the latest on Joe Biden!
Before I hand the blog over to my colleague Lois Beckett on the West Coast, allow me to summarize the past few hours:
- Former vice president Joe Biden joined calls Alexander Acosta’s resignation, following the controversy over the labor secretary’s role in cutting a plea deal with financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2008; as a reminder, Epstein has been charged with operating a sex trafficking ring involving underage girls. Donald Trump is so far sticking by Acosta, who as a US attorney helped Epstein avoid a public trial and lengthy prison sentence more than a decade ago.
- The Trump administration is planning to speed up its screening of asylum-seekers at the US-Mexico border, Buzzfeed News reported. Immigration advocates said the move would give asylum-seekers, largely fleeing violence and poverty in Central America, less time to prepare for interviews and recover from the treacherous journey.
- Donald Trump’s 4 July ‘Salute to America’ cost the Pentagon $1.2m; the figure did not reflect the cost to US taxpayers. Trump has said he will repeat the controversial event next year.
- West Virginia senator Joe Manchin unveiled a bill that would withhold “any and all” federal funding for the 2026 World Cup, which the US will host, until the US Soccer federation to pay its men’s and women’s team equally; the US women’s national team earned their fourth World Cup title last week.
Lois will take you through the rest of the day, so stay tuned … and until next time from Sabrina!
Donald Trump’s 4 July “Salute to America” cost the US military $1.2m, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
The event sparked controversy for its use of taxpayer dollars and putting the president at the center of the holiday celebrating American independence.
The Pentagon figure did not reflect the cost to American taxpayers. It instead detailed the amount of money spent on the transportation of military equipment and flying hours.
Trump touted the strength of the US military at the event and issued a rare plea for unity. Despite the criticism he faced by some for ‘hijacking’ the 4 July holiday, the president announced plans on Monday to repeat the military salute next year.
“It was a wonderful day for all Americans,” Trump said at the White House. “Based on its tremendous success, we’re just making the decision and I think we can say we’ve made the decision to do it again next year, and maybe we can say, for the foreseeable future.”
Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat of West Virginia, has a plan to force the US Soccer federation to pay its men’s and women’s team equally: hit ‘em where it hurts.
The West Virginia senator introduced a bill on Tuesday that would withhold “any and all” federal funding for the 2026 World Cup, which the US will host, until the organization agrees to pay the teams equally, according to the HuffPost.
That would include includes “funds that go to host cities, participating local and state organizations, US Soccer, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, and the international soccer governing body FIFA,” the report says.
“The clear [equitable pay between the US men and women’s soccer teams is unacceptable and I’m glad the US Women’s Soccer Team latest victory is causing public outcry,” Manchin said in a statement to the news website. “I’m encouraging everyone to call their Senator and Representatives to help us get this bill passed and finally pay the equitable pay they deserve.”
Last weekend, the US women’s national team clinched their fourth World Cup title while raising awareness about the pay disparities between the men’s and women’s teams. Before the tournament, 28 members of the team sued the US Soccer Federation for gender discrimination in violation of the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act.
The team’s co-captain Megan Rapinoe, who was awarded the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball, has said she would not accept an invitation to the White House and encouraged her teammates to follow suit.
On Tuesday, the Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer announced that Rapinoe had accepted an invitation to raise the issue on a tour of the US Senate. Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley have also invited the team to tour the House.
“Working class” Joe reported earning $15.6m in the two years after he left office, according to tax returns his campaign released on Tuesday
And $2.8m of that came from speaking and writing engagement.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has joined several of the 2020 candidates in calling on Labor Secretary Alex Acosta to resign.
Donald Trump’s administration is looking to speed up initial screenings of immigrants seeking asylum, according to a report in Buzzfeed News.
The move, immigration advocates said, would give immigrants less time to prepare for their interviews and recover from the grueling journey to the US-Mexico border.
The Trump administration has taken several steps to limit the number of asylum-seekers in the US.
More from Buzzfeed:
Asylum officers have had to wait at least 48 hours after an immigrant has been detained for crossing into the US to interview them and hear their case. However, under a new directive implemented by US Citizenship and Immigration Services Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli, that window has been reduced to one calendar day, according to a policy change released to staffers on Monday and obtained by BuzzFeed News.”
It’s been quite a heavy day, so here’s a small dose of fun:
Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm, tested how Donald Trump would fare against US soccer star Megan Rapinoe in a 2020 matchup.
As it turns out, Rapinoe leads Trump by 1%. According to the survey, which was conducted ‘by popular demand’, Rapinoe received 42% of the vote to Trump’s 41%.
As we saw with Tom Steyer, it’s not too late to jump into the race. Just sayin…
Barack Obama’s healthcare law is once again in jeopardy, as a federal appeals court on Tuesday hears arguments on its validity.
The case, which could once again place the fate of the Affordable Care Act before the supreme court, was brought by a group of Republican governors and attorneys general.
The healthcare law was struck down by a federal judge in Texas in December. Three judges on the New Orleans-based 5th US circuit court of appeals will now determine if that ruling was correct.
The case has significant implications for millions of Americans who have gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law by Obama in 2010.
The supreme court upheld the core of the law, commonly referred to as ‘Obamacare’, in 2012. Republicans have nonetheless carried on with their efforts to dismantle the law.
As part of Donald Trump’s tax overhaul in 2017, the Republican-led Congress did away with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate — which required most Americans to either purchase health insurance or incur a tax penalty. Republicans have argued that removing the penalty effectively did away with the legal rationale the supreme court relied upon when upholding the Affordable Care Act in 2012.
The appeals court weighing the fresh challenge of the law is known as one of the most conservative appellate courts in the country, which means the case will almost certainly wind up back before the supreme court.
It’s been quite a day, and we’re no where near done yet…! So here is a summary to help bring you up to speed on what you’ve missed if you’re just tuning in:
- Donald Trump is standing by his embattled labor secretary Alexander Acosta amid calls for the latter’s resignation; Acosta has come under heightened scrutiny for striking a lenient plea deal in 2008 with financier Jeffrey Epstein, who has been charged with operating a sex trafficking ring that involved underage girls.
- Acosta broke his silence on the subject as Democrats called for him to step down; the labor secretary said Epstein’s crimes were “horrific” and suggested the evidence before prosecutors today was far more expansive than the case he oversaw as Miami’s top federal prosecutor in 2008.
- Trump is still fuming over leaked memos in which Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the US, described the president as “inept” and characterized his administration as “dysfunctional”; Trump said Darroch was “a very stupid guy” in a Tuesday morning tweetstorm, in which he also took aim at British prime minister Theresa May and her handling of Brexit.
- Two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot has died at age 89 following a five-month battle with leukemia. The Texan billionaire and philanthropist emerged as one of the most successful third-party candidates in modern US history in the 1992 presidential elections, earning nearly 19% of the popular vote.
- Tom Steyer formally launched his campaign for president, adding his name to the crowded field of 2020 Democratic contenders. Steyer, a billionaire environmental activist, has been a leading proponent of impeaching Trump and poured millions of dollars into the fight against climate change.
- A federal appeals court ruled that Trump cannot block his critics on Twitter, upholding an earlier decision which found the president in violation of the US constitution for doing so; the case was brought by seven individuals who in 2017 were blocked by Trump for tweeting critical comments at the president.
Keep watching this space for more developments!
2020 presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand has released a new television ad attacking Donald Trump for failing to make good on his promises to save jobs and improve the lives of average Americans.
The spot is titled “I Promise” and will air in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the so-called “Rust Belt” states that helped propel Trump to victory.
Gillibrand, a senator from New York, is poised to embark on a two-day swing through those battleground states this week. Her campaign said the ad will target former Barack Obama voters who cast their ballots for Trump in 2016.
It opens with footage of promises Trump made as a candidate in the last election cycle, such as improving US infrastructure, lowering prescription drug prices and restoring manufacturing jobs. But those promises were left unkept, the ad states.
Gillibrand has struggled to gain traction in the crowded Democratic field. She has nonetheless continued to expand her staff in the crucial early voting states Iowa and New Hampshire.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has appeared to rule out Congress investigating or impeaching Alexander Acosta.
Shortly after Donald Trump stood by his labor secretary, Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill:
It’s up to the president, it’s his cabinet. We have a great deal of work to do here for the good of the American people and we have to focus on that.”
Here is the full transcript of what Donald Trump said of his labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, amid the controversy over the latter’s 2008 plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein:
I can tell you that for two and a half years he has been just an excellent secretary of labor. He’s done just a fantastic job. Now part of it is our economy is so good, our unemployment numbers are at record lows. So many good things are happening. But the fact is he has been a very good secretary of labor.
What happened 12 or 15 years ago with respect to when he was a US attorney, I think in Miami … If you go back and look at everybody else’s decisions, whether it’s a US attorney or an assistant US attorney, or a judge, if you go back 12 or 15 years ago or 20 years ago and look at their past decisions, I would think you would probably find that they would wish they had maybe did it a different way.
I do know that there were a lot of people involved in that decision, not just him. And I can only say this from what I know, and what I do know is that he has been a great — a really great secretary of labor. The rest of it we’ll have to look at, we’ll have to look at it very carefully. But we’re talking about a long time ago and again it was a decision made I think not by him but by a lot of people. So we’re going to look at it very carefully, we’ll be looking at that very carefully.”
Speaking of Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator does not seem particularly enthused by Tom Steyer’s foray into the 2020 presidential race.
Asked about the launch of Steyers campaign on Tuesday, Sanders told MSNBC:
I am a bit tired of seeing billionaires trying to buy political power. So I like Tom, he’s a good guy. He’s a friend of mine, but I’m not a great fan of billionaires getting involved in the political process.”
Steyer’s announcement focused on removing the influence of corporate interests from US politics.