Garland vows to hold January 6 attackers to account after Oath Keepers conviction – as it happened

Last modified: 10: 27 PM GMT+0

Attorney general condemns ‘those responsible for crimes related to the attack on our democracy’ – follow US politics live

Recap

  • House Democrats officially elected two new leaders, Hakeem Jeffries as minority leader and Peter Aguilar as caucus chair. Jeffries is the first non-white representative to lead a party in Congress.

  • David Cicilline, a House Democrat from Rhode Island, unexpectedly announced his run to be minority whip. Cicilline is running against longtime Democratic whip Jim Clyburn and said that leadership needs more LGBTQ+ representation.

  • Joe Biden spoke at the Department of the Interior’s tribal summit and affirmed federal support for tribal nations and communities.

  • The House voted to impose a labor agreement on rail workers in order to avert a strike.

  • Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell suggested the Fed will continue to raise interest rates, though at a slower pace if inflation continues to go down.

  • ​​US attorney general Merrick Garland praised yesterday’s conviction of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and vowed to hold January 6 attackers accountable.

The chair of the Georgia Republican party cannot share lawyers with 10 other fake electors, a judge ruled. The AP reports:

The chair and other fake electors cannot share lawyers in matters related to a special grand jury investigation into possible illegal meddling in the 2020 election in the state.

A special grand jury was seated earlier this year to aid the investigation by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis into whether Republican former President Donald Trump and others committed crimes through their efforts to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Willis has made clear that she is interested in the actions of 16 Republicans who signed a certificate declaring falsely that Trump had won and also declaring themselves the state’s “duly elected and qualified” electors, even though Biden had won the state, and a slate of Democratic electors was certified. Willis has said in a court filing that she notified lawyers for those 16 people that they are targets of her investigation, meaning that they could face criminal charges.

Eleven of those fake electors, including Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, are represented by two lawyers who are paid by the party, Holly Pierson and Kimberly Debrow. Willis’ team in October filed a motion seeking to disqualify the two from representing all of those clients, saying it represented a conflict of interest.

They argued that, if Pierson and Debrow continue to represent any of the 11, “there is a serious possibility of future ethical problems concerning confidentiality of information obtained in the course of their representation thus far.”


Updated

In the clearest signal yet that Ron DeSantis is preparing a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, it was announced on Wednesday that the rightwing governor of Florida will publish a campaign-style book, mixing memoir with policy proposals.

The Courage to Be Free: Florida’s Blueprint for America’s Renewal, will be published by Broadside Books, a conservative imprint of HarperCollins, on 28 February.

The governor, his publisher said, will offer readers “a first-hand account from the blue-collar boy who grew up to take on Disney and Dr Fauci”.

DeSantis has not announced a 2024 run, but he is widely reported to be considering one. His victory speech after a landslide re-election this month met with chants of “Two more years!”

The cover of the governor’s book shows him smiling broadly in front of a US flag.

With Donald Trump under fire over disappointing midterms results, looming indictments and a controversial dinner with a white supremacist, possible Republican opponents are rapidly coming into focus.

Read more:

Garland’s remarks come after the recent appointment of Jack Smith as independent special counsel overseeing investigations into Donald Trump’s hoarding of top secret documents and involvement in the January 6 riot.

From the Guardian’s prior explainer:

Smith has previously served as the chief of public integrity for the US justice department and dealt in particular with cases involving corruption, bringing cases against prominent Republicans and Democrats. In 2015 he was appointed first assistant US attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee. He is a registered independent, not aligned with either of the two dominant political parties in the US.

Since 2018 he has been the chief prosecutor for the international criminal court in The Hague, the city on the North Sea that operates as the national administrative center of the Netherlands, and there has investigated and adjudicated war crimes that took place in Kosovo, in the Balkans.

Read more:

Updated

At a press conference, Merrick Garland spoke on the justice department’s recent lawsuit against the city of Jackson, Mississippi for violating the Clean Drinking Water Act. In August, flooding caused failure of the area’s water treatment plant, leaving residents without clean drinking water for a week.

The lawsuit, if won, would revoke the city’s control over its water system.

The DOJ’s new department of environmental justice, which got its first appointed leader earlier this month, is in charge of the suit against the city.

“Although environmental justice can happen anywhere, injustice can happen anywhere. Communities of color, Indigenous communities and low-income communities often bear the brunt,” Garland said. “We will continue to prioritize cases like this one that will have the greatest impact on communities most vulnerable to environmental harm.”

Updated

AG praises DOJ after Oath Keepers conviction

​​US attorney general Merrick Garland is speaking on yesterday’s conviction of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes for creating the violent plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.

Garland praised the justice department for its effort to bring a case against Rhodes and his five co-conspirators. Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy, a rare charge, by a 12-person jury.

“The verdict in this case makes clear department will work tirelessly to hold accountable those responsible for crimes related to the attack on our democracy on January 6, 2021,” Garland said.

Updated

In the daily White House press briefing, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is responding to heat Joe Biden is getting for pushing Congress to impose an agreement – one that multiple unions did not approve – on rail workers to avert a strike.

Jean-Pierre on Republican Kevin McCarthy's border invitation: "He's been there, he's been to the border. Since he took office the president has been taking action to fix our immigration system and secure the border."

— David Smith (@SmithInAmerica) November 30, 2022

Some rail workers are saying Biden “blew it” by giving Congress the greenlight to intervene, though Biden has been emphasizing the economic impact a rail strike would have on the country.

Updated

House votes to give rail workers seven days of paid sick leave

The House voted to give rail workers seven days of paid sick leave, a key point of tension in contract negotiations between unions and rail companies.

The vote was close – 221 to 207 – and it is unclear whether the provision can get enough support in the Senate.

The vote was separate from a vote the House made earlier today to impose an agreement on rail workers that includes a pay raise, annual bonus and cap on healthcare premiums. The agreement, made in September, does not include paid sick leave. The House ultimately took up the agreement to avoid a rail strike in December.

Union members had drawn out contract negotiations over paid sick leave, arguing that workers were subject to unfair conditions, having to use vacation days when sick or face penalties.

In the Senate, Bernie Sanders is leading the fight for the seven days of sick leave. At least 12 Democrats have joined him in their support for the measure so far, though it is unclear whether Democrats can get an extra 10 Republican votes to get the measure passed.

12 Dem senators, led by Sanders, call for Senate to adopt House leave resolution.

"Guaranteeing 7 paid sick days to rail workers would only cost the industry $321 million a year – less than 2 percent of their total profits."

— Arthur Delaney 🇺🇸 (@ArthurDelaneyHP) November 30, 2022

Updated

Maya Yang reports:

Two men convicted of fraud for targeting Black voters with phony robocalls before the 2020 election must spend 500 hours registering voters in low-income neighborhoods of Washington DC, an Ohio judge ruled.

The calls told people they could be arrested or forced to receive vaccinations based on information they submitted in votes by mail.

Jacob Wohl, 24, of Irvine, California, and Jack Burkman, 56, of Arlington, Virginia – rightwing operatives with a history of targeting Democrats and other public figures – pleaded guilty last month, each to a single felony count of telecommunications fraud.

The judge in Cuyahoga county common pleas court, John Sutula, also fined each man $2,500 and placed them on two years’ probation. They were ordered to spend six months in home confinement, beginning at 8pm each day.

“I think it’s a despicable thing that you guys have done,” Sutula said, comparing their actions to violence used to suppress Black voters in the south in the 1960s.

Wohl and Burkman were indicted in October 2020, accused of arranging for a voice broadcast service to make about 85,000 robocalls to predominantly Black neighborhoods in Ohio, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois in the run-up to the 2020 general election.

Prosecutors said the pair were responsible for 3,500 calls to residents of Cleveland and East Cleveland.

House votes to impose labor agreement on rail workers, averting December strike

The House just voted to impose a labor agreement on rail workers, averting a potential rail strike that was to start in December. Though a majority of the dozen unions have supported the agreement, four have voted against it and were prepped to strike come December.

The agreement includes a pay increase, a $1,000 annual bonus and a cap on healthcare premiums.

Those against the agreement have decried its lack of paid sick leave for workers. The unions argue that workers have to use vacation when calling out sick else they are penalized.

With a strike looming, Joe Biden called on Congress to intervene by voting on the agreement, which was made in September. In a statement, Biden said that he is “grateful” that the House voted to avert the strike and urged the Senate to “move quickly” on getting the bill passed.

“Without action this week, disruptions to our auto supply chains, our ability to move food to tables, and our ability to remove hazardous waste from gasoline refineries will begin,” Biden said. “A rail shutdown would be devastating to our economy and families across the country.”

NEW: Pres. Biden urges Senate to “act urgently” after House votes to impose agreement to block rail strike, warning “a rail shutdown would be devastating to our economy and families across the country.” https://t.co/2rpGhC5vln pic.twitter.com/9DMs2wbM2g

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 30, 2022

Updated

Fed chair hints at another interest rate hike in December

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell suggested the Fed will continue to raise interest rates, though at a slower pace if inflation continues to go down.

Powell said that he believes the labor market needs to cool to get the inflation rate down. The Fed has set a goal of 2% inflation. In October, the 12-month inflation rate was at 7.7% – the lowest it’s been since the beginning of the year.

“The time for moderating the pace of rate increases may come as soon as the December meeting,” Powell said. He indicated that a raise of half a percentage point would be suitable. The Fed has been aggressively raising interest rates, with four consecutive 0.75-point rate raises over the last year.

Powell noted that there is still “a long way to go in restoring price stability”, including tempering wage growth to a level that would be consistent with 2% inflation and a balancing of the labor market.

The Fed will set interest rates at its next meeting on December 14.

Ex-diplomats: Biden must cut weapons to Israel

Chris McGreal reports …

Two former senior US diplomats have made a highly unusual call for the Biden administration to cut weapons supplies to Israel if the incoming far-right government uses them to annex Palestinian land, expel Arabs or finally kill off the diminishing possibility of a Palestinian state.

Daniel Kurtzer, a former US ambassador to Israel under George W Bush, and Aaron David Miller, a US Middle East peace negotiator during several administrations, have called for what they described as an “unprecedented and controversial” break from America’s largely unconditional military and diplomatic support for Israel if “the most extreme government in the history of the state” pursues the stated aims of some of its members.

The pair warn that these could include “efforts to change the status of the West Bank”, in effect a warning against partial or wholesale annexation of Palestinian land to Israel. They also warned against increased use of force against Arabs in the occupied territories and Israel by incoming ministers who have espoused openly racist views, escalating settlement construction, and moves “to build infrastructure for settlers that is designed to foreclose the possibility of a two-state solution”.

Full story:

Updated

Railroad union official: 'Joe Biden blew it' over strike settlement

Reuters reports the latest news on Joe Biden’s bid to avert a damaging rail strike, thus:

A majority of the US House of Representatives has backed a bill to block a potentially crippling rail strike, but the fate of a separate proposal by lawmakers to mandate paid sick time remains uncertain.

With voting ongoing, more than 250 members of 432 current House members had voted in favor of imposing a tentative contract deal reached in September on a dozen unions representing 115,000 workers after Biden warned of the catastrophic impact of a rail stoppage that could begin as early as 9 December. A separate vote is planned later on Wednesday on whether to require seven days of paid sick leave.

Here at Guardian US, Michael Sainato reported earlier on disquiet among railroad unions:

Railroad workers have expressed dismay at Joe Biden’s proposed solution to a looming strike that threatens to derail the US economy, which they say belies his image as the most pro-union president in generations.

As a 9 December deadline looms for the long-running dispute between the US’s largest railway companies and their unions, Biden has called on Congress to intervene and block a strike that could cost the US economy about $2bn a day, by some estimates.

The impending strike comes as the US struggles with a cost-of-living crisis driven by a 40-year high in inflation. Biden has said a railroad labor action could “devastate our economy”. On Wednesday, Congress is expected to pass legislation that will force a settlement.

But union leaders are unhappy that Biden’s solution appears to be the imposition of a settlement reached in September that has been rejected by many for failing to address concerns about pay, sick days, staff shortages and time off.

“Joe Biden blew it,” said Hugh Sawyer, treasurer of Railroad Workers United, a group representing workers from a variety of rail unions and carriers.

“He had the opportunity to prove his labor-friendly pedigree to millions of workers by simply asking Congress for legislation to end the threat of a national strike on terms more favorable to workers. Sadly, he could not bring himself to advocate for a lousy handful of sick days. The Democrats and Republicans are both pawns of big business and the corporations.”

Full story:

Updated

The former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who was also Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, will use the coming Christmas holidays to decide whether to launch a run for the presidency in 2024.

Nikki Haley.
Nikki Haley. Photograph: Meg Kinnard/AP

Speaking in her home state and at her alma mater, Clemson University, on Tuesday, Haley said: “We are taking the holidays to kind of look at what the situation is. If we decide to get into it, we’ll put 1,000% in, and we’ll finish it.”

Haley made a relatively dignified exit from the Trump administration by resigning in 2018. She has said she would not run for president if Trump did.

Trump is running again, having announced his third consecutive candidacy in Florida earlier this month. But senior Republicans increasingly see Trump as damaged goods, in light of a poor midterms performance in which his endorsed candidates struggled; the likelihood of indictment in a number of criminal cases; and amid fallout from his recent decision to have dinner with Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist and antisemite.

At Clemson, Haley dodged a chance to blame Trump for the party failing to take the Senate and winning the House by only a narrow margin.

The midterms flop, she said, was “no one person’s fault”, adding that Republicans should “look in the mirror and realise that we have some work to do, and we’ve got some soul-searching to do”.

Republicans, Haley said, “fought each other and the Democrats. And so when you have that kind of chaos, what did that tell the American people? That told the American people that we were not unified.”

Speaking ahead of possible entry into a presidential primary likely to be many sided and viciously fought, not least by Trump himself, she added: “The American people don’t want a party that’s in chaos.”

Summary

Here’s a quick summary of what has happened so far today:

  • House Democrats officially elected two new leaders, Hakeem Jeffries as minority leader and Peter Aguilar as caucus chair. Jeffries is the first non-white representative to lead a party in Congress.

  • David Cicilline, a House Democrat from Rhode Island, unexpectedly announced his run to be minority whip. Cicilline is running against longtime Dem whip Jim Clyburn and said that leadership needs more LGBTQ+ representation.

  • Joe Biden spoke at the Department of Interior’s tribal summit and affirmed federal support for tribal nations and communities.

  • Looking ahead, the House will vote on whether to impose a labor agreement on rail workers in order to avert a strike. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell is also delivering remarks that could hint at whether the Fed will continue to raise interest rates, a move that would rattle the economy.

Stay tuned for more live updates.

Updated

Joe Biden is speaking now at the Department of Interior’s Tribal Summit, a gathering of tribal leaders from across the country.

Biden is talking about investments in Native American communities, including $32bn that came from the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus aid package, and infrastructure investment from Biden’s infrastructure bill that was passed last year. Biden said that funding was “long overdue”.

“We’re putting it to work together,” he said.

Biden also announced new initiatives and investments to support tribal nations, including $135m to move communities at risk of flooding and a request for $9.1bn to aid health services for Native American communities. He also said that he signed a memorandum that improves consultation between federal agencies and tribal nations, including created standards for policy and releasing best practicies.

“Consultation has to be a two-way, nation-to-nation exchange,” Biden said. “Federal agencies should strive to reach consensus among tribes and there should be adequate time for ample communications.”

Updated

Hakeem Jeffries elected as new House Democratic leader

House Democrats just officially elected Hakeem Jeffries as House minority leader, making him the most powerful Democrat in the House.

Jeffries is the first Black congressional leader in history. At 52, he is 31 years younger than former leader Nancy Pelosi and 20 years younger than his counterpart in the Senate, the majority leader, Chuck Schumer.

House Democrats have been voting for their new leaders in a closed-door session. Jeffries, who was formerly caucus chair, ran unopposed.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hakeem Jeffries unanimously elected leader of House Democrats, will be 1st Black person to lead major party in Congress.

— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) November 30, 2022

Updated

Pete Aguilar, 43, of California, was just elected House Democratic chair, the third-highest leadership position among Democrats.

The meeting is closed-door, though a few reporters are inside reporting on the happenings, including that people starting chanting “Petey-Pie” when Aguilar was confirmed as chair.

Fun Aguilar moment --

Rep. Dan Kildee just let everybody know that Rep. Pete Aguilar's grandmother and aunts call him “Petey-Pie.”

So naturally, the room started chanting Petie Pie

Your new caucus chair, folks!

— Sarah Ferris (@sarahnferris) November 30, 2022

Updated

David Cicilline, a Democrat House member from Rhode Island, just announced he will challenge Jim Clyburn, currently majority whip, to be assistant leader for House Democrats.

Clyburn has been the whip, usually the third most senior position, for the Dems since 2007. Clyburn, 82, declined to run for minority leader, saying that he sensed an “evolution” in leadership.

In a letter to House Democrats, Cicilline, who is gay, said that there needs to be better LGBTQ+ representation in leadership.

“I think it’s critical that the House Democratic Leadership team fully reflect the diversity of our caucus and the American people by including an LGBTQ+ member at the leadership table,” he wrote. “Over the past six years, we have seen an alarming rise of hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community while state legislators across the country have worked to strip away our rights.”

NEWS: @RepCicilline is challenging @WhipClyburn for Assistant Leader. Letter below pic.twitter.com/iZF4kZUaXz

— Leigh Ann Caldwell (@LACaldwellDC) November 30, 2022

Given Clyburn’s long-standing position in House leadership, Cicilline’s announcement is unexpected, especially since it comes just a day before House Democrats are expected to vote on assistant leader.

Cicilline challenging Clyburn is very unexpected. The caucus is planning to vote on the assistant leader position tomorrow when Clyburn returns, was expected to be by UC

That being said, there has been grumbling in caucus about Clyburn not stepping aside when Pelosi/Hoyer did

— Heather Caygle (@heatherscope) November 30, 2022

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell is set to deliver a highly anticipated speech later this afternoon where investors will look for any hints as to whether he plans to continue to raise interest rates or not. The speech will be Powell’s last public remarks before a crucial Fed board meeting on 14 December.

The meeting is being seen by Wall Street as a pivotal moment for the Fed, which has been trying to tame rising inflation with aggressive interest rate hikes. The Fed has raised the interest rate to 3.75% to 4% over the last year – its most dramatic hike in nearly a decade.

Investors have warned that another interest rate hike could be the breaking point that leads to a recession. Even Elon Musk has weighed in, tweeting early Wednesday that the “Fed needs to cut interest rates immediately.”

“They are massively amplifying the probability of a severe recession,” he tweeted.

Trend is concerning. Fed needs to cut interest rates immediately. They are massively amplifying the probability of a severe recession.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 30, 2022

Updated

In a campaign speech earlier this year, Herschel Walker, the Republican candidate for US Senate in Georgia, said: “I live in Texas.”

Walker will face the Democratic incumbent, Raphael Warnock, in a runoff next Tuesday, a contest triggered after Warnock received the most votes on election day but did not pass 50% of the vote. Polling puts the two candidates near-level, with early voting at record levels.

Control of the Senate has already been decided but victory in Georgia would give Democrats outright control by 51-49.

Endorsed by Donald Trump, Walker has ridden controversies over his business record, alleged encouragement of abortions, family relationships, and more.

A football star for the University of Georgia, he went on to star for the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. Earlier this month, CNN reported that he was benefiting from a tax break on a Dallas home described as his principal residence.

On Tuesday, CNN returned to the well, reporting that in January, while discussing immigration policy in a speech to Republicans at the University of Georgia, Walker said: “I live in Texas … I went down to the border off and on sometimes.”

Walker also said: “Everyone asks me, why did I decide to run for a Senate seat? Because to be honest with you, this is never something I ever, ever, ever thought in my life I’d ever do. And that’s the honest truth.

“As I was sitting in my home in Texas, I was sitting in my home in Texas, and I was seeing what was going on in this country. I was seeing what was going on in this country with how they were trying to divide people.”

CNN also said Walker gave at least four interviews about his Georgia run from his Texas home.

Republicans have been burned by a similar issue already this year, in another close race vital to control of the Senate. In Pennsylvania, the Democratic candidate, John Fetterman, focused on questions about whether his opponent, the TV doctor Mehmet Oz, actually lived in New Jersey. Fetterman ultimately won convincingly.

In a closed-door voting session, Democrats are expected to elect Hakeem Jeffries as minority leader, ushering in what will probably be a new era of Democratic leadership.

Jeffries, at 52, is a relatively young Democrat considering the average age of a representative is 58. He will take on the job of unifying the party’s liberal and moderate flanks at a moment when Republicans have gained back some power.

Currently chair of the party in the House, Jeffries announced his intention to run for minority leader on 18 November with a letter to House Democrats. In it, he mentioned his intention to empower members regardless of seniority.

“Meaningful policymaking and public engagement opportunities should be robustly distributed regardless of length of service,” he wrote. “High-profile leadership assignments should be spread out throughout the caucus.”

Democrats seem poised to spread the power to its younger members. Jim Clyburn, 82, currently the third highest-ranking Democrat in the House, declined to run for minority leader.

“I think that it was pretty clear to everybody that Pelosi, Hoyer and myself would be making an exit from the leadership very soon, either under our own, or somebody carried us out,” Clyburn said.

“I have studied history long enough to know that evolutions are much better than revolutions, and I think that anybody watching their caucus, our caucus over the years, could see the evolving leadership.”

Updated

Good morning, and welcome to the politics live blog.

House Democrats today will formally elect new leadership. After nearly two decades at the helm, speaker Nancy Pelosi and majority leader Steny Hoyer are stepping down to make way for a younger, more diverse roster of party leaders.

Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat from New York, is slated to be elected as minority leader. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts and Pete Aguilar of California are expected to be elected as minority whip and chair, respectively.

While the Democrats will be the minority in the House over the next two years, leaders believe the minority position can help unify consensus among Democrats in opposition to Republicans.

“There’s nothing more unifying than being in the minority and having a clear-eyed objective and goal of getting back into the majority so we can continue to deliver big things for everyday Americans,” Jeffries said in an interview with reporters on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.

Here’s what else is happening today:

  • Rail unions are decrying Joe Biden’s call to Congress to impose a contract on rail workers after months of labor negotiations. House Democrats indicated a vote on an agreement will take place as early as today.

  • Congress is also scrambling to pass a government funding bill by 16 December. Democrats are considering how much they can do before they lose their majority in January.

  • The National Christmas Tree Lighting is set to take place at 5.30pm ET.

Stay tuned for more live updates.

Updated

Contributors

Maanvi Singh in Oakland (now) and Lauren Aratani in New York (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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