US politics live updates: Tapes of Donald Trump leak as Nancy Pelosi wins re-election as House …

US politics live updates: Tapes of Donald Trump leak as Nancy Pelosi wins re-election as House …

Follow our live coverage of the US election aftermath The Test match between Australia and India at the SCG will now have a reduced capacity of 25 per cent. For latest updates on the emergency-level bushfires in Western Australia, search on ABC Emergency or listen to ABC Radio Perth Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris has labelled a leaked phone call featuring Donald Trump a “bald-faced abuse of power by the President of the United States”. Earlier, Nancy Pelosi won re-election to her powerful role as House Speaker as the new US Congress met for the first time since the 2020 election. While the president’s pardon power is vast, it’s not unlimited. It can only be used on federal crimes (so yep, treason is in there) for a start. And a pre-emptive pardon isn’t quite what you think it is. A pre-emptive pardon still needs to be given for a specific offence. For example, President Jimmy Carter pre-emptively pardoned thousands of Vietnam draft dodgers before they could face court. That pardon couldn’t then be used to go an commit a different crime, or dodge the draft again. Of course, the rules around the pardon power might not stop Trump from doing something outside of them, like pardoning himself (which would almost certainly head before the courts). We’ll just have to wait and see how far he might want to push the needle. Not yet! We should know closer to the date. And the list of available people should be LONG this year, because crowds will be severely restricted at Biden’s inauguration because of COVID-19 concerns.  The Senator from Arkansas has just dropped this statement, announcing that he won’t back his colleagues’ push to overturn the election results on Thursday despite sharing their concerns about “irregularities in the presidential election”. “The Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states — not Congress. They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College — not Congress,” Cotton says in the statement. Cotton is a significant voice here, because he’s not only one of Trump’s allies in the Senate, he’s also viewed as a 2024 hopeful for Republicans. He got a prime speaking gig at this year’s Republican Convention, if you can can cast your memory back to August. So this is another Republican with clout backing away from the push to object to the results. Just so y’all are aware of how we’ll play things this week…we’re going to run the US politics blog every day this week. There’s just SO MUCH to cover, and we didn’t want to leave you out in the cold. Most days I’ll be live by 7:00am AEDT (sometimes a little bit earlier), so by the time you’ve got a cuppa in hand I’ll be here to bring you up to speed on everything that’s been happening in the US while you’ve been snoozing. I tell you what folks, we were *this* close to breaking the blog out of hibernation over the break when there were a flurry of pardons from the President. All of that was in the space of two days. And Trump can use his pardon power right up until 11:59am, January 20. I expect we’ll be seeing more pardons before he leaves office. In fact, I wrote about some of the names that might be on his pardon list. You can read that right here. Yep, that’s correct. In the hypothetical where both Trump and Pence could no longer serve in their roles, Nancy Pelosi would have been elevated to President to serve their remainder of their term (she would have had to pick a VP for herself, which then gets confirmed by Congress). And that’ll be the case for the next two years as well, should something happen to both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. It depends on which state the person was in. Some states allow them to counted, others say they have to be tossed out. And it’s rare that this specific scenario happens on such a widespread scale that it’ll flip an election result. If things get REALLY close in a state, that’s why there are recounts and audits to pick this kind of thing up, which is what happened in Georgia. This is quite the curly question Narelle, but it’s one I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about as well. You could definitely feel a shift in things once the election was over. Why did it happen then? I think it’s because the election gave us undisputed, unequivocal results. They’ve been certified by 51 different election officials in 51 different states and districts. Challenges to them have been heard by courts and judges in states across America, and the challenges have been tossed out. All the tools and levers we have for establishing the result of this election worked. Because of that, it’s much, much easier to be able to debunk lots of what the President is alleging than it would have been in the past because we’ve got an absolute mountain of evidence to the contrary. I think we also saw that shift because fair and accurate reporting on elections is one of the central tenets of journalism, and by extension democracy as a system of government. There are serious consequences to getting this kind of thing wrong, so news organisations (us at the ABC included) spend plenty of time discussing how to report on much of the President’s is saying right now. As you’ve seen, some US outlets decided to just not air the presidents (or his supporters) press conferences because they couldn’t verify what was being said in real time. It’s a huge challenge for media in 2021, and it won’t go away when Trump leaves office. Take a look at the misinformation that’s been spread through the coronavirus pandemic, for example. That was a serious inside baseball, but I hope I was able to give you some kind of an answer Narelle! Now, back to dumb GIFS. Nah. Impeachment is traditionally a looooooong process. Trump’s impeachment, which began in September 2019 when Nancy Pelosi announced an inquiry and wrapped up with his acquittal in the Senate in February, was actually one of the quicker ones. There’s just no way to conduct all the necessary steps in two weeks. Also, there’s every chance we won’t know the result of both runoffs before inauguration day! The count will take a few days, and if it’s close you bet there will be recounts and court cases filed in the wash up. Conviction in the Senate is a HIGH bar to clear as well. You need 2/3 of the Senate for that, and even with a 50/50 split Democrats wouldn’t get the votes to stop Trump from seeking federal office again. The Post has released the full hour-long recording and a full transcript of the call right here for you Paul. Honestly I have no idea. That’s certainly one of the more outlandish scenarios that could happen in the next two weeks, but after everything that I’ve seen in the past four years I’ve learned not that say that some definitely won’t happen. FWIW, the phone call has certainly solidified to me that Trump is genuinely, desperately trying to hold on to power here, and not just stoking the fires as a way to keep his political power (and potential run at the 2024 election) alive well beyond Biden’s inauguration. It’s been pointed out by plenty (including you good folks) that the same ballots that the President and his supporters are protesting elected Joe Biden ALSO elected plenty of Republicans in the Senate and the House across the US. In fact, Republicans did vastly better in the House than expected and narrowed the Democratic margin. Today, Republican Congressmen Chip Roy (who was at one time Ted Cruz’s chief of staff) made that same argument in the House. Roy said he was objecting to seating colleagues in states where Republicans are planning to object to the results of the presidential election. Distilled down, Roy’s argument is if you object to the presidential election results, you gotta object to all of the election results, because they’re all governed by the same rules and marked on the same ballots. It’s a purely symbolic objection of course. Roy is one person in a legislative body of over 400. But it’s an interesting stand for a Republican to take at a time when the party is splitting over who supports the President’s attempts to subvert the outcome of the election, and who doesn’t. The pair are going to be working together quite a bit for the next two years at least. The president-elect issued a statement congratulating Pelosi on her re-election as House Speaker. “Jill and I extend our warmest congratulations to Speaker Pelosi on her well-deserved reelection today as Speaker of the House of Representatives. A trailblazing leader — and one of the most effective and accomplished legislators in our nation’s history — I have no doubt that Speaker Pelosi will continue to lead the House with dignity, principle, and patriotic resolve,”  Biden said. They had a (socially-distanced) meeting all the way back in November in Delaware, where Biden has continued to base himself in the lead up to inauguration day on January 21 AEDT. The only item on the President’s public agenda is the rally in Georgia in the evening (about noon AEDT). It does say he’ll be making “many calls” though…. The official proceedings begin at 1:00pm in Washington DC. Which means they kick off at 5:00am AEDT here in Australia. It’ll go on for several hours, but if you want to catch every moment of it, that’s when you’ll need to drag yourself outta bed. Of course I’ll be here with a blog, because since the election my body has adjusted to a US time zone and I can’t change it back. Yes I am seeking help for this. The list, for everyone playing along at home is: Ashton Carter, Dick Cheney, William Cohen, Mark Esper, Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel, James Mattis, Leon Panetta, William Perry and Donald Rumsfeld. “Our elections have occurred. Recounts and audits have been conducted. Appropriate challenges have been addressed by the courts. Governors have certified the results. And the electoral college has voted. The time for questioning the results has passed; the time for the formal counting of the electoral college votes, as prescribed in the Constitution and statute, has arrived,” they write. The piece also urges acting secretary of defense Christopher Miller to “refrain from any political actions that undermine the results of the election or hinder the success of the new team.” “We call upon them, in the strongest terms, to do as so many generations of Americans have done before them.” It’s a rather extraordinary intervention from a group of former officials who normally avoid jumping into day-to-day politics given the weight their words hold. The ABC’s Emily Olson is on the ground in Georgia, and she spoke to Tyler Paul Smith, a state representative for Georgia’s Carroll County. He told her that he’s worried that Trump’s rhetoric could have a chilling effect on would-be voters because they “might think their vote won’t matter”. There’s been low early turnout in Carroll County, which voted for Trump by a 40-point margin in November. “People might just be more secure in their feelings of voting on the day of,” Mr Smith said. “If there was fraud that occurred, we could overcome the margins with seeing more Republicans show up to vote. People understand that.” The President has been boosting calls for his supporters to march in Washington DC on January 7 AEDT for a few days now: Earlier today Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser asked local residents and counter-protesters to stay away from the downtown area, and pledged to do everything she could to keep the gatherings peaceful. At a similar march in support of the President back in December there were several stabbings and injuries to police officers when about 200 members of the Proud Boys, a far-right group, clashed with antifa counter-protesters. Spare a thought for the good people of Georgia folks, who have been under an intense national spotlight since the election ended. First there was the who kerfuffle over the recounts (which Joe Biden won. Multiple times). And now two Senate runoff races — normally a little oddity only the nerdiest of election nerds pay attention to — are set to decide the balance of power in the US Senate. FiveThirtyEight is running a polling average of both races. As of right now, the averages have Ossoff up 1.8 points over Perdue and Warnock 2.2 points up over Leoffler. That’s too-close-to-call territory, though it does appear that the two Democratic candidates have got a sliver of momentum in these closing stages. It’s going to come down to the wire on Wednesday folks. Remember, Republicans only need to win one of the two races to control the Senate. Democrats need to win both. I see you folks asking this question, and I’ve been trying to dig up an answer for you for a little while now. But I can’t find one! I suspect that Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnel have some procedural tools up their sleeve to stop debate stretching on and on and on and on and on. Nope! As the Washington Post notes though, there were plenty more people on the line beyond just Trump and Raffensperger. I suspect we won’t ever really know for sure. Nah. Impeachment is the mechanism the US Constitution gives the Congress to remove a president. It’s not a legal charge or process. You can’t impeach a president who isn’t in office. Whether or not Trump can be pursued legally is a open question. That said, a new motion for impeachment could be filed in the House before Trump leaves office in 16 days. In fact, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has already called this latest phone call an impeachable offence.  All our eyes will turn to Georgia for the next few days. Tomorrow, the President is headed to the state to hold a rally with Republican candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue (which he’s called a Victory Rally). It’s been quite a little while since we’ve seen the President speaking live, in person, at an event so all eyes will be on the rally, which is usually how he likes it.  And like I said earlier, president-elect Joe Biden is also headed to Georgia to campaign with the Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. The Georgia runoffs will be held on Wednesday AEDT, but don’t expect there to be a result on the day (I’ll absolutely be here with a blog though!). These races are CLOSE, and counting will take several days. And most importantly of all, our very own Emily Olson is on the ground in Georgia as well! She’ll be popping into the blog over the next few days, and I’ll make sure I highlight the reporting she’s doing so y’all don’t miss it. This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced. AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
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