WASHINGTON — Unfazed by Republican threats of a boycott, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared Thursday that a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection will take on its “deadly serious” work whether Republicans participate or not.
The Republicans’ House leader, Kevin McCarthy, called the committee a “sham process” and suggested that GOP lawmakers who take part could face consequences. McCarthy said Pelosi’s rejection of two of the Republicans he had attempted to appoint was an “egregious abuse of power.”
The escalating tension between the two parties — before the investigation has even started — is emblematic of the raw partisan anger that has only worsened on Capitol Hill since then-President Trump’s supporters laid siege to the Capitol and interrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. With most Republicans still loyal to Trump, and many downplaying the severity of the violent attack, there is little bipartisan unity to be found.
McCarthy said Wednesday that he would withdraw the names of all five Republicans he had appointed after Pelosi rejected two of them, Representatives Jim Banks of Indiana and Jim Jordan of Ohio. Pelosi made it clear on Thursday that she won’t relent.
“It is my responsibility as the speaker of the House to make sure we get to the truth of this, and we will not let their antics stand in the way of that,” Pelosi said of the Republicans.
It is unclear, for now, whether Pelosi will try to appoint more members to the select panel, as she has the authority to do under committee rules. She left open that possibility, saying that there are other members who would like to participate. But she said she hadn’t decided whether to appoint Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of only two Republicans who voted in support of creating the panel last month.
The other, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, has already been appointed by Pelosi to sit on the committee along with seven Democrats — ensuring they have a quorum to proceed, whether other Republicans participate or not.
Cheney praised Kinzinger, saying he would be a “tremendous addition” to the panel. Several Democrats on the panel also seemed to support the idea, with Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi saying the military veteran is “the kind of person we’d want to have.”
In a partisan deadlock vote, Senate committee advances Biden public lands nominee
BILLINGS, Mont. — A bitterly divided Senate panel deadlocked Thursday on President Biden’s pick to oversee vast government-owned lands in the West, as Democrats stood united behind a nominee whose credibility was assailed by Republicans over her links to a 1989 environmental sabotage case.
The 10-10 tie in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee sets up a floor vote on the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning. It would take every Senate Republican plus at least one Democratic lawmaker to block her confirmation in the evenly divided chamber.
At stake is the leadership of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, which oversees energy production, grazing, mining, recreation, and other activities across almost a quarter-billion acres of public lands, primarily in the West.
Stone-Manning was a top aide to then-Montana Democratic Governor Steve Bullock and Senator Jon Tester and most recently worked as a vice president at the National Wildlife Federation. Her advocacy for land preservation contrasts sharply with the land bureau’s priorities under then-President Trump, who sped up oil and gas drilling and sought to open lands to development.
Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington state said the fierce opposition to Stone-Manning among Republicans was rooted in the change she could bring to the agency.
“This is over-the-top opposition,” Cantwell said. “What is really on trial here is the future of America’s public lands ... oil, gas, coal, mineral extraction.”
Republican lawmakers derided Stone-Manning over her link to the 1989 sabotage of a timber sale on Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest, calling her an “eco-terrorist” unfit to oversee the land bureau. At the time, she was a 23-year-old environmental studies graduate student at the University of Montana.
Two of Stone-Manning’s friends were later convicted of inserting metal spikes into trees, which makes them dangerous to cut and can be used to block logging.
She received immunity from prosecutors, testified against the two men, and was not charged with any crimes.
FBI says it got more than 4,500 tips on Kavanaugh in 2018, referred most “relevant” ones to Trump White House
Nearly three years after Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s tumultuous confirmation to the Supreme Court, the FBI has disclosed more details about its efforts to review the justice’s background, leading a group of Senate Democrats to question the thoroughness of the vetting and conclude that it was shaped largely by the Trump White House.
In a letter dated June 30 to two Democratic senators, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Chris Coons of Delaware, an FBI assistant director, Jill C. Tyson, said that the most “relevant” of the 4,500 tips the agency received during an investigation into Kavanaugh’s past were referred to White House lawyers in the Trump administration, whose handling of them remains unclear.
The letter left uncertain whether the FBI itself followed up on the most compelling leads. The agency was conducting a background check rather than a criminal investigation, meaning that “the authorities, policies, and procedures used to investigate criminal matters did not apply,” the letter said.
Former president Donald Trump has long taken credit for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which was almost derailed over allegations by a California professor that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her during a high school gathering in the early 1980s.
NEW YORK TIMES
Biden sanctions Cuban regime over protest crackdown
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced new sanctions Thursday against a Cuban official and a government special brigade that it says was involved in human rights abuses during a government crackdown on protests on the island earlier this month.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control listed Alvaro Lopez Miera, a Cuban military and political leader, and the Interior Ministry Special Brigade, as among those who will face the latest sanctions.
Treasury said in a statement that Lopez Miera “has played an integral role in the repression of ongoing protests in Cuba.” Cuba’s Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, which is led by Lopez Miera, and other Cuban government’s security services have attacked protesters and arrested or disappeared more than 100 protesters in an attempt to suppress these protests, according to Treasury.
The regime led by Miguel Diaz-Canel moved quickly, and violently, to stem the protests. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the actions by Cuban authorities, and violent mobs it mobilized, “lay bare the regime’s fear of its own people and unwillingness to meet their basic needs and aspirations.”
Wyden delays confirmation of Biden immigration pick until federal officials give more information on their response to Portland protests
WASHINGTON — Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, is stalling the confirmation hearing of President Biden’s pick to run Customs and Border Protection over questions about the federal government’s role in quelling protests in his home state.
Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, congratulated Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus in April after Biden nominated him to serve as commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, the nation’s largest law-enforcement agency.
But Wyden says his committee will not hold the confirmation hearing until the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice answer questions about the federal agents deployed by the Trump administration to Portland.
Among Wyden’s questions is whether a federal officer who shot a protester in the head with a less-than-lethal munition, fracturing the man’s skull, has been investigated or disciplined.
“Six months into the new administration, the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice have failed to answer basic questions about how the Trump administration misused federal resources to stoke violence against peaceful protesters in my hometown,” Wyden said in a statement. “While it is clear that Customs and Border Protection faces pressing issues, as the senior senator from Oregon, I am unable to advance this nominee until DHS and DOJ give Oregonians some straight answers about what they were up to in Portland last year, and who was responsible.”