Political Notebook

Senators offer bipartisan criticism of protest at justice’s home

Police officers watched as an abortion rights activist spoke during a protest outside the house of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Alex Wong/Getty

Senators from both political parties on Tuesday criticized an abortion rights demonstration outside the home of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh a night prior.

A group of about 50 people gathered at his residence in the D.C. suburbs to protest the Supreme Court’s recent decision not to block a Texas law banning abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy and called for Kavanaugh’s resignation.

Speaking at the start of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa) called the protests “another blatant attempt to intimidate the judiciary” and anyone who “disagrees with the radical agenda.”

He was joined in his denunciation by Democratic senators Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who said those unhappy with the court’s action should express themselves at the ballot box or outside the courthouse.

Durbin called it “absolutely unacceptable to involve any major public figure’s family or their home” in the “name of freedom of speech.” There are “proper venues to express yourself,” he said. Leahy condemned the effort to “try to intimidate” Kavanaugh’s family.

Washington Post

Woman pleads guilty to threatening Harris

Only a few weeks after President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn into office, Niviane Petit Phelps recorded a video of herself.

‘’Kamala Harris, you are going to die,’’ Phelps said into the camera, according to an affidavit. ‘’Your days are numbered already.’’

Phelps said someone had paid her $53,000 to kill Harris, adding: ‘’I’m going to do the job, OK.’’

Over the course of a week, the 39-year-old nurse living in Miami Gardens made five more threatening videos, court documents state. She sent them to her incarcerated husband through JPay, an app inmates use to communicate with those on the outside.

Phelps pleaded guilty on Friday to six counts of making threats against the vice president — each representing one of the 30-second videos in which she said she would assassinate Harris. The mother of three now faces five years in prison.

Her sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 19.

Her attorney, Scott Saul, did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post. He told the Miami Herald that Phelps would not have followed through on her threats to assassinate the vice president.

Phelps ‘’was just venting as she was going through a tumultuous time in her life,’’ Saul told the paper, adding that the threats were ‘’limited to discussions with her incarcerated husband.’’

After federal prosecutors filed the charges in April, Phelps was fired from her job as a nurse in the Jackson Health System, where she had worked for 20 years, the Herald reported.

Among Phelps’s reasons for making the threats, she later told investigators, was that Harris — born to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother — was not actually Black.

Phelps also believed a debunked conspiracy theory, according to investigators, that Harris put her hand on her purse instead of a Bible on Inauguration Day. Phelps found the notion disrespectful, she told a federal agent, according to the affidavit.

Washington Post

About 2,000 attend right-wing youth gathering

HOUSTON — Up the silver escalators they went, in their MAGA hats and tank tops and College-Republican blue blazers and death-metal merch and ‘’Socialism Distancing” tees and, in one case, a tie-dyed sweat shirt that read ‘’Virginity Rocks.’’

There were roughly 2,000 of them, ages 14 to 24, mostly — though not exclusively — white, roaming the carpeted ballrooms of this Houston hotel, for a right-wing youth summit hosted by Representative Dan Crenshaw, Republican of Texas. They wore punchy, adolescent politics on their sleeves and excited, nervous grins on their faces.

They did not wear masks.

They were here to laugh: ‘’It’s a war,’’ YouTube comedian J.P. Sears would say onstage, ‘’don’t you want to be on a side with all the guns?’’ They were here to learn: Ben Shapiro would give them tips on how to destroy their liberal classmates in debates. They were here to shout guttural sounds with motivational speaker Tony Robbins (whose introduction video included clips of him helping Oprah walk on burning coals but neglected to mention a BuzzFeed News investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct; Robbins has vehemently denied wrongdoing and sued BuzzFeed over its reporting).

And they were here to queue up to shake hands and take pictures with Crenshaw, the eyepatch-wearing Navy SEAL turned congressman who many believe could be the future of a Republican Party that remains (in theory) undecided about whether to move on to its next leaders or reboot the Trump Show.

‘’Trump is not a God,’’ said conservative commentator David Rubin, mingling with the crowd. ‘’Politics has to be bigger than one specific person.’’

And so, here came a parade of other specific people. People such as occasional Trump critic Shapiro, former Fox News personality Megyn Kelly, the psychologist and self-help author Jordan B. Peterson (via video), and a slate of speakers that did not include Trump or anyone in his family.

One thing most, if not all, of those in attendance seemed to agree on: President Biden is dead-wrong to be ordering vaccine and testing requirements for businesses with more than 100 employees as the Delta variant drives surges in hospitalizations and deaths in many Republican-dominated states, including Texas.

‘’I’m very, very pro-vaccine, but I’m also more pro-freedom,’’ Shapiro told an electrified crowd, announcing his media company, the Daily Wire, was gearing up for a legal battle with the federal government over the new requirements.

‘’Who loves breathing sweet, delicious, free air, maskless?’’ shouted Benny Johnson, a Trump-loving meme-maker for Turning Point USA.

Washington Post

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