House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday formally invited President Biden to speak to a joint session of Congress in March.
The March 1 date is later than past State of the Union addresses as Washington and Congress have imposed various restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Thank you for your bold vision and patriotic leadership which have guided America out of crisis and into an era of great progress, as we not only recover from the pandemic but Build Back Better!” Pelosi wrote in a letter to Biden Friday.
She added: “In that spirit, I am writing to invite you to address a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, March 1, to share your vision of the State of the Union.”
White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Friday afternoon aboard Air Force One that Biden has accepted Pelosi’s invitation.
The address will mark Biden’s first State of the Union. As other presidents have done, Biden delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress during his first year in office, but that speech is traditionally not called a State of the Union.
Judge sanctions company that reviewed Arizona’s election results
Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired to conduct a partisan review of election results in Maricopa County, Ariz., has been ordered to pay sanctions of $50,000 a day until it turns over records from the review sought by the Arizona Republic newspaper.
A superior court judge in Maricopa County found the Florida-based company in contempt of court Thursday and ordered the sanctions, according to the Republic.
Maricopa Superior Court Judge John Hannah had previously ordered the company to turn over e-mails, text messages, and other documents to the publication.
“It is lucidly clear on this record that Cyber Ninjas has disregarded that order,” Hannah said.
The order of sanctions comes as the company claims to be shutting down.
Jack Wilenchik, a lawyer representing Cyber Ninjas, said that the company has laid off all employees, including its former chief executive officer Doug Logan, and is now insolvent, according to Newsweek. Wilenchik said the company is unable to go into its records to find the audit documents.
NBC also reported that a company representative said in a text message on Thursday night that it is shutting down.
“Cyber Ninjas is shutting down. All employees have been let go,” Rod Thomson, the company’s representative, said.
The court action came during the same week that Maricopa County officials released a lengthy report concluding that the November 2020 election was administered properly and not marred by fraud.
The 93-page document debunks, one by one, vague allegations of potential problems previously identified by the GOP-led state Senate, which hired Cyber Ninjas, and championed by former president Donald Trump and his allies.
Maricopa County, home to Phoenix, is Arizona’s largest county.
In September, the Senate announced its contractors’ recount reconfirmed the accuracy of the county’s tally — which showed that Joe Biden edged out Trump in the large and diversifying county by more than 45,000 votes, helping Biden win the key swing state.
US Capitol Police officer sues Trump for Jan. 6 attack
WASHINGTON — A US Capitol Police officer filed a lawsuit against former president Donald Trump on the first anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, accusing Trump of causing emotional and physical pain, including a concussion, during last year’s riot — the latest in a litany of litigation from law enforcement against him.
Briana Kirkland is demanding “accountability for Trump’s central role in inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection,” according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in US District Court in Washington. The officer was forced to take a year off work after suffering a traumatic brain injury while fending off the pro-Trump mob that breached the Capitol, the complaint says. At one point, she was outnumbered 450-to-1 at one of the Capitol doors and only armed with a baton, the lawsuit alleges.
She argues that Trump did little to end the insurrection and that his “provocative words and actions leading up to and on Jan. 6, 2021, were likely to incite and provoke violence in others and did in fact incite and provoke violence directed” at her.
“As the leader of this violent mob, who took their cues from his campaign rhetoric and personal tweets and traveled from around the country to the nation’s capital at Trump’s invitation for the January 6 rally, Trump was in a position of extraordinary influence over his followers, who committed assault and battery on Briana Kirkland,” the 51-page complaint says. “Trump, by his words and conduct, directed the mob that stormed the Capitol and assaulted and battered Briana Kirkland.”
Kirkland, 29, a five-year veteran of the force who only returned to work this week, accuses Trump of multiple counts, including directing assault and battery, as well as aiding and abetting assault and battery. She is seeking at least $75,000 in damages.
Patrick Malone, Kirkland’s attorney, told The Washington Post that Kirkland’s was one of several new Jan. 6 lawsuits filed this week on behalf of Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police officers. Capitol Police officer Marcus J. Moore and Metropolitan Police officers Bobby Tabron and DeDivine K. Carter are also calling for accountability for Trump’s actions. The lawsuits assert that Trump violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which prohibits mob violence aimed at obstructing the operations of the federal government and its officers, Malone said.
“Our clients suffered physical and psychological wounds as the result of insurrectionists incited by the former president to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power,” Malone said in a statement.
Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Trump, did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday.
Kirkland’s lawsuit came as President Biden forcefully denounced Trump for his role in the Capitol riot, as well as spreading falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election. In a speech from the Capitol’s Statuary Hall Thursday Biden unleashed a torrent of attacks against his immediate predecessor. Though he did not call out Trump by name, Biden made 16 references to the “former president,” whom he squarely blamed for undermining America’s democracy.
“The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” Biden said. “He’s done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country’s interest and America’s interest, and because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.”
Several GOP Senators open to changing the Electoral Count Act
WASHINGTON — Ahead of the first anniversary of the Capitol insurrection, several Senate Republicans said they were open to overhauling the presidential vote certification procedure in Congress that was targeted by former president Donald Trump and allies as they sought to overturn his 2020 election loss.
That procedure was interrupted on Jan. 6, 2021, by violent pro-Trump rioters who breached the Capitol as Republican challenges to electoral votes were being debated in the House and Senate. Only early the next morning was the process completed, after lawmakers voted to reject objections to two states’ electoral tallies and certify Joe Biden as the election’s winner.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that changes to the Electoral Count Act, the 1887 law governing the congressional certification process, were “worth discussing,” while several other GOP senators said they were interested in clarifying ambiguous provisions in the statute and potentially raising the threshold for a challenge to a state’s electoral results.
Under current law, it requires only one House member and one senator to force a debate and vote on whether to accept a state’s slate of electors. While Democrats had previously objected to some GOP electors in prior elections, the 2021 objections were unique in their scale, with as many as six states targeted, and in the support they enjoyed from an incumbent president who had refused to concede the election.
This week’s expressions of support, modest as they are, amount to the most significant Republican backing for modifications to the nation’s democratic infrastructure in response to the stresses of the 2020 election.
But top Democrats have rebuffed that talk as they seek to pass a much broader package of election-related legislation. Those bills are aimed at countering new GOP-written state laws that Democrats say are aimed at making it harder for citizens to vote and easier for legislatures to throw out results they don’t support.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Tuesday that focusing solely on electoral vote counting procedures “makes no sense,” and he said Democrats would continue pushing for the full suite of elections and campaign-finance laws that they have sought to advance for several years.
“If you’re going to rig the game, and then say, ‘Oh, we’ll count the rigged game accurately,’ what good is that?” he said. Republicans, he added, “want to now both rig the game and rig the count. But to just say we won’t rig the count but we’re going to rig the game makes no sense whatsoever.”