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Republican Senator Inhofe to retire at year’s end

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., speaks to reporters following a GOP policy meeting on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Washington.Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Republican Senator James Inhofe, a conservative crusader who has represented Oklahoma over five decades in Congress, while earning a reputation as a leading denier of climate change, said Friday that he will not finish his term and retire at the end of the year.

Two people familiar with the 87-year-old senator’s decision told The Post on the condition of anonymity to describe Inhofe’s plans ahead of an official announcement.

The New York Times first reported Inhofe’s impending retirement Thursday. Inhofe confirmed the news Friday in an interview with The Oklahoman.

‘’There has to be one day where you say, ‘All right, this is going to be it,’ ‘’ Inhofe told the newspaper.

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A spokeswoman for Inhofe did not respond to requests for comment. In a sign that an announcement was imminent, Inhofe’s top Senate aide, chief of staff Luke Holland, unveiled a campaign website Friday.

‘’Luke is proud to have the endorsement of Senator Inhofe,’’ it reads. Inhofe confirmed in the Oklahoman interview that he would campaign for Holland ahead of a June 28 primary.

Under Oklahoma law, a Senate vacancy occurring before March 1 of an election year sets up a special election for November to coincide with this year’s already-scheduled midterm elections.

Should Inhofe leave office before the special election is certified, GOP Governor Kevin Stitt could appoint a temporary replacement, who under state law would be barred from running in the special election. One person familiar with Inhofe’s decision said he informed Stitt of his intention to retire in a Thursday phone call.

Inhofe, who won reelection with 63 percent of the vote in 2020, had previously signaled his current six-year term would be his last. But he has indicated to allies in recent months that he has been considering an early retirement because of his wife’s declining health.

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Inhofe’s seat would be heavily favored to stay in Republican hands. No Democrat has won major statewide office since 2006, and Donald Trump carried the state with 65 percent of the vote in 2020.

WASHINGTON POST

Manhattan DA appoints new leader of Trump investigation

NEW YORK — Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has asked his investigations chief to oversee the ongoing probe into former president Donald Trump and his business practices, a day after the abrupt resignations of two veteran attorneys who had been leading the case.

Susan Hoffinger, also an experienced litigator and recent addition to Bragg’s executive team, will captain what has been described as a squad of about 25 lawyers, paralegals, and analysts. Over more than three years, the group has pored through millions of records relating to Trump and operations at the Trump Organization, his family-run company, focusing most recently on whether assets were illegally overvalued to secure better terms on loans and insurance rates, and undervalued to get tax breaks.

Bragg’s announcement Thursday follows the dramatic departure of Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, whose resignations signaled a marked shift in the probe. Multiple people with knowledge of the matter said Dunne and Pomerantz felt Bragg, who took office Jan. 1, was not interested in pursuing a case against Trump and had not given them direction on how to proceed.

Bragg’s office has said the case, which he inherited from his predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., is proceeding. On Thursday, his spokesperson said it was “not true” that Bragg was unconcerned with advancing the matter.

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“As we said yesterday, the investigation remains ongoing,” said Bragg spokeswoman Danielle Filson, adding that Hoffinger “will lead the strong team that is in place.”

WASHINGTON POST

House optimistic about approval of reparations commission

More than three decades after it was first introduced, a House bill that would create a commission to study reparations for Black Americans has the votes to pass, its key champions say.

That broad support, they contend, shows that the idea of reparations has gone from the fringes to the mainstream of American politics.

‘’This has been a 30-plus year journey,’’ said Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas. ‘’We had to take a different approach. We had to go one by one to members explaining this does not generate a check.’’

The commission would hold hearings with testimony from those who support and oppose the idea. Jackson Lee said the country would end up better from the process. ‘’Reparations is about repair and when you repair the damage that has been done, you do so much to move a society forward. This commission can be a healing process — telling the truth can heal America,’’ she said.

While supporters are confident they have the votes to gain approval in the Democratic-controlled House, they are less optimistic about the bill’s fate in the Senate. Instead, they intend to push President Biden to sign an executive order that would create the commission. The bill, H.R. 40, calls for a months-long study of reparations so supporters say they need Biden to act now so his administration could implement the commission’s recommendations before the end of his term.

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The White House did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the legislation or whether Biden would consider an executive order.

During the 2020 Democratic primary election, The Washington Post asked candidates if they thought the federal government should pay reparations to the descendants of enslaved people. Nearly all of the leading contenders, including Biden, said that they supported an in-depth study of the issue. Their answers represented a significant shift compared to President Obama’s rejection of the idea during his 2008 campaign. Revisiting the issue in an interview last year, Obama said that reparations are ‘’justified” but the ‘’politics of white resistance and resentment” made the issue a ‘’non-starter” during his presidency.

WASHINGTON POST

Election officials fear internal threats for midterm voting

Election officials preparing for this year’s midterms have yet another security concern to add to an already long list that includes death threats, disinformation, ransomware and cyberattacks — threats from within.

In a handful of states, authorities are investigating whether local officials directed or aided in suspected security breaches at their own election offices. At least some have expressed doubt about the 2020 presidential election, and information gleaned from the breaches has surfaced in conspiracy theories pushed by allies of former president Donald Trump.

Adding to the concern is a wave of candidates for state and local election offices this year who parrot Trump’s false claims about his loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

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“Putting them in positions of authority over elections is akin to putting arsonists in charge of a fire department,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat and former law school dean who serves as Michigan’s top elections official.

Experts say insider threats have always been a concern. But previously, the focus was mostly on what a volunteer poll worker or part-time employee could do to a polling place or county system, said Ryan Macias, who advises officials at the federal, state, and local levels on election security. Now the potential harm extends to the very foundation of democracy — conducting fair elections.

“Since 2020, the coordinated efforts to have threat actors run for office, apply to be election officials, and volunteer as a poll worker or observer should be treated as national security concerns,” Macias said.

ASSOCIATED PRESS