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Mike Pence: January 6 Was “Most Difficult Day” of My Life, and Also I Won’t Testify

Pence admitted his family was in danger that day thanks to Trump, but he still won’t cooperate with the January 6 committee.

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Mike Pence has made his stance clear: January 6 was one of the most harrowing days of his life, and also he will not cooperate with investigations of the attack.

Speaking in a CNN town hall Wednesday night, Pence told Jake Tapper that the January 6 riot was “the most difficult day of my public life.”

He explained he certified the votes for President Joe Biden—against the wishes of former President Donald Trump, who continues to falsely insist the 2020 election was rigged against him—because his main loyalties are to his God and the U.S. Constitution.

Pence also condemned Trump’s actions that day, although he stopped short of explicitly placing the blame for the riot with his former boss. “The president’s words and tweet that day were reckless,” Pence said. “They endangered my family and all the people at the Capitol.”

But, somewhat bafflingly, Pence also said he will not testify before the House January 6 committee. He argued that a congressional committee summoning a vice president would violate the separation of powers, and besides, Congress has “no right” to his testimony.

He expanded on that in an interview with CBS, explaining, “I must say … the partisan nature of the January 6 committee has been a disappointment to me.”

The committee hit back at Pence, accusing him of trying to drum up press for his forthcoming memoir. “It is disappointing that he is misrepresenting the nature of our investigation while giving interviews to promote his new book,” committee Chair Bennie Thompson and Vice Chair Liz Cheney said in a statement.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, also a committee member, took particular offense with Pence’s comments, accusing him of waffling on his duty.

Pence’s interviews come just a few days after Trump announced a third run for president, but Pence is reportedly considering making a bid for himself.

If so, then his wishy-washy stance makes sense: In both the interviews and his new book, he sought to distance himself from Trump—a bid to moderates and independents—but stopped short of agreeing to actively work against the former leader, risking alienating Trump’s rabidly loyal fan base.

Latest on the House: Here Are the Democrats’ Remaining Best Shots

Republicans have a narrow majority in the House, but there are still a few races left in this election.

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Republicans finally clinched control of the House of Representatives, more than a week after Election Day, but it does not necessarily signal the end for Democrats.

The GOP reached the 218-seat threshold for a majority Wednesday night, but it is still a fight to the finish for the remaining six seats. Democrats hold 211 seats, and The New York Times predicts they will easily take two more with Mary Peltola in Alaska and Katie Porter in California.

Republicans are likely to get two more seats in California, and the last two seats are still too close to call, even with more than 90 percent of the votes counted. One of those races is Colorado Representative Lauren Boebert, a Trump-backed election denier who was initially expected to easily win her race.

Either way, the GOP’s majority will be only a handful of seats—a far cry from the overwhelming “red wave” they had predicted before the midterms.

The question for Republicans now is whether they can stay unified in order to advance their agenda, namely blocking President Joe Biden’s agenda and launching a slew of rather petty investigations into policies they don’t like.

But it’s unclear if Representative Kevin McCarthy, who was nominated the party’s House leader, will be able to pull that off. He faced multiple opponents to his nomination and did not have a unanimous vote in his favor.

Democrats, meanwhile, have kept control of the Senate, and they might still have a chance of passing measures in the House if they are willing to deal with more moderate Republicans.

Nebraska Republican Representative Don Bacon warned CNN, “I perceive that there’s a small group that is trying to put us in gridlock.” He has already said he is willing to work with Democrats to avoid a deadlocked House and even find someone more centrist (than McCarthy) for speaker.

At Least 32 Trans People Have Been Killed So Far This Year

The real number is likely far higher, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign.

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At least 32 transgender and gender-nonconforming people have been killed this year, the Human Rights Campaign said in a report published Wednesday, a few days before Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The HRC said that the toll could well be higher because anti-trans violence is often misreported or unreported altogether. Almost all the victims listed in the report are people of color.

While the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color—particularly Black transgender women,” the report said.

The data does not include people who died by suicide.

The toll is lower than the year before, which saw at least 57 trans and nonbinary people killed. But it comes amid a raft of anti-trans legislation throughout the United States.

State governments, particularly in Republican-led areas, have passed legislation seeking to ban trans girls from playing on girls’ sports teams and prevent gender-affirming care in hospitals.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin unveiled a policy in September that requires trans and nonbinary students to get permission from their parents to use their correct pronouns or gendered bathrooms. Even if parents grant that permission, school faculty and staff can still refuse to honor a student’s gender.

Ohio’s House passed a bill in the spring prohibiting trans women and girls from playing alongside cisgender women and girls. The bill had originally included a horrifying measure that would require anyone suspected of being trans to undergo a genital inspection.

That portion was eventually removed from the bill, which could go before the state legislature for a final vote before the end of the year.

And Florida passed a law in March, nicknamed the “Don’t Say Gay” law, that banned discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom.

Congress Just Passed a Bill to Limit Sexual Harassment NDAs. 109 Republicans Voted Against It.

The Speak Out Act had already passed unanimously in the Senate.

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On Wednesday, the House passed the Speak Out Act, legislation that prohibits the use of nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs, in cases of workplace sexual harassment or sexual assault. In other words, the bill empowers victims to speak out, share their stories, and seek justice without fear of retaliation for breaking previously signed NDAs.

The House passed the act 315–109—a decent showing of bipartisanship, yet a glaring mark on the 109 Republicans who voted against it. Over half the House Republican caucus voted against the bill, while the Senate passed it with unanimous consent in late September.

Thwarting the use of NDAs is important, as they have been weaponized to bind victims from speaking out against abusive employers or workplace superiors. That prevents victims from stopping potential future harm from being inflicted upon colleagues. Gretchen Carlson and Julie Rognisky, former Fox News employees and advocates for the bill, are familiar with this dynamic. Both bound by NDAs, the pair filed lawsuits against late Fox executive Roger Ailes, alleging sexual assault.

“The goal of the silencing mechanisms is to isolate you, to make you feel like you’re the only one that this is happening to, to protect predators by ensuring that nobody will know,” Roginsky told The 19th. “What survivors go through is something that has driven countless women out of the workforce because they have to choose between staying in an untenable situation silently or leaving their chosen careers.”

The Speak Out Act follows a related bill, signed by President Joe Biden in March, that prohibits companies from “resolving” claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment through arbitration. Such resolution processes allowed superiors to discreetly deal with cases away from public scrutiny, enabling them to get away with abusing employees at will.

Such bills are straightforwardly to the public’s benefit. They protect victims of sexual assault and harassment. They empower workers who are exploited by their employers. And they support the public’s interest: Job applicants become aware of the culture they could be joining; consumers of a company know what kind of culture they could be supporting.

And still, 109 Republicans found a way to vote against it.

37 Republican Senators Tried To Stop the Marriage Equality Bill From Moving Forward

The Senate has cleared a major procedural hurdle on the bill, but not without opposition from Republicans.

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A total of 37 Republicans senators voted Wednesday, in the year 2022, against advancing a bill that would enshrine marriage equality.

The Respect for Marriage Act, which applies to both same-sex and interracial marriage, would require that two people be considered married so long as their marriage was legal in the state in which it was performed. The act also repeals a 1996 law defining marriage as between a man and a woman, which has remained on the books despite being declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2015.

Many civil rights activists have warned that after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, same-sex marriage may be next on the chopping block.

The Senate voted 62–37 to advance the bill and is expected to invoke cloture—meaning decide to make the final vote—as soon as Thursday. The final vote could come by the end of the week or the end of the month.

The chamber had added an amendment to the bill clarifying certain protections for religious organizations. The bill needed 60 votes to succeed in the final vote, and with 12 Republicans joining the Democrats in advancing it, the legislation looks likely to pass.

It will then return to the House of Representatives before President Joe Biden can sign it into law.

The act already passed the House over the summer, although 156 voted against it—including a shockingly hypocritical “nay” vote from Representative Glenn Johnson, who attended his son’s same-sex wedding just a week later.

Remember That Time Elon Musk Tried to Start a Comedy Website?

In remembrance of Thud

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There are various plausible explanations for why Elon Musk acquired Twitter. Maybe, blinded by incompetent ego, Musk believes he alone can make Twitter transcend new boundaries. Perhaps his billionaire lifestyle has led him to desire new stimulation, and that comes in the form of owning one of the largest social media companies in the world.

Or possibly, Musk still holds on to his foregone dreams of being seen as funny, which is why he was so tickled to announce “comedy is now legal on Twitter” after buying it.

In March 2018, Musk tweeted “Thud!” and announced his new “intergalactic media empire,” a satire project he was pursuing with former Onion editors Ben Berkley and Cole Bolton.

The idea behind Thud was to bring satire into the real world, creating ambiguity between reality and parody. This involved the creation of distinct websites promoting items like satirical ancestry tracing services and endlessly shooting guns.

The vision was ambitious given how difficult it would be to generate much advertising revenue on largely distributed content, without even a central homepage for fans to stay plugged in. But the challenge only animated Musk’s imperious pioneering spirit. “It’s pretty obvious that comedy is the next frontier after electric vehicles, space exploration, and brain-computer interfaces,” Musk told The Daily Beast. “Don’t know how anyone’s not seeing this.”

The fate of Thud gave a clue as to how Musk would run Twitter, which is to say, not really at all. The Verge reported that Musk hadn’t planned to make much of a profit with Thud, and he didn’t really establish a plan to guide the project’s progress. He mostly just threw money at it. And when he began to worry that the project’s work could harm SpaceX or Tesla’s reputations, he pulled out, selling the company to Berkley and Bolton in January 2019—months before Thud even launched in March.

Thud continued pushing projects out as long as it could before shutting down in May 2019.

Though Thud’s vision may have been overly ambitious, it wasn’t just the fault of Berkley and Bolton. They had an idea, and acted accordingly with the financial backing of Elon Musk. That the company fizzled out had a lot to do with a bored billionaire who throws money wherever his mind wanders next, with little interest in maintaining a sense of accountability with those ventures.

As The Onion itself suggested years ago:

After Deadly UVA Shooting, Republicans Are Really Worried About … the Pride Flag in Schools

The far-right account Libs of TikTok is at it again.

Paul Chinn/The San Francisco Chronicle/Getty Images

Despite the fact that a University of Virginia student opened fire on his former football teammates over the weekend—the latest in a grim trend of U.S. school shootings—somehow guns are not what Republicans are worried about in schools.

The far-right account Libs of TikTok tweeted a photo Monday of an LGBTQ pride display in a Georgia middle school, along with the fearmongering caption: “Imagine walking into your child’s school and seeing this.”

Social justice activist Matt Bernstein snapped back that there might actually be something a little more frightening.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 115 gun-related incidents that resulted in a minimum of one person dying or being injured at or near schools this year. That includes suicides on campus.

Of those 115 incidents, 12 were mass shootings, which the Gun Violence Archive defines as shootings with at least four victims either injured or killed.

Those mass shootings include the horrific massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas (22 dead, 17 injured); an attack on a graduation ceremony in Hot Springs, Arkansas (one dead, four injured); another on a high school in St. Louis, Missouri (three dead, four injured); and Sunday’s shooting at UVA.

The shooter, a former football player, opened fire on the team as they were returning from a game. Three players were killed and another two students wounded. The shooter was charged Monday with three counts of second-degree murder and three counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony.

The U.S. has a long history of gun-related violence, but tighter regulations have been slow to materialize. Congress passed a landmark bipartisan gun-control law over the summer, but it has many opponents, including on Capitol Hill.

Even Fox News Cut Away From Donald Trump’s 2024 Announcement Speech

Not once, but multiple times

Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In a further sign the Republican establishment is souring on Donald Trump, Fox News cut away multiple times from his ill-advised presidential campaign announcement.

Trump announced Tuesday night that he would run for president a third time—a move that goes against the counsel of many of his advisers, former allies, and even the Republican Party at large.

Multiple news outlets chose to limit how much of Trump’s rambling, more-than-hour-long speech they showed, but the biggest shock came when Fox News—typically a Trump stalwart—cut away about halfway through the speech.

The speech began just after Sean Hannity, a longtime Trump confidant who has appeared at several of the former president’s rallies, went on air. After about 40 minutes, Hannity cut away to network commentators.

After about 15 minutes, Hannity switched back to the speech, but Fox eventually cut off Trump’s closing statements in favor of starting host Laura Ingraham’s talk show.

Trump still has allies: Several of the Fox commentators praised his speech, calling it “pitch-perfect” and saying the former president was “in as good a form as you’ve ever seen him,” and Representative Elise Stefanik said last week she would support his presidential run.

But the majority of the GOP—and even the country—seems to be over it.

Trump’s 2020 campaign spokeswoman Sarah Matthews called his announcement “low-energy” and “uninspiring.” Former Trump White House communications director Alyssa Farah Griffin, who called Trump a “loser” on election night, quipped: “You try being high energy when you’re running for President primarily to try to avoid indictment!”

In fact, the speech was so low-energy that people tried to leave early, but they were blocked by event staffers.

The New York Post, another formerly Trump-loyal outlet, kept its coverage of his speech short and to the point … and off the front page:

The announcement also comes after the midterm elections, which served as another kind of indictment on Trump’s political power: Not only was there no predicted “red wave,” but 34 Trump-backed candidates lost their races.

Voters were already shifting away from Trump before the GOP’s disastrous midterms. A Pew Research poll found that only 60 percent of Republicans and right-leaning independents viewed him favorably, down from 67 percent in the summer of 2021.

Postelection polls show many voters are already setting their sights on a new party leader: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

After Ruining Twitter 1.0, Musk Announces Race to Build “Twitter 2.0”

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Britta Pedersen/Pool/Getty Images

After laying off half of Twitter’s workers, allowing some of the most crucial ones to resign, and firing yet more staff if they tweeted anything he didn’t like, Elon Musk is now making final cuts for anyone not ready to be “working long hours at high intensity.”

On Wednesday morning, Musk sent an email to Twitter staff offering an ultimatum. “Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasingly competitive world, we will need to be extremely hardcore,” he began. “Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade.”

Musk wrote that anyone who does not express their interest in being “part of the new Twitter,” by 5 p.m. E.T. Thursday would receive three months of severance pay.

Even if a worker indicates their will to stay, however, there’s no guarantee that their desire for continued employment will be honored. “Those writing great code will constitute the majority of our team and have the greatest sway,” Musk wrote, describing how Twitter 2.0 will apparently be much more “engineering-driven.”

The letter comes after a persistent stream of chaos coming from inside Twitter.

According to The New York Times, Musk has directed his team to comb through staff members’ tweets and Slack messages and create lists of people making fun of him. Numerous employees have been fired accordingly. Others were fired after simply pointing out that Musk’s technical understanding of how Twitter works is wrong.

Crucial staff including the chief information security officer and chief compliance officer resigned, leaving individual engineers responsible for Federal Trade Commission compliance.

Ad agencies with clients including Apple and McDonald’s have recommended campaign suspensions, joining a burgeoning list of advertisers fleeing the company.

Amid all this, Musk—a grown man in charge of a $44 billion company—has used his time judiciously. Earlier, he joined the replies of viciously transphobic and racist Twitter account “Libs of Tiktok” to make an ableist joke. He also spent time trolling Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey—who then reminded Musk that both his companies are under FTC and NHTSA scrutiny. Markey serves on Senate subcommittees focused on media, as well as consumer protection and data security.

And that is all just a taste of how Twitter 1.0 has gone under Musk. We can only dream of what Twitter 2.0 will hold!

Apparently Unable to Read the Room, Donald Trump Announces 2024 Bid for President

The twice-impeached, twice-popular-vote-losing former president made his announcement shortly after a disappointing midterm election for Republicans.

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Against the will of his advisers, many of his party’s officials, and a large chunk of the country, Donald Trump is running for president for a third consecutive time.

“America’s comeback starts right now,” Trump announced Tuesday night at Mar-a-Lago. “Two years ago, when I left office, the United States stood ready for its golden age. Our nation was at the pinnacle of power, propserity, and prestige,” he added, without making any mention of his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election and remain in power, going so far as to lead the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

The announcement comes as the GOP lies in shambles after a disappointing midterm election.

Many Republicans had predicted their party would win up to 55 Senate seats. Fox News’s Power Rankings team predicted the party would secure 236 seats in the House. Instead, the Senate balance is 50–49 in favor of the Democrats, pending Georgia’s runoff; the House balance will only narrowly favor the Republicans, after a series of Democratic upsets.

And a whopping 34 Trump-endorsed candidates lost their elections—many of whom Republicans expected to win.

Since the red wave’s crash, numerous Republicans have indicated a desire to shun a potential third Trump run. Postelection polls already show a massive shift from Trump to DeSantis within the Republican base.

On NBC, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy said, “We’re not a cult. We’re not like, ‘OK, there’s one person who leads our party.’” He went on to say, “Elections are about winning. And so if folks want to look at these election results and decide that’s where you want us to continue to be, then we’re not going to do well.”

On CBS, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton said Republicans have many “other important leaders” besides Trump, including Georgia’s Brian Kemp, Florida’s Ron DeSantis, Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin, and South Carolina’s Tim Scott. Each has been floated as a 2024 contender.

And while some Republicans speak in innuendo, others have been more explicit.

Alabama Representative and former Trump ally Mo Brooks told AL.com, “It would be a bad mistake for the Republicans to have Donald Trump as their nominee in 2024.” 

“Donald Trump has proven himself to be dishonest, disloyal, incompetent, crude and a lot of other things that alienate so many independents and Republicans,” he added. Brooks endorsed DeSantis, as well as Senators Ted Cruz of Texas or Rand Paul of Kentucky, as possible 2024 alternatives to Trump.

Calling Trump the GOP’s 800-pound-gorilla, outgoing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan unapologetically hammered Trump: “It’s basically the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race,” Hogan said on CNN. “This should have been a huge red wave.… People who tried to relitigate the 2020 election and focused on conspiracy theories … they were all almost universally rejected.”

Republican strategist Scott Jennings, who has advised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the past, was straightforward, tweeting: “How could you look at these results tonight and conclude Trump has any chance of winning a national election in 2024?”

Republicans also worry Trump’s announcement will hurt Republican Herschel Walker’s runoff bid against Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, by increasing Democratic voter turnout.

As Trump announced his candidacy, his potential rival DeSantis was addressing a closed-door Republican Governors Association meeting with donors. Meanwhile, Trump and his allies are still embroiled in a legal mess, under several subpoena orders with regard to efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Republicans flopped in the midterms. Kevin McCarthy is barely hanging onto a House majority. Mitch McConnell’s leadership is being threatened. And Trump, who has never won the popular vote, has now entered the race for president for a third time.

Good luck, Republicans.