Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Democrat Raphael Warnock holds narrow poll lead in crucial Georgia Senate runoff – live

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Raphael Warnock campaigns in Atlanta in November.

Raphael Warnock campaigns in Atlanta in November.© Photograph: Brynn Anderson/AP

Victory for Warnock would give Democrats 51 Senate seats – follow all the latest politics news.

19:15

Donald Trump has reemerged on his Truth social network to refute that he ever called for the “termination” of the constitution – even though he definitely did.

“The Fake News is actually trying to convince the American People that I said I wanted to ‘terminate’ the Constitution. This is simply more DISINFORMATION & LIES, just like RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA, and all of their other HOAXES & SCAMS”, the ex-president wrote.

But scroll a little further down his profile, and the “termination” comment sure doesn’t seem like disinformation or lies. Here’s what he wrote on Saturday, in the post that kicked off the latest firestorm: “So, with the revelation of MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION in working closely with Big Tech Companies, the DNC, & the Democrat Party, do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”

In today’s posts, he doubles down on his insistence that the 2020 election was stolen, even though there’s been no proof of that, despite repeated attempts by Trump’s lawyers to convince judges nationwide otherwise.

“What I said was that when there is ‘MASSIVE & WIDESPREAD FRAUD & DECEPTION,’ as has been irrefutably proven in the 2020 Presidential Election, steps must be immediately taken to RIGHT THE WRONG”, Trump wrote.

He followed that up with a second post: “SIMPLY PUT, IF AN ELECTION IS IRREFUTABLY FRAUDULENT, IT SHOULD GO TO THE RIGHTFUL WINNER OR, AT A MINIMUM, BE REDONE. WHERE OPEN AND BLATANT FRAUD IS INVOLVED, THERE SHOULD BE NO TIME LIMIT FOR CHANGE!”

The day so far

17:42

Democratic senator Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker are in the home stretch of campaigning ahead of Tuesday’s run-off election for Georgia’s Senate seat. Polls indicate Warnock has the edge, while the weather may undercut Walker’s hopes that Republican voters will turn out massively for him tomorrow. Meanwhile, in New York, jurors are deliberating in the tax fraud trial of Donald Trump’s business.

Here’s what else has happened so far today:

17:21

Meanwhile, Democrats have settled on a new leader in the House of Representatives: Hakeem Jeffries, who is set to steer the party through two years in the minority beginning in 2023. The Guardian’s Edwin Rios has more about Jeffries, who could one day become the next House speaker:

Democratic congressman Hakeem Jeffries first emerged in the mid-2000s as a former corporate lawyer homegrown from central Brooklyn. With his focus on criminal justice reform and housing affordability, he was seen as a progressive of the moment who took on the existing Democratic machine in New York.

Now, as the newly-elected successor to House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Jeffries has graduated from state politics to the national stage with the opportunity to make an impression on American politics for years to come.

Last week Jeffries, 52, became the first Black leader of either party in Congress. Under the incoming Congress, Jeffries will be House minority leader, making him the most powerful Democrat in the House. His ascension, paired with the departures of longtime and elderly Democratic leaders like Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn, signals a shift for Democrats toward a younger, more diverse generation of leaders that will undoubtedly face tension with a new Republican House majority on the horizon.

Related: Will the ‘cool, calm, collected’ Hakeem Jeffries change when in power?

Related video: Obama campaigns for Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia Senate runoff

 

Obama campaigns for Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia Senate runoff

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17:01

Georgia’s Democratic senator Raphael Warnock continues to lead his challenger Herschel Walker ahead of tomorrow’s run-off election, a new poll has found.

The University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Center for Public Opinion reports Warnock has 51% support among likely voters in the state against Walker’s 46%. The data was collected from 1,300 people from 18 through 28 November.

Another conclusion of the poll: 54% disapprove of Joe Biden’s performance as president but would vote for him over Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election.

16:41

Fresh off her re-election victory over a Trump-backed challenger, Alaska’s Republican senator Lisa Murkowski also condemned the former president’s call for the “termination” of the constitution:

16:25

Donald Trump’s comments about the “termination” of the constitution gave former vice-president Mike Pence another opportunity to distinguish himself from his former boss.

Pence fell out with Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election, when he refused to participate in the then-president’s attempts to disrupt the outcome of the race. The two men may soon become open competitors if Pence decides to run for the White House in 2024, which he has said he is considering.

Here’s what Pence told a radio host today about Trump’s comments, as reported by the Washington Post:

16:06

Over the weekend, Donald Trump called for the “termination” of the constitution so he could return to power. As has been the case many times in the past, top Republicans are sticking with him, Martin Pengelly reports:

A leader of moderate Republicans in the US House repeatedly refused to condemn Donald Trump on Sunday, even after the former president, running for re-election in 2024, said the US constitution should be “terminated” to allow him to return to power.

“Whoever the Republicans end up picking, I’ll fall in behind” them, Dave Joyce of Ohio told ABC’s This Week, adding that he thought Americans did not want to look back to the 2020 election, the subject of Trump’s lies about electoral fraud and demand for extra-constitutional action.

Joyce’s host, George Stephanopoulos, said: “I don’t see how you can move forward if your candidate is for suspending the constitution but thank you for your time.”

Trump maintains the lie that the 2020 election, which Joe Biden won by more than 7m votes and a clear margin in the electoral college, was subject to widespread voter fraud. In messages on his Truth Social account on Saturday, Trump said the constitution should therefore be “terminated”.

The former president was condemned by Biden, Democrats and political commentators. On CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday another Ohio Republican, Mike Turner, said he “absolutely” did so too.

Related: Republican moderate refuses to disown Trump over constitution threat

15:49

Vice-president Kamala Harris will head to Los Angeles later this weekend to swear in the city’s new mayor Karen Bass, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A sitting congresswoman, Bass made history by becoming the first Black woman elected to lead the city last month. Harris is the first Black and south Asian woman to serve as US vice-president, and a fellow Californian who served as the state’s attorney general.

The swearing-in will happen on Sunday.

15:32

Democratic candidates managed to sweep the main races in Arizona last month, but only after officials across the state overcame a host of attempts to disrupt the vote. The Guardian’s Rachel Leingang has a closer look at just how messy the midterms were in the southwest state:

The lead-up to Arizona’s midterms saw tactics designed to disrupt the American democratic process in a battleground state where election denialism ran rampant. Though voters broadly rejected election deniers, the grip of their ideas remains strong among large portions of the right in the state, which is now at the forefront of the fight over democracy in the US.

“Voters in swing states sent a message that they were not receptive to election denialism. They didn’t send that message everywhere,” said Daniel I Weiner, director of the Brennan Center’s elections and government program.

Weiner added: “There is going to continue to have to be built a greater consensus amongst Americans across the ideological spectrum that this is out of bounds. This election was reassuring. It certainly doesn’t mean the election denialism has gone away, though.”

Related: ‘Hatred has a great grip on the heart’: election denialism lives on in US battleground

15:07

Here’s more from the Guardian’s Lauren Gambino on what Democrats hope to accomplish if Raphael Warnock wins a six-year term representing Georgia in the Senate:

Last month Democrats secured control of the US Senate, keeping their fragile hold on power with 50 seats and vice president Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. Yet winning the Georgia runoff election on Tuesday would deliver Democrats more than just a single Senate seat: it would finally give them an outright majority.

The contest between Democratic senator Raphael Warnock and his scandal-plagued and Trump-backed Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, will determine whether the Democrats retain their 50-50 majority in the Senate, the narrowest possible balance of power, or whether they will expand it.

In the weeks since the November midterm elections, when Warnock and Walker failed to clear the 50% threshold needed to avoid a runoff, Democrats and Republicans have spent tens of millions of dollars and dispatched their top surrogates to Georgia in an all-out effort to win the seat. Early voter turnout has been especially high and polls show a close contest.

Gaining one more seat in the Senate would have far-reaching implications for Democrats, both politically and procedurally. As Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer wrote in an email to supporters: “Having 50 seats is great, but having 51 is even better.”

Related: Democrats aim to seize outright Senate majority in Georgia runoff

14:52

Republican hopes of a victory by Herschel Walker in Georgia are fading, Politico reports.

Not only is Walker behind in the few polls conducted in the state since last month’s midterms, but he’s been dogged by gaffes and allegations that he paid for women to have abortions even though he supports banning the procedure nationwide.

“I think a lot of Republicans are hoping we’ll be pleasantly surprised, but there aren’t a lot of indications out there to base that on,” former chair of Georgia’s Cobb County GOP Jason Shepherd told Politico. “Just a lot of hope and faith in things unseen. It’s the Christmas season, after all.”

The Republican candidate didn’t present himself well in an interview with the publication. They report that, “In a brief interview with POLITICO on Saturday, Walker seemed to mistake which chamber of Congress he was running for and also appeared to think the outcome of his race would determine control of the Senate.”

Even the weather could work against Walker. The GOP is hoping that their voters will turnout massively on election day to cast ballots, but it’s supposed to rain across the state tomorrow.

14:36

With less than 24 hours until polls open in Georgia, here’s a reminder from CNN on how much Democrats want to see Raphael Warnock re-elected to the Senate.

The party has spent massively on his run-off election in the weeks since last month’s midterm election, and outspent the Republican campaign for Herschel Walker:

Jury to begin deliberations in Trump Organization fraud trial

14:21

Jurors in Manhattan will today start deliberating over whether to convict the Trump Organization in its tax fraud trial, Politico reports.

Former president Donald Trump’s business is facing $1.6 m in fines if jurors determine that it avoided taxes through a scheme to pay its executives with under-the-table perks. Trump is not facing charges in the case, but a conviction could further tarnish his reputation as he once again seeks the White House in 2024.

Closing arguments wrapped up last week, and a verdict could come as soon as today. Defense attorneys have argued Trump knew nothing about the scheme, and said Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer who has already pleaded guilty to tax charges, is to blame for the fraud.

14:04

Two years ago, Georgia was the state that decided control of the Senate in Democrats’ favor. This year, its importance will be slightly diminished – but that doesn’t mean the results of Tuesday’s run-off election between Democratic senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker won’t be closely watched.

Democrats won enough seats in last month’s midterm elections to control Congress’s upper chamber for another two years, but only by a margin so slim they’ll need vice-president Kamala Harris to cast tie-breaking votes on legislation Republicans don’t support. But if Warnock wins, the Democrats will control the chamber outright, and the influence of senators like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who repeatedly acted as spoilers for some of Joe Biden’s policy proposals over the past two years, will be lessened.

A victory by Walker will put Republicans one seat away from retaking control of the chamber, and perhaps mark the unofficial start of the campaign to do so in 2024. In that election, Democrats will be defending Senate seats in a number of states that typically vote Republican, such as Montana, Ohio and West Virginia. They would only need to lose one for the GOP to return to the majority.

Democrat Warnock holds narrow lead in final stretch of campaigning for Georgia Senate seat

13:47

Good morning, US politics blog readers. Democratic senator Raphael Warnock appears to have a narrow lead in the runoff election for Georgia’s Senate seat against GOP challenger Herschel Walkerpolls indicate. If he wins, Democrats will be able to pad their majority in Congress’s upper chamber, and have an easier time defending their control when legislative elections are held in 2024. But if Walker wins, Democrats’ hopes that Georgia has become a purple state may end up being put on ice. We’re one day away from finding out which side has the momentum.

Here’s a rundown of what’s going on today:

  • The supreme court at 10am eastern time will hear arguments in a case over whether Colorado’s anti-discrimination law violates the free speech rights of a web designer because she only wants to create wedding pages for heterosexual couples.

  • Joe Biden, fresh off welcoming French president Emmanuel Macron to Washington, hosts the congressional ball at 6.30pm.

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre briefs reporters at 2.30pm.The Guardian:Story by Chris Stein in Washington 

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