If a president’s party can only keep one chamber of Congress, the Senate is the one to have.
The Senate is tasked with approving the White House’s nominations, including cabinet secretaries, federal judges and most crucially, supreme court justices. With Democrats holding the majority for the next two years, Joe Biden is once again guaranteed the ability to get his cabinet secretaries and judges confirmed to post across the government. That will increase the chances Biden’s legislative accomplishments – and those of future Democratic presidents – survive court challenges.
But if the House falls to Republicans, Biden’s days of big legislating may have come to an end, at least for now. The chamber’s GOP leadership has shown little interest in working with the president, and it’s unlikely any of their bills make it through the Senate and to the president’s desk. Control of the House also gives the GOP the ability to conduct investigations and issue subpoenas. Expect them to do that to officials involved in the US withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, and to Hunter Biden.
As the results of last week’s midterm elections continue to roll out, the control of the House has not yet been decided. Joe Biden and others have deemed it unlikely Democrats will retain control of the House, though they have secured the Senate for another two years.
Here’s what else you need to know:
A federal court has blocked Joe Biden’s plan to relieve some student debt, putting the effort on hold while the administration considers other options.
Former vice-president Mike Pence has sat down with ABC News to talk more about his experience on January 6, calling Trump’s words on that day “reckless”.
Senators are pushing for a vote this week on a bill to codify same-sex marriage, saying they believe it has enough support to pass the chamber.
Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville said he will back Trump for president in 2024, if the ex-president announces.
Prosecutors say criminal charges are not expected from an investigation into Rudy Giuliani’s actions in Ukraine, in a move Giuliani’s team is calling “a total victory”.
Donald Trump on Monday attempted to revive his lawsuit against Twitter over his permanent suspension from the platform.
Trump seeks to revive fight to get back on Twitter
Former president Donald Trump on Monday asked a US appeals court to revive his lawsuit against Twitter over his permanent suspension from the platform, according to Reuters.
Trump was banned from Twitter over his role in the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. The former president was also indefinitely removed from YouTube and Facebook after the incident.
While other social media firms have not decided on whether Trump can return, the ban on Twitter was meant to be permanent.
However, when billionaire Elon Musk bought Twitter last month, questions were raised about whether that ban would be reversed. Musk had previously stated that banning Trump had been “a mistake”.
The billionaire has not made any public decisions about whether to allow Trump’s return, stating that he may leave such policy decisions to an independent board.
Senate to vote on same-sex marriage bill this week
Senator Chuck Schumer is filing a bill to codify same-sex marriage today, setting it up for a Wednesday vote.
The Respect for Marriage Act passed the House this year, and CNN reported today a bipartisan group of senators believed the bill had enough support to pass the chamber.
Prosecutors say criminal charges not expected from Giuliani raid
New York prosecutors said in a letter to a judge on Monday they do not plan to criminally charge Rudy Giuliani following an investigation into his dealings with Ukrainian associates – a development Giuliani’s team called “a total victory”.
Prosecutors had been investigating whether Giuliani should have been registered as a foreign agent due to his dealings with figures in Ukraine in the run-up to the 2020 election.
The investigation, which resulted in raids on his residence in April 2021 and seizure of a number of electronic devices, has concluded, and that criminal charges would not be forthcoming.
“In my business, we would call that total victory,” Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, told the Associated Press. “We appreciate what the US attorney’s [office] has done. We only wish they had done it a lot sooner.”
Read the full story here.
Kari Paul here taking over for the next couple hours, stay tuned for updates.
Trump wasn’t keeping all those classified documents at Mar-a-Lago for the money, the Washington Post reports.
Rather, the motivation for his alleged retention of government secrets at his south Florida resort was more about Trump’s desire to hang on to keepsakes from his time in the White House, according to the Post, which cited federal investigators. That doesn’t mean he won’t face charges in the case, which is one of many inquiries the former president is involved in nearly two years after he left office.
Here’s more from the Post:
That review has not found any apparent business advantage to the types of classified information in Trump’s possession, these people said. FBI interviews with witnesses so far, they said, also do not point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell, or use the government secrets. Instead, the former president seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property, these people said.
Several Trump advisers said that each time he was asked to give documents or materials back, his stance hardened, and that he gravitated toward lawyers and advisers who indulged his more pugilistic desires. Trump repeatedly said the materials were his, not the government’s — often in profane terms, two of these people said.
The people familiar with the matter cautioned that the investigation is ongoing, no final determinations have been made, and it’s possible additional information could emerge that changes investigators’ understanding of Trump’s motivations. But they said the evidence collected over a period of months indicates the primary explanation for potentially criminal conduct was Trump’s ego and intransigence.
A Justice Department spokesman and an FBI spokeswoman declined to comment. A Trump spokesman did not return a request for comment Monday.
The analysis of Trump’s likely motive in allegedly keeping the documents is not, strictly speaking, an element of determining whether he or anyone around him committed a crime, or should be charged with one. Justice Department policy dictates that prosecutors file criminal charges in cases in which they believe a crime was committed and the evidence is strong enough to lead to a conviction that will hold up on appeal. But as a practical matter, motive is an important part of how prosecutors assess cases and decide whether to file criminal charges.
The Guardian’s Kari Paul is now taking over the live blog, and will take you through the latest politics news over the remainder of the day.
Another notable Republican has reiterated his support for Donald Trump, Politico reports.
Alabama senator Tommy Tuberville said he will back Trump for president in 2024, if he announces:
He also announced that he would back Mitch McConnell as Senate minority leader, the top office available for the GOP in that chamber after they failed to win control in the midterms.
CNN reports that the bipartisan group of senators pushing a bill to codify same-sex marriage believes it has enough support to pass the chamber:
The Respect for Marriage Act passed the House earlier this year with some Republican support. Assuming all Democratic senators vote for it, it will need the votes of at least 10 Republicans to overcome a filibuster, but it’s previously been unclear if that support exists.
Ahead of the release of his memoir tomorrow, former vice-president Mike Pence sat down with ABC News to talk more about his experience on January 6.
Here was his reaction when asked about Trump’s tweet lashing out at Pence on the day of the attack:
In their quest to understand why they performed so poorly in the midterms, some Republicans are pointing the finger at Donald Trump, arguing he has outlived his usefulness to the party.
Writing in The American Conservative, JD Vance, a Republican who just won a seat in the Senate representing Ohio, attempted to dissuade the GOP from casting blame on the former president. He argues that Trump serves as a unifying force for Republicans and can offset Democrats’ advantages in fundraising and voter turnout that are going to make it more difficult for the GOP to win House and Senate races.
Here’s more from his piece:
In the long term, the way to solve this is to build a turnout machine, not gripe at the former president. But building a turnout machine without organized labor and amid declining church attendance is no small thing. Our party has one major asset, contra conventional wisdom, to rally these voters: President Donald Trump. Now, more than ever, our party needs President Trump’s leadership to turn these voters out and suffers for his absence from the stage.
The point is not that Trump is perfect. I personally would have preferred an endorsement of Lou Barletta over Mastriano in the Pennsylvania governor’s race, for example. But any effort to pin blame on Trump, and not on money and turnout, isn’t just wrong. It distracts from the actual issues we need to solve as a party over the long term. Indeed, one of the biggest changes I would like to see from Trump’s political organization—whether he runs for president or not—is to use their incredible small dollar fundraising machine for Trump-aligned candidates, which it appears he has begun doing to assist Herschel Walker in his Senate runoff.
Blaming Trump isn’t just wrong on the facts, it is counterproductive. Any autopsy of Republican underperformance ought to focus on how to close the national money gap, and how to turn out less engaged Republicans during midterm elections. These are the problems we have, and rather than blaming everyone else, it’s time for party leaders to admit we have these problems and work to solve them.