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What Crisis Communication Experts Would Say to Ted Cruz

He did What?

Senator Ted Cruz has never been on the shortlist for the Most Empathetic Politician Award. But his latest demonstration surprised even the most jaded political hands.

As Cruz’s home state of Texas rocked by a blizzard that caused widespread power outages and left dozens of deaths across the country, Cruz took a plane last night and s he flew to Cancún, Mexico for a family vacation. The photos have started circulated on social media this morning, accompanied by a chorus of dismay and ridicule.

Early this afternoon, he released a statement saying his children had wanted to take a vacation and arguing that he was still able to work from abroad. “Wanting to be a good dad, I flew with them last night and I’m coming back this afternoon,” he said, adding that he was planning to go home today.

Later, after returning to the United States, Cruz said the trip was “clearly a mistake” and said he started to “question” it as soon as he got on the plane to Mexico. .

I called a few crisis communications professionals who worked with other besieged politicians to get their views on Cruz’s fiasco. They all sang a variation on the same theme: just wow.

“You can pretty much do damage control for anything, and I think he could do damage control for that,” said Lis Smith, a Democratic strategist who worked on Pete’s presidential campaign. Buttigieg last year. Still, she added, “You must be wondering what the hell was he thinking about doing that. The optics of it couldn’t be much worse. “

Stu Loeser, the longtime press secretary to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – who often made low-key trips to Bermuda during his tenure – was also surprised by Cruz’s decision to fly the co-op out of town. one of the most vulnerable moments in his state of recent memory.

Credit…Reuters

“The hardest part in politics and the hardest part in crisis communication is the same thing: being able to predict the future,” Loeser said. “But in this case, people have been without electricity for days. You knew what was going to happen.

Risa Heller, a crisis consultant who advised disgraced former rep Anthony Weiner, said that even in a fast-paced 24-hour news cycle, Cruz’s decision to take his vacation could be hard to live with. “It will stay with him for a long time,” she said. “The people of Texas won’t forget that a guy they chose to advocate for went on vacation at their darkest moment.”

She added, “Sometimes someone comes out of town and something crazy happens and they have to come back. You can say, “I understand that”. But it’s not that. This storm happened and then he left. This sends a real message to his constituents. I guess time will tell if they’ll forgive him, but that’s pretty unforgivable.

Republican strategist Joel Sawyer helped former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford weather the 2009 scandal about his secret vacation with a lover, who nearly ended his political career. (He eventually finished his term as governor and then returned to his former seat in the House.) Sawyer said that after Sanford left the governor’s mansion, he worked to restore his reputation by offering contrition.

Sawyer was not so sure that Cruz wanted to do the same. “Yes, he can control the damage, but it will require great humility on his part,” he said. “I don’t know how well Ted Cruz can muster.”


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Cracked pipes, frozen wells, offline treatment plants: a Texas water crisis

DALLAS – Power started returning to much of Texas on Thursday, but millions of people across the state faced another serious crisis: a shortage of clean water as pipes cracked, wells froze and water treatment plants were taken offline.

The problems were particularly acute in hospitals. One, in Austin, was forced to move some of his most seriously ill patients to another building when his taps nearly ran out. Another in Houston had to haul water on trucks to flush the toilet.

But for many state residents stuck at home, the emergency meant boiling the tap water that flowed through their faucets, scouring stores for bottled water, or boiling ice cubes and snow. dirty on their stoves.

For others, it meant no water at all. Denise Gonzalez, 40, joined a crowd at a makeshift rescue center in a working-class corner of West Dallas on Thursday where volunteers distributed food in the luggage compartment of a charter bus.

Back at her apartment, she said, the lights were finally back on. But his pipes were frozen. She could not bathe, shower or use the toilet. She said she had been calling plumbers all day, but one of the few who answered her told her it would be $ 3,000 to come out to assess the damage.

“If I had $ 3,000,” Ms. Gonzalez said, “I wouldn’t be getting food from people on the bus.

Major disruptions to the Texas power grid left more than four million homes without power this week, but as of Thursday night, only about 347,000 were without power. Much of the statewide concern had turned into water issues.

More than 800 public water systems serving 162 of the state’s 254 counties were disrupted Thursday, affecting 13.1 million people, according to a spokesperson for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

In Harris County, which includes Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city, more than a million people have been affected by local water systems that have issued boil water advisories for it to either potable or that cannot provide water at all, said Brian Murray, spokesperson for the county’s emergency management agency.

Residents of Texas’s capital Austin have also been asked to boil water due to a power outage at the city’s largest water treatment facility. Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros said falling temperatures caused water pipes to rupture and burst pipes, leading to increased water use and allowing water to s ‘escape from the system.

He said on Thursday that power had been restored and restoring water service to hospitals and other health facilities was a priority. The city’s reservoirs, which can hold around 100 million gallons of water – or the equivalent of a day of water for Austin – had been nearly emptied due to the leaks or increased use by residents.

“We never imagined a day when hospitals would not have water,” he said.

For many Texans, the disruption was a staggering inconvenience that seemed to push them back to the state border. People searched for firewood in suburban yards, shuddered in dark houses, made a living on canned goods, and did without electronics.

Others have faced more dire consequences. At South Austin Medical Center in St. David’s, officials were attempting Wednesday night to fix a heating system that was failing due to low water pressure. They were forced to look for portable toilets and distribute water bottles to patients and employees so they could wash their hands.

In San Antonio, Jesse Singh, 58, owner of a Shell gas station, said his 80-year-old father was refused regular dialysis treatments on Tuesday and Thursday because his clinic had problems accessing the drug. ‘water.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” Singh said.

The problem was compounded by the fact that much of Texas still suffered from cold weather and snowstorms on Thursday, as part of a devastating winter spell that also dumped snow and triggered storm warnings. winter in parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Friday night.

Corey Brown, an employee of Tyler Water Utilities – which serves the town of Tyler in northeast Texas – said the temperature was in the 1920s on Thursday, complicating efforts to restore water service . Mr. Brown guessed that half of the 110,000 utility customers were completely without water.

“They had icy water pipes,” he said. “We have two water treatment plants – one of them has broken down and we also have power outages. And then we’ve had a hard freeze for the last couple of days, so a lot of pipes are freezing up and it’s stopping the flow to some people’s houses or causing depression.

Days of freezing weather have killed at least 38 people across the country, left many roads impassable, interrupted vaccine distribution and blanketed in snow nearly three-quarters of the continental United States. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said they have made 60 generators “to support critical infrastructure” in Texas and provide blankets, bottled water and meals.

The head of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s electricity grid, warned Thursday that the state was “not out of the woods yet”, largely because of the lingering cold.

“We’re still in very cold conditions, so we’re still seeing a much higher than normal winter demand,” Bill Magness, Chairman and CEO of the Board, said at a press conference. This meant, he said, that planned outages might be needed in the coming days to maintain network stability.

“If we hit a bump and a generation has to go backwards, we may have to ask for breakdowns,” he said. “But if we do, we think they’ll be at the level where they could be rotating service disruptions, not the larger numbers we faced earlier this week.”

There were other signs of progress. Houston William P. Hobby Airport, which was forced to close Wednesday due to water supply issues, ad early Thursday morning that he had restored the water to a limited capacity, and that flights would resume.

But even as power was restored for many Texans, thousands more continued without light or water. For Angelina Diaz and her four children, Thursday was yet another day of commuting between their cold home in West Dallas and the cramped SUV idling down the driveway.

It was day 4 with no shower or bath. Day 4 without toilets. Day 4: Heat bottled water on a barbecue to prepare formula for Ms. Diaz’s 6 month old daughter Jimena.

The family spent nearly a year diligently washing their hands to avoid contracting the coronavirus, and they feared a week without water could hinder those efforts.

“How do we keep our hands clean?” Asked Ms. Diaz, 25.

Most of their neighbors had electricity on Thursday afternoon, but as the utility trucks drove through the slush, Ms. Diaz was losing patience sleeping in the car and shaking under the covers. She was drawn to hotels or city-run warming centers, but worried too much about exposing her family to the virus. So it was back to the SUV to wait.

At Family Place, a domestic violence shelter in Dallas, power had been cut for two days when the waterlogged ceiling collapsed, triggering an icy waterfall on the 120 women and children seeking refuge there. .

Water soaked their clothes and whatever possessions they had brought along, spoiling legal documents that were difficult to replace. The corridors have become streams. Locals and staff tried to sweep the water away and stacked sheets to create roadblocks, but quickly gave up and hastily piled onto five city buses to seek refuge in a church.

“They’ve lost pretty much everything,” said Shelbi Driver, a resident lawyer at the shelter.

Defenders said at least three other domestic violence shelters around Dallas were also evacuated after pipes burst and flooded their hallways with icy water, displacing hundreds of vulnerable people who had no opportunity. to go home.

“They went through horrible trauma, came to our organization to seek safety and suffered another trauma,” said Paige Flink, Executive Director of Family Place. “It makes me want to cry just to say it,” she said. “It’s a total nightmare.”

Jack healy reported from Dallas, Richard Fausset from Atlanta, and James dobbins of San Antonio. Maria Jimenez Moya contributed to the Houston report, and Lucy tompkins from New York.

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Project Lincoln co-founder resigns from board amid worsening crisis

The crisis engulfing the anti-Trump group, the Lincoln Project, worsened on Friday when Steve Schmidt, a co-founder, abruptly resigned from the board and former employees renewed their demands for release from nondisclosure agreements to provide more information on the organization’s handling of allegations of harassment against another co-founder, John Weaver.

Mr. Schmidt will remain with the organization as an executive after taking temporary leave. He resigned from the board to quell growing fury around the Lincoln Project, but only joined the board after the November election.

In an extraordinary statement Friday night, Mr Schmidt described being sexually assaulted as a teenager, referring to his own experience as he sought to explain his widely criticized response to the allegations against Mr Weaver.

“I am extremely angry about this,” he said of Mr Weaver’s actions, which involved unwanted sex messages to many young men. He added, referring to the man he claimed had assaulted him: “I am angry because I know the damage he has done to me, and I know the journey that awaits every young man who trusted, feared and abused by John Weaver. “

Mr Schmidt reiterated his claim that he only learned of Mr Weaver’s behavior last month. However, a former Lincoln Project employee told the New York Times Mr Schmidt knew about it by October 2020 at the latest. The former employee described being in the room when Mr. Schmidt mentioned it.

Mr Schmidt released his statement Friday evening after a lawyer for a third co-founder, Jennifer Horn, sent the Lincoln Project a notice directing them to keep the documents in anticipation of a trial, according to a person familiar with the communications .

This week’s turmoil has been deeply damaging to Project Lincoln, which has emerged over the past year as the main group of Republicans opposed to the presidency of Donald J. Trump. He skewered Mr. Trump with mocking ads and drew a large following to the left.

But the group’s leadership has fractured since the elections. Two board members, Ron Steslow and Mike Madrid, left in December. George T. Conway III, another key figure, is also gone. Ms Horn recently resigned, making a scathing statement, and on Thursday the group tweeted their private Twitter messages with a reporter.

Those tweets were then deleted, and Mr Schmidt said in his statement: “This direct message should never have been made public. It is my job as a senior leader to accept responsibility for the enormous error in judgment that led to his release. He apologized to Ms. Horn, calling her “an important and valuable member of our team”.

Also on Friday, the host of a show on the group’s media branch resigned after less than a week. And a leading international affairs expert, prominent anti-Trump conservative Tom Nichols, has said he is stepping down as an unpaid adviser to the group.

The backlash against Project Lincoln began with the revelation last month that Mr Weaver had repeatedly harassed young men and at least one minor. It escalated Thursday with published reports that executives were aware of last year’s harassment and failed to act, the demand of former workers to be released from their NDAs and the unauthorized publication of the Twitter messages from Ms. Horn.

Senior Project Lincoln officials said Thursday evening they were hiring an outside investigator to review Mr Weaver’s tenure, promising transparency and saying Mr Weaver’s conduct “must be considered.”

Ms Horn, who resigned from Project Lincoln last week, said in a statement Thursday that she had recently learned that other leaders in the group had ignored warnings about Mr Weaver’s conduct. In addition to the former employee who said Mr Schmidt had known him in October, several other people who worked for the group said executives knew even earlier.

The young men Ms. Horn spoke with were “hurt that their experiences were denied, angry that they had been used and to whom they had lied, and fearful of being targeted again,” she wrote in his statement. “When I spoke to one of the founders to share my objections and concerns, I was yelled at, belittled and lied to.

Further disclosures could be imminent. Eight former employees and associates – six Thursday night and two more Friday – have now signed the letter requesting the release of their NDAs. The signatories have not yet spoken publicly, but have provided a copy of the letter to the New York Times, and their identities are known to The Times.

They said they were not comfortable contacting the organization directly to be released from their NDAs, as Project Lincoln executives suggested in a statement.

“It is absurd, unreasonable and insensitive” to expect victims and their loved ones to contact and engage the people and organizations accused of protecting the very predator in question.

Another controversy erupted Thursday night when the Lincoln Project posted screenshots of Ms Horn’s Twitter account, revealing her direct messages with a reporter, then quickly deleted them. Unauthorized access to a social media account may be illegal, depending on the circumstances.

These positions were the last straw for Mr. Nichols, an international affairs expert at the US Naval War College, who announced Friday that he was ending his ties with the organization.

“I have been considering whether to continue my association for some time,” Nichols said in an email to The Times. “I was shocked by the contemptible behavior of John Weaver and concerned about the ongoing public conflict between the directors, but made my final decision yesterday when Jennifer Horn’s personal messages were released. I’m glad they are hiring an outside advisor to help them sort it out, and hopefully there will be accountability for what happened with Weaver.

Mr Nichols said that as a volunteer he had no idea of ​​the internal governance of the group.

Mr Weaver, 61, is a longtime Republican presidential campaign adviser who rose to prominence in John McCain’s races in 2000 and 2008 and also worked for John Kasich in 2016. The Times reported on last month, based on interviews with 21 young men, whom Mr Weaver had for years sent unsolicited and sexually provocative messages online.

The youngest person the Times interviewed was 14 when Mr. Weaver first contacted him; the messages became overtly sexual after she turned 18.

The Associated Press and New York Magazine on Thursday, citing unidentified former employees, reported that Lincoln Project executives were aware of Mr. Weaver’s behavior last summer, which Mr. Schmidt continued to say. deny. Mr Weaver took medical leave from the group in August and announced last month that he would not be returning.

In its statement Thursday, the Lincoln Project said Mr. Weaver had “betrayed all of us” and called in “a top notch outside professional” to “establish both accountability and best practices at the ‘to come up”.

At the same time, leaders of the group have repeatedly dismissed reports of when they learned of Mr Weaver’s behavior and Ms Horn’s resignation, as jobs hit by supporters of former President Donald J. Trump.

The eight former employees and associates expressed their anger over this in their open letter. To insinuate that their efforts were a right-wing attack, they wrote, “is not in line with the values ​​we are committed to upholding, and is like the tactics and behavior we joined Project Lincoln to defeat.”

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How the virus worsened the state’s housing crisis

Hello.

A year ago, during his State of State Address, Gov. Gavin Newsom gave up his usual practice of listing a host of ambitious proposals and instead focused on one thing: the sans- shelter. Since then, the state and the governor’s office have been devastated by the pandemic and its devastating effects on the economy. But as priorities naturally shifted, the housing problem was still there – and the coronavirus only made matters worse.

As the virus continues to spread and the job market is on volatile ground, Mr Newsom signed a bill last month extending the state’s moratorium on evictions, which was due to expire this month, until summer. The bill also allocated $ 2.6 billion in federal money to pay off rent, in hopes of enabling eligible tenants to move out with less debt.

But while these triage measures will relieve some of the pain in the short term, the decades-old housing crisis is still very much present. Even with falling rents in many cities, California continues to have one of the worst rental burdens in the country, with about one-third of renters paying half of their pre-tax income for housing, compared to one-quarter in the country. nationwide. It also still has the country’s worst problem with homelessness.

So, as has become a ritual in recent years, the state legislature has introduced a storm of new housing bills intended to make housing more abundant and affordable. Toni Atkins, interim president of the State Senate, made bills to increase housing production among her top goals for this year’s legislative session, and lawmakers again introduced various new bills for increase density as well as funding for homeless services and subsidized housing. Sacramento, meanwhile, recently became the first city in the state to allow apartments in single-family home neighborhoods, after city council voted to pass a plan that would allow developers to build quadruplexes. on any residential land.

It’s hard to imagine now, but 2020 was supposed to be “the year of housing production”. And while 2021 will be the Legislature’s attempt to take stock, last year reminds us that the housing crisis is always with us no matter what overshadows it.

(This article is part of California today newsletter. Register to have it delivered to your inbox.)


  • Two cases of the variant coronavirus first discovered in South Africa were found in Alameda and Santa ClaraGovernor Gavin Newsom said Wednesday. The variant reduces the effectiveness of some vaccines. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

  • Dave Min, a state senator from Irvine, last month introduced SB-264, a bill that ban gun sales and shows on all state-owned properties in California. [Los Angeles Times]

  • Orange County teachers and food workers, who are newly eligible for the vaccine according to state guidelines, will have to wait another two weeks. This is to help get through a waiting list of people 65 and over who have not yet been vaccinated. [The Orange County Register]

  • Tuesday the San Jose City Council voted 7-3 to pass a law requiring large grocery stores to pay employees $ 3 more per hour in addition to their regular salary, as they remain at risk during the pandemic. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

  • Guitarist Chuck Johnson released “The Cinder Grove” earlier this month, an album that praises the Californian landscapes still shaved. [The New York Times]

  • Policymakers across the country are looking to California to see if it is possible to phase out fossil fuels. State law mandates 100% clean energy by 2045, and until recently things seemed to be going well. What changed? [The Los Angeles Times]

  • “The biggest problem facing dam safety in California is aging infrastructure and the lack of money to fund dam repairs and renovations.” Fifty years after the Slymar earthquake, California dams face new challenges and dangers. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • The Chevron refinery in Richmond dumped about 600 gallons of “water and oil mixture” in the San Francisco Bay Tuesday. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

– Steven Moity and Jake Frankenfield



California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Have you been forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.

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How the Biden administration can help solve our reality crisis

Sounds a bit dystopian, I grant. But let’s listen to them.

Right now, these experts said, the federal government’s response to disinformation and national extremism is haphazard and spread across multiple agencies, and there is a lot of unnecessary duplication.

Renée DiResta, disinformation researcher at the Stanford Internet Observatory, gave the example of two seemingly unrelated problems: disinformation about Covid-19 and disinformation about electoral fraud.

Often, she says, the same people and groups are responsible for the spread of both types. So instead of two parallel processes – one at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aimed at crushing Covid-related conspiracy theories, and another at the Federal Election Commission, trying to correct misinformation about voting – one centralized working group could coordinate a single, strategic response.

“If each of them does this separately and independently, you run the risk of missing connections, both in terms of content and in terms of the tactics used to run the campaigns,” Ms. DiResta said.

This task force could also meet regularly with technology platforms and lobby for structural changes that could help these companies tackle their own issues of extremism and disinformation. (For example, it could formulate “safe harbor” exemptions that would allow platforms to share data about QAnon and other conspiracy theory communities with researchers and government agencies without violating life protection laws. private.) And that could become the spearhead for the federal government’s response to the crisis of reality.

Several experts have recommended that the Biden administration push for greater transparency into the inner workings of black box algorithms that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other major platforms use to rank feeds, recommend content, and introduce. users in private groups, many of whom have been responsible for amplifying conspiracy theories and extremist views.

“We need to open the hood on social media so that civil rights lawyers and true watchdog organizations can investigate human rights violations permitted or magnified by technology,” Dr Donovan said.

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Ghosts of 2009 push Democrats to robust crisis response

“I am not going to let Republican senators stall for the sole purpose of stalling,” said Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the new Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, on a conference call hosted by the group. of Defense Invest in America. He added that his perspective stemmed from his own experience as a junior member of the group during the Great Recession.

“We were told that if you got small there would be several apple bites and you would come back,” Mr Wyden said. “The point is, in 2009 Congress did not pass another economic relief package after the stimulus bill, so it has real consequences for people.”

President Biden would undoubtedly prefer to push his proposal forward with bipartisan support to show that he is capable of bridging the differences between the two sides. But the White House has insisted it will not abandon its plan to try to gain Republican support and that while the scope could be adjusted, the changes won’t be too substantial.

“We have learned from past crises that risk is not too much,” Biden, vice president in 2009, told the White House on Friday, addressing the same topic as Mr. Schumer. “The risk is not doing enough.”

Like Mr. Biden this year, Mr. Obama entered the White House in 2009 optimistic he could cooperate with Republicans, and there had been some promising signs in 2008. Faced with a serious economic emergency, Republicans in Congress, Democrats and George W. Bush The administration had worked closely to approve the $ 700 billion bailout from Wall Street and to take other steps to stem the crisis before Mr. Obama took office. Republicans also seemed disheartened by heavy election losses in November, suggesting that some might be open to cooperation.

But to an extent that was not immediately apparent, leading Republicans in the House and Senate were quick to decide that their return to power must remain united against Ms. Obama’s agenda, a position Republicans later recognized.

As a result, the administration and Democratic leadership had to make multiple concessions to secure the votes of three Republicans and a few moderate Democrats needed to provide the bare minimum of 60 votes to overcome deep Republican opposition to the stimulus package. That meant keeping the amount at $ 787 billion, less than what some economists at the time said was necessary, and potentially slowing the recovery.

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For McCarthy and McConnell, Two Paths on Trumpian Crisis Management

WASHINGTON – The two men who now lead the Republican Party typically line up during political crises. But the GOP-shattering Trumpian chaos doesn’t just test Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, and Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader Senator – it also highlights their differences in how they handle the former. president and obstructs a united strategy to take over Congress next year.

A 24 hour period last week illustrated Mr. McCarthy’s challenge. In a conference call Wednesday, he asked House Republicans to “cut the shit,” according to two officials who attended. While he didn’t say what he had in mind, there were plenty of options, with Republicans trying to punish Rep. Liz Cheney for voting to impeach former President Donald J. Trump in the extremism of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon devotee whose written record of the conspiracy continues to grow.

Then on Thursday, Mr. McCarthy made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to meet with Mr. Trump and declare that the former president was “determined to help Republicans elected to the House and Senate in 2022”. Hours later, two of Mr. Trump’s most enthusiastic lieutenants, his eldest son and Representative Matt Gaetz, used a rally in Wyoming to spotlight a Republican they pledged to help elect. next year: the one who challenges Ms. Cheney in her primary.

For Mr. McConnell, the road to regaining the majority clearly does not pass through Mr. Trump. Mr McConnell and other prominent Republicans in the Senate have stopped talking to Mr Trump and fear that if he retains control over the GOP it will lead to the opposite result to what Mr McCarthy foresees: disaster in the GOP primaries. party and losses in major Senate races like those in Pennsylvania and Arizona.

Mr. Trump may be off Twitter and on the golf course, but even in his politics beyond, he’s making life difficult for Republicans in Washington. Just over a week since leaving office, a president who paid little attention to the intricacies of Capitol Hill politics during his tenure is wreaking havoc in the GOP’s House and Senate caucuses, slowing the party’s attempt to unify against the Democratic-controlled capital. .

While few Republican Senate leaders are eager to follow Mr. McCarthy and join Mr. Trump for a photoshoot, they have so far been unable to extricate themselves from the former president. The impeachment trial, which begins February 8, and the growing debate over whether the Senate should at least censor Mr. Trump sets the stage for a Trumpian loyalty test in the same chamber that was ransacked by a mob violent at the beginning of the month.

On this front, the two Republican leaders took very different approaches but still managed to irritate their colleagues. Mr. McConnell’s hope that the Capitol Riots would present an opening to purge Mr. Trump from the party was rejected by a majority of Republicans in the Senate, and he upset those in his caucus by not offering them any guidance in private on how to handle the Next Test. Mr McCarthy, for his part, has made House Republicans turn their eyes by almost broadcasting his inner monologue as he oscillates between criticizing and defending Mr Trump and Ms Cheney.

Taken together, the drama of the two leaders has presented lawmakers with a dilemma many of them dread – whether to continue to embrace Mr. Trump and a demagogic style of politics that thrills millions of people in defeat. right but cost Republicans control over whites. House and Congress.

“There are certain elements of the party who are not ready to move on, not ready to say that Donald Trump has lost,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of the five Republican Senate who voted against a motion to declare the impeachment trial unconstitutional. “It is a problem.”

Many establishment-aligned Republicans, including some in the party’s donor class, agree and have pressured congressional leaders to distance themselves from Mr. Trump. On another trip to Florida last week, Mr McCarthy told a group of contributors he was upset the president did not act faster to stop the attack on the Capitol, according to a Republican familiar with the conversation.

Ms Greene, the first-year Georgia lawmaker who is criticized for her years making hateful and bizarre comments, thinks the problem is old-guard Republicans who won’t recognize what she believes is the new reality .

“The vast majority of Republican voters, volunteers and donors are no longer loyal to the GOP,” she said this month. “Their loyalty now rests with Donald J. Trump.”

The vast majority of Republican congressional lawmakers fall somewhere between Ms Murkowski and Ms Greene – uncomfortable bowing to Mr Trump in perpetuity, but also unwilling to cross the party base by participating in any effort. to kick him out of the GOP

As has been the case since the presidential election in 2016, the answer for dozens of GOP congressmen is to vote with their feet and step aside. This week Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio announced he would do just that in 2022, throwing many Republicans into deeper dismay.

“I’ve been in Republican politics for 40 years professionally – so right after Watergate – and I’ll tell you it’s been the worst time ever,” said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a friend of long-standing Mr. Portman. .

This is especially true for Republican leaders in both houses of Congress.

Since December, Mr. McConnell has been dealing with the retirement of his closest colleague, Senator Lamar Alexander; he was blinded by Mr. Portman’s decision; his wife, former transportation secretary Elaine Chao, resigned from the Trump administration in protest; and, after seeing his beloved Senate desecrated, most Republicans in the Senate rejected his attempt to use the moment to purge Mr. Trump.

That Mr. McConnell could not get more of his colleagues to condemn Mr. Trump, and perhaps prevent him from running again, is his own fault, some Republicans say. He made no attempt to pressure Republican senators, telling them only that the impeachment trial would be a vote of conscience.

Some Republicans, like Senator Mike Rounds of South Dakota, who had harshly criticized the former president after the attack on the Capitol, began to change their tone once it became clear their constituents weren’t bothered. by Mr. Trump.

“He could very well be a spokesperson for the conservative movement in the future,” Mr Rounds said hours before the vote. Less than two weeks earlier, Mr Rounds had told the Forum press service that Mr Trump could be criminally charged with inciting the attack in a way that could “stop him to run again. public office elections ”and said“ history will hold him accountable.

In the meantime, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has organized an almost daily public defense of the former president while also organizing his legal team.

Now it’s Mr. Graham who claims victory and predicts a Trump-filled Republican future. “We’re going to need Trump, and Trump needs us,” he said.

But those kinds of statements, and Mr. McConnell’s decision to side with his caucus members seeking to derail the former president’s trial, have left the small number of Republicans in the Senate who will publicly criticize Mr. Trump. in despair.

“I don’t know what his calculation was,” Murkowski said of Mr. McConnell’s vote on the impeachment motion. “I wish it was different.”

Mr. McConnell is not the only Republican Senate leader facing challenges within the party. Senator Rick Scott of Florida, the new Senate election campaign leader for 2022, angered some donors by refusing to certify Mr Biden’s election or allow Mr Trump to take responsibility for the riot at the Capitol. On one of his first conference calls with contributors earlier this month, Mr. Scott was confronted with questions related to Mr. Trump, according to a Republican familiar with the discussion.

It is even more complicated in the House. Some of Mr McCarthy’s colleagues privately complain that he was too keen to please the former president and that he humbled himself by posing for photos in Mar-a-Lago shortly after the Times reported that Mr. Trump used a derogatory word about Mr. McCarthy for saying Mr. Trump was responsible for the riot on Capitol Hill.

But it’s the Trump-inspired personalities and Trump antagonists that cause Mr. McCarthy the most headaches. Some House Democrats are calling for the expulsion of Ms Greene, who, among other things, promoted a conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.

Mr Trump, however, has repeatedly praised Ms Greene, such as at her last rally as president, in his Georgia district this month. Some House Republicans fear that if Mr McCarthy strips her of her committee assignments, she will only become a more prominent figure on the far right and portray herself as a victim of the cancellation culture.

Perhaps more embarrassing for Mr. McCarthy is what to do about Ms. Cheney, the third House Republican. A number of House Republicans have called for his ouster; Mr. Gaetz, a congressman from Florida, spoke at the anti-Cheney rally in the state capital of Wyoming, in which he put Donald Trump Jr. on the loudspeaker to urge him to his defeat in next year’s primaries.

Ms Cheney has avoided discussing Mr Trump in public since her vote, instead preferring to target Mr Biden in the hopes that it will remind her colleagues and constituents of his conservative good faith. Privately, however, she reached out to Republican House allies and asked if she should circulate a letter of support from GOP lawmakers to avoid any attempt to impeach her.

Even more notable to some Republican lawmakers and aides, Ms. Cheney sought to mend her post-impeachment position in the caucus by mending her relationships with her previous rivals. During a closed-door meeting of House Republicans who decide committee assignments this week, she expressed support for the appointment of Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky to the Judiciary Committee, according to a staff member present. Last year, Ms. Cheney backed a Republican who was attempting to topple libertarian-leaning Mr. Massie in his primary.

While Mr McCarthy has openly criticized the way Ms Cheney has exposed her support for impeachment – she did not let him know in advance and released a scathing statement that Democrats have relied on – he offered her private advice, according to a familiar Republican official. with the conversation.

In a conversation while the two were in Washington for leadership meetings this week, Mr McCarthy told him to call some of his detractors, let them speak and allow the same airing of grievances during next week’s face-to-face meeting of the full Republican caucus.

On Thursday, Ms Cheney refused to strike back at Mr Gaetz for showing up in his home state. Surely pleasing Mr. McCarthy, and his “crap” warnings, she instead proclaimed the legislation she introduced that would override Mr. Biden’s executive order banning drilling on federal lands.

Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.

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Harris says America must have “the courage to see beyond the crisis.”

Vice President Kamala Harris said in a televised speech Wednesday night that even in times of historic turmoil, Americans keep trying to improve their country and she pleaded with the nation to have “the courage to see beyond the crisis ”.

Ms Harris, standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, where 400 lights signify the 400,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus, stressed that she remains optimistic because of the ‘American aspiration’ and the innovation she has seen from doctors , teachers, parents and others who were working to overcome the challenges of the moment.

Like President Biden, who spoke minutes before her from inside the Lincoln Memorial, Ms. Harris compared the threat of the coronavirus pandemic to two crises of the previous two centuries: civil war and movement. civil rights.

“Even in dark times, we don’t just dream, we do it,” Ms. Harris said. She said that in these pivotal moments in American history, Abraham Lincoln “saw and built a better future,” and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “fought for racial justice and justice. economic justice ”.

To face the moment, she said, Americans must continue to “refine,” “tinker with” and “perfect” the nation, which she said was already happening amid the pandemic.

Mr. Biden called on Americans to “do the hard things,” she said, “to do the right thing, to unite, to believe in ourselves, to believe in our country – to believe in what we can do together ”.

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Video: Former Michigan governor accused of negligence in flint water crisis

new video loaded: Former Michigan governor accused of negligence in Flint water crisis

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Former Michigan governor accused of negligence in Flint water crisis

The Michigan solicitor general has announced criminal charges against Rick Snyder, the former governor, for “willful neglect of his duty,” saying he failed to protect residents during the water crisis in Flint.

“The water crisis in Flint is not a relic of the past. At this very moment, the people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of officials at all levels of government. Richard Snyder, former Governor of the State of Michigan, is charged with two counts of willful negligence, each of a one-year misdemeanor, for willfully neglecting his mandatory legal obligations under the Michigan Constitution and of the Emergency Management Act, failing to protect the health and safety of Flint residents. No one, no matter how powerful or connected, is above responsibility when committing a crime. “This case has absolutely nothing to do with partisanship. It has to do with human decency, resuscitating the complete abandonment of the people of Flint, and finally, holding people to account for their alleged unspeakable atrocities that happened in Flint all those years ago.

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The Capitol Police had a mission. Now the force is in crisis.

The responsibilities of the Capitol Police are very different from those of regular police services. The force protects the Capitol grounds, members of Congress and staff, and it filters millions of visitors a year. Officers are expected to recognize the 535 lawmakers and avoid offending them.

The delicacy of this task was fully exposed in 1983, when a House investigation found that Capitol Police botched a drug investigation by creating “the impression that the investigation may have been closed to protect members ”- noting that, to be sure, no member had been involved.

Prior to last week’s televised scenes of officers being attacked and outnumbered, the job of a Capitol Police officer was viewed as relatively secure and prestigious. The salary, starting at $ 64,000, is higher than in other departments in the Washington metro area, and the position offers a close-up view of dignitaries and heads of state. Officers sometimes make arrests for petty offenses like smoking marijuana outside Union Station, according to a report by a watchdog who complained of a “frantic mission.”

“Typically you don’t work on thefts, homicides, break-ins and disorderly conduct,” said Terry Gainer, who had a long career in other law enforcement before joining the Capitol Police, where he held the post of Chief and then, later, as Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate.

For decades, ensuring the security of “the People’s House” has meant facing criticism for being too intrusive or, just as often, too lax.

The department is overseen by a board of directors that includes the sergeants-at-arms from each chamber, who must respond to their respective majorities and often take politics into account, former officials said, resulting in a crippled force which is seldom able to take rapid unilateral action.

“When things start to unfold in an emergency, you want a leader empowered by the Sergeant-at-Arms to do what needs to be done in an emergency, without playing ‘Mother, can I'” , said Mr. Gainer. “Sometimes you had to be prepared to ask for forgiveness instead of permission.”