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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray and Carrie Dann

WASHINGTON — Less than a month after losing the state’s races for governor and attorney general, Wisconsin Republicans are trying to strip the powers of the incoming Democrats, representing a brazen partisan power grab in this important battleground state.

State GOP lawmakers will hold a hearing Monday on their package of efforts to weaken Gov.-elect Tony Evers — who beat Republican Scott Walker in November, 49.6 percent to 48.4 percent — and could approve the measures as early as Tuesday, per The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Republicans proposals in this lame-duck session include, the paper adds:

  • making it difficult for Evers and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul, a Democrat, to withdraw from the GOP lawsuit challenging Obamacare;
  • eliminating Evers’ ability to choose a leader of the state’s Economic Development Corporation;
  • limiting early voting in elections to just two weeks (a similar effort was found unconstitutional in 2016);
  • moving the state’s 2020 presidential primary from April to March, to potentially reduce the turnout for a state Supreme Court contest set for April;
  • and requiring Evers to get permission from state lawmakers to ban guns in the state Capitol.

Evers has cried foul. “I view this as a repudiation of the last election. I will take any steps possible to assure the people of Wisconsin that I will not invalidate those votes,” the governor-elect told the Journal Sentinel over the weekend.

Republicans maintain they’re correcting giving outgoing Gov. Scott Walker too much power. “Maybe we made some mistakes giving too much power to Gov. Walker and I’d be open to looking at that to see if there are areas we should change that,” the Assembly’s GOP speaker told reporters after the election.

No matter the rationale, what Wisconsin Republicans are trying to do isn’t a good look for American democracy — changing the rules after you lose. (The essential question to ask: Would they be making these moves if they won in November?) Indeed, it’s similar to what we saw two years ago in North Carolina, where Republicans worked to curb the powers of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

And it would be quite the political epitaph for Scott Walker, who came into power in 2011 by taking away collective-bargaining power from public employees, who survived a recall in 2012, who was re-elected in 2014, who ended his 2016 presidential bid prematurely and who lost his re-election race last month.

Today’s GOP isn’t Bush 41’s party anymore

The big political news over the weekend, of course, was the passing of former President George H.W. Bush; he was 94 years old.

His remains will travel from Houston to Washington D.C, where he will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol and where a funeral ceremony will be held at the National Cathedral on Wednesday. After that, his remains will return for Houston for another funeral service at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church on Thursday, and then he will be taken to Texas A&M University.

Politically, what stands out about Bush’s passing is how different his party — and his presidency — looks from the current GOP and current president. He raised taxes to help balance the budget (despite his “read my lips” promise), while the current GOP continues on its tax-cutting course.

He separated campaigning (which he did in brutal fashion in 1988) from governing, while the current president launched his re-election campaign as he was being inaugurated.

And he stood for world and international order after the collapse of the Soviet Union (“The restraint, the caution, the lack of spiking the football that they showed was, I think, an enormous achievement,” Barack Obama said of Bush and his presidency on “60 Minutes”), versus “America First.”

To be sure, all parties change from their past presidents. (Remember when Bill Clinton declared that the “era of big government is over”?) But the transformation of the Republican Party from Bush 41 to Bush 43 to Trump has been remarkable.

NYT: No ‘course correction’ for GOP after big midterm losses

The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin: “With a brutal finality, the extent of the Republicans’ collapse in the House came into focus last week as more races slipped away from them and their losses neared 40 seats. Yet nearly a month after the election, there has been little self-examination among Republicans about why a midterm that had seemed at least competitive became a rout.”

“President Trump has brushed aside questions about the loss of the chamber entirely, ridiculing losing incumbents by name, while continuing to demand Congress fund a border wall despite his party losing many of their most diverse districts. Unlike their Democratic counterparts, Republicans swiftly elevated their existing slate of leaders with little debate, signaling a continuation of their existing political strategy.”

Last week, we asked where the pivot would be for Trump and GOP. Well, it looks like there’s been no pivot.

Investigation of voter fraud continues in NC-9 race

Here’s the latest on the allegations of voter fraud in that congressional election in North Carolina: “North Carolina officials voted Friday to continue investigating fraud in the 9th Congressional District election, potentially delaying certification of the results for weeks and leaving open the possibility that a new election could be called,” the Washington Post writes.

“The decision cast new uncertainty on the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready, who are separated by only 905 votes out of 283,317 ballots cast, according to unofficial returns. The Associated Press on Friday announced it was revoking its projection that Harris won the southeastern North Carolina seat. The inquiry further roiled a state already divided over issues of voting rights, voter suppression and fraud.”

More: The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has collected at least six sworn statements from voters in rural Bladen County, near the South Carolina border, who described people coming to their doors and urging them to hand over their absentee ballots, sometimes without filling them out. Others described receiving absentee ballots by mail that they had not requested. Among the allegations is that an individual who worked for the Harris campaign coordinated an effort to collect and fill in, or discard, the ballots of Democratic voters who might have otherwise voted for McCready. Several of the affidavits come from elderly African American voters. It is illegal to take someone else’s ballot, whether to turn it in or discard it.”

The uncalled House races of 2018 (one)

CA-21 (NBC retracted its call of Republican David Valadao as the winner)

Democrats are currently at +39 under NBC’s count, and they’d be at +40 if they end up winning CA-21.

Trade ceasefire with China boosts global markets

“A truce between U.S. and Chinese leaders on trade tariffs provided boosted global markets on Monday, fueling a nearly one percent surge on world stocks and pushing emerging currencies higher against the dollar,” per Reuters. “The gains came after China and the United States agreed at the weekend to halt additional tariffs on each other. The deal prevents their trade war escalating as the two sides try to bridge differences with fresh talks aimed at reaching a deal within 90 days.”

Nadler: Cohen revelations are proof that Russians had ‘leverage’ over Trump

Meanwhile, “New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that new revelations from one of President Trump’s allies amount to proof that Russia had ‘leverage’ over Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign,” NBC’s Ben Kamisar writes.

“In an exclusive interview on ‘Meet the Press,’ Nadler said that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s admissions last week related to his role in securing a Trump Tower in Moscow during the time of the GOP presidential primary raise the specter of a compromised presidential candidate, and now president, that should trouble the American people. ‘The fact that he was lying to the American people about doing business in Russia and the Kremlin knew he was lying gave the Kremlin a hold over him,’ Nadler said.”

Ex-Obama aides say Beto reminds them of the ex-president

And in 2020 news, here’s NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald: “Rep. Beto O’Rourke may have lost in Texas, but he’s winning in Obamaland. Aides to the former president and the man himself say O’Rourke’s campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gave them flashbacks to Obama’s precocious political rise and has positioned the young white congressman as an early if unlikely heir to the first black president’s ‘hope and change’ mantle.”

“Obama and his coterie are personally closer to any number of other potential candidates, especially former Vice President Joe Biden, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a photograph of Obama and O’Rourke together. Obama didn’t even endorse O’Rourke in his Senate campaign. But in O’Rourke, Obama veterans see not only an inspiring political celebrity, but, like Obama, a tactical innovator who eschewed the political industrial complex of pollsters and consultants and used technology in new ways to connect directly with supporters and multiply the force of his fundraising and ground game.”



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John Pinto, WWII Navajo Code Talker and longtime New Mexico lawmaker, dies at 94

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By Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. — John Pinto, a Navajo Code Talker in World War II who became one of the nation’s longest serving Native American elected officials as a New Mexico state senator, has died. He was 94.

Senate colleague Michael Padilla confirmed Pinto’s death in Gallup on Friday after years of suffering from various illnesses that rarely kept him from his duties.

After serving as a Marine, Pinto was elected to the Senate in 1976 and represented a district that includes the Navajo Nation for more than four decades. The region is one of the poorest in the country.

“Words cannot express the sadness we feel for the loss of a great Diné warrior,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, using the indigenous word for Navajo. “He dedicated his life to helping others.”

Born in Lupton, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation to a family of sheep herders. Pinto didn’t start formal schooling until he was nearly a teenager.

“At the age of 12, I was in kindergarten,” Pinto told the Albuquerque Journal in a 2007 interview. “I guess I did all right.”

Pinto also recalled that his grandparents told of being forced at gunpoint from their land in the 1860s by the U.S. Army in the forced relocation of the Navajo people on foot to southern New Mexico.

After serving as a Code Talker — a group of radio men who translated American coordinates and messages into an indecipherable code based on the Navajo language — Pinto had to take an English test four times before he was finally admitted into the University of New Mexico’s College of Education.

He graduated with a bachelor’s in elementary education at 39, and eventually earned his master’s, becoming a teacher and a truancy officer in Gallup.

Pinto delved into politics to address the needs of impoverished indigenous populations. The Democrat won a seat in state Senate in 1976 as one of the state’s first Native American senators.

An unassuming appearance and manner belied Pinto’s political determination that carried him through 42 years in the Legislature. Laurie Canepa, the senior librarian for the Legislative Council Service, said that made him the longest serving senator in state history.

State Sen. Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque, wraps the state flag around Sen. John Pinto, D-San Juan, McKinley, as Gov. Gary Johnson, from right, looks on during a ceremony at the state capitol building in Santa Fe, N.M., on Sept. 12, 2001, to honor Pinto for his service during World War II as a Navajo Code Talker.Sarah Martone / AP file

Manny Aragon, the state’s one-time Senate president, tells the story of driving to the Statehouse in a January 1977 snowstorm and picking up a middle-aged Navajo man who was hitchhiking in Albuquerque. The hitchhiker was newly elected Sen. Pinto.

“I just thought he was a transient,” Aragon said.

In the Legislature, Pinto advocated for education reform and anti-poverty programs. Receiving a lifetime achievement award in 2016, Pinto recalled going hungry at times as a child while his parents juggled odd jobs and said the experience influenced his work on issues of homelessness as a lawmaker.

Every year, Pinto would sing on the Senate floor the “Potato Song” — a Navajo song about a potato, planted in the spring and visited in the summer until it is harvested. Fellow senators, staff and aides clapped along to Pinto’s rendition.

Lenore Naranjo, the Senate’s chief clerk, says Pinto taught her bits of Navajo language over the decades.

“A beautiful man is all I can say,” Naranjo said.



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Federal judge blocks Mississippi abortion ban

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By Charlie Gile and Dartunorro Clark

A federal judge on Friday issued a preliminary injunction blocking Mississippi’s fetal heartbeat anti-abortion law from going into effect, saying it infringes on women’s health care rights.

“Here we go again. Mississippi has passed another law banning abortions prior to viability,” Judge Carlton Reeves wrote in his order.

“By banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, SB 226 prevents a woman’s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy,” he continued.

The Mississippi ban prohibited abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, or around six weeks, which is before many women might know they are pregnant. Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill into law in March.

The lawsuit was filed by the Jackson Women’s Health Organization against Thomas Dobbs, the state health officer of Mississippi.

Reeves ruled last year that Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban was unconstitutional, The Associated Press reported. Mississippi is appealing that ruling, and is likely to appeal this one, as well.

The judge’s ruling comes as dozens of conservative states across the country have passed or proposed bills that would place strict limitations on abortion. Anti-abortion advocates have said that they hope the bills, which have prompted swift legal challenges, will ultimately lead to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide.

Under the Mississippi law, doctors could have their medical licenses revoked if they perform the procedure after a fetal heartbeat is detected. Though the law does provide an exception if the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother, it does not provide an exception in cases of rape or incest.

The Republican governors of Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia have signed similar bans on abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. On Friday, Missouri’s Republican Gov. Mike L. Parson signed legislation banning abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy with an exception for medical emergencies, but not for rape or incest.

Also on Friday, Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit over Alabama’s near-total abortion ban that makes performing an abortion a felony with little to no exceptions. The law, signed by GOP Gov. Kay Ivey on May 15, is the most restrictive in the nation.

“The Alabama Legislature has been pushing abortion care further and further out of reach for years with medically unnecessary and politically-motivated restrictions, and this extreme abortion ban shows us just how far they’ll go to push their anti-abortion agenda,” Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, an ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project attorney, said in a press release.

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Theresa May NOT DONE YET: Prime Minister could accept PEERAGE and sit in House of Lords

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THERESA May could become the first former prime minister to take a seat in the House of Lords since Margaret Thatcher, according to some Tory MPs.

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