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New York Attorney General Letitia James ends bid for governor and will instead run for reelection

New York Attorney General Letitia James ends bid for governor and will instead run for reelection

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New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday that she is ending her bid for governor of the state and instead running for reelection.”I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general,” James said in a statement Thursday. “There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job.” James entered the race in late October, immediately becoming the leading challenger to moderate Gov. Kathy Hochul, the Democratic lieutenant governor who replaced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo after his resignation this summer in the midst of a sexual misconduct scandal. James, in her current capacity, had overseen an independent civil inquiry that found Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women and a “pattern” of inappropriate behavior and “toxic” culture in the governor’s office. Those findings were corroborated by a separate probe conducted at the direction of state lawmakers.

Cuomo and his team have spent the last few months arguing, without any clear evidence, that James’ probe was politically motivated and had sought to undermine allegations against the former governor by pointing James’ own political ambitions.

After launching her campaign, James had raised the eyebrows of New York politicos for only sporadically appearing on the trail. She had been critical of Hochul’s response to the recent Covid-19 surge in the state, advocating for a statewide mask mandate, but offered little more in the way of policy specifics. Her campaign website — which had disabled its connection to ActBlue, the fundraising channel, by mid-day Thursday — contained only a snippet of her initial announcement.Despite the rumblings, her decision took operatives and allies off-guard. The James campaign was in touch with outside firms up until Thursday.

James, in seeking a second term as the state’s top law enforcement officer, has also upended the state attorney general primary, which includes law professor and anti-corruption advocate Zephyr Teachout, a progressive favorite who also ran in 2018, and Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor who served as counsel to House Democrats during their first impeachment investigation against former President Donald Trump.

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But the Democratic state attorney generals’ campaign arm was quick to back James after she announced her reelection plans.”The Democratic Attorneys General Association is proud to support AG James for re-election as Attorney General,”

DAGA communications director Geoff Burgan said. “She’s a battle-tested leader who has fought for consumers, working people, and those in need, and we’re excited that she’ll be continuing her work as New York’s Attorney General.”

James, now almost in her third year in office, has been at the helm of several high profile investigations.Before her announcement Thursday that she was suspending her campaign, media reports broke that James is seeking to depose former President Donald Trump as part of a civil fraud investigation into the Trump Organization, according to a source familiar with the matter.Her office has been investigating the Trump Organization and its officers in a wide-ranging probe to determine whether the company improperly inflated the value of assets on financial statements to obtain loans, insurance, and tax benefits, along with how employees were compensated.James is separately looking into whether Cuomo used public resources for writing and promoting his book about the Covid-19 pandemic.She also investigated nursing home deaths in New York and released a report in January that found that the state undercounted nursing home Covid-19-related deaths by about 50%.James was first elected New York attorney general in 2018, the first Black person and woman to win statewide office.

A native Brooklynite, James was a former public defender and also worked in the Brooklyn regional office of the New York state attorney general’s office. She won her first election to the New York city council in 2003 and served 10 years there. She also served two stints as New York City’s public advocate, first elected to the job in 2013.In New York, James’ decision to drop out before the turn of the year will be a boost to New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who could see progressive voters, especially in the city, turn to his campaign. It could also open up some space, potentially, for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has teased a run of his own, as progressive lawmakers and left-leaning unions that were backing James will now need to reconsider their options.But the biggest beneficiary appears, for now, to be Hochul, who had already established a healthy lead in public polling of the contest and has a significant fundraising advantage over the field, which also includes moderate New York Rep. Tom Suozzi.

The next gubernatorial election in New York will be held in November 2022, with the Democratic primary scheduled for next June.

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Politics

President Kais Dissolves Top Judicial Watchdog

Tunisia’s president dissolves top judicial watchdog

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Tunisian President Kais Saied has dissolved a judicial council that deals with the independence of judges.

Saied – who had dismissed the government and suspended parliament last July – said on Sunday that the Supreme Judicial Council was a “thing of the past”.

sassinations of left-wing activists in 2013.

His decision raises fears about the independence of the judiciary and caps months of his sharp criticism of Tunisia’s judges.

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Last month, he revoked all financial privileges for members of the top judicial council, which was formed in 2016 and tasked with ensuring the independence of the judiciary, disciplining judges and granting them professional promotions.

“In this council, positions and appointments are sold according to loyalties. Their place is not the place where they sit now, but where the accused stand,” Saied said in a speech in the interior ministry.

“You cannot imagine the money that certain judges have been able to receive, billions and billions,” he added.

The council’s dissolution comes on the ninth anniversary of the assassination of secular politician Chokri Belaid, with parties and organizations, including the powerful UGTT union, preparing to hold demonstrations later in the day to pressure the judiciary to hold those involved in terrorism accountable.

It is expected that Saied’s supporters also will protest in a second demonstration against the Supreme Judicial Council.

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“I tell Tunisians to demonstrate freely. It is your right and our right to dissolve the Supreme Judicial Council,” Saied said.

Saied’s approval of Sunday’s demonstrations comes even though a government decision to ban all demonstrations remains in effect.

Last month, police fired water cannons and beat protesters with sticks to break up an opposition protest against Saied, whose seizure of broad powers and declared plans to redraw the constitution have cast doubt on Tunisia’s decade-old democratic system and hindered its quest for an international rescue plan for public finances.

The president has initiated an online public consultation before drafting a new constitution that he says will be put to a referendum.

He has not brought major political or civil society players into the process.

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Australian Deputy Prime Minister Has Apologiseda To Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Australia PM Morrison’s deputy sorry for calling leader a ‘liar’

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Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has apologised to Prime Minister Scott Morrison for calling him “a hypocrite and a liar” and said Morrison had rejected his offer to resign.

Morrison said in a statement on Saturday that he accepted Joyce’s apology.


In a leaked message, the deputy prime minister, who heads the junior partner in Morrison’s coalition government, said last year that he had never trusted Morrison.

“He is a hypocrite and a liar from my observations and that is over a long time,” Joyce wrote to a former staffer of Morrison’s Liberal Party who had alleged sexual assault by a fellow staffer.

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Joyce’s remarks further shake the political position of Morrison, who must call a federal election by May. His approval ratings have fallen over his handling of an Omicron-driven coronavirus outbreak.

“I want to apologise to the prime minister … I should have never written the text that I did,” Joyce told a news conference.

My view from the backbench about the prime minister was based on assumption and commentary, not from a one-on-one working relationship.”

Joyce became deputy prime minister in 2021 as the leader of the National Party, not as Morrison’s appointee. Joyce’s party, which has the power to remove him as its leader, did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Morrison responded, “Relationships change over time. Politicians are human beings too. We all have our frailties and none of us are perfect.”

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Joyce’s text message, first reported on Friday night by Nine Newspapers, was sent through a third party to former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins. She had alleged that she was sexually assaulted in Parliament House in March 2019.

The political commotion comes just days after a controversy about an alleged exchange between senior Liberal Party members making derogatory remarks about Morrison.

Opposition Labor leader Anthony Albanese said it was “untenable” for Joyce to continue as deputy prime minister.

“I couldn’t care less that the Liberal Party members all don’t like each other,” Albanese said at a briefing. “What I do care about is the consequences of a government that is dysfunctional.”

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Trump ‘wrong’ to say 2020 election could be overturned

Trump ‘wrong’ to say 2020 election could be overturned

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Former Vice President Mike Pence has directly rebutted Donald Trump’s false claims that he somehow could have overturned the results of the 2020 election in the United States, saying that the former president was simply “wrong”.

In a speech to a gathering of the conservative Federalist Society in Florida on Friday, Pence addressed Trump’s intensifying efforts this week to advance the false narrative that, as vice president, he had the unilateral power to prevent President Joe Biden from taking office.


“President Trump is wrong,” Pence said. “I had no right to overturn the election.”

Pence’s declaration marked his most forceful response yet to Trump, who has spent his post-presidency stoking the lie that the 2020 campaign was stolen from him. And it comes as Pence begins laying the groundwork for a potential run for president in 2024, which could put him in direct competition with his former boss, who is also teasing a comeback run.

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The relationship between the two men took on a new dynamic this week as Trump escalated his attacks on Pence.

In a statement Tuesday, Trump said the committee investigating the deadly January 6 attack on the Capitol should instead probe “why Mike Pence did not send back the votes for recertification or approval”. And on Sunday, he blasted Pence, falsely declaring that “he could have overturned the Election!”

Vice presidents play only a ceremonial role in the counting of Electoral College votes, and any attempt to interfere in the count would have represented an extraordinary violation of the law and an assault on the democratic process.

Pence, in his remarks on Friday to the group of lawyers in Lake Buena Vista, described January 6, 2021, as “a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol” and framed his actions that day as in line with his duty as a constitutional conservative.

“The American people must know that we will always keep our oath to the Constitution, even when it would be politically expedient to do otherwise,” he told the group on Friday.

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He noted that, under Article II Section One of the Constitution, “elections are conducted at the state level, not by the Congress” and that “the only role of Congress with respect to the Electoral College is to open and count votes submitted and certified by the states. No more, no less.”

He went on to call out those who have insisted that is not the case.

“Frankly there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president,” he added. “Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election. And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024.”

The audience applauded Pence’s line about beating the Democrats in the upcoming presidential election, but remained silent when Pence said earlier that “Trump is wrong”.

Pence was inside the Capitol on January 6, presiding over the joint session of Congress to certify the presidential election, when a mob of Trump’s supporters violently smashed inside, assaulting police officers and hunting down legislators.

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Pence, who released a letter moments before the session got underway that made clear he had no authority to overturn the will of the voters, was rushed to safety as some rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence!”

The former vice president, in his remarks Friday, acknowledged the lingering anger among many in Trump’s base, even as he said it was time “to focus on the future”.

“The truth is, there’s more at stake than our party or political fortunes,” he said. “Men and women, if we lose faith in the Constitution, we won’t just lose elections — we’ll lose our country.”

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