Steve Bannon is refusing to comply with the investigation into the January 6 insurrection.
A day before the riot, he predicted that "all hell will break loose."
Donald Trump sued to prevent documents from his White House being shared with the committee.
Republican leadership is instructing GOP members of Congress to vote against a resolution holding Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress over his refusal to testify before the special committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.
On Tuesday night, the special committee held a unanimous, bipartisan vote to recommend that Bannon be punished for failing to comply with its subpoena. The full House of Representatives is expected to vote Thursday, though it is ultimately up to the Department of Justice whether or not prosecute Bannon.
Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, said his refusal - and claim to be covered by "executive privilege" - indicated that he had helped plan the insurrection with former President Donald Trump. The ex-president has himself sued to prevent documents from his White House being shared with the committee.
In a memo sent to each House Republican, however, House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana claimed the special committee's investigation was invalid, arguing it lacked a legislative purpose.
"Congress does not have enumerated constitutional powers to conduct investigations or issue subpoenas outside of that scope," he asserted.
Legal experts, however, say Congress has broad authority to investigate under the US Constitution, particularly when it comes to the actions of past and present government officials. Bannon - who predicted a day before the insurrection that "all hell is going to break loose" - previously served as chief strategist at the White House under Trump.
The January 6 special committee is also considering whether new laws may be needed to prevent future attempts to subvert US elections.
Scalise himself voted on January 6 to block President Joe Biden's victory, challenging the certification of votes from Pennsylvania, despite state and federal court rulings upholding the legitimacy of results there. He has since refused to concede that Trump was defeated in a legitimate election.
Neil Cavuto has been with Fox News since its launch in 1996.
He has battled multiple sclerosis, cancer, and heart disease.
Fox News requires employees to be vaccinated or undergo daily testing for COVID-19.
Fox News host Neil Cavuto said Tuesday being vaccinated had saved his life, a statement that came alongside the announcement he had tested positive for COVID-19.
"While I'm somewhat stunned by this news, doctors tell me I'm lucky as well," Cavuto, who has been with the network for 25 years, said in a statement released by his employer, according to CNN. "Had I not been vaccinated, and with all my medical issues, this would be a far more dire situation."
Cavuto is a cancer survivor who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He said his example should inspire others to get vaccinated.
"I'm surviving this because I did," he said. "I hope anyone and everyone gets that message loud and clear. Get vaccinated, for yourself and everyone around you."
Despite regularly airing attacks on vaccine mandates, with prime-time hosts pushing false claims about the vaccines themselves, more than 90% of Fox employees were vaccinated by mid-September, according to a company memo. Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott has defended the anti-vaccination rhetoric of hosts such as Tucker Carlson others, saying that she celebrates "diverse thought."
The Biden administration has praised the company's own policy on preventing the spread of COVID-19, however, and expressed hope that others will follow its example.
"We are glad they have stepped up to protect their workforce and strengthen the economy," a White House spokesperson told CNN last month, "and we encourage them convey to their audience that these types of practices will protect their employees, their communities, and the economy."
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano was first elected in a 2019 special election.
His 33rd state senate district is located in the south-central part of the state.
He was reelected in 2020 with 68.6% of the vote. He says Pennsylvania's election that year was fraudulent.
A Pennsylvania Republican who tried to block his state's votes from being counted in the 2020 election held a fundraiser at a church on Thursday at which he mocked the notion of "herd immunity" and falsely suggested the vaccines against COVID-19 are not really vaccines at all.
At a political fundraiser hosted by the tax-exempt, evangelical Time Ministries Church in central Pennsylvania, Mastriano appeared to gear up for a potential run for governor in 2022, having previously claimed that former President Donald Trump personally asked him to do so. His remarks, aired live on Facebook, touched on opposition to vaccine mandates - a bill he introduced prohibits requiring any immunization - and rehashing claims that the 2020 election stolen.
"So now the healthcare workers, you're in a bad spot there," Mastriano said, blasting "Joe Biden's edicts" that "you need to get the shot."
"I guess I shouldn't call it a 'vaccine,'" Mastriano continued, a reference to false claims and disinformation that mRNA vaccines, such as the ones from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, are not true vaccines because they rely on a new medical technology to spur antibody production. The inoculation from Johnson & Johnson is a more traditional vector vaccine.
The vaccines, one of which has full FDA approval (Pfizer), and two others that have FDA emergency authorization (Moderna and J&J), are safe and effective at staving off severe cases of COVID-19, per Johns Hopkins.
Mastriano, who also campaigned against mask-wearing and other public health measures during the pandemic, was himself infected with COVID-19 last year, learning of his positive test during a post-election meeting with Trump at the White House.
"And who ever heard this idea that you need to get the shot to protect other people?" Mastriano asked the small audience at the church. "You know when I was deployed overseas, and then you get all of these things shoved into your body, like any veteran does, it's not there to protect the Afghans or Iraqis, it protects you. This is not even reasonable or logical," he said.
Despite Mastriano's suggestion that the benefits of mass inoculation are a novel argument for the COVID-19 vaccines, it is a basic tenet of modern immunology and a reason why, for example, schools in Pennsylvania require all students to be vaccinated against diseases such as polio, with few exemptions for medical and religious reasons.
As the Defense Department's Military Health System explains, "When a vaccine is given to a significant portion of the population, it protects those who receive the vaccine as well as those who cannot receive the vaccine. This concept is called 'herd immunity.' When a high percentage of the population is vaccinated and immune to a disease, they do not get sick - so there is no one to spread the disease to others."
Vaccines provide significant protection against infection, though there are sometimes breakthrough infections. That is why the military and schools have mandated many vaccines: to limit the chance that an unvaccinated person - far more likely to be carrying a virus - is in a position to test a vaccinated person's immunity and cause a breakthrough case.
At Thursday's fundraiser, the state senator also pushed false claims about the 2020 election. Although Pennsylvania Republicans actually passed a ballot measure this year, limiting Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's ability to issue public health orders during a pandemic, Mastriano insisted the state's elections are fraudulent, citing a debunked story about ballots being trucked in from New York reiterating his demand for a "forensic audit" like that carried out in Maricopa County, Arizona, which he witnessed over the summer.
"They had magnifying glasses on one of the machines, they could tell - apparently photocopies are pixelated…. it's very clear that's a compromised ballot," he claimed.
But the partisan review in Arizona, commissioned by the state's Republicans, did not find any such "compromised ballots," despite being led by a group, Cyber Ninjas, that was committed to finding them. A third-party review of results in Pennsylvania's Fulton County, pushed by Mastriano, likewise found no evidence of fraud.
Mastriano is no stranger to making inaccurate and incendiary claims about the last presidential election, a fact that has won him support from the loser of the contest.
As detailed in the interim staff report from the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mastriano - who was outside the US Capitol during the January 6 insurrection, and chartered buses to bring protesters to Washington - last year urged acting Attorney General Richard Donoghue to investigate a slew of readily debunked claims of fraud.
For example, the state senator claimed more votes had been cast than there were voters in Pennsylvania, an assertion that failed to account for residents from Philadelphia, among other counties. Mastriano also took part in hearings organized by Rudy Giuliani, supporting the Trump campaign's efforts to have Pennsylvania's election results invalidated.
But Mastriano's event on Thursday ended - at least online - not with talk of election fraud but with a question from the audience about his opposition to vaccine requirements. When a woman asked about the status of that effort in the state legislature, Mastriano made sure no one at home could hear his response.
Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters spent weeks in hiding after attending Mike Lindell's conference.
She is under investigation for allegedly allowing an outsider to access her county's voting equipment.
Elections will now be overseen by former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican.
A judge in Colorado on Wednesday issued an injunction that strips election authority from a local Republican official who allowed an unauthorized "consultant" to access voting machines - and then claimed to have found evidence of fraud at a conspiracy theory conference hosted by MyPillow founder Mike Lindell.
Tina Peters, an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, was elected to serve as Mesa County Clerk in 2018. The year following, her office admitted that it failed to count more than 500 ballots in a local election, leading Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, a Democrat, to require Peters' office to undergo remedial training.
Following the 2020 election, Peters joined the former president's campaign to discredit his loss, despite President Joe Biden winning Colorado by a 13.5% margin. At Lindell's conference this summer, she claimed to present evidence that showed equipment from Dominion Voting Systems could be hacked to flip votes, despite the fact that equipment was never connected to the internet.
It's what happened before attending that conference, however, that has led to Peters losing her authority to oversee elections in a case brought by the office of Colorado's Secretary of State. As detailed in the ruling from Mesa County District Court Judge Valerie J. Robison, Peters last March allowed an unauthorized consultant to access the county's voting machines, with one of her aides requesting that election department cameras be turned off for two weeks - long enough to allow that unauthorized third party to make a "forensic image" of the hard drive used by Dominion vote-tabulating equipment.
That aide now faces criminal charges.
Later, video of election staff and employees of Dominion Voting Systems performing a software update in Peters' office was leaked on social media, and with it the confidential passwords used to access voting machines. Mesa County's Republican-led Board of Commissioners elected, in August, to replace that equipment, which had been decertified following the unauthorized access.
In her ruling, Robison said Peters and her aide had "neglected their duties by failing to take adequate precautions to protect confidential information, and committed wrongful acts by being untruthful." The decision comes after Peters spent weeks hiding in an undisclosed location provided by Lindell. She is currently under state and federal investigation.
Mesa County's next election will be overseen by former Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican appointed by Griswold's office.
In a statement, Griswold praised Wednesday's decision, saying it would prevent peters from "further threatening the integrity of Mesa's elections."
Southwest Airlines cancelled more than 1,800 flights over the weekend.
The company and its pilot union both said the issue was unrelated to the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Southwest is requiring employees to be vaccinated by December 8.
There is no evidence that Southwest Airlines' operational difficulties over the weekend "were related to vaccine mandates," the Federal Aviation Administration said Monday evening.
That echoes what both the company and its pilots are saying. "There is absolutely no evidence of any kind of job action," incoming CEO Bob Jordan told The Dallas Morning News on Monday.
In a statement over the weekend, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, the union representing nearly 10,000 of the company's pilots, said it could say "with confidence" that operational difficulties were not due to "any official or unofficial job actions."
The statements come after Southwest was forced to cancel more than 1,800 flights on Saturday and Sunday - over a quarter of those scheduled - over what it said were problems related to weather and issues with air traffic control, The New York Times reported.
Republican lawmakers such as US Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, had earlier tried to link the airline's logistical problems to President Joe Biden's proposed mandate, not yet in effect, that employees at large companies either be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19.
Southwest has announced that it will require all employees to be vaccinated by December 8, with exemptions for medical and religious reasons.
The campaign began with a nurse fired for not complying with a vaccine mandate at a Texas hospital.
It helped fund a lawsuit against the hospital. That suit was dismissed in June.
An anonymous donor contributed $50,000 to the campaign.
The online fundraising platform GoFundMe has removed a campaign started by a nurse in Texas who sought to overturn a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, telling Insider that upon further review the fundraiser - which had brought in more than $180,000 - ran afoul of its policy against misinformation.
Started in April, the campaign was led by Jennifer Bridges, a former registered nurse at Houston Methodist hospital who was fired after refusing to get vaccinated.
With money raised on GoFundMe, Bridges, who has appeared on Fox News to discuss her opposition to taking the vaccine, filed a legal challenge against the mandate in May. In the complaint, lawyers for Bridges and dozens of other employees who signed on to the litigation were being forced by the Texas hospital to take an "experimental" vaccine.
Bridges, according to her attorney's legal filing, likens vaccine mandates "to forced medical experimentation during the Holocaust."
That lawsuit was dismissed in June. Bridges' attorneys have appealed the decision.
"When our team initially reviewed the fundraiser, it was within our terms of service as the funds were for legal fees to fight vaccine mandates," Heidi Hagberg, a spokesperson for GoFundMe, said in a statement to Insider. "The fundraiser has since been updated to include misinformation which violates our terms of service."
The subsequent review was conducted after Insider pointed out statements on the campaign page that challenged not just mandates but the safety of the vaccines themselves. However, because the campaign was "within our terms at the time of withdrawal," Hagberg said, Bridges will be able to keep the money.
Originally, Bridges' campaign - which received an anonymous donation of $50,000 - had portrayed opposition to the vaccine mandate as related to concerns that it had not been "fully FDA approved."
In August, however, the US Food and Drug Administration granted that full approval to the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech, which had to that point been provided an emergency-use authorization based on data from clinical trials.
The full approval did not change Bridges' mind. A September update to her fundraiser was defiant: "No one should ever be forced to inject something into their body that is not safe against their will."
In a video posted to the campaign, from a "medical freedom" rally post-FDA approval, Bridges mocked evidence that the vaccines are safe, claiming to have witnessed it causing miscarriages and death. "All lives matter," she said.
Globally, just one death in New Zealand has been linked to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, although it is not clear that it was the actual cause. A recent study also found there was no connection with mRNA vaccines and increased rates of miscarriage. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all people over the age of 12, "including people who are pregnant," get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Bridges did not immediately respond to a message requesting her response to GoFundMe's decision. Houston Methodist declined to comment.
GoFundMe, which removed the fundraiser on Friday, said it has taken down "hundreds" of similar fundraisers that promoted "misinformation related to vaccines."
But the fundraising platform has not removed all campaigns that make questionable assertions about COVID-19 vaccines. At least two dozen medical workers fired for refusing to be vaccinated have active fundraisers on the site.
A fired physician's assistant in New York, Deborah Conrad, has raised more than $68,000 in less than two weeks for living expenses and the cost of travel to events where she speaks out against vaccine mandates, claiming in the fundraiser that medical authorities are engaged in a "cover up of possible Covid 19 related Vaccine injuries [sic]."
The company, which takes a 2.9% cut on donations, insists that fundraiser does not violate its policy.
"Abolish the police" is an activist slogan, not a policy embraced by elected Democrats.
In New York City, for example, the police budget is once again on the rise.
Police reform is popular. Activist slogans are not. Some Republicans want to conflate the two.
At a hearing last month, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, made an astonishing claim: Leading members of the Democratic Party don't just want to reform policing, he said - they want to get rid of law enforcement altogether.
"There are multiple elected Democrats who vocally embrace abolishing the police," Cruz claimed. "It's not just the mayor of New York City. It's not just the mayor of Minneapolis. It's not just the mayor of Portland that advocated abolishing the police."
As Cruz told it, it was getting damn near impossible to find an elected Democrat who doesn't support "getting rid of the men and women in blue that keep us safe."
The problem is that it's not true, of course, and Cruz's office could not provide any proof that it is. This is something the senator said was not a mere inference but a position these mayors had been vocal about endorsing. Asked for such evidence, Dave Vasquez, a spokesperson for the senator, told Insider he'd be "following up shortly." He never did.
An activist slogan, not a Democratic position
The truth is that while some activists have embraced the slogan, "Abolish the police," few of them would be happy if they were identified as Democrats, positioning themselves far to the left of any mere liberal. And none of them hold public office, much less the top job in cities where police played an active role in both inciting and quelling civil unrest last summer.
Fewer still truly believe what Republicans like Cruz would have people think.
"Defund does not mean abolish policing," notes Rashawn Ray, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "And, even some who say abolish, do not necessarily mean to do away with law enforcement altogether."
For better or worse, these activists have chosen revolutionary rhetoric for what is essentially a reformist demand: not that we abolish the entire concept of upholding the law, but that we end policing as it exists today - where officers from outside the community enjoy "qualified immunity" for wrongdoing on the job - and replace it with a system where cops with guns are, for example, not the first responders to every mental health crisis.
At most, elected Democrats support shifting some money from law enforcement to other priorities. Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor that Cruz accused of wanting to abolish blue lives, embraced that after nationwide protests against police killings. The result was the country's largest police department receiving $10.2 billion in 2021, down from $10.5 billion the year before - much of it due to a "one-time reduction in overtime expenses," according to the nonpartisan Citizens Budget Commission.
Indeed, for 2022, the New York police budget is going back up to $10.4 billion. Abolition this is not.
Abolish cops? Democrats say 'that's a bad idea'
In Minneapolis, Mayor Jacob Frey - another proponent of "abolishing the police," per Cruz - has discussed a "structural revamp" of the police department that employed Derek Chauvin, the officer convicted of murdering George Floyd. "But abolishing the police department? No, I think that's a bad idea," he told NPR.
In Portland, meanwhile, the police budget under Mayor Ted Wheeler - another alleged proponent of abolition - went from $214.9 million in 2017, his first year in office, to $244.6 million this year.
Sen. Cruz says he thinks "abolishing the police is insanity." He should take comfort, then, in the fact that even America's liberal mayors have no intention of doing it.
Last month, Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, said negotiations over a bipartisan police reform bill had fallen apart because his Democratic colleagues had sought to "defund" law enforcement.
That was too much for even the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents more than 356,000 members of law enforcement, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. "[A]t no point did any legislative draft propose 'defunding the police,'" the groups said in a joint statement. Indeed, the opposite: "the legislation specifically provided additional funding."
The truth is that, to the chagrin of some on the left, the number of Democrats who support significant cuts to police spending is few, and the number who support abolishing law enforcement altogether is zero. And the truth is Republicans know this.
They also know that, as slogans go, defunding or abolishing police (whatever nuance activists might intend) poll terribly, and one way to derail overwhelmingly popular police reform - and hurt the Democratic Party - is by tying it to something that it is not.
The Senate is no stranger to grandstanding or demagoguery - to politics - but extraordinary claims require at least something in the way of evidence. When asked for some, Cruz and his staff came up empty.
A man who authorities say had political grievances over the direction of the country was arrested Friday after trying to start a fire at a Democratic Party office in Austin, Texas.
On Wednesday, the Travis County Democratic Party said its office had been vandalized the previous night and targeted with a "small incendiary explosive." The fire was quickly put out.
At the time, Katie Naranjo, chair of the local party, described the incident as an "act of terror," saying the arsonist had left a note trying "to terrorize people."
Two days later, Ryan Faircloth, 30, was detained following a tip from an informant, local NBC affiliate KXAN reported. At a press conference, Captain Jeffrey Deane of Austin Fire Arson Investigations said that Faircloth had confessed to the crime and indicated that he "was not happy with the current political climate."
According to an arrest warrant, the informant directed investigators to Faircloth's Facebook page, where they discovered an incriminating post that matched the note found at the scene, KXAN reported.
Surveillance video shows a man walking by the party's office with a bottle in his hand just after 2:00 a.m. on Wednesday, his face obscured by an American flag wrapped around his head. After he throws the object into the office, there is an explosion and a small fire.
Faircloth has been charged with second-degree felony arson and third-degree felony possession of a prohibited weapon, CBS Austin reported. If convicted of both charges, he could face between 4 and 30 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000.
He remains behind bars as of Friday evening, his bond set at $40,000.
Cynthia Van Maanen, executive director of the Travis County Democratic Party, told Insider she was primarily "glad no one was injured in this attack."
"We are grateful for our neighbors who saw the flames and acted quickly, and for the investigators who acted fast to identify and arrest the suspect," she said.
But more than three months later, critics say the president has failed to keep this promise.
Just this week, it was announced that US Customs and Immigration Enforcement intends to house as many as 1,875 people at a jail in central Pennsylvania that will be run by the GEO Group, one of the nation's largest for-profit detention companies, local outlet The Progress News reported.
More than 21,000 people are currently being held in ICE detention centers across the country, up from the 14,000 detained when the new administration took power - though well below the over 55,000 immigrants detained at the peak in 2019 under former President Donald Trump.
From private prison to for-profit detention
Soon after taking office, Biden issued an executive order that called for the Department of Justice to phase out its contracts with private prison companies. At the time, Politico reported that he was considering whether to extend such a ban to ICE. He never did.
Now facilities that were once private prisons are becoming for-profit immigrant detention centers. The new GEO-run facility in Pennsylvania, for example, was previously a GEO-run federal prison - the company announcing the day of Biden's inauguration that the federal government had opted not to renew its prison contract.
It "flies in the face of the administration's commitment to fight for racial equity and disavows the very foundational principles of the executive order," Setareh Ghandehari, advocacy director of Detention Watch Network, an activist group, said in a statement. "The perverse financial incentives that drive incarceration are ever-present and thriving in ICE detention."
ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Azadeh Shahshahani, legal and advocacy director at Project South, a group that helped expose involuntary medical procedures at a for-profit ICE facility, told Insider that the conversion of private prisons to private detention centers would jeopardize the rights of immigrants.
"It is reprehensible that the Biden administration continues to entrust the well-being of immigrants to private prison corporations with horrendous human rights records," she said. "The only interest driving prison corporations is the profit motive."
The committee investigating the violent insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6 issued a subpoena Wednesday to a former Trump campaign staffer who helped organize the rally outside the White House that preceded the riot.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat who chairs the Select Committee, informed Maggie Mulvaney in a September 29 letter that he was requesting documents related to her role in the group Women for America First. The committee is also asking her to appear for a deposition on October 26.
In the letter to Mulvaney, Thompson said he read press reports describing how "those working with you" had been communicating with then-President Donald Trump and White House officials, including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, "about the rally and other events planned to coincide with the certification of the 2020 Electoral College results."
Maggie Mulvaney is the niece of former Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who at the time of the insurrection was serving as special US envoy to Northern Ireland. He resigned on January 7, lamenting in an interview with CNBC that he and other former Trump staffers would now be forever known as people who worked "for the guy who tried to overtake the government."
According to the Associated Press, Maggie Mulvaney was listed as the "VIP Lead" for the permit obtained ahead of the "Save America Rally" near the White House on January 6. She had previously been paid more than $10,000 a month to work on Trump's 2020 campaign, the AP reported.