Gunmakers summoned to Congress to testify on gun violence

Democrats in Congress are summoning the CEOs of firearm manufacturers to testify at a hearing later this month on gun violence.

“I am deeply troubled that gun manufacturers continue to profit from the sale of weapons of war, including AR-15-style assault rifles that were used by a white supremacist to murder ten people in Buffalo, New York, and in the massacre of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas,” Carolyn Maloney, the Democratic chair of the House Oversight Committee, wrote in letters to the leaders of Daniel Defense, Smith & Wesson, and Ruger, which make AR-15 style rifles.

“Products sold by your company have been used for decades to carry out homicides and even mass murders, yet your company has continued to market assault weapons to civilians.”

Under her leadership, the committee began investigating gun manufacturers last May. The following month, it held a hearing featuring gut-wrenching testimony from survivors of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

The latest hearing is set for July 20.

The January 6 committee will hold a hearing on Thursday of next week that will be broadcast at the prime-time TV hour, Punchbowl News reports.

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The Jan. 6 committee is scheduled to hold hearings Tuesday AND Thursday next week, sources tell me.

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 7, 2022

n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/JakeSherman/status/1545083834672324609?s=20&t=onhyPTmRHEIS_o7_z3vyHQ”,”id”:”1545083834672324609″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”c13e0e0f-c45e-40cf-8e29-cf209d567863″},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement”,”html”:”

Thursday night is slated to be another primetime hearing, sources tell me https://t.co/WWlpehZj9P

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 7, 2022

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The House committee investigating the insurrection had earlier this week announced it will hold its next hearing on Tuesday, 12 July, which is expected to focus on the links between Donald Trump and extremist groups.

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Congress is on recess, but details are slowly emerging about Democrats’ plans for a spending bill to be revealed perhaps in the coming weeks, while the party has announced a hearing to take firearms manufacturers to task over gun violence.

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Here’s what has happened today:

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    n

  • American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in Russia, the latest development in a case that has captured the attention of the Biden administration.
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  • Illinois police will investigate the father of the man who opened fire at an Independence Day parade on Monday for his involvement in his son’s purchase of a firearm.
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  • Sacha Baron Cohen, the comedian best known for portraying Borat, fended off a lawsuit from a former Republican Senate candidate in Alabama.
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President Joe Biden has been repeatedly asked what his administration is doing to win the release of Brittney Griner, an American women’s basketball star detained in Russia. The Guardian’s Pjotr Sauer reports that she has now pled guilty to the drug charges against her:

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The jailed US basketball star Brittney Griner has pleaded guilty to drug possession and smuggling charges during her trial in Moscow, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday.

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Griner’s trial began last week amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to do more to secure her freedom nearly five months after her arrest.

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The athlete was detained in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after vape canisters with cannabis oil were allegedly found in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of large-scale transportation of drugs.

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Democrats in Congress are summoning the CEOs of firearm manufacturers to testify at a hearing later this month on gun violence.

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“I am deeply troubled that gun manufacturers continue to profit from the sale of weapons of war, including AR-15-style assault rifles that were used by a white supremacist to murder ten people in Buffalo, New York, and in the massacre of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas,” Carolyn Maloney, the Democratic chair of the House Oversight Committee, wrote in letters to the leaders of Daniel Defense, Smith & Wesson, and Ruger, which make AR-15 style rifles.

“,”elementId”:”6999f910-734b-49bb-a4be-8e54556aa4ee”},{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

“Products sold by your company have been used for decades to carry out homicides and even mass murders, yet your company has continued to market assault weapons to civilians.”

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Under her leadership, the committee began investigating gun manufacturers last May. The following month, it held a hearing featuring gut-wrenching testimony from survivors of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

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The latest hearing is set for July 20.

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Good morning, US politics blog readers. Democrats are using what may be their limited time left controlling Congress to build a new spending package that will pay for many of the party’s priorities – such as fighting climate change. The Washington Post reported today that Joe Manchin, the West Virginia centrist who scuttled a previous spending effort last year, remains a sticking point in reaching a climate agreement, though talks are continuing.

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Here’s what else is going on today:

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Key events:

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January 6 committee plans Thursday prime-time hearing

The January 6 committee will hold a hearing on Thursday of next week that will be broadcast at the prime-time TV hour, Punchbowl News reports.

The Jan. 6 committee is scheduled to hold hearings Tuesday AND Thursday next week, sources tell me.

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 7, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/JakeSherman/status/1545083834672324609?s=20&t=onhyPTmRHEIS_o7_z3vyHQ”,”id”:”1545083834672324609″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”b171c4d8-fdf4-4cc0-b861-b37b5d43e6f2″}}”>

The Jan. 6 committee is scheduled to hold hearings Tuesday AND Thursday next week, sources tell me.

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 7, 2022

Thursday night is slated to be another primetime hearing, sources tell me https://t.co/WWlpehZj9P

— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 7, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/JakeSherman/status/1545084365201350657?s=20&t=onhyPTmRHEIS_o7_z3vyHQ”,”id”:”1545084365201350657″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”53e39a6e-3c5d-4df1-bba8-a55f9e4979f1″}}”>

The House committee investigating the insurrection had earlier this week announced it will hold its next hearing on Tuesday, 12 July, which is expected to focus on the links between Donald Trump and extremist groups.

The day so far

Congress is on recess, but details are slowly emerging about Democrats’ plans for a spending bill to be revealed perhaps in the coming weeks, while the party has announced a hearing to take firearms manufacturers to task over gun violence.

Here’s what has happened today:

  • American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in Russia, the latest development in a case that has captured the attention of the Biden administration.
  • Illinois police will investigate the father of the man who opened fire at an Independence Day parade on Monday for his involvement in his son’s purchase of a firearm.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen, the comedian best known for portraying Borat, fended off a lawsuit from a former Republican Senate candidate in Alabama.

A winner has been declared in the showdown between comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and former judge and failed Senate candidate Roy Moore, at least for now.

Reuters reports that Cohen, who is perhaps best known for portraying the Borat character, has fended off a defamation lawsuit by Moore over an interview broadcast on his show, “Who Is America?”:

In a 3-0 vote, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the interview was constitutionally protected speech, agreeing with a lower court judge that it was “clearly comedy and that no reasonable viewer would conclude otherwise.”

The court also said Moore waived his right to pursue his $95 million lawsuit by signing a standard consent agreement before the interview, which he knew would be televised. It also dismissed related claims by Moore’s wife Kayla.

Larry Klayman, the Moores’ lawyer, called the decision a “travesty,” saying the consent agreement was ambiguous because Judge Moore crossed out a provision waiving claims related to alleged sexually oriented behavior and questioning.

“This should not have been taken away from the jury,” Klayman said in an interview. The Moores will ask the entire 2nd Circuit to review the case.

Accusation of sexual misconduct swirled around Moore when he stood as a Republican to represent Alabama in the US Senate in 2017, a race he lost to Democrat Doug Jones despite the state being among the most conservative in the country.

Could Donald Trump have had the IRS carry out its most stringent audit on two of his political foes? That’s the question posed by a story published yesterday in The New York Times that says former FBI director James Comey and his deputy Andrew McCabe were both selected for random audits by the tax authority, which is run by an appointee of the former president.

A spokesman for Trump denied knowing anything about the matter, and experts quoted in the story wondered whether it was even possible for a president to order the IRS to carry out such an action. The coincidence is nonetheless abnormal. Here’s how one former IRS official put it to the Times:

“Lightning strikes, and that’s unusual, and that’s what it’s like being picked for one of these audits,” said John A. Koskinen, the I.R.S. commissioner from 2013 to 2017. “The question is: Does lightning then strike again in the same area? Does it happen? Some people may see that in their lives, but most will not — so you don’t need to be an anti-Trumper to look at this and think it’s suspicious.”

Trump fired Comey in 2017, one of his many controversial moves early in his term, while McCabe was dismissed the next year. As recently as this year, the former president was continuing to feud with his one-time FBI head, naming him in a lawsuit over the investigation into Russia interference in the 2016 election.

Speaking of news in other countries: With a declaration of “Them’s the breaks,” Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson has resigned as leader of the Conservatives, though he intends to stay on until his party chooses a new prime minister.

The Guardian has a live blog chronicling all the latest developments in Johnson’s downfall, which came after a revolt by his cabinet and a wave of scandals.

Basketball star Brittney Griner pleads guilty to drug charges in Russia

Pjotr Sauer

Pjotr Sauer

President Joe Biden has been repeatedly asked what his administration is doing to win the release of Brittney Griner, an American women’s basketball star detained in Russia. The Guardian’s Pjotr Sauer reports that she has now pled guilty to the drug charges against her:

The jailed US basketball star Brittney Griner has pleaded guilty to drug possession and smuggling charges during her trial in Moscow, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday.

Griner’s trial began last week amid a growing chorus of calls for Washington to do more to secure her freedom nearly five months after her arrest.

The athlete was detained in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after vape canisters with cannabis oil were allegedly found in her luggage. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of large-scale transportation of drugs.

Gunmakers summoned to Congress to testify on gun violence

Democrats in Congress are summoning the CEOs of firearm manufacturers to testify at a hearing later this month on gun violence.

“I am deeply troubled that gun manufacturers continue to profit from the sale of weapons of war, including AR-15-style assault rifles that were used by a white supremacist to murder ten people in Buffalo, New York, and in the massacre of 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas,” Carolyn Maloney, the Democratic chair of the House Oversight Committee, wrote in letters to the leaders of Daniel Defense, Smith & Wesson, and Ruger, which make AR-15 style rifles.

“Products sold by your company have been used for decades to carry out homicides and even mass murders, yet your company has continued to market assault weapons to civilians.”

Under her leadership, the committee began investigating gun manufacturers last May. The following month, it held a hearing featuring gut-wrenching testimony from survivors of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

The latest hearing is set for July 20.

Coral Murphy Marcos

The gun violence on July 4 could have been much worse. The Guardian’s Coral Murphy Marcos reports that police in Richmond, Virginia say another mass shooting was planned in the city that day:

Police in Richmond, Virginia, said a tip-off from an anonymous informant helped them to stop another planned mass shooting at an amphitheater on the Fourth of July.

The caller informed them of a planned mass shooting at the Dogwood Dell Amphitheater during the holiday celebration, the police chief, Gerald Smith, said on Wednesday.

The tip sparked an investigation that led to the arrest of two men in possession of assault rifles and more than 200 rounds of ammunition. Police said the men were planning to attack the arena, which seats about 2,400 people.

The father of the man who opened fire Monday at an Independence Day parade and killed seven in a Chicago suburb will be facing a criminal investigation, local media reports.

Illinois State Police announced that there will be criminal investigations into the culpability of the father after he signed off on his son’s, the accused Highland Park shooter, FOID affidavit.

— Danielle Ellis (@Danielle__Ellis) July 7, 2022n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/Danielle__Ellis/status/1545039376564064256″,”id”:”1545039376564064256″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”a9d2ba23-0a92-4f34-ab22-1211faef7379″}}”>

Illinois State Police announced that there will be criminal investigations into the culpability of the father after he signed off on his son’s, the accused Highland Park shooter, FOID affidavit.

— Danielle Ellis (@Danielle__Ellis) July 7, 2022

Robert Crimo Jr had previously told ABC News he wasn’t concerned about a potential investigation into his involvement in his son’s purchase of a gun, saying, “I filled out the consent form to allow my son to go through the process that the Illinois State Police have in place for an individual to obtain a FOID card. They do background checks. Whatever that entails, I’m not exactly sure. And either you’re approved or denied, and he was approved.”

Peter Stone

In other news concerning the former president, Peter Stone reports on a campaign to train election observers by allies of Donald Trump:

A conservative group called the America Project that boasts Donald Trump loyalists and “big lie” pushers Roger Stone and Michael Flynn as key advisers, has begun a self-styled “election integrity” drive to train activists in election canvassing and poll-watching, sparking fears from voting rights watchdogs about voter intimidation.

Patrick Byrne, the multimillionaire co-founder of the America Project, has said he has donated almost $3m to launch the drive, dubbed “Operation Eagles Wings”, with a focus on eight states including Arizona, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Trump lost, plus Texas and Florida, which he won.

The drive was unveiled in late February at a press event where Byrne touted plans to educate “election reform activists” to handle election canvassing, grassroots work and fundraising “to expose shenanigans at the ballot box” in what has echoes of Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was rigged, and could become a sequel to those charges.

Hugo Lowell

Congress’s return means the January 6 committee will air new evidence, and The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell has a look at what to expect from its next hearing set for Tuesday:

Towards the end of her testimony to the House January 6 select committee, former Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson raised for the first time the prospect that Donald Trump might have had a line of communication to the leaders of the extremist groups that stormed the Capitol.

The potential connection from the former US president to the extremist right-wing groups came through her account of Trump’s order to his White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to call Roger Stone and Mike Flynn – which Meadows did – the evening before the Capitol attack.

Trump’s order to Meadows, even though Hutchinson said she did not know what was discussed, is significant because it shows the former president seeking to have a channel to two figures with close ties to the leaders of the far-right Proud Boys and Oath Keepers groups.

When they were negotiating Build Back Better last year, president Joe Biden and Democratic leaders made proposals, and then tried to get all their lawmakers in Congress on board. The effort ended up failing, and now it appears they are trying a different strategy as they work on a new spending bill that could be announced in the weeks after Congress returns from recess.

Negotiators appear to be focusing on writing legislation that will contain proposals all of its lawmakers will support – particularly in the Senate, where every Democrat’s vote will be needed to overcome a filibuster and pass the bill through the reconciliation procedure.

Yesterday, Politico reported that lawmakers had reached an agreement on provisions to lower prescription drug costs, and The Washington Post’s report today signals that they’re trying to find consensus around measures to fight climate change – particularly those that would pass muster from Joe Manchin, the West Virginia senator whose resistance doomed Build Back Better last year.

Republicans are looking for ways to stop the effort. The Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has threatened to torpedo a bipartisan bill meant to fund American technological competitiveness if Democrats move forward with their unilateral proposal.

Democrats bargain over climate with a familiar obstacle: Joe Manchin

Good morning, US politics blog readers. Democrats are using what may be their limited time left controlling Congress to build a new spending package that will pay for many of the party’s priorities – such as fighting climate change. The Washington Post reported today that Joe Manchin, the West Virginia centrist who scuttled a previous spending effort last year, remains a sticking point in reaching a climate agreement, though talks are continuing.

Here’s what else is going on today:

  • President Joe Biden will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 17 people in a ceremony at 2pm, including the gymnast Simone Biles, the actor Denzel Washington and, posthumously, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and senator John McCain.
  • American airports will get $1bn for upgrades from the federal government, paid for by the infrastructure bill enacted last year.
  • The fallout from the supreme court’s decision overturning Roe v Wade continues, with Colorado’s governor moving to protect people seeking abortions, and a Louisiana court stopping the state from outlawing the procedure, for now.

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