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GSA Officially Recognises Biden Victory As Trump Capitulates

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The General Services Administration has ascertained that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the November 3 election.

President Donald Trump, who had refused to concede the election, said Monday that he is directing his team to cooperate on the transition but is vowing to keep up the fight.

The move clears the way for the start of the transition of Trump’s administration and allows Biden to coordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over January 20.

An official said administrator Emily Murphy made the determination after Trump’s efforts to subvert the vote failed across battleground states, most recently in Michigan, which certified Biden’s victory Monday.

“Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official —including those who work at the White House or GSA — with regard to the substance or timing of my decision,” Murphy wrote in a letter to Biden.

Trump tweeted shortly after her letter was made public: “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good … fight, and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same.”

Earlier Monday, retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has repeatedly called for the transition to begin, released a new statement saying that Trump should “put the country first” and help Biden’s administration succeed.

“When you are in public life, people remember the last thing you do,” Alexander said.

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio on Monday called for the head of the General Services Administration to release the money and staffing needed for the transition.

Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.

Alexander and Portman, who have both aligned themselves with Trump, joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Trump to begin the transition immediately.

Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement Monday that “at some point, the 2020 election must end.”

Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process.

The officials signing the letter worked under four Republican presidents, including Trump.

The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election.”

Among those signing the letter from business leaders were Jon Gray, president of the Blackstone private equity firm; Robert Bakish, president and CEO of ViacomCBS Inc.; Henry Kravis, co-chief executive of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., another private equity giant; David Solomon, CEO at Goldman Sachs; and George H. Walker, CEO of the investment firm Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to former President George W. Bush.

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Key Suspect In Haitian President’s Murder Extradited To US

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Rodolphe Jaar, a key suspect in the murder of former Haitian President Jovenel Moise, was yesterday extradited to the United States from the Dominican Republic, media reported.
Earlier, media reported that Jaar, a Haitian businessman and convicted drug trafficker, was arrested in the Dominican Republic.
On Wednesday, the suspect was detained by United States federal agents in Miami upon his arrival from the Dominican Republic, the Miami Herald newspaper reported.
Moise was shot dead at his residence on July 7, 2021, while his wife sustained injuries and subsequently received medical treatment in the United States.
Haitian authorities have detained over 40 suspects in Moise’s assassination, including 18 Colombian citizens and five United States citizens.

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Otto Warmbier’s Family Awarded $240,000

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The family of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in North Korea for 17 months and died in 2017 shortly after being returned to the United States in a coma, was awarded more than $240,000 in seized assets from Pyongyang, a New York federal court ruled.
Why it matters: The payment is part of a $500 million wrongful death lawsuit, in which Warmbier’s family alleged that North Korea took him hostage, tortured him and was responsible for his death.
Warmbier, a 21-year-old University of Virginia student at the time, travelled to North Korea in 2015, where he was arrested and accused of stealing a propaganda poster from a restricted area of his hotel.
After publicly confessing to the crime with a script that some experts have said was likely drafted by North Korean officials, Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
After a total of 17 months in captivity, he was flown back to the United States on June 13 with severe brain damage that North Korea attributed, without evidence, to botulism, and he died six days later in a Cincinnati hospital.
A federal judge in December, 2018 ruled that North Korea was responsible for Warmbier’s death and ordered Pyongyang to pay his family $500 million.
The big picture: The $240,000 awarded by the Northern District Court of New York last week was seized from the country’s Korea Kwangson Banking Corp after the government and bank did not respond to multiple court orders and notices.

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‘Why Schumer Picked A Filibuster Fight He Couldn’t Win’

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Chuck Schumer doesn’t typically lead his caucus into losing votes that divide Democrats. He made an exception for election reform.
The Senate majority leader has run a 50-50 Senate for a year now, longer than anyone else. The whole time, Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin have consistently communicated to Schumer that he wouldn’t get their votes to weaken the filibuster, no matter the underlying issue. But his decision to force the vote on the caucus anyway – and get 48 Democrats on the record for a unilateral rules change dubbed “the nuclear option” – will go down as one of Schumer’s riskiest moves as leader.
The New Yorker was a defender and wielder of the filibuster while serving as minority leader during Donald Trump’s presidency. But Democrats’ year of work on writing elections and voting legislation – and GOP opposition to an effort designed to undo state-level ballot restrictions – turned Schumer into a proponent of scrapping the Senate’s 60-vote threshold, at least for this bill.
He and most of his members have endorsed what they see as a limited change to chamber rules. Even so, Schumer has set the table for a future majority with a slightly bigger margin, whether it’s Democratic or Republican, to follow through where he fell short and perhaps go further.
Schumer gave Manchin months of space to work on a compromise elections bill, despite activists pushing him to move quicker. The leader’s insistence on a vote that will split his caucus has only trained more ire on the West Virginian and Sinema of Arizona, whom he needs to execute the rest of President Joe Biden’s agenda. Yet Schumer says he had no choice.
“We sent our best emissary to talk to the Republicans. That was Joe Manchin. And we gave him months,” Schumer said in an interview on Wednesday. “The epiphany that occurred on a rules change? He didn’t even get any bites.”
Though social spending, coronavirus relief and infrastructure have at times consumed the Senate this Congress, no topic has riveted Democrats like voting and election reform. Schumer designed Democrats’ first version of the bill “S. 1” – denoting it as the party’s top priority. Even when senators were digging into other legislation, Schumer was still maneuvering on elections, convening weekly meetings with a small group of senators for months.

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