Voters went to the polls Tuesday in five states. Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina all held primaries. A special House election also took place in Texas. In South Carolina, five-term Republican Congressmember Tom Rice was soundly defeated in his Republican primary. Rice was one of just 10 Republicans who had voted to impeach Donald Trump last year after the January 6 insurrection. Another Republican incumbent in South Carolina, Nancy Mace, survived a primary challenge from a Trump-backed candidate. Last year, Mace criticized Trump after the insurrection, but she campaigned in the primary on a pro-Trump message — she even recorded a campaign video outside Trump Tower in February.
In Nevada, Republicans who supported Trump’s coup attempt won the primaries for Senate and secretary of state. With his victory in Nevada’s Republican Senate primary, Adam Laxalt will now face Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto in a race that could determine which party controls the Senate. Laxalt co-chaired Trump’s 2020 campaign in Nevada and led efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s election win in the state. Meanwhile, Republicans in Nevada picked Jim Marchant to be their candidate for secretary of state. Marchant is an election denier who was urged to run for office by a prominent backer of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Marchant is a leader of an alliance known as America First, which helps backers of Trump’s coup attempt to run for top election offices. According to The Washington Post, more than 100 Republicans who backed Trump’s election fraud claims have already won primaries this year.
In another closely watched race, Republican Mayra Flores won a special election for an open House seat in South Texas which had been held by a Democrat for the past 10 years. Flores, who was born in Mexico and is married to a Border Patrol agent, outspent her closest Democratic rival by a margin of 16 to one.
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol appears divided on whether the panel should make criminal referrals of Donald Trump or anyone else to the Justice Department. On Monday, the committee’s chair, Bennie Thompson, said that is “not our job.” But the committee’s vice chair, Republican Liz Cheney, said the committee has not issued a conclusion regarding potential criminal referrals. Another member of the committee, Elaine Luria, tweeted, “If criminal activity occurred, it is our responsibility to report that activity to the DOJ.”
The January 6 committee was scheduled to hold its third public hearing Wednesday morning, but it was postponed. The committee has teased Thursday’s hearing by releasing a short video of former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann recalling a conversation he had on January 7 with John Eastman, the conservative lawyer who helped craft Trump’s legal effort to overturn the 2020 election. Herschmann told the January 6 committee that Eastman called him a day after the deadly insurrection to discuss more ways to overturn the election. Herschmann described how the call ended.
Eric Herschmann: “I said to him, 'Are you out of your F—ing mind?' Right? I said, 'I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth from now on: “orderly transition.” … Now I'm going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life: Get a great F—ing criminal defense lawyer. You’re going to need it.’ And then I hung up on him.”
NATO defense ministers have begun a two-day meeting in Brussels to discuss sending more heavy weapons and missile systems to Ukraine as fighting rages on in eastern Ukraine. On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for more arms and anti-missile defense systems to combat Russian attacks. Meanwhile, Pope Francis has condemned what he described as “the cruelty of Russian troops” in Ukraine. But the pope also suggested the war had been provoked. He said, “We do not see the whole drama unfolding behind this war, which was perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented.”
A Pentagon official has publicly said the Biden administration is not pushing Ukraine to hold talks to end the war. Colin Kahl, the under secretary of defense for policy, said, “We’re not going to tell the Ukrainians how to negotiate, what to negotiate and when to negotiate.” Meanwhile, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has posted a message on Telegram suggesting Ukraine won’t exist on world maps in two years.
Some Biden administration officials are now privately expressing concern that Western sanctions on Russia may be backfiring. That’s according to a report in Bloomberg which says the officials fear the sanctions are “exacerbating inflation, worsening food insecurity and punishing ordinary Russians more than Putin or his allies.”
The White House has formally announced that President Biden will visit Saudi Arabia next month, as well as Israel and the occupied West Bank. Biden is expected to meet with both Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. As a candidate, Biden pledged to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” following the brutal assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. But the president has taken a different stance in recent months as global gas prices soared. The talks in Saudi Arabia are expected to focus on oil production, the war in Yemen and other regional issues. Some Democratic lawmakers, including Senator Dick Durbin, are criticizing Biden’s decision to travel to Saudi Arabia.
Average gas prices in the United States have topped $5 a gallon for the first time ever. The Associated Press is reporting President Biden has just written a letter to U.S. oil refiners calling on them to work with the administration to produce more gasoline and diesel. In the letter, Biden points out that oil profits have tripled in a time of war while consumers are facing record prices at the pump.
The Federal Reserve is expected to issue today its largest interest rate hike since 1994 to combat rising inflation. This comes as the S&P 500 dropped nearly 4% on Tuesday. The stock index has fallen by 20% since January.
President Biden traveled to Philadelphia on Tuesday to address members of the AFL-CIO. He blamed Republican lawmakers for blocking his plan to fight inflation. His appearance before the AFL-CIO came as union delegates elected Liz Shuler to become the AFL-CIO’s first female president and Fred Redmond to be its first African American secretary-treasurer. We will have more on Biden’s speech and the labor movement later in the show.
The European Court of Human Rights blocked Britain from deporting a handful of asylum seekers to Rwanda on Tuesday. The court issued an injunction in the case of an Iraqi national who was on the verge of being flown to Rwanda. Prior to the ruling, a group of activists attempted to stop the deportations by locking themselves together to block a road near the jail where the asylum seekers are being held.
Indigenous-led protests in Ecuador have intensified after the police arrested Leonidas Iza, the head of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, the country’s largest Indigenous organization. Iza’s arrest on Tuesday came a day after he helped launch a nationwide strike to protest Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso’s economic policies and rising fuel prices. Iza spoke out on Monday prior to his arrest.
Leonidas Iza: “Yes, indeed, we had to resort to resistance, because the national government has deepened — or, rather, continued with — the policies of former President Lenín Moreno, putting in place more and more policies of death, which don’t allow us to sustain our small economies.”
In Brazil, police have arrested a second suspect connected to the disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips and the Brazilian Indigenous expert Bruno Araújo Pereira. The pair went missing over a week ago in one of Brazil’s most remote areas of the Amazon. On Tuesday, Indigenous activists gathered in Brazil’s capital Brasília to demand justice for the missing men.
Kamuu Dan Wapichana: “We are here to defend life, Indigenous peoples’ lives, to defend the environment and claiming for justice for our missing friends. We want answers, and this is why we came here to the Ministry of Justice.”
The longtime firebrand labor rights activist Charlie Kernaghan has died at the age of 74. He spent decades exposing how corporations sold products made in overseas sweatshops. His investigations exposed the sweatshop practices of numerous companies, including Gap, Microsoft, Disney, Nike, Target, Kmart and Levi Strauss. In 1996, Kernaghan made national headlines when he revealed a clothing line by TV host Kathie Lee Gifford was being made by girls as young as 15 in Honduras who worked up to 70 hours a week for 31 cents an hour. Charlie Kernaghan appeared many times on Democracy Now!
Charlie Kernaghan: “We found documents in a garbage dump for Nike, and it was children’s sweatshirts. And the sweatshirts sold for $22.99. This was in the Dominican Republic, and we bought it in Macy’s in New York City. Do you know what the workers got paid to make that sweatshirt? Eight cents. So, the workers’ wages in the Dominican Republic were three-tenths of 1% of the retail price. This is what’s going on. They’re just crushing people and sucking really the blood out of people. Eight cents to make their garment. What would happen if they tripled it to 24 cents? That would be less than 1% of the retail price for the garment. In other words, there’s plenty of room here. But this is the science of exploitation and misery. And we have to stand up and push back against these corporations.”