Posts tagged with "trump"

The Nation cover illustration by Heather Skovlund (Original cover art Illustration by Barry Blitt) for 360 Magazine

Elie Mystal × The Nation

Can Biden Fix the Courts That Trump Broke?

There is no progressive future without a serious fight to reclaim the judiciary from the grips of conservative judges.

In The Nation’s latest cover story, justice correspondent Elie Mystal explains:

“While previous Republican administrations tried to break government, Donald Trump tried to break democracy. He did this boldly and brazenly, by attacking elections, and he did it less boldly but no less brazenly, by working alongside Mitch McConnell to take over the unelected branch of government that sets the rules for all the others: the federal judiciary. That branch is now stuffed with conservative ideologues masquerading as jurists.”

Making the case that there is no progressive future without a serious fight to reclaim the judiciary from the grips of conservative judges, Mystal evaluates whether Biden can fix the courts that Trump broke: Happily, there is a solution, and that solution is to expand the lower courts.

Congress has used its constitutional authority throughout history to expand the federal judiciary. Historically, these lower court expansions were bipartisan: As the country grows in population, so does the number of lawsuits. Adding judges is just a thing we used to do to keep the judiciary running smoothly. But since 1990, when the last judgeship bill was passed, the US population has grown by a third; the number of district court cases has grown by 38 percent; and the number of cases involving a felony defendant has grown by 60 percent. The number of judges has not changed.

“I absolutely believe that if Trump had won reelection and McConnell had hung onto the Senate, Republicans would be working on court expansion right now,” writes Mystal. “There just aren’t a lot of vacancies left in the federal judiciary. Republicans can always find some casus belli for stacking the courts with conservative judges. The only question is whether Democrats will ever realize there’s a war, and they’re losing it.”

“To balance out decades of inequity, Biden’s judicial appointments shouldn’t ‘look like America;’ they should overrepresent the kinds of Americans routinely excluded by Republican administrations,” he continues. “You can’t balance a seesaw by standing in the middle when an elephant is sitting on one side.”

Read the full cover story here. Mystal, who covers the courts, the criminal justice system, and politics for The Nation, has also recently reported:

Biden’s Supreme Court Commission Is Designed to Fail

Biden’s recently announced commission to study court reform isn’t designed to offer solutions—it’s designed to be an excuse to do nothing.

How the Supreme Court Gave Cops a License to Kill

Derek Chauvin’s defense team is hoping that the 1989 Graham v. Connor ruling will be his ticket to acquittal.

The Blue Wall of Silence Is Crumbling Around Derek Chauvin

For one of the first times in memory, police are testifying against one of their own. But will it lead to an actual conviction?

ABOUT Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal is The Nation’s justice correspondent—covering the courts, the criminal justice system, and politics—and the force behind the magazine’s monthly column, “Objection!” He is also an Alfred Knobler Fellow at the Type Media Center. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Mystal was previously the executive editor of Above the Law and a former associate at Debevoise & Plimpton. He’s a frequent guest on MSNBC and Sirius XM. 

Founded by abolitionists in 1865, The Nation has chronicled the breadth and depth of political and cultural life from the debut of the telegraph to the rise of Twitter, serving as a critical, independent, and progressive voice in American journalism.

Transgender illustration by Rita Azar for 360 Magazine

Anti-Trans Bill Passages

First Anti-Trans Bill of 2021 Heads to Mississippi Governor’s Desk

Bill is the first specifically anti-transgender piece of legislation to pass a legislature this session, and the second anti-LGBTQ piece of legislation to do so

Mississippi passed SB 2536, an anti-transgender sports bill. This bill marks the first piece of specifically anti-transgender legislation this year to be sent to a governor’s desk and comes on the same day the first piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation, SB 124 — a broad sweeping religious refusal bill — passed the second chamber in South Dakota. The legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation has been fast and furious, led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. There are so far 131 anti-LGBTQ bills under consideration in state legislatures across the country. Of those, 71 directly target transgender people and about half of those would, like SB 2536, ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity. Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David issued the following statement in response to the passage of SB 2536 in Mississippi:

“As thousands die each day of COVID-19 and millions of Americans are out of work, some state legislatures have chosen to attack, demean and dehumanize their constituents rather than focus on delivering relief and assistance. These dangerous bills are designed to make the lives of transgender kids more difficult while they try to navigate their adolescence. Anti-transgender legislation being heard and voted on across the country are legislating against problems that simply do not exist – as even their proponents admit. This is just the latest iteration of their losing fight against equality and a shameful attempt to throw a wrench in the progress we’re making with a pro-equality President and Congress.

“Today, in sending SB 2536 to Governor Reeves, Mississippi became the first state to take the plunge by passing legislation specifically attacking transgender children. Mississippi is so determined to be on the wrong side of history that it is defying the evidence in favor of discrimination.  There is simply no justification for banning transgender girls and women from participating in athletics other than discrimination. Like all girls, transgender girls just want to play and be part of a team with their friends. History will not look kindly on this moment in Mississippi.”

These bills are not addressing any real problem, and they’re not being requested by constituents.  Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organizations attempting to score political points by sowing fear and hate. What they don’t understand is opposing equality is highly unpopular — even among Trump voters — and states that pass legislation that attacks our community will face severe economic, legal, and reputational harm. In many cases, these legislative pushes are being prioritized above COVID-19 response and relief. This push comes as equality measures gain not only popular support but legislative momentum on the federal level, with the Biden Administration championing equality in early Executive Actions and Congress considering the Equality Act within the first 100 days of the new Administration. 

A fight driven by national anti-LGBTQ groups, not local legislators or public concern

These bills come from the same forces that drove previous anti-equality fights by pushing copycat bills across state houses — hateful anti-LGBTQ organizations like the Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom (designated by Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group), and Eagle Forum among others.

  • For example, Montana’s HB 112, the first anti-transgender sports bill to be passed through a legislative chamber in any state, was worked on by the Alliance Defending Freedom.

Trans equality is popular: Anti-transgender legislation is a low priority, even among Trump voters

In a 10-swing-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group last fall:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
  • At least 87% of respondents across each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states breaking 90% support
  • When respondents were asked about how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports as compared to other policy issues, the issue came in dead last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

States that pass anti-transgender legislation suffer economic, legal, reputational harm

Analyses conducted in the aftermath of previous divisive anti-transgender bills across the country, like the bathroom bills introduced in Texas and North Carolina and an anti-transgender sports ban in Idaho, show that there would be or has been devastating fallout.

  • Idaho is the only state to have passed an anti-trans sports ban to date, and that law was swiftly suspended by a federal district court. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) came out against the Idaho bill and others like it and subsequently moved planned tournament games out of Idaho.
  • The Associated Press projected that the North Carolina bathroom bill could have cost the state $3.76 billion over 10 years.
  • During a fight over an anti-transgender bathroom bill in 2017, the Texas Association of Business estimated $8.5 billion in economic losses, risking 185,000 jobs in the process due to National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and professional sporting event cancellations, a ban on taxpayer funded travel to those states, cancellation of movie productions, and businesses moving projects out of state.

TOMORROW: HRC To Hold Emergency Press Conference To Discuss Passage Of First Anti-Transgender & Anti-LGBTQ Bills of 2021

Thursday, March 4th, the Human Rights Campaign will be hosting an emergency virtual press conference to discuss the passage of SB 2536, an anti-transgender sports ban bill in Mississippi, marking the first time in 2021 that a specifically anti-transgender bill will be sent to a governor’s desk, and SB 124, a religious refusal bill in South Dakota that marked the first anti-LGBTQ bill sent to a governor’s desk. Today’s press call will include reaction from Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David, expert analysis from State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel, affected voices from the states and perspective from in-state advocates who will detail the bills and offer context for other anti-transgender bills making its way through state legislatures across the country.

PLEASE RSVP BY EMAILING WYATT.RONAN@HRC.ORG

WHAT:

Press call discussing the passage of SB 2536, the first anti-transgender bill of 2021

WHO:

Alphonso David, President, Human Rights Campaign

Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director & Senior Counsel, Human Rights Campaign

Janna Farley, ACLU of South Dakota

Jarvis Dorth, ACLU of Mississippi

Katy Binstead, parent of a transgender young person in Mississippi

WHERE:

Zoom Virtual Press Link here. (passcode: 880430) (Please RSVP to wyatt.ronan@hrc.org)

WHEN:

Thursday, March 4th, 2021 – 9:45 am ET

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organizations working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Legislative Update: Anti-LGBTQ Bills Moving In 6 States

HRC Tracking 147 Anti-LGBTQ Bills, 73 Explicitly Anti-Transgender Bills

The legislative fight to pass discriminatory anti-transgender legislation has been fast and furious, led by national groups aiming to stymie LGBTQ progress made on the national level and in many states. The Human Rights Campaign is currently tracking 147 anti-LGBTQ bills across the country, including 73 explicitly anti-transgender bills. Three of these bills have already been passed and could soon be signed into law, and more are coming. We are tracking 37 bills aimed at banning transgender kids from playing sports, 25 bills aimed at limiting medical care for transgender people, and 22 bills to allow discrimination under the guise of religious freedom.

In Mississippi and South Dakota, state legislators have already passed bills targeting LGBTQ people, sending three pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation to the governor for signature or veto. Both states passed bills to ban transgender girls from playing sports. South Dakota legislators also passed a religious refusal bill granting a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

Yesterday, an anti-transgender sports bill in Arkansas, SB 354, was also considered by a Senate committee and recommended for passage. Today, three more anti-LGBTQ bills will be heard in committees in state legislatures across the country.

Arkansas’ HB 1570, an anti-transgender medical bill, is expected to have a hearing in House Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee.

New Hampshire’s HB 198, an anti-transgender sports bill, will be heard in the House Education Committee.

Tennessee’s HB 1233 is scheduled for a hearing in the K-12 Subcommittee. It is known locally as the “student bathroom bill 2.0” because it would deny transgender Tennesseans access to the bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

Tomorrow, seven anti-equality bills will be heard, five of which explicitly target the transgender community.

Alabama’s HB 1/SB 10, which would make it a felony to provide gender-affirming care to transgender kids, will be heard in the state’s House Health Committee.

In Arkansas, a hearing is expected in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday for the anti-transgender sports bill SB 450.

In Missouri, a hearing is expected on HB 33, which would ban gender affirming care for transgender kids.

In Montana, a hearing is expected at 3 PM MST on SB 99, which would require school districts to obtain written consent from a parent in order to teach their child sex ed and ban organizations like Planned Parenthood from offering any instructional materials.

In New Hampshire, HB 440 would allow discrimination against LGBTQ people under the guise of religious liberty. A hearing is scheduled for 9 AM on Wednesday in the House Judiciary Committee’s executive session.

In Tennessee, two more anti-LGBTQ bills are slated for hearings on Wednesday. HB 578 is an anti-transgender healthcare bill, and SB 1224 is an anti-transgender bathroom bill.

 

Donald Trump illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE

Donald Trump Impeached Again

By Dana Feeney

The House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time in his four-year term as president, which started in January of 2017. He is the third president to be impeached and the first president ever to be impeached more than once. This second impeachment comes shortly after the riots in the capital last week on January 6th, 2021. Trump is being impeached on the charge of “incitement of insurrection’’ because of the statements he made on January 6. He told his supporters to “fight like hell” because the Democrats were stealing the election. You can watch the speech hereDuring the riots, Trump supporters carrying a variety of racist and white supremacist paraphernalia swarmed the Capitol and forced their way into the building to stop the count of electoral votes. The riot caused the deaths of at least five individuals, including a Capitol police officer. 

Because of the insurrection, Democrats pushed for Vice President Mike Pence to enact the 25th amendment, which he could use to declare Trump unfit to serve as president and remove him from office. Republicans blocked this move. U.S. Congressmen David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Ted Lieu (CA-33), and Jamie Raskin (MD-08) introduced the article of impeachment to the House of Representatives on the morning of January 11, 2021. The article of impeachment is co-sponsored by 211 members of Congress according to Cicilline’s press release. You can read the full article of impeachment here. On January 13, 2021, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump with a 232 to 197 majority. 10 Republicans voted to impeach, more members of the president’s party than in any prior impeachment.

Impeachment does not mean removal from office; impeachment is adjacent to an indictment. The difference in American law is that indictment applies to criminal charges, while impeachment is the accusation of misconduct in a political setting. Any civil officer in the United States can be impeached. In the case of the President or Vice President, the first step is the introduction of the article(s) of impeachment in the House of Representatives. After the article(s) of impeachment are introduced to the House, the House then votes on each article of impeachment, and if any pass by a simple majority, more than 50%, the articles will be tried in front of the Senate. During the Senate trial, the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the Senate trial, the Senate body functions as the jury, a committee of House representatives, called “managers,” act as the prosecution, and the president and his or her lawyers act as the defense. All articles of impeachment are argued on the Senate floor, then are voted on by the Senate body to either convict or acquit; to convict, there must be a two-thirds majority. Only two presidents, Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson, were impeached and reached the Senate trial, both were acquitted. Despite an extensive impeachment investigation, Richard Nixon was never impeached because he resigned.  

Yesterday, January 13, 2021, the House voted to impeach Trump with only six days until the inauguration of Joe Biden. It is highly unlikely that Trump will be removed from office before the end of his term as president. The Senate is not set to be in session until January 19, 2021, and neither Democrats nor Republicans benefit from rushing the trial to be any sooner as this Senate trial will be a lengthy process that requires preparation from both the prosecution and the defense. Despite Trump losing the support of some members of his party, it is unclear how likely it is that Trump will be convicted because, even Mitt Romney, who voted to impeach in the first impeachment, has implied he is unsure that this is the right way to go. Many Republicans may hesitate to vote to convict because of the 74 million people who voted for Trump; these are the people who control whether Republicans will be reelected in the future. The main person who could cause a possible shift is Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader. If McConnell chooses to vote to convict Trump, other members of the Republican party may do the same. McConnell released this statement on January 13 saying that “there is simply no chance that a fair or serious trial could conclude before President-elect Biden is sworn in next week.”

Trump has been silent since besides releasing this video condemning violence and has not acknowledged the second impeachment. He has been banned from social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, and Snapchat. Along with these bans, the tech industry has made broad statements against this recent violence. Apple and Google have removed the app Parler from their app stores. The app was used by Trump supporters and white supremacists to communicate and coordinate the attack on the Capitol. Further, Amazon Web Services, which hosted the app, has cut off its service to Parler on the premise that it violated its terms of service. One feature of the app was that users could upload a photograph of their government-issued ID or driver’s license to become a “Verified Citizen.” The app lost the support of its security services, which protected user data, leaving it vulnerable to hackers who stole the data and turned it over to the FBI to be used to identify terrorists present at the riot. Read more about it here. Additionally, there are accounts publicly identifying people in photographs from the riots on platforms including Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok. Federal officials are identifying and arresting individuals who were at the event.

 The riots have caused many security changes in Washington D.C. and state capitals across the U.S. as Joe Biden’s inauguration grows closer and threats of further violence continue to spread online. These changes include the resignation of the U.S. Capitol Police chief, Steven Sund, increased police and national guard presence in Washington D.C. and the implementation of high security barriers around the Capitol building. Many D.C. businesses inside of the security perimeter are already making changes in preparation for the inauguration. Some are boarding up their windows in preparation for possible protests while others are preparing to serve guests who come to D.C. for the inauguration. In response to various local, state, and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C., Airbnb has canceled all reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the inauguration week, according to this press release. Some hotel chains in the city have stated that they will be hosting guests; as of now, nothing has been done to prevent this.

The events in this article, including the Senate trial, the consequences of the riots, and the coming inauguration, are all ongoing.

 

Kaelen Felix illustrates Ritchie Torres for 360 Magazine

TRAILBLAZER: CONGRESSMAN RITCHIE TORRES

By Elle Grant

January 3rd marked the commencement of the 117th Congress and the swearing of its newest members. For many, it marked the beginning of a new dawn. One that will be followed by the inauguration of TIME’s People of the Year, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. They will replace President Trump on Inauguration Day on January 20th. Yet several other remarkable individuals were elected this year and sworn in a bit earlier, solidifying the 117th Congress as the most diverse in American history. One of these representatives is a freshly elected Ritchie Torres, a 32-year-old politician serving the 15th congressional district in the Bronx, New York. Torres is the first openly gay Afro-Latino man elected to Congress, and one of two gay Black men that will serve in the 117th Congress, a distinction he shares with fellow New Yorker Mondaire Jones. 360 Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with Torres to discuss the story of his life, the issues he considers vital, as well as pick his brain for his thoughts on current events.

“I am a product of the Bronx,” Torres says of his childhood, “I spent most of my life in poverty.” Ritchie Torres was raised by a single mother, one of three children, in the Throggs Neck neighborhood of the East Bronx. He recalls the difficulty his mother had raising a family on minimum wage in the 1990s, as well as the awful conditions of the public housing he grew up in. Torres recollects these experiences with the soft yet fluid countenance that marked his speech throughout 360’s conversation with him. He floats between topics and memories with ease.

He recalls, with a rich sense of irony, the construction of Trump Golf Links as a child. “My life is something of a metaphor. I grew up right across the street of what became Trump golf course and actually something funny, is when the golf course was undergoing construction, it unleashed a skunk infestation. So, I often tell people I’ve been smelling the stench of Donald Trump long before he became President.” His own situation, compared with the government subsidized construction of the Trump Golf Links, deeply unsettled Torres’ image of society. He says collectively of his youth, “Those experiences shape not only who I am as a person, but as a public official.”

Such injustices prompted Torres to seek to become “The change that you wish the see in the world,” he says, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. He named public figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ted Kennedy as role models. He got his start as a housing organizer and eventually took the leap of faith to run for public office, becoming New York’s youngest elected city official at age 25. He had “No ties to the machine. No ties to the dynasties of Bronx politics, but I was young and energetic. I knocked on thousands of doors,” he claims that kind of face-to-face contact won him that election. Torres then became the first LGBTQ+ official elected from the Bronx.

“I think it has several implications,” he says when asked what this early accomplishment meant to him. “I mean, first, we are all products of our identities and our lived experiences. Right? Who we are as people shapes what we do as policy makers. It is important to have LGBTQ policy makers in the room where decisions are being made. A wise person once said, ‘If you don’t have a seat at the table, then you are probably on the menu.’” Referring to his 2020 election win, he says “My election means that LGBTQ people of color, in particular, will have a seat at one of the most powerful tables, the United States Congress.” He calls the reality of his election both empowering and normalizing. “I am a symbol of possibility.”

“I met Mondaire for the first time four years ago,” Torres says of Mondaire Jones, U.S. representative of New York’s 17th congressional district. “I remember when I met him for the first time, we had a conversation about the lack of LGBTQ representation of color in New York state politics. And I never imagined that four years later, he and I would become the first openly LGBTQ Black members of United States Congress.”

Congressmen Torres recognizes that his path, though marked with accomplishments, has not been one of only highs. Torres stands apart as a public official on the national stage who is open about the lows of his life and his struggles with mental health. When asked why he chooses to be so transparent, he says “I felt a deep sense of obligation to speak openly about my own struggles with depression in order to break the silence and shame and stigma that surrounds mental health.” He seeks to evolve, not perpetuate, the current ideas surrounding mental health. He hopes to show that “there is a way forward” out of difficult moments, which for him were struggles with substance abuse, the loss of a friend, and moments when he considered taking his own life. But seven years later, Torres was elected to city council. “I would not be alive today, much less a member of the United States Congress, were it not for mental health care which saved my life.” He aspires to send a message that “Recovery is possible. You can take an antidepressant, as I do every day, and find normalcy and stability” and achieve feats like being elected to Congress.

The 117th Congress is slated to be the most diverse in history. Torres says of this reality, “I think American is increasingly becoming a multi-racial, multi-ethnic inclusive democracy. We are witnessing the collapse of politics as an old voice network. I am part of a new generation of young leaders every bit as diverse as America itself. Congress is becoming what it always should have been, a miniaturization of America itself.”

Torres acknowledges the year 2020, monumental in many ways, as harrowing for his Bronx community. “COVID-19 has been a catastrophe for the city and the country, and the South Bronx has been the epicenter of COVID-19. The South Bronx had the highest rate of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality during the peak of the pandemic. And just as destructive as COVID-19 itself were the deeper inequalities that were brought to light.” He argued that the coronavirus exposed the deeper health inequalities, racial inequalities, and class inequalities laid bare by the pandemic.

These issues are at the forefront of Torres’ mind in thinking of his work as a legislator. When asked what he saw as the first step to rectifying the rampant racial injustice in the United States, he answered “the first thing is to bring greater accountability to policing in America,” an argument familiar to many Americans following the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd and their ensuing protests. As the Black Lives Matter movement swept the nation with greater momentum than ever before, cries for justice and defunding the police became common across the country’s cities. “Where there is no accountability, there will never be an end to police brutality” Torres says, being especially critical of qualified immunity in the United States.

Torres heads to Congress as a man with a mission regarding many issues. He himself declares “My great passion is affordable housing,” reflecting a long journey working continually in the housing sphere. He seeks to secure far greater funding for public housing in New York City and to expand the Section 8 program. The Section 8 program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher program, created by an act in 1978, provides assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market. Torres says, “For me the surest way to stimulate the economy is to put money in the pockets of struggling families.” In order to do that, he believes the solution is an expanded child tax credit, which he describes as the single largest tax expenditure in America, yet he finds fault with a system that is “so regressive that it excludes a third of American families. Particularly the poorest families in America.” Torres’ passion shines through when he discusses the subject, detailing how this solution could slash childhood poverty by 40% in the span of the year. He calls its potential an absolute “game changer.”

Without question, affordable housing and tax reform are the first issues Torres hopes to address after being sworn in to the 117th Congress on January 3rd, 2020. “For me, the central mission of my life is to fight poverty in America. Racially constructed poverty in America. The South Bronx is said to be the poorest district in America and if we can make progressive policies work in the South Bronx, we can make them work anywhere.”

360 Magazine also had the opportunity to discuss a variety of current issues with Congressman Torres, one of which being the then impending Senate run-offs in Georgia. Following races too close to call in November 2020, Republican incumbent David Perdue is facing a challenge from Democrat Jon Ossoff. Additionally, GOP appointee Kelly Loeffler is defending her seat against Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock. The election is vital because it will determine which party will control the Senate. “The stakes are supremely important,” Torres says of Georgia. “As long as Mitch McConnell refuses to bring critical bills to the floor for a vote, there is a limit to what we can accomplish. For me, Mitch McConnell is the single greatest obstruction on the path to progress. Winning those two seats in Georgia are essential.”

Regarding the impending mayoral race in his home of New York City, as well as early polls that display former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang as the frontrunner, Torres is coy. “The mayor’s race is wide open. Anyone who claims to have it figured out is lying.” He goes on to affirm “It is full of more than one credible candidate.”

“To be clear, I never announced that I wasn’t going to be in the squad.” Torres says, referring to ‘The Squad’ of United States Congress, composed of Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a fellow New Yorker, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. With new young progressive politicians like Torres joining the fray, claims of expanding membership are common. Torres, along with the aforementioned Mondaire Jones, as well as Congresswoman Cori Bush, Congresswoman Marie Newman, and Congressman Jamaal Brown are commonly referred to as impending members.

Instead, Torres clarifies, “I would never issue an announcement that I would not be a part of something. That would be an odd thing to do. Whenever I’m asked about the squad, I simply state that I’m my own person and I prefer to be judged on the basis of my own story and my own record, on my own terms.” He goes on to assert he is willing to work with “anyone and everyone in the service of delivering to the people of the South Bronx. That is my highest priority.” Torres is clear in this declaration that he is willing to work with more conservative members of his own party or the Republican party in hopes of progress.

On a future in politics, Torres affirmed his intent to serve the people in the moment and to “let the dice fall where they may” regarding the future. When asked what wisdom he would impart to a younger generation, Congressman Torres says “We are all only as strong as the support we have in our lives and be grateful for the supporters you have. The friends and family. I would not be here today if not for the friendship of people who believed in me more than I believed in myself. Know who those people are and value them and be grateful for them.”

Update as of 1/14/21, Congressman Ritchie Torres has formally endorsed former presidential candidate Andrew Yang for mayor of New York City. This comes just a day after Andrew Yang announced his campaign in a video titled ‘Why I’m Running,’ which features Torres in it.

Trump Tax Findings posted by 360 MAGAZINE and illustrated by Rita Azar.

Trump’s Tax Records Exposed

By Hannah DiPilato

Recently The New York Times got ahold of President Donald J. Trump’s tax information and made the shocking discovery that he has not been paying his fair share of taxes. 

According to The New York Times in 2016 and 2017, Trump only paid $750 in taxes each year. Many working Americans pay much more than this and have an income that is far lower than Trump’s. The Times also reported Trump paid nothing for income takes for 10 of the last 15 years. 

“The Fake News Media, just like Election time 2016, is bringing up my Taxes & all sorts of other nonsense with illegally obtained information & only bad intent,” said Trump in a tweet today, September 28th. “I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits….. Also, if you look at the extraordinary assets owned by me, which the Fake News hasn’t, I am extremely under leveraged – I have very little debt compared to the value of assets.” 

Although Trump is brushing this off as fake news, the evidence proves otherwise. Trump has hidden these records and sold others to the American people. Although he takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, Trump has claimed losses that gave him millions of dollars in tax refunds. 

This information is being revealed just 37 days before the presidential election where Trump appears to be just behind the democratic candidate Joe Biden. The first presidential debate is also coming up in two days, a debate that may need to question Trump’s behaviors regarding taxes. In the first debate in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday, Biden could easily interrogate Trump with these accusations. 

Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization spoke on the findings in a letter. “Most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate,” said Garten and requested to see the documents that the accusations were based on. After seeing the records, Garten said that Trump “has paid tens of millions of dollars of taxes to the federal government.” However, by saying “personal taxes,” it appears that Garten is combining income taxes with various other federal taxes. 

The Twitter account “Team Joe” made a video comparing the tax returns of middle-class workers to those of Trump in 2019. They reported that the typical income tax for elementary school teachers was $7,239, for a firefighter the average was $5,283 and for a nurse it was common to pay $10,216. They then compared this to Donald Trump’s payment of $750.

Trump’s millionaire persona could be all about appearances. He is facing a lengthy audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service because of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed. The IRS is investigating the legitimacy of this claim which he received after declaring major losses. If the IRS finds this claim to be false, Trump could owe over $100 million. 

For example, Trump disclosed in 2018 that he had brought in at least $434.9 million, but his tax records show a loss of $47.4 million. Tax records are not specific enough to investigate all the business expenses that Trump uses to reduce his taxable income. For example, from 2016 to 2017 Trump’s Bedminster golf club in New Jersey showed expenses that increased fivefold. He has even previously boasted that getting away with paying fewer taxes makes him smart. 

The president also brings in a hefty income from overseas in various different countries. In his first two years in office, this revenue added up to $73 million. He paid more to other countries then he did to The United States, by thousands. 

Trump’s tax records can be compared to President Richard M. Nixon’s tax bill that showed in 1970 he paid $792.81 of taxes when his income was around $200,000. When this information was revealed there was an uproar from the American people and resulted in the decision that presidents and presidential candidates should allow their tax records to be shared. In 2014, Trump even agreed to this saying, “I would love the do that,” referring to revealing his tax records if he ran for office. Then when he ran, Trump mocked this idea and said he would make the records public if Hillary Clinton made her deleted emails public and if Barack Obama showed his birth certificate. 

This information could greatly impact the election coming up in November. Depending on how people that planned to vote for Trump take these findings into consideration. Biden has been previously leading the polls, so it will be interesting to see how things will play out in both the upcoming debates and the election.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg illustration by Kaelen Felix for 360 MAGAZINE.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Cassandra Yany

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday after her long battle with cancer. The 87-year-old Supreme Court justice was a trailblazer who continuously worked to end gender discrimination and preserve our civil liberties. 

The Supreme Court announced Friday that Ginsburg passed away at her Washington D.C. home due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer. She had previously overcome lung, liver and colon cancer. In July, she revealed that the cancer had returned, but that she would continue to serve on the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg’s revolutionary career started when she graduated at the top of her class from Cornell University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in government. Two years later, she attended Harvard Law School with her husband, Martin Ginsburg. There, she was one of only nine women in her class of over 500 students, according to NPR.

During their time at Harvard, Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer, so Ruth would take notes for the two of them and help him with his work, all while trying to juggle being a new mom. When Martin landed a job at a firm in New York, the family packed up and Ruth finished her education at Columbia University. 

Once Ginsburg finished school, she began to experience the discrimination that came with being a female lawyer. According to TIME, she was unable to secure a position at a premier law firm or one of the Supreme Court clerkships, regardless of the fact that she had been the first students to serve on both the Harvard and Columbia Law reviews, and graduated at the top of her class. These jobs were instead easily given to males who had ranked lower than her in school. This led her to work a lower court clerkship and teach at the Rutgers Law Newark campus.

At Rutgers, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter. While she was there, she learned that she wasn’t earning the same wage as one of her male counterparts. The dean attributed this pay disparity to the fact that the male professor had a family to support, while Ginsburg’s husband already had a good-paying job. This type of discrimination caused her to hide her second pregnancy.

After her son was born, Ginsburg began teaching at Columbia, becoming the university’s first tenured female professor. There, she also co-authored the first case book on discrimination law. She later went on to co-found the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1972.

During her work as a lawyer, Ginsburg established that equal protection under the law, as stated in the 14th Amendment, should extend to gender. She won five out of the six cases that she argued before the Supreme Court on gender discrimination. She often chose to find this prejudice in cases where males were the plaintiffs being discriminated against, as seen in the 2018 film On the Basis of Sex. 

In 1980, Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She became the second woman on the Supreme Court, and the first Jewish justice since 1969 when she was appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993. During her time, she eliminated almost 200 laws that discriminated against women. 

Ginsburg also fought for the rights of immigrants, the mentally ill, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. She approved gay marriage in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, stating that if you can’t deny a 70-year-old couple the right to marriage due to their inability to procreate, you can’t deny a gay couple of that right either.

Ginsburg supported women’s reproductive rights, fighting for the coverage of contraceptives despite anyone’s religious beliefs. At the time of Roe v. Wade, she litigated a case where a pregnant Air Force captain was told she would have to have an abortion in order to return to her job. She noted the hypocrisy present in this case— that the U.S. government was encouraging abortion – and found that it served as a clear example of why women should have the right to make their own life decisions.

Ginsburg’s passing gives Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump the ability to appoint a new justice, despite her dying wish to not be replaced until after a new president is elected. This opportunity could make the Supreme Court more right-leaning and jeopardize cases like Roe v. Wade that are at the forefront of equal rights movements. 

This comes four years after McConnell’s 11-month Republican blockade of President Obama’s nominee for the court, where he argued “that a president shouldn’t be able to seat a new justice in the final year of their term.” Obama noted this in a statement released early Saturday, where he said “A basic principle of law— and of everyday fairness— is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment.”

After the news broke Friday night of Ginsburg’s death, hundreds of people gathered outside the Supreme Court to pay tribute and create a memorial on the building’s steps. Many signs have since been left outside of the court honoring her legacy.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday morning that there will be a statue built in Ginsburg’s hometown of Brooklyn to “serve as a physical reminder of her many contributions to the America we know today…”

Trump issued a proclamation Saturday ordering flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on the day of interment “As a mark of respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg…”

RBG will be dearly missed by Americans on both sides of the aisle. We have lost a longtime champion of equal rights, but her legacy will never be forgotten.

Breaking News by Nicole Salazar

The Rachel Maddow Show – Michael Cohen

Tonight on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” former personal attorney and ‘fixer’ to President Donald Trump Michael Cohen joined host Rachel Maddow for a one-on-one interview to discuss the explosive allegations in his new book and his time in the Trump organization.

Asked if the President’s financial records pose a threat:

“Yes, I think it poses a tremendous threat to the president, which, of course, is why he elected not to release his tax returns.” 

Asked to clarify his claim on the President’s arrangement to pardon himself should he lose the election, Cohen said:

“My theory is that, if he loses, there’s still the time between the election and the time that the next president would take office. And in — during that time, my suspicion is that he will resign as president, he will allow Mike Pence to take over, and he will then go ahead and have Mike Pence pardon him. And it’s a very — let’s just say it’s a very Nixon type of event.”

On Trump’s fascination with praising Vladimir Putin:

“Trump is keen on this power. And whether it’s Putin, Mohammed bin Salman, the Kim Jong-uns, the Maduros, it’s the power that he is so involved with and so in search of, that this is exactly what he believes.”

Cohen continued:

“He’s fixated on the wealth of Vladimir Putin and all of the opportunities that come with it. You have to remember — and I have said this many times, and I have said it under oath to the House and the Senate, as well as my open testimony — Donald Trump never thought he was going to win this election. He actually didn’t want to win this election. This was supposed to be — and it’s how we started it — the greatest political infomercial in the history of politics. So, if you take that line, and you — and you add to it the Trump Tower Moscow project, you will understand that this was a branding deal.”

Asked if Sen. Ted Cruz was aware that President Trump personally demanded that the photo of Cruz’s father appear on the front page of the National Enquirer in connection with Lee Harvey Oswald or the killing of JFK:

“He does now.”

Pressed by Rachel Maddow if the President approved it:

“Let me say this and I want to be clear to you and to the viewers and everybody.  Nothing happens without Mr. Trump’s approval at the Trump Organization. To the same extent, nothing happens without President Trump’s approval.  He micromanages everything, especially and including things that he doesn’t know anything about.”

Video for “Cohen: Trump 2016 campaign was just a branding opportunity” 

Video for “Cohen: Trump consulted on Enquirer stories to smear his opponents”

Credits to: MSNBC / “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW”

Hiccup in COVID-19 Vaccine Development

By Althea Champion

In a statement from AstraZeneca, reported by STAT News, the biopharmaceutical company reported a halt in their global research trial. The company, which is working with the University of Oxford and is one of the few waist-deep in the process of developing a COVID-19 vaccination, reported that the halt is a “routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials.”

The company is in Phase 3 of their clinical trial in the U.S., as well as Brazil and South Africa, according to the New York Times, and in Phase 2/3 in England and India. AstraZeneca began the third phase of its clinical trial not much longer than a week ago, on Aug. 31.

Phase 3 efficacy trials involve thousands of volunteers, some of which are administered the vaccine in question, and others the placebo.

AstraZeneca and its most close competitors, Moderna and Pfizer, which have each been in phase 3 of their clinical trials since July 27, are backed by the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed, a targeted allocation of resources meant to hasten the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

The halt of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine—AZD1222—is the first made public by its drug maker, and will allow a safety review to take place. 

“A volunteer in the U.K. trial [of AZD1222] had been found to have transverse myelitis, an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and is often sparked by viral infections,” reported the New York Times. “However, the timing of this diagnosis, and whether it was directly linked to AstraZeneca’s vaccine, is unclear.”

The vaccine was first developed by Oxford University’s Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group, according to nih.gov, and was then “licensed to AstraZeneca for further development.” Oxford-Astrazeneca began the third phase of its clinical trial not much longer than a week ago, on Aug. 31

The company stressed in its statement that the safety of their participants is a priority.

“We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline,” said the company in their statement. “We are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.”

Maria Soloman illustration for 360 MAGAZINE journalism article.

The War on Journalism

by Justin Lyons

What a time it is to be a journalist.

During an era in which news is a divisive, politicized topic, one man seems to have been spearheading the charge against modern media. That’s what a brand new documentary from Juan Passarelli aims to cover, at least in part.

“The War on Journalism – the case of Julian Assange” takes the case of the controversial WikiLeaks founder. Assange now faces 175 years after his site published leaked documents with information sensitive to the United States government. Now we face the never-ending battle of journalistic principles versus legality.

The thing that sticks out to me at first thought is the idea that leaks have existed as long as governments and corruption have existed, which dates back to the beginning of time. As a journalist myself, I think we consider our job as watchdogs one of the most important jobs in a functioning society. If journalists aren’t delivering news telling consumers what they need to know and why they need to know it, we’d be missing a huge opportunity to hold powerful figures accountable.

Theodore Roosevelt once called journalists “muckrakers” because they, well, rake through the muck. They dig through the dirt to find that key that might be even dirtier than the dirt itself. While it doesn’t sound like an endearing term, journalists seem to take it as a compliment.

This documentary looks at the realities of being a reporter in the middle of the action, and it seems to no longer be safe to gather information about government action. It opens with what looks like a reporter being pepper sprayed by police and proceeds to show government officials claim they will not agree to refrain from prosecuting journalists for doing their jobs.

Assange was indicted under the Espionage Act with 17 counts. The Espionage Act is a United States law published in 1917 that aims to prevent interference in foreign relations.

While it might seem that the First Amendment could guarantee freedom for press to publish information with the public good in mind, John Kiriakou, described as a CIA torture whistleblower, brought up a really interesting point.

Kiriakou was charged in the Eastern District of Virginia and hired the lawyer who won cases for O.J. Simpson and George Zimmerman. That lawyer decided that Kiriakou’s case was impossible to win in the Eastern District of Virginia. His jury would have comprised of members of the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, intelligence community contractors and the Department of Homeland Security.

The same applies to Julian Assange. He was charged in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Kiriakou said no national security defendant had ever won a case.

Journalists aren’t seeking more freedom than the average U.S. citizen, but they should be protected with clearly defined rights. When the Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to an impartial jury, it can make you wonder how Kiriakou’s story is possible in the first place. It seems that seeking protection for the government has overwhelmed the protection of journalistic freedoms.

Overall, the documentary is definitely an interesting looking glass into what it’s like to be a journalist right now. I also think it’s an interesting look at journalistic protections. When thinking about people like Assange or Edward Snowen, who also appears in the documentary, I wonder where their protections start and end and how those protections are recognized if we consider them journalists.

In 2020, anyone can be a journalist, and using that freedom of press for information of public interest is something that is quite clearly protected by the Constitution.

Now that Assange is appearing in court for his extradition case, I look forward to the outcome, as it could become another landmark case for journalism in the United States.

If you’re interested in seeing “The War on Journalism – the case of Julian Assange” for yourself, you can check it out right here.

Cruise illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Boats Sink at Pro-Trump Parade

On September 5, 2020, participants at the ‘Trump Boat Parade’ needed rescuing after at least four boats sunk around noon on Lake Travis in Texas.

The New York Times reported, “Boaters were set to travel around the lake, which is about 15 miles northwest of Austin, at 10 miles per hour.”
According to the events Facebook page, they wanted to “really make a statement,” but organizers did not expect the event to make national news for the reason it did.

A call came in around 12:10 pm to report the first boat was taking on water and subsequently more boats faced the same fate. After mulling over the audio from these emergency calls, ABC News reported, “At least three boats went down in 30 minutes, according to dispatchers, who reported several sinking boats around Paradise Cove.”

“Five boats sank, three of which were removed from the water, the sheriff’s office said in a Sunday release,” USA Today stated. “Two boats remained submerged, it said.”

Strangely enough, this wasn’t the first time a a pro-Trump boat parade ended in emergency calls. “A similar incident took place during a parade on the Willamette River in Portland last month,” according to Bloomberg. However, there was less damage done with only one boat reportedly sinking.

While the the day brought good boating conditions, the large number of boats all starting their trek around the lake at the same time caused unsafe water conditions, CNN stated.
Organizers still plan to hold more boat parades in the future disregarding the tragedies of the past two parades.