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Arizona’s largest county refused Friday to comply with a subpoena from the state Legislature, going to court instead to fight turning over election evidence to a Senate committee investigating alleged ballot irregularities.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to authorize the lawsuit in Superior Court in Phoenix, arguing the Legislature’s demands are overly broad, could pierce voter privacy and constitute “a draconian abuse of power.”

The lawsuit contests a subpoena from the state Senate Judiciary Committee, arguing the request for evidence was unlawful, could violate ballot secrecy and did not give the county enough time to comply.

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The State Senate earlier in the week issued the subpoena ordering Maricopa County to surrender its ballot-counting machines, software, security logs, and more than 2 million ballots so senators could perform their own forensic audit.

The state’s electors have already cast their votes for Joe Biden after a canvass affirmed the Democrat won the state narrowly on Nov. 3.

President Trump and the state GOP have contested the vote, arguing there was fraud and irregularities in balloting.

(Justthenews)

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Biden administration to allow 25,000 asylum-seekers to cross US-Mexico border while cases are pending

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Around 25,000 asylum-seekers who were ordered under former President Donald Trump to wait in Mexico while U.S. immigration courts processed their requests will now be allowed to cross the border starting next week, the Biden administration announced Friday. 

The Department of Homeland Security said the change in plans for those currently placed in Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) — often referred to as “Remain in Mexico” — will go into effect on Feb. 19. The Trump administration introduced the policy in January 2019 and said it was critical to reversing a surge of asylum-seekers that peaked that year. 

“As President Biden has made clear, the U.S. government is committed to rebuilding a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. “This latest action is another step in our commitment to reform immigration policies that do not align with our nation’s values.”

The Biden administration estimates that around 25,000 individuals enrolled in the protocols still have active cases. 

“Individuals should not take any action at this time and should remain where they are to await further instructions,” Homeland Security said Friday. “We will soon announce a virtual registration process that will be accessible from any location.” 

“Individuals outside of the United States who were not returned to Mexico under MPP or who do not have active immigration court cases will not be considered for participation in this program and should await further instructions,” the department added. 

Homeland Security also warned migrants Friday that the announcement “should not be interpreted as an opening for people to migrate irregularly to the United States. 

“Eligible individuals will only be allowed to enter through designated ports of entry at designated times,” it added.  

Those who are processed under these new changes will be tested for COVID-19 before entering the U.S., Homeland Security said, yet it is unclear what the protocol will be for those whose results come back positive. Fox News has reached out to The White House for further comment. 

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On Biden’s first day in office, Homeland Security had suspended the MPP policy for new arrivals. Since then, some asylum-seekers picked up at the border have been released in the U.S. with notices to appear in court. 

Hearings for people enrolled in “Remain in Mexico” have also been suspended since June due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Advocates have argued that communication problems, including lack of working addresses in Mexico, caused some to miss hearings and lose their cases as a result. 

Raul Ortiz, deputy chief of the Border Patrol, told the Associated Press Tuesday that more than 3,000 people had been stopped crossing the border illegally in each of the previous 10 days, compared to a daily average of 2,426 in January. 

Advocates have argued that communication problems, including lack of working addresses in Mexico, caused some to miss hearings and lose their cases as a result. 

Raul Ortiz, deputy chief of the Border Patrol, told the Associated Press Tuesday that more than 3,000 people had been stopped crossing the border illegally in each of the previous 10 days, compared to a daily average of 2,426 in January. 

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Donald Trump

New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters

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Washington (CNN)In an expletive-laced phone call with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy while the Capitol was under attack, then-President Donald Trump said the rioters cared more about the election results than McCarthy did.”Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said, according to lawmakers who were briefed on the call afterward by McCarthy.McCarthy insisted that the rioters were Trump’s supporters and begged Trump to call them off.Trump’s comment set off what Republican lawmakers familiar with the call described as a shouting match between the two men. A furious McCarthy told the President the rioters were breaking into his office through the windows, and asked Trump, “Who the f–k do you think you are talking to?” according to a Republican lawmaker familiar with the call.

The newly revealed details of the call, described to CNN by multiple Republicans briefed on it, provide critical insight into the President’s state of mind as rioters were overrunning the Capitol. The existence of the call and some of its details have been previously reported and discussed publicly by McCarthy.The Republican members of Congress said the exchange showed Trump had no intention of calling off the rioters even as lawmakers were pleading with him to intervene. Several said it amounted to a dereliction of his presidential duty.

“He is not a blameless observer, he was rooting for them,” a Republican member of Congress said. “On January 13, Kevin McCarthy said on the floor of the House that the President bears responsibility and he does.”Speaking to the President from inside the besieged Capitol, McCarthy pressed Trump to call off his supporters and engaged in a heated disagreement about who comprised the crowd. Trump’s comment about the would-be insurrectionists caring more about the election results than McCarthy did was first mentioned by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican from Washington state, in a town hall earlier this week, and was confirmed to CNN by Herrera Beutler and other Republicans briefed on the conversation.”You have to look at what he did during the insurrection to confirm where his mind was at,” Herrera Beutler, one of 10 House Republicans who voted last month to impeach Trump, told CNN. “That line right there demonstrates to me that either he didn’t care, which is impeachable, because you cannot allow an attack on your soil, or he wanted it to happen and was OK with it, which makes me so angry.””We should never stand for that, for any reason, under any party flag,” she added, voicing her extreme frustration: “I’m trying really hard not to say the F-word.””I think it speaks to the former President’s mindset,” said Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, an Ohio Republican who also voted to impeach Trump last month. “He was not sorry to see his unyieldingly loyal vice president or the Congress under attack by the mob he inspired. In fact, it seems he was happy about it or at the least enjoyed the scenes that were horrifying to most Americans across the country.”As senators prepare to determine Trump’s fate, multiple Republicans thought the details of the call were important to the proceedings because they believe it paints a damning portrait of Trump’s lack of action during the attack. At least one of the sources who spoke to CNN took detailed notes of McCarthy’s recounting of the call.Trump and McCarthy did not respond to requests for comment.It took Trump several hours after the attack began to eventually encourage his supporters to “go home in peace” — a tweet that came at the urging of his top aides.At Trump’s impeachment trial Friday, his lawyers argued that Trump did in fact try to calm the rioters with a series of tweets while the attack unfolded. But his lawyers cherry-picked his tweets, focusing on his request for supporters to “remain peaceful” without mentioning that he also attacked then-Vice President Mike Pence and waited hours to explicitly urge rioters to leave the Capitol.A source close to Pence said Trump’s legal team was not telling the truth when attorney Michael van der Veen said at the trial that “at no point” did the then-President know his vice president was in danger.Asked whether van der Veen was lying, the source said, “Yes.” Former Pence aides are still fuming over Trump’s actions on January 6, insisting he never checked on the vice president as Pence was being rushed from danger by his US Secret Service detail.It’s unclear to what extent these new details were known by the House Democratic impeachment managers or whether the team considered calling McCarthy as a witness. The managers have preserved the option to call witnesses in the ongoing impeachment trial, although that option remains unlikely as the trial winds down.The House Republican leader had been forthcoming with his conference about details of his conversations with Trump on and after January 6.Trump himself has not taken any responsibility in public.

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Joe Biden

Biden Administration Moves to Rejoin U.N. Human Rights Council

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President Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from the council in 2018, but the Biden administration plans to “engage with it in a principled fashion” going forward.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is scheduled to announce that the United States will “re-engage” with the United Nations Human Rights Council as an observer

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will move on Monday to rejoin the United Nations Human Rights Council, nearly three years after President Donald J. Trump withdrew the United States from it, a senior State Department official said on Sunday.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is scheduled to announce that the United States will “re-engage” with the council as an observer, the official said. “We intend to do so knowing that the most effective way to reform and improve the council is to engage with it in a principled fashion.”

Mr. Trump withdrew from the council, the world’s most important human rights body, in 2018 over what he and his allies called unfair targeting of Israel. The departure made the United States the first country to leave voluntarily.

President Biden pledged during the presidential campaign to rejoin the council and help overhaul. But doing so is likely to cause a political backlash: Mr. Trump’s allies have warned that rejoining would effectively allow the body to continue ignoring human rights abuses committed by council members such as Saudi Arabia, China and Russia.

Nikki R. Haley, who was the American ambassador to the United Nations when Mr. Trump withdrew from the council, has called it “a cesspool of political bias” and has warned against rejoining.

“If Biden rejoins the council whose membership includes dictatorial regimes & some of the world’s worst human rights violators,” Ms. Haley wrote on Twitter last month, “it will fly in the face of our fight for human rights.”

The United States will return to the council as a nonvoting observer, and full membership will be assessed later this year. The move, reported earlier by The Associated Press, comes at a time when nations facing widespread criticism for human rights abuses have tried to influence how the council assesses wrongdoing. China, Cuba, Eritrea, Russia and Venezuela are all members.

At the same time, critics of the council have long accused it of dysfunction and of turning a blind eye to abuse by some members while punishing others. Last week, 40 House Republicans signed a letter urging Mr. Biden to rethink rejoining, saying the council was “disproportionately targeting” Israel over other members.

“Israel is the only country to be a permanent item on the council’s agenda,” the letter read. “This past year, the 43rd Human Rights Council Session adopted five resolutions condemning Israel, and only one each targeting Iran, Syria and North Korea.”

There are signs that the council is taking steps to change on its own. In January, Fiji, a nation with a record of supporting human rights causes, won election as president, a position that allows significant influence over setting the group’s priorities.

In recent years, Fiji has backed investigations into reported abuses in Venezuela, Belarus, Syria and Yemen, while encountering opposition from other members, including China.

The Biden administration is framing its decision as a way to accelerate those changes, and to rejoin a global community that Mr. Trump largely shunned during his time in office. In his first few weeks, Mr. Biden has rejoined the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, two frequent targets of the former president.

“We know that the council has the potential to be an important forum for those fighting tyranny and injustice around the world,” the State Department official said in a statement. “By being present at the table, we seek to reform it and ensure it can live up to that potential.”

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