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Thursday | September 16, 2021

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1) Top General Faces Calls To Resign

The Topline: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley is facing widespread calls to resign after reports emerged claiming he’d promised a Chinese military leader he would warn China in advance if then-President Donald Trump planned to attack the country.

Quote Of The Day:

“I hope these reports are inaccurate, but he does need to resign. He needs to resign, and if he won’t resign, he needs to be fired.” 

– Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO)

Mark Wilson/Staff/Getty Images

The Report

This story comes exclusively from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s new book, Peril, in which the authors say General Milley was concerned President Trump might launch an attack on China, so twice he called his Chinese counterpart, General Li Zuocheng, of the People’s Liberation Army. 

In one of the conversations, he reportedly said, “If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise.”

The book says Milley told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) he agreed President Trump was “crazy” and was so worried Trump could start a nuclear war that he made his fellow military commanders swear an “oath” not to act unless Milley was involved. 

Response

General Milley has confirmed he made the calls but did not comment on what was discussed. He also admits to holding a meeting to discuss “nuclear weapons protocol,” but he maintains he did nothing illegal.

President Trump has called for Milley to be tried for treason, saying, “I never even thought of attacking China.”

Calls To Resign

Critics say if Milley were to insert himself into the chain of command on nuclear issues, he would be subverting the civilian command of the U.S. military. Prominent Republicans in Congress have called for Milley to resign, be fired, or even face court-martial. 

General Milley is scheduled to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 28.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Contributor/AFP via Getty Images

2) Newsom Wins Recall Election

The Topline:  The California recall election has been called for Democrat Gavin Newsom, who will remain governor.

Results

With over 9 million votes counted so far, the race has been called for Gavin Newsom, with the “no” vote leading the “yes” vote by almost 30 percent, or well over 2 million votes. There’s still around 30% of the expected vote to be counted, but given his comfortable lead, Newsom is projected to remain in office. 

The Background

In August, the race was very tight, but in the days leading up to the election, the “keep” vote began showing momentum in the polls. Political analysts have cited three main reasons for the outcome:

  1. Newsom essentially mobilized the entire national Democratic Party apparatus to protect his position. 
  2. The Democratic Party successfully repositioned the election from being a referendum on Newsom’s performance as governor to being a referendum on their characterization of Larry Elder as Donald Trump 2.0.
  3. Due to California’s recall policies, Newsom was able to amass over $70 million in campaign funds, while Elder had about a quarter of that amount.

Political Point: For a recall election to even happen in a deep blue state like California should be a warning sign for Democrats, especially since the policies promoted by Newsom and President Biden aren’t as popular in other areas of the country as they are in L.A. or San Francisco.

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

3) Texas Judge Blocks Group’s Enforcement Of Pro-Life Law

The Topline: A Texas judge temporarily blocked some pro-life groups from enforcing the state’s new abortion law banning most abortions after six weeks and allowing citizens to take legal action against abortion providers.

The Ruling

A judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction preventing Texas Right to Life, and others, from suing specific Planned Parenthood facilities — or their doctors, and staff — until a final judgment is handed down.

A trial on the merits of the case has been set for April of next year, so the injunction will likely last until at least that time. 

Response

Abortion activists are generally supportive of the court’s decision, but they’re not entirely happy about the ruling, which only applies to the group named in the lawsuit, meaning the law is still in effect for everyone else in the state.

Texas Right to Life pointed out that, even though they are prevented from suing at this time, the law still remains in effect more broadly, which they consider a win. 

Planned Parenthood was also attempting to reveal the names of pro-life advocates, which Texas Right to Life says was also defeated by this ruling. 

The Law

The new law bans most abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which is usually around 6 weeks. It also allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and those who “aid and abet” illegal procedures.

While “heartbeat bills,” or laws that prevent abortion after a fetal heartbeat, have been passed in other states, they typically don’t go into effect because the courts block them as abortion providers sue. This is because past Supreme Court rulings have decided that states have to allow pre-viability abortions — which is typically up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Remember: The Supreme Court didn’t rule on the constitutionality of the Texas law, so they can still make a decision on it as more people sue.

Biden Administration

Last week, the Biden administration announced it’s taking legal action and suing the state of Texas over the new law which they claim is unconstitutional.

Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Contributor via Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Protests

Protests against vaccine mandates are heating up across the country. In New York City, protesters marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, some shouting chants against President Biden. The demonstrations come after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last month that all public school teachers and staff must get vaccinated by Sept 27.  

Women’s Soccer

On Tuesday, the U.S. Soccer Federation agreed to the demands of female soccer players by offering identical pay structures for the men’s and women’s national teams. The organization said in a press release that U.S. Soccer “firmly believes” the “best path forward for all involved” and “for the future of the sport” is a “single pay structure” for both teams.

A previous version of this article stated that, as alleged in the new book “Peril,” Milley was concerned about the launch of a nuclear attack. It should have stated that he was concerned about the launch of an attack, not a nuclear attack. 

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