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US politics news summary | 2 October 2023

Update:
A government shutdown has been avoided. Will Speaker McCarthy be able to keep his position? Trump’s tax fraud case heats up... more on this and much more.

US Politics: Live Updates

Rep. Matt Gaetz files motion to vacate Speaker Kevin McCarthy

For some time now, Rep Matt Gaetz of Florida has been threatening to take the gavel away from Speaker Kevin McCarthy to put it in the hands of another Republican. After the top Republican in the House made a last minute proposal on Saturday to keep the government working, which ended up getting overwhelming bipartisan support, his job is now on the line.

Gaetz filed a motion to vacate the speakership on Monday. The House will now have to vote on whether McCarthy gets to keep his job, or start the process of handing the gavel to someone else. Should the latter happen, no work will proceed on passing legislation to fund the government until there is a Speaker. Congress has six weeks to sort out 12 appropriation bills to avoid a shutdown, which was just narrowly averted with the temporary funding extension.

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Trump gets angry, turns beet-red at former tax preparer's testimony

Mazars USA was the long-time accounting firm for Donald Trump and his family business until February 2022 when they cut ties. The decision came as the former president and his Trump Organization were under criminal and civil investigations into alleged inflating of asset values.

The firm said at the time that it couldn’t stand behind the annual financial statements, which were based on information provided by Trump and the company, covering a decade of filings. Also that they should notify anyone who received them that they could not relied on the information in them.

A judge found last week that there was sufficient evidence that Trump and his company were liable for fraud in the civil lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. A trial to decide on what sanctions should be imposed on the former president, his sons Don Jr and Eric along with the companies got under way on Monday.

When his former accountant who handled his personal tax declaration was on the stand, Kyle Griffin reports Trump became visibly upset at the testimpny.

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Trump's former Chief of Staff, John Kelly, goes on record, confirms damning stories about ex-president

John Kelly was Trump’s second White House Chief of Staff between 2017 and 2019. And of the four that served the 45th US President managed to stay in the position for the longest. In an exclusive interview with CNN the retired US Marine Corps general went on the record confirming several damning stories and comments Trump made in private while president.

Kelly has been critical of Trump in past interviews but made clear his view of the former president.

A person that has no idea what America stands for and has no idea what America is all about," said Kelly. "A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law."

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No "motion to vacate" Speaker McCarthy from Rep. Gaetz yet, but will come this week

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz from Florida has been threatening to oust Speaker Kevin McCarthy and hand the gavel to someone else. Currently, he is still looking to get more votes behind the proposed "motion to vacate".

Gaetz says that even if he doesn't succeed the first time he will keep presenting motions as needed. Congress gave itself six-weeks of breathing room to settle budget negotiations. Removing Speaker McCarthy could upend those efforts.

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What needs to happen to avoid a new government shutdown in 45 days?

The latest government shutdown came down to the wire with a stopgap bill to fund the government for six weeks passed at the 11th hour.

But what’s next?

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Donald Trump arraignment: What are the charges listed in the indictments of the former president?

Trump is in court in New York where prosecutors are seeking penalties against him, his sons Don Jr and Eric and his companies for fraudulently inflating valuations by as much as $2.2 billion according to the AG's office. Last week Judge Arthur Engoron, who is overseeing the case found the defendants liable for fraud.

But this isn't the only legal trouble that Donald Trump is facing. This year he became the first former president to be criminally charged, and is now facing four criminal cases with a total of 91 felonies, in both state and federal jurisdictions.

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Images from inside the NY courtroom where Trumps and businesses face trial

The fraud trial against Donald Trump, his co-defendants including sons Don Jr and Eric for inflating the value of his businesses is getting under way. A shot from inside the courtroom catches Trump seated with his lawyers as well as NY Attorney General Letitia James seated behind the prosecution team. The judge overseeing the case, Justice Arthur Engoron, has allowed five photographers and a video camera to record the proceedings.

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NY AG Letitia James speaks before Trump fraud trial "No one is above the law"

Donald Trump is in court today in New York along with other codefendants in a civil suit brought by the state accusing the former US president and his businesses of fraud. In a summary judgement the Justice Arthur Engoron found that enough evidence had been presented to hold Trump and his businesses liable for fraud.

New York Attorney General Letitia James will push for the revocation of business licenses of the businesses involved in the case and a $250 million fine. As well, she is seeking that Trump and three of his adult children, Don Jr, Eric and Ivanka, be barred from running businesses in New York.

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What happens when a Senator dies? How are vacancies filled?

In the Constitution, in Article I, Section 3, requires that each state be represented by two Senators. So, even if a Senator from a particular state dies or leaves office, there must always be two Senators representing that state in the Senate.

In California, where Diane Feinstein recently died in office, there are a few rules.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom appoints Laphonza Butler to fill seat left vacant by the passing of Dianne Feinstein

After the passing of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, 90, was announced late last week, it became the responsibility of Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint an interim senator to fill the vacant seat. On Monday, Gov. Newsom announced that he would appoint Laphonza Butler after publicly stating that he would select a Black woman and not pick one of the candidates seeking the role permanently in 2024. Since 2021, Butler has served as the president of EMILY'S List, an organization that supports Democratic women to get elected to office up and down the ticket. 

 

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Will Donald Trump attend his civil fraud trial in New York?

The civil trial into Donald Trump’s financial fraud is set to begin Monday, 2 October. This latest development adds to the long list of legal troubles facing the former president, and now his two eldest sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, who have also been named in the suit.

The case, presented by Letitia James, New York’s Attorney General, dates back to investigations carried out by her office into Donald Trump’s financial dealings between 2010 and 2021.

In September 2022, AG James made some of the findings of her office’s investigation public, and in November of last year, dates for the civil trial were set.

That trial begins today, and the question on the mind of many watching to see what unfolds is whether or not Donald Trump will be present in court. Read more. 

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The key points of the 45-day stopgap funding bill that helped avoid the government shutdown

The US government has averted a shutdown as both the House and Senate reached an agreement on a short-term funding bill. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law just before the deadline, extending government funding for 45 days.

The salient point is that government workers will still be paid on time. This includes military personnel and workers in national parks.

However, this bill does not include new aid for Ukraine, which was a key demand for Democrats. President Biden criticized “extreme House Republicans” for creating a “manufactured crisis” and urged Speaker McCarthy to pass a funding deal for Ukraine without delay.

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Student loan payments restart in October: What happens if you don’t pay?

With the first round of student loan payments due on 1 October, many borrowers are making new budgets after three years under the loan moratorium. The debt moratorium implemented in March 2020 prevented borrowers from accruing interest and made repayment optional. Debt forgiveness plans died in the Supreme Court earlier this year.

In early August, seventy percent of borrowers surveyed by U.S. News and World Report were unaware that payments were set to resume, giving many little time to come up with the extra dollars to put towards their educational debts. Also in August, according to data from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, household savings, as a portion of disposable income, fell to 3.9 percent (the lowest level recorded this year), with real income falling 0.4 percent since June.

Read our full coverage for details on the penalties for not making payments on one's student loans and the programs available to make said payments more manageable during these tough financial times.

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Ukraine funding excluded from government funding bill

The emergency bill to keep the government open was stripped of any new aid for Ukraine for its war against Russia, something wanted by the Democrats and many more centrist members of the Republican party. 

Presidnet Biden called on Congress to pass a funding bill for Ukraine, but with Speaker McCarthy's position being called into question, such a bill is unlikely to be introduced in the House of Representatives this week. 

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Speaker Kevin McCarthy could be out of a job this week

Speaker McCarthy got a bill to fund the government passed with Democrat support in defiance of the right of his party. Many members of the MAGA faction have already vowed to topple him if he tried to overcome their opposition with Democratic support.

Hardline Republicans in both houses of Congress voted against the motion. The fate of McCarthy's speakership stands on shaky ground as the week begins... 

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Hello and welcome to AS USA's live blog covering US politics...

A happy Monday for hundreds of thousands of federal workers who will continue at their posts with pay after a government shutdown was narrowly avoided this weekend. The bill to fund the government, passed by both chambers of Congress, will keep the government funded for forty-five days... meaning that this process could play out once again right around Thanksgiving. The package passed by Congress includes no funding for Ukraine, and Presidnet Biden called on the legislative branch to act quickly, but with Speaker Kevin McCarthy's position looking vulnerable, it may be unlikely he bring such a bill to the floor (even though it would pass with bipartisan support). 

Former president Donald Trump is dominating GOP primary polls, but his legal troubles continue to grow. Last week, a New York court found him liable for financial fraud, and this week, a civil suit into his financial dealings begins. 

The more than forty million student loan borrowers will be required to begin making payments this month, and if they are unable, interest will begin to accrue on their debts for the first time in three years. However, the Department of Education has implemented an "on ramp" period, which will protect borrowers from collections and having missed payments impact their credit score. 

Follow along for the latest on these topics and more as the day unfolds... 

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