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Intelligence Agencies Pushed to Use More Commercial Satellites

Congress wants the government to turn to the private sector to augment the capabilities of highly classified spy satellites.,

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WASHINGTON — A cluster of satellites operated by an American company called HawkEye 360 looked down on the Middle East early this year and discovered radar and radio waves associated with a Chinese-based fishing fleet off the coast of Oman.

When the company matched the data up with information from NASA satellites that track light sources on the Earth’s surface, it discovered the vessels were using powerful lights — a telltale sign of squid hunting — as they surreptitiously sailed into Oman’s fishing waters with their tracking transponders turned off.

The surveillance was something of a technological test — in this case the company did not notify either Oman or China. But the work, company officials said, demonstrated the kinds of intelligence that can be gleaned from their satellites, which have also detected military activity on the border between China and India, tracked poachers in Africa for wildlife groups and followed the satellite phones used by smugglers working refugee routes.

With Congress pushing the Biden administration to make more use of commercial satellites, intelligence officials are starting to award new contracts to show they can augment the capabilities of highly classified spy satellites with the increasingly sophisticated services available from the private sector.

On Monday, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency announced that it had awarded a $10 million contract to HawkEye 360 to track and map radio frequency emissions around the world, information the company says will help identify weapons trafficking, foreign military activity and drug smuggling.

The contract follows a study contract awarded to the company by the National Reconnaissance Office in 2019.

David Gauthier, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s commercial group, said collecting radio frequency data would help “tip and cue” imagery satellites, in essence telling officials where to look. The commercial data is also unclassified, allowing intelligence agencies to more easily share the data with allies and partners.

The expansion of commercial satellites with greater abilities to peer down at Earth worries some civil liberties experts. The ever-growing number of commercial satellites has eroded privacy, said Steven Aftergood, of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

But the government contracts with commercial satellite companies themselves have not yet drawn much criticism, Mr. Aftergood said, because government satellites are far more powerful, at least for now, than commercial satellites.

The exact capabilities of the government’s satellites are closely guarded secrets. However, during the previous administration, President Donald J. Trump posted on Twitter a picture of an Iranian launch site taken by a classified American satellite that had been included in his intelligence brief. The picture was far more detailed than commercial satellite pictures of the same site.

In some quarters of the intelligence agencies, those lagging commercial capabilities have dampened enthusiasm for pushing forward with more private-sector contracts. But Congress is pushing the intelligence agencies to move faster.

The Senate version of this year’s Intelligence Authorization Act contains provisions to increase spending on commercial satellite programs. While the leadership of intelligence agencies is on board, there is still reluctance in some corners of the agencies to embrace commercial technology, according to congressional aides.

Current and former congressional officials acknowledge that the most exquisite and cutting-edge intelligence technology is still designed and operated by the government. But commercial start-up companies are offering ways to cheaply cover much of the world, relieving the workload from the most important government satellites.

The new intelligence bill, if approved by Congress this year, would set up an innovation fund that should make it easier for the National Reconnaissance Office to purchase more commercial capabilities faster and push the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to experiment more with awarding outside contracts to analyze a variety of imagery.

Mac Thornberry, the former Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee who now sits on the HawkEye advisory board, said part of the problem was a reluctance within the government to use a lesser, but far cheaper, product for intelligence collection and analysis.

“Commercial imagery is a great way to keep our eye on what’s happening, so that the more exquisite government systems can be focused elsewhere but we still don’t go blind,” Mr. Thornberry said. “But there is still a cultural discomfort with relying on something that you don’t have control over, or as much control, as you do over your government systems.”

Government officials should realize that a $10 million commercial satellite is not a competitor to the $1 billion satellite built by the U.S. government, Mr. Thornberry said. The cheaper satellite can provide backup as well as help the government satellites work more efficiently.

“If somebody decides to knock our billion-dollar satellites out of the sky or to blind them in some way, we’ve got to make sure we’ve got some backup so that we’re not totally blind,” Mr. Thornberry said.

The resiliency of a system that combines both big and small satellites, government-built and commercial systems is a key part of the strategy at the National Reconnaissance Office, the intelligence agency responsible for many of the government’s most classified spy satellites.

“Our adversaries are trying to threaten and challenge our advantage in space and the capabilities that we provide and have provided for a long time,” said Pete Muend, the director of commercial services program at the National Reconnaissance Office. “A diversified architecture made up of national and commercial satellites operating across multiple orbits is really essential to our national security.”

The National Reconnaissance Office established a program office in 2018 to bring in more commercial sources of information. Since then, the agency has awarded three multiyear contracts that supply up to 100 million square kilometers of commercial imagery every week.

While the National Reconnaissance Office has been mostly focused on acquiring commercial imagery, it has also been looking at other commercial space technology like HawkEye’s radio frequency satellites and others that collect radar data and images from the spectrum beyond what the human eye can detect.

“I wouldn’t say they are able to collect unique areas of the globe, but really it’s a different and complementary way of looking at things,” Mr. Muend said. “We’re really excited about how they can draw insights.”

HawkEye has tracked China’s commercial fishing fleet before, catching ships with beaconing systems turned off and violating protected waters around the Galapagos. But its work in January tracking the fleet improperly entering Oman’s waters was the first time the company had paired its data with NASA’s satellites.

While oceangoing commercial vessels are supposed to identify themselves with transponder beacons, those can be turned off. But HawkEye can identify Chinese fishing vessels by the radio bands their radar emits as they hunt for fish.

“This is further evidence of bad behavior by the Chinese sovereign fishing fleet, which is effectively a plague of locusts to circumnavigate the earth, sucking up natural resources,” said John Serafini, the founder of HawkEye 360.

Neither the Chinese Embassy in Washington nor Oman’s embassy responded to requests for comment.

The company calls its technology an orbital tip jar that can detect anomalies, allowing analysts to direct other satellites to an area to take a look.

“The importance of HawkEye,” Mr. Serafini said, “is that over time it gives you intelligence about the pattern of life.”

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Sinema to Raise Money From Business Groups That Oppose Budget Bill

Five groups invited association members to an undisclosed location on Tuesday afternoon to write checks for between $1,000 and $5,800, payable to Sinema for Arizona.,

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As Sinema resists the budget bill, she is set to raise money from business groups that oppose it.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema has said she cannot the price tag of the $3.5 trillion social policy and climate bill.Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Sept. 27, 2021, 3:37 p.m. ET

Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, the inscrutable Democrat who may hold the key to passing her party’s ambitious social policy and climate bill, is scheduled to have a fund-raiser on Tuesday afternoon with five business lobbying groups, many of which fiercely oppose the bill.

Under Ms. Sinema’s political logo, the influential National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors and the grocers’ PAC, along with lobbyists for roofers and electrical contractors and a small business group called the S-Corp political action committee, have invited association members to an undisclosed location on Tuesday afternoon to write checks for between $1,000 and $5,800, payable to Sinema for Arizona.

Full vaccinations for Covid-19 will be required, according to the invitation.

The planned event comes during a make-or-break week for President Biden’s agenda, when House Democrats are trying to pass a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill that Ms. Sinema helped negotiate, and trying to nail down the details of a social policy and climate bill that could spend as much as $3.5 trillion over the next decade.

Ms. Sinema has said she cannot support a bill that large, and has privately told Senate Democratic colleagues that she is averse to the corporate and individual tax rate increases that both the House and Senate tax-writing committees had planned to use to help pay for the measure.

Image

A portion of the invitation to Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s fundraiser.

In both positions, she is likely to find a receptive audience at the fund-raiser. The S-Corp PAC, for instance, has told its members the rate increases in the package that passed the House Ways and Means Committee “would kneecap private companies” like theirs that pay taxes through the individual tax system, not the corporate tax system.

Eric Hoplin, chief executive officer of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, which buy products from manufacturers at wholesale rates and distribute them to retailers, said in a statement earlier this month: “Passing the largest tax increase in U.S. history on the backs of America’s job creators as they recover from a global pandemic is the last thing Washington should be doing.”

In a lengthy message to members this month, Robert Yeakel, director of government relations at the National Grocers Association, went over a “laundry list of tax hikes that Democrats are contemplating.”

“Even if a handful of moderates balk at many of these hikes (Senators Sinema and Manchin have already publicly opposed the $3.5 number), grocers and other industries are still going to see a jump in their tax bill,” he wrote, referring also to Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia.

In a Senate that is equally divided between Republicans and members who caucus with the Democrats, a single vote can decide the fate of legislation, and Ms. Sinema has not been shy about using that power. Exactly what she will and will not accept in the final bill is not yet clear, but colleagues say she is going through its contents methodically.

John LaBombard, a spokesman for Ms. Sinema, would not comment on the fund-raiser but said the senator “voted yes in August on the budget resolution” that paved the way for a social policy and climate bill that cannot be filibustered by Republicans. He added that she was “working directly, in good faith, on the legislation with her colleagues and the administration.”

Jim Dudlicek, communications director for the grocers association, said the organization would have no comment on the fund-raiser.

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Biden Receives a Pfizer-BioNTech Booster Shot

The move comes only days after federal regulators moved to allow millions of Americans to get Pfizer booster shots.,

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Biden receives a Pfizer-BioNTech booster and urges more Americans to get a first shot.

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President Biden received his third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, days after federal regulators approved Pfizer boosters for Americans 65 years and older, as well as those with medical conditions and jobs placing them at higher risk.CreditCredit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Sept. 27, 2021Updated 2:36 p.m. ET

President Biden may have gotten ahead of the government’s scientists in announcing prematurely that virtually all Americans would begin getting coronavirus booster shots this fall, but he made a show of getting his own. The president spoke briefly before he received a Pfizer-BioNTech booster on Monday afternoon.

“Let me be clear,” Mr. Biden said before he got the shot. “Boosters are important. But the most important thing we need to do is get more people vaccinated. The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing.”

His third shot came only days after federal regulators moved to allow millions of Americans to get Pfizer booster shots if individuals received a second dose of that vaccine at least six months ago and met new eligibility rules. Frontline workers, older people and younger adults with medical conditions or jobs that place them at higher risk got the green light following weeks of intense debate within regulatory agencies that left much of the American public confused about the specifics of the booster plan.

Mr. Biden, eligible for a booster at age 78, has been vaccinated in public before when he got his first Pfizer dose last December, a contrast to his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, who received an early vaccine at the White House but did not talk about it at the time. But Mr. Biden has pursued the opposite strategy.

On Monday, he added to the air of nonchalance around the booster by answering reporters’ questions — about critiques of vaccine policy, infrastructure negotiations and other topics — while getting injected.

World Health Organization officials have called for a global moratorium on booster shot programs until the end of the year, describing them as an unequal and ineffective use of the limited pool of available vaccines. Asked about the criticism, Mr. Biden reiterated that the United States had provided more vaccine doses to the global effort than all other countries combined, and would continue to do more.

Mr. Biden said that about 23 percent of adult Americans had not received a single dose of the vaccine, and they were causing “an awful lot of damage for the rest of the country.”

Asked what vaccination percentage would get things back to normal, Mr. Biden said he was not a scientist, but that so many people “can’t go unvaccinated and us not continue to have a problem.”

Mr. Biden said that he was moving forward with vaccination requirements where he could impose them, and that he planned to travel to Chicago on Wednesday to talk about individual businesses implementing their own vaccination mandates.

A Reuters/Ipsos national survey conducted Aug. 27-30 found that 76 percent of Americans who have received at least one shot of a vaccine want a booster. Only 6 percent do not, the poll found.

Mr. Biden asked on Friday for people who were not yet eligible to be patient. He said that his administration was “looking to the time when we’re going to be able to expand the booster shots, basically across the board,” and that boosters for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were likely in the offing.

“So I would just say, it’d be better to wait your turn in line, wait your turn to get there,” Mr. Biden said.

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Frances T. Farenthold, Liberal Force in Texas and Beyond, Dies at 94

Known as Sissy, she was an advocate for racial parity and women’s rights, and her name was placed in nomination for the vice presidency in 1972. Tragedy trailed her.,

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The year was 1968, the place Corpus Christi, Texas. The scene was a victory party for a Democratic candidate, elected to the Texas House of Representatives the night before.

At the party, a man approached Frances T. Farenthold, a prominent local resident.

“Mrs. Farenthold,” he said, “I had the pleasure of voting for your husband yesterday.”

“Thank you very much,” she replied. “But I think you’ll discover that you voted for me.”

“Well, hell,” the man said, “if I’d known that, I never would have voted for you.”

Ms. Farenthold, a politician, feminist, lawyer and human-rights advocate who died at 94 on Sunday at her home in Houston, became quite accustomed to incredulity on her election and long afterward during her half-century on the national stage.

The victory that night of Ms. Farenthold, widely known by the childhood nickname Sissy, had been no small trick. On her election, she became the only woman in the 150-member chamber and one of just two in the Texas legislature. (The other, in the State Senate, was the Democrat Barbara Jordan, the eloquent Black lawyer who went on to serve in the United States House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979.)

Throughout her career, Ms. Farenthold met with casual condescension — the news media perennially described her as a mother of four — and overt discrimination: As a legislator she was shut out of committee meetings held at an all-male private club in Austin.

Yet during her two terms in the Texas House, from 1969 to 1973, she helped improve legislative transparency in the wake of a government stock-fraud scandal and spearheaded the passage of a state equal rights amendment.

Image

Ms. Farenthold being applauded after she was voted the first chairwoman of the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1973. Credit…Associated Press

She would earn renown far beyond her state, becoming, The Texas Observer wrote in 2007, “a near-cult symbol of the Texas that might be.”

Ms. Farenthold was a two-time candidate for the Texas governorship, the first chairwoman of the National Women’s Political Caucus, a college president and a nominee for the vice presidency of the United States a dozen years before Geraldine A. Ferraro became the first to be chosen for that office by a major party.

In 1975, a Newspaper Enterprise Association panel named Ms. Farenthold one of the 50 most influential women in America, along with Coretta Scott King; Gloria Steinem; Katharine Graham, the publisher of The Washington Post; and the congresswomen Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisholm.

“Even by Texas standards, she is something big,” the Washington Post columnist David S. Broder wrote in 1972.

Ms. Farenthold’s characteristic self-confidence seemed born of charmed circumstance: A child of privilege, she was educated at an elite private high school and an elite college; flourished in law school, where she was one of three women in a class of 800; successfully resumed her legal career after rearing her children; and was long married to a European nobleman.

But as news articles often noted, she also exuded an air of sorrow. A “melancholy rebel,” the Texas journalist Molly Ivins called her.

She had reason to be. For all her advantages, Ms. Farenthold had also known repeated, almost unfathomable loss.

Daughter of a ‘Southern Belle’

Mary Frances Tarlton was born in Corpus Christi on Oct. 2, 1926, to an eminent Democratic family. Her paternal grandfather, Benjamin Dudley Tarlton, had been a member of the Texas House and chief justice of what was then the Second Court of Civil Appeals, in Fort Worth.

Her father, Benjamin Dudley Jr., was a district attorney; her mother, the former Catherine Bluntzer, was, as Ms. Farenthold described her, a “Southern belle.”

Owing to the efforts of a slightly older brother, Benjamin Dudley III, to pronounce the word “sister,” the infant Mary Frances would be known to the end of her life as Sissy.

When Sissy was 2, and Benjamin 3, he died from complications of surgery to remove a swallowed coin. Her parents’ grief suffused the household ever after, she said.

Sissy had her own childhood struggles: She suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia and did not learn to read until she was nearly 10. “I’ll never forget wearing the dunce cap in the corner of the classroom,” Ms. Farenthold told People magazine in 1976.

But exercising the forward momentum that would be a hallmark of her adult life, she made herself into a scholar. After attending the Hockaday School, a girls’ preparatory academy in Dallas, she entered Vassar at 16.

At 19, having earned a bachelor’s degree in political science there, she enrolled in law school at the University of Texas, where her eyes were opened to gender inequality.

“I had never heard of differences in income between men and women for the same work, or of women having difficulty getting into grad school,” Ms. Farenthold told The Christian Science Monitor in 1973. “But there the students would make bets on how long it would be before I would be married, and whether I would make it for six weeks.”

She received her law degree in 1949 and joined her father’s firm in Corpus Christi. The next year she married George Edward Farenthold, a Belgian-born baron who became a Texas oilman.

She forsook the law for more than a decade to rear their five children. Her father, however, continued to pay her bar association dues: He knew she would be back.

In 1960, Ms. Farenthold’s 3-year-old son Vincent bled to death after a nighttime fall that went unheeded. Like several of the Farenthold children, he suffered from von Willebrand disease, a clotting disorder.

“For years after that, if I heard a child cry, it would just tear me up,” she told Texas Monthly in 1992. Yet she was determined, she said, not to reprise her parents’ perpetual mourning.

She returned to work in 1965, becoming the director of legal aid for Nueces County, of which Corpus Christi is the seat. The class and racial inequities she encountered there, she said, would catalyze her political career.

“In our society we believe in attacking the powerless — punishing people for being poor and dependent and having to be supported by public funds, while powerful men are embezzling public money to make themselves rich,” Ms. Farenthold told The Guardian in 1973. “I want equal justice.”

Voters Sent a Woman

Her first House campaign was run on the slimmest of budgets. She refused to advertise on billboards in any case, because she believed they ravaged the landscape. Instead, her supporters fashioned campaign signs from coffin lids and affixed them to the roofs of cars.

An opponent’s sign, meanwhile, read “Send a man to do a man’s job.”

“No race could be as difficult as the one in ’68 was,” Ms. Farenthold told The Chicago Tribune in 1973, “because I was breaking the ice. No woman had run before in the south of Texas.”

Yet on the strength of her reformist populism — she decried the business interests that she felt were running state government — she won

Image

Ms. Farenthold in 2009. The Texas journalist called her “a melancholy rebel.” She had reason to be. Credit…Matt Carr/Getty Images

In her second term, Ms. Farenthold became known as a member of the Dirty Thirty, a bipartisan reformist group of state legislators convened in response to the Sharpstown scandal of 1971-72. In that scandal, senior government officials — among them Gus F. Mutscher Jr., the Democratic speaker of the state House, and Governor Preston E. Smith, also a Democrat — were accused of being allowed to buy stock under highly favorable terms through a Houston banker, Frank Sharp, in exchange for political favors.

The Dirty Thirty (the name, proudly adopted, was an epithet hurled by an opponent) helped bring about greater transparency in state government proceedings, which had often been held behind closed doors with capricious record-keeping and little formal debate.

In 1971, with Ms. Jordan and a House colleague, Rex Braun, Ms. Farenthold sponsored the Texas Equal Rights Amendment. The bill, which prohibited discrimination based on “sex, race, color, creed or national origin,” passed in both chambers. It was approved by voters in 1972.

Ms. Farenthold unsuccessfully sought the governorship in 1972 and again in 1974. (The first woman to hold that post in Texas was Miriam A. Ferguson, in the 1920s and ’30s; the second was Ann W. Richards, from 1991 to 1995.)

Ms. Farenthold earned 28 percent of the vote in the 1972 Democratic gubernatorial primary, finishing second to Dolph Briscoe Jr., a wealthy rancher, who failed to earn a majority. He prevailed in a runoff, went on to win the governorship and was re-elected in 1974.

Three days after Ms. Farenthold’s runoff defeat, the body of her 32-year-old stepson, Randy Farenthold, from her husband’s prior marriage, was found in the Gulf of Mexico near Corpus Christi. His hands were bound and a concrete block was chained round his neck.

The younger Mr. Farenthold, described in the press as a millionaire playboy, had been scheduled to testify in the federal trial of four associates alleged to have defrauded him of $100,000 in a money-laundering scheme reported to involve organized crime. (One of them, Bruce Bass III, was indicted in the murder in 1976 and received a 16-year sentence in a plea agreement the next year.)

Her Name in Nomination

In July 1972, at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Ms. Farenthold’s name was placed in nomination for the vice presidency by Ms. Steinem. The nomination was seconded by Fannie Lou Hamer, the African-American civil-rights activist.

It was not the first time that a woman had been nominated for the vice presidency by a major party: Lena Springs, a Democrat, had her name placed in nomination in 1924, as did the Democrat Nellie Tayloe Ross four years later.

But Ms. Farenthold was the first to garner significant support, earning votes from more than 400 delegates, enough to finish second, ahead of notables like Birch Bayh, Jimmy Carter, Edward M. Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy.

“That was the first time I was supported because I was a woman,” she later said. “I had always been supported despite the fact.”

(The winner was Thomas F. Eagleton, who would step down as George S. McGovern’s running mate after it was learned that he had been treated for depression. He was replaced by R. Sargent Shriver Jr.)

Ms. Farenthold left electoral politics after her 1974 gubernatorial loss.

“What I discovered,” she told The Texas Observer in 2007, “was that political office was a life of constant moral compromise. And I didn’t enter politics with the purpose of compromising my morality.”

In 1976 she became the first woman to serve as president of Wells College, a small liberal-arts college, then for women only, in Aurora, N.Y. During her four-year tenure, she balanced its budget, expanded student recruitment and founded the Public Leadership Education Network, a national organization that prepares women for vital public-policy roles.

As if in fealty to her Texas roots, Ms. Farenthold also studied the feasibility of enriching Wells’s coffers by tapping the vast reserves of natural gas that lay beneath the campus. In late 1980, after she had left, Wells College heeded her recommendation: It drilled — and struck gas.

Returning to Texas, she practiced law in Houston and taught at the University of Houston and at Texas Southern University, a historically Black institution in the city.

In 1989, her youngest child, Jimmy, disappeared, at 33. Jimmy, who was Vincent’s identical twin, was said never to have gotten over his brother’s death; by the time he was a young man he was addicted to drugs and drifting around Texas. Despite extensive searches, he was never found and is presumed dead. (The family held a funeral for him in 2005.)

Ms. Farenthold’s marriage ended in divorce. She is survived by her son George Farenthold II, who said the cause of death was Parkinson’s disease; another son, Dudley; a daughter, Emilie C. Farenthold; a sister, Genevieve Hearon; three grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and a step-grandson, Blake, the son of Randy Farenthold. A younger brother, Dudley Tarlton, was killed in a helicopter crash in 2003.

(Blake Farenthold is a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas who did not seek re-election in 2018 after it was revealed that he had paid $84,000 of taxpayers’ money to settle a sexual harassment suit against him.)

Ms. Farenthold’s many laurels include a lifetime achievement award, named for Ms. Ivins, from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

Her work in later years included agitating for gay rights and against South African apartheid, the Iraq War and the torture of detainees at the United States military prison at Guantanamo Bay. She served as chair of the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank in Washington, and as a human-rights observer in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Iraq and elsewhere.

There remained much to do — enough for a lifetime, as Ms. Farenthold made plain in a 2009 public-television interview.

“I’ve always said,” she declared, “on the way to my funeral, if we passed a demonstration, I’ll probably jump out.”

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Biden received a Pfizer-BioNTech booster.

The move comes only days after federal regulators moved to allow millions of Americans to get Pfizer booster shots.,

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Biden received a Pfizer-BioNTech booster.

President Biden received a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Sept. 27, 2021Updated 1:43 p.m. ET

President Biden may have gotten ahead of the government’s scientists in announcing prematurely that virtually all Americans would begin getting coronavirus booster shots this fall, but he made a show of getting his own. The president made remarks before he received a Pfizer-BioNTech booster on Monday afternoon.

“Let me be clear,” Mr. Biden said before he got the shot. “Boosters are important. But the most important thing we need to do is get more people vaccinated. The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing.”

Mr. Biden’s third shot came only days after federal regulators moved to allow millions of Americans to get Pfizer booster shots if individuals received a second dose of that vaccine at least six months ago and met new eligibility rules. Frontline workers, older people and younger adults with medical conditions or jobs that place them at higher risk got the green light following weeks of intense debate within regulatory agencies that left much of the American public confused about the specifics of the booster plan.

Mr. Biden had been vaccinated in public before when he got his first Pfzer dose last December, a contrast to his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, who received an early vaccine at the White House but did not talk about it at the time.

Mr. Biden, who at age 78 is eligible for a booster shot, has pursued the opposite strategy, and on Friday morning he said that he planned to get a booster “as soon as I can get it done.”

A Reuters/Ipsos national survey conducted Aug. 27-30 found that 76 percent of Americans who have received at least one shot of a vaccine want a booster. Only 6 percent do not, the poll found.

Mr. Biden asked on Friday for people who were not yet eligible to be patient. He said that his administration was “looking to the time when we’re going to be able to expand the booster shots, basically across the board,” and that boosters for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were likely in the offing.

“So I would just say, it’d be better to wait your turn in line, wait your turn to get there,” Mr. Biden said.

Read More
U.S News

Frances T. Farenthold, Liberal Force in Texas and Beyond, Dies at 94

Known as Sissy, she was an advocate for racial parity and women’s rights, and her name was placed in nomination for the vice presidency in 1972. Tragedy trailed her.,

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The year was 1968, the place Corpus Christi, Texas. The scene was a victory party for a Democratic candidate, elected to the Texas House of Representatives the night before.

At the party, a man approached Frances T. Farenthold, a prominent local resident.

“Mrs. Farenthold,” he said, “I had the pleasure of voting for your husband yesterday.”

“Thank you very much,” she replied. “But I think you’ll discover that you voted for me.”

“Well, hell,” the man said, “if I’d known that, I never would have voted for you.”

Ms. Farenthold, a politician, feminist, lawyer and human-rights advocate who died at 94 on Sunday at her home in Houston, became quite accustomed to incredulity on her election and long afterward during her half-century on the national stage.

The victory that night of Ms. Farenthold, widely known by the childhood nickname Sissy, had been no small trick. On her election, she became the only woman in the 150-member chamber and one of just two in the Texas legislature. (The other, in the State Senate, was the Democrat Barbara Jordan, the eloquent Black lawyer who went on to serve in the United States House of Representatives from 1973 to 1979.)

Throughout her career, Ms. Farenthold met with casual condescension — the news media perennially described her as a mother of four — and overt discrimination: As a legislator she was shut out of committee meetings held at an all-male private club in Austin.

Yet during her two terms in the Texas House, from 1969 to 1973, she helped improve legislative transparency in the wake of a government stock-fraud scandal and spearheaded the passage of a state equal rights amendment.

She would earn renown far beyond her state, becoming, The Texas Observer wrote in 2007, “a near-cult symbol of the Texas that might be.”

Ms. Farenthold was a two-time candidate for the Texas governorship, the first chairwoman of the National Women’s Political Caucus, a college president and a nominee for the vice presidency of the United States a dozen years before Geraldine A. Ferraro became the first to be chosen for that office by a major party.

In 1975, a Newspaper Enterprise Association panel named Ms. Farenthold one of the 50 most influential women in America, along with Coretta Scott King; Gloria Steinem; Katharine Graham, the publisher of The Washington Post; and the congresswomen Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisholm.

“Even by Texas standards, she is something big,” the Washington Post columnist David S. Broder wrote in 1972.

Ms. Farenthold’s characteristic self-confidence seemed born of charmed circumstance: A child of privilege, she was educated at an elite private high school and an elite college; flourished in law school, where she was one of three women in a class of 800; successfully resumed her legal career after rearing her children; and was long married to a European nobleman.

But as news articles often noted, she also exuded an air of sorrow. A “melancholy rebel,” the Texas journalist Molly Ivins called her.

She had reason to be. For all her advantages, Ms. Farenthold had also known repeated, almost unfathomable loss.

Image

Ms. Farenthold in 2009. The Texas journalist called her “a melancholy rebel.” She had reason to be. Credit…Matt Carr/Getty Images

Daughter of a ‘Southern Belle’

Mary Frances Tarlton was born in Corpus Christi on Oct. 2, 1926, to an eminent Democratic family. Her paternal grandfather, Benjamin Dudley Tarlton, had been a member of the Texas House and chief justice of what was then the Second Court of Civil Appeals, in Fort Worth.

Her father, Benjamin Dudley Jr., was a district attorney; her mother, the former Catherine Bluntzer, was, as Ms. Farenthold described her, a “Southern belle.”

Owing to the efforts of a slightly older brother, Benjamin Dudley III, to pronounce the word “sister,” the infant Mary Frances would be known to the end of her life as Sissy.

When Sissy was 2, and Benjamin 3, he died from complications of surgery to remove a swallowed coin. Her parents’ grief suffused the household ever after, she said.

Sissy had her own childhood struggles: She suffered from undiagnosed dyslexia and did not learn to read until she was nearly 10. “I’ll never forget wearing the dunce cap in the corner of the classroom,” Ms. Farenthold told People magazine in 1976.

But exercising the forward momentum that would be a hallmark of her adult life, she made herself into a scholar. After attending the Hockaday School, a girls’ preparatory academy in Dallas, she entered Vassar at 16.

At 19, having earned a bachelor’s degree in political science there, she enrolled in law school at the University of Texas, where her eyes were opened to gender inequality.

“I had never heard of differences in income between men and women for the same work, or of women having difficulty getting into grad school,” Ms. Farenthold told The Christian Science Monitor in 1973. “But there the students would make bets on how long it would be before I would be married, and whether I would make it for six weeks.”

She received her law degree in 1949 and joined her father’s firm in Corpus Christi. The next year she married George Edward Farenthold, a Belgian-born baron who became a Texas oilman.

She forsook the law for more than a decade to rear their five children. Her father, however, continued to pay her bar association dues: He knew she would be back.

In 1960, Ms. Farenthold’s 3-year-old son Vincent bled to death after a nighttime fall that went unheeded. Like several of the Farenthold children, he suffered from von Willebrand disease, a clotting disorder.

“For years after that, if I heard a child cry, it would just tear me up,” she told Texas Monthly in 1992. Yet she was determined, she said, not to reprise her parents’ perpetual mourning.

She returned to work in 1965, becoming the director of legal aid for Nueces County, of which Corpus Christi is the seat. The class and racial inequities she encountered there, she said, would catalyze her political career.

“In our society we believe in attacking the powerless — punishing people for being poor and dependent and having to be supported by public funds, while powerful men are embezzling public money to make themselves rich,” Ms. Farenthold told The Guardian in 1973. “I want equal justice.”

Voters Sent a Woman

Her first House campaign was run on the slimmest of budgets. She refused to advertise on billboards in any case, because she believed they ravaged the landscape. Instead, her supporters fashioned campaign signs from coffin lids and affixed them to the roofs of cars.

An opponent’s sign, meanwhile, read “Send a man to do a man’s job.”

“No race could be as difficult as the one in ’68 was,” Ms. Farenthold told The Chicago Tribune in 1973, “because I was breaking the ice. No woman had run before in the south of Texas.”

Yet on the strength of her reformist populism — she decried the business interests that she felt were running state government — she won.

In her second term, Ms. Farenthold became known as a member of the Dirty Thirty, a bipartisan reformist group of state legislators convened in response to the Sharpstown scandal of 1971-72. In that scandal, senior government officials — among them Gus F. Mutscher Jr., the Democratic speaker of the state House, and Governor Preston E. Smith, also a Democrat — were accused of being allowed to buy stock under highly favorable terms through a Houston banker, Frank Sharp, in exchange for political favors.

The Dirty Thirty (the name, proudly adopted, was an epithet hurled by an opponent) helped bring about greater transparency in state government proceedings, which had often been held behind closed doors with capricious record-keeping and little formal debate.

In 1971, with Ms. Jordan and a House colleague, Rex Braun, Ms. Farenthold sponsored the Texas Equal Rights Amendment. The bill, which prohibited discrimination based on “sex, race, color, creed or national origin,” passed in both chambers. It was approved by voters in 1972.

Ms. Farenthold unsuccessfully sought the governorship in 1972 and again in 1974. (The first woman to hold that post in Texas was Miriam A. Ferguson, in the 1920s and ’30s; the second was Ann W. Richards, from 1991 to 1995.)

Ms. Farenthold earned 28 percent of the vote in the 1972 Democratic gubernatorial primary, finishing second to Dolph Briscoe Jr., a wealthy rancher, who failed to earn a majority. He prevailed in a runoff, went on to win the governorship and was re-elected in 1974.

Three days after Ms. Farenthold’s runoff defeat, the body of her 32-year-old stepson, Randy Farenthold, from her husband’s prior marriage, was found in the Gulf of Mexico near Corpus Christi. His hands were bound and a concrete block was chained round his neck.

The younger Mr. Farenthold, described in the press as a millionaire playboy, had been scheduled to testify in the federal trial of four associates alleged to have defrauded him of $100,000 in a money-laundering scheme reported to involve organized crime. (One of them, Bruce Bass III, was indicted in the murder in 1976 and received a 16-year sentence in a plea agreement the next year.)

Her Name in Nomination

In July 1972, at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Ms. Farenthold’s name was placed in nomination for the vice presidency by Ms. Steinem. The nomination was seconded by Fannie Lou Hamer, the African-American civil-rights activist.

It was not the first time that a woman had been nominated for the vice presidency by a major party: Lena Springs, a Democrat, had her name placed in nomination in 1924, as did the Democrat Nellie Tayloe Ross four years later.

But Ms. Farenthold was the first to garner significant support, earning votes from more than 400 delegates, enough to finish second, ahead of notables like Birch Bayh, Jimmy Carter, Edward M. Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy.

“That was the first time I was supported because I was a woman,” she later said. “I had always been supported despite the fact.”

(The winner was Thomas F. Eagleton, who would step down as George S. McGovern’s running mate after it was learned that he had been treated for depression. He was replaced by R. Sargent Shriver Jr.)

Ms. Farenthold left electoral politics after her 1974 gubernatorial loss.

“What I discovered,” she told The Texas Observer in 2007, “was that political office was a life of constant moral compromise. And I didn’t enter politics with the purpose of compromising my morality.”

In 1976 she became the first woman to serve as president of Wells College, a small liberal-arts college, then for women only, in Aurora, N.Y. During her four-year tenure, she balanced its budget, expanded student recruitment and founded the Public Leadership Education Network, a national organization that prepares women for vital public-policy roles.

As if in fealty to her Texas roots, Ms. Farenthold also studied the feasibility of enriching Wells’s coffers by tapping the vast reserves of natural gas that lay beneath the campus. In late 1980, after she had left, Wells College heeded her recommendation: It drilled — and struck gas.

Returning to Texas, she practiced law in Houston and taught at the University of Houston and at Texas Southern University, a historically Black institution in the city.

In 1989, her youngest child, Jimmy, disappeared, at 33. Jimmy, who was Vincent’s identical twin, was said never to have gotten over his brother’s death; by the time he was a young man he was addicted to drugs and drifting around Texas. Despite extensive searches, he was never found and is presumed dead. (The family held a funeral for him in 2005.)

Ms. Farenthold’s marriage ended in divorce. She is survived by her son George Farenthold II, who said the cause of death was Parkinson’s disease; another son, Dudley; a daughter, Emilie C. Farenthold; a sister, Genevieve Hearon; three grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and a step-grandson, Blake, the son of Randy Farenthold. A younger brother, Dudley Tarlton, was killed in a helicopter crash in 2003.

(Blake Farenthold is a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas who did not seek re-election in 2018 after it was revealed that he had paid $84,000 of taxpayers’ money to settle a sexual harassment suit against him.)

Ms. Farenthold’s many laurels include a lifetime achievement award, named for Ms. Ivins, from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

Her work in later years included agitating for gay rights and against South African apartheid, the Iraq War and the torture of detainees at the United States military prison at Guantanamo Bay. She served as chair of the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank in Washington, and as a human-rights observer in El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Iraq and elsewhere.

There remained much to do — enough for a lifetime, as Ms. Farenthold made plain in a 2009 public-television interview.

“I’ve always said,” she declared, “on the way to my funeral, if we passed a demonstration, I’ll probably jump out.”

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Murders Spiked in 2020 in Cities Across the United States

The year-to-year increase in murders from 2019 was the largest since national record-keeping began in 1960. But overall, major crimes declined last year.,

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The United States experienced its biggest one-year increase on record in murders in 2020, according to new figures released Monday by the F.B.I., with some cities hitting record highs.

Although major crimes were down overall, an additional 4,901 murders were committed in 2020 compared with the year before, the largest leap since national records started in 1960. The significant rise in homicides has roughly coincided with the 18 months of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The high murder rate has continued into 2021, although the pace has slowed as the year has progressed.

Overall, the toll of some 21,500 people killed last year is still well below the record set during the violence of the early 1990s. Still, several cities, like Albuquerque, Memphis, Milwaukee, Tulsa and Des Moines, are recording their highest murder numbers ever, according to the report.

There is no simple explanation for the steep rise. A number of key factors are driving the violence, including the economic and social toll taken by the pandemic and a sharp increase in gun purchases.

“It is a perfect storm,” said Chief Harold Medina of the Albuquerque Police Department. He cited Covid-19, the fallout from social justice protests, and bail reform efforts that in some cities saw more incarcerated people released back onto the streets. “There is not just one factor that we can point at to say why we are where we are,” he said.

The report from the F.B.I., which tabulates crime numbers reported by almost 16,000 law enforcement agencies across the country, also showed that murders were more widespread, occurring in all regions of the United States and not limited to major cities. Gun violence claimed a larger share of victims than ever before.

The wider geographic distribution differs from past decades, said Jeff Asher, a crime analyst based in New Orleans. In 1990, New York City and Los Angeles accounted for 13.8 percent of U.S. murders, compared with 3.8 percent in 2020, he said.

Murders so far this year rose about 10 percent from 2020 in 87 cities whose current numbers are available, Mr. Asher said. The F.B.I. reports statistics for the previous year annually in September, so 2021 figures are not yet fully available this year.

The pandemic undoubtedly played a significant role, causing economic and mental stress, forcing people together for longer periods and creating a climate of uncertainty and unease. Millions of Americans lost their jobs, businesses and in some cases their housing because of the pandemic. The widespread sense of desperation helped to fuel social friction and crime. Many Americans also experienced the trauma of losing loved ones.

“People are desperate and they don’t have a lot of options, so they turn toward violence as a way to solve things,” said Enrique Cardiel, a community organizer and public health worker in the Albuquerque neighborhood with the highest number of murders in the city.

The pandemic also meant that police departments sometimes struggled with the number of officers under quarantine, while the pandemic curbed public services like mental health counseling and simultaneously aggravated related problems like homelessness.

“This is a country where everybody is suffering a little post-Covid traumatic syndrome, and not knowing what is going to happen,” said Peter N. Winograd, a professor at the University of New Mexico who works as a consultant for the Albuquerque Police Department. “That is huge.”

The report also breaks down the murder victims by race, ethnicity and sex, with 9,913 Black people killed in 2020, 7,029 white people, 497 from other races and 315 of unknown race. There were 14,146 men killed and 3,573 women.

While various medium-sized cities were rocked by a record number of homicides, certain major cities, while still enduring high murder rates, were well down from their worst years.

New York City, for example, experienced about 500 murders in 2020, compared with 319 in 2019, but both figures were far below the city’s worst year, 1990, when there were more than 2,200. Chicago had 771 murders last year, compared with about 500 in 2019 and 939 in 1992, one of the city’s most violent years. There were 351 murders last year in Los Angeles, versus 258 in 2019; its record is 1,010 murders in 1980.

The protests that erupted after the killing of George Floyd were also an important factor, although experts differ about why. Some argue that the police, under intense scrutiny and demoralized, pulled back from some aspects of crime prevention. Others put the emphasis on the public, suggesting that diminished respect for the police prompted more people to try to take the law into their own hands.

“The distrust of police, the low morale among police, the fact that the police are being less proactive because they are legitimately worried about being backed up by their superiors,” all were contributed factors, according to Mr. Winograd.

Law enforcement officers also cited what they called the revolving jailhouse door created by bail reform as a factor driving up violence, although critics of that hypothesis noted that violent crime also increased in places where those changes have not occurred.

Other factors are more constant. The combination of drugs, money and guns, for example, has long provided a fuse for violent deaths among young men.

“A lot of it really does go back to people stressed by poverty and mental health issues and by drug addiction, and resolving a lot of these disputes by firearms,” said Liz Thomson, who used to supervise homicide investigations for the Albuquerque Police Department.

Even before the pandemic, people seemed more prickly, with minor disputes escalating into violent confrontations that ended in murder, law enforcement and other analysts noted. That tendency only deepened during the pandemic, they said, with perceived personal insults among the most common motivations for murder.

There have been two murders this year in Haskell, Okla., population 2,000 — the kind of small town that did not used to appear on the murder map. One man was stabbed to death in an argument over money, and a young woman was shot dead in a car.

“It is not something that we typically run into,” said Chief Michael Keene of the eight-officer Haskell Police Department.

Robberies were another common reason. And while domestic violence killings dropped slightly from recent years, they were still a factor.

Late last May, the police in southwest Albuquerque were dispatched to an imitation adobe home to discover that Lee Marco Cuellar had murdered his wife during an argument, strangling her to death with a sleeveless white T-shirt.

Mr. Cuellar, 41, an R.O.T.C. instructor at a local middle school, told the officers that after dinner with his wife — Rosalejandra Cisneros-Cuellar, 26, known as Ally — he became convinced that she was a demon who would hurt his family, so he had to kill her, according to the criminal complaint.

Overall, the statistics also indicated that the use of guns has become far more prevalent, with nonfatal shootings rising as well. About 77 percent of reported murders in 2020 were committed with a firearm, the highest share ever reported, up from 67 percent a decade ago, Mr. Asher said. Gun sales spiked during the pandemic, although experts noted that it often takes years for legal gun sales to filter into the illegal market for guns that plague cities like Chicago.

Murders tend to have the most devastating impact of all crimes, and to attract the most attention, but they actually constitute a small percentage of major crimes, a classification that includes rape, armed assault, robbery and car thefts.

Given that people were staying at home far more during the pandemic, some categories like burglaries dropped in 2020, the F.B.I. numbers show. Major crimes overall dropped about five percent. The downward trend in overall crime started for years before the pandemic.

With murders still elevated in 2021, but slowing, it is difficult to predict how long the current wave of violent crime might endure. Crime patterns tend to be cyclical in nature.

The data also shows that the gun violence driving much of the surge is concentrated among a relatively small number of people within communities where retaliatory shootings are more common. The pandemic curbed both the community outreach programs and the policing that helped to keep murders and other violent crime in check.

“It is those people and places, the pandemic’s impact on those people that matters most,” said Thomas Abt, a senior fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice. “For the men who are at the highest risk of violence, living in poor communities of color, typically, they were already under pressure, they were already under strain, they were already marginalized and isolated, and the pandemic exacerbated that significantly.”

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The U.S. Debt Ceiling: Everything You Need to Know

Political polarization turned a tool for fiscal responsibility into a recipe for economic calamity.,

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WASHINGTON — As Congress continues to flirt with the idea of not raising or suspending the nation’s debt limit, economists and scholars are once again considering whether creative escape hatches like a trillion dollar coin or the invocation of the 14th Amendment might help the United States avoid a self-inflicted economic calamity.

Republicans and Democrats are at odds over whose responsibility it is to raise the country’s borrowing cap. Democrats insist that it be done on a bipartisan basis, reflecting the fact that both parties have incurred big debts over the last several years. Republicans, who voted for debt limit suspensions when President Donald J. Trump was in office, now say that there’s no need for them to help because Democrats control all the levers of power in Washington and they are preparing to push through trillions of dollars in new spending on their own.

All of this drama raises the question of what the debt limit really is, how it got here and why the United States does not do away with debt limit entirely and spare the nation from its periodic face-off with an economic time bomb.

What is the debt limit?

The debt limit is a cap on the total amount of money that the federal government is authorized to borrow to fulfill its financial obligations. Because the United States runs budget deficits — meaning it spends more than it brings in through taxes and other revenue — it must borrow huge sums of money to pay its bills. That includes funding for social safety net programs, interest on the national debt and salaries for troops. While the debt ceiling debate often elicits calls by lawmakers to cut back on government spending, lifting the debt limit does not authorize any new spending and in fact simply allows the U.S. to finance existing obligations.

When will the debt limit be breached?

Technically, the United States hit its debt limit at the end of July, following a two-year extension that Congress agreed to in 2019. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has been using “extraordinary measures” since then to delay a default. Those are essentially fiscal accounting tools that curb certain government investments so that the bills continue to be paid.

The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that Treasury will really run out of cash sometime between Oct. 15 and Nov. 4. However, it is more difficult to project the so-called “X-date” because of all the pandemic relief money that the government is distributing and uncertainty surrounding how much tax revenue will be coming in this fall.

How much debt does the United States currently have?

The national debt now stands at $28.43 trillion, according to the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s live tracker. Currently the borrowing cap is set at $28.4 trillion, leaving the federal government with negligible wiggle room.

To offer some perspective on the scale of such a shortfall, the entire U.S. gross domestic product was $20.93 trillion last year.

Why does the United States limit its borrowing?

According to the Constitution, Congress must authorize borrowing. The debt limit was instituted in the early 20th century so the Treasury did not need to ask for permission each time it needed to issue bonds to pay bills. The first debt limit came as part of the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917, according to the Congressional Research Service. A general limit on the federal debt was imposed in 1939.

Do other countries do it this way?

Denmark also has a debt limit, but it is set so high that raising it is generally not an issue. Most other countries do not. In Poland, public debt cannot exceed 60 percent of gross domestic product.

Why is raising the debt limit so difficult?

For many years, raising the debt ceiling was routine. But as the political environment has become more polarized, brinkmanship over the debt ceiling has increased. The House used to employ the “Gephardt Rule,” which required the debt limit to be raised when a budget resolution was passed, but that was for the most part phased out during the 1990s.

During the 2011 debt ceiling battle, some argued that President Barack Obama had the power to unilaterally lift the debt ceiling. Former President Bill Clinton said at the time that if he were still in office he would invoke the 14th Amendment, which says the validity of U.S. debt shall not be questioned, raise the debt ceiling on his own and force the courts to stop him.

Mr. Obama and his lawyers disagreed and opted against that approach. After leaving office, Mr. Obama acknowledged that he and Treasury officials considered several creative contingency plans, such as minting a $1 trillion coin to pay off some of the national debt. In a 2017 interview, he described the idea as “wacky.”

If the debt ceiling disappeared, what would replace it?

The lack of a replacement is one of the main reasons the debt ceiling has persisted. The United States could follow the Denmark model and raising the debt limit stratospherically high. Some have also suggested that it could also force the limit to increase in lock step with new funding.

Would it be a good idea to do away with the debt limit?

Few lawmakers from either party enjoy a vote on the debt ceiling, and the default that would be caused by a failure to raise it would lead to an economic catastrophe. With political polarization in the United States showing no signs of abating, it often seems that the risk of an accidental default outweighs any fiscal responsibility that the debt limit encourages.

However, it would take an act of Congress to do away with the debt limit, and finding agreement there is never easy.

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Liz Cheney Says She Was ‘Wrong’ to Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

Representative Liz Cheney came out against same-sex marriage in 2013. Her sister, who is gay, wrote online at the time that the decision put her “on the wrong side of history.”,

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‘I was wrong’: Liz Cheney announces support for same-sex marriage, reversing a longstanding position.

Representative Liz Cheney’s reversal on same-sex marriage may be more indicative of the country’s evolution than any political transformation of her own. Credit…Pool photo by Chip Somodevilla

Sept. 27, 2021, 12:14 p.m. ET

Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, said in an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday night that she was “wrong” to oppose same-sex marriage, reversing a longstanding position.

“I was wrong,” Ms. Cheney said. “I was wrong.”

Ms. Cheney famously came out against same-sex marriage in a television interview in 2013, while running for Senate in Wyoming, saying she believed “in the traditional definition of marriage.” Mary Cheney, her sister who is gay and married with children, wrote online at the time that Liz was “on the wrong side of history.”

The issue sparked a public rift inside the close-knit and high-profile political family. Dick Cheney, the former vice president and Ms. Cheney’s father, became an unlikely advocate for gay rights when he stated in 2004 that he supported Mary, and that “freedom means freedom for everyone.”

On Sunday night, Liz Cheney said her father had been right the whole time. “I love my sister very much,” she said. “I love her family very much and I was wrong. It’s a very personal issue, very personal for my family. I believe my dad was right and my sister and I have had that conversation.”

She added, “This is an issue that we have to recognize as human beings that we need to work against discrimination of all kinds in our country, in our state.” And she reiterated her father’s famous line: “Freedom means freedom for everyone.”

Ms. Cheney’s reversal on the issue may be more indicative of the country’s evolution on same-sex marriage than any political transformation of her own. Support for same-sex marriage has reached a record high of 70 percent, according to a Gallup poll conducted last June. Among Republicans, support for same-sex marriage was at 55 percent.

Ms. Cheney, who voted to impeach President Donald J. Trump and who was ousted by Republicans in May from her leadership post, has become an unlikely figure of the “resistance.” She has not ruled out a long-shot primary bid against Mr. Trump in 2024 if he decides to run again.

As vice chairwoman of the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, one of only two Republicans on the panel, she has continued to be a vocal critic of Mr. Trump’s lies about the 2020 election.

But in her “60 Minutes” interview, she made it clear that support for same-sex marriage was not part of a larger softening of her conservative stances on many issues.

She reaffirmed that she was anti-abortion and supported gun rights. She insisted waterboarding was “not torture.” She said she did not regret voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and she proudly stated that she voted for Mr. Trump’s agenda more than 90 percent of the time.

Gay rights advocates said they viewed Ms. Cheney’s reversal as something more personal than political, noting that her original stance was more surprising than the reversal. “I think it is hard to hold hate against your own sister,” Christine Quinn, the former speaker of the New York City Council, who is gay, said of Ms. Cheney’s reversal. “We have always said that knowing someone personally who is L.G.B.T.+ is the key to changing people’s minds and identifying new allies.”

Ms. Quinn added: “We all learned this year that time together is not a given.”

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Harriet Hageman Goes From Anti-Trump Plotter to His Champion vs. Liz Cheney

Harriet Hageman, a Wyoming Republican, is the former president’s choice to take on his leading G.O.P. critic. But five years ago, she tried to overturn his victory in the party’s primary race.,

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Former President Donald J. Trump is leading an all-out war against Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming because of her perceived lack of loyalty: After voting to impeach him, she became the voice of Republican opposition to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

But his choice to replace her, Harriet Hageman, was not always a loyal soldier herself. She was part of the final Republican resistance to his ascent in 2016, backing doomed procedural measures at the party’s national convention aimed at stripping him of the presidential nomination he had clinched two months earlier.

Ms. Hageman worked with fellow supporters of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas in a failed effort to force a vote on the convention floor between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cruz, regardless of the results of the primaries and caucuses held across America. Calling Mr. Trump “the weakest candidate,” Ms. Hageman attributed his rise to Democrats who she claimed had voted in Republican primaries.

She condemned Mr. Trump as a bigoted candidate who would repel voters Republicans needed to win a national election, warning that the G.O.P. would be saddled with “somebody who is racist and xenophobic.”

Ms. Hageman’s yearslong journey from Never-Trumpism to declaring him the best president of her lifetime is one of the most striking illustrations yet of the political elasticity demonstrated both by ambitious Republicans in the Trump era and by the former president himself, who has relentlessly asserted his dominance over leaders of his party.

Ms. Hageman is hardly the only Republican to vigorously oppose Mr. Trump and later back him when it proved politically advantageous. Mr. Cruz and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, along with Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, who led the 2016 rebellion at the convention, all became enthusiastic Trump supporters.

None of them, however, have quite achieved Ms. Hageman’s remarkable political transformation, which has not been previously reported. Five years ago, she was a passionate opponent of Mr. Trump who tried to stop him outside the normal electoral process; now, she is his champion in the Republican Party’s marquee showdown over fealty to the former president.

Ms. Cheney’s vocal opposition to Mr. Trump has turned what might otherwise be a sleepy contest for a safely Republican Wyoming congressional seat into a high-profile test case of the former president’s dominance over the party. His obsession with removing Ms. Cheney from office — he has derided her in at least 16 statements since March, including one on Thursday that contained a doctored photo combining her hair, body and eyeglasses with former President George W. Bush’s face — has overshadowed nearly all of his other political efforts, aside from vying to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“It’s going to be the most important House race in the country in 2022,” Ms. Cheney said during a “60 Minutes” interview broadcast on Sunday. “It will be one where people do have the opportunity to say, ‘We want to stand for the Constitution.'”

For Ms. Hageman, joining forces with Mr. Trump to attack an old ally — the two Wyoming women were once so close that Ms. Hageman served as an adviser to Ms. Cheney’s short-lived 2014 Senate campaign — presents an opportunity to accomplish something she has been unable to do without him: win a statewide race in Wyoming.

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Ms. Cheney has vocally opposed Mr. Trump, who has pushed his party to remove her from office.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Ms. Hageman has never spoken publicly about her effort to block Mr. Trump from the 2016 nomination. In a statement to The New York Times, she drew a tenuous connection between her actions and Ms. Cheney.

“I heard and believed the lies the Democrats and Liz Cheney’s friends in the media were telling at the time, but that is ancient history as I quickly realized that their allegations against President Trump were untrue,” Ms. Hageman said. “He was the greatest president of my lifetime, and I am proud to have been able to renominate him in 2020. And I’m proud to strongly support him today.”

Ms. Cheney, who declined to comment or be interviewed for this article, supported Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign. She endorsed him that May and, in October, issued a statement reiterating her support after the release of the “Access Hollywood” recording in which Mr. Trump bragged about groping women.

The daughter of a longtime Wyoming state legislator, Ms. Hageman, 58, built her career as a water and natural resources lawyer fighting environmentalists and government regulations. She became known in Wyoming for her successful challenge of a Clinton-era prohibition on road construction on millions of acres of U.S. Forest Service land. In 2009, a headline in an environmentalist magazine called her “The Wicked Witch of the West.”

In 2016, Ms. Hageman went to the Republican convention in Cleveland as a Cruz delegate after the Texas senator won Wyoming with 66 percent of the vote and 23 of 25 delegates at the state’s county conventions that March.

She had been appointed by the Wyoming delegation to the national convention’s powerful Rules Committee. The big question facing the committee’s members that year was how much say delegates should have in choosing the party’s nominee.

Leading up to the convention, Ms. Hageman joined a small group of Republicans who organized a last-ditch effort to “unbind” delegates. They hoped to insert a conscience provision freeing delegates to vote for whomever they wanted regardless of the results of state primaries and caucuses, a move concocted by supporters of Mr. Cruz to instigate a convention floor fight.

That summer, Ms. Hageman was a regular participant in conference calls plotting the last-gasp opposition to Mr. Trump, long after he had won enough delegates to clinch the nomination. She and other delegates, many of them social conservatives from the West loyal to Mr. Cruz, argued that Mr. Trump was a cancer on the party, chosen by liberal voters in Democratic states to undermine Republicans nationwide.

The Republican National Committee, working with the Trump campaign, did all it could to squash the rebellion.

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Ms. Hageman, center, holding a book; Senator Mike Lee, right; and Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, behind Mr. Lee at back right, were among the Republicans who supported unbinding delegates at the party’s 2016 convention.Credit…Gina Blanchard-Reed

“To vote to free the delegates at that time was considered a capital offense by the Trump campaign,” said Steve Duprey, then a Republican National Committee member from New Hampshire who was on the Rules Committee. “It was clearly an attempt to deny him the nomination, which he had won fair and square.”

Reince Priebus, then the chairman of the R.N.C., held long meetings with Mr. Cuccinelli and Rules Committee members who were seeking to unbind delegates. Ms. Hageman, along with Senator Mike Lee of Utah, who was at the time the highest-profile Rules Committee member involved in the stop-Trump movement, was among the attendees.

It soon became clear the Trump team had peeled away enough support from Mr. Cuccinelli that the vote would not be close. Mr. Trump’s allies forced a vote that would affirmatively declare delegates to be bound by the results of their state’s nominating contest.

When it was time to vote, 87 stood in favor of binding delegates.

Only 12, including Ms. Hageman and Mr. Lee, voted in opposition, far short of the 28 needed to put the question of unbinding delegates to a vote of the full convention, which would have been a potentially embarrassing spectacle for Mr. Trump. Though the fight was over, Ms. Hageman participated in meetings over the next few days in which Cruz delegates discussed whether they had any remaining options to stop Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump, who endorsed Ms. Hageman this month, is aware of her support for Mr. Cruz in 2016 and, during his interview with her this summer before he made his decision, briefly touched on her role in the effort to stop Mr. Trump from claiming the nomination, according to a person familiar with their talks who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the endorsement process. Mr. Trump, who has taken particular pleasure in collecting the support of converted never-Trumpers, worked to clear the Wyoming field for Ms. Hageman, sending a fleet of aides to work for her and asking other candidates to drop out of the race after he made the endorsement.

The former president has for months focused on ousting Ms. Cheney. His aides and his son Donald Trump Jr. tried unsuccessfully in March to change Wyoming’s election law in a way that would have hurt the congresswoman’s re-election prospects.

Ms. Hageman, Mr. Trump said in his endorsement, “is all in for America First.”

It took years for Ms. Hageman to become an unabashed Trump supporter.

When she ran for Wyoming governor in 2018, Mr. Trump endorsed Foster Friess, a billionaire conservative donor who had backed Mr. Trump’s 2016 effort. Mr. Friess, who died in May, finished second to Mark Gordon, who was the state treasurer and is now Wyoming’s governor. Ms. Hageman placed third.

Ms. Hageman was known for her penchant to attack fellow Republican candidates in debates. She did not invoke Mr. Trump or his campaign themes in her television advertising.

“She was talking about state issues then, not anything federal,” said Diemer True, a former Wyoming State Senate president who also served as chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party.

In 2020, Ms. Hageman ran for office again, seeking one of Wyoming’s two posts as members of the Republican National Committee. This time, she aligned herself with Mr. Trump against Barbara Cubin, a former congresswoman backed by party moderates. Ms. Hageman prevailed at a virtual state party convention, 152 votes to 105.

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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