U.S News

Cuomo, Trump and Other Politicians Accused of Mistreating Women

Nearly all have faced calls to resign, and only some have heeded them. But few have faced an inquiry as expansive and public as the one into the New York governor’s actions.,

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York is the latest in a long series of political figures who have been accused of sexual harassment or assault. Nearly all have faced calls for their resignation, and some have heeded them while others have steadfastly refused to step down.

What’s the difference between those who stay in power and those who don’t? Party affiliation, for one thing: In recent years, Democratic leaders have generally abandoned those in the party who have been accused of assault or harassment, usually (but not always) leading them to step down and be replaced by another Democrat. Republicans, who have not always faced the same pressure from party leaders, have more typically dug in their heels and stayed put.

That makes Mr. Cuomo’s case all the more unusual: He has made clear he has no plans to willingly leave office. But not since President Bill Clinton has there been such an expansive — and public — investigation of a high-profile politician into allegations of sexual misconduct.

“All this discussion isn’t based merely on press reports, but on a careful and really extensive investigation and legal analysis,” said Emily Martin, a vice president at the National Women’s Law Center. “Some politicians have exploited that sort of inherent uncertainty. They have learned the lesson that if you don’t step down, nobody is going to make you.”

This time could be different. If Mr. Cuomo does not resign, he could face impeachment proceedings from the State Legislature.

The list of political figures who have been accused of sexual harassment or assault is far too long for one article, but here is a look at some of the most recent high-profile allegations in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Image

More than two dozen women have accused former President Donald J. Trump of sexual harassment or assault.Credit…Cooper Neill for The New York Times

Donald Trump

More than two dozen women have publicly accused Mr. Trump of sexual harassment or assault. Just weeks before the 2016 election, a recording from 2005 surfaced of Mr. Trump boasting in vulgar terms about kissing and groping women without their consent.

Mr. Trump acknowledged his remarks at the time, saying in a video: “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” But he also dismissed the conversation as “locker room talk” and later baselessly questioned the authenticity of the recording.

Despite widespread outrage from Democrats and women’s groups, Mr. Trump was not punished for his remarks at the ballot box — more white female voters chose him over Hillary Clinton.

Later, in 2019, the writer E. Jean Carroll accused Mr. Trump of raping her in the dressing room of a department store in New York City. He denied the allegation, and she sued him for defamation, a case in which he carried out the highly unusual legal move of bringing in the Justice Department to defend him.

Al Franken

In 2017, Leeann Tweeden, a comedian and sports broadcaster, accused Mr. Franken, a Democratic senator from Minnesota, of forcibly kissing her during a rehearsal and of groping her for a photo while she slept during a 2006 comedy tour through the Middle East. Mr. Franken apologized, but said he had a different memory of the time.

“I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter,” he wrote in a statement. “There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate.”

Several weeks later, amid calls for his resignation, Mr. Franken stepped down.

Image

Roy S. Moore, a Republican, did not drop out of the race for Senate in Alabama after he faced allegations of sexual assault. He lost to Doug Jones, a Democrat.Credit…Lynsey Weatherspoon for The New York Times

Roy Moore

In late 2017, four women, and then a fifth, said that Roy S. Moore, at the time a Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, had made sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One woman accused Mr. Moore of forcing her into a sexual encounter when she was 14, and multiple women accused him of sexual assault.

Several Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader at the time, urged Mr. Moore to drop out of the race, but he denied all allegations and said they were part of a conspiracy to keep him out of office. President Trump endorsed Mr. Moore about a week before the election, which he lost to Doug Jones, who became the first Democrat since 1992 to win an Alabama Senate seat.

Understand the Scandals Challenging Gov. Cuomo’s Leadership

Card 1 of 5

Multiple claims of sexual harassment. Several women, including current and former members of his administration, have accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. He has refused to resign.

Results of an independent investigation. An independent inquiry, overseen by Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, found that Mr. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including current and former government workers, breaking state and federal laws. The report also found that he retaliated against at least one of the women for making her complaints public.

Nursing home death controversy. The Cuomo administration is also under fire for undercounting the number of nursing-home deaths caused by Covid-19 in the first half of 2020, a scandal that deepened after a Times investigation found that aides rewrote a health department report to hide the real number.

Efforts to obscure the death toll. Interviews and unearthed documents revealed in April that aides repeatedly overruled state health officials in releasing the true nursing home death toll over a span of at least five months. Several senior health officials have resigned in response to the governor’s overall handling of the virus crisis, including the vaccine rollout.

Will Cuomo be impeached? On March 11, the State Assembly announced it would open an impeachment investigation. Democrats in both the State Legislature and in New York’s congressional delegation called on Mr. Cuomo to resign, with some saying he has lost the capacity to govern.

Brett Kavanaugh

Soon after Mr. Trump nominated Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018, three women accused him of sexual assault or misconduct.

One of the women, Christine Blasey Ford, said that Mr. Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when she was about 15 at a party in suburban Maryland in the early 1980s. During hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Blasey Ford said she had feared Mr. Kavanaugh would rape and accidentally kill her during the alleged assault.

Mr. Kavanaugh “unequivocally and categorically” denied the allegation and was confirmed to the court by one of the slimmest margins in American history.

Image

Eric T. Schneiderman resigned from his post as New York attorney general in 2018 after four women said he had physically assaulted them. Mr. Cuomo had urged him to step down.Credit…Richard Perry/The New York Times

Eric Schneiderman

Eric T. Schneiderman, then the New York State attorney general, resigned in 2018 just hours after The New Yorker reported that four women had accused him of physically assaulting them. Two of the women who spoke to the magazine said they had been choked and hit repeatedly by Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat. Though he denied the allegations, several leaders in the party — including Mr. Cuomo — urged him to step down.

“My personal opinion is that, given the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article, I do not believe it is possible for Eric Schneiderman to continue to serve as attorney general,” Mr. Cuomo said at the time.

Read More
U.S News

Biden Officials Open to Tightening Law Authorizing War on Terrorist Groups

At a Senate hearing, officials also urged repeal of the 1991 Gulf War and 2002 Iraq war laws, portraying them as obsolete and unnecessary.,

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is open to several potential ways to tighten a much-stretched 2001 law that serves as the domestic legal basis for the open-ended “forever war” against terrorists around the world, a senior State Department official told Congress on Tuesday.

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the deputy secretary of state, Wendy R. Sherman, favorably — but vaguely — cited ideas to give Congress some role in any future decisions to expand counterterrorism operations to additional terrorist groups or to new countries, as well as to require periodic reviews of such groups and countries.

“I think that there is a lot of work to be done,” she said. “It may be that those kinds of ideas aren’t the right ones, but those are things that we are willing to discuss — as well as other things that the Senate might put on the table.”

Ms. Sherman made her comments at a hearing that was officially devoted to pending legislation to repeal two other aging war-powers laws: the 1991 law that authorized the Persian Gulf War and the 2002 law that authorized President George W. Bush to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein.

The committee has scheduled a session on Wednesday to mark up and vote on legislation to repeal the two laws. The House voted in June to repeal them, and the Biden administration said it supported that effort, saying they were obsolete.

But the Senate hearing on Tuesday repeatedly returned to the far more complicated question of what to do about the 2001 law, which has grown into the basis for sprawling global counterterrorism operations.

Congress enacted the 2001 law to authorize war against those responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But administrations of both parties have used it as the legal basis for military action against targets well beyond Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, including interpreting it to justify warfare against a Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and Al Shabab in Somalia.

When Mr. Biden took office, he imposed new limits on counterterrorism drone strikes and commando raids away from conventional battlefields — places like Somalia and Yemen — by generally requiring advance White House permission. And in April, he ordered a withdrawal of American ground forces from Afghanistan, saying that “it is time to end the forever war.”

But after a six-month lull in American drone strikes in Somalia, the Pentagon in recent weeks has carried out three of them. Each time, it has claimed that the justification was “collective” self-defense of Somali partner forces battling Al Shabab, invoking an exception to Mr. Biden’s general policy requirement to seek White House permission ahead of time.

The Biden White House has signaled no discontent with the Pentagon’s use of that “self-defense” exception to justify a practice of essentially providing close air support for partner forces that go out on missions and then get into trouble, even if no Americans are present and at risk.

The domestic legal basis for airstrikes in both Somalia and Afghanistan is the 2001 war law, known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force, or A.U.M.F. While the Taliban, as Al Qaeda’s hosts, were always understood to be covered by it, the Obama administration in 2016 added Al Shabab to the war by deeming it an associated force of Al Qaeda.

In opening Tuesday’s hearing, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, noted that he had voted for the 2001 law after the Sept. 11 attacks and said, “We never could have imagined it being used as a justification for airstrikes in Somalia or against groups that did not even exist at the time.”

The 2001 war law is broadly worded and contains no geographical limits. But efforts in Congress to update it have faltered for years amid sharp disagreements over how to replace it. Some lawmakers have been unwilling to vote for anything that would reduce the government’s authority to battle Islamist groups, while others have been unwilling to vote for anything that could be interpreted as entrenching the “forever war” or that could serve as a new blank check.

Against that backdrop, Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, voiced skepticism that any new counterterrorism war law would pass Congress. And multiple Republican senators expressed skepticism about repealing even the 2002 Iraq war law, suggesting that it might signal weakness in the Middle East, including to Iran.

While the 1991 war law is regarded as long obsolete, the executive branch has in recent years cited the 2002 war law as purported standing authorization from Congress to undertake very different combat operations in the Middle East than fighting Hussein: The Obama administration cited it in 2014 when it started bombing the Islamic State, and the Trump administration cited it in 2020 when it killed Iran’s most important general, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani.

Both claims were disputed. But Caroline Krass, the Pentagon’s general counsel, noted that in both instances the executive branch portrayed the 2002 law as merely providing additional — rather than necessary — domestic legal authorization for those military operations.

Memorandums by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel approving both operations separately cited President Barack Obama‘s and President Donald J. Trump‘s constitutional powers as commander in chief as providing a sufficient domestic legal basis.

Both administrations also claimed the 2001 war law provided domestic legal authority to battle the Islamic State, which had grown out of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, even though the two groups had split. By claiming it already had such authorization, the executive branch avoided problems with the War Powers Resolution — a Vietnam-era law that requires terminating hostilities after 60 days unless approved by Congress — while Congress has avoided having to cast tough votes.

Since taking office, the Biden administration has carried out airstrikes on Iranian-backed militias in February in Syria, and in June in Syria and in Iraq. Both times, the Biden legal team cited his constitutional authority as commander in chief to defend American troops in the region, rather than the 2002 Iraq war law.

Even as some senators cited Mr. Biden’s powers under the 2001 war law and the Constitution as a reason not to fear that repealing the 2002 war law would limit what the government could do, Mr. Menendez said it was hard to constrain the scope of executive authority.

The Justice Department’s expansive interpretation of presidential war powers, he said, “is a self-serving, one-way ratchet.”

“Over time, it has enabled the executive branch to justify large-scale uses of military force without any congressional involvement, stretching the Constitution in ways that would be unrecognizable to the framers,” he added. “A rebalancing is in order.”

Read More
U.S News

Congress Honors Officers Who Responded to Jan. 6 Riot

The Senate voted unanimously to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the officers, during a week when officials confirmed two suicides of officers who were at the Capitol the day of the rampage.,

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

WASHINGTON — Congress moved on Tuesday to honor police officers who responded to the Capitol attack, clearing a bill to give them the Congressional Gold Medal just days after word emerged that two more officers who were there on Jan. 6 had taken their own lives.

The unanimous vote of the Senate, which cleared the bill for President Biden, came after back-to-back announcements from District of Columbia police officials this week about the suicides of two of the force’s officers who were at the Capitol on the day of the riot, bringing to four the known number of officers who have killed themselves in its aftermath.

Robert J. Contee III, the chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, said on Tuesday that he could not say whether the riot was the cause of the suicides.

“Certainly we’re not able to prevent everything that happens, but I believe that we have a responsibility for our officers who sacrifice so much of themselves and their families to go out to protect the citizens of the District of Columbia,” Chief Contee said in an interview with Fox 5. “The least we can do is make sure that the mental health and well-being is cared for.”

But news of the suicides hung over the action by Congress to honor the police officers who helped defend the Capitol during the riot.

“Jan. 6 unleashed many horrors, but it also revealed many heroes,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said on Tuesday, just before the vote to award the officers Congress’s highest civilian honor. “A day that many of us remember for its violence, anger and destruction was not without its share of bravery, selflessness and sacrifice.”

The newly announced deaths came one week after four police officers who defended the Capitol that day testified about their experiences in excruciating detail before a special committee investigating the riot.

Two days later, Officer Gunther Hashida, 43, a member of the Emergency Response Team within the Special Operations Division who joined the force in 2003, was found dead in his residence, the Metropolitan Police announced.

Then on Monday night, the department disclosed that Officer Kyle DeFreytag, 26, a member of the force since 2016, had been found dead on July 10.

Mr. Schumer called their deaths “heaping tragedy upon tragedy.”

Officer Howard S. Liebengood of the Capitol Police and Officer Jeffrey Smith of the Metropolitan Police, both of whom defended the Capitol during the attack, also took their own lives shortly after Jan. 6. Family members and congressional representatives of both have pressed to classify their suicides as line-of-duty deaths, a move that an aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi told The New York Times she favors, though federal and state laws governing such deaths generally disqualify suicides. Ms. Pelosi called the officers “patriots” and “heroes.”

While there is no official count, experts agree that officers are at a far higher risk of suicide than the general population, and some studies have found that more officers kill themselves than die on the job in other ways. The numbers have fueled greater attention to the mental health of officers and increasing calls to classify police suicides as line-of-duty deaths, much as most military suicides are.

Around 140 police officers were injured during the attack and 15 were hospitalized. Officer Brian D. Sicknick of the Capitol Police died of a stroke after clashing with the mob.

The Senate voted in February to award a Congressional Gold Medal to Officer Eugene Goodman, who led rioters away from the Senate chamber and directed Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, away from the mob.

The House in June expanded the measure to apply to all members of the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police forces who were involved in the Jan. 6 response. That legislation passed overwhelmingly, though 21 far-right Republicans voted against the bill.

When Democrats brought that version up on Tuesday, nobody objected, allowing it to pass without a recorded vote, a rarity in the polarized Congress.

“I am still stunned by what happened in the House, where 21 members of the Republican caucus voted against this legislation,” Mr. Schumer said. “The Senate is different.”

Under the legislation, four Congressional Gold Medals would be issued to honor the officers: one each to be displayed at the headquarters of the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police, one at the Smithsonian and one at the Capitol. The plaque at the Capitol would list all the law enforcement agencies that helped protect the building.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.

Read More
U.S News

Biden Has Blunt Words for Republican Governors on Vaccines: ‘Get Out of the Way’

President Biden signaled a new level of frustration with Republican leaders in states where the highly contagious Delta variant is surging.,

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

WASHINGTON — President Biden signaled a new level of frustration on Tuesday with Republican leaders in states where the highly contagious Delta variant is surging, telling governors in Texas and Florida to help fight the pandemic or “get out of the way.”

While he praised leaders in other states for offering cash and other incentives to entice reluctant Americans to get vaccinated, Mr. Biden singled out Florida and Texas, where cases have risen sharply, for criticism. As cases rise, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has signed an executive order allowing children to attend school without a mask, and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has barred mask and vaccination mandates.

“I say to these governors, please help,” Mr. Biden said. “If you aren’t going to help, at least get out of the way of the people who are trying to do the right thing. Use your power to save lives.”

Mr. Biden and his top advisers have been under pressure in recent days to clarify what is at stake for unvaccinated Americans as the Delta variant becomes the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the United States. Recent public health reversals from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have left some Americans struggling to wade through shifting directives on mask usage and roiling debates about requiring workers to receive the vaccine.

In his speech, Mr. Biden emphasized that the people who got sickest from the Delta variant were unvaccinated, and that his administration was working to make vaccines available to every person who needed one. Fully vaccinated people are well protected against the worst outcomes of Covid-19 caused by the Delta variant.

“I know there’s a lot of misinformation out there, so here are the facts,” Mr. Biden said. “If you are vaccinated, you are highly unlikely to get Covid-19. And even if you do, the chances are you won’t show any symptoms. And if you do, they’ll most likely be very mild. Vaccinated people are almost never hospitalized with Covid-19.”

The White House has also struggled to put into context the threat of the Delta variant to those who are vaccinated. Experts say that infections in vaccinated people — so-called breakthrough infections — are still relatively uncommon, and that even in those cases, the vaccines appear to protect against severe illness and death.

Mr. Biden suggested that his race to encourage Americans to get their shots was bumping up against contradictory directives in states like Florida and Texas.

“I believe the results of their decisions are not good for their constituents,” Mr. Biden said when asked if the governors in those states were harming their citizens. “And it’s clear to me and to most of the medical experts of the decisions being made, like not allowing mask mandates in the schools and the like, are bad health policy.”

Mr. Biden reiterated his earlier announcement that federal workers must be vaccinated or subject to strict requirements.

“If you want to do business with the federal government,” he said, “get your workers vaccinated.”

He added that the private sector, including companies like Walmart, Google and Tyson Foods, was taking similar steps.

“Even Fox has vaccination requirements,” Mr. Biden said.

The president also had positive news to share: He said that over the past two weeks, the eight states with the highest case rates had doubled the number of people getting vaccinated each day, and that vaccination rates were rising across the country after slumping earlier in the summer. An average of 369,809 people a day have received their first vaccine dose in the past week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nationally, new cases have reached an average of about 86,000 a day as of Monday, a major jump from about 13,000 daily cases a month ago but still far fewer than in January. Hospitalizations have risen as well, but hospitalizations and deaths remain a small fraction of their devastating winter peaks.

Understand the State of Vaccine Mandates in the U.S.

College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated for Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine, citing rising caseloads fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their work force. In N.Y.C., workers in city-run hospitals and health clinics will be required to get vaccinated or else get tested on a weekly basis.Federal employees. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel. State workers in New York will face similar restrictions.Can your employer require a vaccine? Companies can require workers entering the workplace to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to recent U.S. government guidance.

Mr. Biden also announced Tuesday that the United States had donated more than 110 million vaccine doses globally, a down payment on a pledge he made to send a half a billion doses of vaccine to poorer countries over the next year.

Mr. Biden, who for months was under pressure to share vaccine doses, is now seeking to position his administration as a global leader in inoculating the rest of the world amid the spread of highly contagious variants of the virus.

“The virus knows no boundaries,” Mr. Biden said. “You can’t build a wall high enough to keep it out.”

Mr. Biden’s pledge to donate 500 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses is by far the largest by a single country, but it would fully inoculate only about 3 percent of the world’s population. The United States will pay $3.5 billion for the Pfizer-BioNTech shots, about $7 apiece, which Pfizer described as a “not for profit” price — much less than the $20 it has paid for domestic use.

In a fact sheet released on Tuesday, the administration said it would work with programs focused on the equitable distribution of vaccines, including Covax, to ensure that the doses arrived in the countries most in need.

But health officials in countries that have received some of the doses have warned that additional funding is needed to train people to administer the shots and fuel vehicles that transport the vaccines to clinics in remote areas.

Read More
U.S News

F.D.A. Aims to Give Final Approval to Pfizer Vaccine by Early Next Month

The Food and Drug Administration’s move is expected to kick off more vaccination mandates for hospital workers, college students and federal troops.,

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

WASHINGTON — With a new surge of Covid-19 infections ripping through much of the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has accelerated its timetable to fully approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, aiming to complete the process by the start of next month, people involved in the effort said.

President Biden said last week that he expected a fully approved vaccine in early fall. But the F.D.A.’s unofficial deadline is Labor Day or sooner, according to multiple people familiar with the plan. The agency said in a statement that its leaders recognized that approval might inspire more public confidence and had “taken an all-hands-on-deck approach” to the work.

Giving final approval to the Pfizer vaccine — rather than relying on the emergency authorization granted late last year by the F.D.A. — could help increase inoculation rates at a moment when the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus is sharply driving up the number of new cases.

A number of universities and hospitals, the Defense Department and at least one major city, San Francisco, are expected to mandate inoculation once a vaccine is fully approved. Final approval could also help mute misinformation about the safety of vaccines and clarify legal issues about mandates.

Federal regulators have been under growing public pressure to fully approve Pfizer’s vaccine ever since the company filed its application on May 7. “I just have not sensed a sense of urgency from the F.D.A. on full approval,” Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said in an interview on Tuesday. “And I find it baffling, given where we are as a country in terms of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.”

Although 192 million Americans — 58 percent of the total population and 70 percent of the nation’s adults — have received at least one vaccine shot, many remain vulnerable to the ultracontagious, dominant Delta variant. The country is averaging nearly 86,000 new infections a day, an increase of 142 percent in just two weeks, according to a New York Times database.

Recent polls by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been tracking public attitudes during the pandemic, have found that three of every 10 unvaccinated people said that they would be more likely to get a shot with a fully approved vaccine. But the pollsters warned that many respondents did not understand the regulatory process and might have been looking for a “proxy” justification not to get a shot.

Moderna, the second most widely used vaccine in the United States, filed for final approval of its vaccine on June 1. But the company is still submitting data and has not said when it will finish. Johnson & Johnson, the third vaccine authorized for emergency use, has not yet applied but plans to do so later this year.

Full approval of the Pfizer vaccine will kick off a patchwork of vaccination mandates across the country. Like most other employees of federal agencies, civilians working for the Defense Department must be vaccinated or face regular testing. But the military has held off on ordering shots for 1.3 million active-duty service members until the F.D.A. acts.

The City of San Francisco has said its roughly 44,500 employees must be fully vaccinated within 10 weeks of F.D.A. approval. The State University of New York, with roughly 400,000 students, is on a parallel track.

A number of health care systems have issued similar mandates to employees, including Beaumont Health, the largest health provider in Michigan, with 33,000 employees, and Mass General Brigham in Massachusetts, with about 80,000 workers.

Full approval typically requires the F.D.A. to review hundreds of thousands of pages of documents — roughly 10 times the data required to authorize a vaccine on an emergency basis. The agency can usually complete a priority review within six to eight months and was already working on an expedited timetable for the Pfizer vaccine. The F.D.A.’s decision to speed up was reported last week by Stat News.

In a guest essay in The Times last month, Dr. Peter Marks, the agency’s top vaccine regulator, wrote that undue haste “would undermine the F.D.A.’s statutory responsibilities, affect public trust in the agency and do little to help combat vaccine hesitancy.”

The regulators want to see real-world data on how the vaccine has been working since they authorized it for emergency use in December. That means verifying the company’s data on vaccine efficacy and immune responses, reviewing how efficacy or immunity might decline over time, examining new infections in participants in continuing clinical trials, reviewing adverse reactions to vaccinations and inspecting manufacturing plants.

At the same time, senior health officials at the F.D.A. and other agencies are grappling with whether at least some people who are already vaccinated need booster shots. Several officials are arguing that boosters will be widely needed before long, while others contend that the scientific basis for them remains far from settled.

Two people familiar with the deliberations, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that if booster shots are needed, the administration wants a single strategy for all three vaccines currently authorized for emergency use.

Different recommendations on boosters for different vaccines, they said, could confuse the public. Fully approving a vaccine and then authorizing a booster for it soon after might also offer conflicting messages about its effectiveness.

Understand the State of Vaccine Mandates in the U.S.

College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated for Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine, citing rising caseloads fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their work force. In N.Y.C., workers in city-run hospitals and health clinics will be required to get vaccinated or else get tested on a weekly basis.Federal employees. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel. State workers in New York will face similar restrictions.Can your employer require a vaccine? Companies can require workers entering the workplace to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to recent U.S. government guidance.

While research is continuing, senior administration officials increasingly believe that at the least, vulnerable populations like those with compromised immune systems and older people will need them, according to people familiar with their thinking. But when to administer them, which vaccine to use and who should get shots are all still being discussed.

In a study posted online last week, Pfizer and BioNTech scientists reported that the effectiveness of Pfizer’s vaccine against symptomatic disease fell from about 96 percent to about 84 percent four to six months after the second shot, but continued to offer robust protection against hospitalization and severe disease.

Administration officials said Moderna and Johnson & Johnson needed to present data as well and Moderna had been asked to do so quickly. Officials have said other studies will also influence their decision-making, including data that the government is collecting on the rate of breakthrough infections among tens of thousands of people, including health care workers.

Pfizer is expected to submit an application for a booster shot to the F.D.A. this month. While the F.D.A. could authorize such shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would need to recommend them after a meeting of its outside committee of experts.

A decision to fully approve Pfizer’s vaccine will give doctors more latitude to prescribe additional shots at least for certain Americans, including those with weakened immune systems. The C.D.C. had been exploring possible special programs for that group, but administration officials said it became clear that by the time any such initiative got underway, the Pfizer vaccine would already be fully approved and doctors could prescribe a third shot.

Roughly 3 percent of Americans — or about 10 million people, by some estimates — have compromised immune systems as a result of cancer, organ transplants or other medical conditions, according to the C.D.C. While studies indicate that the vaccines work well for some of them, others do not produce the immune response that would protect them from the virus.

Some people are trying to get booster shots from pharmacies or other providers on their own, without waiting for the federal government’s blessing. Officials in Contra Costa County, home to 1.1 million people in Northern California, were so eager to offer boosters that on July 23 they told vaccine providers to give extra shots to people who asked for them “without requiring further documentation or justification.”

Then, realizing that policy violated the F.D.A. rules on vaccines authorized for emergency use, the county reversed it this week.

Jennifer Steinhauer contributed reporting. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

Read More
U.S News

As Virus Cases Spike in Arkansas, the Governor Backtracks on Masks

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a law banning mask mandates. Now he wants to unravel it, reflecting the dilemma for Republican governors across the South, where the health crisis has deepened.,

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In March, with the number of new coronavirus cases plummeting in Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson let expire the statewide mask mandate that some of his fellow Republicans had opposed from the beginning.

Soon thereafter, Mr. Hutchinson went a step further, signing legislation that blocked most government entities in the state from instituting any future mask mandates.

The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Trent Garner, would later write on Twitter that it was “one of the most important laws we passed.”

“The left wants more control over YOU and your children’s lives,” he continued. “Masking is now about power, not public safety.”

Mr. Hutchinson, a relatively moderate Republican, did not see much harm in it at the time. “Our cases were at a very low point,” he recalled in a news conference on Tuesday. However, he added, “In hindsight, I wish that it had not become law.”

In recent days, as coronavirus cases fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant have skyrocketed in Arkansas, Mr. Hutchinson has backtracked, and is now urging state legislators to undo part of the law so school districts may adopt mask mandates before students return to their classrooms en masse.

In so doing, he has incensed the most conservative members of his base, underscoring a broader dilemma facing Republican governors across the South, where new coronavirus infections are once again spiking, but where hard-line conservatives remain adamant that many regulations seeking to contain the spread of the virus are a threat to personal freedom.

Image

Legislators are expected to meet on Wednesday to consider Mr. Hutchinson’s proposal allowing school districts to impose mask mandates.Credit…Rory Doyle for The New York Times

In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order banning school mask mandates. In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves has said he will not issue a mask mandate for schools. In Florida on Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis also renewed a vow not to impose a mask mandate or business restrictions, despite worrying caseloads. “We are not shutting down,” he said at a news conference. “We are going to have schools open. We are protecting every Floridian’s job in this state.”

In Arkansas, the drama in the seat of government unfolded as Tyson Foods, the meat processing giant and one of Arkansas’s signature employers, said on Tuesday that it would require vaccines for its U.S. workers. About half of Tyson’s U.S. employees remain unvaccinated, and the company is offering $200 payments to frontline workers who can show proof of vaccination.

Mr. Hutchinson, a term-limited, second-term governor who many think has an eye on higher office, called a special session of the Republican-controlled legislature that is expected to meet on Wednesday to consider his proposal allowing school districts to set their own mask mandates.

But on Tuesday, he indicated that its chances of passage were dim. “It’s clear to me that there’s many that just don’t want this in their lap,” he said. “It’s clear to me that some school superintendents don’t want it either.”

“We may or may not get there,” he added.

The stakes in Arkansas are high. About 58 percent of Arkansas adults have had at least one vaccine shot, the 11th-lowest rate in the nation, while the rate of new cases in the past seven days is 63 per 100,000 residents, the third-highest in the United States, behind Louisiana and Florida, according to data from The New York Times. Three other Southern states — Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina — are also in the top 10 for per capita new cases.

Image

Nurses tended to a Covid-19 patient on a ventilator in Mountain Home, Ark., in July.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Arkansas officials reported on Monday that 81 coronavirus-infected patients had been newly hospitalized, the largest one-day increase of the pandemic, according to The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. At his Tuesday news conference, Mr. Hutchinson reported a big surge in the number of administered vaccines in the last 24-hour reporting period. He also reported that 30 more people had been hospitalized, placing a growing strain on intensive care units and ventilators. The unvaccinated have made up a vast majority of the sick and dead in recent months.

Jose R. Romero, the state health secretary, spoke of the “sobering” reality for children, and for schools: As of Aug. 1, he said, nearly 19 percent of the state’s active cases were in children under 18. More than half of them, he said, were children who are under 12 and thus ineligible for the vaccines.

“We do have a vulnerable group that is not eligible for the vaccine,” Mr. Hutchinson said. His proposal, he said, would “give local school districts the flexibility to add protection for children under 12.”

Public health experts support the use of masks in certain settings to shield people from the virus and slow the pandemic.

But the grass-roots opposition was evident on Monday at Arkansas’s handsome limestone State Capitol building, where scores of conservatives gathered on the steps to protest the proposed change amid a sea of American flags, homemade anti-mask signs and Trump paraphernalia.

“Masks are dumb!” a 10-year-old girl named Samantha told the cheering crowd. In an interview after the rally, Courtney Roldan, the mother of a third-grade student from Cabot, said masks were “not protecting our kids from anything.”

Another attendee, Brian Hinson, an unvaccinated retiree from Central Arkansas, declared the vaccination effort Mr. Hutchinson has championed to be “Nazi crap.”

Image

Anti-vaccine protesters at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home.Credit…Chris Fulton/The Baxter Bulletin via Imagn

Around the time the Arkansas law banning mask mandates was approved, some health experts had warned that it could tie the hands of local governments in the event of a new pandemic surge. In an interview this week, State Senator Keith Ingram, the minority leader, said it was a mistake for the governor to sign it. But he and other Democrats said that before that moment, Mr. Hutchinson had competently steered the state through the first wave of the pandemic.

Mr. Ingram suspected that a political calculation underpinned the governor’s decision to sign the bill. Mr. Hutchinson, 70, has previously served as a federal prosecutor, member of Congress and head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and he was recently elected chairman of the National Governors Association. He appears to be trying to remain in good standing with the right-moving Republican base even while emerging as a critic of former President Donald J. Trump.

“I think he was trying to walk that fine line between doing what he felt was right and doing what, politically, he had to do with an irksome legislature,” Mr. Ingram said.

Understand the State of Vaccine Mandates in the U.S.

College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities are requiring students to be vaccinated for Covid-19. Almost all are in states that voted for President Biden.Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and major health systems are requiring employees to get the Covid-19 vaccine, citing rising caseloads fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their work force. In N.Y.C., workers in city-run hospitals and health clinics will be required to get vaccinated or else get tested on a weekly basis.Federal employees. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees must be vaccinated against the coronavirus or be forced to submit to regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel. State workers in New York will face similar restrictions.Can your employer require a vaccine? Companies can require workers entering the workplace to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to recent U.S. government guidance.

Mr. Hutchinson has also portrayed himself as a leader guided by science and common sense during the pandemic, and in recent weeks he has held events across the state in an effort to convince vaccine skeptics to get the shot. The reaction has often been hostile.

At a town hall-style meeting in Siloam Springs, they shouted “liar” at him. At another, in Mountain Home, protesters hoisted signs declaring “My body, my choice” and “Say no to mandated jabs,” even though Mr. Hutchinson signed a law in the spring outlawing vaccine mandates.

Some school officials are hoping Mr. Hutchinson will somehow score a win this week in the legislature. Glen Fenter is the superintendent in the Marion School District, which started classes on July 26. He said that seven students and three staff members were found to have Covid-19 last week, forcing 168 people to quarantine. On Monday, he said, 18 more people tested positive.

Image

Mike Poore, the superintendent of the Little Rock School District, said officials were considering a lawsuit if legislators did not change the law banning mask mandates.Credit…Rory Doyle for The New York Times

“If we simply were wearing masks in the way we did during the first wave of the pandemic, all of this could be contained while we are increasing our rate of vaccination,” Dr. Fenter said.

Two parents of Little Rock-area schoolchildren, meanwhile, filed a lawsuit this week challenging the constitutionality of the ban on mask mandates, calling it “an irrational act of legislative madness that threatens K-12 public school children with irreparable harm.”

Mike Poore, the superintendent of the Little Rock School District, said on Monday that officials there might file a separate suit if the law was not changed.

“Hey, I love what Governor Hutchinson’s been trying to do,” Mr. Poore said. But if he is not successful in changing the law, Mr. Poole said, the courts may be the only way “to make sure that we try everything we can to support and protect our staff and students.”

Read More
U.S News

U.S. Airstrikes in Afghanistan Could Be a Sign of What Comes Next

American forces have stepped up a bombing campaign, but the White House and the Pentagon insist these are the final days of combat support.,

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

WASHINGTON — The White House authorization of one more bombing campaign in Afghanistan, just weeks before the U.S. military mission is set to end, has a modest stated goal — to buy time for Afghan security forces to marshal some kind of defense around the major cities that are under siege by a surging Taliban.

But the dozens of airstrikes, which began two weeks ago as the Taliban pushed their front lines deep into urban areas, also laid bare the big question now facing President Biden and the Pentagon as the United States seeks to wind down its longest war. Will the American air campaign continue after Aug. 31, the date the president has said would be the end of combat involvement in Afghanistan?

The White House and the Pentagon insist these are truly the final days of American combat support, after the withdrawal of most troops this summer after 20 years of war. Beginning next month, the president has said, the United States will engage militarily in Afghanistan only for counterterrorism reasons, to prevent the country from becoming a launchpad for attacks against the West. That would give Afghan security forces mere weeks to fix years of poor leadership and institutional failures, and rally their forces to defend what territory they still control.

Pentagon and White House officials say the current air campaign can blunt the Taliban’s momentum by destroying some of their artillery and other equipment, and lift the sagging morale of Afghan security forces.

But administration officials say the Pentagon will most likely request authorization from the president for another air campaign in the next months, should Kandahar or Kabul, the capital, appear on the verge of falling. Mr. Biden appeared to hold out that possibility last month when he said that the United States had “worked out an over-the-horizon capacity that can be value added” if Kabul came under serious threat, phrasing the military often uses to suggest possible airstrikes.

Such a move would foreshadow the inching toward a longer campaign that could give Mr. Biden space between his decision to withdraw American troops and an eventual fall of Kabul, and the possible specter of evacuations of the U.S. and other Western embassies, like the scene that preceded the fall of Saigon in 1975, when Americans were evacuated from a rooftop by helicopter.

Mr. Biden’s aides say that he is aware of the risks, but that he remains skeptical of any effort by the Pentagon that looks as though it is prolonging the American military engagement. Still, officials say that they expect Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to approach Mr. Biden at the end of August about the possibility of continuing airstrikes into September if the Taliban look as if they are about to overrun key population centers.

Image

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, left, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, plan to approach President Biden about the possibility of continuing airstrikes if the Taliban are positioned to take over key cities.Credit…Olivier Douliery/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Already, the Taliban have been making advances, sweeping through the Afghan countryside and closing in on the center of Kandahar. Taliban fighters launched rockets over the weekend at the airport in Kandahar, and fierce fighting near Herat shut down the airport there.

At the moment, the official line from the White House and the Pentagon is that these are truly the final days of American combat support.

“My personal belief is that the closer the Taliban get to the urban areas, I think the fighting gets more intense, and they can’t take advantage like they could in the rural areas,” said Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the former commander of United States Central Command. “As they get to the built-up areas, where there’s leadership in place who will be fighting for their lives, I think those fights will become more difficult.”

But that has not been the case in recent days and weeks, as Taliban fighters have entered several provincial capitals such as Kunduz in the north, Kandahar and Lashkar Gah in the south and Herat in the west.

Even with American B-52 bombers and AC-130 gunships helping where they can, the Taliban have pushed into Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province.

One Afghan officer in the city described the situation last week as “hell.” Even now, with reinforcements and continued American airstrikes — there were at least two on Monday morning — fighting was still continuing in nearly every part of the city.

But helping Afghan partners fight for their lives is the point of the stepped-up bombing campaign, military officials said.

Mohammad Sadiq Essa, a spokesman for the Afghan Army corps fighting in Kandahar, said the U.S. strikes had been useful in “busting the momentum of the Taliban.” But continued strikes from both U.S. and Afghan aircraft, especially around urban areas, run the risk of causing a high number of civilian casualties.

Image

Afghan special forces training in Kabul last month. The U.S. is hoping to buy time for Afghan security forces to marshal a defense around the major cities that are under siege by the Taliban. Credit…Rahmat Gul/Associated Press

Since the U.S. military began its official withdrawal in May, thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded — the highest number recorded for the May-to-June period since the United Nations began monitoring these casualties in 2009.

Mr. Biden, in announcing the withdrawal of U.S. troops, initially gave Sept. 11 as the date when the American combat mission was to end. Then last month, he said it would wrap up by Aug. 31. That gave the Pentagon — and Afghan forces — just over a month to slow the Taliban surge.

“We’re prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the top American general overseeing operations in Afghanistan, said last week in explaining the intensified airstrikes.

What is happening now echoes the past. After the end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014, the Obama administration had to backtrack and permit more airstrikes for the Afghan security forces as they lost the bases and outposts that international forces had transferred to them.

In the past, air power has not been enough unless it was accompanied by a competent force on the ground. Right now, those forces are still lacking, with the Afghan military relying on an exhausted commando corps to fill in for many police officers who have fled or surrendered and army troops who refuse to fight or even venture outside their bases.

Administration and military officials have voiced conflicting views on whether the United States will continue airstrikes after Aug. 31 to prevent Afghan cities and the Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, from falling. General McKenzie declined last week to say that U.S. airstrikes would end at the end of the month.

Mr. Biden has been clear in meetings with his senior aides and advisers that continued American bombing runs from the skies over Afghanistan after the pullout are not what he wants, administration officials said. But his hand might be forced if Taliban forces are on the verge of overrunning Kandahar or even Kabul, where the United States maintains an embassy, with some 4,000 people.

Image

An honor guard during the arrival of President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul this week. Mr. Biden appeared to hold out the option that the U.S. could help if Kabul was in imminent danger.Credit…Wakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Afghan military is trying to hold key cities and roads, a strategy that American military officers have pushed for years while the Afghan security forces, backed by U.S. air power, clung to far-flung, isolated and indefensible districts after the U.S. combat mission ended in 2014. Afghan officials largely ignored the suggestions until now, unwilling to cede any territory — despite its strategic insignificance — to the insurgents.

So for the time being, the United States is trying to make the fight as difficult as it can for the Taliban. “This is about buying time,” General Votel said in an interview. “It’s about blunting and slowing down the Taliban and helping the Afghans to get a little more organized.”

Defense Department officials said they expected the strikes, up to five a day, to continue at least through August. The attacks, carried out by armed Reaper drones and AC-130 aerial gunships, are targeting specific Taliban equipment, including heavy artillery, that could be used to threaten population centers, foreign embassies, Afghan government buildings or compounds, or airports, officials said.

A Taliban official shrugged off the presence of hulking B-52 bombers that have appeared in Afghanistan’s skies, though officially the group has decried the bombings as a breach of the 2020 peace agreement with the United States and promised consequences.

The American airstrikes have underscored the shortcomings of the Afghan Air Force, which U.S. officials say is overstretched and breaking down.

“All of the Afghan Air Force’s aircraft platforms are overtaxed due to increased requests for close air support, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance missions and aerial resupply now that the ANDSF largely lacks U.S. air support,” the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction said in a report released last week, referring to Afghan security forces.

The departure of all but a couple of hundred U.S. aircraft maintenance contractors has led to sharp decreases in readiness rates for five of the seven aircraft in the Afghan air fleet, the report found. But even with the litany of issues, including the loss of aircraft to Taliban fire at an increasing rate, Afghan pilots have been trying to support the forces.

Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt reported from Washington, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Kabul, Afghanistan. Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Read More
U.S News

Kyrsten Sinema vs. the Left: An Old Rivalry’s New Turn

The Arizona senator has made bipartisan inroads with an infrastructure deal, but progressives are less than impressed.,

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

Joe Manchin may be Washington’s favorite cranky centrist, but quietly, Kyrsten Sinema has become the darling of the Pennsylvania Avenue establishment — and the Democrat progressives love to hate.

The White House and the party leadership love Sinema, Arizona’s senior senator, because she helped deliver a deal with Republicans on the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, keeping the negotiators on track with wine when they got distracted. Republicans love her because she works closely with them, even ducking into their cloakroom for a friendly chat when the Senate is in session. And moderates from both parties love the way she manages to stick by her centrist convictions and still deliver results.

The left, on the other hand, can’t stand her. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attacked her over her handling of the infrastructure bill. “Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a ‘bipartisan accomplishment.'”

Just Democracy, a coalition of progressive groups representing people of color, recently announced a six-figure ad campaign against Sinema in Arizona, on top of a $1.5 million ad buy in June. Last week 39 activists, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, were arrested outside her office in Phoenix while protesting her refusal to ditch the filibuster. And several liberal groups have already suggested they would back a primary challenge against her — even though she isn’t up for re-election until 2024.

What explains the haters? On one level, it’s simple. In today’s partisan environment, anyone who seems too close to the other party risks friendly fire — and it doesn’t help that Ms. Sinema has won praise from some of the right’s most vociferous combatants, including Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, who said she was “more of a Republican than John McCain ever was.”

But Mr. Manchin often wins similar cross-partisan Brownie points, too. And Ms. Sinema’s policy positions are not that different from his: They both support the filibuster, they are both uncommitted to the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan, and they have both expressed wariness about using the reconciliation process to pass it.

Of course, Mr. Manchin is hardly beloved by the left, either. But he often appears to get a pass — perhaps because he is, after all, an older white man representing West Virginia, one of the whitest, most conservative states in the country. Whether that makes him conservative by nature or by a pragmatic survival instinct, he’s at least easy to comprehend.

Not Ms. Sinema. Arizona is a purple state, and in 2018 she became the first Democrat the state has elected to the U.S. Senate in 30 years. But it has also been tilting left for years, with a surging population of young people of color and an increasingly active progressive movement.

In fact, one cause of progressive frustration with Ms. Sinema is that she herself comes from a progressive background. She famously began her political career as a dyed-in-the-wool lefty — dyed pink, the color adopted by female activists protesting the war in Iraq in the mid-aughts. She was a member of the Green Party and backed Ralph Nader for president in 2000.

But once she started winning elections, first in the Arizona Legislature, then in Congress, she shifted to the middle. In 2009 she wrote a book called “Unite and Conquer: How to Build Coalitions That Win — and Last.” She joined the centrist Blue Dog Coalition and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. And she began to consciously model herself after Mr. McCain, the conservative Arizona Republican known for his occasional maverick stances and willingness to work with Democrats, even at the risk of angering his own party.

“The legacy of John McCain does loom large for her,” said Joe Wolf, a Democratic consultant in Phoenix. “There’s a strong legacy of Arizona politicians who have an outsize influence on the world, and that’s not lost on her.”

It’s the McCain comparison that seems to particularly addle her fellow Democrats. The virtue of McCain’s bipartisanship was that he built it on a solid conservative voting record, so that his cross-party stances seemed to be principled exceptions. But so far, Ms. Sinema doesn’t have the record — at least in the Senate — to do the same.

“When people say, ‘That’s Kyrsten being Kyrsten,’ it’s hard to describe her actions as ‘typical’ Kyrsten Sinema because there isn’t yet a typical Kyrsten Sinema,” said Adam Kinsey, a Democratic political consultant in Arizona.

Other progressives say that her background in the 2000s-era left skews her understanding of progressive politics today. Back then, the left, especially in Arizona, was relatively marginal and ineffective, pushing a grab bag of causes in a political landscape where “liberal” was still considered a scarlet letter among Arizona voters.

Now, with younger voters driving the party to the left, progressives say that image, and her seemingly dismissive response to it, seems out of touch, tilting against an outmoded stereotype instead of engaging with the issues powering left-wing politics.

“I almost feel she is responding to her understanding of what the left is based on her engagement with leftist politics a decade and a half ago,” said Emily Kirkland, the executive director of Progress Arizona, a liberal advocacy group. “She doesn’t understand that the frustration is not just with a scattering of groups on the left.”

Then there is her political style — for progressives, her brand of centrism comes across as aggressive, even trolling. Recall the moment in March when, during a vote on raising the minimum wage, she sauntered down to the well of the Senate and gave a flippant thumbs-down, a move that many on the left translated into a gesture involving a different finger, pointed in a different direction.

“It can feel like she is more interested in making progressives mad than in engaging with the substance of the topic at hand,” Ms. Kirkland said.

But it’s at least plausible that another sticking point for progressives is that so far, her centrism seems to work. She is regularly in contact with President Biden, on the phone and at the White House. She helped broker a deal between Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, and Senator Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, on the Covid relief bill. She’s been working with Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, on a minimum-wage bill. And now she’s making headlines on infrastructure.

All of which means that the next few weeks are critical for her stature in Washington, and in Arizona. If the infrastructure bill goes through — and it still faces obstacles, some of them out of Ms. Sinema’s control — then she could cement her reputation as not just a maverick, but also as a savior of a bipartisanship that people had largely written off. That doesn’t mean the left will fall in love with her, but at least they might give her some grudging respect.

“She absolutely has to get a win like that to point to,” Mr. Kinsey said. “If she continues to work with Republicans but doesn’t have something to show for it, she’ll look ineffective. If she can, she will show there is a method to the madness.”

On Politics is also available as a newsletter. Sign up here to get it delivered to your inbox.

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Anything you want to see more of? We’d love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

Read More
U.S News

Cuomo Stands in a Long Line of Politicians Accused of Mistreating Women

Nearly all have faced calls to resign, and only some have heeded them. But few have faced an inquiry as expansive and public as the one into the New York governor’s actions.,

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York is the latest in a long series of politicians who have been accused of sexual harassment or assault. Nearly all have faced calls for their resignation, and some have heeded them while others have steadfastly refused to step down.

What’s the difference between those who stay in power and those who don’t? Party affiliation, for one thing: In recent years, Democratic leaders have generally abandoned those in the party who have been accused of assault or harassment, usually (but not always) leading them to step down and be replaced by another Democrat. Republicans, who have not always faced the same pressure from party leaders, have more typically dug in their heels and stayed put.

That makes Mr. Cuomo’s case all the more unusual: He has made clear he has no plans to willingly leave office. But not since President Bill Clinton has there been such an expansive — and public — investigation of a high-profile politician into allegations of sexual misconduct.

“All this discussion isn’t based merely on press reports, but on a careful and really extensive investigation and legal analysis,” said Emily Martin, a vice president at the National Women’s Law Center. “Some politicians have exploited that sort of inherent uncertainty. They have learned the lesson that if you don’t step down, nobody is going to make you.”

This time could be different. If Mr. Cuomo does not resign, he could face impeachment proceedings from the State Legislature.

The list of politicians who have been accused of sexual harassment or assault is far too long for one article, but here is a look at some of the most recent high-profile allegations in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

Image

More than two dozen women have accused former President Donald J. Trump of sexual harassment or assault.Credit…Cooper Neill for The New York Times

Donald Trump

More than two dozen women have publicly accused Mr. Trump of sexual harassment or assault. Just weeks before the 2016 election, a recording from 2005 surfaced of Mr. Trump boasting in vulgar terms about kissing and groping women without their consent.

Mr. Trump acknowledged his remarks at the time, saying in a video: “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” But he also dismissed the conversation as “locker room talk” and later baselessly questioned the authenticity of the recording.

Despite widespread outrage from Democrats and women’s groups, Mr. Trump was not punished for his remarks at the ballot box — more white female voters chose him over Hillary Clinton.

Later, in 2019, the writer E. Jean Carroll accused Mr. Trump of raping her in the dressing room of a department store in New York City. He denied the allegation, and she sued him for defamation, a case in which he carried out the highly unusual legal move of bringing in the Justice Department to defend him.

Al Franken

In 2017, Leeann Tweeden, a comedian and sports broadcaster, accused Mr. Franken, a Democratic senator from Minnesota, of forcibly kissing her during a rehearsal and of groping her for a photo while she slept during a 2006 comedy tour through the Middle East. Mr. Franken apologized, but said he had a different memory of the time.

“I don’t know what was in my head when I took that picture, and it doesn’t matter,” he wrote in a statement. “There’s no excuse. I look at it now and I feel disgusted with myself. It isn’t funny. It’s completely inappropriate.”

Several weeks later, amid calls for his resignation, Mr. Franken stepped down.

Image

Roy S. Moore, a Republican, did not drop out of the race for Senate in Alabama after he faced allegations of sexual assault. He lost to Doug Jones, a Democrat.Credit…Lynsey Weatherspoon for The New York Times

Roy Moore

In late 2017, four women, and then a fifth, said that Roy S. Moore, at the time a Republican candidate for Senate in Alabama, had made sexual advances toward them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. One woman accused Mr. Moore of forcing her into a sexual encounter when she was 14, and multiple women accused him of sexual assault.

Understand the Scandals Challenging Gov. Cuomo’s Leadership

Card 1 of 5

Multiple claims of sexual harassment. Several women, including current and former members of his administration, have accused Mr. Cuomo of sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. He has refused to resign.

Results of an independent investigation. An independent inquiry, overseen by Letitia James, the New York State attorney general, found that Mr. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including current and former government workers, breaking state and federal laws. The report also found that he retaliated against at least one of the women for making her complaints public.

Nursing home death controversy. The Cuomo administration is also under fire for undercounting the number of nursing-home deaths caused by Covid-19 in the first half of 2020, a scandal that deepened after a Times investigation found that aides rewrote a health department report to hide the real number.

Efforts to obscure the death toll. Interviews and unearthed documents revealed in April that aides repeatedly overruled state health officials in releasing the true nursing home death toll over a span of at least five months. Several senior health officials have resigned in response to the governor’s overall handling of the virus crisis, including the vaccine rollout.

Will Cuomo be impeached? On March 11, the State Assembly announced it would open an impeachment investigation. Democrats in both the State Legislature and in New York’s congressional delegation called on Mr. Cuomo to resign, with some saying he has lost the capacity to govern.

Several Republicans, including Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader at the time, urged Mr. Moore to drop out of the race, but he denied all allegations and said they were part of a conspiracy to keep him out of office. President Trump endorsed Mr. Moore about a week before the election, which he lost to Doug Jones, who became the first Democrat since 1992 to win an Alabama Senate seat.

Brett Kavanaugh

Soon after Mr. Trump nominated Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018, three women accused him of sexual assault or misconduct.

One of the women, Christine Blasey Ford, said that Mr. Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when she was about 15 at a party in suburban Maryland in the early 1980s. During hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ms. Blasey Ford said she had feared Mr. Kavanaugh would rape and accidentally kill her during the alleged assault.

Mr. Kavanaugh “unequivocally and categorically” denied the allegation and was confirmed to the court by one of the slimmest margins in American history.

Image

Eric T. Schneiderman resigned from his post as New York attorney general in 2018 after four women said he had physically assaulted them. Mr. Cuomo had urged him to step down.Credit…Richard Perry/The New York Times

Eric Schneiderman

Eric T. Schneiderman, then the New York State attorney general, resigned in 2018 just hours after The New Yorker reported that four women had accused him of physically assaulting them. Two of the women who spoke to the magazine said they had been choked and hit repeatedly by Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat. Though he denied the allegations, several leaders in the party — including Mr. Cuomo — urged him to step down.

“My personal opinion is that, given the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article, I do not believe it is possible for Eric Schneiderman to continue to serve as attorney general,” Mr. Cuomo said at the time.

Read More
U.S News

Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, a report from the N.Y. attorney general finds.

,

Advertisement

Continue reading the main story

Supported by

Continue reading the main story

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, including current and former government workers, and retaliated against at least one of the women for making her complaints public, according to a much anticipated report from the New York State attorney general released on Tuesday.

The 165-page report said that Mr. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat, and his aides cultivated a toxic work environment in his office that was rife with fear and intimidation, and helped enable “harassment to occur and created a hostile work environment.”

The findings of the report could fuel support for impeachment proceedings against Mr. Cuomo in the State Legislature, which Democrats overwhelmingly control, lead to additional calls for his resignation and influence public opinion as he considers running for a fourth term. Outside lawyers hired by the Assembly’s judiciary committee are currently looking at not only the sexual harassment claims, but a series of scandals with a common theme: whether or not Mr. Cuomo abused his power while in office.

Read More