An appeals court upheld the conviction of Trump adviser Stephen Bannon

Bannon contested his contempt conviction in July 2022 after contesting the initial charges during his brief trial in US District Court in Washington.

One of Bannon’s arguments in the appeals court was that his lawyers advised him to ignore the committee’s subpoena — a tactic known to be a ploy. Bannon also said Trump ordered him to defy the group’s demands.

But in a 20-page ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit brushed aside those arguments and upheld both the jury’s guilty verdict and Judge Carl Nicholas Bannon’s sentence.

Even though Bannon’s lawyers had told him not to comply with the committee, the committee wrote that counsel could not excuse him for willfully and willfully ignoring the subpoena.

The panel’s rejection, in effect, refuted Bannon’s claim that Trump had authorized him to override the panel. Shortly after the subpoena was first issued, one of Trump’s lawyers cited a letter to Bannon’s lawyers, noting that “nowhere in the letters did Bannon categorically refuse to answer” to the group.

David Schoen, the lawyer handling Bannon’s appeal, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

The New York Times

America should cut deficit by taxing the rich, says economic adviser

WASHINGTON – President Biden’s top economic adviser said Friday that lawmakers should use next year’s tax debate to try to reduce the budget deficit by sharply raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

Under that plan, Biden would cover the cost of maintaining tax cuts for people making $400,000 a year or less.

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In a speech at the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Lael Brainard, who leads the White House’s National Economic Council, gave the most detailed explanation yet of how Biden will seek to shape what promises to be a multi-trillion-dollar tax debate.

A batch of tax cuts signed into law by President Trump in 2017 expires at the end of next year. This includes cuts for individuals at all income levels. Republicans built that expiration into the tax bill to reduce its projected spending and comply with congressional rules.

Brainard’s speech renewed Biden’s commitment to cutting taxes on middle-class Americans and raising them on top earners. But his comments expressed more concern about the growing debt and deficits than the president and his aides had previously expressed when discussing the looming tax debate.

“At the very least, we should avoid deepening the fiscal hole created by the Republican tax cuts by fully paying for any extended tax cuts,” Brainard said in comments released by the White House. “We must use the 2025 tax debate as an opportunity to meet our national needs by raising overall revenue by asking the rich and big corporations to pay their fair share.”

Trump and his congressional allies have sought to extend all of the expiring cuts, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said could add up to $4.6 trillion to the federal debt over a decade.

The New York Times

Judge halts absentee voting requirement in Wisconsin

Madison, Wis. – A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought by Democrats challenging the witness requirements for absentee voting in Wisconsin, a ruling that would have kept the law within six months of the presidential election.

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Voting rules in Wisconsin are of particular interest because they are one of the few battleground presidential states. Four of the last six presidential elections in Wisconsin, including the last two, have been decided by less than one percentage point.

U.S. District Court Judge James Peterson threw out the case on Thursday, saying it was “telling” that the law has gone unchallenged in one form or another since the 1960s.

“Whether a witness is required may be debatable, but it is a reasonable way for the state to try to prevent abuses such as fraud and undue influence in an environment where election officials cannot monitor the preparation of ballots,” Peterson wrote.

Elias Law Group, a national Democratic law firm representing four Wisconsin voters, argued that the state violates the federal Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act by requiring witness signatures on ballot envelopes.

Voters argued that it was difficult to obtain witness signatures due to ill health, age and frequent foreign travel.

State law requires clerks to reject ballots without the address or signature of a witness. A Wisconsin judge ruled in 2022 that election officials cannot correct or fill in missing information on witness certificates, a practice known as ballot curing.

The Voting Rights Act prohibits states from requiring a voter to “prove his or her eligibility by a voucher of registered voters or members of any other class.”

The judge said voters had not shown that either the Voting Rights Act of 1965 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevented absentee voters from requiring a state to prepare their ballots in front of a witness.

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According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine states require witness signatures to verify absentee ballots and three states require the declaration of an absentee ballot envelope.

In Wisconsin, witnesses for most voters must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old. Witnesses for overseas and military voters need not be US citizens.

In a random review of nearly 15,000 ballots cast in Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election, the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau found that nearly 7 percent of witness certificates were missing at least part of the witness address.

The ruling comes ahead of the Wisconsin Supreme Court hearing oral arguments on Monday. In it, Democrats are trying to overturn a 2022 court ruling that banned absentee ballot boxes from being placed anywhere except inside election clerks’ offices.

Associated Press

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