West Virginia's two senators playing important roles nationally. Plus, Biden adm agrees w/ Trump

By Gary Abernathy

Capito joins Manchin in turning spotlight on West Virginia

Joe Manchin, the Democratic U.S. senator from West Virginia, is apparently not budging from his stance that he will not vote to do away with the filibuster in order to ramrod Democratic wish-list legislation into law.  Plus, in a recent op-ed in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin declared he would not support the Dems’ election reform bill, which would basically federalize elections, taking power away from the states. You have to give him credit, he’s sticking to his guns.

The Washington Post reported, “Inside the Senate on Monday, Manchin’s Democratic colleagues reacted with surprise and disappointment — largely keeping any personal frustrations in check, given the mutual acknowledgment that Manchin’s vote is essential to success on infrastructure, confirming Biden’s nominees and several other priorities.”

It’s interesting that West Virginia’s two senators, Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito – the former a Democrat, the latter a Republican – are both playing key roles in Washington right now. Capito is the lead Republican negotiating with Biden on the president’s infrastructure plan.

USA Today recently offered brief profiles of both senators. What’s not mentioned is that Capito is the daughter of the late Arch Moore, Jr., a legendary and controversial former West Virginia governor. She learned a lot from her father, both in what, and what not, to do.

When she was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, I knew Capito pretty well during my years working in Republican politics in her state. I liked her. We didn’t always agree on intra-party decisions, but I always had great respect for her. You always knew where you stood with her, and she was always helpful anytime we asked for her assistance in events or projects for what was then a struggling state party organization. She’s a thoughtful and canny politician.

Shocker: Biden Justice Department agrees with Trump

This is of interest from USA Today:

The Biden administration Justice Department is seeking to defend former President Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit brought by a former columnist who accused Trump of raping her more than 20 years ago. Justice Department attorneys argued in a court brief filed Monday night that Trump acted in his official capacity when he said in 2019 that E. Jean Carroll lied about being raped to boost the sales of her memoir. At issue, the attorneys said, is not whether Carroll's allegations were true or if Trump's response to them were appropriate, but whether the United States is liable for actions federal employees made within the scope of their employment, the attorneys argued.

In essence, the Justice Department is arguing that as president, Trump was speaking in an official capacity even when he was answering questions about his personal life – because a president’s personal life is always of public interest, making his responses or comments part of his public duty.

When Trump’s Justice Department made that argument, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan disagreed, ruling, “The undisputed facts demonstrate that President Trump was not acting in furtherance of any duties owed to any arguable employer when he made the statements at issue … To conclude otherwise would require the Court to adopt a view that virtually everything the president does is within the public interest by virtue of his office."

Actually, that’s kind of right, and even the Biden Justice Department disagrees with Kaplan’s implication that it’s not.

"Then-President Trump's response to Ms. Carroll's serious allegations of sexual assault included statements that questioned her credibility in terms that were crude and disrespectful," Justice Department attorneys wrote. "But this case does not concern whether Mr. Trump's response was appropriate. Nor does it turn on the truthfulness of Ms. Carroll's allegations.” It instead addresses issues “that implicate the institutional interests of the federal government.” The Westfall Act, Justice Department attorneys wrote, applies to all federal employees and "nothing in the text, purpose, or history of the statutes suggests that they exempt from their coverage the President of the United States."

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