Three decades have passed since Republicans’ hero, Ronald Reagan, went to Berlin to exhort Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall!”, the Soviet Union collapsed and America claimed victory in the cold war.
For the GOP in Washington, however, these appear to be insignificant historical footnotes. On Thursday they dusted off the “red scare” playbook to portray Joe Biden’s choice to run one of the agencies that oversees the banking industry as a dangerous communist.
Saule Omarova, 55, was nominated in September to be America’s next comptroller of the money. If confirmed, she would be the first woman and person of colour in the role in its 158-year-history.
Omarova was born in Kazakhstan when it was part of the Soviet Union and moved to the US in 1991. For John Kennedy of Louisiana, a member of the Senate banking committee, this was like a red rag to a bull.
Questioning whether Omarova was nevertheless a member of communist youth organisations, Kennedy said: “I don’t average any disrespect: I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade.”
The remark prompted gasps in the hearing room on Capitol Hill.
Omarova replied, slowly and firmly: “Senator, I’m not a communist. I do not subscribe to that ideology. I could not choose where I was born.
“I do not remember joining any Facebook group that subscribes to that ideology. I would never knowingly join any such group. There is no record of me truly participating in any Marxist or communist discussions of any kind.”
Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Clinton’s closest long-time aides, has defended vice president Kamala Harris against the political and media chatter that she is underwhelming in the job and runs a dysfunctional team.
In an interview earlier on CNN, Abedin said: “Her team, I would publicly and privately sustain the work that they are trying to do. There is always..”
CNN keep up in a place Kate Bolduan interjected to ask if Abedin thought there was sexism in the reports undermining Harris.
“Absolutely I see sexism in some of the ways we talk about women leaders,” Abedin said.
She went on to say: “And I’ve seen it with Hillary and…and I end the book [Abedin’s new book] with, you know, my belief that we really need to be supporting our vice president. She is extremely smart, talented, you know, a history-making figure and I resent every time there is a negative accusation made, but personally I do see sexism in it.”
Abedin is estranged from her husband, the disgraced Anthony Weiner, former congressman and candidate for mayor of New York.
Read the Guardian’s recent interview with Abedin here.
Julius Jones granted clemency in Oklahoma
The governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, has granted clemency to Julius Jones, a death row inmate who faced execution on Thursday afternoon.
Following a recommendation from the state pardon and parole board, Stitt, a Republican, acted with hours to spare before the scheduled state killing.
Stitt reduced Jones’s sentence for the murder in 1999 of Paul Howell, a businessman in the affluent Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond, to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The parole board had recommended life with the possibility of parole.
Jones, 41, has maintained his innocence for more than two decades but had been scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in McAlester.
GK Butterfield, Democrat congressman, announces retirement
House argue begins on the Build Back Better Act
Harris pushes back on jabs that she’s underused as vice-president
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