There is a theme in the weekend Briefing’s American news. See if you can figure out what it is. Actually, we’d be concerned if you could not, given how obvious it is.
US Election News
|Donald Trump to Address Conservative Conference on Sunday|
Donald Trump, former United States president, will emerge from a month in relative silence at Mar-a-Lago to address the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).1 This will be his first major address since Joe Biden’s inauguration. We can expect a lot of noise about the election having been stolen, along with complaints about the current administration. While former presidents tend to stay out of the everyday political limelight, Trump was no ordinary president and will be no ordinary former president; one may feel the only reason he has been this quiet is because of his social media bans.
Attendees of CPAC will no doubt be happy to hear from Trump; as we got into during Friday’s briefing, CPAC 2021 has positioned itself as a mini-convention for him.
|Republicans Write Legislation to “Save Democracy”|
Keeping in tune with Trump, and by extension most Republicans, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) is at the forefront of a Senate effort to guard against stolen elections. Scott’s new bill, called the “Save Democracy Act,” first provides (in our words) that Congress has to step in with regard to federal elections when states prove incompetent at preventing dirty tricks. It then goes on to call for a ban to automatic voter registration, a ban on registering voters who can’t provide proof of citizenship, voter ID as a condition of getting an in-person ballot, and no mail ballots distributed unless a voter asks for one, amongst other things.2 Given that the Republicans are in the minority in both houses, this is unlikely to proceed in this Congress.
|Arizona Election Audit Advances|
Arizona’s State Senate can subpoena Maricopa County’s ballots for the purposes of auditing the 2020 presidential election results. The Maricopa County Superior Court ruled on Friday that the Senate had the right to get their hands on over two million ballots.3 Republicans such as Karen Fann, the Arizona Senate President, believe the state’s election needs to be audited. Joe Biden carried the state by just over 10,000 votes, largely on the back of Maricopa going for Biden by about two points. 61 percent of Arizona’s votes for president were cast in Maricopa County, which is why this home to Phoenix is still coming under such scrutiny.
International Election News
|Australian Government’s Sexual Assault Scandal Deepens|
Scott Morrison’s government has been rocked in recent days by an alleged rape which occurred decades before he became prime minister. The ABC has reported that Morrison was advised in a letter that a member of the Cabinet was accused of rape in 1988.4 This is in addition to the Brittany Higgins incident, in which a former parliamentary staffer (Higgins) has alleged that she was raped at Parliament by another staffer in 2019. Morrison, who assumed his office in 2018, would ultimately apologize to Higgins over what she alleged she had to endure.
|Scotland’s Former First Minister Rips His Own Party|
The civil war within the Scottish National Party has taken an ugly turn. Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland and former leader of the pro-independence SNP, took aim at the government of his successor, Nicola Sturgeon at an inquiry. Salmond faced charges for sexual assault and was eventually exonerated, but the enmity he holds for Sturgeon’s government over the matter is clear. He said to the investigative panel, convened to review what happened to him legally, that the Scottish government “had failed” in its duty and withheld information that could have been of help to him during the case. Salmond also called Sturgeon out and accused her of a breach of ministerial code, a serious charge that if proven would result in her ouster.5
Election Calendar (as of Saturday)
Today’s Further Reading
- Alex Seitz-Wald, Peter Alexander and Hallie Jackson, “He’s back: Trump set to address CPAC in bid to extend his lease on the GOP,” NBC News, 26 February 2021.
- Office of Senator Rick Scott, “A bill to amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to promote integrity in voter registration, the casting of ballots, and the tabulation of ballots in elections for Federal office, and for other purposes,” US Senate, 117th Congress, 1st Session, accessed 26 February 2021.
- Carmen Blackwell, Associated Press, “Judge rules Arizona Senate can access 2020 election ballots,” Fox 10 Phoenix, 25 February 2021.
- Louise Milligan, “Scott Morrison, senators and AFP told of historical rape allegation against Cabinet Minister,” ABC News, 26 February 2021.
- BBC News, “Alex Salmond claims ‘Scotland’s leadership has failed‘,” BBC News, 26 February 2021.