"At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed," President Joe Biden says in his inaugural address after being sworn-in.
On a Daily Beast podcast, Hogue discussed Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the US and afforded women a constitutional right to the procedure.
Trump called Biden a "Fake President" and said the US election "was the election of a third world country," alleging millions of "corrupt" votes.
Amy Coney Barrett's elevation to the Supreme Court means that the more conservative justices can out-vote its occasional swing justice.
Ballots have a higher on-time delivery rate than regular first-class mail, with an inbound on-time delivery rate of just over 95%.
The results of elections are never finalized on election night and what Trump desires would actually potentially disenfranchise his own supporters.
While it's unlikely for this election to be decided in the Supreme Court, the Justices' opinions signaled how they may rule on future consequential cases.
Senate Republicans voted Monday night to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, tilting the balance of the court to a 6-3 conservative majority for years to come and handing US President Donald Trump a victory barely a week before the election.Every Republican but one, senator Susan Collins of Maine, voted to confirm Barrett. Every Democrat voted no. The final tally was 52 to 48.The White House planned to hold a large outdoor event later Monday night to celebrate Barrett’s confirmation, despite a previous White House event for Barrett triggering a coronavirus outbreak among attendees. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas reportedly will administer the constitutional oath to Barrett at the event.Barrett’s confirmation ends a weekslong dash by Republicans to put her on the court before the November 3 election, in the event Trump loses reelection and leaves a potential President Joe Biden better positioned to fill the seat in 2021. Barrett, 48, will fill the seat left vacant by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.Democrats protested the rushed process, calling it a “sham” and boycotting Barrett’s vote out of the Judiciary Committee. They criticised Republicans for the hypocrisy of filling a Supreme Court seat in a presidential election year after they denied President Barack Obama the ability to do so. They warned that Barrett is a threat to the Affordable Care Act and highlighted her record of hostility to the health care law, women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights. But they never had the votes to stop her confirmation.Ahead of the vote, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats’ complaints about the process were unfounded.“You can’t win ’em all,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “Elections have consequences.”“What this administration and this Republican Senate has done is exercise a power that was given to us by the American people in a manner that is entirely within the rules of the Senate and the Constitution of the United States,” he said.But Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called Monday’s vote “one of the darkest days” in the history of the 231 years of the Senate, and said Republicans will regret their power grab in the long haul.“I want to be very clear with my Republican colleagues: You may win this vote, and Amy Coney Barrett may become the next associate justice of the Supreme Court, but you will never, never get your credibility back,” Schumer said. “The next time the American people give Democrats a majority in this chamber, you will have forfeited the right to tell us how to run that majority.”Barrett, a conservative US appeals court judge, dodged even the most basic questions in her confirmation hearing. She refused to say if climate change is real (it is), and wouldn’t say if it is illegal to vote twice in a presidential election (it is).Barrett is Trump’s third Supreme Court justice, after Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. All three are members of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organisation through which Trump has outsourced his selection of Supreme Court justices and nearly all of his 53 appeals court judges. The Federalist Society is part of a vast and secretive $250 million network of groups promoting conservative judges and causes. During Barrett’s confirmation hearing this month, senator Sheldon Whitehouse connected the dots between the conservative dark money groups and Barrett’s nomination, saying her confirmation is the grand prize for big donors hoping for favourable court rulings on the issues they care about: among them, weakening or doing away with the Affordable Care Act, abortion rights and marriage equality.“Two hundred and fifty million dollars is a lot of money to spend if you’re not getting anything for it,” he said as Barrett sat feet away. “So that raises the question, ‘What are they getting for it?’”Related... A Guide To US Election Night. Listen To Running Mate, Our American Politics Podcast For Brits What Will The US Election Mean For The UK? Listen To Running Mate, Our American Politics Podcast For Brits The Sexism At The Heart Of American Politics. Listen To Running Mate, Our US Election Podcast For Brits
Barrett previously omitted information revealing that she had signed on to an anti-abortion ad in 2006.
Supreme Court justices seem poised to allow copyrights on APIs.
When Amanda Litman first heard the words: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy,” she was at Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. It was October 7, 2016, a Friday afternoon, and The Washington Post published a bombshell: Donald Trump, then the Republican presidential nominee, had boasted about sexual assault in 2005. And it was on tape. “It was almost a feeling of: ‘Oh my god, we just won the election,’ complicated by the fact that so many of the women on our staff were deeply traumatised,” Litman said. She remembers female staffers listening to the audio over and over again, then leaving the office for 10-minute walks around the block. When they came back, they looked as though they had been crying.The audio, taken from an “Access Hollywood” shoot, seemed like a turning point in the election. Republican politicians quickly condemned Trump, many of them noting that as fathers of daughters, they had to speak up. Then-House Speaker Paul Ryan reportedly urged the party’s chair to get the nominee out of the race. Trump’s daughter Ivanka reportedly pleaded with him to offer a full apology. Karen Pence, the wife of Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, was reportedly livid, but her husband decided it was too late to leave the ticket. In the 20 days that followed, 15 women came forward to say Trump had sexually abused them. Democrats thought this might be their shot to cement the election for Clinton, who would have been the first female president in US history.But come November, Trump won nonetheless.The same Republican politicians who claimed they couldn’t abide his words continued to back him. Then-congressman Jason Chaffetz, who said after the tape’s release that he couldn’t look his 15-year-old daughter in the eyes and still endorse Trump, announced 19 days later that he still planned to vote for the nominee. Once Trump became president, Ryan and other Republicans helped push through his priorities, which they shared. Trump went on to appoint Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault, to the Supreme Court.Four years later, the “Access Hollywood” tape is buried under Trump’s record in office, including mishandling the coronavirus pandemic, dismantling the immigration system, derailing climate change efforts and much, much more. This September, when former model Amy Dorris accused Trump of sexually assaulting her at the 1997 US Open, the charge was simply added to the list. Few, if any, Republicans spoke out, and the news cycle moved on.But women haven’t forgotten. Activists and former Clinton staffers say that the “Access Hollywood” tape (and Republicans’ subsequent inaction) helped lay the groundwork for a seismic national shift in both the dialogue surrounding sexual abuse and the political mobilisation of many women who had previously been passive observers.“It’s one of the reasons why the Women’s March was such a galvanising thing,” said Litman. “[Trump] didn’t just beat a woman candidate; he did so while denigrating women, which lays the cultural groundwork – along with the work Tarana Burke had been doing for years – for the Me Too movement.”At Least He’s Not ClintonWhen David Fahrenthold, the Washington Post reporter who first uncovered the “Access Hollywood” tape, reached out to the Trump campaign before publishing, they at first thought the transcript wasn’t real.“This doesn’t sound like me,” Trump said, according to a retelling of the weekend by Politico’s Tim Alberta. Then the campaign received the audio, and it was clear that it was Trump speaking. The campaign went into spin mode. “This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,” Trump said in a statement to the Post, before quickly turning to his opponent’s husband. “Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologise if anyone was offended.”That non-apology didn’t quell the public outrage after the story was published, and Trump appeared on video later that night to try again. In a markedly un-Trump-like performance, he said he never claimed to be a perfect person. “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologise,” he said, before claiming the video was “a distraction from the important issues we’re facing today” and attacking Bill and Hillary Clinton for the former president’s sexual misconduct and alleged assaults, as well as accusing the former first lady of having bullied her husband’s victims. One person faced swift consequences: Billy Bush, the “Access Hollywood” host who laughed along with Trump on tape, was suspended from his job at the “Today” show and fired a week and a half later. It looked like Trump might face consequences too. Republican after Republican issued statements condemning him. “As a husband and father, I was offended by the words and actions described by Donald Trump in the 11-year-old video released yesterday,” Pence said in a statement, notably emphasising that the remarks were made a long time ago. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Trump’s comments “repugnant, and unacceptable in any circumstance”.Speaker Ryan uninvited Trump from a campaign event set to take place the next day. During a call with House Republicans on October 10, he told the lawmakers that he would not campaign with Trump or defend him. If others wanted to, that was up to them. “I’m going to spend the next 28 days working hard with all of our members to get re-elected because we need a check on Hillary Clinton if Donald Trump and Mike Pence don’t win the presidency,” Ryan said at the time, according to audio later published by Breitbart News.Some House Republicans agreed. Others didn’t – and the ones who wanted to defend Trump were some of the loudest voices. On the call, member after member said, “I don’t care how bad this is, you can’t let Hillary Clinton win,” according to a then-Republican aide. “It was very clear that everyone was still thinking in highly political terms.” That was the calculus: sure, what Trump said was bad. But at least he wasn’t Clinton.“It demonstrated what was to come in terms of being able to rationalise anything as long as you compare it to Democrats,” the former party aide said. Outrage, Pain And MotivationThe next episode of “Saturday Night Live” featured a sketch about the “Access Hollywood” tape that cut to Clinton campaign headquarters, where the candidate, played by Kate McKinnon, and her staff pop champagne.But in reality, learning about the tape wasn’t a gleeful moment for the Clinton team. “I was like: ‘Wow, they don’t usually get that wrong,’” said Jess McIntosh, who was a senior communication adviser to the campaign.Today, McIntosh likens the moment to learning last week that the president had been diagnosed with Covid-19: a pre-election shock that might impact the race, but certainly nothing to cheer over.In fact, for many Democrats, the tape was a sobering reminder of just how much was at stake in the election. Both Clinton and vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine responded swiftly to the audio. On October 7, Kaine told reporters that Trump’s words made him “sick to my stomach,” adding: “I’m sad to say that I’m not surprised.” Clinton tweeted the Washington Post story along with the comment: “This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to be president.” Two days later, Trump and Clinton were in St Louis facing off at the second presidential debate. When the tape came up, Clinton attempted to hammer home the idea that Trump’s denigration of women made him unfit to hold the highest office in the nation. “With prior Republican nominees for president, I disagreed with them, politics, policies, principles, but I never questioned their fitness to serve,” she said. “Donald Trump is different.” During the same debate, Trump stood behind Clinton and followed her across the stage – a physical posturing that many compared to stalking.Democrats and activists alike were also grappling with the larger cultural implications of a Republican nominee for president who bragged about sexual assault. At 7.48pm on the night the audio was published by The Washington Post, author Kelly Oxford tweeted, “Women: tweet me your first assaults. They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12.” Women began responding, many using the hashtag #NotOkay. According to NPR, within a day, a million women had responded to Oxford’s callout.For so many, Trump’s words felt sickeningly familiar. They felt personal.Jess Morales Rocketto, who was working on the Clinton campaign in 2016 and is now the civic engagement director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and the executive director of Care in Action, told HuffPost that the Trump tape – and working with fellow Clinton staffers to make people see the enormity of the moment – pushed her to grapple with her own sexual assault.“Engaging in that work [...] is what enabled me to understand what had happened to me,” Rocketto said.“And to make it something that was not just about what had happened to me, and instead use it as fuel and transformation for keeping myself safe, and keeping other women like me safe.”For Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of UltraViolet, and other activists who focus on women’s and survivors’ issues, the “Access Hollywood” tape was a loud, clear and “rude awakening” to the ways that “American society continues to degrade women and reward people who abuse them.” Thomas also saw an opportunity for a larger conversation to come out of Trump bragging so brazenly about sexual assault. Because, as many pointed out in the days and months after the “Access Hollywood” tape dropped, sexually abusive “locker-room talk” was reflective of a cultural rot much larger than Donald Trump.“I remember thinking, like, that this was a pivotal exposure of what we knew was likely true about him and about his attitudes, but also the attitudes and the beliefs and behaviour of so many men like him,” said Thomas. “And that it was a hugely important opportunity for having a national conversation about why that attitude and behaviour is so toxic [and] so damaging.” ‘But Her Emails’ Takes OverBut the Trump campaign had a secret weapon. Trump and the campaign, via unofficial adviser Roger Stone, knew as of August that WikiLeaks had obtained hacked emails from Democratic Party staffers, including Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report published in August of this year. The hack was unrelated to Clinton’s previous email controversy, which had to do with her use of a private server for some official business as secretary of state. But given the sensitivity of “email” and “Clinton”, it could still be highly damaging. According to US intelligence, the hack was carried out by Russians, whom Trump had openly courted to find Clinton’s “missing” emails.On October 7, Stone learned about the “Access Hollywood” tape before its release and called Jerome Corsi, an infamous conspiracy theorist, to ask him to get in touch with WikiLeaks, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee report. Stone “[w]anted the Podesta stuff to balance the news cycle,” Corsi told the committee.“According to Corsi, Stone also told him to have WikiLeaks ‘drop the Podesta emails immediately,’” the committee report states. Later that day, WikiLeaks did. McIntosh, the former Clinton adviser, was dismayed at how quickly the media seized on the hacked emails even amid the news that Trump had admitted to sexual assault. The media’s focus on the “Access Hollywood” tape “only lasted until everybody got into John Podesta’s risotto recipe,” McIntosh said. “They played journalists so perfectly with that release. They had that in their back pocket for their ‘break glass in case of emergency’. This was clearly the emergency. They broke the glass and everybody scattered for it.”In the following weeks, even as multiple women accused Trump of sexual assault, reporters continued to question him on other matters, which McIntosh found disappointing. “I am pretty sure if Hillary Clinton had been accused of assaulting somebody, that would be the last time someone asked her about her climate change plan,” McIntosh said. “The only questions would be: ‘When are you going to drop out of the race?’ And that was simply not what happened.” They had that in their back pocket for their ‘break glass in case of emergency.’ This was clearly the emergency. They broke the glass and everybody scattered for it.Jess McIntosh, a former Clinton staffer, on the WikiLeaks release of Democratic Party emailsAbout a week before the election, then-FBI Director James Comey released a letter saying the agency was examining more of Clinton’s emails – an announcement that Clinton blames, in part, for her ultimate loss. The Democratic candidate’s emails remained in the news. The same Republicans who had condemned Trump’s remarks continued to back him.And then, a month and approximately a million news cycles later, Trump won. Despite the polls, despite the “Access Hollywood” tape, despite the allegations of 15-plus women. The man who openly denigrated women, immigrants and people of colour was going to ascend to the highest office in the nation. Litman remembers thinking about Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comments on election night as she watched the returns come in from the Javits Center in New York City. “I could not stop thinking about: what does this tell little girls and what does this tell little boys,” said Litman.“[For little girls], you can be talked about this way, you can be treated this way, you can be assaulted this way, and there will be no punishment. For little boys, you have to behave this way to gain power. What a horrible message.”The Birth Of The ‘Pussy Hat’However, after the initial shock and grief subsided, something else happened. Lots of American women who had once observed politics from the sidelines were angry. Furious, even. And they started organising. Within four weeks, thousands of women had signed up for programmes designed to help people run for political office.Litman sees the mass, sustained effort as a response to the obvious lack of consequences for egregious behaviour, like openly bragging about sexual assault, coupled with more than 15 women telling the country that this man had assaulted them.“He did this and then he got rewarded,” said Litman. “There were tapes. It wasn’t just a ‘he said, she said’. He bragged about [assault] and then he got the highest office in the land. There’s no sense of justice.” On November 8, just hours after Trump was elected, retired attorney Teresa Shook posted on Facebook suggesting that women march on Washington. The post lit a spark that turned into the Women’s March – the largest single-day protest in US history. Thanks to seasoned organisers Carmen Perez, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, who stepped in early to help, the Women’s March brought an estimated 500,000 people to DC on January 21, 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration. (The New York Times reported that crowd scientists thought the march drew a crowd three times larger than that on Inauguration Day.) Sister protests happened around the nation and the world. Many of the participants showed up wearing handmade pink “pussy hats”, a direct response to the president’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comment.Less than three months later, organisers showed up again, this time to protest the continued employment of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, after news broke that the network had settled five separate sexual harassment lawsuits on his behalf since 2002. On April 19, 2017, O’Reilly was officially ousted from Fox.“There was a [new] opportunity for holding people in positions of power accountable for abusing or harassing their staff,” said Thomas. “We were ready. The survivors came forward, the evidence was overwhelming, but it was also Fox News. It was an important moment to demonstrate the public lack of patience and disinterest in continuing to see institutions protecting abusers from accountability.”Trump’s Republican Party TakeoverThe opposition from women didn’t seem to greatly affect Trump, who soon after his election began to suggest to Republican senators and other allies that the tape wasn’t real, The New York Times reported in 2017.Trump went on to push policies that harmed women and to back powerful men in spite of allegations that they had harmed women. He supported Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore of Alabama in 2017 as Moore faced allegations of sexual assault and misconduct, including against teenage girls. Trump stuck with Kavanaugh when the now-Supreme Court justice was accused of sexual assault. He defended his former aide Rob Porter after Porter resigned from the White House due to accusations he had abused his ex-wives. All three men have denied the allegations against them.The “Access Hollywood” tape continued to come up. UltraViolet Action played the tape on loop outside the Capitol in 2018 to protest Kavanaugh’s nomination.Activists stress that there isn’t one straight line from the “Access Hollywood” tape to a movement, but that it is all connected.“There’s no way of knowing all the ways this stuff ripples out,” Rocketto said. If the Trump tape hadn’t been exposed by The Washington Post, she’s not sure if she would have ultimately organised against Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “I wouldn’t have confronted Senator [Ted] Cruz in an elevator,” Rocketto said. “You don’t have Christine Blasey Ford coming forward [about Kavanaugh] without Me Too. And you don’t have a wave of women being elected.”During the 2018 midterm elections, 125 women were elected in House, Senate and governor races. And not only did women run for elected office, they also spoke out about their own experiences with sexual harassment and abuse. Litman, who is now the executive director of Run for Something, an organisation that helps recruit and support young Democrats running for office, told HuffPost that the shift in candidates’ openness about surviving sexual abuse has been significant. “We work with these candidates who incorporate their experience as survivors into their campaigns,” Litman said. “I don’t think that would have happened before four years ago.”Four years after the “Access Hollywood” tape was revealed, Trump remains president and Republicans still control the Senate, where they are fighting to confirm a new Supreme Court justice who could put abortion rights at risk. Except now, we are also in the midst of a global pandemic, in which more than 200,000 Americans have died, millions have lost their jobs, and women – especially women of colour – have been hit especially hard.There’s still plenty to fight for.“If you were scared by that tape, you should be really scared right now,” said Rocketto. “And if you’re scared, the only way to get past that is to do something about it.”
The billionaire-backed group, Americans for Prosperity, plans to phone bank to encourage lawmakers in 11 key states to support Trump's SCOTUS nomination.
"I don't know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and Schumer and Pelosi? I would be more inclined to the second," Trump said.
Ginsburg's death and vacant seat could cause a shift in laws regulating abortion and health care as well as complicate a likely contested election.
Collins, lauded as a rare independent voice, is facing the toughest re-election battle of her career thanks to President Trump's plunging popularity.
Donald Trump on Tuesday insisted he was surprised that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden chose senator Kamala Harris of California as his running mate, in part because she was “very nasty” to Biden as they vied in their party’s primary race.“I was more surprised than anyone else because she did so poorly in the primaries,” Trump said at a White House press briefing shortly after the Biden campaign revealed Harris’ selection.“Plus, she was very, very nasty … She was probably nastier than even Pocahontas to Joe Biden,” the president added, resurrecting his insulting nickname for senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, another of this cycle’s Democratic White House candidates.He also said Harris “was very disrespectful” to Biden, adding, “It’s hard to pick somebody that’s that disrespectful.”Despite Trump’s expression of surprise, political analysts of all stripes ― including those in the president’s camp ― for months had pegged Harris as the odds-on favourite to emerge as Biden’s running mate.Trump also accused Harris of being “extraordinarily nasty” to Brett Kavanaugh during the 2018 Senate Judiciary hearings on his nomination to the Supreme Court. Harris and other committee Democrats hammered Kavanaugh over accusations that he sexually assaulted an acquaintance, Christine Ford, when they were in high school. Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations, and the issue became a cause celebre among some Republican lawmakers.“I’ve been watching her for a long time. She was extraordinarily nasty to [Kavanaugh],” Trump said of Harris. “She was nasty to a level that was just a horrible thing ... the way she treated now-Justice Kavanaugh. I won’t forget that soon.”Trump often uses the word “nasty” to describe women with whom he disagrees and as a way to demean them. He has used the same insult to attack his 2016 Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, house speaker Nancy Pelosi, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor, and the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz.In May 2019, Trump described Harris as “nasty” when asked about how she questioned attorney general William Barr during a Judiciary Committee hearing.On Tuesday, Trump also tweeted a short video by his campaign attacking the newly minted Democratic ticket. In line with Trump’s tradition of using derisive ― some have said nasty ― nicknames for his opponents, the video refers to “Slow Joe” and “Phony Kamala.”pic.twitter.com/jXoffXyZed— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 11, 2020Earlier Tuesday, immediately after Biden announced his running mate, Trump’s campaign had released a statement using the “phoney” label for Harris. The campaign highlighted pointed remarks she directed at Biden on racial issues at the first Democratic primary debate in June 2019.Harris stressed that while she was not insinuating that Biden was racist, she expressed concern with his opposition during his early years as a senator in the 1970s to federal initiatives to desegregate public schools by busing students to heavily white school districts. She also criticised him for praising the “civility” of his interactions with segregationist senators when he was a young lawmaker.“I do not believe you are a racist,” Harris said to Biden. “And I agree with you when you commit yourself to the importance of finding common ground. But it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.” That moment turned out to be the high point of Harris’ presidential bid. After failing to gain traction in polls, she dropped out of the race in December.Earlier Tuesday, Trump’s campaign incorrectly claimed that Harris called Biden “racist” and accused her of “abandoning her own morals” by becoming Biden’s running mate.The campaign also attempted to use Harris to show that Biden was not a “moderate” Democratic candidate.“She is proof that Joe Biden is an empty shell being filled with the extreme agenda of the radicals on the left,” senior Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson said in a statement.Harris said she was honoured to run with Biden, saying in a statement posted on Twitter that he “can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us.” When Democrats officially nominate Biden and Harris later this month, she will be the first Black woman and first Asian American to run on a major political party’s presidential ticket.Related... Kamala Harris Chosen As Joe Biden's Vice President In 2020 Election Trump Claims Americans Will ‘Have To Learn To Speak Chinese’ If Biden Wins US Election Trump Schooled By Critics After Claiming '1917' Flu Pandemic 'Probably Ended' WWII
Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images As Facebook battles mounting regulatory pressure, one of the most powerful judges in the country is facing renewed scrutiny over his ties to the company. On July 24th, a coalition of nine progressive groups, including Demand Justice, Freedom From Facebook and Google, and Accountable Tech, released a statement calling on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to recuse himself from a case involving Facebook due to his close friendship with the company’s vice president of public policy, Joel Kaplan. The case in question — a lawsuit brought by non-Facebook user Noah Duguid that argues Facebook violated anti-robocall rules by sending out unsolicited text messages — is minor in terms of platform regulation. But Kavanaugh’s decision here could... Continue reading…
Big Tech is playing defense in the nation's capital as the Trump administration and Congress scrutinize the biggest companies on a slew of issues ranging from data privacy and security to antitrust concerns.  It's a dizzying time full of uncertainty and high stakes — a perfect time for this Insider list of the tech industry's most important lobbyists, lawmakers, regulators, and policy figures stationed in Washington. Giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook have snapped up alumni from the George W. Bush and Obama administrations to navigate the fast-changing playing field. Some have actually been expanding their footprint in DC for years. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Big Tech is finding Washington to be an unfriendly place during the Donald Trump era. Several major companies are under congressional or federal scrutiny. Executives once praised as American innovators are now accused of building platforms and services that undermine competition, privacy, and free speech. On Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties use Facebook, Twitter, and Google as rhetorical punching bags. Trump himself has weaponized the major social media platforms to advance disinformation and attack his enemies while at the same time using them as political foils.  As lawmakers and regulators have taken an increasingly hostile approach to the tech industry, the companies have planted roots in DC by hiring small armies of lobbyists, public policy experts and communications professionals. Congressional staffers and former senior aides in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations are particularly hot commodities.  To help navigate this increasingly cut-throat world, Insider put together this guide of the most important people at the intersection of tech, politics, and policy in Washington. We'll continue to update this list throughout the year. (Is there someone we should include in this article? Contact [email protected])Joel Kaplan, vice president of global public policy at Facebook Kaplan's Washington connections were cast into the spotlight when he showed up in October 2018 to support his good friend Brett Kavanaugh during a Senate hearing on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's sexual assault allegations against the Supreme Court nominee.  His presence at the hearing sparked internal outrage at the social network, though Kaplan didn't back down. He even threw a party for Kavanaugh after the confirmation vote. Kaplan joined Facebook in 2011 as one of the company's most high-profile Republican operatives. He served in the George W. Bush White House, where he overlapped with Kavanaugh, and also clerked for Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in 1999. At Facebook, Kaplan's role has become increasingly important as the company addresses the reckoning that its platform was used as a pipeline for disinformation and foreign interference during the 2016 presidential campaign. It's also faced calls for regulation from the Trump administration and allies who believe that Silicon Valley is biased against conservatives.  Kaplan has advocated against algorithm and moderation changes that would have undercut conservative publishers and users, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post reported.    Karan Bhatia, vice president of government affairs and public policy at Google Bhatia has led Google's DC office and its policy division since 2018. He joined at a tumultuous time for the company as Congress and regulators placed increasing scrutiny on Silicon Valley titans.  In July 2019, Senate lawmakers from both parties grilled Bhatia over Google's algorithm and advertising practices. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz demanded to know if the company's leadership leaned "left or right?" Bhatia responded that the company wasn't politically biased.   A lawyer by training, Bhatia spent six years in the Bush administration, with stints at the Commerce and Transportation departments before Bush appointed him deputy US trade representative in 2006. He led negotiations for the US - Korea Free Trade Agreement.  After the Bush years, Bhatia joined General Electric for a decade as a top public policy official, before making the switch to Google in 2018. Jay Carney, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Amazon President Barack Obama's former press secretary joined Amazon in 2015 as its top spokesman and now leads the DC policy shop and a team of in-house lobbyists. He's also in charge of all corporate communications. Amazon's lobbying spending has skyrocketed in recent years as the company faced pressure from both the left and the right. Politicians as ideologically divergent as Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took the trillion-dollar company to task on everything from its labor practices to CEO Jeff Bezos' ownership of the Washington Post, which has relentlessly investigated the Trump administration. As Amazon seeks to become the purveyor of everything, it must deal with an ever-growing list of industries, regulations, and federal agencies. The online retail giant is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission and House of Representatives for possible antitrust activity. Carney's career path has been somewhat unexpected. He started out as a journalist, including a 20-year stint writing for Time Magazine. Fred Humphries, corporate vice president for US government affairs at Microsoft Microsoft has a long history in Washington; its founder, Bill Gates, was famously one of the first tech titans to testify before Congress in 1998. It didn't go too well. Two years later, Fred Humphries joined Microsoft as its director of state governmental affairs and helped craft its strategy for reaching out to public officials. He had a successful career in politics before joining Microsoft, serving as an aide to former Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO) and chief of staff to Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA), and southern political director for the Democratic National Committee. Humphries became Microsoft's corporate vice president for US government affairs in 2015, and he's now the company's policy chief and top lobbyist in Washington. He directs its policy initiatives both internally and externally on a host of issues, including trade, privacy, cloud computing, and cybersecurity. Monique Meche, Vice President, Global Public Policy and Philanthropy at Twitter Several of the companies on this list have come under the president's ire, but none has poked Trump this year quite like Twitter. The platform has taken a more aggressive stance against Trump's frequent 280-character bites of disinformation, slapping warning labels on some inflammatory tweets or fact checks beneath others. Unsurprisingly, Trump has been incensed, yet he continues to tweet apace. The social network's moves also led to pressure on its rival, Facebook, to add similar warnings to Trump's most incendiary posts.  Into this fray comes Monique Meche, Twitter's newly minted top employee in Washington with a resume full of public policy roles at some of the country's most prominent tech companies, including Netflix, Amazon, and Waymo, Google's self-driving car subsidiary. At Twitter, Meche oversees its worldwide public policy, philanthropy, and government efforts.  Her DC office also provides training and support to lawmakers who use the platform to communicate with the public. Nicole Isaac, senior director of North America policy at LinkedIn Isaac heads up LinkedIn's public policy initiatives and manages outreach to federal and state governments. She's been with the company for more than five years, rising through the ranks of its policy team until taking the lead in 2018. Before she went to work for the internet's premier professional networking site, Isaac worked at the White House during the Obama administration. She was a special assistant to the president for legislative affairs, working as a liaison between the White House and Congress on a host of policy issues. She'd also worked as a legislative aide for Vice President Joe Biden. Tim Powderly, director of federal government affairs at Apple Apple's top lobbyist, Cynthia Hogan, recently departed the tech powerhouse to join her old boss Joe Biden's presidential campaign and advise the presumptive Democratic nominee as he vets potential running mates. Stepping into the top Apple DC role is Tim Powderly, a longtime company executive and former top Democratic staffer on House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Powderly served as the congressional panel's senior counsel before joining Apple in 2011. Powderly often responds to lawmaker's inquiries about the company, most recently from Democratic Senators with concerns about the security of Apple's new COVID-19 screening tools. Like many of its peers, Apple faces policy battles on multiple fronts, including an antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission as well as a separate inquiry from the House. Apple has also tangled with the federal government over encryption, government access to user data, and requests to unlock iPhones of mass shooting suspects.     Michael Beckerman, vice president and head of US public policy at TikTok TikTok has become the country's hottest new app, with its primarily young creators going viral for their synchronized dances and presidential lip syncs. With all that attention has come increased scrutiny. The Trump administration and some Republican lawmakers believe that behind the whimsical veneer lies a national security threat —  a claim the company denies. TikTok is owned by ByteDance Inc., a China-based internet company, and some Republican officials are worried about the security of user data and influence from Beijing. In November 2019, the US government opened an investigation of ByteDance following its acquisition of another popular app. More recently, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the administration was "looking into" shutting down TikTok in the US and GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida tweeted that the app "should not exist" and "patriots should delete it." The Democratic National Committee has also warned campaigns and staff about downloading TikTok onto their personal devices. Enter Michael Beckerman, the longtime head of the Internet Association trade group, who TikTok hired in February to lead its budding D.C. bureau. Beckerman has a track record of advocating for internet policy. As president of the Internet Association, he helped represent internet titans like Twitter, Amazon, and Facebook in the public policy sphere. The trade group deals with a host of policy concerns revolving around privacy, copyrights, and more. He's also a former top GOP aide on the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and in 2019 testified before Congress to advocate for national data privacy laws. The Capitol Hill experience will come in handy should lawmakers call for the company to appear before them in the future. Jon Berroya, interim president and CEO of the Internet Association Berroya took the helm of the Internet Association from Beckerman, who left earlier this year to join TikTok. The leading internet lobbying group has swelled to more than 40 members, which include heavy hitters like Doordash, Zillow, Reddit, Twitter, Microsoft and Lyft. The Internet Association advocates for policy positions on a range of issues facing its companies, including federal laws governing user privacy and copyright law. In June, Berroya testified before the Senate Judiciary's subcommittee on intellectual property on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's Section 512, which protects websites from liability if their users post material that infringes on copyrights.   Victoria Espinel, CEO of BSA, the Software Alliance What the Internet Alliance is for internet companies, the Software Alliance is for...well, software. The trade group counts companies like IBM, Slack, and Salesforce among its members and advocates for its members' interests on copyright, cybersecurity, privacy, artificial intelligence, and more.  During the Bush administration, Espinel was a US trade representative focused on intellectual property and innovation, and later joined Obama's White House as his adviser on intellectual property.  Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Though technology policy is now regulated through multiple agencies, the FCC is the big one. As chairman, Pai has a great deal of power over how the government approaches and regulates the internet and providers. Pai joined the FCC as an Obama appointee in 2012, but it was Trump's decision to elevate him to chairman in 2017 that thrust him into the spotlight. Pai's appointment sparked controversy, with supporters of net neutrality — the principle that internet providers must allow traffic to flow equally and not throttle it based on website or price —  viewing him as a death knell for their cause. At the end of that year, the FCC officially scrapped their net neutrality rules. Under Pai, the FCC is also occupied with building up the nation's 5G infrastructure. And in June, the FCC designated Chinese telecom companies Huawei and ZTE as national security threats due to their ties to the Chinese government, Pai said. Joseph Simons, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission The FTC also handles some of the government's most pressing technology issues. In February, it opened a major antitrust investigation into mega-companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet. The agency's five commissioners requested that these companies disclose information on their acquisitions dating back to 2010. Facebook, in particular, has been in the agency's crosshairs. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal from the 2016 presidential election, the FTC slammed the social network with an unprecedented $5 billion — yes, billion, with a "b" — fine for its failure to protect users' privacy. The FTC also demanded that Facebook must conduct a privacy review of new products and place more stringent guardrails on third parties that seek to use its data. In July 2019, Facebook disclosed on an earnings call that the FTC had launched an antitrust investigation into the company. Simons has made a lengthy career as an expert in antitrust issues in both the public and the private sector. In the late 1980s, he rose up the ranks at the FTC's Bureau of Competition and served as its chair from 2001-2003. Before Trump nominated him to lead the FTC in 2017, Simons was a partner at the mega-lawfirm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, where he also handled antitrust cases. The FTC has four additional commissioners who each have a pivotal say over the industry: Noah Joshua Phillips, Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, and Christine S. Wilson.  Rep. David Cicilline The New York Times recently called Cicilline "Big Tech's Biggest Threat", and for good reason. As Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee's subpanel on antitrust, commercial and administrative law, he has the authority to investigate the major tech companies.  And he's using it.  At the Rhode Island congressman's direction in June 2019, the House launched a wide ranging probe of potential antitrust activity by companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.  The subcommittee has since held a series of hearings, including an October 2019 session with antitrust experts to examine how major tech companies' business practices affect consumer privacy.    California Reps. Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo The Silicon Valley-area Democratic representatives have played a big role in shaping policy around data security, innovation, and government surveillance.  Both deal with a wide range of tech policy issues like privacy, data security, and surveillance through their committee assignments. Eshoo serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee's subcommittee on communications and technology, and is a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Internet Caucus. Lofgren has been a longtime supporter of government surveillance reform and establishing better rules for how the U.S government can collect Americans' data.  In October, the two Democrats unveiled the Online Privacy Act, a bill that seeks to create a federal agency to protect users' data and privacy, creates user rights, and compels technology companies to improve how they protect people's information. However, it is still stuck in committee. Sen. Josh Hawley The 40-year old freshman Republican senator has made policing Big Tech and the social media platforms one of his signature issues. His primary target is TikTok, the video sharing and editing app that has become America's meme factory du jour. Hawley and other conservatives see it as a potential national security threat. Hawley has introduced bills that would ban federal employees from using TikTok and another directs the secretary of state to launch a review of how foreign apps such as TikTok use Americans' data and also limit that use. But the Missouri senator's rhetorical broadsides — he's seen as a potential 2024 presidential contender once Trump is out of politics — haven't yet translated into effective policy. His bills are nowhere close to becoming law, though they are translating into headlines for Hawley and pressure for TikTok, which may find itself joining its peers in a Capitol Hill hearing room.  
Facebook is sponsoring an event at which US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is speaking.Facebook employees previously protested after a senior executive supported Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearings, and the sponsorship risks inflaming internal tensions.Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct, which he denies.Activists are now targeting Facebook employees with ads about the sponsorship to try and get them to challenge it.Facebook says the sponsorship is part of its long-running support for political groups on both sides of the aisle.Facebook is sponsoring an event at which US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is speaking — a move that risks employee unrest, and that has sparked immediate protests from activist groups.