Almost immediately, McConnell’s words sparked furor online, with many interpreting them to mean that he sees African Americans as separate from the rest of the US population.
“Senator McConnell, what is the difference between African Americans and Americans?” asked the NAACP’s Twitter account.
McConnell and his office tried to clarify that the minority leader had misspoken and meant to say “all Americans,” not just “Americans.”
Speaking to reporters in Kentucky on Friday, McConnell corrected his statement once again, saying he meant “all” Americans.
“Look, I think I’ve made my point,” he told reporters. “I’ve never been accused of this sort of thing before. It’s hurtful and offensive, and I think some of the critics know it’s totally nonsense.”
In an earlier statement Friday from his office, McConnell said that he has regularly noted that the 2020 election saw record numbers of voters. “I have consistently pointed to the record-high turnout for all voters in the 2020 election, including African Americans,” McConnell said.
Still, the anger among Black Americans was evident in social media posts.
“Being Black doesn’t make you less of an American, no matter what this craven man thinks,” Charles Booker, a Democrat running against Senator Rand Paul for Paul’s Kentucky seat, tweeted.
“[Colin] Powell was a real American,” tweeted an account named “Republicans against Trumpism,” attaching an image of the late general, who was Black. “[McConnell], apologize now!” the account demanded.
“Hey [McConnell], for your information, I’m also an American,” tweeted Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, a Black man.
Soon, more Black Americans were tweeting pictures of themselves with the caption “I am American” and using the #MitchPlease hashtag.
Democrats have pushed for federal voting rights legislation in response to Republican-led state laws imposing new restrictions on ballot access. On Wednesday, Republicans blocked the measures, which combined an effort to restore portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that have been struck down in recent years by the Supreme Court with a broader effort to establish new national standards for federal elections, including minimum requirements for early voting, voting by mail and other methods making voting easier.
An effort to change Senate rules to ensure passage also failed as two Democrats — Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — joined all Republicans in opposing the effort.
McConnell led his Republicans in sinking the voting legislation. “This is about one party wanting the power to unilaterally rewrite the rule book of American elections,” he said this past week.
Judge says some of Giuliani’s communications are privileged
NEW YORK — The retired federal judge assigned to review the contents of 18 electronic devices seized from Rudolph Giuliani’s home and offices in Manhattan last spring has withheld about half of what former president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer argued should be kept out of the hands of investigators because it was privileged.
More than 3,000 communications were released to prosecutors on Wednesday, an action reflected in a four-page report submitted to a judge overseeing litigation on the FBI’s April 28 seizure of Giuliani’s phones and computers. The contents of the devices were not disclosed.
The Manhattan US attorney’s office has been investigating Giuliani’s dealings in Ukraine while he was representing Trump. Prosecutors have said Giuliani might have acted as an unregistered foreign agent, which was the basis for the agents’ search. Giuliani, a former mayor of New York who also once headed the prosecutor’s office that now has him under a microscope, has denied any wrongdoing.
Barbara S. Jones, in her progress statement filed Friday, reported that of the more than 25,000 chats and messages contained on a cellphone dating to the start of 2018, Giuliani initially asserted “privilege and/or highly personal” status on 96 items, 40 of which she granted. His attorneys withdrew their assertions on 19 of the items, and Jones said 37 “were not privileged.”
From that set of records, 56 items were released to federal prosecutors. On another set of Giuliani’s devices, more than 3,000 communications from Dec. 1, 2018 to May 31, 2019 were reviewed, but he did not assert privilege on any of the items. They were also released to prosecutors this week.
An attorney’s communications with a client are generally protected from outside inspection unless the exchange advances criminal activity. Privilege reviews are relatively routine and are sometimes done in-house by an independent team at a prosecutor’s office.
In the case of Giuliani, like Michael Cohen, another attorney who represented Trump before a very public falling out, New York federal courts have appointed what is referred to as a “special master” to oversee the exhaustive review process.
Jones was also appointed to review Cohen’s materials before his guilty pleas to charges involving tax evasion, campaign finance violations, and lying to Congress about a Trump real estate deal in Russia.
US seeks to attract international STEM students
The Biden administration on Friday announced policy changes to attract international students specializing in science, technology, engineering, and math — part of the broader effort to make the US economy more competitive.
The State Department will let eligible visiting students in those fields, known as STEM, complete up to 36 months of academic training, according to senior administration officials. There will also be a new initiative to connect these students with US businesses.
Homeland Security will add 22 new fields of study — including cloud computing, data visualization, and data science — to a program that allows international graduates from US universities to spend up to three additional years training with domestic employers. The program generated about 58,000 applications in fiscal 2020.
The programs are designed to ensure that the United States is a magnet for talent from around the world, attracting scientists and researchers whose breakthroughs will enable the economy to grow. Government data shows that international students are increasingly the lifeblood of academic research.
The government’s National Science Board reported this week that international students on temporary visas account for more than half of US doctoral degrees in economics, computer sciences, engineering, and mathematics and statistics. But in the sciences and engineering, China is fast closing the gap in doctoral degrees by generating nearly as many graduates as the United States did in 2018.
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