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Republican Devin Nunes to leave Congress and run Trump’s social media venture – as it happened

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2021-12-07
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House Republicans Hold Forum On COVID-19 Origin<br>WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 29: U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) testifies during a Republican-led forum on the origins of the COVID-19 virus at the U.S. Capitol on June 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. The forum examined the theory that the coronavirus came from a lab in Wuhan, China. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) Photograph: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

12.21am GMT

Today's politics recap

  • The White House will stage a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed. American athletes are still expected to compete in the games, but the Biden administration will not be sending any representatives, in a protest against China’s human rights abuses.
  • The justice department is suing Texas over its redistricting plan, arguing that Republican lawmakers violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in their efforts to shore up the party’s electoral advantage. “The complaint that we filed today alleges that Texas violated Section 2 by creating redistricting plans that deny or abridge the rights of Latino and Black voters to vote on account of their race, color or membership in a language or minority group,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a press conference.
  • Congress is bracing for another fight over the debt ceiling. Lawmakers approved a short-term debt ceiling suspension in October, delaying a potential default, but they must now take up the issue again. Democratic leaders are considering adding a debt ceiling provision to the National Defense Authorization Act, but it’s unclear whether such a proposal could pass the House.
  • Former Republican senator David Perdue officially entered the Georgia gubernatorial race. Perdue is challenging sitting Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who has faced criticism from Donald Trump and his allies for refusing to attempt to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating a deal between Trump’s new social media venture and a special-purpose acquisition company, according to a new filing. Trump’s reported talks with the chief executive of the company Digital World earlier this year may have violated SEC rules.
  • The Republican congressman Devin Nunes of California announced his retirement from the House to lead the new Trump social media venture. The congressman has long claimed without evidence that social media companies have been trying to censor Republicans and has sued Twitter over parody accounts that mocked him while pretending to be his mother and his cow.
  • The Justice Department has closed an investigation into the abduction and murder of Emmett Till , the Black teenager who was lynched by two white men in 1955. Till’s murder, after the 14-year-old was accused of whistling at a white woman, galvanized the civil rights movement. Three years ago, federal authorities reopened the case after a historian’s book threw doubt on statements the woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, made in prior court proceedings.

– Maanvi Singh and Joan E Greve

Updated at 1.17am GMT

12.11am GMT

The Justice Department has closed an investigation into the abduction and murder of Emmett Till , the Black teenager who was lynched by two white men in 1955.

Till’s murder after the 14-year-old was accused of whistling at a white woman, galvanized the civil rights movement. Three years ago, federal authorities reopened the Till case after a historian’s book quoted the white woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham. denying that Till had made advances toward her - potentially throwing doubt into statements she made in prior court proceedings.

The DOJ cited the statute of limitations and the fact that Donham denied the historian’s account that she had lied in dropping the case.

Donham’s former husband and another man confessed to Till’s murder after being acquitted by an all-white jury. Federal officials had also previously revisited the case in 2004, and closed it after prosecutors said that the statute of limitations kept them from pursuing charges.

Updated at 12.18am GMT

11.26pm GMT

Devin Nunes was one of Trump’s earliest and strongest supporters in Congress, serving as an adviser to the former president’s transition team after the election.

In 2018, the congressman released a “ Nunes memo ” questioning the legitimacy of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections by alleging that former Trump adviser Carter Page was improperly surveilled. The memo, which bolstered Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the Obama administration was spying on him, caused much frenzy when it came out.

Read more:

Related: Who is Devin Nunes and why is he sowing confusion in the Russia inquiry?

10.40pm GMT

Congressman Nunes to join new Trump social media venture as CEO

Shortly after Devin Nunes announced his retirement, the Trump Media & Technology Group announced that the congressman would become the venture’s chief executive officer.

In a statement, Nunes said: “The time has come to reopen the Internet and allow for the free flow of ideas and expression without censorship.”

The congressman has long claimed without evidence that social media companies have been trying to censor Republicans. In his lawsuit against Twitter, he claimed he had endured “an orchestrated defamation campaign, one that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life”. The suit also accused Twitter of censoring “viewpoints with which it disagrees” by shadow banning conservatives.

The parody accounts pretending to be the congressman’s cow and his mother mocked him over revelations that his family had moved its farm to Iowa from California long before he used his agricultural roots as part of his campaign in central California.

Later, the Trump justice department subpoenaed Twitter for information related to a parody account that criticized Nunes, federal court records revealed – even though a judge ruled that the representative could not sue the social media company.

Updated at 10.50pm GMT

10.27pm GMT

The Republican congressman Devin Nunes of California announced his retirement from the House. He wrote in a letter to constituents that he is leaving his position as a representative in order to pursue a “new opportunity to fight for the most important issues I believe in”.

“I’m writing to let you know I’ve decided to pursue this opportunity, and therefore I will be leaving the House of Representatives at the end of 2021,” Nunes wrote.

Nunes, 48, has served as a congressman since 2003. He was a member of the Intelligence Committee during Donald Trump’s first impeachment and has been a staunch ally of the former president.

Nunes is also infamous for suing Twitter over mocking tweets from accounts called themselves “Devin Nunes’ Mom” and “Devin Nunes’ Cow”, and then being informed that he cannot sue the parody accounts for defamation.

Updated at 11.36pm GMT

9.40pm GMT

Andrew Roth in Moscow and Julian Borger in Washington:

The US has said it would send reinforcements to Nato’s eastern flank in the wake of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, as well as imposing severe new economic measures, in a warning to Moscow on the eve of talks between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin .

Biden will also make clear to Putin that the US will not rule out future Ukrainian membership of Nato, as the Russian leader has demanded, a senior US official said.

With an estimated Russian 100,000 troops already gathered within striking distance of the borders, the crisis is the worst since 2015, when Moscow staged a large-scale incursion into Ukraine , clandestinely sending tanks and artillery to encircle Ukrainian troops and compel Kyiv to sign a peace agreement in Minsk that has since come close to collapse.

The official pointed out in a briefing to reporters before the Biden-Putin video summit that the first Russian military intervention in Ukraine led to more US troops and equipment to be deployed in eastern Europe , and there would be similar response this time.

Read more:

Related: US says it will send troops to eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

9.31pm GMT

Today so far

That’s it from me today. My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will take over the blog for the next few hours.

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • The White House will stage a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed. American athletes are still expected to compete in the games, but the Biden administration will not be sending any representatives to protest China’s human rights abuses.
  • The Justice Department is suing Texas over its redistricting plan, arguing that Republican lawmakers violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in their efforts to shore up the party’s electoral advantage. “The complaint that we filed today alleges that Texas violated Section 2 by creating redistricting plans that deny or abridge the rights of Latino and Black voters to vote on account of their race, color or membership in a language or minority group,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a press conference.
  • Congress is bracing for another fight over the debt ceiling. Lawmakers approved a short-term debt ceiling suspension in October, delaying a potential default, but they must now take up the issue again. Democratic leaders are considering adding a debt ceiling provision to the National Defense Authorization Act, but it’s unclear whether such a proposal could pass the House.
  • Former Republican Senator David Perdue officially entered the Georgia gubernatorial race. Perdue is challenging sitting Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who has faced criticism from Donald Trump and his allies for refusing to attempt to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating a deal between Trump’s new social media venture and a special-purpose acquisition company, according to a new filing. Trump’s reported talks with the chief executive of the company Digital World earlier this year may have violated SEC rules.

Maanvi will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

9.15pm GMT

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer paid tribute to Bob Dole in a floor speech, after he and House speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the former Republican senator would lie in state in the Capitol on Thursday.

“Throughout his life, Bob Dole redefined and elevated what it has meant to be a public servant,” the Democratic leader said.

Praising Dole’s many bipartisan accomplishments, Schumer added, “I always admired his steadfast advocacy for veterans, for Americans with disabilities and his love for his country.”

8.47pm GMT

It is a festive family photo with seven broad smiles and a Christmas tree. But one other detail sets it apart: each member of the Massie family is brandishing a machine gun or military-style rifle.

The photo was tweeted last week by Thomas Massie , a Republican congressman from Kentucky, with the caption: “Merry Christmas! PS: Santa, please bring ammo.”

A few days earlier, a school shooting in Michigan left four teenagers dead and seven people injured after a 15-year-old student allegedly went on a rampage.

Massie’s post earned widespread condemnation but was also seen as indicative of a performative, provocative brand of Republican politics, calculated to go viral, “own the libs” – that is, provoke outrage on the left – and contribute to the outsized influence of supporters of Donald Trump .

“Here his family’s got guns under a Christmas tree just after four kids were killed,” said Elaine Kamarck , a former official in the Clinton administration. “The guy’s abominable but that’s what’s happening to the Republican party. They’re flat-out nuts. There’s a piece of the Republican party that now supports violence.”

Related: ‘It’s who they are’: gun-fetish photo a symbol of Republican abasement under Trump

8.26pm GMT

Joe Biden ’s decision to stage a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is attracting some praise from Republican lawmakers.

“The Administration is right to refuse diplomatic presence at the Beijing Olympics: America will not turn a blind eye to China’s predation, persecution, and genocide,” said Republican Senator Mitt Romney.

Republican congressman Ken Buck, a member of the House foreign affairs committee, added, “I applaud President Biden for refusing to send American diplomats to the Beijing Olympics in February, and I hope every freedom-loving nation joins the US. Genocide must not be rewarded.”

8.04pm GMT

Bob Dole to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda

Bob Dole, the former Republican senator and presidential nominee who died on Sunday at the age of 98, will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda on Thursday.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer announced the honor in a joint statement released this afternoon.

“Senator Dole was an extraordinary patriot, who devoted his entire life to serving our nation with dignity and integrity,” Pelosi said.

“Senator Dole exemplified the greatest generation, and while I never had the pleasure of serving in the Senate with him, his reputation and his achievements, and most of all his character preceded him,” Schumer added.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said, “Those of us who were lucky to know Bob well ourselves admired him even more.”

According to Pelosi and Schumer’s statement, the Capitol will hold a formal arrival and departure ceremony for Dole’s casket. Because of coronavirus precautions, the ceremony will only be open to invited guests.

Related: Bob Dole obituary

Updated at 8.16pm GMT

7.47pm GMT

After delivering his prepared remarks on the need to lower prescription drug prices, Joe Biden was asked whether he believes Congress can still pass the Build Back Better bill by Christmas.

“As early as we can get it,” the president told reporters. “I want to get it done no matter how long it takes.”

Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said this morning that he still wants the upper chamber to pass the $2tn social spending package by Christmas.

“Our goal in the Senate is to pass the legislation before Christmas and get it to the president’s desk,” the Democratic leader said in a letter to colleagues.

“I will continue to remind you that there are more long days and nights, and potentially weekends, that the Senate will be in session this month.”

7.33pm GMT

Joe Biden is now delivering remarks on his Build Back Better agenda and the need to lower prescription drug prices for American families.

The president noted that some drugs are far more costly in the US when the same exact treatments are available at a lower price in other nations.

One anti-cancer drug that costs $14,000 in the US is sold for $6,000 in France, even though it is distributed by the same manufacturer in both nations.

“We can agree that prescription drugs are outrageously expensive in this country,” Biden said. “Doesn’t need be that way.”

Updated at 7.35pm GMT

7.15pm GMT

Justice Department sues Texas over redistricting plans

The Justice Department is suing Texas over its new electoral maps, saying the plans illegally make it more difficult to participate in the electoral process.

Minority voters accounted for 95% of Texas’ population growth over the last decade, but there are no new majority-minority districts in the new plans.

Texas Republicans , who control the redistricting process, drew the lines to shore up their advantage across the state, blunting the surge in the state’s non-white population. The suit says Texas violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race.

“The complaint that we filed today alleges that Texas violated Section 2 by creating redistricting plans that deny or abridge the rights of Latino and Black voters to vote on account of their race, color or membership in a language or minority group,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a press conference.

Vanita Gupta , the number three official at the Justice Department, noted that some of the districts were drawn with “discriminatory intent.” She also noted that Texas is a repeat offender when it comes to voting discrimination, highlighting that courts have repeatedly found that the state has discriminated against minority voters over the last several decades.

This is the first redistricting lawsuit the Justice Department has filed this year. Last week, the Department made filings in three cases challenging new voting restrictions in Arizona, Texas, and Florida, defending the scope of Section 2.

6.55pm GMT

A reporter asked press secretary Jen Psaki why the Biden administration is still sending athletes to the 2022 Olympics, even as the White House refuses to send a diplomatic delegation to Beijing.

“We believe US athletes, people who have been training, giving up a lot of blood, sweat and tears preparing for these Olympics, should be able to go and compete, and we look forward to cheering for them from home,” Psaki said.

The press secretary argued the diplomatic boycott clearly demonstrated that the US would not treat the games as “business as usual” in light of China’s human rights abuses.

6.40pm GMT

China has said a diplomatic boycott of the forthcoming Beijing Winter Olympics by the Biden administration would be “a stain on the spirit of the Olympic charter” and “sensationalist and politically manipulative”, in what appears to be a further rift in the already strained bilateral relations.

The last time the US staged a full boycott of the Olympics was during the cold war in 1980, when the former president Jimmy Carter snubbed the Moscow summer Games along with 64 other countries and territories.

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian , on Monday accused Washington of “hyping a ‘diplomatic boycott’ without even being invited to the Games”.

“I want to stress that the Winter Olympic Games is not a stage for political posturing and manipulation,” Zhao said. “It is a grave travesty of the spirit of the Olympic charter, a blatant political provocation and a serious affront to the 1.4 billion Chinese people.”

The US diplomatic boycott comes amid escalating tensions between China and many western countries. It was first raised by Joe Biden last month when he said he was considering a “diplomatic boycott” as pressures grew in the US Congress over its concerns about China’s human rights record, including over the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

Politicians including Nancy Pelosi , the speaker of the House of Representatives, have advocated a boycott as protest.

Related: China denounces possible US Olympic boycott as ‘provocation’

6.29pm GMT

White House will stage diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics, Psaki confirms

The White House will stage a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, press secretary Jen Psaki has just confirmed.

“The Biden administration will not send any diplomatic or official representation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games, given the PRC’s ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses,” Psaki said from the briefing room podium.

The announcement comes two months before the games are set to begin. American athletes are still expected to compete in the Olympics, even as the Biden administration will not be sending any representatives to Beijing.

“The athletes on Team USA have our full support,” Psaki said. “We will be behind them 100% as we cheer them on from home. We will not be contributing to the fanfare of the games.”

Psaki said the White House determined it would be wrong to deny athletes the opportunity to compete in the games, and she argued the lack of a diplomatic delegation would still send a “clear message” about the administration’s priorities.

6.16pm GMT

Donald Trump celebrated the news that former Republican Senator David Perdue has entered the Georgia gubernatorial race , but he interestingly has not yet offered his formal endorsement to the candidate.

“Wow, it looks like highly respected Senator David Perdue will be running against RINO Brian Kemp for Governor of Georgia. David was a great Senator, and he truly loves his State and his Country,” the former president said in a new statement.

“This will be very interesting, and I can’t imagine that Brian Kemp, who has hurt election integrity in Georgia so badly, can do well at the ballot box (unless the election is rigged, of course).”

Trump has repeatedly criticized Kemp for refusing to attempt to overturn Joe Biden ’s 2020 victory in Georgia, and he had encouraged Purdue to launch a primary challenge against the incumbent governor.

5.58pm GMT

Washington Post announces death of Fred Hiatt

The Washington Post has announced the death of Fred Hiatt , its editorial page editor, this morning. He was 66.

Hiatt died in New York, where he suffered a heart attack while visiting his daughter in late November.

A statement from Post publisher Fred Ryan , widely shared by Post staffers, said in part: “All of us who worked with Fred know what a deep loss this is and how profoundly he’ll be missed.

“Over the past two decades, Fred’s leadership made the Post editorial page into the most consequential in the news industry. Nearly every person in the department was hired by Fred a great testament to his ability to identify and retain top talent.

“A 40-year veteran of the post, he built friendships through the company and made immense contributions as a writer and editor and a mentor to so many.”

Among responses, Peter Baker , chief White House correspondent of the rival New York Times wrote : “Devastating news. Fred was a first-rate journalist, smart and incisive, gentle but strong, open minded and thoughtful but never fooled by the propagandists of Washington or Moscow. Most of all, he was the epitome of decency and principle in an indecent and unprincipled age.”

5.35pm GMT

US not seeking 'direct use of military force' over Ukraine - report

Details of a briefing call on the Biden administration’s options in regards to a feared and expected Russian invasion of Ukraine are beginning to come out.

Joe Biden and Vladmir Putin are due to talk tomorrow.

We’ll have more soon. In the tweeted words of Olivier Knox of the Washington Post, the options involve sanctions and other non-lethal moves:

“On a conference call organised by the White House, a senior administration official (anonymously) said this when asked whether Biden will warn Putin tomorrow that the US might respond militarily to a Russian invasion of Ukraine:

I don’t want to use a public press call to talk about the particular sensitive challenges that President Biden will lay out for President Putin, but I would say the United States is not seeking to end up in a circumstance in which the focus of our countermeasures is the direct use of American military force (as opposed to support for Ukraine’s military and Nato partners, new sanctions).

Knox adds: “Biden has been speaking to European allies, and will continue to do so. He’ll speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy after the call to Putin. But Secretary of State [Tony] Blinken will speak to Zelenskiy before the call to Putin, the official said.”

5.19pm GMT

The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer , has teed up a big couple of weeks in the chamber with a statement about Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, the $2tn package of domestic spending priorities which passed the House after a lengthy wrangle and must now survive the Senate.

“Our goal in the Senate is to pass the legislation before Christmas and get it to the president’s desk,” he said this morning .

“Of course, there are other priorities we plan to address before the end of the year as well, including voting rights, debt limit, NDAA…

“I will continue to remind you that there are more long days and nights, and potentially weekends, that the Senate will be in session this month.”

5.01pm GMT

Today so far

Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Congress is bracing for another fight over the debt ceiling. Lawmakers approved a short-term debt ceiling suspension in October, delaying a potential default, but they must now take up the issue again. Democratic leaders are considering adding a debt ceiling provision to the National Defense Authorization Act, but it’s unclear whether such a proposal could pass the House.
  • Former Republican Senator David Perdue officially entered the Georgia gubernatorial race. Perdue is challenging sitting Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who has faced criticism from Donald Trump and his allies for refusing to attempt to overturn Joe Biden ’s 2020 victory in Georgia.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating a deal between Trump’s new social media venture and a special-purpose acquisition company, according to a new filing. Trump’s reported talks with the chief executive of the company Digital World earlier this year may have violated SEC rules.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

4.43pm GMT

SEC is investigating deal with Trump's social media venture - reports

The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating a deal between Donald Trump ’s new social media venture and a special-purpose acquisition company, according to a new filing.

The Wall Street Journal reports :

The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing a potential merger between Trump Media & Technology Group and the SPAC Digital World Acquisition Corp., Digital World disclosed Monday.

The SPAC said in October that it is taking Mr. Trump’s social-media company public in a deal that valued it at roughly $875 million, including debt.

After the deal was announced, The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets reported that Mr. Trump met with Digital World Chief Executive Patrick Orlando early this year and before the SPAC had raised money. If the meeting is deemed to have represented substantive deal talks, it could violate SEC rules. That is because SPACs aren’t supposed to have a target company identified at the time they initially raise money, analysts say.

Trump has been searching for ways to more effectively communicate with his supporters since he was removed from Twitter and Facebook earlier this year, after he incited the Capitol insurrection.

4.25pm GMT

Donald Trump’s penchant for four-letter words is well-known, to the extent that his four-year presidency prompted soul-searching among some US media outlets about which words could properly be printed.

The Guardian has long had few such scruples .

With that in mind, here’s our report on remarks at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night in which the former president called reporters “crooked bastards” and Gen Mark Milley , chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, a “fucking idiot”:

Related: ‘Crooked bastards’: Trump attacks US media in foul-mouthed speech

4.09pm GMT

Trump pushes back against revelations in Meadows' book

Donald Trump is pushing back against the claim, made by former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in his new book, that the then-president tested positive for coronavirus before his first debate with Joe Biden.

“The Fake News continues to push the false narrative that I had Covid prior to the first debate,” Trump said in a new statement.

“My Chief of Staff Mark Meadows confirmed I did not have Covid before or during the debate, saying, ‘And yet, the way that the media wants to spin it is certainly to be as negative about Donald Trump as they possibly can while giving Joe Biden a pass.’”

In his book, Meadows details how Trump received a positive test result three days before the September 2020 debate, but the president then received a negative result with a separate test.

The Guardian’s Martin Pengelly reported last week:

Meadows writes of his surprise that such a ‘massive germaphobe’ could have contracted Covid, given precautions including ‘buckets of hand sanitiser’ and ‘hardly [seeing] anyone who ha[d]n’t been rigorously tested’.

Meadows says the positive test had been done with an old model kit. He told Trump the test would be repeated with ‘the Binax system, and that we were hoping the first test was a false positive’.

After ‘a brief but tense wait’, Meadows called back with news of the negative test. He could ‘almost hear the collective ‘Thank God’ that echoed through the cabin’, he writes.

Related: Trump tested positive for Covid few days before Biden debate, chief of staff says in new book

3.47pm GMT

For years, Helen Butler has been on a mission to increase voter turnout, especially among Black voters, in Georgia and across the south. She’s used to the skepticism. People she meets wonder why they should bother, because their vote won’t matter. No matter who’s in office, longstanding problems won’t get solved.

Last year, she listened as Joe Biden promised he would protect the right to vote if he was elected president. “One thing the Senate and the president can do right away is pass the bill to restore the Voting Rights Act … it’s one of the first things I’ll do as president if elected. We can’t let the fundamental right to vote be denied,” he said in July last year.

And so, after Biden was inaugurated, Butler and many others expected that voting rights would be one of the first things the president and Democrats addressed.

Instead, during the president’s first year in office, Butler has watched with dismay as Biden and Democrats have failed to pass any voting rights legislation. Meanwhile, Republicans in Georgia passed sweeping new voting restrictions, one of several places across the country that made it harder to vote.

“It is disheartening, I can tell you, out of all the work we’ve put in to have fair elections, to get people engaged, and to have the Senate that will not act to protect the most sacred right, the right to vote, is unheard of,” Butler said.

Related: ‘Time is running out’: can Congress pass a voting rights bill after months of failure?

Updated at 3.48pm GMT

3.30pm GMT

David Perdue ’s announcement that he will challenge sitting Governor Brian Kemp for the Republican nomination comes less than a week after Democrat Stacey Abrams launched her own gubernatorial campaign.

Abrams’ campaign sets up a potential rematch against Kemp, depending on whether he can best Perdue. Kemp narrowly defeated Abrams in the 2018 gubernatorial race, although she blamed the loss on voter suppression.

In the years since, Abrams has devoted herself to voting rights, establishing the organizing group Fair Fight to help register hundreds of thousands of voters in Georgia.

Democrats have credited Abrams with helping to carry Joe Biden and Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock to victory in Georgia. The gubernatorial race will test whether Democrats can achieve another statewide victory in the historically conservative state.

Related: Stacey Abrams announces she’s running for Georgia governor again

3.13pm GMT

Perdue officially enters Georgia gubernatorial race

Former Republican Senator David Perdue has officially launched his primary challenge against Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.

In a video announcing his bid, Perdue warned of the potential peril of electing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and blamed Kemp for Republican losses in the Georgia Senate runoffs earlier this year.

Perdue narrowly lost his own runoff race to Democratic Senate candidate Jon Ossoff, who was elected alongside fellow Democrat Raphael Warnock in January.

“This isn’t personal; it’s simple. He has failed all of us and cannot win in November,” Perdue said of Kemp in his announcement video.

“Instead of protecting our elections, he caved to Abrams and cost us two Senate seats, the Senate majority, and gave Joe Biden free rein.”

Donald Trump had encouraged Perdue to jump into the race, as the former president has continued to attack Kemp for refusing to attempt to overturn Biden’s 2020 victory in Georgia.

Trump is expected to soon formally endorse Perdue’s primary challenge, according to CNN.

3.02pm GMT

The largest oil and gas companies made a combined $174bn in profits in the first nine months of the year as gasoline prices climbed in the US , according to a new report.

The bumper profit totals, provided exclusively to the Guardian, show that in the third quarter of 2021 alone, 24 top oil and gas companies made more than $74bn in net income.

From January to September, the net income of the group, which includes Exxon, Chevron, Shell and BP, was $174bn.

Exxon alone posted a net income of $6.75bn in the third quarter, its highest profit since 2017, and has seen its revenue jump by 60% on the same period last year.

The company credited the rising cost of oil for bolstering these profits, as did BP, which made $3.3bn in third-quarter profit. “Rising commodity prices certainly helped,” Bernard Looney, chief executive of BP, told investors at the latest earnings report.

Gasoline prices have hit a seven-year high in the US due to the rising cost of oil, with Americans now paying about $3.40 for a gallon of fuel compared with around $2.10 a year ago.

Related: Exclusive: oil companies’ profits soared to $174bn this year as US gas prices rose

3.02pm GMT

Lawmakers face off (again) over debt ceiling

Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.

Congress is bracing for another battle over the debt ceiling, as lawmakers look to avoid a default that would have devastating effects on the US economy.

The debate comes two months after Congress approved a short-term debt ceiling suspension that delayed a potential default.

Politico reports :

House Democratic leaders have discussed adding a provision addressing the debt ceiling to the final National Defense Authorization Act and voting on it as soon as this week, according to a senior Democratic aide. That’s assuming, of course, that compromise NDAA language is ironed out between the two chambers. Senate Minority Leader MITCH MCCONNELL has privately signaled to Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER that he could go along with this idea, which would end their months-long stalemate.

But as Politico notes, it remains unclear whether such a proposal can pass the Democratic-controlled House, given some progressive pushback to the NDAA.

And with Democrats’ extremely narrow majority in the House, speaker Nancy Pelosi can only afford a few “no” votes in her caucus if she wants to pass the bill.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

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