Capitol Riot Committee Subpoenas Top Trump Advisers

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Daily Political Briefing

Sept. 23, 2021, 8:16 p.m. ET

Sept. 23, 2021, 8:16 p.m. ET

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The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on Thursday subpoenaed four of President Donald J. Trump’s closest allies, ramping up its scrutiny of what the former president was doing during the deadly riot.

The committee issued subpoenas for information from Mark Meadows, a former White House chief of staff; Daniel Scavino Jr., a former deputy chief of staff; Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former adviser; and Kash Patel, a former Pentagon chief of staff.

The committee is demanding the four men turn over documents by Oct. 7 and submit to depositions the following week.

In letters transmitting the subpoenas, the committee said it was seeking information about Mr. Trump’s actions in the run-up to and during the riot.

Mr. Bannon was present at a meeting at the Willard Hotel the day before the violence, when plans were discussed to try to overturn the results of the election the next day, the committee stated. He was quoted as saying, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

Mr. Meadows was involved in the planning of efforts to subvert the results of the election, the committee asserted.

Mr. Scavino was in contact with Mr. Trump and others who planned the rallies that preceded the violence of Jan. 6, and Mr. Patel was reportedly in constant contact with Mr. Meadows on the day of the assault, the committee said.

The subpoenas come as the committee has demanded detailed records about Mr. Trump’s every movement and meeting on the day of the assault, in a series of requests to federal agencies that suggested it was focusing on any involvement the former president may have had in the attack’s planning or execution.

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WASHINGTON — The senior American envoy for Haiti policy said on Thursday that he had resigned over the “inhumane” and “counterproductive” deportations of Haitian migrants to a desperate country reeling from a political crisis and a deadly earthquake last month — a decision that has divided some of President’s Biden’s close advisers.

The diplomat, Daniel Foote, was appointed special envoy to Haiti in July, just weeks after President Jovenel Moïse was killed in his bedroom during a nighttime raid on his residence.

Thousands of Haitians have flocked to the Texas border, particularly in the past week, where they have crossed the Rio Grande into the United States and confronted Border Patrol agents on horseback before being deported.

Images of horse-mounted agents chasing Haitians have prompted outrage over the treatment of the migrants. On Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security said that the horse patrol unit in Del Rio had been temporarily suspended, and that the agents’ actions were being investigated. Border Patrol agents have ridden horses to enforce security since the agency was created in 1924.

“I will not be associated with the United States’ inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life,” Mr. Foote wrote to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken in a resignation letter dated Wednesday.

Mr. Foote also blasted a “cycle of international political interventions in Haiti” that “has consistently produced catastrophic results,” and he warned that the number of desperate people traveling to American borders “will only grow as we add to Haiti’s unacceptable misery.”

Mr. Foote, a career diplomat who had previously served as ambassador to Zambia and acting assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, confirmed the authenticity of his resignation letter on Thursday. It was reported earlier Thursday by the Center for Economic and Policy Research and PBS NewsHour.

In the past two months, after the assassination of Mr. Moïse, an earthquake and flash floods have killed more than 2,000 Haitians and left many more injured and displaced. That has only added to the toll that poverty, hunger and increasing violence already exact on the country.

Many of the Haitians who arrived at the U.S. border over the past week had traveled for months from Brazil and Chile, where they had been allowed to live and work after an earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. Many of them are expected to be deported.

More than 2,000 Haitians have been deported in the past week, with more flights scheduled, and thousands have been allowed into the country, according to an official familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to publicly discuss the matter. As of Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security said that about 4,000 migrants, most of them Haitian, were being held in a temporary staging area under the Del Rio International Bridge in Texas, as agents process them.

The rise in Haitian migration began in the months after Mr. Biden reversed some of President Donald J. Trump’s strictest immigration policies and projected a more welcoming tone toward migrants.

But so far in his presidency, Mr. Biden has struggled to balance tough measures to secure the southwestern border against his campaign promise to show compassion to migrants who want to come to the United States for a better life. That has led to a divide among some top aides, including Susan E. Rice, the White House domestic policy adviser, who support measures that serve as immigration deterrents, and progressives who are trying to hold him to his pledge of delivering a humane system.

In May, the Biden administration extended temporary protected status for 150,000 Haitians already living in the United States. Two months later, the order was extended again for Haitians who were in the United States before July 29.

But tens of thousands more Haitians have tried to cross into the United States since then, despite not qualifying for the program. Facing the highest level of border crossings in decades, the Biden administration has stepped up enforcement of policies intended to slow their entry.

On Thursday, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, described officials as “horrified” by the images of Haitians being confronted by border agents on horseback and said the president was working to develop a “humane” immigration system.

“But we’ve also reiterated that it is our objective to continue to implement what is law, and what our laws are and that includes border restrictions,” Ms. Psaki said.

Thousands of other Haitian migrants, however, have been allowed to enter the United States and will wait for their cases to go through the backlogged immigration court system.

Mr. Foote said in his resignation letter that his recommendations were “ignored and dismissed.”

“Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed,” he wrote.

In response, the State Department’s spokesman, Ned Price, said that some proposals for dealing with Haiti’s compounding instability over the summer were rejected, and were “even harmful to our commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti.”

“No ideas are ignored, but not all ideas are good ideas,” Mr. Price said. He did not elaborate.

The Biden administration’s approach to Haiti was somewhat unusual, said Representative Andy Levin, Democrat of Michigan, in that Mr. Foote was appointed as special envoy to the nation even though a Senate-confirmed ambassador already had been serving there. The ambassador, Michele J. Sison, was nominated in April for a senior job at the department’s headquarters in Washington, but her confirmation has been stalled.

Mr. Levin, a chairman of the House Haiti Caucus, said the Biden administration was “propping up” the government of Ariel Henry, Haiti’s acting prime minister, who was accused last week of being linked to Mr. Moïse’s assassination. Mr. Henry swiftly removed the country’s chief prosecutor, who had leveled the accusation, setting off a power struggle among political factions as Haitians struggle to survive. Mr. Henry has denied any connection to the murder.

Mr. Levin said the Biden administration had fallen far short of helping empower civil society, religious leaders and human rights groups in Haiti who oppose Mr. Henry’s government or have otherwise demanded reforms.

“The Haitian people are crying out for the opportunity to chart their own country’s future, and the United States is ignoring their pleas,” Mr. Levin told reporters on Thursday.

In a phone call with Mr. Henry on Monday, Mr. Blinken said he appreciated the Haitian government’s help in receiving the deported migrants but also pressed for a full investigation into Mr. Moïse’s killing.

In a statement, the State Department said it was committed to working with the Haitian government and others to strengthen democracy, the rule of law, economic growth, security and the protection of human rights.

The department said the United States and the United Nations’ immigration agency were trying to ensure that Haitians who are deported receive a meal, a hygiene kit and $100 when they land in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital.

The statement also thanked Mr. Foote for his service.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.

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WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved $1 billion in new funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, after a debate that exposed bitter divisions among Democrats over U.S. policy toward one of its closest allies.

The vote was 420 to 9 to help Israel replace missile interceptors used during heavy fighting in a devastating rocket and missile war with the Palestinians in May, reflecting the widespread bipartisan support in Congress for Jerusalem that has persisted for decades.

But the lopsided vote came only after days of acrimony between progressives who have accused Israel of human rights abuses and other lawmakers, including party leaders, who said they were appalled and astonished by their colleagues’ refusal to fund a defense system to protect Israeli civilians.

Bitter recriminations over the measure spilled onto the House floor on Thursday, as some progressive Democrats who were opposed called Israel an “apartheid state” and proponents hurled accusations of antisemitism. By the end, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a vocal critic of Israel who had come under scathing criticism from pro-Israel activists for refusing to back the measure, was in tears after switching her “no” vote to “present.”

The back and forth was the latest flare-up in a long-simmering feud between an energized new generation of progressive Democrats — many of them people of color — that has demanded an end to conditions-free aid to Israel and others in the party who argue that the United States must not waver in its backing for Israel’s right to defend itself. The internal tensions come as a growing number of Democrats in Washington, prodded by the party’s left flank, say they are no longer willing to give the country a pass for its treatment of the Palestinians, a shift that has unsettled top Israeli officials.

The tensions erupted at an inopportune time for the party, as Democrats are toiling to bridge internal divisions over domestic policy to salvage President Biden’s agenda.

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The dispute began this week, after progressives revolted at the inclusion of the Iron Dome funding in an emergency spending bill, effectively threatening to shut down the government rather than support the money. Democratic leaders were forced to strip it out of that bill, which passed the House on Tuesday, and arrange a separate vote to approve the Iron Dome money.

“I will not support an effort to enable war crimes and human rights abuses and violence,” Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, said on Thursday. “We cannot be talking only about Israelis’ need for safety at a time when Palestinians are living under a violent apartheid system and are dying from what Human Rights Watch has said are war crimes.”

The liberals’ maneuver roiled many other Democrats, who said their colleagues’ opposition to funding Israel’s defense was beyond the pale. They noted that during the peak of fighting in May, the Iron Dome intercepted more than 90 percent of the flurry of Hamas-launched rockets that would have otherwise landed in civilian-populated areas.

In an angry speech, Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida, said he would not allow “one of my colleagues to stand on the floor of the House of Representatives and label the Jewish democratic state of Israel an apartheid state.”

“To falsely characterize the state of Israel is consistent with those who advocate for the dismantling of the one Jewish state in the world,” he said. “When there is no place on the map for one Jewish state, that’s antisemitism, and I reject that.”

Despite the angst, only eight Democrats — as well as one Republican, Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky — ultimately opposed the measure.

Minutes before the vote closed, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez tearfully huddled with her allies before switching her vote to “present.” The tableau underscored how wrenching the vote was for even outspoken progressives, who have been caught between their principles and the still powerful pro-Israel voices in their party, such as influential lobbyists and rabbis. (A spokesman for Ms. Ocasio-Cortez declined to comment on her change of position.)

Another Democrat, Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia, also voted present.

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Credit…Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Privately, some progressive lawmakers were furious with Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat, who pushed for the vote on Iron Dome funding after it was removed from the broader spending bill this week.

His maneuver appeared to be intended to calm Israeli officials, who had watched with alarm as the fight unfolded on Capitol Hill and had closely followed previous efforts by young, liberal lawmakers to cut off U.S. military aid to Israel.

After Yair Lapid, Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, called Mr. Hoyer and emphasized the need for the House to approve the request as soon as possible, the congressman assured him that progressives’ initial revolt was no more than a “technical delay,” according to an account of the call released by Mr. Lapid’s office. Hours later, Mr. Hoyer announced that the House would vote to approve the funding later in the week.

Other top Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, rose on Thursday in support of the legislation. They argued that passing the additional funding was crucial to protecting Israeli civilians and noted that it was an extension of a deal that President Barack Obama struck in 2016.

“This bill demonstrates that Congress’ commitment to our friend and ally Israel is bipartisan and ironclad,” Ms. DeLauro said. “It fulfills our moral imperative to protect the lives of innocent civilians and helps build the foundations for peace.”

But progressive critics offered harsh words about Israel’s conduct and argued that strong backing for the nation in Congress should come to an end. Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, said the United States should no longer continue to provide Israel with funding “without addressing the underlying issue of the occupation.”

“This is not about one country,” she said. “If human rights are truly to guide our foreign policy, we need to act like it everywhere. Otherwise, our words ring hollow.”

Eyeing an opportunity to peel away Jewish voters from the Democratic Party, House Republicans cast the altercation as a transgression against Israel. They said progressives’ refusal to allow the funding to pass as part of the broader spending bill was a missed opportunity to support Israel, even though Republicans opposed the measure en masse.

“By blocking funding to resupply the Iron Dome, Democrats made the choice to abandon an opportunity to stand with Israel and its citizens,” said Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican.

Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.

Correction:

An earlier version of this article misstated the final tally for the funding vote. It was 420 to 9, not 490 to 9.

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Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Texas abortion providers asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to take a second look at their challenge to a state law that bans most abortions after six weeks, empowers private individuals to sue those who provide or “abet” the service, and was designed to evade review in federal court.

On Sept. 1, the court refused to block the law in a 5-to-4 ruling that cited the “complex and novel” procedural questions it presented. Since then, abortion providers in Texas have turned away most patients seeking the procedure.

In the filing on Thursday, the providers asked the court to employ a rarely invoked procedure that would allow the issue to leapfrog an appeals court. That procedure, known as “certiorari before judgment,” has been called into play in cases involving national crises, like President Harry S. Truman’s seizure of the steel industry and President Richard M. Nixon’s refusal to turn over tape recordings to a special Watergate prosecutor.

The providers said the court should use the procedure to decide what they said was a pressing question: “Whether a state can insulate from federal-court review a law that prohibits the exercise of a constitutional right by delegating to the general public the authority to enforce that prohi­bition through civil actions.”

The Texas law, known as S.B. 8, has novel features. It bars state officials from enforcing it and instead deputizes private individuals to sue anyone who performs the procedure or “aids and abets” it.

That makes it hard for abortion providers to know whom to sue, as lawsuits seeking to block laws as unconstitutional typically name the officials charged with enforcing them as defendants. When the providers filed suit in federal court, they named, among others, every state trial court judge and county court clerk in Texas.

The appeals court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, has not yet issued a decision in the providers’ appeal. But “the writing is on the wall,” the providers told the Supreme Court on Thursday. “And although the Fifth Circuit expedited the appeal, it will not hold argument until December at the earliest.”

“Meanwhile,” they wrote, “Texans are in crisis.”

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Credit…United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs

President Biden has chosen Saule Omarova, a Cornell Law School professor, to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the regulator overseeing the largest U.S. banks, the White House announced on Thursday.

If confirmed, Ms. Omarova, who grew up in what is now Kazakhstan, will be the first woman and the first nonwhite person to serve as comptroller of the currency. The agency is charged with setting policy around the businesses that banks engage in — from traditional ones like mergers and lending to newer efforts like cryptocurrency.

“If confirmed, I will work hard to make sure that our banks remain stable, strong and serve the needs of the American people,” Ms. Omarova said in a statement provided to The New York Times.

Ms. Omarova’s nomination caps a monthslong search for the top banking regulator’s job; the Biden administration dropped two earlier candidates because progressive and moderate Democrats couldn’t agree on them. But Ms. Omarova’s nomination will require Senate confirmation — potentially an uphill battle given the 50-50 split between Republican senators and the Democratic caucus.

In her academic work, Ms. Omarova has proposed bold changes to the financial system, but those proposals — most notably an idea for a public infrastructure investment authority modeled on the structure of the Federal Reserve system — would not be easy to introduce from a post atop the O.C.C.

Instead, in setting a policy agenda, Ms. Omarova is likely to draw on the basic philosophy she has laid out in her work on the relationship the government should have to banks. She has criticized the notion that taxpayers often have to clean up messes left by the private sector in times of crisis but are left out of a proportionate share of private industry’s successes in prosperous times.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the Senate banking committee, which will take up Ms. Omarova’s nomination first, said in a statement emailed to journalists that he had “serious reservations about her nomination.” He characterized her writings as containing “extreme leftist ideas.”

It is not clear whether most Democrats will embrace Ms. Omarova, but she already has support from progressive members of the Senate.

“Saule is an excellent choice to oversee and regulate the activities of our nation’s largest banks, and I have no doubt she’ll be a fearless champion for consumers,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said in a statement emailed to The Times.

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Top Democrats on Capitol Hill grasped to resolve their disagreements over a multi-trillion-dollar social safety net and climate package on Thursday, as President Biden and his team planned another day of negotiations with key lawmakers to find a legislative path to enact his domestic policy agenda.

Democratic leaders claimed progress toward a deal, announcing that they had agreed upon an array of possible ways to pay for it. But they offered no details about what programs would be included or what the total cost would eventually be, and what they called a “framework agreement” appeared to be modest.

The Senate Finance Committee chairman, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, and the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Representative Richard Neal, signed off on provisions that their respective committees already saw eye to eye on: a top income tax rate of 39.6 percent, which affluent taxpayers faced before President Donald J. Trump cut it to 37 percent in 2017; a crackdown on tax-preferred conservation easements, often used by the rich to lower taxation on historical properties; and closing a loophole, famously used by Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire, that can shield huge investment gains from taxation within an individual retirement account.

They agreed that the plan should fulfill Mr. Biden’s call to raise taxes on corporations and capital gains, but did not settle on rates for those items, according to aides familiar with the discussions who detailed them on the condition of anonymity. And they committed to trying to find common ground on their other priorities, such as Mr. Wyden’s proposal to tax the wealth gains of billionaires.

The talks came on a day when Mr. Biden and administration officials were expected to continue meetings focused on advancing both a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a broader $3.5 trillion domestic policy plan that most Democrats now concede will have to be scaled back to win passage.

Party leaders hope to coalesce around a compromise on the social safety net bill by Monday, when a vote is planned on the infrastructure measure. But agreement on a total cost, which programs to include and which to jettison, and how to pay for it will involve painful choices for a divided caucus.

Still, Democratic leaders predicted they would ultimately deliver both measures to Mr. Biden’s desk.

“I’m confident we will pass both bills,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters during her weekly news conference at the Capitol.

Mr. Biden spent much of Wednesday in meetings with Democratic leaders and nearly two dozen lawmakers, listening to the concerns of the feuding factions in his party over his two top domestic priorities.

Moderates are pressing for quick action on the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill, while progressives have vowed to withhold their votes for that measure until approval of the far broader social safety net measure that is to include vast new investments in climate, education, health and social programs.

Mr. Biden urged moderates who have balked at the size of that package to put forward an overall spending level that they could support, as well as the priorities they wanted to see funded, according to senators and aides.

Democrats are aiming to pass the legislation on a party-line vote using a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation that shields it from a filibuster and allows it to pass on a simple majority vote. But because of their slim margins of control on Capitol Hill, Mr. Biden needs the support of every Democrat in the Senate and can lose as few as three in the House to win enactment of the plan.

But progressive lawmakers who want to see the reconciliation bill completed first pressed Mr. Biden on Wednesday to weigh in with House Democratic leaders against holding a Monday vote on the infrastructure legislation. Concerned that their more conservative-leaning colleagues may refuse to support the larger plan once the infrastructure measure is enacted, liberal Democrats have said they will withhold their votes for that bill until the reconciliation plan clears Congress.

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Credit…J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

House Democrats plan on Friday to push through broad legislation to uphold abortion rights, taking urgent action after a major Supreme Court setback as they brace for a ruling next year that could further roll back access to abortion nationwide.

The House vote will be largely symbolic given that the bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act, has little chance of advancing because of Republican opposition in the Senate. But House Democrats’ decision to consider it reflects their view that the issue could resonate strongly in the midterm elections next year, particularly if female voters see the Supreme Court action as a threat to rights that many believed had been long settled.

Democrats moved swiftly to schedule action on the measure after the court refused this month to block a Texas law that prohibits most abortions after six weeks of gestation. It would guarantee the right to abortion through federal law, pre-empting hundreds of state laws governing the procedure around the country. Democrats argue that it would codify Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.

The bill’s authors say they began drafting it a decade ago in response to emerging efforts at the state level to impose stringent requirements on those seeking and providing abortions, as well as the increasingly conservative makeup of the court. They say that time is of the essence because the justices are set to rule next year on a Mississippi law that severely restricts abortions.

“It became very evident that we needed to have something that would push back against all these state restrictions,” said Representative Judy Chu, Democrat of California and the lead author of the measure. “We could see that change was possible at the Supreme Court, and we knew we had to make sure that Roe v. Wade was protected.”

But opponents of the law — including some Republicans who have supported abortion rights — argue that it would go far beyond the landmark court precedent, stripping states of much of their ability to regulate abortion and impose measures intended to make the procedure safe. They say it would lead to many more abortions in the late stages of pregnancy.

“This legislation is really about a mandate by the federal government that would demand abortion on demand, without any consideration for anyone, including the conscience of the provider,” said Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican of Washington and a chief foe of the bill.

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Credit…Pool photo by Matt York

Republicans in the Arizona Senate are expected on Friday to unveil the results of the deeply flawed review they ordered into Democratic election victories last November in the state’s largest county.

The study, conducted by Republican loyalists and conspiracy theorists, some of whom previously had called the election rigged, has long since lost any pretense of being an objective review of the 2020 election. It focuses on the votes that saw President Biden narrowly win the state and elected a Democrat, Mark Kelly, to the U.S. Senate, and its origins reflect the baseless Republican claims of a stolen election.

An Arizona Senate spokesman, Mike Philipsen, said that a public briefing on the findings would be held on Friday at 1 p.m. Pacific time, and that a link to the full report would eventually be posted on the Senate Republican caucus website.

But regardless of the outcome, the effort in Arizona has already inspired copycat efforts in other states. And it has become a way to keep alive false claims of fraud and undermine faith in the 2020 election and democracy itself. In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, for example, Republican-dominated Legislatures have ordered Arizona-style reviews of the 2020 vote in their states, sometimes in consultation with the same conspiracy theorists behind the Arizona investigation.

“We’re at an inflection point,” said Chuck Coughlin, a Phoenix pollster and Republican political consultant who has been skeptical of the Arizona investigation. “When the results drop, I’ll be curious to see how the Legislature’s Republican leaders react to this, including the State Senate itself.”

Legitimate audits of the vote ordered by the Republican-controlled Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, which oversaw the election, have repeatedly found no evidence of fraud that could have tainted the results. And the inquiry has been dogged from its start by slipshod and sometimes bizarre conduct.

The firms conducting it had essentially no prior experience in election work, and experts said their haphazard recounting of ballots guaranteed unreliable results. Election officials said security lapses raised the risk that voting equipment had been compromised. And some aspects of the investigation — checking ballots for secret watermarks, and for bamboo fibers that would suggest they were printed in Asia — were based on outlandish conspiracy theories.

But the chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, Jack Sellers, said that whatever the findings, the Arizona Senate investigation had lent a veneer of credibility to charges of election fraud that will be tough to overcome.

“Anybody who pays attention knows there are no remaining issues” with the November vote, he said. “But it doesn’t seem to take a lot to keep some people having doubts. I’m not sure there’s a cure for that.”

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John Kerry, the former United States senator and secretary of state, is also the first presidential climate envoy. That has made him a kind of traveling salesman for the environment, shuttling from country to country with an urgent pitch to save the planet.

He’s visited 14 countries in nine months, some of them more than once. He flies commercial these days and, at 77, the travel is tiring. But he is under mounting pressure.

With less than six weeks before leaders from around the world gather in Glasgow, Scotland, for a pivotal United Nations climate summit, Mr. Kerry needs to convince other countries to commit to sharply turn away in this decade from burning coal, oil and gas and cut the resulting carbon emissions, which are heating the planet to dangerous levels.

Mr. Kerry recently described his decision to return to government as “what the fight of public life is all about.” In an interview during a recent trip to India, he said, “I deeply believe that this is a major crisis for our world. And this is a moment where we have a chance to do something about it. And who can say no to a president of the United States who asks you to do that at this particular moment in time.”

His sales approach to international political and business leaders is simple: “We’ve got to do what the science tells us to do.”

But his task is enormous, and his path often uphill. Mr. Kerry is trying to reassert American leadership and illustrate Mr. Biden’s claim that “America is back” — a difficult proposition following the presidency of Donald J. Trump, who questioned the science behind climate change and withdrew the United States from the 2015 Paris climate accord. None of the other 196 signatory nations have done so.

Allies openly ask Mr. Kerry whether they can still count on the United States. “I said ‘Look, come next election, you may have Trump back,” R.K. Singh, India’s power minister said a day after meeting with Mr. Kerry. “So then what happens?”

Mr. Kerry’s mission is further complicated by political fissures at home and the fact that President Biden’s ambitious climate agenda may not survive a divided Congress.