US Congress Ready To Approve Another $40bn For Ukraine

Gun Control, US Congress

 

The US Congress prepared Thursday to approve a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine in the latest fulfillment of President Joe Biden’s promise of unwavering support for Kyiv as it fights off the Russian invasion.

Passage of the money is an unusually bipartisan move for harshly divided Washington.

“Aid for Ukraine goes far beyond charity,” Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

“The future of American security and core strategic interests will be shaped by the outcome of this fight,” he added, hours before Congress’ upper chamber was expected to vote through the package easily.

READ ALSO: Rwanda’s Salima Among Three Women To Referee At World Cup For First Time

 ‘Continuity of Government’

Contained in the bundle is $6 billion earmarked to allow Ukraine to boost its armored vehicle inventory and air defense system.

Nearly $9 billion is set aside to help with Ukrainian “continuity of government,” among other items, including humanitarian aid.

Congress already approved almost $14 billion for Ukraine in mid-March, only weeks after Russia’s invasion.

But as fighting has shifted away from the capital and to the eastern and southern parts of the country, Biden has been calling for another round of financial support for weeks.

The US president has often repeated his desire to lead in what he depicts as a great struggle of democracy against authoritarianism. But funds already designated for Ukraine support were about to run out, he said.

The US House of Representatives already approved the $40 billion package — the equivalent to the 2020 GDP of Cameroon — last week.

‘Pay Now Or Pay Later’

Such bipartisan support is rare in a Congress often divided right down party lines.

“When it comes to Putin, either we pay now or we pay later,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who earlier in the conflict took to Twitter to call for the Russian president to be assassinated.

Though it originally stuck to sending weapons seen as defensive, Washington has moved on to supplying artillery, helicopters and drones to the Ukrainian army, whose troops are trained to use them in the United States or in third countries before heading back to deploy them at the front.

Another $9 billion of the latest package is also set to help the United States re-supply its own weapons back-stock.

And the Senate further fulfilled its traditional role as the president’s ally in foreign affairs Wednesday morning by confirming Bridget Brink, a career diplomat, as the next US ambassador to Ukraine.

The position had been vacant since 2019.

AFP

Trump ‘Guilty’ Of Felonies, Says Prosecutor Who Resigned

File photo former US President Donald Trump. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

Donald Trump is “guilty of numerous felony violations,” said a prosecutor who resigned from a criminal probe into the former US president’s business practices, according to his resignation letter published Wednesday by the New York Times.

Mark Pomerantz, who led the New York investigation into Trump’s finances, resigned on February 23 along with Carey Dunne, the other lead prosecutor on the case.

Pomerantz’s letter said that he had quit over the decision by new Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg not to move ahead with prosecution of the Republican billionaire.

That decision, he wrote in the letter which the US daily published in full, was “contrary to the public interest.”

“The team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes — he did,” Pomerantz wrote.

READ ALSO: Parents Fear For Children’s Future In War-Hit Ukrainian City

The investigation had probed whether Trump fraudulently overvalued multiple assets to secure loans and then undervalued them to minimize taxes.

It was launched by Bragg’s predecessor Cyrus Vance, with Bragg taking over the case when he took office in January.

When Dunne and Pomerantz resigned last month, Bragg’s spokesperson said that the investigation was “ongoing.”

The Times reported that he has told aides the case can move forward if new evidence emerges or a Trump insider decides to turn on the former president.

But, Pomerantz wrote: “No events are likely to occur that will alter the nature of the case… There are always additional facts to be pursued.”

But the decision not to prosecute “will doom any future prospects that Mr. Trump will be prosecuted for the criminal conduct we have been investigating,” he continued.

Republican Trump, 75, has not been charged and has repeatedly described the case as a political witch hunt by a Democratic prosecutor.

In July last year, the Trump Organization and its long-serving finance chief, Allen Weisselberg, were charged with 15 felony fraud and tax evasion charges.

They pleaded not guilty, and Weisselberg’s trial is due to begin in the middle of this year.

The criminal investigation into Trump is very similar to a civil inquiry being conducted by New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who is also a Democrat.

In January, she said her probe had uncovered “significant evidence” of fraudulent or misleading practices at the Trump Organization.

James can sue the Trump Organization for damages over any alleged financial misconduct but cannot file criminal charges.

Trump has so far kept Americans guessing about whether he intends to seek the Republican presidential nomination again, but the host of legal probes threaten to complicate any bid for another run at the White House in 2024.

AFP

Republican Upsets Democrat In Toughly Contested Virginia Election

Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin speaks during an election-night rally at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles on November 02, 2021 in Chantilly, Virginia. AFP

 

The Republican candidate on Wednesday pulled off a stunning upset to win the governor’s mansion in the US state of Virginia, US television networks projected, in a race seen as an early verdict on President Joe Biden’s first year in office.

Newcomer Glenn Youngkin was 2.7 points ahead of Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the neck-and-neck tussle shortly after midnight, with more than 95 percent of the vote counted, prompting NBC, CNN and ABC to call the election for the Republican.

A harbinger of the parties’ prospects in next year’s midterm elections, the race was initially expected to be a comfortable Democratic win but instead became a toss-up in the closing days of the campaign.

A private equity multi-millionaire who has never run for office defeating a former popular Democratic governor will be seen as a disaster for Biden going into the all-important 2022 races that will determine who controls Congress.

“All right Virginia — we won this thing! How much fun!” Youngkin, who poured at least $20 million of his own fortune into the race, told cheering fans after dancing on stage to Norman Greenbaum’s 1969 hit “Spirit in the Sky.”

READ ALSO: Israeli Minister Joins COP26 After Wheelchair Fiasco

Calling his victory a “defining moment,” he told the crowd: “Together, we will change the trajectory of this commonwealth. And friends, we are going to start that transformation on day one.”

The election, a neck-and-neck tussle for weeks, resonated nationwide as a proxy war between Biden and former President Donald Trump, who gave Youngkin his early backing.

Youngkin passes an autographed basketball into the crowd with his family at his election night rally at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles on November 02, 2021 in Chantilly, Virginia. AFP

 

Youngkin’s campaign will now likely become a blueprint for Republicans across the country as they strategize on how to leverage Trump’s base while avoiding becoming tainted by his toxic brand among moderates in the midterms.

Difficult year

The Democratic faithful had badly wanted the race to be a referendum on Trump but in reality, he had little to do with the campaign and was never likely to prove the galvanizing nemesis they had hoped for.

Early in the campaign, Youngkin accepted Trump’s endorsement and steered clear of criticizing the twice-impeached former president.

But he also pointedly avoided standing next to the Republican leader, who is seen as beyond the pale among independents in much of Virginia, or presenting himself as a Trump acolyte.

McAuliffe’s loss will also almost certainly spook moderates on Capitol Hill and drive some away from supporting Biden’s stalled $3 trillion vision for remaking the economy.

The long delays in passing promised social welfare and infrastructure packages are an echo of 2009-10 when the Democrats suffered big losses amid gridlock in Washington.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin claps after learning that polling numbers indicated that he was ahead in the Virginia Gubernatorial race Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles on November 02, 2021 in Chantilly, Virginia. AFP

 

Elections were also being held in multiple other states, with voters overwhelmingly backing Democrat Eric Adams for mayor of New York and Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy just behind in a surprisingly close reelection battle he was nevertheless expected to win.

But Virginia is where the battle lines had been most visibly drawn.

 Culture war

McAuliffe faced significant headwinds as he tried to mount a return to an office he held four years ago, with the majority party in Washington usually incurring losses during a president’s first term.

Youngkin had to perform his own high-wire act, as the vast majority of Republicans believe Trump’s false claims that the presidency was stolen in a fraudulent election, making acknowledging the truth politically risky.

Youngkin passes an autographed basketball into the crowd with his family at his election night rally at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles on November 02, 2021 in Chantilly, Virginia.  AFP

 

He turned the conversation instead to local “culture war” issues like abortion, mask mandates and the teaching of America’s racial history.

McAuliffe took an early lead in the race but his seven-point cushion evaporated in the final days, with a polling average by political analysis website FiveThirtyEight showing Youngkin ahead by one point on election day.

Leaning into his image as the establishment candidate, the 64-year-old McAuliffe sold himself as a former incumbent who brought back jobs after the worldwide financial crisis of 2008 and pledged to repeat the trick for the pandemic.

But nine months after Democrats added the US Senate to their victory in the White House, Virginians sought a fresh start, handing Youngkin 51 percent of the vote and the Republican Party its first statewide office in the so-called Old Dominion in over a decade.

US Senate Blocks Trump’s Candidate For Federal Reserve Job

In this file photo taken on February 13, 2020, Judy Shelton testifies before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee during a hearing on their nomination to be member-designate on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, DC.  Sarah Silbiger / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

 

The US Senate on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump’s controversial pick from joining the Federal Reserve board, at least for now.

Two Republicans joined Democrats in opposing Judy Shelton, a strident critic of the central bank who has faced an unprecedented public wave of resistance from dozens of well-known economists and Nobel laureates.

Vice President-elect and Senator Kamala Harris returned to Washington to cast the tie-breaking vote, interrupting planning for President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

However, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell also voted no making the final tally 50-47, likely a strategic move which leaves the door open for him to call for another vote.

Covid-19 complicated the voting, as two Republican senators were unable to vote because they were in quarantine, including Chuck Grassley of Iowa — who missed a vote for the first time since 1993.

A third Republican who was absent publicly opposed Shelton’s nomination.

Shelton was an outspoken supporter of low-interest rates when President Barack Obama was in office.

Her nomination was one of several Trump made that would have undermined the political independence of the US central bank.

“We need a reliable Federal Reserve to help manage our economy in this pandemic. Judy Shelton’s dangerous ideas would devastate our economy, and her lack of commitment to using the full force of the Fed to provide COVID-19 relief is unacceptable,” Harris said on Twitter after the vote.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris delivers remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 7, 2020, after being declared the winners of the presidential election. (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP)

 

Shelton also has expressed support for returning to the gold standard — where the currency is tied to a fixed quantity of gold — believing that such a system would guarantee stability for exchange rates.

However, a return to the gold standard is viewed as unrealistic and outdated by the majority of economists — it was abandoned in 1971 by President Richard Nixon.

Fed nominations are always bipartisan, but Senator Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the upper chamber, lambasted Shelton as supremely unfit for the position.

She is “without a doubt one of the most unqualified nominees I have ever seen for our nation’s central bank,” he said on the Senate floor, criticizing her as an “economic weather vane pointing whichever way she thinks the partisan winds are blowing.”

AFP

Top US Lawmakers Tell Trump Not To Concede Defeat

US President Donald Trump speaks during election night in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, early on November 4, 2020. MANDEL NGAN / AFP
US President Donald Trump speaks during election night in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, early on November 4, 2020. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

One of the most prominent Republicans in the US Congress on Sunday urged Donald Trump to “fight hard” and not concede his loss to Joe Biden in the race for the White House, saying unfounded allegations of fraud by the president must be investigated.

Other Republicans sought to walk a finer line, saying legal challenges must be allowed to play out.

“We will work with Biden if he wins, but Trump has not lost,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on Fox News.

“Do not concede, Mr. President. Fight hard.”

Graham baselessly alleged “shenanigans” related to mailed ballots, the method a large number of Americans preferred in Tuesday’s election due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s the wild-wild west when it comes to mail-in balloting,” said Graham, a former Trump critic turned unstinting supporter.

There is no evidence that fraud has ever been a significant problem affecting mail-in voting in US presidential elections.

“Everything we worried about has come true, so if we don’t fight back in 2020 we’re never going to win again presidentially,” he nevertheless added.

Other top Republicans were more guarded in their comments but nonetheless refused to acknowledge Biden had won, saying legal challenges must go forward and vote counting must continue.

“What we need in the presidential race is to make sure every legal vote is counted, every recount is completed, and every legal challenge should be heard,” Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, said on Fox News.

“Then and only then that America will decide who won the race.”

Trump has repeatedly made groundless allegations of fraud and has even claimed that he won the election despite projections based on results showing Biden as the clear victor.

Biden currently has at least 279 electoral votes, with only 270 needed to win. Trump has 214.

AFP

Democrats Want Panel To Probe Trump’s Capacity To Govern

US President Donald Trump gives two thumbs up from the Truman Balcony upon his return to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he underwent treatment for Covid-19, in Washington, DC, on October 5, 2020. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP)

 

US Democrats said Thursday they will introduce a measure creating a commission to evaluate whether Donald Trump or other presidents have the capacity to discharge the duties of their office.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office said Friday’s bill would “help ensure effective and uninterrupted leadership in the highest office in the Executive Branch of government.”

AFP

Trump Lawyers Present Defense For ‘Dangerous’ Impeachment

 

President Donald Trump’s legal team presented Saturday its line of defense for his upcoming impeachment trial, a process they dismissed as unconstitutional and “dangerous.”

It was the first time the team presented its arguments, modeled on those put forward since December by Trump and his fellow Republicans.

White House counsel Pat Cipollone will be lead lawyer, backed by Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow. They will be joined by Ken Starr, who was at the center of Bill Clinton’s impeachment in the 1990s, and celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz.

In an initial response to the president being charged, written by Cipollone and Sekulow, the defense said that the articles of impeachment — passed by the majority-Democrat House of Representatives — “are a dangerous attack on the right of the American people to freely choose their president.”

READ ALSO: Britain’s Prince Harry And Meghan To Give Up Royal Titles

“This is a brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election,” the team said in a statement.

Trump has been impeached on charges that he abused his office to try and force Ukraine into digging up dirt on leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden by withholding $400 million in military aid and a White House meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart President Volodymyr Zelensky.

He was also impeached for allegedly obstructing Congress.

“The articles of impeachment are constitutionally invalid on their face. They fail to allege any crime or violation of law whatsoever,” the defense team said.

In a call with reporters earlier Saturday, a source close to Trump’s legal team said the articles violate the Constitution because they are “the product of invalid proceedings that flagrantly denied the president any due process rights.”

The impeachment process risks doing “lasting damage to our structure of government,” the source said.

The sources added that Trump had met with Zelensky at the UN in September and that the military aid had been released, proving there was no quid pro quo with Kiev — although by that point, a whistle-blower within the administration had already triggered the impeachment proceedings.

The House managers, or prosecutors in the impeachment trial, filed their official brief on Saturday, in which they said that Trump’s conduct “is the Framers’ worst nightmare,” referring to the authors of the US Constitution.

“The case against the President of the United States is simple, the facts are indisputable, and the evidence is overwhelming,” the managers said in a joint statement after filing the brief.

“President Trump abused the power of his office to solicit foreign interference in our elections for his own personal political gain, thereby jeopardizing our national security, the integrity of our elections, and our democracy.”

AFP

US Debt Hits Record High Under Trump As Republicans Keep Mum

US President Donald Trump/ AFP

 

The national debt profile of the United States has hit a new record high of $22 trillion under President Donald Trump but Republicans who traditionally rail against debt and deficits have remained mum.

The sum of borrowing to cover chronic deficits as well as growing interest payments, this mountain of debt already stood at $19.95 trillion when Trump entered the White House, reaching the equivalent of US GDP for the first time since World War II.

By comparison, France’s debt, which also is about the same as its GDP, amounted to a little more than 2.3 trillion euros (about $2.6 trillion) in late September.

The massive corporate tax cuts that Trump pushed for at the end of 2017, and the surge in spending, especially in defense, have increased the fiscal deficit for the world’s largest economy.

“If we don’t have a strong military, you don’t have to worry about debt, you have bigger problems,” Trump told reporters last week.

READ ALSO: ‘He Missed His Time’: Trump Reacts To Sanders’ Presidential Bid

Administration officials continue to argue that the tax cuts, which are expected to widen the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years, will pay for themselves by boosting economic growth and thereby increasing tax revenues.

 Republican deficit hawks quiet 

But despite faster growth, the budget deficit climbed 17 percent to $779 billion last year, the worst since 2012. And according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the deficit is expected to widen further this year to $900 billion.

The United States saw a budget surplus for four years under Democratic president Bill Clinton, amid a booming economy, but the war in Iraq under Republican George W. Bush once again plunged federal finances into the red.

Democratic president Barack Obama had to deal with the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis that required a ramp up in government spending, causing the federal books to deteriorate badly.

That helped fuel the birth of the Tea Party, a populist political movement that contributed to Trump’s rise to power.

With the economic recovery and the standoff in the Republican-controlled Congress forcing cuts in public spending, the last few years of the Obama administration saw a decline in the deficit.

But when it started to surge again under Trump, the Republican deficit-hawks were strangely silent.

‘Unsustainable path’ 

Beyond the politics, however, the aging US population with the accompanying increase in health and pension expenditures is the structural issue that is the primary cause of chronic US deficit.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell frequently points out that while it is not his role to set fiscal policy, “it’s not a secret, it’s a long-known fact that the US federal government budget is on an unsustainable path and that needs to be addressed.”

Of course the Fed’s interest rate increases — nine in the past four years — have caused an increase in the debt service costs, and Trump has frequently lashed out at the central bank, calling it “crazy” and a greater economic threat than China.

Interest on the public debt cost the US government $13 billion more in December compared to a year earlier.

In addition to the US sovereign debt, which thanks to the strong dollar continues to be viewed worldwide as a safe investment, corporate and consumer borrowing are increasingly a source of concern.

US corporate borrowing has almost doubled in just over a decade, fueled by the Fed’s cheap money policy after the 2008 crisis, and now stands at $9 trillion. The Fed calls this “a macroeconomic risk.”

And household debt now stands at $13.5 trillion, well above the previous peak before the crisis.

While three-quarters of the total is home mortgages, student loans, which put the brakes on consumption of young people, last year hit a record of nearly $1.5 trillion.

And auto loans, which also set a record of just under $1.3 trillion, are seeing rising delinquency rates that have sounded some alarm bells at the Fed.

AFP

Trump Expected To Sign Stopgap Spending Bill – Republican Congressman

Supreme Court Revives Parts Of Trump Travel Ban Order

 

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a stopgap spending bill on Thursday and the House Republican leadership does not expect President Donald Trump to veto the measure, Republican Representative Chris Collins said.

Collins was speaking to reporters after a meeting of the House Republican caucus on Thursday.

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to fund several federal agencies through Feb. 8 and avert a partial government shutdown, but without including $5 billion for a U.S.-Mexico border wall that Trump demanded.

Republican Ted Cruz Re-Elected To Senate In Texas

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to supporters during his election night gathering at the Hilton Houston Post Oak on November 06, 2018 in Houston, Texas. Sen. Cruz defeated democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) to keep his Senate seat. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

 

Texas Republican Ted Cruz won re-election to a second term in the Senate, beating off Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke in one of America’s most expensive and closely watched midterm races, US news networks projected Tuesday.

Cruz — a 47-year-old who battled President Donald Trump for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination — overcame major deficits in fundraising to ultimately defeat his charismatic rival, whose campaign electrified Democrats across the country and was backed by a galaxy of stars from Beyonce to Jim Carrey and LeBron James.

A win for O’Rourke, 46, a three-time congressman and former punk rocker whose given names are Robert Francis but who goes by Beto, would have amounted to a political earthquake in the reliably Republican “Lone Star State,” but he ultimately fell short.

Cruz’s campaign meanwhile was given a late boost by his former rival Trump, who belatedly stumped for the Cuban American two weeks before the vote.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump infamously insulted the looks of Cruz’s wife Heidi, vaguely suggested Cruz’s father had played a role in John F. Kennedy’s assassination and tagged him with the nickname “Lyin’ Ted” — an insult used by O’Rourke.

Cruz’s victory represented a significant boost for the Republican party as it looked set to retain control of the upper chamber of Congress.

AFP

Republican Differs Ahead Of Royal Wedding

Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancee US actress Meghan Markle greet wellwishers on a walkabout as they arrive for an engagement at Nottingham Contemporary in Nottingham, central England. Photo: Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

As a whirlwind of pomp descends on Britain for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, republican campaigner Graham Smith will heave a disapproving sigh.

Smith and other members of anti-monarchy campaign group Republic regard the May 19 event as just another showbiz sideshow.

“It’s not a lot different from the international fascination with the Kardashians,” Smith, Republic’s chief executive, told AFP this week in front of Buckingham Palace.

“It’s just another celebrity angle if you like, or another celebrity story,” he said, as tourists swarmed outside the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II.

Founded in 1983 as a niche group with only a handful of members, Republic was officially incorporated as a campaign group in 2006.

Today they claim a 40,000-strong following which has the forthcoming fuss over the royal wedding in their sights. Smith said they see it as the latest effort to “shore up” the future of the crown.

“I’m very happy for the couple and wish them all the best. But it is a private event which they have then turned into a major public spectacle, which is going to cost the taxpayer an awful lot of money.

“And it’s going to be used for saturation PR for the royal brand and I think that’s where the problem comes in,” he said.

Smith listed the grievances his group has with Britain’s monarchy: “It’s opposed by quite a lot of people. It’s fairly divisive and it is completely unaccountable, it’s very secretive.”

“And so it projects this sort of more benign brand as a way of protecting itself from scrutiny and criticism.”

“That brand is all about fairytale romances and weddings and babies.”

‘Co-opted by the royal machinery’ 

According to a poll published last year by market research agency Opinium, 65 percent of British adults want to keep the monarchy while 19 percent support a republican model.

Republic propose abolishing the monarchy and replacing the Queen with an elected head of state.

As an American, divorced, mixed-race former actress, Markle stands out among royal spouses past and has been seen as a breath of fresh air for the monarchy.

But Smith remains unconvinced.

“She’s allowed herself to be completely co-opted by the royal machinery,” he said.

“She’s had her social media closed down, she’s now very much managed by people that manage the public appearances of the rest of royals.

“This isn’t the monarchy opening up to the rest of us, it’s Harry marrying one person who is then subsumed into the royal brand and the doors are then closed behind her.”

On the wedding day itself, Republic will be hosting an international conference in London — featuring allies from similar movements across the world.

Its doors will be open to anyone fed up with the royal circus and the “bills for policing and disruption to businesses”.

“On the day of the wedding we’re going to be in the vast majority of people who aren’t going to be paying any attention to it,” Smith said.

AFP

Republican Quits US Congress After Explosive Surrogacy Claims – US Media

Gun Control, US Congress

Republican lawmaker Trent Franks offered a female staff member $5 million to bear his child, US media reported Friday as he abruptly resigned from Congress where he was facing an ethics probe over sexual misconduct.

Franks, an eight-term lawmaker from Arizona, had announced a day earlier that he would be stepping down from the House of Representatives on January 31.

In that statement, he acknowledged that he had discussed surrogacy with two female staffers, but he did not provide details about the discussions.

In a new statement Friday, he said he was vacating his seat in Congress immediately, US media reported.

The Washington Post, citing Andrea Lafferty, the president of the Traditional Values Coalition, said one of the women was told she would be given $5 million to “conceive” his child.

The woman rejected Franks’s offer but felt sidelined and later quit her job, added Lafferty.

Politico, citing congressional sources with knowledge of the complaints, said the two female staffers had been approached about acting as a potential surrogate for him and his wife — Franks says he and his wife have struggled with fertility for years.

The women, according to the sources, were concerned that the congressman was asking to have sex with them, and that it was unclear whether he was asking about the prospect of impregnating them through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization, Politico reported.

In his initial statement, Franks, a conservative Republican opposed to abortion rights, said he “absolutely never physically intimidated, coerced, or had, or attempted to have, any sexual contact with any member of my congressional staff.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan was told of the misconduct allegations on November 29, his office said, adding that Ryan believed the accusations were “credible” and that he told Franks he should resign.

Ryan’s office declined to comment on the latest accusations, or Franks’s immediate resignation.

The scandal comes as sexual harassment allegations have engulfed Capitol Hill.

Franks is the third member of Congress this week — following House Democrat John Conyers and Senate Democrat Al Franken — to announce his resignation in the wake of sexual misconduct accusations.

AFP