HC Wake-Up Call: Kyrsten Sinema Wins AZ Senate Race, House Dems to Review Trump's Hush Payoffs & Ousted Republican Blames McCain for Losing House

Good morning, Her Campus! With a break-neck news cycle, there is no possible way for you to stay on top of every story that comes across your feeds—we’re all only human, after all.

But, life comes at you fast. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this quick and dirty guide to stories you might’ve been sleeping on (like, literally. It’s early.)

Democrat Kyrsten Sinema Wins Arizona Senate Race, Flipping Seat

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is the apparent winner in the Arizona Senate race, and will be taking over Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat after narrowly beating out Republican Rep. Martha McSally.

According to NBC News, as of Monday night, Sinema had 49.68 percent of the vote share, while McSally had 47.96 percent, making Sinema the first Democratic senator elected in Arizona in 30 years and the very first female senator in the state’s history.

The race had been too close to call on election night, and had since been in the middle of nail-biting tallying of outstanding mail-in ballots. Since each mail-in ballot has to go through a signature verification process, the counting took several days after the election.

The process had come under scrutiny after President Donald Trump, along with other Republicans, claimed that Sinema’s growing lead in the race was due to voter fraud, NBC News reports.

During the campaign, Sinema and McSally had criticized each other’s voting records in Congress and drilled each other on hot-button issues such as immigration and health care. Sinema, a former Green Party activist turned centrist Democrat with a fairly conservative voting record among Democrats, painted McSally as someone who would blindly follow the president. Sinema presented herself to voters as a problem-solver who would work with the president on some policy issues, while still holding his administration accountable.

In her victory speech on Monday night, Sinema rejected the divisive political rhetoric and honored the late Sen. John McCain by referencing his call for bipartisanship in his final address to Congress.

“It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight, but we can work together to meet the challenges our country faces,” Sinema said in her speech. “We can do this differently. For our country, for our future, for Senator McCain, and for each other I think we must.”

McSally conceded the race in a video on her Twitter account Monday evening, saying she had “called Kyrsten Sinema and congratulated her on being Arizona's first female senator after a hard fight battle.”

“I wish her all success as she represents Arizona in the senate,” McSally said.

House Democrats Plan to Review Trump’s Role in Hush Money Payments

When Democrats take control of the House in January and gain subpoena power, the House Oversight Committee plans to investigate President Donald Trump’s involvement in hush-money payments to two women who during the 2016 presidential election alleged that they had affairs with Trump, a senior aide of the committee told ABC News.

According to the aide, Democratic members on the committee have already began their investigation, with the committee requesting documents from the Trump Foundation in September.

The two women in question, adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, had been paid $130,000 and $150,000, respectively, to essentially keep quiet about their alleged sexual relations with Trump.

Trump has long denied that he knew of the hush-money payments or that he had had affairs with either woman.

“Since the payments were not campaign contributions based on the FEC rulings it would be as useless as Mueller’s absurd investigation of Russian collusion, which has established that the only Russian involvement was collusion with Hillary and DNC to produce fraudulent Steele dossier,” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said in the statement to ABC News. “You insist on calling it a hush payment, which is an opinion not a fact. Payments for confidentiality in settling claims is common and the amounts involved here, not millions but $150,000 and $130,000, means the case was considered as harassment not as a serious claim. Look at the serious settlements with billionaires and companies and few are at this level and they are the nuisance suits.”

Trump only acknowledged awareness of the payoff after Giuliani admitted on Fox News in April that Trump had paid back his then-attorney Michael Cohen for costs related to the payment made to Daniels. Giuliani asserted that the payments were made for personal reasons, so no campaign finance laws were broken.

This is not the first time, however, that Democrats have said that they would be investigating Trump. According to ABC News, Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Committee said last week that they would probe Trump’s tax filings.

“I don’t care. They can do whatever they want and I can do whatever I want,” Trump said in response to the Democrats’ announcement.

On “This Week” Sunday, incoming Oversight Committee chair Rep. Elijah Cummings told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that the committee would be investigating the president, but would do so judiciously.  

“I'm not going to be handing out subpoenas like somebody's handing out candy on Halloween. I take this as a lawyer and as an officer of the court. I take subpoenas very seriously and I plan to, if I have to use them, they will be used in a very, in a methodical way, and it must be in the public interest,” Cummings said.

Ousted Republican Blames McCain for Losing House

An ousted Republican congressman blamed the late Sen. John McCain on Sunday for the Republicans’ loss of the House majority in the election last week, writing in The Wall Street Journal that it was McCain’s vote against the repeal and replace effort for the Affordable Care Act that lead to the Democratic midterm victories.

Jason Lewis (R-MN), who was unseated from his congressional seat by Democrat Angie Craig last Tuesday, wrote in his his op-ed that it was McCain’s vote against a so-called skinny repeal of the Affordable Care Act “prompted a ‘green wave’ of liberal special-interest money,” allowing Democrats to hammer Republicans over the issue of pre-existing conditions.

According to Politico, attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act began in 2017 in the House, which passed the American Health Care Act as a replacement. However, due to tense negotiations, Republicans in the Senate decided to put a “skinny” repeal of the law to a vote, in an attempt to only repeal controversial parts of the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual mandate.

The effort was unsuccessful, however, with McCain along with Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) voting against it.

Lewis wrote in his op-ed that the successful vote allowed for Democrats to campaign on the claim that Republicans were trying to remove protections for those with pre-existing conditions, adding that the House bill would have “[alleviated] the pre-existing condition problem,” rather than eliminate it as he accused Democrats of falsely claiming.

Lewis singled out McCain, saying his vote was an attempt to slight the president.

“The late Arizona senator’s grievance with all things Trump was well known, but this obsession on the part of ‘Never Trump’ Republicans has to end,” Lewis wrote. “Disapprove of the president’s style if you like, but don’t sacrifice sound policy to pettiness.”

What to look out for...

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