Andrew O'Reilly


Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer slammed the protesters who gathered inside the state’s Capitol building on Thursday to demand she rescind her stay-at-home orders, saying they represented the “worst racism and awful parts” of U.S. history.

“There were swastikas and Confederate flags and nooses and people with assault rifles,” Whitmer said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Some of the outrageousnesses of what happened at our capitol depicted some of the worst racism and awful parts of our history in this country.”

The Michigan governor, however, added that those people represented a small portion of the demonstrators at the state capital and that, for the most part, the protest was peaceful.

“When you think about the fact that this is a state of almost 10 million people, the vast majority of whom are doing the right thing,” she added, “the behavior you’ve seen in all of the clips is not representative of who we are in Michigan.”

Holding American flags and handmade signs – and with some carrying firearms — the demonstrators in Lansing first congregated shoulder-to-shoulder on Thursday outside before demanding to be let inside the building as lawmakers were poised to debate an extension of an emergency and disaster declaration. Some chanted “Let us in,” The Detroit News reported.

State Sen. Dayna Polehanki, a Democrat, tweeted a photo of what she described as armed demonstrators yelling above her. She said some of her colleagues were wearing “bullet proof vests” inside the House chamber.

“Directly above me, men with rifles yelling at us. Some of my colleagues who own bullet proof vests are wearing them. I have never appreciated our Sergeants-at-Arms more than today. #mileg,” she posted.

Thursday’s rally came as some people living in Michigan have continued to demand Whitmer roll back her stay-at-home order in an effort to reopen the state’s economy and allow residents to resume daily activities.

Last week, she extended the mandate through May 15, but loosened some restrictions beginning Friday. Residents will be allowed to travel between residences, but it will be “strongly discouraged.”

Whitmer said she would not be intimidated by political pressure to ease up her state’s stay-at-home orders amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“The fact of the matter is we are in the global pandemic. This is not something we negotiate ourselves out of and is a political matter; this is a public health crisis that has taken the lives of almost 70,000 Americans,” she said.

“Whether you agree with me or not, I’m working to protect your life if you live in the state of Michigan,” Whitmer added.

President Trump has come out in support of the protesters, calling them “very good people” in a tweet on Friday.

“The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal,” Trump added.

Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: Michigan’s Whitmer says armed protesters displayed ‘worst racism and awful parts’ of US history

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., argued Sunday the travel ban President Trump has boasted as a major move in stemming the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. was actually not as effective as the White House says.

“Actually tens of thousands of people were allowed in from China, it wasn’t as it was described as this great moment,” Pelosi said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “So if you’re going to shut the door because you have an evaluation because of an epidemic, then shut the door.”

The travel ban, which exempted Americans and some other authorized travelers, did not totally cut off people entering the U.S. from China and Europe. A New York Times investigation earlier this month found that nearly 40,000 people arrived in the U.S. on direct flights from China in the two months after Trump imposed the restrictions.

Pelosi has been a harsh critic of trump’s ban and has heaped the blame on Trump’s slow response to addressing the coronavirus.

“As the president fiddles, people are dying,” Pelosi told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an earlier interview. “The president, his denial at the beginning, was deadly,”

When questioned on Sunday whether she now supported the travel ban, Pelosi deflected the question, saying: “let’s go into the future.”

“What the American people want is a plan to go forward,” she said.

Like other world leaders, Trump has restricted travel from much of the globe, including China and large swaths of Europe. The borders with Mexico and Canada have been closed to all but “essential” travel.

With consulates closed, almost all visa processing by the State Department has been suspended for weeks. And Trump has used the virus to effectively end asylum at U.S. borders, turning away migrants, including children, by invoking a rarely used 1944 law aimed at preventing the spread of communicable diseases.

In recent days, officials bolstered by their successful efforts to restrict travel at the country’s borders had been discussing how they might seize the opportunity to enact additional immigration restrictions.

Trump’s team, however, denied last week that he was using the virus to make good on a longstanding campaign promise during an election year.

“This is common sense the American people can very well understand: When Americans need jobs, Americans must come first,” said White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: Pelosi says Trump’s travel ban was not effective in preventing people or coronavirus from entering US

The Democratic Socialists of America made it pretty clear on Sunday what they thought about Joe Biden being the Democrat’s presumptive nominee.

“We are not endorsing [Joe Biden],” the organization tweeted Sunday.

The DSA, an ultra-progressive group boasting roughly 56,000 members, previously endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid, but the group is now without a candidate after the senator suspended his White House bid last week after facing a near-impossible path to obtaining more delegates than Biden.

The organization’s statement on Twitter quickly drew criticism on social media from prominent Biden supporters and establishment Democrats.

“Your endorsement would have hurt Biden,” Jon Cooper, the former head of the Democratic Coalition, tweeted. “Now that you’ve shown your true colors by effectively equating Biden with Trump (a REAL fascist), you can go back to being totally irrelevant.”

The DSA’s progressive politics have sat far on the left; even the group’s endorsement of Sanders last year was the subject of intense internal debate.

“Sanders 2016 revived the progressive left and turned DSA into the largest socialist organization in America in seventy years,” former Sanders campaign worker Dan La Botz wrote on the DSA’s website in opposition to a Sanders endorsement. “Flooded with young people angry at the Democratic Party, DSA became a radical, activist organization projecting the need for a total socialist transformation of America.”

“Sanders 2020 will not have the same effect,” La Botz continued. “Bernie will not appear to be much different than other progressive Democrats and his campaign threatens to lead DSA deep into the Democratic Party.”

The DSA put its membership at over 56,000 as of March. Its officials have said the group’s long-term mission has been to run candidates as socialists, and not under the Democrats’ party banner.

Ella Mahony of the DSA’s national political committee said the group has had a unique spotlight to further its anti-capitalist agenda and convert more Americans to socialism.

Fox News’ Elizabeth Llorente contributed to this report.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: Democratic Socialists of America won’t endorse Biden’s White House bid

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., vowed in a new campaign policy paper that if she is elected president in November, she will fill out at least half of her Cabinet with “women and nonbinary people.”

Warren, who is currently sitting in third in most national polls behind former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, wrote Tuesday in a lengthy post on Medium that she will build “a Cabinet and senior leadership team that reflects the full diversity of America, including having at least 50 [percent] of Cabinet positions filled by women and nonbinary people.”

Warren’s pledge is part of a series of reforms she laid out in order to “rebuild the government swiftly, and make fundamental changes” after President Trump leaves office.

“Donald Trump will leave behind a government that has been infected by corruption and incompetence, and his vindictive actions as president suggest that he is likely to do everything he can to undermine the next president,” Warren wrote.

She added: “We cannot assume that everything will be fine once Donald Trump leaves office.”

The post by Warren, who has been criticized for playing identity politics, echoes a statement she made during December’s Democratic presidential primary debate in Los Angeles where she said that if she was elected president, she would “go to the Rose Garden once a year to read the names of transgender women, of people of color, who have been killed in the past year.”

Warren, who is one of the four Democratic candidates in the U.S. Senate required to attend Trump’s impeachment trial, has also been dealing with a public spat with her fellow progressive, Sanders, after she disclosed the contents of a 2018 private conversation with Sanders in which he allegedly said a woman could not defeat Trump.

Warren refused to shake Sanders’ hand after last week’s presidential debate, and microphones captured a fiery confrontation during which Warren accused Sanders of calling her a liar.

Warren refused to address the explosive feud as she campaigned in recent days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: Warren promises at least half of her Cabinet will be ‘women and nonbinary people’ if elected president

In a rare public order Tuesday, the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [FISC] strongly criticized the FBI over its surveillance-application process, giving the bureau until Jan. 10 to come up with solutions, in the wake of findings from Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.

The order, from the court’s presiding judge Rosemary M. Collyer, came just a week after the release of Horowitz’s withering report about the wiretapping of Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to President Trump.

“The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Office of Inspector General] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above,” Collyer wrote in her four-page order. “The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable.”

“As [FBI Director Christopher Wray] has stated, the inspector general’s report describes conduct by certain FBI employees that is unacceptable and unrepresentative of the FBI as an institution,” the bureau responded in a statement Tuesday night. “The director has ordered more than 40 corrective steps to address the report’s recommendations, including some improvements beyond those recommended by the IG.”

Horowitz said he did not find significant evidence that FBI agents were involved in a political conspiracy to undermine Trump’s candidacy in 2016. However, the report did find numerous errors and inaccuracies used by FBI agents to obtain permission to monitor Page’s phone calls and emails.

While Collyer’s order did not specify exactly what reforms the FBI needed to implement to its policies for obtaining permission to wiretap people under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, the order did say that the FISA court will weigh in on whether the reforms are deemed sufficient.

“The [FISA court] expects the government to provide complete and accurate information in every filing with the court,” Collyer wrote. “Without it, the [FISA court] cannot properly ensure that the government conducts electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes only when there is a sufficient factual basis.”

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has dealt with some of the most sensitive matters of national security: terror threats and espionage. Its work, for the most part, cannot be examined by the American public, by order of Congress and the president. Its work has been mostly secret, its structure largely one-sided.

“The most unusual thing is that there is a body of law that the court has created, but as a practitioner that is part of that law, we have between zero and some very limited knowledge of what that law is,” Michael Sussmann, a former Justice Department prosecutor and current private attorney in the consumer and computer-privacy field, told Fox News. “But, it’s the fact that there is a secret law and a secret body of law that makes it the most vexing.”

Tuesday’s order from the court came amid a Republican-led push to reform FISA.

Reps. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, and Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, last week introduced the FISA Improvements Act in a bid to “stop these abuses” and effectively amend FISA by adding requirements on the FBI, the DOJ and on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which would also give Congress “critical new insight to perform oversight of the FISA powers.”

“The deceptive actions of a few high-ranking officials within the FBI and the Department of Justice have eroded public trust in our federal institutions,” Stewart stated. “They flattened internal guardrails, deceived the FISA court, and irreparably damaged the reputation of an innocent American” – a reference to Page.

The GOP bill would mandate that amicus curiae – an impartial court advisor – be assigned to all cases where a U.S. person is involved. It also would ensure that the DOJ disclose “any usage of unverified information in the application,” and include a provision in which any FISA extensions are heard or denied by the same judge which “ensures that the government is not able to obfuscate details of an expiring order’s newly gathered evidence to support renewal.”

The House voted earlier this year against a bipartisan amendment to FISA, proposed by Michigan Rep. Justin Amash — then a Republican — and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., which would have halted the 2020 funding for FISA’s Section 702, which was authorized in 2008 as a means to monitor communications by foreign nationals outside the U.S. Amash later left the Republican Party to become an independent.

Collyer’s order was met with praise by some Republican lawmakers, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“Very pleased to see the FISA court condemn the FISA warrant application and process against Carter Page,” Graham said in a statement. “As Inspector General Horowitz’s report describes in great detail, the FISA process falsified evidence and withheld exculpatory evidence to obtain a warrant against Mr. Page on numerous occasions.”

Horowitz’s report was hardly the first time the court has come under scrutiny. In 2013, self-confessed National Security Agency [NSA] leaker Edward Snowden revealed a secret FISC order approving government collection of mass amounts of so-called metadata from telecom giant Verizon and leading Internet companies, including Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

The revelations triggered debate about national security and privacy interests, and about the secretive legal process that set government surveillance in motion. Approvals would come from a rotating panel of federal judges at the FISC, deciding whether to grant certain types of government requests — wiretapping, data analysis and other monitoring for “foreign intelligence purposes” of suspected terrorists and spies operating in the United States.

The Snowden revelations confirmed the scope of the NSA’s efforts had greatly expanded — along with the court’s original mission. No longer were FISC judges approving individual surveillance requests. Now, in essence, they were reinterpreting the Constitution, expanding the limits of privacy and due process, critics said.

“The laws have been secretly interpreted in a way that now allows the government to monitor the communications of all of us– a dragnet of surveillance,” said David Sobel, a senior counsel at the Electronic Freedom Foundation. “Based on the statistics we have, the court appears to be a rubber stamp but part of the problem is because this process is secret, and because the public can’t see what the court is doing or read the opinions, it is hard to assess the extent the court is asking tough questions and holding the govt.’s feet to the fire.”

Fox News’ Jason Donner, Jake Gibson and Hollie McKay contributed to this report.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly, Bill Mears

Source: Fox News: FISA court slams FBI over surveillance applications, in rare public order

The top lawyer for Judiciary and Intelligence Committee Republicans testified Monday that there was a “legitimate basis” for President Trump to ask Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky to launch a public investigation into the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine.

During impeachment inquiry testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee, minority counsel Steve Castor tried to turn the tables on the Democrat-led investigation into whether President Trump tried to pressure his Ukrainian colleague into investigating a political rival by withholding aid and a White House meeting by arguing that there were real concerns about the former vice president’s son’s involvement with the Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings.

“Hunter Biden was reportedly receiving $50,000 to $83,000 a month for compensation for his role on the Burisma board,” Castor said of the former vice president’s son.

Castor questioned why a person who doesn’t have a history with Ukraine and doesn’t speak either Ukrainian or Russian would have a senior role on the company’s board.

“At the time that Hunter Biden joined Burisma’s board, his father, former Vice President Biden, was the Obama Administration’s point person for Ukraine.”

Castor speculated that the only reason Hunter Biden was on the Burisma board was because his father was the vice president at the time, and leading the Obama administration’s efforts in Ukraine.

“Hunter Biden was not qualified to serve on the board,” Castro said. “There is a legitimate basis for President Trump to have a concern about Hunter Biden’s role on the Burisma board.”

The impeachment inquiry into Trump began when a whistleblower reported that the president had pushed Zelensky to launch a public investigation into the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine—specifically, why Joe Biden pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire a top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who at the time was investigating Burisma Holdings.

Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates in Ukraine and by a number of high-level U.S. foreign service members, there has been no evidence the former vice president or his son broke the law.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: GOP lawyer turns impeachment tables by scorching Bidens at hearing

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., sent a letter on Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calling on her to suspend the impeachment inquiry into President Trump until “equitable rules and procedures” are set up.

Coming amid concerns by GOP lawmakers that they will be sidelined or shut out of the impeachment inquiry into Trump, McCarthy criticized Pelosi for the “swiftness and recklessness” which House committee chairs have proceeded with the impeachment inquiry and pleaded with the House speaker to ensure Republican participation in the proceedings.

“Unfortunately, you have given no clear indication as to how your impeachment inquiry will proceed – including whether key historical precedents or basic standards of due process will be observed,” McCarthy said in his letter. “In addition, the swiftness and recklessness with which you have proceeded has already resulted in committee chairs attempting to limit minority participation in scheduled interviews, calling into question the integrity of such an inquiry.”

Hours after McCarthy’s letter was posted, Pelosi responded with her own note suggesting Democrats would not be hitting pause anytime soon. She wrote that “existing rules of the House provide House Committees with full authority to conduct investigations for all matters under their jurisdiction.”

Pelosi added: “We hope you and other Republicans share our commitment to following the facts, upholding the Constitution, protecting our national security, and defending the integrity of our elections at such a serious moment in our nation’s history.”

On Thursday night, McCarthy fired back. “Your proclamations of fairness fall flat when you deny a process that provides it. Simply put, you are failing to meet the basic standards of due process observed by past speakers of the House,” he wrote in a letter. “Without transparent and equitable rules and procedures, the American people will forever understand this sham process for what it is—the fulfillment of a partisan goal to reverse the 2016 election.”

McCarthy’s complaint about limiting Republican participation is a reference to reports that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., was limiting Republicans’ ability to ask questions during Thursday’s testimony by former U.S. envoy for Ukraine Kurt Volker.

In his initial letter to Pelosi, McCarthy asked a number of questions, including whether Pelosi plans to hold a full House vote on authorizing the impeachment inquiry, whether she plans to grant subpoena powers to both the committee chairs and the ranking members, and whether she’ll allow Trump’s lawyers to attend the hearings.

After concerns were first raised about an “equal playing field” during the Volker session, Fox News is told Democrats made concessions and agreed to equal representation from Democratic and Republican counsels in the room. However, even though there are representatives from the Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees, only the Intelligence Committee can ask questions.

Volker – who resigned from his post last week — testified Thursday in a closed-door interview about an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint about a July 25 phone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s family’s dealings in the country.

Volker was expected to voluntarily give a transcribed interview before the Schiff-led Intelligence Committee as part of its impeachment inquiry into whether Trump abused his authority by asking Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination. Trump is being investigated amid claims that he threatened to withhold $400 million in military aid unless Ukraine investigated Biden, his son Hunter, and their business dealings in the country.

The House minority leader’s letter earned him the praise of President Trump, who also took the opportunity to slam the Democrats who opened the impeachment inquiry into him.

McCarthy’s questions come a day after the leading Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, said in a letter to Chairman Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., that despite statements made by Pelosi and other Democrats, “there is not a ‘House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry” because the entire House has not voted on the matter.

Citing House Rules X and XI, McCaul said that until Congress members from both parties vote to create a special impeachment task force to carry out proceedings, “Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff lacks the jurisdiction to investigate the Department of State’s conduct of United States foreign policy toward Ukraine. That prerogative belongs to our Members.”

“Official impeachment inquiries are initiated by the adoption of a House resolution empowering or creating a committee or task force to undertake such activities,” McCaul continued. “In both the Nixon and Clinton cases, the Judiciary Committee debated and reported a resolution authorizing the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether there were sufficient grounds to impeach the President, which was then debated and voted on by the full House of Representatives. There have been no such debates or votes in this Congress.”

Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Danielle Wallace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: McCarthy calls on Pelosi to suspend Trump impeachment inquiry, accuses her of ‘recklessness’

The 2020 presidential election is already getting nasty — and not just for the candidates.

The mud-slinging and smear campaigns also are being directed at supporters and donors, namely those with the temerity to back President Trump. They’re facing a revived effort by Trump critics to name and shame them, with the apparent goal of hurting their businesses.

In one of the latest examples, a Facebook post on a page called simply “Ban Kenny Chesney from Pittsburgh” threatened to make public a list of almost 100 local businesses in the Pennsylvania city that are owned by Trump supporters. While the page has since been taken down, a new website has been promised that will include “a database of Trump supporter-owned businesses in the Pittsburgh area, as well as tips for how to get those specific businesses closed down,” according to local media.

“They want to cost people their livelihoods just because you don’t agree with them politically,” Sam DeMarco, Allegheny County councilman and chairman of the county’s Republican Party, told the local CBS affiliate. “It’s not just absurd, but I believe it’s dangerous.”

DeMarco continued, “People who they just don’t agree with, they want to take and punish. I absolutely believe this is a fascist behavior, and I totally reject it.”

A similar social media-driven boycott was directed at one of Connecticut’s most popular pizza parlors.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria has faced a boycott for its co-owner’s support of President Trump. (Google Maps)

Facebook user Lorna Steele posted a message last month asking her followers to join her “in no longer funding his hate,” referring to Frank Pepe Pizzeria and co-owner Gary Bimonte, a Trump supporter. She posted her message alongside a picture of Bimonte holding a “Deplorables for Trump” sign and a message he posted thanking the president for the American steel piping being used in construction jobs.

Steele’s post stirred a fierce debate among Facebook users, with some pledging to stop frequenting the famous pizza establishment and others arguing it is unfair to boycott individual businesses just because of their owners’ political beliefs.

“If we start boycotting individuals for their political views it’s just as bad as a pharmacist who won’t give contraception because of their ‘principles,’” one Facebook commenter said, according to the Wilton Bulletin.

The push to shame Trump supporters burst into the headlines last month when Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, brother of presidential candidate Julian Castro, tweeted out a list of Trump donors and their employers.

“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” Castro tweeted, along with the Twitter handles of several owners of local businesses who apparently donated to Trump. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

The tweet, however, backfired when it was discovered that one of the donors on the list also had contributed to Castro’s own congressional campaign.

Wayne Harwell, the owner of a local real estate development company whose name appeared on the list Castro shared, told Fox News in a phone interview last month that he donated money to Castro’s congressional campaign. But he suggested that after Castro outed him in his bid to shame Trump supporters, he would no longer be supporting Castro.

“I was also on a list of people that gave to Castro and if he dislikes me enough that he wants to put my name out there against Trump, I’m not going to give money to him,” Harwell told Fox News. “Obviously Castro feels pretty strongly against me.”

Along with local businesses, major companies have also been hit with recent boycotts.

Fitness brands like Equinox and SoulCycle were the target of calls for a boycott after it came to light that one of the companies’ biggest investors was Stephen Ross, who hosted a fundraiser for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign in early August at his Hamptons mansion.

Equinox Fitness Club and SPA, Century City, California

While the two companies – which have long tried to cultivate an inclusive image – have attempted to distance themselves from the backlash, it was reported that both faced a deluge of membership cancellations and complaints.

Other big-name brands to face a boycott backlash for having owners and CEOs who support Trump range from Home Depot and Uline to Taco Bell and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs.

Meanwhile, Hollywood has also reentered the fray after actress Debra Messing and her “Will & Grace” co-star Eric McCormack called for a media outlet to publish the names of people attending a fundraiser for Trump.

The president slammed the actress on Thursday, saying she’s being accused of “McCarthyism.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: Trump donors and their businesses face fresh wave of boycotts, public shaming

Republicans in California are crying foul over a new law that requires gubernatorial and presidential candidates to disclose tax returns in order to appear on 2020 primary ballots — worried about voter turnout implications for their party in numerous races, even though the law is largely aimed at President Trump.

The Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act – signed in late July by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom – was an obvious bid to compel Trump to make public his financial records if he wants his name on the ballot. But the president is unlikely to cave to the law’s provisos given his previous resistance to making tax returns public.

Republican leaders in the Golden State, however, argue that if the law actually keeps Trump off the March primary ballot, it would all but assure a depressed Republican turnout statewide — hurting down-ballot candidates in congressional and other races and locking many out of the general election due to the state’s unique primary system.

“We’re not talking about keeping President Trump off the ballot in the general election,” Jessica Patterson, the California Republican Party chairwoman, told Fox News. “But what this will do is make sure that Republican voters stay home for the primaries and give Democrats a big opportunity when it comes to the general election.”

Here’s why: Under California’s so-called jungle primary system, all candidates, regardless of party, vie for the same elected office and the top two vote-getters move on to the general election. Since it was implemented in California in 2010, this system has often ensured a Democrat-on-Democrat general election battle in all but California’s most conservative areas. Depressed GOP turnout in 2020 could mean even fewer Republicans move on to the general election.

The Democratic lawmakers who introduced the transparency bill balk at the notion that it is meant to hinder Republican chances of making it onto the general election ballot, however. They argue that its aim is to keep all presidential candidates honest about their income and where their money comes from.

“While Donald Trump surfaced the tax return loophole that SB 27 closes, this isn’t about Trump,” California state Sen. Scott Wiener said in a statement to Fox News. “Rather, it’s about all presidential candidates from all parties. When someone is seeking to become the most powerful person in the world, the voters deserve basic information about the person’s finances. That’s all we’re asking for.”

Wiener, along with fellow Democratic state Sen. Mike McGuire, first proposed the changes to the ballot qualifications back in May and, despite their assurances that the law is meant to monitor candidates of all political parties, both lawmakers have been adamant in their condemnation of Trump’s unwillingness to release his tax returns.

“The people are on our side, over 60 percent of Americans want President Trump to release his returns,” McGuire said in a statement. “Voters deserve to know, for example, if the president is putting America’s security at risk through his tangled web of business dealings with corporate interests and his dealings with foreign governments and foreign banks. Here’s the bottom line: What does he have to hide?”

Whether the law is actually on the books by next year’s primary election is still to be determined – as both the Trump campaign and conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch have filed separate federal lawsuits in the Eastern District of California challenging its constitutionality.

Experts say the law will have little effect on the presidential race — at this stage, Trump could lose California’s primary yet easily wrap up the nomination. Congressional and other down-ballot races, however, could feel the brunt of the legislation’s impact.

“You’re already going to see a big discrepancy in voter turnout between Republicans and Democrats because Trump is an incumbent without any real challengers in the primary,” Eric McGhee, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, told Fox News. “But if this does go through, it could have a big effect on the down-ballot races because of the top-two primary system in the state.”

Republicans see a slim silver lining. GOP officials in California say they’ll try to use the law to motivate Republicans who would normally stay home to the polls.

“We’re going to use this as a rallying cry to show Californians the arrogance of the Democratic Party in this state,” Patterson said.

Some experts, however, are skeptical – given Trump’s unpopularity in the state and the fact that California’s primary has been moved up to Super Tuesday on March 3 – that Republican efforts to expose any Democratic power play will be enough to drive a large turnout and offset what is expected to be a sizable and motivated Democratic electorate.

Paul Mitchell, a political consultant and vice president of Political Data Inc., told Politico that 2020 looks like an “asymmetric election” where Democrats will be much more driven to head to the polls than Republicans.

“This does have enough potential impact that it could impact primaries by boxing out a Republican here and there,” Mitchell said, especially if Republicans “boycott” the primary in protest over the new law. “… [I]t’s a not-trivial likelihood.”

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: California Republicans worry state’s tax return law could devastate their down-ballot hopes in 2020

DHS reports illegal immigration at highest rate since 2007

The crisis at the border appears to be reaching a breaking point.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday handed the Trump administration a victory in its battle to clamp down on illegal immigration by making it easier to detain immigrants with criminal records.

The ruling that federal immigration authorities can detain immigrants awaiting deportation anytime after they have been released from prison on criminal charges represents a victory for President Trump.

In the case before the justices, a group of mostly green card holders argued that unless immigrants were picked up immediately after finishing their prison sentence, they should get a hearing to argue for their release while deportation proceedings go forward. But in the 5-4 decision on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled against them, deciding that federal immigration officials can detain noncitizens at any time after their release from local or state custody. The court also ruled the government maintains broad discretion to decide who would represent a danger to the community in deciding who to release or detain.

During oral arguments in October the Trump administration argued that given the limited money and manpower available, it was nearly impossible for the federal government to immediately detain every immigrant upon their release from custody.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, stating that “neither the statute’s text nor its structure” supported the immigrants’ argument. The court’s conservative justices sided with the Trump administration, which argued as the Obama administration did, against hearings for those convicted of crimes and affected by the law.

The case before the justices involved a class-action lawsuit brought by non-citizens in California and a similar class-action lawsuit brought in the state of Washington. One of the lead plaintiffs, Mony Preap, has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States since 1981 and has two convictions for possession of marijuana. He was released from prison in 2006 but was not taken into immigration custody until 2013.

Preap won in lower courts, and the government was ordered to provide him and other class members a bond hearing. Preap has since won his deportation case.

The ruling was the first in the court’s current term – which began in October – and the first for Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, wrote a concurring opinion. The court’s four more liberal justices dissented, and Justice Stephen Breyer took the unusual step of reading an oral dissent from the bench.

Fox News’ William Mears and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Foxnews: Supreme Court hands Trump administration a victory in immigration battle

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