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Romney mocks Pelosi after uproar over her visit to a California salon that defied local coronavirus guidelines

Sen. Mitt Romney mocked Nancy Pelosi after tweeting a picture of his wife giving him a haircut at home, saying it was a “better salon” than the one the House speaker visited in defying local coronavirus guidelines.

“Getting cleaned up for resumption of the Senate,” Romney, R-Utah, tweeted Monday. “Better salon than Pelosi’s!

Romney tweeted a photo of himself getting his hair cut from his wife Ann Romney outside his home.

Romney’s tweet comes after Pelosi, D-Calif., made headlines after visiting a San Francisco hair salon for a wash and blowout, despite local ordinances keeping salons closed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In security footage obtained exclusively by Fox News, and timestamped Monday, Aug. 31, at 3:08 p.m. Pacific Time, the California powerhouse is seen walking through ESalonSF in San Francisco with wet hair, and without a mask over her mouth or nose.

The stylist doing her hair can be seen following her wearing a black face mask.

Salons in San Francisco had been closed since March and were only notified they could reopen on Sept. 1 for outdoor hairstyling services only.

Pelosi dug in over the controversy and claimed that she was “set up” at the hair salon, which she said she had been to “over the years many times.”

“I take responsibility for trusting the word of the neighborhood salon that I have been to many times,” Pelosi told reporters Wednesday. “When they said they could accommodate people one at a time, and we can set up that time, I trusted that.”

“The salon owes me an apology for setting me up,” she added.

Pelosi, on Wednesday, downplayed the fact that she didn’t wear a mask in the salon.

“I just had my hair washed. I don’t wear my mask when I’m washing my hair,” she said. “Do you wear one when you wash your hair?”

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Romney tweets home haircut pic, quips ‘better salon than Pelosi’s’

The subpoena demands that he produce ‘all records related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation’

The Senate Homeland Security Committee on Monday subpoenaed the FBI and Director Christopher Wray as part of its broad review into the origins of the Russia investigation, Fox News has learned.

Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., issued the first subpoena as part of the panel’s review to Wray.

The subpoena, obtained by Fox News, demands that he produce “all records related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation.”

“This includes, but is not limited to, all records provided or made available to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice for its review,” the subpoena states, referring to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s review of abuses related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The subpoena also demands “all records related to requests” to the General Services Administration or the Office of the Inspector General for the GSA for “presidential transition records from November 2016 through December 2017.”

The FBI must provide these documents to the committee by Aug. 20 at 5 p.m. ET, according to the subpoena.

In a statement to Fox News, an FBI spokesperson confirmed that “the FBI has received Chairman Johnson’s August 6th subpoena.”

“The FBI has already been producing documents and information to the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which are directly responsive to this subpoena,” the FBI said in a statement. “As always, the FBI will continue to cooperate with the Committee’s requests, consistent with our law enforcement and national security obligations.”

The subpoena is directed to the “Federal Bureau of Investigation c/o (care of) Christopher Wray.”

An FBI official told Fox News on Monday that the bureau has already been producing documents to the committee on a “rolling basis and have surged resources to do so.”

In June, the committee voted to authorize subpoenas to the FBI and other agencies for records and testimony from Obama-era officials related to the bureau’s original Russia investigation and the Justice Department inspector general’s review of that probe.

The committee authorized subpoenas to the FBI for the production of all records related to the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation — the bureau’s internal code name for the Russia probe, which began in July 2016.

The subpoenas would cover all records made available to DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz for his review of the Russia probe and alleged misconduct surrounding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant approvals to surveil members of the Trump campaign.

The committee also authorized subpoenas to the State Department for the production of records related to meetings or communications between State Department officials or employees with ex-British Intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who compiled the now-infamous anti-Trump dossier which served as much of the basis for the FISA warrant applications to surveil former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. The subpoenas would cover documents from June 2016 through January 2017.

The committee also authorized subpoenas to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for the production of all records related to the process of “unmasking” U.S. persons or entities affiliated “formally or informally” with the Trump campaign, the Trump transition team or the Trump administration from June 2015 through January 2017.

Johnson has the ability to issue subpoenas to a number of officials, including former FBI Counsel James Baker, former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, former FBI agent Peter Strzok, Joe Pientka, former White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former FBI director of counterintelligence Bill Priestap, former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, Sidney Blumenthal, and a number of other Obama-era officials.

Also part of the committee’s probe is the process of “unmasking,” which occurs after U.S. citizens’ conversations are incidentally picked up in conversations with foreign officials who are being monitored by the intelligence community. The U.S. citizens’ identities are supposed to be protected if their participation is incidental and no wrongdoing is suspected. However, officials can determine the U.S. citizens’ names through a process that is supposed to safeguard their rights.

In May, Johnson and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, made public a list of Obama officials who purportedly requested to “unmask” the identity of Michael Flynn, who at the time was President Trump’s incoming national security adviser.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Johnson subpoenas FBI in review of Russia probe origin

EXCLUSIVE: A newly declassified document obtained by Fox News reveals that the FBI agent who delivered the defensive briefing on election interference to the Trump campaign in August 2016 “actively listened” for certain topics – using it as a “cover” to monitor then-candidate Donald Trump and Michael Flynn, a source familiar with the document said.

The document, obtained by Fox News, was declassified by Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and transmitted to Capitol Hill.

The document reflects type-written notes by FBI agent Joe Pientka after an August 17, 2016 briefing to then-candidate Donald Trump, Michael Flynn and Chris Christie, “in support of ODNI briefings provided to U.S. Presidential candidates and two of their advisors.”

The briefing, which was held at the FBI’s New York Field Office, also included a “13- minute defensive briefing” delivered by Pientka. The ODNI briefer was Edward Gistaro, according to the document.

The document was dated August 30, 2016, and filed under “Crossfire Hurricane,” the FBI’s code name for its investigation into whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians to influence the 2016 election; “Crossfire Razor,” the FBI’s code name for the investigation into Michael Flynn; “Russia Sensitive Investigative Matter,” and FARA, the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The document states that FBI officials Kevin Clinesmith and Peter Strzok “approved” Pientka’s notes.

The source told Fox News that Pientka, at the time of the briefing, was also tasked with running the FBI’s investigation into Flynn.

The source went on to tell Fox News that the briefing was used as “a cover to listen for any remarks” by Trump or others about the Russian federation.

During the briefing, the source told Fox News that Trump asked Pientka: “Joe, are the Russians bad? Because they have more numbers are they worse than the Chinese?”

Pientka, according to the notes, responded by saying: “Both countries are bad.”

The source told Fox News that it was Pientka’s duty to “warn and tell the candidate what they needed to watch out for,” but that he did not implicitly warn that the “Russians were targeting the campaign.”

“During the ODNI briefs, writer actively listened for topics or questions regarding the Russian Federation,” Pientka wrote in his notes.

According to the notes, the ODNI briefer said the U.S. “is the world leader in Counterterrorism.”

“Trump then asked, ‘Russia too?'” Pientka wrote. “During a discussion regarding nuclear testing, Russia and China were brought up as cheating on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Trump asked, ‘Who’s worse?’ [REDACTED] stated ‘they are both bad, but Russia is worse.'”

The notes added: “Trump and Christie turned toward each other and Christie commented, ‘I’m shocked.'”

Meanwhile, according to the source and the document, Pientka’s case file was “approved” by Clinesmith and Strzok.

A senior administration official told Fox News Thursday that the newly-declassifed document “shows the same cast of virulent characters that spearheaded the Russia hoax, set Trump up from jump.”

“Clinesmith, the FISA forger and his trusted sidekick, Strzok, attempted to make good on their promise to prevent Trump from winning,” the official told Fox News. “A scam briefing from a scam crew of miscreants at the FBI.”

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz last year found that Clinesmith altered an email to say that former Trump campaign aide Carter Page had not been a CIA source, when in fact he had been working with them. This ultimately led to the FBI renewing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Page while leaving exculpatory evidence out of their application.

Pientka participated in the January 2017 White House interview that led to Flynn’s prosecution.

Fox News has previously determined that Pientka was also intimately involved in the probe of former Trump aide Carter Page, which the DOJ has since acknowledged was riddled with fundamental errors and premised on a discredited dossier that the bureau was told could be part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

Meanwhile, Fox News also obtained a newly-declassified document which appeared to be Pientka’s oultine for the briefing with the Trump team, dated August 17, 2016, and also labeled “Crossfire Hurricane” and “Outline used during Trump brief on 8/17/16.”

The document outlined topic Pientka briefed the Trump team on, and included hand-written notes in the margins.

The handwritten notes refer to Flynn, during the briefing, asking Pientka “How many Special Agents are in the FBI?” which Pientka replied “over 10,000.”

The initial document stated Flynn replied: “You have 17,000.”

The initial document revealed that Flynn asked Pientka if the Russia threat was “worse now than during the Cold War?”

“Writer responded that the number of identified known and suspected IOs from hostile Foreign Intelligence Services posted in the U.S. are equal to or greater than during the Cold War,” the intial document read.

On the document outlining the guidelines for the briefing, Pientka scribbled notes in the margins, including “Flynn worse than cold war,” and “Flynn 17,000,” among other illegible notes.

Fox News’ Gregg Re contributed to this report.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Source says FBI agent used 2016 briefing on election interference as ‘cover’ to question Trump team

Fauci says White House officials criticizing him ultimately ‘hurts’ Trump

Dr. Anthony Fauci called attempts by the White House to discredit him “bizarre,” claiming the move would ultimately hurt President Trump.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made the comments in an interview with The Atlantic after White House officials criticized him — most notably trade adviser Peter Navarro, who accused him of being “wrong” on the coronavirus at every step.

“Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that,” Fauci told The Atlantic. “When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president.”

Fauci’s comments come after Navarro tore into Fauci in a stunning op-ed published by USA Today.

“Dr. Anthony Fauci has a good bedside manner with the public, but he has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” Navarro wrote.

Navarro began by saying that Fauci “fought against” Trump’s “courageous decision” in late January to suspend flights from China as the novel coronavirus began to spread, arguing that that decision “might well have saved hundreds of thousands of American lives.”

Navarro went on to complain Fauci was “flip-flopping on the use of masks.”

He dinged Fauci for downplaying falling mortality rates, amid the debate over whether businesses should be allowed to reopen or stay shuttered. Navarro added: “So when you ask me whether I listen to Dr. Fauci’s advice my answer is: only with skepticism and caution.”

Tensions have been bubbling between the White House and Fauci. Officials have reportedly been concerned about the number of times Fauci has “been wrong on things,” according to a report last week.

A senior administration official, though, told Fox News that Navarro’s op-ed slamming Fauci was “definitely not approved by the White House.”

Another White House official told Fox News that Navarro is “going rogue.”

Alyssa Farah, White House director of strategic communications, said on Twitter that the piece “didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes and is the opinion of Peter alone.”

She said Trump “values the expertise of the medical professionals advising his Administration.”

Despite the criticisms from some officials, President Trump on Wednesday said he “gets along very well with Dr. Fauci.”

“I have a very good relationship with Dr. Fauci,” he said.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Fauci says White House attempts to discredit him ‘bizarre’

President Trump on Thursday pressed Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham to call former President Barack Obama to testify amid new developments surrounding the origins of the Russia investigation and efforts at the time to “unmask” Michael Flynn‘s name in intelligence reports.

“If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “He knew EVERYTHING.”

“Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it,” he continued. “No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!”

The extraordinary demand comes as Trump has increasingly sought to link his predecessor to efforts to investigate his associates in 2016 and 2017, dubbing it “Obamagate.” The tweet comes after Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., made public a list of Obama officials who purportedly requested to “unmask” the identity of Flynn, who at the time was Trump’s incoming national security adviser.

The list was declassified by Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell and sent to Grassley and Johnson.

The roster featured top-ranking figures including then-Vice President Joe Biden, then-FBI Director James Comey, then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Obama’s then-chief of staff Denis McDonough.

But Graham, in a detailed statement early Thursday afternoon, expressed reluctance to go so far as calling Obama to testify.

He said he is “greatly concerned about the precedent that would be set by calling a former president for oversight.”

“No president is above the law,” Graham said in the statement. “However, the presidency has executive privilege claims against other branches of government. … As to the Judiciary Committee, both presidents are welcome to come before the committee and share their concerns about each other. If nothing else it would make for great television. However, I have great doubts about whether it would be wise for the country.”

Nevertheless, Graham said that his panel will “begin holding multiple, in-depth congressional hearings regarding all things related to Crossfire Hurricane starting in early June.”

Crossfire Hurricane was the FBI’s internal code name for the investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign were coordinating or colluding with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

The president, earlier Thursday, blasted the Obama administration over the unmasking revelations and claimed that “it was the greatest political crime in the history of our country.”

“If I were a Democrat instead of a Republican, I think everybody would have been in jail a long time ago, and I’m talking with 50-year sentences. It is a disgrace what’s happened. This is the greatest political scam, hoax in the history of our country,” Trump said during an exclusive interview Thursday with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo. “People should be going to jail for this stuff and hopefully, a lot of people are going to have to pay.”

As Fox News previously reported, Grenell had made the decision to declassify information about Obama administration officials who were involved in the “unmasking” of Flynn — whose calls with the former Russian ambassador during the presidential transition were picked up in surveillance and later leaked. His case has returned to the national spotlight after the DOJ moved to dismiss charges against him of lying to the FBI about those conversations, despite a guilty plea that he later sought to withdraw.

The declassified list, released Wednesday, specifically showed officials who “may have received Lt. Gen Flynn’s identity in response to a request processed between 8 November 2016 and 31 January 2017 to unmask an identity that had been generically referred to in an NSA foreign intelligence report,” the document said.

“Each individual was an authorized recipient of the original report and the unmasking was approved through NSA’s standard process, which includes a review of the justification for the request,” the document said. “Only certain personnel are authorized to submit unmasking requests into the NSA system. In this case, 16 authorized individuals requested unmasking for [REDACTED] different NSA intelligence reports for select identified principals.”

The document added: “While the principals are identified below, we cannot confirm they saw the unmasked information. This response does not include any requests outside of the specified time-frame.”

Officials requesting such a name in this process do not necessarily know the identity in advance.

In a statement on Wednesday, Andrew Bates, Biden’s director of rapid response, downplayed the latest Flynn revelations.

“These documents have absolutely nothing to do with any FBI investigation and they confirm that all normal procedures were followed — any suggestion otherwise is a flat out lie,” Bates said. “What’s more, it’s telling that these documents were selectively leaked by Republicans abusing their congressional powers to act as arms of the Trump campaign after having them provided by a partisan official installed for this very purpose.”

Meanwhile, Graham said earlier this week that he wants to know “how many unmasking requests were made, if any, beyond General Flynn regarding members of the Trump campaign team, family, or associates.”

Graham has been leading his committee’s investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation for months. A source told Fox News this week that the committee is considering inviting Brennan, Clapper and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to testify before the committee.

The source told Fox News that the committee would invite the ex-officials to appear but would subpoena them if they encounter resistance. The source told Fox News that Senate investigators are looking at “various pieces” coming from “various sources” as part of their investigation.

“This is a multilevel puzzle,” the source said. “They are looking at layer upon layer, and you have to be able to tell the story of exactly what was going on, and who was doing what, when, and why.”

Officials in the Obama administration have acknowledged that they moved to unmask some Americans in intelligence reports, but insisted that their reasons were legitimate. Thousands of unmasking requests have been made during both the Obama and Trump administrations, complicating any efforts to determine if certain requests may have been somehow improper.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Trump calls for Obama testimony amid unmasking controversy; Graham cool to idea

U.S. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham is going “full throttle” with his review into the origins of the investigation into suspected Russia-Trump coordination in the 2016 election, with additional top prosecutors involved in looking at different components of the original probe, sources told Fox News.

Two sources told Fox News that Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri who was tapped by the Justice Department in February to review the case of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, is continuing to help with Durham’s investigation even after the DOJ’s move last week to drop the case against Flynn.

The sources told Fox News that interim U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Timothy Shea is also assisting with components of the investigation.

“They farmed the investigation out because it is too much for Durham and he didn’t want to be distracted,” one of the sources told Fox News.

“He’s going full throttle, and they’re looking at everything,” the source told Fox News.

The Justice Department declined to comment on Jensen and Shea’s involvement.

Any indication that Durham could be building a case against anyone involved in the original Russia probe, however, is sure to inflame tensions between the Trump administration and congressional Democrats — who already are ramping up accusations that these Justice Department reviews have become politicized. They slammed Attorney General Bill Barr for the DOJ’s decision Thursday to drop the Flynn case.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., who was a key figure during Trump’s impeachment proceedings, called the decision “outrageous.”

“The evidence against General Flynn is overwhelming,” Nadler, D-N.Y., said in a statement. Nadler and Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Friday also formally requested that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz launch an investigation into Barr’s “pattern of conduct that includes improper political interference.”

The DOJ determined that the bureau’s 2017 Flynn interview — which formed the basis for his guilty plea of lying to investigators — was “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.”

The retired Army lieutenant general for months has been trying to withdraw his plea, aided by a new attorney aggressively challenging the prosecution’s case and conduct.

Breadcrumbs were being dropped in the days preceding the decision that his case could be reconsidered. Documents unsealed the prior week by the Justice Department revealed agents discussed their motivations for interviewing him in the Russia probe – questioning whether they wanted to “get him to lie” so he’d be fired or prosecuted, or get him to admit wrongdoing. Flynn allies howled over the revelations, arguing that he essentially had been set up in a perjury trap. In that interview, Flynn did not admit wrongdoing and instead was accused of lying about his contacts with the then-Russian ambassador – to which he pleaded guilty.

Jensen reportedly was the one who recommended dropping the case to Barr.

Meanwhile, Barr, during an interview with CBS News on Thursday, was asked whether he felt the FBI conspired to get Flynn fired from the Trump administration.

“I think, you know, that’s a question that really has to wait [for] an analysis of all the different episodes that occurred through the summer of 2016 and the first several months of President Trump’s administration,” Barr told CBS News, while adding that Durham is “still looking at all of this,” in reference to the Flynn case.

“This is one particular episode, but we view it as part of a number of related acts … and we’re looking at the whole pattern of conduct,” Barr said, noting that they were investigating before “and after … the election.”

Meanwhile, a source said that the “pattern of conduct” Durham is investigating includes misrepresentations made to the FISA court to obtain warrants to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

“Barr talks to Durham every day,” one source recently told Fox News. “The president has been briefed that the case is being pursued, and it’s serious.”

President Trump on Friday offered a vague, but ominous, warning as the Durham probe proceeds.

“It was a very dangerous situation what they did,” Trump said during an interview with “Fox & Friends” Friday. “These are dirty politicians and dirty cops and some horrible people and hopefully they’re going to pay a big price in the not too distant future.”

Trump was specifically reacting to newly released transcripts of interviews from the House Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation that revealed top Obama officials acknowledged they knew of no “empirical evidence” of a conspiracy despite their concerns and suspicions.

The officials’ responses align with the results of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation — which found no evidence of criminal coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016, while not reaching a determination on obstruction of justice.

The transcripts, which were released by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., revealed top Obama officials were questioned over whether they had or had seen evidence of such collusion, coordination or conspiracy — the issue that drove the FBI’s initial case and later the special counsel probe. They generally said they had not.

“I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting/conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified in 2017. “That’s not to say that there weren’t concerns about the evidence we were seeing, anecdotal evidence. … But I do not recall any instance where I had direct evidence.”

As for Durham’s probe, multiple sources familiar told Fox News that he is expected to wrap up his investigation by the end of the summer.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Durham moving ‘full-throttle’ on Russia probe review, top federal prosecutors involved: sources

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday appointed several high-profile Democrats who have been outspoken advocates of impeachment in the past to sit on a new committee overseeing the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, prompting House Republicans to blast the effort as “impeachment 2.0.”

Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., who will chair the committee, announced six Democrats to serve on the committee:

House Financial Service Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., and Reps. Bill Foster, D-Ill., Jamie Raskin, D-Md., and Andy Kim, D-N.J.

The House voted last week to approve the creation of the committee to oversee the federal response, even as Republicans blasted the idea as politically motivated and argued Democrats would use it as a forum to attack the president.

Pelosi said the committee was designed to address the “here and now,” specifically concerning the allocation of the historic amount of federal funds directed to the economic recovery. She compared the panel to the committee chaired by then-Sen. Harry Truman in 1941 to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in defense spending in the early days of World War II.

“We must be sure that the money we put forth goes to those who need it most, in a way that addresses disparities in access to health care and credit,” Pelosi said Wednesday. “We also owe it to the American people to prevent waste, fraud and abuse and to protect against price-gouging and profiteering.”

She added: “As we respond to this unprecedented pandemic, there will be other opportunities for Member participation which have been suggested for inclusion in legislation.”

The members appointed to serve on the committee, however, were outspoken during the House impeachment inquiry, with some, like Waters, advocating for the president’s removal throughout his administration.

Waters, last year, tweeted that impeachment was “not good enough for Trump.” She said: “He needs to be imprisoned & placed in solitary confinement. But for now, impeachment is the imperative.”

Raskin was also in contention to be a House impeachment manager, though did not actually get the job. Maloney called for an impeachment inquiry in June 2019, even before the Ukraine controversy developed that ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment trial.

Pelosi did not announce any Republicans for the committee. That decision is expected to be left to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

But a spokesman for McCarthy on Wednesday blasted the creation of the committee altogether.

“Instead of looking for innovative ways to help the American people, Speaker Pelosi has chosen to pursue ‘impeachment 2.0’ with a partisan and unnecessary oversight committee,” the McCarthy spokesman told Fox News.

The McCarthy spokesman noted to Fox News that the House already “has a standalone Oversight Committee, oversight authority in each committee, and three new oversight bodies established in the CARES Act.”

“The roster the Speaker has chosen makes clear that this is not an honest effort at transparency and accountability, but rather another attempt to politically damage the Trump administration,” the spokesman said. “During a time of unprecedented crisis, Congress must come together to speak with one voice – the Speaker’s so-called coronavirus oversight task force is simply another partisan pursuit.”

It is unclear which Republicans, if any, will be on the committee.

The Clyburn committee is just one of several methods created for oversight of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also announced their intention to create a 9/11-style commission, set to launch in February 2021 “hopefully after the pandemic has been overcome and after the presidential election.”

That commission would be granted subpoena power to compel cooperation from federal, state and local government officials, as it examines government preparedness in advance of the pandemic.

The more than $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed last month also created the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz appointed Robert Westbrooks to lead.

Horowitz recently announced the launch of a website to track the trillions of dollars in coronavirus relief spending and “promote transparency” in the federal response.

The website also promotes a hotline, where individuals can submit allegations of fraud, waste, abuse or whistleblower reports, as well as a form where individuals can submit feedback on the federal government’s response to COVID-19.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: GOP decries ‘impeachment 2.0’ as Pelosi names top Trump critics to coronavirus oversight panel

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and nine other Democratic senators called for investigations into the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, demanding answers over whether “political expediency” rather than the country’s urgent public health needs have driven the administration’s decisions.

Warren, D-Mass., penned a letter to the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Wednesday, saying that the Trump administration has been unable to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) and urgently needed medical supplies throughout the coronavirus crisis. She also accused the administration of creating “confusion and distress among states by seizing equipment orders and providing little transparency about decision-making.”

“The Trump administration appears to have made decisions about distributing life-saving supplies based on the electoral concerns of President Trump and his political allies rather than the most urgent public health needs,” Warren wrote.

Democratic Sens. Tom Udall, Ed Markey, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeff Merkley, Ron Wyden, Kamala Harris, Richard Blumenthal, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Chris Van Hollen joined Warren in her letter.

“This confusion has been exacerbated by President Trump’s public statements suggesting that governors’ political support for his administration could influence how much support they receive from the federal government,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter to HHS and FEMA inspectors general. “This obfuscation underscores the need for clarity as to how decisions regarding the seizure and redistribution of supplies are being made, and whether or not they are tainted with political interference.”

Warren, Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Markey, D-Mass., also called for the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), the new entity established by the CARES Act passed last month, to investigate the “partisan and political nature of the White House’s actions.”

Warren, Blumenthal and Markey also raised additional concerns regarding reports that “the Trump administration may have delayed payments to American taxpayers in order to attach President Trump’s name to their checks, solely for either vanity or political benefit; and President Trump inserted crass political propaganda into his public briefings, which, if created during employee work hours, could be in violation of campaign laws, like the Hatch Act.”

“These incidents appear to indicate that the Trump administration has infused political and partisan interests into its response to both the public health and economic crises,” they wrote to PRAC. “Americans should not have to wonder whether their lives are being put at risk by the president’s concern for his political prospects amidst a public health and economic calamity.”

The call for additional investigations into the Trump administration’s response to the novel coronavirus comes after several other congressional lawmakers have already set up panels dedicated to investigating and providing oversight of the federal efforts.

Earlier this month, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris announced legislation Friday that would create a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to probe the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

The commission, according to the three Democrats, will “examine U.S. government preparedness in advance of this pandemic, the federal government’s response to it, and provide recommendations to improve our ability to respond to and recover from future outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics.” The commission will also examine state and local governments’ preparedness and response.

The commission is modeled after the 9/11 Commission, which was formed in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The commission would hold public hearings and events to obtain information, and, as Schiff suggested last week, would “possess subpoena power” to compel cooperation from federal, state and local governments.

The commission, though, is not expected to be established until February 2021 “hopefully after the pandemic has been overcome and after the presidential election,” they said.

That announcement came after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced that she would create a separate House committee to oversee the administration’s coronavirus response, chaired by Rep. James Clyburn D-S.C.

Pelosi said that committee is designed to address the “here and now,” specifically concerning the allocation of the historic amount of federal funds directed to the economic recovery, and compared it to the committee chaired by then-Sen. Harry Truman in 1941 to investigate waste, fraud and abuse in defense spending in the early days of World War II.

Meanwhile, Trump earlier this month removed Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine, who was tasked with monitoring the coronavirus economic relief plan. The president temporarily appointed the inspector general for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to monitor the implementation of the new law.

A Congressional Oversight Commission and other positions, though, have been established to supervise spending by the Department of the Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Warren, Senate Democrats call for investigation into Trump administration response to coronavirus

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, in an interview Wednesday, would not rule out a new impeachment effort against President Trump over his alleged interference in the criminal case of his former associate Roger Stone.

Federal prosecutors on Monday had recommended a sentence of between 87 and 108 months in prison for Stone’s conviction on seven counts of obstruction, witness tampering and making false statements to Congress on charges that stemmed from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

But in a stunning reversal, as Fox News first reported, leadership at the Justice Department overruled the prosecutors on the case, scaling back the proposed sentence for Stone, which immediately led Democrats to accuse Trump of interfering in the process by tweeting about his displeasure with the DOJ. Trump denies it, and the case lately has been complicated further by questions over possible juror bias.

During an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Swalwell, D-Calif., was asked whether Democrats would look to launch a new impeachment inquiry on the new controversy.

“You know, we’re not going to take our options off the table,” Swalwell, a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, told CNN. “We don’t wake up in the morning wanting to impeach him.”

He added: “We want to work with him on prescription drugs, background checks, and infrastructure, but we’re not going to let him just torch this democracy because he thinks that he’s been let off once and we’re not going to do something about it.”

Swalwell’s comments come as several Democrats on Capitol Hill have demanded investigations — and even the resignation of Attorney General Bill Barr — after the move to scale back the Stone sentence.

“Congress must act immediately to rein in our lawless Attorney General,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tweeted Wednesday. “Barr should resign or face impeachment.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also slammed Barr, saying he “ought to be ashamed and embarrassed and resign as a result of this action directly interfering in the independent prosecution of Roger Stone.” He also said the controversy was yet another example of “political interference by the president to alter the independent decisions of the Department of Justice.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., didn’t answer a question on whether Barr should resign but said: “I think the behavior is extremely egregious.”

The latest Democratic fervor comes after four career prosecutors withdrew from the Stone case, including one quitting outright, after leadership at the Justice Department (DOJ) overruled them.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., immediately called for an investigation into Trump’s alleged political intervention into Stone’s sentencing.

Schumer also took to the Senate floor and torched Senate Republicans who acquitted Trump on two articles of impeachment for enabling Trump’s conduct.

“Republicans thought the president would learn his lesson,” Schumer said in a veiled jab at Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “It turned out that the lesson he learned was not that he went too far — not that he needed to rein it in. The lesson the president learned was that the Republican Party will not hold him accountable no matter how egregious his behavior. Not now, not ever.”

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham wasn’t too keen on Schumer’s demand for an emergency hearing.

“Like I take everything with him [with] a grain of salt,” said Graham, R-S.C.

Fresh off of weeks of impeachment, Democrats raised similar alarm bells and phrases as during the Ukraine saga, saying the Stone matter is another example of political interference, abuse of power and President Trump thinking he’s above the law.

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff ripped Trump for trying to influence the judicial system.

“It’s a shocking undermining of the rule of law in this country,” Schiff said, adding it’s “an abuse of the powers of his office.”

Another impeachment manager, lawyer and former judge, Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, told Fox News: “This president’s behavior is just totally out of control. This is one of the most egregious things that I’ve ever seen.”

She stopped short of calling for Barr’s resignation but said: “We can’t sit back and not do something. The question is what.”

She ticked off the oversight tools House Democrats still have.

“It’s hearings. It’s investigation. It’s litigation. It’s subpoenas. It’s contempt. It’s all the same ones we’ve always had, but it’s a question of making sure that we’re strategic in what we do,” she said.

However, Trump on Wednesday denied interfering in Stone’s criminal case, while declining to say whether he’d consider a pardon for the GOP political operative.

“The fact is that Roger Stone was treated horribly and so were many other people,” Trump said. “Their lives were destroyed.”

“I want to thank the Justice Department — and I didn’t speak to them, by the way — they saw a nine-year sentence… nine years for something nobody can even define what he did,” Trump continued. “They put a man in jail, destroy his life, his family, his wife.”

He added: “Roger Stone — nobody even knows what he did… Frankly, they ought to apologize to a lot of people whose lives they’ve ruined.”

Stone is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Feb. 20.

Earlier this month, after a weeks-long Senate trial, the president was acquitted on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in connection to his pressure campaign on Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

Fox News’ Jason Donner contributed to this report.

Author: Brooke Singman, Marisa Schultz

Source: Fox News: Democrat won’t rule out new Trump impeachment over Roger Stone case

President Trump easily defeated his primary rivals in Monday’s Iowa Republican caucuses, in the first indication that those attempting to take on the president inside his own party stand a slim chance of making headway against the incumbent.

Iowa results showed the president winning with roughly 97 percent of the vote over former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh. The primary challengers walked away with about 1 percent each.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel congratulated the president, vowing he’ll carry the state in November.

While the focus has been on the Democratic contest Monday, Iowa Republicans also caucused at precincts throughout the state.

“The president has record support among Republican voters,” Republican National Committee spokesman Rick Gorka told Fox News on Monday. “I am not concerned with those embarked on a vanity project.”

When asked how long he would stay in the Republican primary race after his defeat Monday night, Walsh campaign spokesman Charles Siler told Fox News on Monday that the former congressman “is keeping every option open.”

“He sees President Trump as the greatest threat to our republic, the exact thing our Founders feared in a leader,” Siler said, noting that the campaign has spent the last three weeks in Iowa and Walsh has visited the state nearly every week since he announced his candidacy in August.

“We’re leaving straight from Iowa to go to New Hampshire,” Siler said, noting that Walsh has been campaigning in New Hampshire “regularly” since he announced his run.

“We know this is a long-shot effort, but it’s an important one for the nation,” Siler said. “That’s why it’s so distressing that the GOP has canceled so many primary elections and blocked challengers in many other states.”

The Weld campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

During the 2016 Iowa caucuses, Trump came in second place — trailing Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, by nearly 4 percentage points.

While Weld and Walsh are not expected to pose a tough challenge for the president this primary season, the Trump campaign and more than 80 Trump surrogates were sprinkled across Iowa, speaking at Republican caucus locations. They were geared toward planting a flag in Iowa for the general election as much as ensuring a strong showing in the caucuses.

“We are training activists as staff in every corner of the state. We have held over 230 Trump Victory Leadership Initiative Trainings with over 1,700 attendees,” Gorka told Fox News. “The Iowans form the backbone of our program and are the keys to our success in November.”

“After the results tonight, the Democrat machine/attention leaves Iowa and will not be back until there is a nominee,” Gorka continued. “Meanwhile, Republicans will continue to work to keep Iowa in the president’s column in November.”

Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale was joined in recent days in Iowa by a slew of Trump officials, like White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and five other members of Trump’s Cabinet.

Others out making the case for the president’s reelection were House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Lynne Cheney, R-Wyo.; Mark Meadows, R-N.C.; former Texas governor and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry; Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr.; and Mike Lindell, the inventor of “My Pillow.”

Iowa is considered a swing state in the general election. It was narrowly carried by the Democrats in the 2000 election and narrowly by Republicans in 2004. Then-Sen. Barack Obama captured the state by 6 points in 2012. And Trump won Iowa in 2016 by nearly 10 points.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Brooke Singman

Source: Fox News: Trump easily wins Iowa Republican caucuses

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