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Bernie Sanders unexpectedly released a fact-sheet Monday night explaining that he’d pay for his sweeping new government programs through new taxes and massive lawsuits against the fossil fuel industry, as well as by slashing spending on the military, among other methods.

The move sought to head off complaints from Republicans and some rival Democrats that his plans were economically unrealistic, especially after a head-turning CBS News interview in which the frustrated Vermont senator said he couldn’t “rattle off to you every nickel and every dime” about his proposed expenditures.

He released his plan on his website just minutes after promising to do so during a CNN town hall.

However, the fact-sheet highlighted for the first time that many of Sanders’ expected cost-saving measures relied on conjecture and best-case scenarios. For example, Sanders’ document asserts that a “modest tax on Wall Street speculation … will raise an estimated $2.4 trillion over ten years” and, in one fell swoop, make all “public colleges, universities and trade schools tuition-free … and cancel all student debt over the next decade.”

The proposal specifically would place a “0.5 percent tax on stock trades – 50 cents on every $100 of stock – a 0.1 percent fee on bond trades, and a 0.005 percent fee on derivative trades.”

The National Review has likened a tax on so-called “Wall Street speculation” to a de facto tax on savings, saying the Sanders plan is untested and “would mean paying $25 to the federal government every time you traded $5,000 worth of stock — or five times what you’d pay the typical online brokerage in fees. … Over the long term, that imposes serious costs on actively traded funds such as the ones containing many Americans’ retirement funds.”

Meanwhile, housing for everyone would cost $2.5 trillion over ten years, and would be paid entirely by a “wealth tax on the top one-tenth of one percent,” raising a total of $4.35 trillion, according to Sanders’ fact-sheet. Similarly, “universal childcare and pre-school to every family in America” would be provided with a wealth tax on the “top 0.1 percent,” again raising more than $4 trillion. The taxes would target wealthy individuals’ “net worth,” not simply their income.

Sanders’ plan did not discuss the possible stock market ramificiations of a major seizure of some of this wealth, much of which is held in markets and other investments. The plan also did not discuss how the government would be able to reliably obtain the money, given that many investments could quickly be liquidated or transferred elsewhere before his administration took office.

Instead, Sanders’ proposal said only that it would eventually establish a “national wealth registry and significant additional third party reporting requirements,” buff up IRS funding and, and “include enhancements to the international tax enforcement.”

The plan would require the IRS “to perform an audit of 30 percent of wealth tax returns for those in the 1 percent bracket and a 100 percent audit rate for all billionaires,” and would include a “40 percent exit tax on the net value of all assets under $1 billion and 60 percent over $1 billion for all wealthy individual seeking to expatriate to avoid the tax.”

A new “income inequality tax on large corporations that pay CEOs at least 50 times more than average workers” would take care of $81 billion in past-due medical debt, Sanders further claimed.

Sanders’ projections also stated without providing details that his Green New Deal plan would create “20 million new jobs,” thus ensuring $2.3 trillion in “new income tax revenue.”

Additionally, Sanders cited “economists” as he promised that by “averting climate catastrophe we will save: $2.9 trillion over 10 years, $21 trillion over 30 years and $70.4 trillion over 80 years.”

No information was provided to validate that assertion, although the Trump administration’s National Climate Assessment found that it was possible climate change could reduce the size of the U.S. economy by 10 percent by the end of the century, assuming no substantial changes in technology (including carbon-reducing innovations) or policy occur in the meantime.

Sanders claimed to be able to raise “$3.085 trillion by making the fossil fuel industry pay for their pollution, through litigation, fees, and taxes, and eliminating federal fossil fuel subsidies.” He has repeatedly suggested on the campaign trail that he would direct the Justice Department to pursue the fossil fuel industry, although it was unclear how successful that legal strategy would be.

“If we do not act, the U.S. will lose $34.5 trillion by the end of the century in economic productivity,” Sanders alleged — putting the consequences of climate change in stark economic terms.

On health care, Sanders has previously vowed to provide benefits, including health care, even to illegal immigrants. It’s unclear how many people that unprecedented proposal would cover, especially given that such a plan would likely lead to a rise in immigration to the United States and that the number of illegal immigrants presently in the country is unknown. The issue is not mentioned at all in Sanders’ fact-sheet.

Instead, although some nonpartisan estimates have put the cost of Sanders’ “Medicare-for-all” proposal at over $32 trillion, Sanders’ fact-sheet simply calls for “proposed a menu of financing options that would more than pay” for the program.

Among the available options: “creating a 4 percent income-based premium paid by employees, exempting the first $29,000 in income for a family of four,” as well as imposing a 7.5 percent “income-based premium paid by employers, exempting the first $1 million in payroll to protect small businesses.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt. speaks at a campaign event in El Paso, Texas, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. Sanders urged his supporters to vote in the primary, which is already underway. Democratic primary voting in Texas ends March 3, along with other states who, all together, will decide one third of the delegates in the contest. (AP Photo/Cedar Attanasio)

Other savings would come from eliminating “health tax expenditures, which would no longer be needed under Medicare for All,” and “raising the top marginal income tax rate to 52% on income over $10 million.”

Reducing defense spending by “$1.215 trillion” would be achievable by “scaling back military operations on protecting the global oil supply,” Sanders’ fact-sheet continued. Defense spending is slated to total $934 billion from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2021.

As the numbers were released, Sanders doubled down on his comments praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s “literacy program,” saying it was a positive outcome from the violent Cuban Revolution that literacy rates quickly rose.

The pro-Castro remarks had drawn scrutiny even from Democratic lawmakers, especially in Florida, which has a large Cuban-American population.

“As the first South American immigrant member of Congress who proudly represents thousands of Cuban Americans, I find Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments on Castro’s Cuba absolutely unacceptable,” wrote Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. “The Castro regime murdered and jailed dissidents, and caused unspeakable harm to too many South Florida families. To this day, it remains an authoritarian regime that oppresses its people, subverts the free press, and stifles a free society.”

Other Democrats pointed out that Cuba’s literacy was on the rise pre-Castro, and asserted that the literacy program amounted to an indoctrination effort. Even so, on Monday, Sanders refused to apologize for his remarks at the CNN town hall, when pressed by moderator Chris Cuomo.

“Truth is truth,” Sanders said to applause. “If you want to disagree with me, if somebody wants to say — and by the way, all of those congresspeople that you mention, just so happen to be supporting other candidates — accidentally no doubt, coincidentally. But, you know, the truth is the truth. And that’s what happened in the first years of the Castro regime.”

Also at the town hall, after arguing that people should not be judged solely by their skin color, Sanders promised that his vice president “definitively” would not be an “old white guy.”

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Bernie Sanders reveals ‘major plans’ to be funded by new taxes, massive lawsuits, military cuts

After an opening salvo of back-and-forth arguments from President Trump’s attorneys and Democrats’ impeachment managers on Monday, Senate impeachment trial proceedings are set to begin at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday with the expectation they will stretch well into a wild night on Capitol Hill — even as key procedural questions, including the timeline for debate and whether additional witnesses will testify, remain undecided and hotly contentious.

In a surprise move Monday night, a detachment of high-profile House Republicans announced that they would formally join the president’s legal team, including Reps. Doug Collins, Mike Johnson, Jim Jordan, Debbie Lesko, Mark Meadows, John Ratcliffe, Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin. The last-minute show of force underscored the fluid nature of the Senate trial, which is also set to feature full-throated arguments against impeachment from constitutional scholar Alan Dershowitz and Bill Clinton independent counsel Ken Starr.

“We are not planning for them to present statements on the Senate floor,” a senior administration official told Fox News, referring to the latest additions to Trump’s defense team, headed up by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow. “The group will continue to give critical guidance on the case because of their strong familiarity with the facts and evidence.”

Jordan Sekulow told Fox News’ “Hannity” on Monday night that his father and the rest of Trump’s legal team were “champing at the bit and ready to go.” He maintained that executive privilege, a longstanding constitutional principle protecting executive branch deliberations from disclosure, by itself defeated the “obstruction of Congress” article of impeachment, while Democrats had only hearsay evidence and speculation to support their “abuse of power” charge. Neither “obstruction of Congress” nor “abuse of power” are federal crimes, and they have no established definition.

Democrats have seethed openly ever since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., failed in her gambit to force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hand before the House would turn over the articles of impeachment to the Senate. Pelosi had sought a commitment allowing Democrats to call witnesses prior to arguments in the trial — but, with just hours to go until the proceedings commenced, McConnell, R-Ky., dashed those hopes.

McConnell specifically revealed Monday that he wanted a condensed, two-day calendar for each side to give opening statements, at 12 hours per day. After the four days of opening arguments, senators would be allowed up to 16 hours for written questions to the prosecution and defense, followed by four hours of debate. Only then would there be votes on calling other witnesses, likely next week. At the end of deliberations, the Senate would then vote on each impeachment article.

Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said in a statement Monday night that McConnell’s resolution, overall, “aligns closely with the rules package approved 100-0 during the Clinton trial. If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts.” Romney was among a small number of Republican senators who said they wanted to consider witness testimony and documents that weren’t part of the House impeachment investigation.

Democrats, however, were incensed by the speedy timeline. Some took to calling McConnell “Midnight Mitch,” the latest in a string of unintentionally flattering nicknames. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called McConnell’s rules package a “national disgrace,” adding, “it’s clear Sen. McConnell is hell-bent on making it much more difficult to get witnesses and documents and intent on rushing the trial through.”

Even before McConnell’s announcement, congressional Democrats apparently were off-balance: “The House managers have absolutely no idea what the structure of the trial two days before the trial begins,” one source with House Democrats working on the impeachment trial complained to Fox News late Sunday.

“It is completely unfathomable,” fumed another source with the Democrats. “Is Sen. McConnell going to have 12-hour trial days which run until 2 or 3 in the morning?”

McConnell is expected to kick off the afternoon’s proceedings by introducing his proposed resolution for the parameters for the trial, which he has said will pass with at least 53 votes. Senators will not be directly speaking out in the debate over McConnell’s resolution, which is slated to last for approximately two hours — only members of Trump’s defense team, and the seven Democrats serving as House impeachment managers, are expected to participate.

Schumer likely will then present his counter-proposals to McConnell’s motion, followed by another two hours of debate among the managers and Trump’s counsel. Potential proposals include requests to subpoena specific witnesses — including, perhaps, Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas or former National Security Adviser John Bolton — or to adjust debate time.

Then, at approximately 6 p.m. ET or even later, Fox News is told to expect a closed Senate session of indeterminate length after the debates. When the Senate returns to open session, lawmakers — including two leading Democratic presidential contenders, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — likely will vote in turn on any amendments to McConnell’s proposal, then McConnell’s proposal itself.

McConnell’s proposal also was said to include a so-called “kill switch,” allowing Trump’s team to move to dismiss the articles of impeachment in the Senate quickly.

In a sign of the prevailing give-no-ground mentality ahead of the trial, Trump’s legal team traded blows with House prosecutors on Monday, asserting that the president did “absolutely nothing wrong” and urging the Senate to reject an impeachment case it called “flimsy” and a “dangerous perversion of the Constitution.”

House Democrats impeached the president for “abuse of power” related to his administration’s withholding of U.S. military aid to Ukraine while he suggested the country investigate rival Joe Biden’s dealings in Ukraine. The aid was eventually released, and Ukrainian officials have denied feeling any undue pressure. The administration’s refusal to comply with Democrats’ probe, citing executive privilege, led to the “obstruction of Congress” count.

“It is a constitutional travesty.”

— President Trump’s legal team, on the impeachment proceedings

The 110-page filing from the White House condemned the “rigged” House impeachment process, calling the majority vote to impeach there a “brazenly political act … that must be rejected.”

The White House’s legal argument hinged in part on Trump’s assertion he did nothing wrong and did not commit any recognized crime, as well as on poking holes in the hearsay witness testimony offered by Democrats.

For example, the White House pointed out that EU ambassador Gordon Sondland had said he “had come to believe” that aid to Ukraine was linked to an investigation of Biden, “before talking to the president.” Additionally, Trump’s lawyers pointed out that Sondland admitted having “no evidence” other than his “own presumption,” and that he was “speculating” based on hearsay that the Trump administration ever linked a White House meeting with Ukraine’s leaders to the beginning of an investigation.

“After focus-group testing various charges for weeks, House Democrats settled on two flimsy Articles of Impeachment that allege no crime or violation of law whatsoever—much less ‘high Crimes and Misdemeanors,’ as required by the Constitution,” the lawyers wrote. “It is a constitutional travesty.”

Additionally, the White House released Justice Department legal opinions meant to bolster its case that defying subpoenas from Congress did not amount to “obstruction of Congress.”

One opinion, dated Sunday, said Trump administration officials were free to disregard subpoenas sent last fall before the House of Representatives had formally authorized an impeachment inquiry. That approval, the memo said, was necessary before congressional committees could begin their own investigations and issue subpoenas for documents and testimony.

A copy of a Senate draft resolution to be offered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., regarding the procedures during the impeachment trial of President Trump. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

Meanwhile, the prosecution team of House managers was spending another day on Capitol Hill preparing for the trial, which will take place under heavy security. The Democrats made their way through crowds of tourists in the Rotunda to tour the Senate chamber.

In their own filing Monday, House prosecutors replied to Trump’s “not guilty” plea by making fresh demands for a fair trial in the Senate. “President Trump asserts that his impeachment is a partisan ‘hoax.’ He is wrong,” the prosecutors wrote in their reply.

They wrote that the president can’t have it both ways — rejecting the facts of the House case but also stonewalling congressional subpoenas for witnesses and testimony. “Senators must honor their own oaths by holding a fair trial with all relevant evidence,” they wrote.

No president has ever been removed by the Senate. The current Senate, with a 53-47 Republican majority, is not expected to mount the two-thirds voted needed for conviction. Even if it did, the White House team has argued it would be an “unconstitutional conviction” because the articles of impeachment were too broad.

Administration officials have argued that similar imprecision applied to the perjury case in Clinton’s impeachment trial.

The White House has also suggested the House inquiry was lacking because it failed to investigate Biden or his son Hunter, who served on the board of a gas company in Ukraine in a lucrative role while his father was overseeing Ukraine policy as vice president. Should Democrats insist on calling witnesses like Parnas and Bolton, Republicans have openly suggested that they might then push for a subpoena the Bidens.

In a show of confidence, Trump tweeted a video late Monday touting his achievements in office, including the nation’s historically low unemployment rate, booming stock market and rising wages, with the note: “THE BEST IS YET TO COME!”

Fox News’ Caroline McKee, Chad Pergram, John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re or email him at gregory.re@foxnews.com.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Senate impeachment trial set to begin as Trump adds last-minute reinforcements to defense team

Speaking to reporters just hours after dozens of Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militiamen and their supporters broke into the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, President Trump on Tuesday night vowed that the situation “will not be a Benghazi” — a pointed reference to the deadly 2012 embassy attack in Libya on the Obama administration’s watch, after officials at the embassy had requested enhanced security for weeks.

“It’s been handled very well,” Trump said as he walked into New Year’s Eve celebrations at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. “The Marines came in. We had some great warriors come in; they did a fantastic job. They were there instantaneously, as soon as we heard. They came immediately. It’s in great shape. This will not be a Benghazi. Benghazi never should have happened. This will never, ever be a Benghazi. … As soon as we saw there was a potential for a problem, they got in.”

Trump added: “Things are in great shape. … I want to thank the Iraqi government. They really stepped up.”

“This will not be a Benghazi. Benghazi never should have happened.”

— President Trump

Iran, Trump said, “should want peace more than anybody,” and any conflict “would go very quickly.” But, Trump said he did not see such a fight materializing, even as he unequivocally pointed the finger at Iran for the embassy breach.

Meanwhile, multiple media outlets, including The New York Times, inexplicably opted to describe the embassy attackers simply as “Iraqi mourners.”

Separately, Trump told reporters he was not worried about what he called Democrats’ impeachment “hoax,” pointing out that Ukraine’s leader has said he felt no pressure from the White House to launch any political investigations.

Trump slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as “a highly overrated person” and said he would be happy to have a Senate trial, although he emphasized he didn’t really care one way or the other.

The president went on to defend his brief suspension of foreign aid to Ukraine this year — which Democrats have claimed was an attempt to pressure Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden — by asking why other countries did not provide anything near the level of foreign aid that the U.S. regularly provided: “Why is it always the United States? Nobody ever covers that, but I think it’s a big factor.”

In this photo provided by U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Marines assigned to Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) 19.2, preparing to deploy from Kuwait on Tuesday. (U.S. Marine Corps photos by Sgt. Robert G. Gavaldon via AP)

The president also said he had a strong relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has signaled he might soon give Trump a Christmas present in the form of renewed missile tests.

“I hope his Christmas present is a beautiful vase,” Trump said. “Look, he likes me, I like him. We get along. He’s representing his country, I’m representing my country, we have to do what we have to do. But, he did sign a contract, he did sign an agreement talking about denuclearization.”

Security forces standing guard while protesters burned property in front of the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Trump didn’t disclose his New Year’s resolution, though — saying he thought those should generally be kept private.

“Happy New Year,” Trump said. “We’re gonna have a great year.”

A U.S. official told Fox News earlier in the day that “Iraqi security forces did participate” in protecting the embassy — and Trump made clear he expected Iraq to secure U.S. personnel.

“[W]e expect Iraq to use its forces to protect the Embassy, and so notified!” Trump wrote in a Tuesday afternoon tweet blaming Iran. He also spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, stressing again the need to protect U.S. facilities in Iraq.

Trump explicitly warned Iran on Twitter that the country “will pay a very BIG PRICE!” after the embassy attack. “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities,” he wrote. “They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!”

Militants smashed a main door at the embassy and set fire to a reception area in one of the worst attacks on the embassy in recent years. Fox News has learned more than 100 Marines have arrived at the embassy to bolster security.

The U.S. Army’s AH-64 Apache helicopter from 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 34th Combat Aviation Brigade, conducting overflights of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Tuesday. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Khalil Jenkins, CJTF-OIR Public Affairs via AP)

Additionally, the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division’s alert brigade has been issued orders to deploy rapidly to Kuwait amid the unrest in Baghdad, three U.S. defense officials told Fox News. At least 500 paratroopers already were making their way to Kuwait, Fox News was told.

The alert brigade of roughly 4,000 paratroopers, known as the DRB—the Deployment Ready Brigade — has been told to pack their bags for a possible deployment in the days ahead. Within that alert brigade, three rifle battalions had a certain alert sequence, 18 hours, 36 hours and 54 hours for the third. The entire brigade had a 96-hour alert window to deploy.

Some of the paratroopers already have left their base in Fort Bragg, N.C., to fly overseas in Air Force C-17 cargo planes, according to officials. The U.S. Army, as a matter of course, has kept an alert brigade of roughly 4,000 paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne for crisis response. Roughly 5,000 U.S. troops had been deployed to Iraq, among the roughly 60,000 U.S. troops deployed to the entire region. The Pentagon has added some 14,000 since May as the threat from Iran increased, officials said.

Protesters smashing a window inside the U.S. embassy compound Tuesday. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman has been in the Gulf of Oman, along with a strike group armed with hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles, in addition to the dozens of strike aircraft aboard Truman.

The crowd attacked the embassy following funerals for 25 Iranian-backed fighters killed in U.S. airstrikes Sunday in Iraq and Syria – -retribution for an American defense contractor killed in Iraq Friday, according to U.S. defense officials.

A U.S. Apache helicopter gunship also flew over the embassy and dropped flares in a “show of force,” attempting to disperse the crowd.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper later confirmed additional forces were being sent, as the military released images of those forces deploying from Kuwait.

Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and Andrew O’Reilly contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re or email him at gregory.re@foxnews.com.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Trump vows Iraq ‘will not be a Benghazi’ after Iran-backed embassy raid

Former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who is suing the government in a bid for reinstatement, argued in a court filing in Washington, D.C., federal district court on Monday that his politically charged anti-Trump messages were protected by the First Amendment — even though he sent them on bureau-issued phones while playing leading roles in the probes into both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

“Firing an employee for the content of his or her non-public communications is unconstitutional, irrespective of any balancing of interests” including damage to the FBI’s reputation and other factors, Strzok argued in his response brief, which also slammed Trump’s “unpresidential tweets.”

Because it was the DOJ that had leaked his anti-Trump text messages, Strzok argued, his texts should be considered private speech, and he should not be held to the tougher legal standard under the 1968 Supreme Court case Pickering v. Board of Education that applies to public statements by government employees.

Strzok, once the FBI’s head of counterintelligence, said he was entitled to “develop a full factual record through discovery,” and that it would be premature to dismiss the case at this early stage. He went on to argue that the DOJ’s position would “leave thousands of career federal government employees without protections from discipline over the content of their political speech.”

Strzok’s filing was a response to the Justice Department’s no-holds-barred motion to dismiss his lawsuit for reinstatement in November. The DOJ told the court that Strzok had even admitted to conducting FBI business on his personal iMessage account and assured them that the materials were secure — even though his wife accessed his phone and determined he was having an affair with Lisa Page, then an FBI lawyer also involved in the Clinton and Russia probes.

In its filing, the DOJ included an August 2018 letter to Strzok from the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which said in part that Strzok had engaged in a “dereliction of supervisory responsibility” by failing to investigate the potentially classified Clinton emails that had turned up on an unsecured laptop belonging to Anthony Weiner as the 2016 election approached.

The situation became so dire, OPR said, that a case agent in New York told federal prosecutors there that he was “scared” and “paranoid” that “somebody was not acting appropriately” and that “somebody was trying to bury this.”

The case agent flagged to New York prosecutors that potentially classified Clinton emails had been found on Anthony Weiner’s unsecured laptop after the investigation was publicly closed, and that senior FBI officials didn’t seem interested in returning his calls on the subject.

The New York prosecutors then immediately relayed their concerns to the DOJ, effectively going over Strzok’s head — and leading, eventually, to then FBI Director James Comey’s fateful announcement just prior to Election Day that emails possibly related to the Clinton probe had been located on Weiner’s laptop.

Additionally, DOJ and OPR noted that although Strzok claimed to have “double deleted” sensitive FBI materials from his personal devices, his wife had found photographs and a hotel reservation “ostensibly” used for a “romantic encounter.” Strzok didn’t consent to turning over the devices for review, according to OPR, even as he acknowledged using Apple’s iMessage service for some FBI work.

“[My wife] has my phone. Read an angry note I wrote but didn’t send you. That is her calling from my phone. She says she wants to talk to [you]. Said we were close friends nothing more,” one of Strzok’s text to Page read, according to the filing.

Strzok, a veteran counterintelligence agent, was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team after his anti-Trump texts with Page came to light. He was fired from the FBI last August.

“One more thing: She might be our next president,” Page wrote to Strzok on Feb. 24, 2016 ahead of the FBI’s interview with Clinton. “The last thing you need us going in there loaded for bear. You think she’s going to remember or care that it was more [DOJ] than [FBI]?”

“Agreed…,” Strzok responded.

Strzok also told Page that “It’s clear he’s [Trump’s] capturing all the white, poor voters who the mainstream Republicans abandoned in all but name in the quest for the almighty $$$$.”

He separately wrote to Page, “God Hillary should win 100,000,000-0.” Strzok called Bernie Sanders “an idiot like Trump,” and also congratulated Page when Clinton secured the Democratic Party nomination.

“God Hillary should win 100,000,000-0.”

— Anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok, in a text to Lisa Page.

“Congrats on a woman nominated for President in a major party! About damn time!” he wrote.

Page, meanwhile, is also suing the FBI and DOJ, alleging that the government’s publication of her salacious text messages with Strzok constituted a breach of the Federal Privacy Act.

In the complaint filed earlier this month, the 39-year-old Page said she suffered numerous damages because of the disclosure, including a “permanent loss of earning capacity due to reputational damage” and “the cost of therapy to cope with unwanted national media exposure and harassment” at the hands of Trump.

Page’s complaint also sought reimbursement for “the cost of childcare during and transportation to multiple investigative reviews and appearances before Congress,” the “cost of paying a data-privacy service to protect her personal information,” and attorney’s fees.

DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz has faulted senior FBI officials, including Strzok and Page, saying their communications created the appearance of impropriety and tainted the FBI’s reputation, even though he could not conclude that bias had specifically motivated investigative decisions.

Horowitz found a slew of misconduct throughout the Russia probes, including the falsification of a document by an FBI lawyer to obtain a surveillance warrant to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page.

U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is conducting his own criminal probe into FBI and DOJ misconduct, has said he disagrees with Horowitz’s assessment that the FBI’s opening of a probe into the Trump campaign was properly predicated.

“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” Durham said this month.

Fox News’ Bill Mears contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re or email him at gregory.re@foxnews.com.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Strzok claims anti-Trump texts protected by 1st Amendment, administration violated his rights

Amid repeated chants of “Lock him up!” and “Green New Deal,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., issued a full-throated endorsement of Bernie Sanders at a spirited rally in Minneapolis’ Williams Arena on Sunday night, saying a “mass movement of the working class” is needed to take down President Trump and end “Western imperialism,” as she put it.

“I am excited for President Bernie Sanders!” Omar thundered at the conclusion of her remarks, as rock music blared throughout the University of Minnesota venue.

At no point did either Omar or Sanders attempt to stop attendees from shouting “Lock him up” whenever Trump was invoked. Last year, CNBC’s John Harwood had predicted that “any serious Democratic candidate will make a point of shutting down” such chants directed at the president.

Omar’s endorsement was a break from the rest of the state’s delegation of Democrats, which endorsed Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s more moderate campaign. It also constituted a youthful shot in the arm for Sanders’ left-wing presidential bid, which has remained competitive with Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren’s campaigns.

“Here in Minnesota, we don’t just welcome refugees — we sent them to Congress,” Omar said to applause. “Right now, achieving that universal dream feels more out of reach than it ever has in my lifetime.”

Then, pointedly refusing to mention President Trump’s name, Omar continued: “The current occupant of the White House likes to talk about making America great. But, every action, and virtually every word out of his mouth, is an attack on the very values and ideals that make this country a beacon of hope for me and the people around the world.”

Later on, still without mentioning the president’s name, Omar incorrectly claimed that Trump called neo-Nazis “very fine people” — a suggestion that White House officials repeatedly stressed was taken out of context. And, in a nod to the “send her back” chant that erupted at a Trump rally earlier this year, Omar remarked, “None of us are going back. We’re here to stay.”

Even as she accused Trump of “coddling” white supremacy, Omar insisted that Sanders’ proposals — such as free college and government-sponsored health care for everyone, including illegal immigrants — were not “radical.”

“These are values that have been enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for decades,” Omar claimed, referring to the United Nations document. “But, here is the cold truth: We can’t achieve any of these goals if we don’t build a movement that is representative of all of our aspirations, all of our pain, and all of our shared trauma.”

Omar also appeared to defend her decision to vote “present” on a congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, saying it was an effort to combat using genocides selectively as a “political” football.

And Omar, who has been criticized by members of her own party for her past anti-Semitic statements, emphasized Sanders’ Jewish faith in announcing her support.

“I am proud to stand with the son of a Jewish refugee who survived genocide,” Omar said, referring to Sanders. “The acknowledgment of pain and suffering is personal for both of us. The fight for human rights is undeniable. And when we recognize injustices of the past and present, whether it is genocide against Jewish people, Armenians or Rwandans or Bosnians or Native Americans or more.”

Sanders has been endorsed by other members of the so-called progressive “squad” of Democrats, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib. (The only member of the “squad” not to endorse Sanders is Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley.)

“I am proud to stand with the son of a Jewish refugee who survived genocide.”

— Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar

Days before the endorsements were announced, the longtime Vermont senator suffered a heart attack on Oct. 1, prompting fears that his health issues could derail his presidential ambitions.

Sanders was introduced at the arena by a spirited University of Minnesota college student who complained that fellow students “are being put” into debt. The student acknowledged that he personally was not in much debt, but very much felt the pain of those who were.

Taking the microphone, Sanders praised Omar as an “extraordinary woman who 30 years ago was in a refugee camp in Kenya.”

“Thank you, Ilhan Omar,” Sanders said, his voice cracking.

Then, he unloaded a series of superlatives, punctuated by audible boos. “It gives me no pleasure to tell all of you what you already know: that today, tragically, we have a president of the United States who is a pathological liar — who is running the most corrupt administration in history, who has obstructed justice, who has used his office for personal gain, who has threatened to withhold national security funds from an ally in order to improve his political chances.”

Before calling Trump a racist, sexist, bigoted homophobe, Sanders remarked, “This is a president who deserves to be impeached, and will be impeached.”

As the crowd erupted in a “Lock him up” chant — in a reference to the “Lock her up” chants at Trump rallies, typically directed at Hillary Clinton — Sanders stood by the microphone and didn’t try to interrupt.

But, minutes later, Sanders appeared to call for an end to divisiveness while reading from his prepared remarks.

“We are going to do exactly the opposite of what Trump is doing,” he said. “He is trying to divide us up. We are going to bring our people together… around an agenda that works for all of us, not just the one percent.”

“People say that Ilhan and I make an odd political couple. But in fact, there is really nothing odd about it at all,” Sanders continued. “Ilhan and I share a common link as the descendants of families who fled violence and poverty, and who came to this country as immigrants. But that is not just my story, or Ilhan’s story — that is the story of America.”

He also said he and Omar both were working to eliminate “all student debt in America,” and make all public colleges “tuition-free.”

Fox News’ Andrew Craft contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re or email him at gregory.re@foxnews.com.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Ilhan Omar, at Bernie Sanders rally, calls for ‘mass movement of the working class’ amid ‘Lock him up’ chants

Responding to a torrent of complaints from Republicans that the impeachment inquiry against President Trump is secretive and one-sided, a lawyer for the anonymous whistleblower who raised alarms about the presidents’ dealings with Ukraine said Sunday his client is willing to answer written questions submitted by House Republicans.

But, late Sunday, House Oversight Committee ranking member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, seemingly rejected the offer from whistleblower attorney Mark Zaid, saying “written answers will not provide a sufficient opportunity to probe all the relevant facts and cross examine the so-called whistleblower.”

“You don’t get to ignite an impeachment effort and never account for your actions and role in orchestrating it,” Jordan said.

Zaid responded by calling Jordan’s response a “deliberate deflection.”

The whistleblower attorney’s surprise offer, made to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, would allow Republicans to ask questions of the whistleblower, who spurred the impeachment inquiry, without having to go through the committee’s chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.

“Obviously, per House rules GOP is beholden to DEMs,” Zaid tweeted. “We, however, are not.”

Zaid, a longtime Trump critic, tweeted that the whistleblower would answer questions directly from Republican members “in writing, under oath & penalty of perjury,” part of a bid to stem escalating efforts by Trump and his GOP allies to unmask the person’s identity.

Queries seeking “identifying info” about the whistleblower won’t be answered, he said.

“Obviously, per House rules GOP is beholden to DEMs. We, however, are not.”

— Whistleblower attorney Mark Zaid

“We will ensure timely answers,” Zaid wrote. “We stand ready to cooperate and ensure facts – rather than partisanship – dictates any process involving the #whistleblower.”

Zaid, when asked by Fox News if Nunes’ team had reached out, said there was “no substantive response.”

Nunes’ office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment, and it was not clear if Jordan was speaking for Nunes.

This past September, Schiff, who long pushed unsubstantiated claims that the Trump team had conspired illegally with Russians, promised testimony from the whistleblower “very soon.” But, in recent weeks, he’s shifted course and suggested the testimony was unnecessary. In the meantime, it emerged that Schiff’s panel spoke with the whistleblower before the whistleblower complaint was filed, contrary to Schiff’s previous claims.

Trump repeatedly has demanded the release of the whistleblower’s identity, tweeting Sunday that the person “must come forward.” The whistleblower raised concerns about Trump’s July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which he suggested Zelensky review Joe and Hunter Biden’s dealings there. The younger Biden routinely secured lucrative roles both domestically and abroad, with little relevant expertise, while his father was a powerful senator and, later, vice president.

The whistleblower’s secondhand account of the call has been providing a road map for House Democrats investigating whether the president and others in his orbit pressured Ukraine to probe political opponents, including former Vice President Joe Biden.

“Reveal the Whistleblower and end the Impeachment Hoax!” Trump tweeted.

Trump later Sunday pushed the news media to divulge the whistleblower’s identity, asserting that the person’s accounting of events was incorrect. The whistleblower’s complaint has been corroborated in part by people with firsthand knowledge of the events who have appeared on Capitol Hill — but key inconsistencies also have emerged.

For example, the complaint stated that Trump made a “specific request that the Ukrainian leader locate and turn over servers used by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and examined by the U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike” — a request that did not appear in the declassified transcript of the call released by the Trump administration.

“They know who it is. You know who it is. You just don’t want to report it,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “You know you’d be doing the public a service if you did.”

U.S. whistleblower laws have existed to protect the identity and careers of people bringing forward accusations of criminal wrongdoing by government officials, but many Republicans have argued — citing career Justice Department officials — that nothing criminal occurred during Trump’s call.

Republicans are said to have eyed a political opportunity in unmasking the CIA official, who the intelligence community’s inspector general said could have “arguable political bias.”

Zaid acknowledged in a statement last month that his client “has come into contact with presidential candidates from both parties” — but insisted that the contact involved the politicians’ roles as “elected officials – not as candidates.”

And, Fox News reported in October that the whistleblower told the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) that bias against the president might be alleged against him or her for a third, previously unreported reason. Fox News previously reported the whistleblower was a registered Democrat and had a prior work history with a senior Democrat, but the third potential indicator of bias remained unclear.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Sunday he had not yet discussed the whistleblower’s offer with Nunes, but stressed that the person should answer questions in a public appearance before the committee.

“When you’re talking about the removal of the president of the United States, undoing democracy, undoing what the American public had voted for, I think that individual should come before the committee,” McCarthy told CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

“We need an openness that people understand this,” he added.

Zaid said his team had addressed the issue of alleged bias with Republican members of the committee and had stressed the need for anonymity to maintain the safety of the whistleblower and that person’s family, “but with little effect in halting the attacks.”

“Let me be absolutely clear: Our willingness to cooperate has not changed,” tweeted Andrew P. Bakaj, another attorney representing the whistleblower. “What we object to and find offensive, however, is the effort to uncover the identity of the whistleblower.”

Bakaj wrote Saturday that “their fixation on exposing the whistleblower’s identity is simply because they’re at a loss as to how to address the investigations the underlying disclosure prompted.”

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

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re or email him at gregory.re@foxnews.com.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Rep. Jordan rejects whistleblower’s offer to provide written answers to GOP questions

House Democrats on Tuesday introduced a resolution to formalize their impeachment inquiry and adopt rules to govern the proceedings, following sustained complaints by congressional Republicans and the White House that the inquiry hasn’t followed past precedent and violates the president’s due process rights.

But, illustrating the balancing act involved as the 2020 election cycle gets started, Democrats have adamantly denied that the document is an “impeachment resolution,” perhaps out of concern for how that label would play in more moderate swing districts.

The resolution directs the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, Judiciary, and Ways and Means Committees to “continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump.”

Republicans, however, have countered that there is no “existing” impeachment inquiry because the House has not voted to open one as it did during the Clinton and Nixon impeachments — and Tuesday’s resolution does not explicitly open the probe, either.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff of Calif., leaves a secure area where Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper is testifying as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“The resolution put forward by Speaker Pelosi confirms that House Democrats’ impeachment has been an illegitimate sham from the start as it lacked any proper authorization by a House vote,” the White House said in a statement. “It continues this scam by allowing Chairman Schiff, who repeatedly lies to the American people, to hold a new round of hearings, still without any due process for the President.”

The statement continued: “The White House is barred from participating at all, until after Chairman Schiff conducts two rounds of one-sided hearings to generate a biased report for the Judiciary Committee. Even then, the White House’s rights remain undefined, unclear, and uncertain – because those rules still haven’t been written. This resolution does nothing to change the fundamental fact that House Democrats refuse to provide basic due process rights to the Administration.”

The Democrats’ resolution specifies that ranking Republicans in the minority on the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees (Reps. Doug Collins and Devin Nunes, respectively) will have the authority, with the concurrence of committee chairs in the majority, to subpoena witnesses and compel their testimony — a major demand that the White House and top Republicans had made in recent weeks.

If the chair does not consent, the minority can appeal to the full committee. It is common in other proceedings for committee chairs to essentially have veto authority over subpoenas sought by ranking minority members.

The resolution also authorizes the Intelligence Committee to conduct an “open hearing or hearings” in which minority Republicans have equal time to question witnesses.

And, after that hearing is concluded, “to allow for full evaluation of minority witness requests, the ranking minority member may submit to the chair, in writing, any requests for witness testimony relevant to the investigation described in the first section of this resolution within 72 hours after notice is given.”

Fox News is told it’s possible, based on the way the resolution is written, that the legal rights the resolution affords to the president could be curbed unless there are Judiciary Committee hearings, as opposed to Intelligence Committee hearings. That’s why the muscular role of the House Intelligence Committee is important in this resolution — it raises the question of whether the president would be able to question witnesses outside of Judiciary Committee proceedings, and whom he would be able to question.

The resolution further directs the Intelligence Committee, in consultation with the other committees, to prepare a report on its findings to the Judiciary Committee, which would actually write any articles of impeachment. In response to GOP complaints about Democrats’ selective leaks of opening statements and depositions, the document also authorizes the public release of testimony transcripts, with only sensitive or classified information being redacted.

And, the resolution permits Republicans to submit written demands for testimony and other evidence, to cross-examine witnesses, and raise objections.

There is no timeline given for the impeachment inquiry to conclude. The House Rules Committee, which is the gateway for most measures in the House, will meet Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET to prepare the resolution for the House floor, including by adding additional procedures. The full House will debate and vote on the measure Thursday morning, with a vote expected by midday.

Just before the resolution was filed, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told Fox News flatly on Tuesday that “this is not an impeachment resolution.”

He did not answer when asked if he was concerned about the public perception of that term.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also insisted Monday night, “It’s not an impeachment resolution.”

At the same time, there were encouraging signs for Democrats that their approach would play well among moderates and influential members of the caucus. Freshman South Carolina Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham, who unexpectedly flipped a seat from red to blue last year, told Fox News he was “supportive” of the new resolution.

And California Democratic Rep. Jimmy Gomez said the impeachment proceedings would not disrupt ongoing USMCA trade negotiations, which Gomez is handling at Pelosi’s request.

Four Democratic committee chairs — Reps. Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, Eliot L. Engel, and Carolyn Maloney — said in a statement Tuesday that the “resolution provides rules for the format of open hearings in the House Intelligence Committee, including staff-led questioning of witnesses, and it authorizes the public release of deposition transcripts … [it] establishes procedures for the transfer of evidence to the Judiciary Committee as it considers potential articles of impeachment, and it sets forth due process rights for the president and his counsel in the Judiciary Committee proceedings.”

They added: “The evidence we have already collected paints the picture of a president who abused his power by using multiple levers of government to press a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election. Following in the footsteps of previous impeachment inquiries, the next phase will move from closed depositions to open hearings where the American people will learn firsthand about the president’s misconduct.”

“It’s not an impeachment resolution.”

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

In terms of upcoming impeachment-related proceedings, State Department Ukraine experts Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson are expected to appear in closed session on Wednesday.

Timothy Morrison, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council, is expected to appear in closed session on Thursday.

Robert Blair, Assistant to the President and Senior Adviser to the Acting Chief of Staff, is expected to appear in closed session on Friday.

The Committees will “renotice” a future date for top Defense Department official Kathryn Wheelbarger. The committees are in ongoing discussions with other witnesses and we look forward to their testimony.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, the top Republicans on the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry blasted the investigation as “illegitimate” and a “sham,” signaling that the new procedures wouldn’t change their minds.

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Nunes, R-Calif., Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Michael McCaul, R-Texas, penned a letter to Rep. James McGovern, the chairman of the House Rules Committee, who announced his panel would take up an impeachment procedure resolution on Wednesday to “ensure transparency and provide a clear path forward.”

Nunes, Jordan and McCaul accused McGovern, D-Mass., of not giving enough time for Republican members to review the resolution ahead of the vote, and they continued to blast the inquiry as a whole.

“Under House rules you championed at the beginning of this Congress, major legislation is required to be posted 72 hours in advance of a vote,” they wrote. “Yet, here, on the gravest and most solemn work the House can do, you are forcing the House to consider a resolution with text that is still not available two days before the vote.”

“Without text, we know nothing about the Democrats’ intended impeachment process. Your website describes the resolution as ‘directing certain committees to continue their ongoing investigation,’” they continued. “Chairman Schiff does not need a resolution to continue leaking selective facts from his basement bunker.”

They added, “We can only assume, therefore, that this resolution is necessary to allow Democrats to subvert the ordinary legislative process.”

Still, the Democrats’ resolution appeared to address the White House’s complaints from earlier this month, when it vowed not to participate in the inquiry.

Democrats, the White House complained, had not permitted Republicans in the minority to issue subpoenas, contradicting the “standard, bipartisan practice in all recent resolutions authorizing presidential impeachment inquiries.”

The White House had argued: “In the history of our nation, the House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against the president without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step.”

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re or email him at gregory.re@foxnews.com.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Dems introduce resolution formalizing impeachment inquiry procedures

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign requested in a letter on Sunday that major news networks not invite President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani anymore, after Giuliani spent the morning on a series of talk shows aggressively highlighting what he called Biden’s apparently corrupt dealings in Ukraine and China.

The Biden campaign wrote to NBC News, CBS News, Fox News and CNN to voice “grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump,” according to The Daily Beast, which first reported the existence of the letter.

The memo, drafted by Biden aides Kate Bedingfield and Anita Dunn, continued: “While you often fact check his statements in real time during your discussions, that is no longer enough. By giving him your air time, you are allowing him to introduce increasingly unhinged, unfounded and desperate lies into the national conversation.”

Should a network choose to book Giuliani, the Biden campaign called for “an equivalent amount of time” to be provided “to a surrogate for the Biden campaign.” The letter noted Giuliani was not a public official, but Trump’s lawyer and personal advisor.

Responding to the request, Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted: “Can we request the removal of Democrats on TV that push hoaxes? Wait, but then who would do the interviews?”

Hours earlier, Giuliani made the rounds on several Sunday shows, including “Fox News Sunday,” to argue that evidence of Biden’s possible corruption has been hiding in plain sight for months.

Biden has acknowledged on camera that, when he was vice president, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire that prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was investigating the natural gas firm Burisma Holdings — where son Hunter Biden had a highly lucrative role on the board paying him tens of thousands of dollars per month, despite limited relevant expertise. The vice president threatened to withhold $1 billion in critical U.S. aid if Shokin was not fired.

“Well, son of a b—h, he got fired,” Biden joked at a panel two years after leaving office.

Shokin himself had been widely accused of corruption, while critics charged that Hunter Biden essentially might have been selling access to his father, who had pushed Ukraine to increase its natural gas production. Giuliani, on Sunday, suggested Shokin was the target of an international smear campaign to discredit his work.

In a combative interview on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, Giuliani presented what he said was an affidavit signed by Shokin that confirmed Hunter Biden was being investigated when Shokin was fired.

“The Washington press will not accept the fact that Joe Biden might have done something like this.”

— Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani

“I have an affidavit here that’s been online for six months that nobody bothered to read from the gentleman who was fired, Viktor Shokin, the so-called corrupt prosecutor,” Giuliani said. “The Biden people say that he wasn’t investigating Hunter Biden at the time. He says under oath that he was.” The Shokin affidavit purportedly said the U.S. had pressured him into resigning because he was unwilling to drop the case.

Later, Giuliani added: “I have another affidavit, this time from another Ukrainian prosecutor who says that the day after Biden strong-armed the president to remove Shokin, they show up in the prosecutor’s office — lawyers for Hunter Biden show up in the prosecutor’s office and they give an apology for dissemination of false information.”

After anchor George Stephanopoulos expressed skepticism, Giuliani fired back: “How about if I — how about if I tell you over the next week four more of these will come out from four other prosecutors? … No, no, no, George, they won’t be [investigated], because they’ve been online for six months, and the Washington press will not accept the fact that Joe Biden might have done something like this.”

When Stephanopoulos called it “not true” that Hunter Biden had taken more than $1 billion from China while the U.S. was negotiating with the country, Giuliani again said the former Clinton administration official was being too dismissive.

“There’s evidence that they got $1 billion directly from China, specific date, 12 days after they returned from a trip to China,” Giuliani asserted. “There’s evidence that another $500 million went in, and there are three partners.”

Giuliani went on: “Can I — can I make a contrast? Can I just make a slight contrast with the so-called whistleblower? The whistleblower says I don’t have any direct knowledge, I just heard things. Up until two weeks before he did that, that wouldn’t even [have] been a complaint, would have been dismissed.”

That was a reference to an explosive report in The Federalist showing that the intelligence community recently changed its form for reporting improper conduct. Earlier this year, the intelligence community’s form for whistleblowers explicitly stated that complaints based on secondhand information were not actionable.

But, that admonition was removed sometime afterward — around the time that an unnamed whistleblower filed a complaint, based on secondhand information, alleging misconduct in the White House. Although there has been no strict legal requirement for whistleblower complaints to contain only firsthand information, the previous intelligence community form made it clear that such secondhand complaints would not be investigated as a matter of procedure.

Twitter user Stephen McIntyre originally spotted the change in the whistleblower form.

Trump and top Republicans called for answers over the weekend as to when and why the form was changed — and whether the change was made specifically to allow the whistleblower’s complaint to proceed.

Before Giuliani’s interview, former Trump Homeland Security Advisor Thomas Bossert criticized Trump’s communications with Ukraine, but said he did not see any evidence of an impeachable offense. Giuliani said Bossert was wrong to imply that Giuliani had ever alleged Ukraine directly participated in the hacking of Democrats’ servers in 2016.

Speaking separately to Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Giuliani brought up the affidavits and called the situation Clintonesque.

“The pattern is a pattern of pay for play. It includes something very similar to what happened to the Clinton Foundation,” Giuliani said, “which goes to the very core of, what did Obama know and when did he know it?”

Giuliani referred to a December 2015 New York Times article about Hunter Biden, Burisma and a Ukrainian oligarch, and how the younger Biden’s involvement with the Ukrainian company could undermine then-Vice President Biden’s anti-corruption message.

“The question is,” Giuliani asked, “when Biden and Obama saw that article, about how the son was pulling down money from the most crooked oligarch in Russia, did Obama call Biden in and say ‘Joe, how could you be doing this?'”

Giuliani was not the only attorney trying to get damaging information on Joe Biden from Ukrainian officials, and President Trump’s decision to withhold aid from Ukraine this summer was made in spite of several federal agencies supporting the aid, Fox News’ Chris Wallace reported on “Fox News Sunday.”

In addition to Giuliani, Washington, D.C., lawyers Joe DiGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing, worked alongside the former New York City mayor. According to a top U.S. official, the three attorneys were working “off the books” — not within the Trump administration — and only the president knows the details of their work.

In a tweet Sunday, Toensing called the report “false” and embarrassing.” Wallace, in a statement, responded, “We stand by our reporting.”

For his part, Giuliani insisted he “didn’t work with anybody to get dirt on Joe Biden,” again saying that the information “was handed to me by the Ukrainians.”

Giuliani stated that so far House Democrats have not subpoenaed him to testify about his work with Ukraine, but if they did he would have to run it by Trump first.

“I’m his attorney, there’s something called attorney-client privilege,” he said. “That has to be considered even if they don’t think he should have attorney-client privilege.”

Democrats have focused on the whistleblower’s complaint, released last week, which cited information from White House officials who alleged there’d been efforts to secure Trump’s July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, among other conversations. The Trump administration reportedly began placing transcripts of Trump’s calls with several foreign leaders in a highly classified repository only after anonymous leakers publicly divulged the contents of Trump’s private calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia in 2017.

Trump suggested during a phone call with Zelensky that Ukraine look into Biden’s boast about firing Shokin, after Zelensky first mentioned Ukraine’s corruption issues, and after Trump separately requested as a “favor” that Ukraine help investigate foreign interference in the 2016 elections, including the hack of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server involving CrowdStrike.

The call came not long after Trump had frozen millions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine. However, the U.S. later released the aid to Ukraine, and the Ukrainians were unaware the money was frozen in the first place until more than a month after Trump’s call with Zelensky, The New York Times reported.

Zelensky has said he felt no pressure from Trump during the phone call to do anything.

The whistleblower complaint contained several apparent factual inaccuracies, prompting some Republicans to call for an inquiry into the whistleblowers’ sources — and why they didn’t make the complaint themselves.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Biden seeks to bar Giuliani from TV news, after Trump lawyer alleges possible Biden corruption

California Rep. Devin Nunes predicted on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” that Joe Biden’s campaign is likely coming to an end — all because of newly resurfaced reports about his possible misconduct in Ukraine that “first originated back when Hillary Clinton was trying to make sure Biden didn’t get in the race.”

The top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee made the claim as The Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll showed Sen. Elizabeth Warren surging ahead of Biden as the first choice of 22 percent of the voters surveyed, while Biden was the first choice of 20 percent of the voters. Biden held a 9-point lead over Warren in the poll as recently as June.

Nunes, speaking to anchor Maria Bartiromo, said a whistleblower’s allegation that President Trump had acted inappropriately during a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will ultimately backfire, and shine a light on Biden’s own possible misconduct. CNN later acknowledged that the whistleblower had no first-hand knowledge of the call, and a top Ukrainian official on Saturday defended Trump’s actions.

“These stories first originated back when Hillary Clinton was trying to make sure Biden didn’t get in the race,” Nunes said. “So now that these have been resurrected, I don’t know who came up with the scheme — maybe this whistleblower really is not a partisan. We want to hear from that whistleblower, but it sure looks like the scheme has backfired. And, like I said, it looks like this is the end of Biden’s campaign. I really do… his lead is basically down to zero.”

Late Sunday, Trump echoed Nunes’ comments, and emphasized that Biden recently bragged about pressuring Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor when he was vice president. At the time, the prosecutor was probing a company closely linked to Biden’s son, Hunter.

“Sleepy Joe Biden … forced a tough prosecutor out from investigating his son’s company by threat of not giving big dollars to Ukraine,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “That’s the real story!”

Nunes said the ever-deepening schism in the Democratic Party over whether to impeach the president — highlighted late Saturday when New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called it a major “scandal” that Democrats hadn’t yet voted to impeach — would help Trump in 2020.

“The more I think that they’re out there promoting this kind of craziness and silliness, the more that the American people are put off, and the more likely President Trump is reelected,” Nunes added.

There were parallels, Nunes said, with Democrats’ ultimately debunked claims that the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“This has all the hallmarks of the Russia hoax,” Nunes said. “Something leaks out. … and then it’s the same reporters that report on it, the same reporters that reported on the Russia hoax. Then you move forward, and what happens? Then supposedly they come and testify — and the night before they testify, the whistleblower who supposedly doesn’t want anybody to know who this person is, or what information they have, well, it’s spilled all over the pages of the Washington Post” the day before Congress was briefed on the matter.

“Whoever came up with this scheme — it looks like somebody was trying to deflect what Biden did back in 2015,” Nunes said. “This scheme seems to have backfired on Biden. I mean, Biden’s already dropping in the polls.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, speaks during the EU-Ukraine summit press conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, July 8, 2019. ( AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump had repeatedly asked Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s son who had a key role in a natural gas firm that was being investigated by a Ukrainian prosecutor as part of a corruption probe.

At a conference two years after he left office, Joe Biden openly boasted about successfully pressuring Ukraine to fire that prosecutor when he was vice president.

Unverified reports circulated on left-leaning media outlets claiming that Trump could have even promised something improper in exchange for Ukraine’s compliance, although the Journal reported there was no “quid-pro-quo” involved.

Trump acknowledged Sunday that he had communicated with Zelensky about Biden, and that the conversation concerned “the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son [contributing] to the corruption already in the Ukraine.” However, the president and top officials maintained Sunday that nothing inappropriate occurred on the call.

DNI Inspector General Michael Atkinson said in a Sep. 9 letter to the House Intelligence Committee that the whistleblower complaint “appeared credible” and related to an “urgent” matter. But the DNI general counsel said days later that, after consulting with the DOJ, the matter did not meet the legal definition of an “urgent concern,” and was not subject to mandatory disclosure to Congress.

“Furthermore, because the complaint involves confidential and potentially privileged communications by persons outside the Intelligence Community, the DNI lacks unilateral authority to transmit such materials to the intelligence committees,” Jason Klitenic, the DNI general counsel, wrote.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire will testify before the House Intelligence Committee at an open hearing on Thursday.

“At that time, we expect him to obey the law and turn over the whistleblower’s full complaint to the Committee,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “We also expect that he will establish a path for the whistleblower to speak directly to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as required by law.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., suggested Sunday that impeachment may be on the table, if certain demands are not met ahead of Wednesday’s whistleblower hearing. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Pelosi also seemingly threatened that she would back impeachment if her demands were not met, in a potentially major shift to her wait-and-see approach thus far: “If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the President, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation.”

Trump’s conversation came as the White House was holding up $250 million in military aid for Ukraine. The president has said he wants European countries to pay more for their own defense, and denied delaying any military aid funding.

The whistleblower’s allegation could prompt scrutiny of the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy. Joe Biden has explained on camera that in March 2016, he privately threatened then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that the U.S. would withhold $1 billion in loan guarantees from Ukraine if its top prosecutor was not fired.

“I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion,'” Biden recounted telling Poroshenko at a Council on Foreign Relations event. “I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours. I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.'”

“Well, son of a b-tch, he got fired,” Biden continued, after assuring Poroshenko that Obama knew about the arrangement. “And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

It remained unclear if this was directly tied to the prosecutor’s probe into the company linked to Hunter Biden, as other countries reportedly wanted the prosecutor out as well.

And earlier this year, The Hill reported that the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, under the Obama administration, took the unusual step of pressuring prosecutors there to drop a probe into a group closely linked to liberal megadonor George Soros.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at an LGBTQ Presidential Forum in the Sinclair Auditorium on the Coe College campus in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette via AP)

Then, in April, Ukrainian law enforcement officials said they had a slew of evidence of collusion and wrongdoing by Democrats, and that they have been trying to share this information with U.S. officials in the Justice Department.

A 2017 investigation by Politico found that Ukrainian officials not only publicly sought to undermine Trump by questioning his fitness for office, but also worked behind the scenes to secure a Clinton victory. Trump told Fox News that the allegations of possible Clinton-Ukraine collusion were “big” and vowed they would be reviewed by the DOJ.

Additionally, attention focused anew on President Obama’s hot-mic comment to then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a nuclear disarmament summit in March 2012, in which Obama was overheard saying he would have more “flexibility” to negotiate with Russia after the November 2012 election.

“The longer we talk about what the Bidens did in Ukraine, the better,” said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser, who dismissed those who believe Trump will pay a political price for the latest controversy.

Meanwhile, Biden on Saturday denied he has ever spoken to Hunter about his business in Ukraine and called Trump’s actions an “overwhelming abuse of power.”

“Trump’s doing this because he knows I’ll beat him like a drum, and he’s using the abuse of power and every element of the presidency to try to do something to smear me,” Biden told reporters in Iowa.

But Trump, on Sunday, pointed out that Biden’s claim was seemingly inaccurate. Hunter Biden told the New Yorker previously that he and his father had spoken “just once” about it.

“And now he made a lie when he said he never spoke to his son,” Trump said. “Of course you spoke to your son!”

Trump added: “No quid pro quo, there was nothing. It was a perfect conversation. … The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating the corruption already in the Ukraine and Ukraine has got a lot of problems. The new president is saying that he’s going to be able to rid the country of corruption, and I said that would be a great thing, we had a great conversation.”

Trump went on to say the latest allegations are “just as ridiculous as the others,” branding it “the Ukraine Witch Hunt” — a nod to former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

“Will fail again!” Trump tweeted.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer, Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Biden’s campaign likely coming to an end — thanks to Clinton-linked Ukraine bombshell, Nunes says

California announced last week that it has added Iowa to the list of states on its ever-expanding “travel ban” list because of that state’s new prohibition against funding gender-transition surgeries under Medicaid.

The announcement by state Attorney General Xavier Becerra means that as of Oct. 4, California will no longer offer taxpayer-funded trips to Iowa for any public employee or student at a state-run university.

Becerra’s authority came from a 2016 California law signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown that bars state-funded travel to other states that undercut LGBT rights. The blacklist already included Alabama, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

Conservatives have called the law ineffective, inconveniencing, possibly unconstitutional and hypocritical. The state’s sports teams have turned to private funding to get around the restrictions, according to The Los Angeles Times.

“The Iowa Legislature has reversed course on what was settled law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act, repealing protections for those seeking gender-affirming health care,” Becerra said in a statement. “California has taken an unambiguous stand against discrimination and government actions that would enable it.”

The brouhaha began after the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that taxpayers could be forced to pay for gender reassignment surgery. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a law effectively overriding that ruling two months later.

“This narrow provision simply clarifies that Iowa’s Civil Rights Act does not require taxpayer dollars to pay for sex reassignment and other similar surgeries,” Reynolds spokesman Pat Garrett said in a statement at the time. “This returns us to what had been the state’s position for years.”

At the federal level, the Trump administration has rolled back the Obama-era determination that sex-based discrimination prohibitions under existing law include protections for gender identity.

The Health and Human Services Department, in May, angered progressive advocates with rules that both allowed doctors not to perform certain operations and stated that “gender identity” was not protected under sex discrimination law in health care.

“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Roger Severino, who heads the HHS Office for Civil Rights. “We intend to fully enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination.”

Asked about the charge that the administration has opened the door to discrimination against transgender people seeking needed medical care of any type, Severino responded, “I don’t want to see that happen.”

Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: California adds Iowa to ‘travel ban’ over refusal to fund gender transitions

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