Author

Gregg Re

Browsing

In a major victory for both President Trump and national Republicans, North Carolina GOP state Sen. Dan Bishop was projected to win a fiercely contested special U.S. House election for the 9th District that was widely seen as a bellwether for the president’s chances in the 2020 election.

And another Republican House candidate, Greg Murphy, decisively won a separate special election in North Carolina’s more solidly GOP-leaning 3rd District earlier Tuesday evening — frustrating Democrats who spent millions trying to make a splash in the state.

Even Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairwoman Cheri Bustos acknowledged that the president contributed to Bishop’s win, writing in a statement, “We fell an inch short tonight, but it took more than $6 million in outside Republican spending and a last-minute Trump rally” to seal Democratic candidate Dan McCready’s fate in the 9th District.

McCready’s campaign spent approximately $4.7 million on the race, while Bishop’s spent only $1.9 million. Outside spending primarily from national party committees helped Bishop to the tune of $5.8 million, though, compared to McCready’s roughly $1.4 million.

The clean sweep heartened the president, who has long emphasized the national implications at stake. Trump unloaded on McCready in the fiery rally on Monday night, telling attendees that “to stop the far-left, you must vote in tomorrow’s special election.”

That effort, Trump said late Tuesday, had clearly paid dividends.

“Dan Bishop was down 17 points 3 weeks ago,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “He then asked me for help, we changed his strategy together, and he ran a great race. Big Rally last night. Now it looks like he is going to win. @CNN &@MSNBC are moving their big studio equipment and talent out. Stay tuned!”

He added: “BIG NIGHT FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!”

“The voters said no to radical, liberal polices pushed by today’s Democratic Party,” Bishop said in a victory speech.

GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the wins spelled trouble for Democrats in 2020, and highlighted the importance of Republican National Committee (RNC) efforts in North Carolina — where the party will hold its national nominating convention in 2020.

“Despite being massively outspent by Democrats, @realDonaldTrump rallied voters and put Bishop over the top,” McDaniel said. “A huge win for the president and our grassroots field program that’s working hard to elect Republicans in 2020!”

The RNC had been active on the ground in North Carolina working on the special elections since June. The party brought on nearly two dozen full-time staffers and invested more than $1.5 million in the state, while also making nearly a half-million voter contacts through phone-bank work and door-to-door canvassing.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Bishop led McCready by 3,937 votes, 96,081 to 92,144, in the race to represent the 9th District. Bishop ran up substantial numbers in outlying areas and McCready eroded GOP advantages in suburban areas.

In 2018, the Republican candidate, Mark Harris, defeated McCready by a much smaller margin — just 905 votes, 139,246 to 138,341. State officials ordered the unusual special election earlier this year, invalidating Harris’ win after uncovering ballot fraud efforts.

North Carolina 9th district Republican congressional candidate Dan Bishop greets supporters in Monroe, N.C., Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Republicans cheered Bishop’s even-higher margin of victory than Harris achieved, briefly, in 2018.

“Congratulations to Dan Bishop on his definitive victory tonight in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District,” National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Emmer said in a statement.

“North Carolinians rejected the Democrats’ socialist agenda and elected a representative who will defend North Carolina values, and will always fight for freedom and against socialism,” he added. “I look forward to working with Dan in Congress to hold the Democrats accountable for their extreme agenda.”

Analysts had warned that the cloud from the fraud scandal could have harmed Bishop’s prospects. Additionally, polls apparently showing Trump’s declining national popularity – which the president has dismissed as inaccurate – gave Democrats some cause for optimism. The president said Monday he did not consider Bishop’s race to be a bellwether for 2020.

President Donald Trump, left, gives his support to Dan Bishop, right, a Republican running for the special North Carolina 9th District U.S. Congressional race as he speaks at a rally in Fayetteville, N.C., Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

Nevertheless, Bishop and Murphy were evidently boosted by a pair of visits to the district Monday by both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

At the rally Monday, the president specifically called out McCready as a dangerous proponent of “sanctuary cities” and rolling back gun rights.

“Just recently, Mecklenburg County set free an illegal alien charged with first-degree rape and crimes against a child,” Trump said, his voice rising. “Support for sanctuary cities is disloyalty to American cities — and McCready wants sanctuary cities, with all of their protections for people who are serious criminals. Tomorrow is your chance to send a clear message to the America-hating left.”

Had McCready prevailed, it might have suggested GOP erosion and raised questions about Trump’s and his party’s viability for 2020.

But Trump projected confidence early Tuesday evening after Murphy was projected to soundly defeat Democrat Allen Thomas in the separate special election in the coastal 3rd District to succeed the late Rep. Walter Jones Jr.

“One down, one to go,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, McCready, a former Marine turned financier of solar energy projects, had banked on the district’s suburban moderates to carry him over the top.

The 9th District, which stretches east from the prosperous Charlotte suburbs into rural areas hugging the South Carolina border, has been held by the GOP since 1963.

In 2016, Trump won the district by 11 percentage points.

Democratic House candidate Dan McCready talks to volunteers at his campaign office in Waxhaw, N.C., outside Charlotte, Saturday. (AP Photo/Alan Fram)

As voters headed to the polls Tuesday afternoon, a new balloting controversy surfaced briefly when North Carolina election officials did not act on a request by the state Republican Party to extend hours at a single precinct.

A voter enters a precinct at the West Charlotte Recreation Center Tuesday. (John D. Simmons/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

The state GOP asked that the voting site stay open an extra hour and 45 minutes because they said some voters were showing up at an old voting location in Union County, a Republican-heavy area east of Charlotte.

The State Board of Elections met and discussed the GOP request, but took no action.

However, by a 5-0 vote of the state board, one polling site in Mecklenberg County was kept open 25 minutes past the 7:30 p.m. ET closing time due to a reported gas leak.

Attendees line up outside hours before President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Fayetteville, N.C., Monday Sept. 9, 2019 (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

The 3rd District, where Murphy won easily early in the night, was less closely watched because it was strongly expected to stay Republican-controlled. Still, Republicans from the president on down sounded the victory drums.

“Congratulations to Dr. Greg Murphy on his decisive victory tonight in North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District,” Emmer said in a statement.

“Dr. Murphy is a selfless servant who is dedicated to conservative values,” Emmer continued. “Today, North Carolinians rejected the socialist agenda of the Democrats and voted for freedom. I look forward to working with a consistent conservative like Dr. Murphy in Congress.”

Greg Murphy was elected to Congress from North Carolina’s 3rd District Tuesday. (Molly Urbina/The Daily Reflector via AP, File)

The 3rd district extends from the Virginia border and Outer Banks to the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune, and inland to Greenville. Trump won the district vote comfortably in 2016, and Murphy said at a Trump rally that he would have the “president’s back” if elected.

Thomas is a former Greenville mayor who questioned Murphy’s “blind loyalty” to Trump.

Fox News’ David Lewkowictz 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: Dems admit Trump helped GOP candidates sweep North Carolina special elections

Despite multiple indications last month of a possible breakthrough in trade negotiations, the United States and China went ahead with their latest tariff increases on each other’s goods Sunday, potentially raising prices Americans pay for some clothes, shoes, sporting goods and other consumer items in advance of the holiday shopping season.

The 15 percent U.S. taxes apply to about $112 billion of Chinese imports. All told, more than two-thirds of the consumer goods the United States imports from China now face higher taxes. The administration had largely avoided hitting consumer items in its earlier rounds of tariff hikes.

But with prices of many retail goods now likely to rise, the Trump administration’s move threatens the U.S. economy’s main driver: consumer spending. As businesses pull back on investment spending and exports slow in the face of weak global growth, American shoppers have been a key bright spot for the economy.

As a result of Trump’s higher tariffs, many U.S. companies have warned that they will be forced to pass on to their customers the higher prices they will pay on Chinese imports. Some businesses, though, may decide in the end to absorb the higher costs rather than raise prices for their customers.

A protestor uses a shield to cover himself as he faces policemen in Hong Kong, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. Protesters and police are standing off in Hong Kong on a street that runs through the bustling Causeway Bay shopping district. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Trump told reporters in August that Apple CEO Tim Cook privately made a “very compelling argument” that the administration’s tariffs on Chinese-assembled goods have made an unfair impact on the California-based tech giant, because its chief rival, Samsung, has conducted most of its manufacturing in South Korea and did not have to pay the levy.

Even more tariffs loom on the horizon. On Dec. 15, the Trump administration is scheduled to impose a second round of 15 percent tariffs — this time on roughly $160 billion of imports. If those duties take effect, virtually all goods imported from China will be covered, including all major Apple products.

In China, authorities began charging higher duties on American imports at midday Sunday, according to employees who answered the phone at customs offices in Beijing and the southern port of Guangzhou.

The move came even though China signaled last week it was seeking a “calm” end to its ongoing trade war with the U.S., as Asian markets crumbled and China’s currency plummeted to an 11-year low.

Tariffs of 10 percent and 5 percent apply to items ranging from frozen sweet corn and pork liver to marble and bicycle tires, the Chinese government announced earlier.

After Sunday’s tariff hike, 87 percent of textiles and clothing the United States buys from China and 52 percent of shoes will be subject to import taxes.

The Chinese government has released a list of American imports targeted for penalties on Dec. 15 if the U.S. tariff hikes take effect. In total, Beijing says Sunday’s penalties and the planned December increases will apply to $75 billion of American goods.

Washington and Beijing are locked in a war over U.S. complaints that China steals U.S. trade secrets and unfairly subsidizes its own companies in its drive to develop global competitors in such high-tech industries as artificial intelligence and electric cars.

To try to force Beijing to reform its trade practices, the Trump administration has imposed import taxes on billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese imports, and China has retaliated with tariffs on U.S. exports.

Trump has insisted that China itself pays the tariffs. But in fact, economic research has concluded that the costs of the duties fall on U.S. businesses and consumers. Trump had indirectly acknowledged the tariffs’ impact by delaying some of the duties until Dec. 15, after holiday goods are already on store shelves.

A study by J.P. Morgan found that Trump’s tariffs will cost the average U.S. household $1,000 a year. That study was done before Trump raised the Sept. 1 and Dec. 15 tariffs to 15 percent from 10 percent.

The president has also announced that existing 25 percent tariffs on a separate group of $250 billion of Chinese imports will increase to 30 percent on Oct. 1.

That cost could weaken an already slowing U.S. economy. Though consumer spending grew last quarter at its fastest pace in five years, the overall economy expanded at a modest 2 percent annual rate, down from a 3.1 percent rate in the first three months of the year.

The economy is widely expected to slow further in the months ahead as income growth slows, businesses delay expansions and higher prices from tariffs depress consumer spending. Companies have already reduced investment spending, and exports have dropped against a backdrop of slower global growth.

Americans have already turned more pessimistic. The University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index, released Friday, fell by the most since December 2012.

“The data indicate that the erosion of consumer confidence due to tariff policies is now well underway,” said Richard Curtin, who oversees the index.

Some retailers may eat the cost of the tariffs. Target confirmed to The Associated Press that it warned suppliers that it won’t accept cost increases arising from the China tariffs. But many smaller retailers won’t have the bargaining power to make such demands and will pass the costs to customers.

Fox News’ Joseph Wulfsohn 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: Steep new US, China tariffs go into effect, as companies warn of higher consumer prices

In a major blow to state-by-state progressive efforts to effectively replace the Electoral College with a nationwide popular vote, a federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that presidential electors in the Electoral College have the absolute right to vote for presidential candidates of their choice.

Democrats have increasingly sought to erase the Electoral College’s influence by promoting state laws that would force electors to vote for the national popular vote winner — and those laws were now in jeopardy as a result of the court’s ruling, legal experts said.

The decision, however, also raised the prospect that electors could legally defect at the last minute, and decide the occupant of the White House on their own in dramatic fashion, weeks after Election Day.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Colorado secretary of state violated the Constitution in 2016 when he removed an elector and nullified his vote because the elector refused to cast his ballot for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who received a plurality of the popular vote both nationally and in Colorado.

The rogue elector was part of an unsuccessful scheme to convince enough members of the Electoral College to unite behind an alternative candidate and deny Donald Trump the presidency.

The split decision by a three-judge panel on the Denver appeals court asserted: “Article II and the Twelfth Amendment provide presidential electors the right to cast a vote for President and Vice President with discretion. And the state does not possess countervailing authority to remove an elector and to cancel his vote in response to the exercise of that Constitutional right.”

The panel continued, “The electoral college did not exist before ratification of the federal Constitution, and thus the states could reserve no rights related to it under the Tenth Amendment. Rather, the states possess only the rights expressly delegated to them in Article II and the Twelfth Amendment.”

The appeals court reasoned that once electors show up at the Electoral College, they essentially become federal actors performing a “federal function,” independent of state control.

Prominent Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, have slammed the Electoral College in recent weeks, calling it a racist “scam.”

“The Electoral College has a racial injustice breakdown,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Instagram Monday. “Due to severe racial disparities in certain states, the Electoral College effectively weighs white voters over voters of color, as opposed to a ‘one person, one vote’ system where all our votes are counted equally.”

Organized efforts to undermine the Electoral College have picked up steam this year. The so-called National Popular Vote interstate compact, which would commit states’ electors to the winner of the national vote, has been adopted by 16 jurisdictions, accounting for 196 electoral votes, including 15 states and the District of Columbia.

However, the compact, by its terms, will only take effect if jurisdictions accounting for at least 270 of the 538 total votes available in the Electoral College also sign on.

More than two dozen states also have laws binding electors to the results of the popular vote in those states. But the actual penalties for so-called “faithless electors” are minimal and in many cases non-existent.

The Tuesday ruling could spell doom for a new Colorado law that effectively signed the state onto the national compact, by prohibiting states from forcing their electors to vote for either the national or state popular vote winner. Other states that have signed onto the compact include Rhode Island, Vermont, Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Washington, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, California, and New York.

At the same time, Frank McNulty, an adviser to Protect Colorado’s Vote, which wants voters to overturn the law, cautioned that the ruling could also free electors to decide on their own to support the candidate with the most votes nationally — or any candidate, for that matter.

“It is a double-edge decision,” he said.

The Electoral College system is established in the Constitution. When voters cast a ballot for president, they are actually choosing members of the Electoral College, called electors, who are pledged to that presidential candidate. The electors then choose the president. Electors are selected by state parties at nominating conventions, and generally consist of party leaders, activists, and other luminaries.

“It is a double-edge decision.”

— Frank McNulty, adviser to Protect Colorado’s Vote

Democrats, who currently have a stranglehold on power in population-dense states like California and New York, have long protested the Electoral College. States receive electoral votes equivalent to their number of congressional districts plus senators, which allows less populous states to have more impact than they would under a popular vote system.

The upcoming 2020 census is expected to result in some shifts in Electoral College numbers by 2024, including an increase in electoral votes for traditional GOP strongholds like Texas.

Tuesday’s ruling applies only to Colorado and five other states in the 10th Circuit: Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming.

But it could influence future cases nationwide in the unlikely event that enough Electoral College members strayed from their states’ popular vote to affect the outcome of a presidential election, constitutional scholars said.

FILE – In this Dec. 19, 2016, file photo, Colorado elector Micheal Baca, second from left, talks with legal counsel after he was removed from the panel for voting for a different candidate than the one who won the popular vote, during the Electoral College vote at the Capitol in Denver. Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, front right, looks on. On Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Williams violated the Constitution when he removed Baca from the panel. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

The elector at the center of the Colorado case, Micheal Baca, was part of a group known as “Hamilton electors” who tried to convince electors who were pledged to Clinton or Donald Trump to unite behind a consensus candidate to deny Trump the presidency.

After a flurry of filings in state and federal courts, the electors met on Dec. 19, 2016, and Baca crossed out Clinton’s name on his ballot and wrote in John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio who also ran for president.

Then-Secretary of State Wayne Williams refused to count the vote and removed Baca as an elector. He replaced him with another elector who voted for Clinton.

Colorado’s current secretary of state, Jena Griswold, decried the ruling Tuesday in Colorado but did not immediately say if she would appeal.

“This court decision takes power from Colorado voters and sets a dangerous precedent,” she said. “Our nation stands on the principle of one person, one vote.”

Baca’s attorneys said the U.S. Supreme Court will likely hear the case because it conflicts with a decision from Washington state’s Supreme Court. That court said in May that electors could be fined for not casting ballots for the popular vote winner.

Jan. 6, 2017: Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., holds up a written objection to the Electoral College vote and calls on a Senator to join in the objection during a joint session of Congress to count the electoral ballots, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP)

Constitutional scholars were skeptical, saying a conflicting opinion from a state court system has less influence on the Supreme Court than one from another federal appeals court. No other federal appeals court is believed to have ruled in a similar case.

The court ruling in Denver could be important if a future Electoral College is so closely divided that a handful of “faithless electors” change the outcome by casting a ballot contrary to the popular vote, said Ned Foley, a professor at Ohio State University’s law school.

“This opinion would be taken very seriously,” he said. “It would be considered judicial precedent.”

Meanwhile, parallel congressional efforts to usurp the Electoral College have been unsuccessful. In January, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., introduced a pair of constitutional amendments to eliminate the Electoral College, saying it was “outdated.”

“Americans expect and deserve the winner of the popular vote to win office,” Cohen said at the time. “More than a century ago, we amended our Constitution to provide for the direct election of U.S. Senators. It is past time to directly elect our president and vice president.”

However, a constitutional amendment eliminating the Electoral College would require two-thirds of both the House and Senate to approve the measure, along with three-fourths of state legislatures. Alternatively, Congress could hold a national convention and states could host ratifying conventions, but a two-thirds majority would still be necessary.

Trump secured victory in the 2016 election by winning the Electoral College with 304 votes to Clinton’s 232 despite Clinton winning nearly three million more votes than Trump.

John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, and George W. Bush also won the White House without winning the popular vote. Of those presidents, only Bush was re-elected to a second term.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer 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: Federal court undercuts progressive efforts to nullify Electoral College, rules electors can vote freely

Just days after a Texas Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility was shot up in what the FBI called a “targeted attack,” Bernie Sanders unveiled a new plan on Sunday that would create a “registry of disreputable federal law enforcement officers,” and provide “financial support” for similar lists at the state level.

Sanders’ freewheeling proposal would also “ban the prosecution of children under the age of 18 in adult courts” for all offenses, apparently including even rape and murder, and would prohibit youth from ever facing prison time for misdemeanors.

The plan additionally would seek to cut the total “incarcerated population in half” by getting rid of what Sanders’ campaign called “excessive sentencing.”

The unprecedented crime reform initiative comes as ICE officers and workers are also facing a rapidly escalating series of death threats, including protesters menacing their children and shots being fired at their offices several times in the past month, amid a rising tide of anti-ICE rhetoric from the left fueled by congressional Democrats, media voices and presidential hopefuls.

Earlier this month, Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro drew bipartisan condemnation for posting the names of several individuals and businesses who donated to President Trump’s campaign, including individuals who also had donated to Castro. The episode underscored fears that federal registries can be abused for intimidation purposes.

“Establish a federal no-call policy, including a registry of disreputable federal law enforcement officers, so testimony from untrustworthy sources does not lead to criminal convictions,” Sanders’ plan stated. “Provide financial support to pilot local and state level no-call lists.”

The lengthy plan offered few details and appeared to contradict itself at points. For instance, the plan stated it would “end solitary confinement,” calling it a form of “torture.”

But, later in the document, Sanders’ campaign said it would specifically ban “solitary confinement for youth.”

Sanders’ proposal also doubled down on his previous calls to allow any incarcerated felon — including the Boston Marathon bomber and those convicted of sexual assault — the right to vote.

“All voting-age Americans must have the right and meaningful access to vote, whether they are incarcerated or not,” the plan read. “We will re-enfranchise the right to vote to the millions of Americans who have had their vote taken away by a felony conviction.”

Also under Sanders’ initiative, marijuana would be legalized at the federal level, “three-strikes” laws would be erased from the books, and solitary confinement would become a thing of the past.

“Legalize safe injection sites and needle exchanges around the country, and support pilot programs for supervised injection sites, which have shown to substantially reduce drug overdose deaths,” the plan stated.

To sweeten the pot, the proposal would also “enact a federal jobs guarantee to provide good jobs at a living wage revitalizing and taking care of the community,” with a $15 minimum wage.

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

In July, Sanders announced he would cut his own staffers’ hours so that they can effectively be paid a $15-an-hour minimum wage, prompting mockery from critics who say the move is more evidence that Sanders’ plan to raise the national minimum wage is hypocritical and would only lead to less work and more unemployment.

Attacks on law enforcement are poised to become a pivotal issue in the 2020 presidential campaign. At a fiery rally in Manchester, N.H., last Thursday, President Trump said recent episodes in which people threw water on New York City police officers were indicative of a larger trend among progressives.

FILE – In this July 8, 2019, file photo, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer looks on during an operation in Escondido, Calif. Advocacy groups and unions are pressuring Marriott, MGM and others not to house migrants who have been arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. But the U.S. government says it sometimes needs bed space, and if hotels don’t help it might have to split up families. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

“They view everybody as fascists and Nazis … They accuse our heroic border agents of running concentration camps,” Trump said, in an apparent reference to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “And, they look down upon the hardworking citizens who truly make our country run.”

Footage published Tuesday by Breitbart News shows protesters in Florida from groups such as Never Again Action and Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward County threatening workers and former employees of the GEO Group, a private contractor used by ICE.

“We know where you sleep at night,” one protester shouted. “We know what kind of dog food you buy your dogs.”

Last month, a man was killed by Washington state authorities when he threw incendiary devices at both an immigration center and nearby propane tanks. In Colorado, protesters demonstrating outside an ICE facility replaced the American flag with the Mexican flag. Also last month, protesters were arrested after trying to storm an ICE building in Washington, D.C.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan said on “Fox & Friends” earlier this month that people need to tone down “dangerous” rhetoric that demonizes ICE officials.

“The environment where we’re demonizing our law enforcement for doing their jobs and enforcing the law on the books is concerning,” he said. “It can be dangerous and it can result in people taking action that are not supported by facts that are not in response to anything inappropriate that the men and women of ICE are doing and we’ve got to tone that down.”

President Trump has called The First Step Act, his signature bipartisan criminal justice reform package, one of the major successes of his presidency. Fox News exclusively reported in July that more than a hundred violent criminals and sex offenders have been released under the First Step Act, according to data from an administration official.

The data, first obtained exclusively by “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” seemingly contradicted promises from lawmakers and the White House that the legislation would largely affect only prisoners sentenced for minor drug-related offenses. Of 2,243 inmates released under the First Step Act, only 960 were incarcerated for drug-related offenses.

A White House official later told Fox News that the violent offenders in question would have been released under existing rules, even without The First Step Act.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw 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: Sanders calls for ‘registry of disreputable federal law enforcement officers,’ cutting prison population in half

A federal judge in frank terms Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) against key members of the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks over hacked DNC documents, saying they “did not participate in any wrongdoing in obtaining the materials in the first place” and therefore bore no legal liability for disseminating the information.

The ruling came as Democrats increasingly have sought to tie the Trump team to illegal activity in Russia, in spite of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings that the campaign in fact refused multiple offers by Russians to involve them in hacking and disinformation efforts.

President Trump, in a tweet late Tuesday, noted that the judge in the case, John Koeltl, was appointed by Bill Clinton. The president called Koeltl’s decision “really big ‘stuff'” and “yet another total & complete vindication and exoneration.”

The DNC had asserted in court filings that the Trump team’s meetings “with persons connected to the Russian government during the time that the Russian GRU agents were stealing the DNC’s information” were “circumstantial evidence” that they were conspiring with the Russians to “steal and disseminate the DNC’s materials.”

The suit did not allege that the stolen materials were false or defamatory but rather sought to hold the Trump team and other defendants liable for the theft of the DNC’s information under various Virginia and federal statutes, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, Wiretap Act, Stored Communications Act, Digital Millenium Copyright Act, and laws protecting trade secrets.

However, Judge Koeltl, sitting in the Southern District of New York, wrote in his 81-page opinion Tuesday that the DNC’s argument was “entirely divorced” from the factual record in the case.

The DNC first filed its suit in April 2018, and the defendants responded that the First Amendment legally protected the dissemination of stolen materials.

“In short, the DNC raises a number of connections and communications between the defendants and with people loosely connected to the Russian Federation, but at no point does the DNC allege any facts … to show that any of the defendants — other than the Russian Federation — participated in the theft of the DNC’s information,” Koeltl said.

“Nor does the DNC allege that the defendants ever agreed to help the Russian Federation steal the DNC’s documents,” he added.

The DNC claimed the defendants illegally compromised their trade secrets contained in some of the stolen documents — including donor lists and strategies. But, the judge said, any such claim to trade secrecy was lost when the documents became public in the first place, and in any event, the newsworthiness of the matter trumped the trade secrecy issue.

“If Wikileaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet,” the judge wrote. That, he said, would elevate a privacy interest impermissibly over the First Amendment rights of people and media outlets to disseminate matters of “the highest public concern.”

Koeltl went on to describe multiple hacking efforts directed by Russians at the DNC, in which Russians “hacked into the DNC’s computers, penetrated its phone systems, and stole tens of thousands of documents.”

But, even if the Russians had provided the hacked documents to the Trump team directly, the judge wrote, it would not be criminal for the campaign to then publish those documents, as long as they did not contribute to the hacking itself. Similarly, the judge said, it is not criminal to merely solicit or “welcome” stolen documents.

Koeltl cited the infamous Pentagon Papers case in which the Supreme Court held that The New York Times and The Washington Post were protected by the First Amendment when they published articles concerning the government’s public justification for the Vietnam War.

“At first glance, this opinion raises serious concerns about our protections from foreign election interference and the theft of private property to advance the interests of our enemies,” DNC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.

The suit also named the Russian government, but Koeltl noted that federal law prohibited suits against foreign governments except in highly specific circumstances. Koeltl nevertheless acknowledged that the Russian government “undoubtedly” was involved in the hacking.

Koeltl denied the Trump team’s motion for sanctions but dismissed the suit with prejudice — meaning it had a substantive legal defect and could not be refiled. An appeal remained possible.

In addition to the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks, and Russia, the DNC’s suit named Donald Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, George Papadopoulos, Richard Gates (whose connections with Russia were especially “threadbare,” the judge wrote), Roger Stone, Joseph Mifsud and Julian Assange.

The DNC in its complaint mentioned, among other contacts, Papadopoulos’ meeting with Mifsud in Italy in March 2016, as well as the claim Mifsud told Papadopoulos on April 26, 2016, that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails.

The FBI probe into the Trump team came after the bureau learned Papadopoulos then allegedly told an Australian diplomat about his contacts with Russians.

Mifsud had ties to both western and Russian intelligence, and Papadopoulos relayed to his superiors on the Trump campaign that there were “interesting messages coming in from Moscow.” There has been no evidence Papadopoulos told the Trump team specifically about the stolen emails.

The DNC also focused on statements from Stone that may have suggested he had advance warning of pending email hacks or dissemination, as well as Trump Jr.’s statement that he would “love” to receive potentially damaging information on Clinton. Several other communications from Trump officials to Russians or people tied to Russia were mentioned throughout the DNC’s complaint.

None of these alleged episodes, the judge ruled, established a criminal conspiracy.

Republicans, meanwhile, have focused increasingly on the DNC’s own apparent role in the origins of the FBI’s probe into the Trump campaign, which began in the summer of 2016 — after British ex-spy Christopher Steele, a longtime FBI informant funded by the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign, began work on his now-discredited dossier.

The dossier was used in secret surveillance warrants to monitor members of the Trump team, and later fueled media reports that kept the investigation going, despite many apparent problems with its reliability. Multiple DOJ reviews into the dossier’s use, and related matters, were ongoing.

The chances of the FBI securing a secret 2016 surveillance warrant for a Trump campaign aide were “50/50” without the controversial anti-Trump “dossier,” according to testimony in recently confirmed congressional transcripts from senior FBI lawyer Sally Moyer to House investigators.

And, Papadopoulos on Sunday told Fox News he was heading back to Greece to retrieve $10,000 that he suspected was dropped in his lap during the campaign as part of an entrapment scheme by the CIA or FBI. Federal investigators want to see the marked bills, which he said were stored in a safe.

Papadopoulos said on “Sunday Morning Futures” he was “very happy” to see House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., grill Mueller about the summer 2017 payment during last week’s hearings — even though Mueller maintained, without explanation, that the matter was outside the scope of his investigation.

“I was very happy to see that Devin Nunes brought that up,” Papadopoulos said. “A man named Charles Tawil gave me this money [in Israel] under very suspicious circumstances. A simple Google search about this individual will reveal he was a CIA or State Department asset in South Africa during the ’90s and 2000s. I think around the time when Bob Mueller was the director of the FBI.”

Fox News’ Bill Mears and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Judge dismisses DNC hacking lawsuit against Trump team, says claims ‘entirely divorced from the facts’

President Trump on Sunday announced that Texas GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe, a staunch White House ally, will replace Dan Coats as director of national intelligence (DNI), following months of speculation and public spats between the president and the intelligence community.

The move prompted immediate outrage from many top Democrats who accused the president of seeking to appoint a blindly loyal yes-man to the key post.

A source close to the matter told Fox News that Coats never saw his 2017 appointment as a long-term proposition. Ratcliffe has been well-versed in the intelligence community after driving key sections of ongoing Republican-led probes into apparent Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) abuses by the FBI and Justice Department, Fox News is told.

Coats submitted his letter of resignation to President Trump on Sunday. Part of it read: “The Intelligence Community is stronger than ever, and increasingly well prepared to meet new challenges and opportunities. As we have previously discussed, I believe it is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.”

“I am pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence,” Trump tweeted.

“A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves,” Trump added. “Dan Coats, the current Director, will be leaving office on August 15th. I would like to thank Dan for his great service to our Country. The Acting Director will be named shortly.”

Coats frequently appeared out of step with Trump during his two-year tenure, and their frayed relationship reflected broader divisions between the president and the government’s intelligence agencies.

For instance, Coats revealed to then-Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators how Trump, angry over investigations into links between his campaign and Russia, tried unsuccessfully in March 2017 to get him to make a public statement refuting any connection.

“Coats responded that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has nothing to do with investigations and it was not his role to make a public statement on the Russia investigation,” Mueller’s report said.

And, last year at the Aspen Security Forum, Coats did a double-take when host Andrea Mitchell broke the news on stage that Vladimir Putin was planning a trip to Washington.

Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee this past January. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

“Say that again?” he asked, to laughter in the audience. “OK, that’s going to be special.”

Coats later said he meant no disrespect to Trump and admitted the moment was “awkward.”

“Some press coverage has mischaracterized my intentions in responding to breaking news presented to me during a live interview. My admittedly awkward response was in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the President,” Coats said.

In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., condemned Ratcliffe’s selection and pointed to the congressman’s performance during last week’s hearings with Mueller.

During his questioning, Ratcliffe told Mueller that he had acted improperly — and trampled on the presumption of innocence — by saying in his report that Trump had not been “exonerated.”

“It’s clear that Rep. Ratcliffe was selected because he exhibited blind loyalty to President Trump with his demagogic questioning of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” Schumer said. “If Senate Republicans elevate such a partisan player to a position that requires intelligence expertise and non-partisanship, it would be a big mistake.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., meanwhile, responded: “I was very sorry to learn today that Director Coats will depart his position as Director of National Intelligence later this month. My friend and former colleague has devoted decades of his life in service to our country. I was reassured knowing that a man who took such a deliberate, thoughtful, and unbiased approach was at the helm of our intelligence community.”

“The departure of DNI Coats is bad news for the security of America,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “DNI Coats’ successor must put patriotism before politics, and remember that his oath is to protect the Constitution and the American people, not the President.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., praised Coats’ tenure for staying “true” to the intelligence community’s mission and “speaking truth to power.”

CNN national security analyst Shawn Turner, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass also each separately praised Coats specifically for “speaking truth to power” on social media — prompting Republican consultant Arthur Schwartz to note that “talking points have been distributed.”

Reaction from Republican lawmakers to Ratcliffe’s selection appeared positive across the board. House Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers, R-Ala., called Ratcliffe an “excellent pick to be director of national intelligence.”

“His experience on the Homeland Security Committee and as former Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, & Innovation Subcommittee chairman will serve him well in this new role,” Rogers said. “I thank Director Coats for his leadership and years of public service.”

And, House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Ratcliffe was a “great pick.”

Speculation about Coats’ ouster had been lingering in recent days. Sources told Fox News earlier this month that Trump spoke to two people recently about the job. Among the candidates he was considering at the time were Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Fred Fleitz, who previously served as chief of staff to National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Trump raised the possibility of the job with Fleitz as far back as February and asked if he was interested but did not offer it to him officially. It’s unclear how many other potential candidates may have been in the mix.

Trump regularly and openly sparred with Coats and the intelligence community. “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” he tweeted in January, after Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel testified about a threat-assessment report that called into question some of Trump’s foreign policy judgments.

Coats said North Korea would be “unlikely” to give up its nuclear weapons or its ability to produce them because “its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.” Coats and other officials also contradicted Trump’s positions on Iran, Afghanistan, and the Islamic State terror network.

“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!” Trump responded. “When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict.”

Ratcliffe, by contrast, appeared to be on the same page as the president. He grilled Mueller and Democrats at last week’s congressional hearings, and told Fox News on Sunday that Mueller had effectively destroyed the presumption of innocence by saying Trump had not been “exonerated.”

“By requiring Donald Trump to prove his innocence, they were depriving him of the one thing no one can be deprived of, which is a presumption of innocence,” Ratcliffe said in an interview with Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.

Ratcliffe, who won re-election with more than 70 percent of the vote in his district in 2018, echoed that argument in the House Judiciary Committee hearings.

“The special counsel’s job, nowhere does it say that you were to conclusively determine Donald Trump’s innocence or that the special counsel report should determine whether or not to exonerate him,” Ratcliffe told Mueller.

He added: “So, Americans need to know this as they listen to the Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle as they do dramatic readings from this report that Volume II of this report was not authorized under the law to be written. It was written to a legal standard that does not exist at the Justice Department and it was written in violation of every DOJ principle about extra prosecutorial commentary,” he continued. “I agree with the chairman this morning when he said Donald Trump is not above the law. He’s not. But he damn sure shouldn’t be below the law, which is where Volume II of this report puts him.”

A Republican former senator from Indiana, Coats was appointed director of national intelligence in March 2017, becoming the fifth person to hold the post since it was created in the wake of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to oversee and coordinate the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies.

Coats had been among the last of the seasoned foreign policy hands brought in to surround the president after his 2016 victory, of whom the president steadily grew tired as he gained more personal confidence in Oval Office, officials said. That roster included Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and later, national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

Coats developed a reputation inside the administration for sober presentations to the president of intelligence conclusions that occasionally contradicted Trump’s policy aims.

Fox News’ John Roberts, Catherine Herridge, Chad Pergram, Gillian Turner 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: Dan Coats to resign as director of national intelligence; Trump selects Rep. John Ratcliffe as replacement

After a tumultuous and bizarre week in Washington, President Trump unexpectedly dropped in on the wedding of PJ Mongelli and Nicole Marie Mongelli on Saturday night at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey, as enthusiastic attendees broke into chants of “USA.”

Fox News is told the bride and groom are huge fans of the president, had dreamed of him attending their wedding and got engaged at the golf club in 2017. Flags and pro-Trump banners could be seen at the event.

The bride said she’d sent numerous requests to the president in hopes he would attend — and that Trump ended up paying two visits to separate wedding events. At the first event, he vowed to show up to the second, and kept his word.

As Trump talked with members of the family, a man approached him and shouted, “I’m the father, I’m the father! Thank you so much!”

“Great job. You did a good job,” Trump responded.

In videos posted to social media, Secret Service agents were seen keeping most attendees at bay while the bride and groom approached Trump and hugged him.

“Where’s the groom? Handsome — look at his shoulders,” Trump said. “Nobody’s gonna mess with him.”

“Staten Island is the greatest,” Trump said, when the groom told him told hundreds of guests from the borough would be attending a party later. “I love it. I’ll see if I can stop by.”

Trump, indeed, did stop by the second event, as the crowd erupted into a “USA!” chant.

Meanwhile, a slew of negative comments about Trump’s appearance at the wedding appeared on Twitter and other social media platforms Sunday, tinged with bitterness and partisan overtones.

The president has a history of personally reaching out to fans, both inside and outside his properties — but his wedding drop-ins on his properties are especially well-known.

“If he is on-site for your big day, he will likely stop in & congratulate the happy couple,” a since-discontinued brochure from the golf club previously advertised. “He may take some photos with you but we ask you and your guests to be respectful of his time & privacy.”

In March, Trump fulfilled a terminally ill Connecticut man’s dying wish with a phone call — with a little help from the man’s sister, an elected Democrat.

Video of the episode showed 44-year-old Jay Barrett, of West Haven, reacting with shock when he realized Trump was on the phone.

“You look good,” Trump said. “I wish you could come to a rally. I wish you could come, I know you like that stuff. I wish you could. It sounds like you have a great sister, Jay.”

Trump promised Jay that when he’d have a rally nearby, he’ll “be sitting front row, center.” Trump added, “I know where you live,” and said he was very familiar with the area.

Barrett, however, died just days after the call.

Fox News’ Ben Evansky 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: Trump drops in on New Jersey wedding, as attendees chant ‘USA!’

President Trump on Thursday night announced he’s nominating attorney Gene Scalia, the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to replace Alex Acosta as secretary of labor.

The surprise move — which top Republicans privately supported — was a visible manifestation of the close personal bond Trump has forged with the Scalia family in recent years. The confirmation process for Justice Neil Gorsuch, who ultimately filled Justice Scalia’s seat, sparked the connection.

Acosta stepped down as head of the Labor Department last Friday over his past involvement in a cushy 2008 plea deal for financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is now facing federal sex trafficking charges.

Acosta’s resignation is to become official on Friday, when his deputy, Patrick Pizzella, will take over as acting Labor secretary pending Scalia’s confirmation, officials said.

Scalia, 55, has been a partner in the Washington office of the international law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He’s expected to face headwinds from Democrats in his Senate confirmation hearings, in part because he routinely has represented major corporations in key cases involving workers’ rights.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., condemned Scalia in a statement late Thursday.

Eugene Scalia pictured in 2001 with then-Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo. (Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images, File)

“President Trump is missing an opportunity to nominate a fighter for workers, like a union member, to be America’s next Labor Secretary,” Schumer said. “Instead, President Trump has again chosen someone who has proven to put corporate interests over those of worker rights. Workers and union members who believed candidate Trump when he campaigned as pro-worker should feel betrayed.”

In 2005, Walmart hired Scalia to defend against whistleblower lawsuits by employees who alleged wrongdoing in the company. Scalia also helped overturn a Maryland law in 2006 that would have required big companies such as Walmart to spend more on employee health care in the state. That law ran afoul of a federal statute aimed at reducing red tape for certain national employers, who otherwise would have had to afford significantly different benefits to employees depending on their state of employment.

The Wall Street Journal wrote in 2012 that Scalia “has emerged as one of the industry’s go-to guys for challenging financial regulations.”

In some of his biggest cases, according to the Journal, Scalia “focused on how regulators analyze the cost of new rules, building a legal strategy that echoes a political argument of Republican [then-] presidential candidate Mitt Romney—that added regulations are holding back the economy.”

“The government has to adhere to the law also and this is a country where if the government doesn’t adhere to the law you can take them to court and get a remedy,” Scalia said at the time.

The appointment would be something of a homecoming for Scalia, who served as the chief legal officer, or Solicitor, for the Labor Department under President George W. Bush.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016, reportedly was ‘enthusiastic’ about a Trump presidential run. (Reuters, File)

In that role, he oversaw not only all Labor Department litigation, but also provided “legal advice on rulemakings and administrative law,” according to his biography on Gibson Dunn’s website.

Additionally, Scalia was a special assistant to Attorney General Bill Barr — when he was the attorney general for the first time, in President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Scalia also was a speechwriter for Education Secretary William Bennett.

In 2018, Scalia secured a win for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce by convincing a judge to overturn the Labor Department’s Obama-era 2016 fiduciary rule governing retirement account advisers, which Scalia said had “very serious problems.” A judge agreed with conservatives who said the Obama administration had “overreached” in how it classified advisers as fiduciaries, who were therefore obligated to act in their clients’ best interests — and put clients’ interests ahead of concerns for their own compensation.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found fatal problems in how the rule defined advisers and “financial advice,” and critics said the rule made it harder to charge commissions and earn profit from advising smaller accounts.

Republicans, late Thursday, praised Scalia’s nomination. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton called Scalia an “outstanding lawyer who has vigorously defended the Constitution over a long career in government and private practice.”

He added, “I’m confident he’ll be a champion for working Americans against red tape and burdensome regulation as Labor Secretary.”

In announcing Scalia’s selection, Trump sounded notes of praise not only for the nominee, but also for his own administration.

“I am pleased to announce that it is my intention to nominate Gene Scalia as the new Secretary of Labor,” Trump wrote in a tweet late Thursday. “Gene has led a life of great success in the legal and labor field and is highly respected not only as a lawyer, but as a lawyer with great experience working with labor and everyone else.”

Maureen Scalia, the widow of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, acknowledging applause after being mentioned by President Donald Trump during a speech to Congress. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque, File)

Trump added: “He will be a great member of an Administration that has done more in the first 2 ½ years than perhaps any Administration in history!”

Trump has highlighted the late Justice Scalia’s legacy repeatedly in recent years. Scalia’s widow, Maureen, was at the Rose Garden ceremony last summer when Trump announced he would nominate Justice Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

And, at a Medal of Freedom ceremony honoring the late justice at the White House last year, Trump joked about the fact Maureen and her husband, who died in 2016, had nine children together.

“You were very busy,” Trump said, to laughter. “Wow. Wow. I always knew I liked him.”

And in 2017, at his first address to a joint session of Congress, Trump recognized Maureen, and remarked that her husband would “forever be a symbol of American justice.”

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

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Trump to nominate Gene Scalia, son of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, for secretary of labor

The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday evening condemning President Trump’s “racist” remarks this weekend — although the moment was largely overshadowed by a dramatic floor fight earlier in the day that ended with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ruled out of order for a breach of decorum.

The unexpected mayhem in Congress, which briefly resulted in the revocation of Pelosi’s speaking privileges on the House floor, left commentators and lawmakers stunned. “So, Democrats vote to break House rules and decorum, so that they can call Trump out on decorum. Surreal,” wrote Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel.

The final resolution, entitled “H. Res. 489 — Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress,” passed by a vote of 240-187. All Democrats voted yea, with a handful of Republicans joining them: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, Will Hurd, Fred Upton and Susan Brooks.

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, who recently left the Republican Party after calling for Trump’s impeachment, also voted yes. The rest of the Republicans voted no.

The resolution asserted that “President Donald Trump’s racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” The document mentioned Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, and quoted luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President John Kennedy and President Ronald Reagan.

Trump had tweeted on Sunday that unnamed “Democrat Congresswomen” should go back and fix the “corrupt” and “crime infested places” from which they came and then “come back and show us how it’s done.” He later all but affirmed he was referring to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley — all of whom, except Omar, were born in the United States.

But, what Democrat leaders envisioned as a moment of Democrat unity turned out to be a striking display of disarray. As Pelosi spoke in favor of the resolution on the floor, she used frank and unsparing terms about Trump’s comments — and soon became the story herself.

“There is no place anywhere for the president’s words, which are not only divisive, but dangerous — and have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “It’s so sad because you would think that there would be a given that we would universally, in this body, just say, ‘Of course. Of course.'”

Pelosi continued, her voice rising: “There’s no excuse for any response to those words but a swift and strong unified condemnation. Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets. To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values, and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people. I urge a unanimous vote, and yield back the balance of my time.”

Georgia Republican Rep. Doug Collins rose to challenge her and demand that her words be “taken down.” The extraordinary rebuke was the first of its kind involving a member of Congress and a speaker of the House in decades.

Collins immediately stood and asked if Pelosi wanted to “rephrase that comment.”

“I have cleared my remarks with the parliamentarian before I read them,” Pelosi claimed, before walking away to applause.

“Can I ask the words be taken down? I make a point of order that the gentlewoman’s words are unparliamentary and be taken down,” Collins said.

Fox News is told Collins used House Rule XVII, Clause 1(B). That rule requires that remarks on the floor “be confined to the question under debate, avoiding personality.”

“The chair will remind all members, please, please, do not make personality-based comments,” the chair, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., responded.

Collins then repeated his request to strike Pelosi’s comments. For more than 30 minutes after Collins’ objection, House members were huddled with the parliamentarian, Thomas J. Wickham Jr., to determine next steps.

As the consultation dragged on, Pelosi then appeared to leave the House floor, which itself constituted a violation of House Rules when someone’s words were taken down. Members are supposed to be seated on the floor when a member’s words are stricken.

The scene then became even more bizarre when Cleaver told representatives after the lengthy huddle that he was trying to make a fair ruling as to whether Pelosi had broken House rules governing decorum, but people weren’t cooperating. Cleaver explained to Fox News he felt Pelosi was being singled out.

Cleaver simply declared, “I abandon the chair,” and left — a moment with no apparent precedent in modern congressional history. North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield, also a Democrat, assumed the chair, before Hoyer took the reins.

Hoyer eventually assumed the chair upon Pelosi’s request so that a Democrat leader, and not a rank-and-file member, could take control. Hoyer eventually read the parliamentarian’s ruling that, based on the precedent “of May 15, 1984,” Pelosi’s language did not meet the standard.

“The words used by the gentlewoman from California contained an accusation of racist behavior on the part of the President,” Hoyer said, affirming the House parliamentarian’s decision and technically banning Pelosi from speaking on the House floor for the rest of the day.

“The words should not be used in debate,” Hoyer said.

Democrats, including Hoyer, quickly voted along party lines to restore Pelosi’s speaking privileges and keep her comments on the record, effectively overruling the parliamentarian.

The 1984 precedent came after Republican Newt Gingrich, then a Georgia congressman, sparred with then-House Speaker Tip O’Neill, a Massachusetts Democrat. O’Neill remarked: “My personal opinion is this: You deliberately stood in that well before an empty House and challenged these people, and you challenged their Americanism, and it is the lowest thing I have ever seen in my thirty-two years in Congress.”

The parliamentarian determined at the time that the speaker’s use of the word “lowest” amounted to inappropriate language, and O’Neill’s words were taken down.

Collins, in a statement late Tuesday, condemned Democrats for effectively reversing the ruling.

“Democrats admitted her words violated the rules of decorum, the very rules that ensure democracy’s every voice can be heard as we carry out the people’s business,” Collins said. “Still, every Democrat lawmaker voted against striking her words from the record. It bears repeating the House prizes decorum because it is a symptom of and a catalyst for a healthy, confident democracy. I hope we recover that confidence soon and more forward with respect for the American people who sent elected officials, including the president, to represent them in Washington.”

But, Democrats privately told Fox News that rules of the House technically have been broken all the time, and that Republicans just wanted to distract from Trump’s remarks.

Among other volumes, the House has used Thomas Jefferson’s “Manual of Parliamentary Practice” as a touchstone for House operations even today. Jefferson’s manual stated that House members cannot use language on the floor “which is personally offensive to the President.” The manual also said members cannot accuse the president of “having made a bigoted or racist statement.”

The House additionally has relied on Cannon’s Book of Precedents, authored by the late Missouri Rep. Clarence Cannon, a Democrat. Cannon’s book says that “personal criticism, innuendo, ridicule and terms of opprobrium” are out of the order in the House.

House Republican leaders, meanwhile, said the outrage over Trump’s comments was “all about politics.” A series of news organizations, meanwhile, have flatly referred to Trump’s comments as “racist,” without acknowledging the dispute over the matter.

South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham told “Fox & Friends” that the progressive representatives were a “bunch of communists,” and charged that Omar was plainly anti-Semitic. Just over a dozen GOP lawmakers have condemned Trump’s comments.

Omar previously has been criticized by prominent members of both parties for making remarks widely deemed anti-Semitic. This past March, the Democrat-led House overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan resolution that indirectly condemned Omar’s repeated “anti-Semitic” and “pernicious” comments, including some in which she suggested Jewish politicians in the U.S. were bought and paid for.

The final House resolution, after days of Democrat infighting, did not actually mention Omar by name, and instead condemned bigotry of “all kinds.”

Omar has also referred to 9/11 as a day when “some people did something,” rankling Trump and top Republicans, who called the remarks clearly insensitive.

“We all know that [AOC] and this crowd are a bunch of communists, they hate Israel, they hate our own country, they’re calling the guards along our border—the Border Patrol agents—concentration camp guards,” Graham said.

Some Republicans have condemned the president’s remarks, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who tweeted: “There is no excuse for the president’s spiteful comments –they were absolutely unacceptable and this needs to stop.”

After the final vote on the resolution Tuesday night, Texas Rep. Al Green, a Democrat, reintroduced articles of impeachment against Trump. Omar and Tlaib, in a press conference Monday, had pushed for Trump to be impeached, saying he had been “credibly accused” of criminal collusion with Russians — despite the contrary results of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Green said his revived impeachment effort was related to Trump’s comments this weekend. An impeachment resolution is privileged, meaning it goes to the front of the legislative line. It will be up for consideration either Wednesday or Thursday.

However, it is not guaranteed that there will be a straight up-or-down vote on the articles of impeachment. The House could move to table, or set aside, Green’s measure. Therefore, the vote is not on impeaching the president, but whether to kill or set aside Green’s articles of impeachment. The vote is two steps removed from an actual roll call tally.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and 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: Dem-led House formally condemns Trump remarks deemed ‘racist,’ after dramatic floor fight over Pelosi

President Trump, in remarks broadcast Sunday, said former President Obama “certainly must have known about” what he characterized as high-level efforts by “FBI guys that were low-lifes” and other intelligence operatives to undermine his presidency.

Speaking in a contentious interview with ABC News’ “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos, Trump blunted his accusation by adding, “I’m not gonna make that statement quite yet.” But, as two Justice Department inquiries actively probe the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, Trump hinted more facts would soon come out.

“You clearly believe there was a group of people working against you,” Stephanopoulos asked. “Do you think President Obama was behind it?”

“I would say that he certainly must have known about it because it went very high up in the chain,” Trump responded. “But, you’re gonna find that out. I’m not gonna make that statement quite yet. But I would say that President Obama had to know about it.”

In May, Trump issued a memo giving Attorney General William Barr the authority to declassify any documents related to surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016.

As part of its ongoing “multifaceted” and “broad” review into potential misconduct by U.S. intelligence agencies during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Justice Department revealed last week it also was investigating the activities of several “non-governmental organizations and individuals.”

After Trump pointed out he had turned over more than a million documents and chose not to exert executive privilege over any aspect of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his level of cooperation with investigators.

“You didn’t sit for an interview. You didn’t answer questions on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to Bill Clinton, said.

“Now, wait a minute,” Trump shot back. “Wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing.”

“Not on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos repeated twice.

Former FBI Agent Peter Strzok is a “lowlife,” Trump said Sunday, adding that President Obama likely was aware of his activities. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

“Look, George, you’re being a little wise guy, okay, which is, you know, typical for you,” Trump responded. “Just so you understand, very simple, it’s very simple, there was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means they set — it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s gonna come out.”

Trump continued: “I hope it’s gonna come out. We are going to find out very soon, because I really believe it’s gonna come out. When you look at [Peter] Strzok, these FBI guys that were lowlifes, when you look — ’cause the FBI’s the greatest. But these — the top people were absolutely lowlifes. When you look at Strzok and [Lisa] Page and they’re talking about an insurance policy just in case she loses, that was the insurance policy,” referring to the former FBI agent and attorney.

The DOJ has announced that its probe, let by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, also was looking into the involvement of “foreign intelligence services.” Former Trump aide George Papadopoulos told Fox News last month that an informant who was likely “CIA and affiliated with Turkish intel” had posed as a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016 and tried to “seduce him” to obtain information linking the Trump team to Russia.

The DOJ also has indicated it was looking closely at work performed by Fusion GPS, the firm retained by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC) to conduct opposition research against the Trump campaign.

Fusion GPS, in turn, hired British ex-spy Christopher Steele to produce an unverified and largely discredited dossier that the FBI went on to cite in secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court applications to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page.

Internal FBI text messages, obtained by Fox News, showed that FBI brass tussled with a senior DOJ official over the apparent “bias” of a key FISA source at that time. Reporting by The Hill, confirmed by Fox News, has since revealed that Steele met with a State Department official shortly before the FBI obtained the Page FISA. The official then promptly communicated numerous concerns about Steele’s credibility to the FBI, including that some of his claims were self-evidently false and that his client was “keen” to see his work product surface prior to Election Day.

Multiple sources familiar with the matter told Fox News that Durham has been “very dialed in” and “asking all the right questions.” Separately, sources within the Justice Department confirmed to Fox News that Barr has met “on multiple occasions in recent weeks” with Durham in Washington, D.C.

The DOJ’s internal watchdog has been conducting an independent inquiry into potential surveillance abuses and misconduct. Previously the DOJ Inspector General (IG) found numerous actual and apparent violations of policy by FBI officials and agents, including taking inappropriate gifts and leaking without authorization to the media.

In May, the IG released an investigative summary finding that an unnamed former FBI deputy assistant director engaged in “misconduct,” including leaking “sensitive” information to the media, violating federal law by disclosing sealed court records and taking a gift from someone in the media. The IG declined to recommend prosecution without explanation.

“Do you believe that President Obama spied on your campaign?” Stephanopoulos asked toward the end of the interview after Trump remarked that “a previous administration used the intelligence data and the intelligence agencies to spy on my campaign.”

“I don’t know,” Trump said. “But, hopefully we’re gonna find out.”

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

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Trump claims ‘Obama had to know about’ efforts to undermine presidency

Ad Blocker Detected!

Advertisements fund this website. Please disable your adblocking software or whitelist our website.
Thank You!