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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

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

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