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President Trump announced Wednesday that conditions have been met between Turkey and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for what he called a “permanent ceasefire” between the two sides and that the United States is lifting sanctions on Ankara that were implemented following the invasion of northern Syria.

Speaking at the White House, Trump said that while a “permanent ceasefire” will be tough to maintain in the volatile region, he hopes it will last and end the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds.

“I do believe it will be permanent,” he said. “This was an outcome created by us, the United States, and nobody else…we’ve done something very, very special.”

Trump delivered the statement amid bipartisan criticism over his recent decision to pull back U.S. forces from northern Syria, opening the door for Turkey to launch a military offensive. But the administration has sought to halt the fighting. The ceasefire required Kurdish forces formerly allied with the U.S. against the Islamic State group to move out of a roughly 20-mile zone on the Turkish border. With Kurdish forces out of the zone, Turkey will halt its assault, Trump said.

“We’ve saved the lives of many, many Kurds,” he added.

Trump added that if Turkey breaches the cease-fire, the sanctions could be reimposed.

“The sanctions are lifted unless something happens that we’re not happy with,” he added.

Trump’s statement follows an early morning tweet, where he announced a “safe zone” along the Turkey-Syria border, and voiced optimism after the initial 120-hour pause in the Turkish military operation there ended.

“Ceasefire has held and combat missions have ended. Kurds are safe and have worked very nicely with us,” Trump tweeted. “Captured ISIS prisoners secured.”

The U.S. withdrawal was followed immediately by Turkish aggression, and Trump faced criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike who blamed him for allowing the violence to go unchecked and leaving Kurdish allies to fend for themselves. Turkey and Russia reached an agreement Tuesday that would transform the map of northeast Syria, installing their forces along the border and filling the void left by the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Trump said Wednesday that nearly all U.S. troops will be leaving Syria but some will remain to safeguard oil fields in Syria. Russian forces have already begun joint patrols with Turkish forces along the Turkish-Syrian border.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Ankara last week to work out the initial cease-fire. Though that period has since lapsed, Pence said earlier there’s an opportunity for a permanent cease-fire in the region.

James Jeffrey, a career diplomat who oversees Washington’s role in the global fight against the Islamic State, also told lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that he does not believe the troop withdrawal added to Turkey’s decision to invade northern Syria. Jeffrey, however, did concede that if U.S. forces had been told to stand their ground amid a Turkish invasion, Turkey may have thought otherwise about crossing the border.

Under the recent 10-point deal, Russia and Turkey have given Kurdish fighters 150 hours starting at noon Wednesday — meaning, until next Tuesday at 6 p.m. — to withdraw from the border.

Russian and Syrian government forces would move into that area immediately to ensure the Kurdish fighters pull back 20 miles from the border. Then at the end of the 150 hours, Russian-Turkish patrols would begin along a six-mile-wide strip of the border.

The exception would be the region around the town of Qamishli at the far eastern end of the border, which has some of the densest Kurdish population.

Russian spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian newswires, that if the Kurds do not complete their withdrawal by the Tuesday deadline, Turkey would resume their offensive.

“It’s quite obvious that if the Kurdish units don’t withdraw with their weapons then Syrian border guards and Russian military police will have to step back. And the remaining Kurdish units will be steamrolled by the Turkish army,” Peskov said.

Fox News’ Melissa Leon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Ronn Blitzer, Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: Trump announces ‘permanent ceasefire’ in Syria between Turkey and Kurds; lifts sanctions on Ankara

President Trump has met resistance from both parties after his decision to withdraw troops from northern Syria, but some of the rhetoric coming from Democrats is almost the opposite of what came from party members when President Barack Obama pulled forces out of Iraq.

California Democrats Rep. Maxine Waters and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, have been vocal opponents of Trump’s troop withdrawal, after supporting Obama’s efforts almost exactly eight years later.

“As the war in Iraq draws to a close, it is my hope that this conflict will serve as a solemn reminder of the costs of war,” Waters said in a statement issued Oct. 21, 2011. “We must carefully reexamine our approach to national security and how we view the United States’ role in promoting international peace and security. If we are to remain leaders in the world, we must always use our best judgment to determine when and how we engage other nations and other actors – particularly if we are considering the use of military force.”

Waters’ approach to the United States’ role in world affairs is similar to Trump’s recent warnings against “fighting other people’s wars.”

Cut to Oct. 7, 2019, and Waters blasted Trump for leaving Kurdish forces to fend for themselves against Turkish attacks.

“If the United States abandons the Kurds, these courageous allies will never trust us again,” Waters said in a statement, adding that “Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds is a gift to Russia, Iran and ISIS.”

That same day, Pelosi came out against Trump, warning that leaving northern Syria could lead to an ISIS resurgence.

“This reckless, misguided decision undermines the efforts by our brave servicemembers and our allies to end ISIS’s tyranny,” she said.

But while Republicans had similar concerns about withdrawing from Iraq in 2011, Pelosi praised Obama “for a promise made and a promise kept, honoring the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement and the wishes of the American people to bring all our troops home by the end this year.”

Pelosi stormed out of a meeting with Trump Wednesday after what she said was a “meltdown” by the president.

One of the Democratic frontrunners for the 2020 presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., was also critical of Trump, despite being historically anti-war.

“You don’t turn your back on an ally that lost 11,000 troops fighting against terrorism through a tweet and a discussion with Erdogan,” Sanders told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. This criticism came despite Sanders acknowledgment that “I am a strong opponent of endless wars.”

That position was made evident in 2011 when Sanders backed Obama’s Iraq withdrawal.

“I applaud the president’s decision and have been advocating that position for quite a while,” adding, “Now is the time to bring our troops home, lower our military budget, and use those funds to create jobs by rebuilding our infrastructure and lowering our national debt.”

On Thursday, Trump vented about Democratic criticism. “I am the only person who can fight for the safety of our troops & bring them home from the ridiculous & costly Endless Wars, and be scorned. Democrats always liked that position, until I took it,” he said.

Republicans have been equally critical of Trump, with 129 GOP members voting for a resolution in opposition to the withdrawal, joining a unanimous Democratic contingent. Sen. Lindsey Graham has been particularly vocal, leading Trump to accuse the senator of wanting to “stay in the Middle East for the next 1,000 years.”

Graham, however, was no supporter of Obama, and lumped Trump and his predecessor together in making what he believes to be critical foreign policy errors.

“President Trump is being told EXACTLY what President Obama was told before he withdrew from Iraq,” Graham tweeted Wednesday. “He appears to be hell-bent on making the same mistakes in Syria as President Obama made in Iraq.”

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Dems who praised Obama for troop withdrawal now highly critical of Trump

President Trump targeted Hunter Biden Sunday morning, implying that the son of former Vice President Joe Biden has disappeared — hours after Hunter Biden’s attorney announced his client is stepping down from the board of a Chinese company and vowed that he will not work with foreign companies if his father becomes president.

Trump and his own attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have accused Hunter Biden of improperly benefiting from business dealings in China and Ukraine while Joe Biden was vice president.

“Where’s Hunter? He has totally disappeared!” Trump tweeted. “Now looks like he has raided and scammed even more countries! Media is AWOL.” Trump did not elaborate on which countries, or what the alleged scams were.

Earlier Sunday morning, Hunter Biden’s attorney George Mesires published an online statement on his client’s behalf, providing detailed explanations for Biden’s ties to Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings and the Chinese firm BHR (Shanghai) Equity Investment Fund Management Company.

“Despite extensive scrutiny, at no time has any law enforcement agency, either domestic or foreign, alleged that Hunter engaged in wrongdoing at any point during his five-year term,” Mesires said about Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma, where Biden was a board member until April 2019.

Mesires said that Biden was “a non-executive director” of Burisma, for which he was compensated, but was not part of the management team.

Burisma was the subject of an investigation by Ukrainian authorities, but the case was dropped. The prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, was fired after then-Vice President Joe Biden threatened to withhold money from Ukraine unless Shokin was removed. Joe Biden denies that this had anything to do with his son, as Shokin was accused of corruption.

As for BHR, Mesires claimed that Hunter Biden “has not received any compensation” for serving on the board, and “has not received any return on his investment.”

Still, Mesires stated that Hunter Biden plans to resign from BHR’s board by Oct. 31, and that if Joe Biden becomes the Democratic presidential nominee and goes on to defeat President Trump in the 2020 election, Hunter “will agree not to serve on boards of, or work on behalf of, foreign-owned companies.”

Democrats are presently investigating Trump for possible impeachment based on his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, where he asked Zelensky to assist Giuliani with an investigation of Hunter and Joe Biden’s Ukrainian connections.

Trump’s critics, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., have accused Trump of pressuring Zelensky to get involved by threatening to withhold military aid. Trump denied wrongdoing and insisted the call was “perfect.” Zelensky has also stated that he was not pressured.

Democrats have subpoenaed several Trump administration officials and diplomats for documents as lawmakers probe issues surrounding the phone call.

In a Saturday conversation on “Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” Trump referred to the impeachment inquiry as a “hoax” and “so bad for our country.” He called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not having a formal House vote on an impeachment inquiry, saying, it was because she “can’t get the votes because we’re [the GOP] doing so well right now.”

Fox News’ Melissa Leon contributed to this report.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: ‘Where’s Hunter?’ Trump asks, as Biden’s son promises not to work with foreign companies if father wins presidency in 2020

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib told Detroit’s chief of police that he should hire only black people as analysts to run their facial recognition software because, she claimed, non-black people think they all look alike.

The suggestion came Monday as Chief James Craig gave Tlaib a tour of the Real Time Crime Center, where the department uses facial recognition technology to find suspects. Craig was showing Tlaib how the software works, and how analysts use it to identify and locate individuals. But the tour quickly turned contentious as the freshman Michigan congresswoman made repeated requests that were shot down by the chief.

“Analysts need to be African-Americans, not people that are not,” Tlaib said. “It’s true, I think non-African-Americans think African-Americans all look the same!” She said she has witnessed people confuse Reps. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who both are black and bald.

Craig, who is black, did not go for Tlaib’s suggestion.

“I trust people who are trained, regardless of race, regardless of gender,” he responded.

This came after Tlaib claimed that “the error rate among African-Americans, especially women,” was 60 percent.

“I understand the technology real well,” Craig said. He showed Tlaib how his analysts examine the software’s results before making determinations.

“See if you can get some of our money back until they fix it,” Tlaib said, to which Craig simply replied, “No.”

When asked if defendants were prosecuted solely based on facial recognition results, Craig said they were not.

The tour, which was recorded and then posted by a reporter with The Detroit News, got off to a rocky start when Tlaib asked the reporter, “Are you facial recognizing me right now? I’m sorry who are you and why are you videotaping me?”

WATCH THE VIDEO:

Afterward, the Detroit News reporter followed up on Tlaib’s assertion that only black people should be hired to use the facial recognition software.

“Are you saying white people are not qualified to –,” he said, before Tlaib cut him off.

“No, I think there’s actually been studies out that it’s hard for, you know, like African-Americans would identify African-Americans, similar, Latino same thing,” she said.

When asked if that would mean African-Americans should not be allowed to identify white people, Tlaib said, “Look it up,” and walked away.

The Detroit Police Department extended the invitation to Tlaib in August, after she described facial recognition technology as “bulls—.”

Craig made headlines in 2015 after he said more citizens should be armed. While in the past he supported increased restrictions on weapons and ammunition, his position changed after visiting Maine and Los Angeles, where permits for carrying concealed weapons are easier to acquire.

“I changed my orientation real quick,” Craig said. “Maine is one of the safest places in America. Clearly, suspects knew that good Americans were armed.”

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Rashida Tlaib, in contentious tour, tells Detroit police chief to hire only black analysts for facial recognition program

A former police officer made a bold proclamation during a congressional hearing Wednesday regarding a proposed assault-weapons ban: she would not comply.

Dianna Muller, who served in the Tulsa Police Department for 22 years and is the founder of gun advocacy group The DC Project, was among the witnesses at the House Judiciary Committee hearing. The session on an otherwise contentious issue flew largely under the radar amid the Trump-Ukraine controversy and Democrats’ impeachment push. But reflecting the gun control divide in the country — amid a spate of deadly mass shootings that prompted renewed calls for strict laws — Muller said that such a ban would force lawful gun owners to either give up their arms or become criminals.

“Please don’t legislate the 150 million people just like me into being criminals. It has happened. You’ve already done it,” Muller said, referring to the Trump administration’s ban on bump stocks, the devices that use a semi-automatic weapon’s recoil to make it rapidly fire like an automatic. “I was a bump stock owner, and I had to make a decision: do I become a felon, or do I comply?”

Should the government pass an assault-weapons ban, Muller declared, “I will not comply.”

Muller and others at the hearing focused on the practicality of a ban, pointing out what they claimed were mainly “cosmetic” differences between weapons such as the AR-15 and standard semi-automatic hunting rifles. This issue was also raised by Heritage Foundation senior legal policy analyst Amy Swearer when Rep.Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., went down the line of witnesses asking if they believed hunting rifles should be banned if they are semi-automatic.

Swearer said no, stating that there was no difference in the mechanics or function of an “assault weapon” or a semi-automatic hunting rifle. Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley, who recalled the recent mass shooting in her city, did not give a definitive answer to Sensenbrenner’s question, nor did Dr. Alejandro Rios Tovar, a trauma surgeon who treated victims of the attack in El Paso, Texas. Charlottesville, Va., Chief of Police RaShall Brackney indicated she was in favor of a ban on “any weapon that could be used to hunt individuals.”

Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., countered the idea of a hunting rifle ban by referring to his assault-weapon ban bill. Cicilline said that more than 200 weapons are exempt from the bill, so there is really no issue of eliminating hunting rifles.

Swearer also testified against the idea that law-abiding citizens have no need for weapons like AR-15s, recalling how her mother, a gun novice, had difficulty accurately firing a handgun at a shooting range, but was much more effective when she used an AR-15.

“As I read the Second Amendment, it doesn’t say the right to bear arms shall not be infringed unless the gun has scary features,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said.

Swearer also noted that some features like barrel shrouds enhance the safety of a weapon for its user. But David Chipman, senior policy adviser at the Giffords Law Center, raised a counterpoint noting that a barrel shroud could allow a shooter to get a better grip on a weapon “in a way that would increase your ability to spray fire and kill more people” without burning their hand.

One feature that was a concern for House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is the ability for some weapons to be used with high-capacity magazines that allow users to fire dozens of rounds without reloading.

Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, testified in agreement with Nadler that a ban on such magazines, along with a clear definition of “assault weapon” that would eliminate loopholes under the 1994 crime law, would be effective.

Congress and the Trump administration have been in talks for weeks regarding possible gun legislation, but discussion of taking away guns that are currently legal has led to criticism from both parties. After 2020 Democratic hopeful Beto O’Rourke declared during a debate, “Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, AK-47,” Cicilline said, “That message doesn’t help.” President Trump said that O’Rourke was making it “much harder” to reach a deal on gun legislation with that sort of rhetoric.

Trump’s focus when it comes to gun control has mainly been on background checks. The White House was also circulating a one-page document on Capitol Hill detailing a possible gun background-check proposal that would require private sellers – not just licensed vendors – to conduct background checks for all advertised sales, though Attorney General Bill Barr said Trump has not yet made a “firm decision” on what he ultimately will support.

An August USA Today poll showed that most American voters support increased background checks, with 85 percent of Republican voters supporting background checks for all gun sales. Presently, only federally licensed vendors are required to conduct background checks, allowing private individuals to sell without them under what has been referred to as the “gun show loophole.”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News last week that he expected an announcement on new gun legislation “very soon.” Gidley said Trump wanted to make sure that any new laws would address actual problems and not just be “feel-good legislation.”

But the Democrats’ impeachment push could complicate matters. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had resisted impeachment, announced Tuesday that an impeachment inquiry would be launched. Reflecting how policy debates could take a back seat, Pelosi said in private meetings with lawmakers that Trump called her to discuss gun legislation, but she soon changed the subject to his phone call with the Ukrainian president in which they discussed investigating Joe Biden, which stoked the latest calls for impeachment.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Sparks fly at assault-weapons ban hearing on Capitol Hill, ex-cop vows she would ‘not comply’

The single-payer health care plan known as “Medicare-for-all” now enjoys support from more than half of Democrats in the House of Representatives, with top-ranking Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., adding his name to the list of co-sponsors.

The bill, introduced in February by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., calls for the replacement of private health insurance with a government plan covering everyone. Jeffries became the 118th co-sponsor.

“Given the enduring nature of our health care access and affordability crisis, more must be done,” Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Jayapal celebrated Jeffries’ support the day before his name officially was added to the sponsor list, tweeting that it is “a huge step in the fight for #MedicareForAll!”

The widespread support in the caucus underscores how quickly the party has embraced the costly policy, popular with the progressive base, since the last presidential election.

When she introduced the bill in February, Jayapal described it as “a complete transformation of our health care system where there are no private insurance companies that provide these core benefits,” saying it would be “universal care, everybody in, nobody out.” At the time, the bill immediately drew support from 106 Democrats.

Since then, another 12 have added their names, with Jeffries being the latest.

The bill would virtually do away with private insurance by making it illegal for private companies to provide the same coverage as the public plan. Jayapal predicted that by doing away with private insurance plans, approximately 1 million people who work for insurance companies would lose their jobs.

“We have thought carefully about how we’d take care of those folks because we think those people are very important,” Jayapal said during a May town hall at American University.

“We have set aside one percent a year of the total cost of the bill for five years to take care of a transition for employees in the private insurance sector,” she explained. “If they are able to retire, that might be one, pension guarantees, job training so they can move into a different system.”

A Senate version of “Medicare-for-all” has been pushed by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

Candidates have split over just how far they are willing to go when it comes to socialized health care. Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., favor a public system that abolishes private insurance, while others such as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg have called for keeping private options for those who prefer to keep their existing plans.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Majority of House Dems now support ‘Medicare-for-all’

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford announced Sunday that he is running for president as a Republican, becoming the latest to challenge President Trump in the GOP primaries.

Sanford said the Republican Party is facing an identity crisis, and he wants the GOP to take a look at itself and do some soul searching.

“I think we have to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican,” Sanford told “Fox News Sunday,” claiming the party “has lost our way.”

Sanford specifically made reference to the debt, deficit and government spending. Other conservatives expressed concern about these issues when Trump helped Congress pass a spending bill that increases spending caps and suspends the debt ceiling, allowing for more government borrowing until July 31, 2021. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., blasted his colleagues at the time, saying it “marks the death of the Tea Party movement in America.”

Sanford also challenged Trump’s tactics when it comes to trade, saying that engaging the world when it comes to trade is “one of the hallmarks of the Republican Party.”

He also brought up political culture, which he said has been “damaged” by Trump.

“We need to have a conversation about humility,” Sanford said, blasting Trump’s social media habits by claiming that a tweet “is not leadership.”

Earlier this summer, when Sanford was still deciding whether to run, he admitted, “I don’t think anybody’s going to beat Donald Trump.”

When pressed on why he is running a race that he knows he will likely lose, Sanford said, “this is the beginning of a long walk, but it begins with a first step.”

Host Chris Wallace grilled Sanford on his own controversies, which include a stretch of nearly a week in 2009 during his term as governor, when he disappeared only to eventually admit that he was in Argentina having an extramarital affair. At the time, his spokesperson said Sanford was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Sanford said he “profoundly apologized for that,” contrasting his remorse with Trump, who he said does not apologize for anything. Trump poked fun at Sanford after his scandal was brought to light, but Sanford insisted that his campaign against the president was not personal.

Sanford is now the third Republican to announce a run against Trump in the primaries, with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld and former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh previously announcing their campaigns.

After Weld and Walsh stated they were running against Trump, Politico reported that the Republican parties of Arizona, Kansas, Nevada and South Carolina were looking to scrap their primaries and caucuses.

“Trump and his allies and the Republican National Committee are doing whatever they can do to eliminate primaries in certain states and make it very difficult for primary challengers to get on the ballot in a number of states,” Walsh told Politico. Weld reacted by tweeting, “Donald Trump, by turns arrogant and paranoid, has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to be crowned as president rather than elected. That might be fine in a monarchy, but we overthrew ours two centuries ago.”

Kansas Republican Party Executive Director Shannon Golden, meanwhile, defended the decision, telling Fox News that the state never has Republican primaries when there is a GOP incumbent.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Mark Sanford announces Trump primary challenge: GOP ‘has lost our way’

Presidential hopeful Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., on Tuesday revealed a sweeping $3 trillion plan to combat climate change, calling to “accelerate the end” of fossil fuels and achieve “100% carbon-free electricity” by 2030.

Like the costly and controversial Green New Deal, which Booker co-sponsored in the form of a Senate resolution, Booker’s plan aims to address both climate change and economic inequality.

“To end the real and growing threat of climate change and to create a more just country for everyone, we must heal these past mistakes and act boldly to create a green and equitable future. That’s exactly what I’ll do as president,” Booker said in a statement.

The plan includes an array of executive actions, such as taking on companies that pollute with increased EPA enforcement, requiring all new passenger vehicles to have zero emissions by 2030, and imposing a ban on all new fossil fuel leases. Booker also intends to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement and revoke orders from President Trump to approve the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines.

Additionally, Booker wants to push Congress to create a United States Environmental Justice Fund, which would commit $50 billion a year “to advance environmental justice and invest in communities long left behind.” Goals include replacing lead drinking water service lines in residences, schools, and daycares; cleaning abandoned uranium, coal, and hard rock mines; and planting 100 million trees in urban areas that Booker’s plan says suffer disproportionately from air pollution.

The plan sets a goal of 2045 for achieving a completely “carbon-neutral” economy through investments in clean energy such as wind and solar, and “a next-generation smart grid.”

Booker’s plan joins other costly proposals put forth by fellow Democratic candidates.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has proposed a Clean Energy Revolution that would involve $1.7 trillion in federal investments and “additional private sector and state and local investments of more than $5 trillion. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke has a $5 trillion climate plan and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has a plan for a Green New Deal that would cost $16.3 trillion in public funds.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Cory Booker unveils $3 trillion climate change plan, creating ‘Environmental Justice Fund’

Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee suggested in a court filing Monday that they have been carrying out an impeachment investigation of President Trump since before Robert Mueller’s report was even submitted, which appears to contradict previous statements by committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Nadler first claimed earlier this month that “formal impeachment proceedings” were underway when he filed a petition to get secret grand jury information from the Mueller report. But Monday’s filing in a separate case looking to compel testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn suggested that it had already started on March 4 — weeks before Mueller sent his report to Attorney General Bill Barr on March 22.

“On March 4, 2019, the Judiciary Committee opened an investigation into ‘threats to the rule of law,’ encompassing alleged obstruction of justice, public corruption and other abuses of power by President Trump, his associates, and members of his Administration,” the filing says, adding that “one critical purpose of the Committee’s investigation is to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the President.”

Monday’s motion called for a preliminary injunction or summary judgment so that McGahn would have to testify. McGahn has refused to comply with a committee subpoena, asserting that he has immunity.

The March 4 date is in line with an Aug. 1 op-ed for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel by Rep. Ted Deutsche, D-Fla., but it is in stark contrast with previous claims from the Democratic leadership.

In a Washington Post interview published March 11, Pelosi said, “Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country.”

According to Monday’s court filing, Democrats were already going down that path a week before that interview went to print.

It was early August when Nadler first told CNN that “formal impeachment proceedings” were taking place, at the same time that he was initiating the case for the secret grand jury material. In May he said during a WNYC radio appearance that “there certainly is” justification for Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, but that it was critical for the American public to agree before launching the process.

“We’re going to have to have the investigation,” Nadler said in response to a question from a caller, adding that he was going to talk to colleagues about the possibility of a formal impeachment inquiry.

Nadler specifically noted in the May appearance that there is a difference between a “formal impeachment inquiry” and holding hearings outside the context of a formal inquiry. He said that there are “functional differences” between holding hearings in an official impeachment investigation and doing so without one, including “legal powers that we wouldn’t have without it.”

Those legal powers include being able to access secret grand jury information, as impeachment investigations have been deemed to fall under an exception that allows disclosure of grand jury material in the context of judicial proceedings.

Nadler’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News questions about when formal proceedings began, or if they are taking place at all.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., wrote Monday in a letter to Nadler obtained by Fox News that no such formal proceedings could be taking place, and that Nadler is running afoul of the Rules of the House. According to the letter, Nadler is already preparing for gaining access to the grand jury material by saying that only members of his committee and the House Intelligence Committee could view it. Collins insists that this goes against protocol.

“It is beyond the scope of your authority, absent a vote of the full House, to prohibit other Members of the House from reviewing any materials in possession of the Committee,” Collins wrote, also pointing out that Nadler never received House authorization to conduct a “formal impeachment inquiry.”

“Without these formal steps, the Committee cannot possibly be conducting a ‘formal impeachment inquiry,’ as you claim it is,” Collins said.

In their Monday court filing, the Democrats claimed that their authority for conducting their investigation is derived from their constitutional powers.

“Pursuant to its Article I powers, the Judiciary Committee is investigating Presidential misconduct,” the motion says. “Its investigation is critical to its determination whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the President, and will also inform its legislative and oversight functions.”

Democrats argue that McGahn, in particular, must testify because he is “the most important fact witness in the Judiciary Committee’s investigation into whether to recommend articles of impeachment against the President.” Their motion states that McGahn’s statements to the Special Counsel’s Office are referenced more than 160 times in Mueller’s report, and that “he is uniquely situated to answer factual questions critical to the Judiciary Committee’s investigation[.]”

This was in reference to the report’s discussion of how Trump allegedly asked McGahn to have Mueller fired – a request viewed by Democrats as an obstruction of justice.

The White House told the committee that the president directed McGahn not to testify, relying on the Office of Legal Counsel’s determination that McGahn could not be compelled to testify regarding his time working for the administration.

The committee argued that “President Trump’s directive that McGahn not testify has no valid basis in law.”

Democrats had attempted to have this case assigned to D.C. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell, who is handling Nadler’s petition for the secret grand jury material in the Mueller report. Their argument was that because both cases are related to their impeachment investigation, they should be heard by the same judge.

Howell disagreed, stating that while the two cases may have stemmed from the same investigation, the facts and legal issues involved are totally unrelated.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Dem court filing suggests Trump impeachment probe began before Mueller even submitted report

Former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh announced Sunday morning that he is running for president as a Republican, challenging President Trump in the GOP primary race, while delivering a blistering attack on the president’s character and qualifications.

Walsh blasted the president for his social media habits and general behavior.

“I’m running because he’s unfit; somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative,” Walsh said. “The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum — he’s a child.”

At the same time, Walsh recognized that he himself is guilty of the same behavior as the president, and even played a part in the division in Washington that led to Trump’s election.

“I helped create Trump,” the Tea Party favorite told ABC News‘ George Stephanopoulos in an interview that aired Sunday morning. “I feel responsible for that.”

Walsh claimed that Trump was “tweeting us into a recession” and warned that “he’ll tweet us into war.”

Stephanopoulos called out Walsh for making outlandish statements of his own, including calling former President Barack Obama a Muslim and an enemy. Walsh said Trump “made me reflect on some of the things I’ve said in the past,” acknowledging that at times he “went beyond the policies and idea” and “said some ugly things about President Obama that I regret.”

When asked if he truly believes what he said about Obama, Walsh responded, “God no, and I have apologized for that.”

During the same interview, however, Walsh made a series of personal attacks against President Trump.

“He’s nuts, he’s erratic, he’s cruel, he stokes bigotry,” Walsh said. He accused Trump of not caring about America, saying, “the only thing he cares about is Trump.”

Walsh also cited Trump’s 2016 campaign promise to build a wall along the southern border and to have Mexico pay for it, which has not happened.

“He’s incompetent. He has no freakin’ clue what he’s doing,” Walsh said.

The Trump campaign had far fewer words in response to Walsh’s announcement.

“Whatever,” campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh said to ABC.

Walsh, who served one term in Congress, acknowledged that he has very little chance of defeating the president in the primaries, but said he wants to promote a different direction for the Republican Party. Earlier in August, Walsh published a New York Times op-ed about the need for Trump to face a primary challenge. He said the positive response to the piece inspired his decision to run.

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld has previously announced that he is running against Trump in the primaries.

Author: Ronn Blitzer

Source: Fox News: Joe Walsh laments past controversial statements while blasting Trump: ‘He’s a child’

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