Author

Tyler Olson

Browsing

Presidential threat is latest development in controversy around universal mail-in voting

President Trump on Monday morning threatened legal action over a bill passed by the Nevada legislature to send mail-in ballots to all voters ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

The legislature on Sunday pushed through the bill despite objections from Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, the only statewide Republican elected official, on a party-line vote. It would give Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak the power to command the secretary of state to adjust election procedures during a state of emergency.

The bill also expands who can turn in ballots, a provision many Republicans in the state said could open the door for ballot harvesting.

“In an illegal late night coup, Nevada’s clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state,” Trump said in a tweet Monday. “Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!”

Trump, in a tweet Sunday, called the move by the Nevada legislature “outrageous” and said it should “be met with immediate litigation.”

Democrats have dismissed concerns that universal mail-in voting could lead to fraud, saying there is little evidence that it has happened on a wide scale in the past. Meanwhile, Republicans have pointed out mail-in voting has seldom been conducted on the scale Democrats currently propose. They also distinguish between “absentee” voting, in which one has to request a ballot and usually provide a reason for being unable to vote on Election Day, and universal mail-in voting, in which the government sends ballots to every registered voter whether they have requested the ballot or not.

Attorney General Bill Barr, when pressed on the security of such voting during a House hearing last week, admitted that he had not seen evidence other countries could change the outcome of an American election using counterfeit ballots, but said it is “common sense” that it is a risk.

But more than other countries printing ballots, many on the right are concerned about the potential that ballots mailed to people who may have moved or are dead, yet still appear on voting rolls, could be fraudulently filled out.

Also, a CBS report last month showed that approximately 3 percent of mock ballots mailed in an experiment never arrived. In a statement on the report, the U.S. Postal Service said it is “committed to delivering election mail in a timely manner.”

Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson condemned Trump and Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel over statements each made on the mail-in measure.

“The comments made by President Trump and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel regarding Assembly Bill 4 are disgraceful and patently false,” they said. “This is a clear fear mongering attempt by the GOP to suppress voters this November as part of an effort to shield themselves from the backlash of a failed administration.”

They added that they are sending the bill to Sisolak’s desk. He is expected to sign it, which would make Nevada the eighth state to opt for universal mail-in voting this November.

Mail-in voting is likely to be a contentious issue until the election, with Trump warning that it could cause the “greatest election disaster in history” and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden saying Trump is trying to “indirectly steal” the election by raising doubts about mail-in voting.

The escalating conflict over the Nevada bill comes on the heels of Trump last week suggesting that the Nov. 3 election could be delayed because of possible issues with mail-in voting — comments the president and multiple senior members of his administration have since walked back.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: Trump vows legal action over Nevada mail-in voting plan

The spending would take place over a 10-year period

Joe Biden, through his presidential campaign, is proposing over $8 trillion in new spending on a variety of programs – an ever-increasing tally that rises to around $10 trillion based on some estimates.

The hefty price tag counts several of his most expensive plans, including a $2 trillion climate plan and a $775 billion program for universal preschool, and expanded child care and in-home elder care that was announced on Tuesday.

The spending – taking place over 10 years – would represent a significant increase in the overall federal budget. The government spent $4.1 trillion in all of 2018 and $4.45 trillion in 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). That number, however, is likely to be much higher for 2020 and 2021 due to coronavirus relief spending, which by itself has alarmed fiscal hawks.

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. Biden, through his campaign, has proposed over $8 trillion in new spending. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Trump has also faced criticism from budget watchdogs for his role in soaring deficits – fueled by historic spending as well as big tax cuts. But his campaign warns that his Democratic opponent would only accelerate the spending.

“As Biden’s unaffordable left-wing agenda gets more expensive by the day, it’s obvious why he plans to raise taxes on the middle-class,” Trump campaign rapid response director Andrew Clark said in a statement. “In addition to being gut-punched by Biden’s tax hikes, Americans will have to grapple with Biden’s war on energy, which will cause higher gasoline and electricity prices while decimating millions of energy jobs.”

By more conservative estimates from Biden’s campaign – and the nonpartisan spending watchdog Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) in cases where Biden’s campaign does not provide estimates – Biden has proposed at least $8.09 trillion in new spending.

This includes:

  • $2 trillion for climate
  • $1.3 trillion for infrastructure
  • $750 billion for health care
  • $750 billion for higher education
  • $700 billion for Biden’s “Buy American” plan
  • $640 billion for housing
  • $125 billion for Biden’s opioid plan
  • $30 billion for criminal justice reform
  • $750 billion for preschool and K-12 education, according to the CRFB (excluding $100 billion for investments in public school buildings that are already included in the infrastructure plan)
  • Between $270 billion and $380 billion for paid family leave, according to CRFB estimates on a similar proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
  • $775 billion for universal preschool, expanded child care and in-home elder care

That would be offset partially by some revenue-raising measures, including reversing some Trump tax cuts, but the Biden plans would still almost certainly end up increasing the federal deficit. The Wall Street Journal estimated that the candidate’s proposals would raise about $4 trillion in revenue as compared with about $7 trillion in spending. Its estimate was made before the release of the preschool, child care and elder care proposal announced Tuesday and does not count Biden’s climate plan.

To help pay for his new $775 billion proposal, Biden would tax real estate investors with incomes over $400,000 and take steps to increase tax compliance for high-income earners. Additional tax measures accompany other Biden plans, including his infrastructure proposal.

“Every cent of Joe Biden’s $1.3 trillion investment in our nation’s infrastructure will be paid for by making sure the super-wealthy and corporations pay their fair share,” his campaign website states. “Specifically, this investment will be offset by revenue raised through reversing the excesses of the Trump tax cuts for corporations; reducing incentives for tax havens, evasion and outsourcing; ensuring corporations pay their fair share; closing other loopholes in our tax code that reward wealth, not work; and ending subsidies for fossil fuels.”

But there is disagreement on how much some individual items could cost. The CRFB, for example, projects that Biden’s health care plan, which includes a government-backed public option, is likely to cost $2.25 trillion, rather than the campaign’s $750 billion projection. Additionally, The Wall Street Journal has reported that Biden’s Social Security expansion, for which a number was not available from the Biden campaign, would cost $450 billion.

And the paid family leave plan has a range of $270 billion to $380 billion – the $270 billion number is included in the $8.09 trillion estimate.

If these high-end estimates are counted, spending increases over 10 years could approach or exceed $10 trillion.

The Biden campaign, however, says these plans are necessary to fix major problems facing the country.

“The pandemic has laid bare just how hard it is for people in this country to find access to quality caregiving they need for themselves, or to juggle the responsibilities of working and also caring for family members,” the campaign said as it rolled out its caregiving plan.

“From coastal towns to rural farms to urban centers, climate change poses an existential threat – not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities, our national security and our economic well-being,” it says on the page explaining its climate plan.

The Biden campaign, in a statement to Fox News, also attacked the Trump administration for its spending habits.

“The Trump administration is on track to approve more than $4 trillion in additional spending this year alone – at this rate, that’s more than $40 trillion over 10 years. That’s on top of an unpaid for $2 trillion tax cut primarily for big corporations and the wealthiest Americans,” Biden rapid response director Andrew Bates said. “Joe Biden refuses to accept the argument that there is no money left to make bold, long-term investments that will create millions of jobs, grow our economy, rebuild the American middle class and bring everyone along.”

The spending statistic of course reflects a year in which an unprecedented pandemic essentially shut down the nation’s economy, leading to desperate calls for fiscal stimulus to keep Americans afloat from both sides of the aisle – including from Biden. However, the Trump administration has done very little to cut spending overall and is on track to add more debt in its first term than former President Barack Obama did in his.

Nevertheless, Biden’s plans would result in trillions of new spending that would be funded with increases in taxes and still likely contribute to an increase in the already $26.5 trillion national debt.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser and Amy Leedecke contributed to this report.

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: Biden plans, addressing issues from climate to elder care, near $10 trillion price tag

The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Trump administration and the Catholic charity

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration acted within its authority when it expanded exemptions to the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) requirement for employers to provide insurance coverage that includes contraception — in a victory for Little Sisters of the Poor, the Catholic group that has been at the center of the national debate over the mandate.

The court ruled 7-2 in favor of the Trump administration and the Catholic charity that cares for the elderly in two related disputes against Pennsylvania, which sued over the validity of a rule from the Trump administration that allowed religiously-affiliated groups and some for-profit companies to opt-out of providing contraception coverage to employees.

The majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, ruled that the Trump administration’s challenged rulemaking was aboveboard, and hailed the work of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas participates in taking a new family photo with his fellow justices at the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., U.S., June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst – RC15CF6608B0

“For over 150 years, the Little Sisters have engaged in faithful service and sacrifice, motivated by a religious calling to surrender all for the sake of their brother,” Thomas wrote. “But for the past seven years, they — like many other religious objectors who have participated in the litigation and rulemakings leading up to today’s decision — have had to fight for the ability to continue in their noble work without violating their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

He added: “We hold today that the Departments had the statutory authority to craft that exemption, as well as the contemporaneously issued moral exemption. We further hold that the rules promulgating these exemptions are free from procedural defects.”

Little Sisters of the Poor Sister Constance Veit told Shannon Bream on “Fox News @ Night” earlier this year that following the ACA mandate was “unthinkable.”

“We dedicate our lives to this because we believe in the dignity of every human life at every stage of life from conception until natural death,” Veit said. “So, we’ve devoted our lives — by religious vows — to caring for the elderly. And, we literally are by their bedside holding their hand as they pass on to eternal life. So, it’s unthinkable for us, on the one way, to be holding the hand of the dying elderly, and on the other hand, to possibly be facilitating the taking of innocent unborn life.”

The Supreme Court also ruled in favor of religious organizations in an employment discrimination case Wednesday. And last week it came down with a ruling that states could not ban religious schools from receiving money from state-funded scholarship programs that are available to non-religious private schools.

Lower court rulings had gone against the administration, with a nationwide injunction putting the exemptions on hold. But the Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday amounts to a huge win for religious conservatives who have been battling the ACA’s contraceptive mandate for years.

“It is outrageous that the Obama administration forced a group of nuns to violate their religious beliefs in the first place,” Judicial Crisis Network Vice President and Senior Counsel Frank Scaturro tweeted. “The Court’s decision today upholding that exemption is a victory for freedom of religion and conscience—for the Little Sisters and for everyone. Let’s be thankful that the Little Sisters’ ordeal in court has finally ended.”

Thomas was joined in his judgment by all the justices except for Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Wednesday. Ginsburg raised alarms in her dissent that the ruling could put women’s health at risk.

“Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree,” she wrote. “Destructive of the Women’s Health Amendment, this Court leaves women workers to fend for themselves, to seek contraceptive coverage from sources other than their employer’s insurer, and, absent another available source of funding, to pay for contraceptive services out of their own pockets.”

There were two concurring opinions, one written by Justice Samuel Alito and joined by Justice Neil Gorsuch, and another written by Justice Elena Kagan and joined by Justice Stephen Breyer.

In her opinion, Kagan said that she believed the Trump administration had the authority to make the religious exemption to the contraceptive mandate, but that she is suspicious about whether the administration fulfilled “administrative law’s demand for reasoned decisionmaking.”

Loraine Marie Maguire (3rd R), mother provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor, stands alongside fellow nuns following oral arguments in 7 cases dealing with religious organizations that want to ban contraceptives from their health insurance policies on religious grounds at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, March 23, 2016. ((SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images))

Kagan argues that Pennsylvania could further challenge the religious exemption as “arbitrary and capricious” in lower courts following Wednesday’s ruling — something that the lower courts did not previously rule on because they had decided that the rule was outside of the administration’s authority.

Alito’s concurrence, on the other hand, argues that Thomas’ ruling did not go far enough and that the court should have ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) requires the religious exemption.

“We now send these cases back to the lower courts, where the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of New Jersey are all but certain to pursue their argument that the current rule is flawed on yet another ground, namely, that it is arbitrary and capricious and thus violates the APA,” Alito wrote.

He added: “If RFRA requires this exemption, the Departments did not act in an arbitrary and capricious manner in granting it. And in my judgment, RFRA compels an exemption for the Little Sisters and any other employer with a similar objection to what has been called the accommodation to the contraceptive mandate.”

Liberal groups were incensed by the Wednesday decision, which they said was essentially a license to discriminate.

“This is a shameful decision from the Supreme Court,” Bridgitte Amiri, the deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, said. “Religious liberty is a fundamental right, but it does not grant a license to discriminate. Denying employees and students coverage for birth control will limit their ability to decide whether and when to have a family and make other decisions about their futures. And it will exacerbate existing inequalities, falling hardest on people with the fewest resources and people of color.”

Amiri noted that the religious exemption is just that — an exemption. And most employers will still have to provide birth control in their health care plans under the ACA.

But pro-life groups nonetheless carried the day, and Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, credited President Trump.

“Today is a major victory for President Trump, who has courageously fought to protect the Little Sisters of the Poor from the Obama-Biden HHS abortifacient mandate,” she said. “We commend President Trump for standing strong for the Little Sisters of the Poor – his record stands in stark contrast to that of Joe Biden, who helped launch this assault as Obama’s Vice President nearly a decade ago.”

The justices this fall will hear a broader challenge to Obamacare, and requests by the current administration and some red-leaning states to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act. It is a move opposed by the Democratic-led House and a coalition of other states.

Fox News’ Bill Mears and Julia Musto contributed to this report.

Author: Tyler Olson, Ronn Blitzer, Shannon Bream

Source: Fox News: Supreme Court rules in favor of Little Sisters of the Poor in ObamaCare contraception case

Depictions of Jefferson Davis and Roger Taney would be removed under the provision

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee on Monday released a draft of a funding bill that includes a provision to remove statues and busts of those who served the Confederacy or have “unambiguous records of racial intolerance” from the U.S. Capitol, setting up a potential fight over the issue as President Trump emphasizes preserving such tributes in at least some circumstances.

The bill, which provides more than $4 billion to fund the legislative branch as part of the fiscal year that begins in October, is almost certain not to pass in its current form due to how Congress has run its appropriations process in recent years. But it could serve as a template for continuing resolutions that keep the government running, and the statue-removal provision could make its way into that legislation.

“The bill includes language directing the Architect of the Capitol to remove statues or busts in the U.S. Capitol that represent figures who participated in the Confederate Army or government, as well as the statues of individuals with unambiguous records of racial intolerance, Charles Aycock, John C. Calhoun, and James Paul Clarke, and the bust of Roger B. Taney,” an online summary of the bill reads.

A Republican aide close to the appropriations process on Tuesday criticized Democrats for how they went about bringing up the removal of the statues.

“This is a policy rider that should be considered by the authorizing committees and the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library, not as part of the appropriations process,” the aide said. “We hope that Democrats will work with us on bills the President will actually sign into law.”

A different senior GOP aide added: “We are headed toward a Continuing Resolution, so these House appropriations bills are just posturing.”

Aycock was a federal prosecutor in North Carolina in the late 1800s and was elected that state’s governor in 1900. But, due to his racist views, Duke University and East Carolina University have removed his name from residence halls in recent years, according to the Charlotte Observer. Calhoun was a vice president to Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson and fought in favor of slavery in a slew of other government positions he held in the early years of the republic.

Clark was a senator from Arkansas who supported white supremacy. Taney was the chief justice of the Supreme Court who wrote the opinion in the Dred Scott case, which ruled that Blacks, free or otherwise, “were not intended to be” American citizens under the Constitution, a ruling that contributed significantly to the start of the Civil War.

The bust of Roger B. Taney, the chief justice of the Supreme Court who wrote the opinion in the Dred Scott case, which ruled that Blacks, free or otherwise, “were not intended to be” American citizens under the Constitution. (Courtesy Architect of the Capitol.)

According to the text of the bill, “Confederate” statues and busts would mean depictions of individuals who voluntarily served as part of the Confederate military, the military of a state while it was rebelling against the United States or anyone who served as a Confederate government official.

This would include, for example, Jefferson Davis, whose statue was donated by Mississippi. Davis commanded Mississippi’s military forces after it seceded from the union and later was the president of the Confederacy.

Trump has explicitly defended statues of nearly universally venerated American Founders who owned slaves, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and who have come under fire by some on the far left. This includes more controversial figures who nonetheless played a significant part in American history, like Andrew Jackson and Christopher Columbus, and longstanding military tributes to Confederates like Fort Bragg and Fort Lee.

Trump has been less explicit on defending Confederate displays in other cases, and it’s not clear Trump would oppose the specific provisions in the House bill. Trump did, however, defend monuments that “represent our History & Heritage, both… the good and the bad” in a tweet thread last month, implying he would support leaving up Confederate monuments that some protesters have torn down amid recent racial unrest.

The president last week issued an executive order providing for a national statue garden that would include a number of American founders, some who owned slaves, along with civil rights leaders like Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Frederick Douglass and Jackie Robinson.

But Trump on Monday sent a controversial tweet that argued the decision by NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag contributed to its “lowest ratings EVER!” which is not true — the TV ratings for the sport have increased since it banned the flag.

Congress has made other efforts to purge Confederate tributes as well. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., removed the portraits of former House speakers who served the Confederacy last month and the Republican-controlled Senate included a provision in a defense bill that would rename military assets — including Fort Bragg and Fort Lee — that are named after Confederates, prompting a veto threat from Trump.

States and municipalities nationwide also have introduced plans to remove Confederate tributes in recent weeks. And protesters and even some politicians have advocated removing tributes to American presidents who are considered racially insensitive, including statues of George Washington and even Abraham Lincoln, who led the United States through the Civil War and issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: House Democrats include removal of Confederate statues in funding bill

“No vacancy left behind.”

That quote, repeated over and over by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the past year — to cheers from Republicans and the outrage of Democrats — has been the creed behind the Senate‘s single-minded push to confirm as many Trump-nominated federal judges as possible. And the 52-48 confirmation of Cory Wilson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday means that McConnell, in one respect, has quite literally accomplished that goal.

Wilson fills the final remaining federal circuit court vacancy. None have been left behind.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., in the East Room of the White House during an event about Trump’s judicial appointments, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Wilson also marks the 200th overall lifetime-appointed Article III judge to be confirmed by the Senate during Trump’s presidency. Article III courts include federal district courts, circuit courts of appeals, the Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of International Trade. That pace is faster than every other president in history except for Jimmy Carter. President Trump’s appointees now make up more than one-quarter of the federal judiciary — a legacy that will long outlast him and McConnell, the author of a memoir titled “The Long Game.”

“The single most consequential thing we can do is these lifetime appointments of men and women to the court who believe that the job of a judge is to follow the law,” McConnell told the annual Values Voter conference in 2018.

And on Wednesday, McConnell said on the floor of the Senate that, “[o]nce we confirm Judge Wilson today, the Senate will have confirmed 200, 200 of President Trump’s nominees to lifetime appointments on the federal bench. And following number 200, when we depart this chamber today, there will not be a single circuit court vacancy in the country anywhere in the nation for the first time in at least 40 years.”

The majority leader also took a shot at Democrats, who have opposed Trump’s judicial nominees at an unprecedented rate.

Judge Cory Wilson was confirmed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday. (Sen. Chris Coons/Youtube)

“Our work with the administration to renew our federal courts is not a partisan or political victory,” McConnell said. “It’s a victory for the rule of law and for the constitution itself. If judges applying the law and the constitution as they’re written strikes any of our colleagues as a threat to their political agenda, then the problem, I would argue, is with their agenda.”

And the judges McConnell is confirming will likely remain at their posts for decades. Wilson is 49 years old. Justin Walker, who the Senate last week confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, is just 38.

Wilson, like many of the Trump nominees to the influential federal courts of appeals, which are just one step below the Supreme Court, has been zealously opposed by Democrats.

“Judicial nominee Cory Wilson called the Affordable Care Act ‘illegitimate’ & ‘perverse,'” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., tweeted Tuesday. “He called the NAACP’s concerns about Voter ID laws ‘poppycock.’ He called groups like the ACLU ‘rent-a-mobs.’ I call him unqualified & will be voting no on his nomination.”

He’s also been slammed by outside left-leaning outside groups like the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which criticized the Senate for taking up floor time with judicial confirmations during a pandemic and national racial unrest.

“The Senate should not consider Mr. Wilson’s nomination – or any judicial nomination – at this perilous time in our nation’s history, when the Senate should be laser focused on efforts to save lives and mitigate the profound economic turmoil of COVID-19 on the American people,” a letter written by the group’s president and CEO Vanita Gupta read. “It is especially disturbing that the Senate would process judicial nominees like Mr. Wilson who seek to dismantle health care protections for vulnerable people.”

But right-leaning court watchers have defended the focus on judges, saying that the Senate can proverbially walk and chew gum at the same time — the body soon after Wilson’s confirmation is taking a procedural vote to begin debate on a police reform bill that Democrats will likely block. On Wednesday, they celebrated the confirmation of Trump’s 200th judge.

“We have reached a HISTORIC MILESTONE of 200 confirmed judges thanks to @RealDonaldTrump, @SenateMajLdr, @ChuckGrassley, and @LindsayGrahamSC,” Judicial Crisis Network President Carrie Severino tweeted Wednesday. “[Trump] has DELIVERED on his promise to appoint constitutionalist judges, saving us from hundreds of policy-driven, liberal judges that a President Hillary Clinton surely would have appointed.”

Mike Davis, the president of the Article III Project — a group dedicated to boosting Trump judicial nominees — and a former staffer for Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, from his time as the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, emphasized Trump’s comparative success in confirming judges to his predecessor.

“To put this in perspective, President Obama appointed 55 circuit judges in 8 years; President Trump has appointed 53 in under 4,” Davis said. “And President Trump has ‘flipped’ the 2nd, 3rd, and 11th Circuits from majority Democrat-appointed to majority Republican-appointed judges, while significantly narrowing the Democrat domination (from +11 to just +3) on the once-out-of-whack 9th Circuit.”

And Davis’ old boss, Grassley, credited Trump with keeping a campaign promise in giving the Senate so many judges to confirm.

“These have been nominees in Justice Scalia’s mold, just as the president promised nearly four years ago,” Grassley said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “This landmark achievement is the result of the president keeping his word.”

And during a time of race and pandemic-related turmoil with polls showing him trailing Democratic rival Joe Biden in his reelection race, Trump apparently senses that judicial appoints is one issue that is favorable to him. He’s promised by later this summer to release a new list of potential Supreme Court nominees — a move that helped unite the Republican party around him in 2016.

“I will be releasing a new list of Conservative Supreme Court Justice nominees, which may include some, or many of those already on the list, by September 1, 2020,” Trump tweeted last week. “If given the opportunity, I will only choose from this list, as in the past, a Conservative Supreme Court Justice.”

But Biden on Tuesday continued criticism of Trump, his nominees and Senate Republicans. The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has yet to release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees like Trump’s, despite urging from some factions in his party.

“Instead of passing police reform or helping hardworking Americans get through this crisis, Republicans are jamming through another one of Trump’s unqualified nominees,” Biden said. “It’s wrong. Cory Wilson lacks judicial temperament and experience—and has no place on a Federal Court.”

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

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: Senate confirms Trump’s 200th judge, officially fills all appeals court vacancies

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., endorsed Joe Biden for president on Monday morning, becoming yet another high-profile Democrat to publicly back the party’s presumptive nominee amid claims he sexually assaulted an aide in the 1990s. Biden’s campaign has denied the claim.

“I’m proud to endorse Joe Biden for president of the United States because he will be an extraordinary president,” Pelosi said in the video. “He knows how to get the job done.”

Pelosi touted Biden’s work in various policy areas, his relationship with former President Barack Obama and his behind-the-scenes personality and demeanor.

“Joe Biden brings values and integrity to work every day, because he never forgets his roots,” Pelosi said. “Now more than ever we need a forward-looking, battle-tested leader who will fight for the people.”

The Washington Post first reported the endorsement, linking to the video from Biden’s Youtube channel.

Pelosi did not mention the sexual assault allegation against Biden in her endorsement video. She was on CNN with anchor Jake Tapper Sunday and was not asked about the allegations. On Monday morning, just hours after her endorsement of Biden, Pelosi appeared on MSNBC for an approximately 20-minute interview with host Stephanie Ruhle and again was not asked about the Biden allegations.

Asked for comment, Pelosi’s office referred Fox News to an April 17 interview with MSNBC in which she was asked if she’s satisfied with Biden’s denial.

“Yes, I am. I am very much involved in this issue. I always want to give the opportunity that women deserve to be heard. I am satisfied with his answer, yes,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has not commented on the allegation against Biden, and neither have most of the women considered to be on Biden’s shortlist for vice presidential picks or the Democratic National Committee.

High-profile Democrats who have commented on the matter have largely tiptoed around the allegation, which was bolstered Friday when video resurfaced of a caller into CNN’s “Larry King Live” in 1993 in which the alleged victim claims her mother was discussing — without naming Biden or using the words “sexual assault” — the sexual assault Biden allegedly committed against her daughter.

“Governor Whitmer believes that it is important that these allegations are vetted, from the media to beyond and that it is something that no one takes lightly,” a spokesperson for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told Fox News on Saturday. “But it is also something that is personal. We will not speculate or provide greater insight, without knowing more about the situation.”

“[I]n this case — and your listeners should look at the story — there was a thorough review by The New York Times. And I think that’s very important to have, especially involving public figures,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in an appearance on NPR. “But I think when I look at — when I see Vice President Biden, someone I worked with, I see him on — a leader on domestic abuse — led the bill before people were even willing to talk about those horrific crimes and has really been a champion of abuses of power against women and has used his voice on the domestic abuse front in such a big way.”

Both Whitmer and Klobuchar are considered potential vice presidential picks for Biden. Fox News over the weekend reached out to Whitmer, Klobuchar and 14 other women who have been rumored to be on the shortlist for Biden’s vice presidential pick to ask for comment on the new developments in the story. Whitmer’s office was the only one to respond.

The allegations against Biden are leveled by Tara Reade, who said she was a staff assistant for Biden in 1993 when he was in the Senate.

Reade, who has openly advocated for Biden primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has come forward before — last year, when multiple women emerged claiming inappropriate touching by Biden. But late last month she told a far more graphic version of events to The Intercept and later to podcast host Katie Halper that raised the level of the allegations against Biden to sexual assault.

As the story has developed it has been contemporaneously corroborated by two of Reade’s friends to the New York Times. Then the Aug. 11, 1993 clip from “Larry King Live” emerged in which a woman Reade claims is her mother calls into the show and alludes to her daughter’s experience on Capitol Hill with a “prominent senator.”

“Yes, hello. I’m wondering what a staffer would do besides go to the press in Washington? My daughter has just left there, after working for a prominent senator, and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him,” the caller says.

“In other words, she had a story to tell but, out of respect for the person she worked for, she didn’t tell it?” King inquires.

“That’s true,” the woman responds before King cuts away to a panel to discuss her claim.

The Biden campaign referred Fox News to a statement earlier this month from Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield that said: “What is clear about this claim: it is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.”

“Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women,” Bedingfield said. “He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard — and heard respectfully. Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press.”

Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn, Andrew O’Reilly, Adam Shaw, Gregg Re and Brooke Singman contributed to this report,

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: Pelosi endorses Joe Biden for president, amid development in sexual assault claim

Both the United States and Canada have sent money to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese lab that multiple sources tell Fox News is suspected of being the likely source of the coronavirus pandemic — with the Canadian funding coming as recently as last month.

Fox News reported Wednesday that, according to sources, there is increasing confidence the novel coronavirus likely escaped from the Wuhan laboratory, where it was being studied, with a worker spreading it to the larger population.

In a news release from early March, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research announced millions in funding to research and develop tools such as vaccines and tests to combat the coronavirus. One project that got $828,046 from the agency was aimed at developing a rapid coronavirus test “using isothermal amplification and CRISPR technology.” Among the organizations on the project was the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

“The collaborative research is conducted by a multi-disciplinary team of virologists, chemists, infectious disease specialists, front-line practitioners, and public health researchers from the University of Alberta, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Wuhan Institute of Virology (China),” a backgrounder detailing where the Canadian government’s grant money was going reads. “Our team members in Wuhan who currently perform the standard diagnostic tests will lead this effort.”

In this Tuesday, March 10, 2020, photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping talks by video with patients and medical workers at the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province. (Xie Huanchi/Xinhua via AP)

The Canadian news site Rebel News first reported on the grant.

This comes after recent reports, including from the Daily Mail, of millions of dollars in U.S. government grants funding research conducted at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in recent years, news that has upset multiple members of Congress.

“There is zero doubt that the Chinese communist government has American blood on its hands. They put American lives at risk by covering up the origin and scope of the coronavirus crisis,” Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. told Fox News Thursday.

She continued: “The NIH must immediately stop deploying American tax dollars to China for this dangerous research. I’m also leading congressional efforts to ensure no coronavirus relief payments—intended to help American taxpayers and businesses—are misspent in China. The Chinese government must be held accountable for this crisis.”

According to public documents compiled by the White Coat Waste Project and shared with Fox News, The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been involved with research funded by $7.1 million worth of U.S. government grants from the National Institutes of Health as it has participated in projects in collaboration with U.S. institutions. One grant for research on bat coronaviruses has received $3.7 million and another grant involving injecting viruses into mice’s brains got $3.4 million.

It is not clear exactly how much U.S. funding went directly to the Wuhan Institute of Virology because it worked in collaboration with other institutions on the projects funded by the American grants.

The Wuhan Institute of Virology also has official approval from the National Institutes of Health to conduct taxpayer-funded research on animals in what is called “Animal Welfare Assurance” issued by the Public Health Service.

“The U.S. government’s spending spree that we’ve exposed at the notorious Wuhan Institute of Virology is outrageous and unacceptable,” Justin Goodman, the White Coat Waste Project’s vice president for advocacy and public policy told Fox News. “Taxpayers should never be forced to bankroll China’s hazardous bio-agent experiments, which put human life around the world gravely at risk. We’ll continue to work with our advocates and Congress to put an end to this egregious misuse of Americans’ tax dollars.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., has spoken out against the U.S. funding of the Chinese institute, including in an appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” this week.

“I’m against funding Chinese research in our country, but I’m sure against funding it in China,” Gaetz said, calling for an end to such grants. “The NIH [National Institutes of Health] gives a $3.7 million grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology [and] they then advertise that they need coronavirus researchers and following that, coronavirus erupts in Wuhan.”

As Fox News reported Wednesday, the suspicion surrounding the lab comes from classified and open-source documents and evidence, sources said. Sources emphasized — as is often the case with intelligence — that it’s not definitive and should not be characterized as such. Some inside the administration and the intelligence and epidemiological communities are more skeptical, and the investigation is continuing.

What all of the sources agree on is the extensive cover-up of data and information about COVID-19 orchestrated by the Chinese government.

The recent revelations about U.S. and Canadian funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology come after The Washington Post reported earlier this week that State Department officials had expressed grave concerns in recent years about the safety of the Chinese lab.

“During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory,” a January 2018 State Department cable obtained by the Washington Post reads.

The cable argued that the United States should give Chinese researchers at the Wuhan lab more support because its research on bat coronaviruses was important and dangerous. The lab had already been receiving assistance from the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

Fox News reported Wednesday night that the virus research was part of China’s efforts to show that it could identify and combat coronaviruses as well as or better than the U.S.

China then undertook an extensive cover-up of information about the virus in an attempt to shield its origins from public scrutiny. Doctors and journalists were “disappeared” warning of the spread of the virus and its contagious nature. China moved quickly to shut down travel domestically from Wuhan to the rest of China, but did not stop international flights from Wuhan.

One source said the Chinese government’s efforts may be the “costliest government cover-up of all time.”

Fox News’ Bret Baier, Gregg Re and Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report.

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: US, Canada have funded Chinese lab eyed as likely source of coronavirus outbreak

Russia is sending a plane filled with medical equipment to the United States to help fight the coronavirus following a phone conversation between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

The Russian Embassy Tuesday posted on its social media channels that “Russia may send a plane with medical equipment and protection gear to the United States already on Tuesday,” citing the Russian news agency TASS. Reuters later reported that Russian state TV was saying the flight had taken off early Wednesday morning.

This comes after Trump indicated, without much context, that Russia was sending some sort of medical aid in his Monday coronavirus task force briefing.

“And I have to say, we’ve had great relationships with a lot of countries,” Trump said. “China sent us some stuff, which was terrific. Russia sent us a very, very large planeload of things, medical equipment, which was very nice.”

The Russian Embassy’s Twitter account said Tuesday that in sending the aid to the U.S. as it fights to hold down its coronavirus death toll, which the White House has projected is likely to be between 100,000 and 240,000, Russia would hope for help from the United States should the coronavirus pandemic become more severe within its borders later this year.

“Importantly, when offering assistance to the American colleagues, President Putin is guided by the following consideration: when manufacturers of medical equipment gain momentum they will be able to reciprocate if need be,” it said.

A Facebook post by the Russian Embassy said Putin offered the help to Trump during the call.

Russian plane filled with medical supplies takes off for the United States early Wednesday morning. (Twitter/@mfa_russia)

“Being aware of the serious epidemiological situation in America, the Russian side offered medical equipment and protective gear as assistance,” the post quoted Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

The Russian foreign ministry posted a video of the plane’s contents and its takeoff early Wednesday morning.

A readout of the call between Trump and Putin, which the White House released Monday, did not mention any discussion of Russian medical aid to the United States.

“President Trump and President Putin discussed the latest developments and efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic,” the readout read. “The two leaders agreed to work closely together through the G20 to drive the international campaign to defeat the virus and reinvigorate the global economy. The leaders also discussed critical bilateral and global issues. President Trump and President Putin agreed on the importance of stability in global energy markets.”

The cooperation between the two countries comes as tensions have been strained between Russia and the U.S. in recent years due to Russia’s expansionist tendencies, menacing toward American allies, election interference and more.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment by Fox News.

Fox News’ Kristina Biddle contributed to this report.

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: Russia sending plane filled with medical equipment to US amid coronavirus pandemic

The Department of Justice backed down from seeking jail time Wednesday and made clear that prosecutors would accept mere probation in the case of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — a shift that comes as Flynn moves to withdraw his guilty plea leveraging accusations of government misconduct.

Just weeks ago, the DOJ said it would seek up to six months of prison time for the retired Army lieutenant general who spent just 24 days at his post in the Trump administration. Represented by an aggressive new attorney, Flynn days later had moved to withdraw his guilty plea for making false statements to two FBI agents in 2017 — statements that eventually wrapped him up in former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

“In truth, I never lied,” Flynn wrote in a new supplemental motion to withdraw his guilty plea filed Wednesday. “My guilty plea has rankled me throughout this process, and while I allowed myself to succumb to the threats from the government to save my family, I believe I was grossly misled about what really happened.”

Flynn also blamed his former lawyers for providing him with bad information that led him to plead guilty.

FILE – In this Dec. 1, 2017, file photo, Michael Flynn, center, arrives at federal court in Washington. A judge set a sentencing hearing for Michael Flynn after rejecting arguments from the former Trump administration national security adviser that prosecutors had withheld evidence favorable to his case. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

“One of the ways a person becomes a 3-star general is by being a good soldier, taking orders, being part of a team, and trusting the people who provide information and support,” Flynn wrote. “Lori and I trusted Mr. Kelner and Mr. Anthony to guide us through the most stressful experience in our lives, in a completely incomprehensible situation. I have never felt more powerless.”

While the DOJ’s stance is technically the same — it is seeking a sentence of zero-to-six months — the department’s new filing makes clear that it would not oppose a sentence imposing zero jail time if that is what the judge decides.

In support of a potential sentence of probation, the government notes two “similarly-situated” high-ranking officials who committed similar crimes and got probation. Former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, who stole classified information then lied about it to investigators, and Gen. David Petraeus, who was convicted of possessing classified documents he should not have had, both were sentenced to probation.

It was not clear why the Justice Department appeared to soften its position, though prosecutors did suggest Flynn deserves credit for his decades-long military service.

FILE – In this March 22, 2019 file photo, an American flag flies outside the Department of Justice in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“There is no dispute that the defendant has an unusually strong record of public service,” prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors initially were in favor of probation due to Flynn’s level of cooperation with the government, but Flynn replaced his lawyers with new ones who have taken a far more adversarial approach in the case, including in their declaration and a supplemental motion Wednesday as he sought to withdraw his guilty plea.

In a sweeping argument that took aim at the bureau’s “outrageous” conduct, Flynn’s legal team highlighted a slew of information that has come to light since Flynn’s plea — including that no precise record of Flynn’s statements to the agents exists and that the original handwritten FD-302 witness report from the interview is “missing,” with subsequent versions later “edited” in some undisclosed manner by anti-Trump FBI officials.

Moreover, Flynn’s team maintained he had no reason to lie about his communications with the Russian ambassador concerning how the country should respond to sanctions imposed by the Obama administration, or a then-pending vote on Israel in the United Nations — the conversations that put him on the FBI’s radar and he later pleaded guilty for lying about. After all, Flynn said, he knew federal officials “routinely monitor, record, and transcribe” conversations like the ones he had with Russian diplomats.

The DOJ made clear in its Wednesday filing, however, that it was opposed to granting Flynn a sentence lighter than probation.

“Defendant Flynn has affirmed his guilt of this crime on multiple occasions, before multiple district judges, and he does not directly contest it in his supplemental sentencing memorandum,” the filing says. “Accordingly, the relevant facts are before the Court to impose an appropriate sentence for the offense of conviction.”

The Justice Department says that while Flynn did provide assistance to their investigation and that a judge may consider that in fashioning a sentence, any claims of acceptance of responsibility are hard to reconcile with his request to withdraw his guilty plea.

Flynn is due to be sentenced on Feb. 27.

Fox News’ Gregg Re and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: DOJ relents, says it would accept probation for Michael Flynn as he moves to withdraw guilty plea

Leaked claims from former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s forthcoming book are fueling a new confrontation between congressional Democrats and Trump-allied Republicans over whether the Senate should hear from witnesses in the impeachment trial.

The revelation, reported by The New York Times, that President Trump connected frozen aid to Ukraine to investigations into the family of 2020 rival Joe Biden, could throw a wrench into Senate Republicans’ plans to quickly move toward a vote on whether to convict or acquit the president. Democrats have been pushing to have the Senate hear from Bolton, among other witnesses who did not provide testimony to the House during the impeachment inquiry. Their calls got new life Sunday.

“The @NYTimes report suggests multiple top Trump Admin officials knew the facts and deliberately misled Congress and the American people,” Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted Sunday. “A massive White House cover-up. All we need is four Republican Senators to get the truth.”

Trump argued on Monday morning that it’s too late, tweeting: “The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!”

At the heart of the impeachment trial is Trump’s July 25, 2019 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Trump said the call was focused on corruption in Kiev and raised the Bidens as an example. Trump has denied the Democrats’ claim that there was a quid pro quo and did so again following the Bolton report.

Lead impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., also seized on the Times report to make his case that the Senate should call Bolton, who has said he would testify if subpoenaed.

“It completely blasts another hole in the president’s defense,” Schiff said on CNN’s “New Day” Monday morning. “The question is, are the senators willing to hear the truth?”

“Bolton directly contradicts the heart of the President’s defense,” Schiff tweeted earlier. “If the trial is to be fair, Senators must insist that Mr. Bolton be called as a witness, and provide his notes and other documents.”

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi also hit Republicans on their resistance to call Bolton as a witness.

“The refusal of the Senate to call for him, other relevant witnesses, and documents is now even more indefensible,” she said. “The choice is clear: our Constitution, or a cover-up.”

Trump said Sunday night the claims in the Times story were false, insinuating that the report was a well-timed leak to drum up publicity for Bolton’s book, which is currently undergoing a “pre-publication review” at the National Security Council, which functions as the White House’s national security forum, to ensure no classified or sensitive material is published.

“I NEVER told John Bolton that the aid to Ukraine was tied to investigations into Democrats, including the Bidens,” Trump tweeted. “In fact, he never complained about this at the time of his very public termination. If John Bolton said this, it was only to sell a book.”

The Times further claimed Bolton had shared a manuscript of his forthcoming book with “close associates” — prompting Bolton’s team to deny the claim, and assert that the NSC’s review process of pending manuscripts is “corrupted” and prone to leaks.

Trump later went on to claim the information already available to the public exonerates him, noting his administration has provided more aid to Ukraine than the Obama administration.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told “Fox & Friends” Monday morning that she thinks, “The timing of all this is very, very suspect.”

The Times report is likely to put additional pressure on moderate Senate Republicans who have wavered on whether or not they would vote to hear witnesses after Trump’s defense team finishes its opening arguments and senators have had a chance to ask written questions to Trump’s lawyers and the House impeachment managers. Trump’s lawyers could wrap up their case Monday.

Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, have already indicated they will likely vote for Bolton, and potentially other witnesses. Because the GOP holds a 53-seat majority in the Senate, Democrats would need two more Republican members to vote to hear testimony from Bolton.

Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., are considered the other Republicans in play on a witness vote.

The moderate Murkowski has remained noncommittal on how she would vote on witnesses. Gardner, who has a reputation for not being afraid to buck Trump and is running for reelection in a purple state, has remained largely mum on his thoughts about the impeachment trial. Alexander, a generally reliable GOP vote – but a Senate institutionalist – has said he would make up his mind on witnesses after the conclusion of opening statements and questions.

If the Senate decides not to hear witnesses, it is likely the Trump impeachment trial will end in acquittal by the end of the week. If the Senate does decide it wants to hear from Bolton or others, depositions, requests for documents, testimony and other procedural hurdles could cause the trial to drag on for weeks or more.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a member Trump’s defense team, said the reaction to the Bolton revelation was overblown, noting that Ukraine eventually got the security assistance without opening any investigations — although the aid was only released after the hold became public, largely because of a whistleblower complaint.

“It does not alter in any the fundamental facts,” he said on “Fox & Friends” Monday morning. “There was no quid pro quo in the transcript [of Trump’s July 25 call with Zelensky] … both individuals of the call, President Trump and President Zelensky have repeatedly said there was no linkage, there was no pressure … the Ukrainians didn’t know aid was withheld at the time of the call, they didn’t know until a month later … and most importantly, they took no action.

“They didn’t start an investigation, promise to start an investigation, or make any announcement that they were going to do an investigation, and they got the security assistance money,” Jordan said.

Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche, Gregg Re and Gillian Turner contributed to this report.

Author: Tyler Olson

Source: Fox News: Leaked Bolton claims fuel fiery new clash over impeachment testimony

Ad Blocker Detected!

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