Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a key witness in the proceedings that led to President Donald Trump’s impeachment, will retire from the U.S. Army.
Former Ambassador David Pressman, Vindman’s attorney, told CNN Wednesday that he believes his client is a victim of political retaliation from the White House.
“The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers,” Pressman told CNN. “These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it.”
The president fired Vindman in February, days after Trump was acquitted by the U.S. Senate. Vindman was one of several people who had listened to Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which led to Trump becoming just the third president in U.S. history to be impeached.
Hundreds of officials that worked under former President George W. Bush will endorse former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election.
The group formed a super PAC Wednesday, called “43 Alumni For Biden,” which includes former cabinet secretaries and executive branch officials, according to Reuters.
The group includes Jennifer Millikin, who worked on Bush’s 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, and who told Reuters that Trump is a “danger” to the nation. It also lists former Republican National Committee (RNC) officials Kelly Ganzberger, Michael Turk and Serenety Hanley among its organizing committee members.
“Whether you worked in the earliest days of the 43rd Administration or sprinted to the finish in January 2009, you know a thing or two about serving the grand ideals and exceptional people of our country,” the super PAC writes on its front page. “Together we saw compassion in action, strength on display and the steady leadership of a true statesmen who inspired us to meet some of America’s greatest challenges.”
The group goes on to state that while they still have political differences with Biden, they are endorsing him because “our democracy is at stake.”
“Bound by our shared work experience and a belief in a brighter tomorrow, we endorse Joe Biden for President,” they write. “Political differences may remain among us, but we look forward to a time when civil, honest and robust policy discussions are the order of the day.”
A spokesman for Bush suggested in June that the 43rd president has not made up his mind on how he will vote in November. Some former Bush administration officials, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell have thrown their support behind Biden. Powell previously endorsed former President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.
President Donald Trump said Thursday that he would delete his Twitter account “in a heartbeat” if it weren’t for alleged misinformation in the media. He said it’s important that he be able to quickly refute “fake news.”
“Mr. President, given your concern with Twitter, have you given any consideration to deleting your account, to just walking away from this platform you’ve been so critical of?” a reporter asked the president.
“If you weren’t fake, I would not even think about, I would do that in a heartbeat,” Trump responded. “The news is fake.”
An unidentified reporter can be heard responding: “I am real, sir.”
“You have some great journalists, you have some journalists I have great respect for, but largely I find, at least in a political sense, there’s so much fake news, it’s disgraceful,” Trump continued.
“If we had a fair press in this country, I would do that in a heartbeat,” Trump said. “There’s nothing I’d rather do than get rid of my whole Twitter account, but I’m able to get to, I guess, 186 million people, when you add up all the different accounts, and add Facebook and Instagram. It’s a lot of people, and that’s more than the media companies have, frankly, by a lot.”
The president signed an executive order Thursday which reportedly calls for social media companies to lose their federal protections if they engage in censorship or political discrimination.
Trump accused Twitter of anti-conservative censorship Wednesday after the social media company added a fact-checking label to some of his tweets.
Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that….
Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said Tuesday that the Department of Justice should investigate Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, after de Blasio sent out another tweet targeting the Jewish community for allegedly violating coronavirus restrictions.
“Earlier today the NYPD shut down a Yeshiva conducting classes with as many as 70 children. I can’t stress how dangerous this is for our young people,” de Blasio tweeted Monday. “We’re issuing a Cease and Desist Order and will make sure we keep our communities and our kids safe.”
Cruz responded with a tweet of his own, questioning whether or not de Blasio is “violating constitutionally guaranteed religious liberties.”
“The next time NYC’s mayor sends out a gleeful tweet about sending cops after Jews, the DOJ should investigate to make sure he’s not violating constitutionally guaranteed religious liberties,” Cruz said. “Actually, they should have done it after the last one.”
The next time NYC's mayor sends out a gleeful tweet about sending cops after Jews, the DOJ should investigate to make sure he's not violating constitutionally guaranteed religious liberties. Actually, they should have done it after the last one. https://t.co/BU61pkh27y
De Blasio’s latest comments come weeks after he threatened to arrest members of the Jewish community, who attended a rabbi’s funeral.
“My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed,” de Blasio said late last month. “I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups.”
Attorney General Bill Barr sent a memo to U.S. attorneys late last month, urging them to be on the “lookout” for religious discrimination as states implement restrictions to manage the coronavirus pandemic.
“As the Department of Justice explained recently in guidance to states and localities taking steps to battle the pandemic, even in times of emergency, when reasonable and temporary restrictions are placed on rights, the First Amendment and federal statutory law prohibit discrimination against religious institutions and religious believers,” Barr wrote.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has seen a sharp decline in his approval ratings since former Senate staffer Tara Reade accused him of sexual assault, at least one new poll shows.
Just 34% of voters have a favorable opinion of the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, compared to 56% of voters who have an unfavorable opinion of Biden, according to a poll published Wednesday by the left-wing Daily Kos. The same poll found that 43% of Americans have a favorable opinion of President Donald Trump, compared to 55% who have an unfavorable opinion of the president.
Despite Trump’s approval ratings being significantly higher, the poll found that Biden maintains a narrow lead over Trump among national voters, leading the president 47-44%. The poll was conducted among 1,546 adults between May 2-5, and has a margin of error of roughly 2.5%.
The Daily Kos poll was one of the first to be released since the former vice president broke his silence on allegations that he sexually assaulted a female aide in 1993, when Biden serving as a U.S. senator from Delaware. Biden denied those allegations during an appearance on MSNBC last week.
“I’m saying unequivocally it never, never happened and it didn’t,” Biden told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
However, 26% of Democrats now believe that Biden should drop out of the race, including 40% of voters under the age of 45, according to a Morning Consult poll published Tuesday.
Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that unemployed Americans who have run out of money due to the coronavirus pandemic should “go take a job as an essential worker,” while dismissing concerns that increased economic hardship could lead to more death.
“I understand the economic hardship. We all feel it,” Cuomo said. “The question is what do you do about it, and do you put public health at risk, and do you drive up the number of deaths for it, because you have no idea how to reopen now.”
The reporter continued to press Cuomo, asking if there is a “fundamental right to work” if the government can’t disperse unemployment funds in a timely manner, and a person has already run out of money. Cuomo responded by telling New Yorkers who find themselves in that positions to go get a job at a workplace he has deemed “essential” and allowed to remain open.
In extended Q&A, Gov. Cuomo says he understands economic hardship of those out of a job, but warns recklessly returning to work could endanger others' lives.
“By the way—you want to go to work? Go take a job as an essential worker. Do it tomorrow,” the governor said.
When the reporter pointed out that most companies aren’t currently hiring, Cuomo fired back.
“There are people hiring,” Cuomo said. “You can get a job as an essential worker. So, now you can go to work, and you can be an essential worker, and you’re not going to kill anyone.”
New York is one of 43 states that has been placed under a stay at home order because of the virus. The shut down orders have forced businesses across the country to close, and led to tens of millions of unemployment claims in recent weeks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has criticized President Donald Trump for a lack of preparedness of his administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, but last month the speaker was urging people to patron San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Pelosi took a tour through Chinatown on February 24, where she decried alleged racism that was occurring against Asian Americans as a result of the virus, which originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan.
“It’s exciting to be here, especially at this time to be able to be unified with our community,” Pelosi said at the time. “We want to be vigilant about what is out there in other places. We want to be careful about how we deal with it, but we do want to say to people ‘Come to Chinatown. Here we are, careful, safe and come join us.’”
Pelosi said Sunday that the president was in “denial at the beginning,” accusing him of not originally taking the virus serious enough. Pelosi’s home state of California is one of nearly 30 states in the U.S. currently under lockdown over the pandemic.
Other Democrats have criticized Trump for not responding to the pandemic quickly enough, including Democratic New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who’s city has been devastated by the outbreak. However, de Blasio and New York City Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot repeatedly urged citizens to go about their normal lives, as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
However, this wasn’t the only gaffe Biden made in his first public appearance in over a week. The former vice president also referred to Republican Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker as “Charlie Parker,” when praising state governors for their response to the pandemic.
“We could put politics aside and meet the moment like governors all across this nation are doing,” Biden said. “Governor Mike DeWine in Ohio, Governor Larry Hogan in Maryland, Governor Charlie Parker in Massachusetts, Gavin Newsom in California, Jay Inslee in Washington, hard hit, Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan.”
President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 after declaring war against institutional Washington and “the swamp.”
The “drain the swamp” message has been the calling card of Trump and his supporters since the 2016 election cycle, and for good reason. Sixty percent of American voters believe it is important to metaphorically drain the swamp, according to a 2018 poll. If anything in 2020 Americacuts across party and ideological lines, it’s the broad consensus that the cartel of lobbyists, special interest groups and career civil servants should have their gravy train cut off.
Some conservatives have argued that the president has not done enough to drain the swamp, taking issue with the influence of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in the White House while also panning some of the more traditional Republicans that have become influential in the administration. Others have argued that the president has done the best he can given the apparent institutional disadvantages he’s faced.
Trump has begun to significantly shake things up after being acquitted by the U.S. Senate on two articles of impeachment. Just days after his acquittal, the president ousted multiple witnesses at the center of his impeachment, transferring both Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and his brother Yevgeny from the National Security Council back to the Army and firing European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland over their “insubordinate” actions. Additionally, a source indicated to the Caller that more changes could be coming.
Vindman is part of the national security state that has largely opposed Trump’s outsider presidency, while Sondland was a once-loyal bundler who was terminated after he testified to the House Intelligence Committee that he believed Trump engaged in a quid pro quo during his now-infamous July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The moves were part of a major house cleaning operation that has taken place at the NSC under the Trump administration. The president and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien have fired 70 Obama-era staffers at the NSC since O’Brien took his position. The Obama administration increased the number of NSC staffers to 200, and Trump and O’Brien have made it an initiative to cut the staff down. O’Brien told Fox News’ host Laura Ingraham that the current size of the NSC was “bloated,” and that he wanted to cut the staff in half.
The purge at the NSC has enraged liberals in the nation’s capital, but it was just the tip of the iceberg for an administration that has become known for its historic turnover. In just over three years, the Trump administration has run through three chiefs of staff, two attorneys general, and two secretary of states. For comparison, President Barack Obama had one chief of staff, one secretary state, and two attorney generals in his entire second term as president.
On a broader scale, 51 of the top 65 positions in the Executive Office of the President (EOP) have changed since Trump took office in January 2017, according to tracking conducted by the left-leaning Brookings Institute. Brookings found that turnover on Trump’s “A Team” reached 82% since the president’s inauguration. The think tank compared turnover in Trump’s first term to turnover in previous president’s first terms, and Trump’s was the highest, followed by Ronald Reagan at 78%, Bill Clinton at roughly 75%, and Barack Obama at roughly 70%. Both presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush had just over 60% turnover in those positions during their first term.
The latest round of terminations, which occurred right after Trump’s impeachment acquittal, set off a firestorm in Washington, D.C. Democratic members of Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, accused the president of seeking retribution against those who testified in the House’s impeachment proceedings. The firings were compared to some of the darkest, most corrupt moments in world history as “Night of the Long Knives” and “Saturday Night Massacre” both trended on Twitter in portions of the country. Even several Republican senators attempted to talk the president out of firing Sondland, according to a report published earlier this month by The New York Times. But the newly-emboldened president didn’t agree. While liberals and even some concerned Republicans have decried the turnover in Trump’s administration, the president’s supporters have largely embraced the chaos and advocated for more turnover in the nation’s capital.
Turning Point USA President Charlie Kirk argued in a recent Newsweek article that Trump should run his re-election campaign on breaking up Washington. The prominent Trump advocate said that he believes departments in the federal government should move out of the nation’s capital and into states such as Michigan, Colorado and Ohio. Kirk argues that these states would benefit from the job opportunities in the states, and the proximity of government officials to the people their policies most affect would improve the effectiveness and efficiency of these departments. Long-time Trump ally and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has repeatedly stated that Trump’s presidency is about “deconstructing the administrative state,” aka draining the swamp.
Some pundits on the right and left have attacked Trump for not doing enough to fulfill his campaign promise of draining the swamp. But there are signs in at least the later part of his first term that the president is growing more comfortable and assertive in his role as commander in chief. The recent swaths of staff changes in the White House suggests that draining the swamp could rebound to the top of Trump’s agenda if he wins a second term.
The Virginia House of Delegates passed a package of gun control proposals Tuesday on a near party line vote.
The proposal passed the House 51-48 with all Republicans and several Democrats voting against the bill. The legislation includes a ban on the sale of several firearms defined as “assault weapons,” including the popular AR-15.
Virginia residents who currently own these types of firearms will not be forced to participate in a mandatory buyback program as had initially been considered by state Democrats. However, the bill gives the state government the authority to confiscate certain types of magazines that are considered “high capacity.”
This is the second gun control package approved by the House in recent weeks. The legislature passed legislation late last month that included universal background checks, red flag laws, and a law limiting citizens of the Commonwealth to one firearm purchase a month. Both bills now head to the state senate, where Democrats hold a narrow 21-19 majority. Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has spoken out in support of both bills, and has made gun control a top priority for his remaining two years in office.
Gun control initiatives have been met with intense backlash in the Commonwealth, with 91 of the state’s 95 counties having declared themselves sanctuaries for the Second Amendment. A Second Amendment rally in the state’s capital of Richmond drew roughly 22,000 attendees.