Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp will not have to immediately hand over the financial records of U.S. President Donald Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization, according to a court filing on Saturday.

The filing in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York followed an appeal submitted on Friday by Trump and his affiliates against an existing order from a federal judge allowing the banks to hand over financial records to Democratic lawmakers.

Amid an ongoing legal battle between the Republican president and Democrats in Congress, the agreement to hold off for now on enforcing the subpoenas for Trump’s financial records was a rare accord between Trump’s attorneys, the banks and the House Intelligence and the Financial Services Committees.

“The parties have reached an agreement regarding compliance with and enforcement of the subpoenas” while the appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is pending, the filing said.

Parts of the subpoenas have been included in court filings. The subpoena on Deutsche Bank seeks records of accounts, transactions and investments linked to Trump, his three oldest children, their immediate family members and several Trump Organization entities, as well as records of ties they might have to foreign entities.

Deutsche Bank has long been a principal lender for Trump’s real estate business and a 2017 disclosure form showed that Trump had at least $130 million of liabilities to the bank.

The subpoena on Capital One seeks records related to multiple entities tied to the Trump Organization’s hotel business. It followed an informal request to the bank by Democratic lawmakers in March seeking records related to potential conflicts of interest tied to Trump’s Washington hotel and other businesses.

A lawyer for the Trumps argued earlier this week that the subpoenas exceeded the authority of Congress and were “the epitome of an inquiry into private or personal matters.”

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, however, found that they were allowed under the broad authority of Congress to conduct investigations to further legislation.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One Financial Corp will not have to immediately hand over the financial records of U.S. President Donald Trump, three of his children and the Trump Organization, according to a court filing on Saturday.

The filing in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York followed an appeal submitted on Friday by Trump and his affiliates against an existing order from a federal judge allowing the banks to hand over financial records to Democratic lawmakers.

Amid an ongoing legal battle between the Republican president and Democrats in Congress, the agreement to hold off for now on enforcing the subpoenas for Trump’s financial records was a rare accord between Trump’s attorneys, the banks and the House Intelligence and the Financial Services Committees.

“The parties have reached an agreement regarding compliance with and enforcement of the subpoenas” while the appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is pending, the filing said.

Parts of the subpoenas have been included in court filings. The subpoena on Deutsche Bank seeks records of accounts, transactions and investments linked to Trump, his three oldest children, their immediate family members and several Trump Organization entities, as well as records of ties they might have to foreign entities.

Deutsche Bank has long been a principal lender for Trump’s real estate business and a 2017 disclosure form showed that Trump had at least $130 million of liabilities to the bank.

The subpoena on Capital One seeks records related to multiple entities tied to the Trump Organization’s hotel business. It followed an informal request to the bank by Democratic lawmakers in March seeking records related to potential conflicts of interest tied to Trump’s Washington hotel and other businesses.

A lawyer for the Trumps argued earlier this week that the subpoenas exceeded the authority of Congress and were “the epitome of an inquiry into private or personal matters.”

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, however, found that they were allowed under the broad authority of Congress to conduct investigations to further legislation.

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump pledged to make an expedited appeal of a ruling by a federal judge in California that blocks him from building sections of his long-sought border wall with money secured under his declaration of a national emergency.

Trump, who is visiting Japan, tweeted Saturday: “Another activist Obama appointed judge has just ruled against us on a section of the Southern Wall that is already under construction. This is a ruling against Border Security and in favor of crime, drugs and human trafficking. We are asking for an expedited appeal!”

U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. on Friday immediately halted the administration’s efforts to redirect military-designated funds to build sections of wall on the Mexican border. His order applies to two planned projects to add 51 miles of fence in two areas.

Gilliam issued the ruling after hearing arguments last week in two cases. California and 19 other states brought one lawsuit; the Sierra Club and a coalition of communities along the border brought the other.

At stake is billions of dollars that would allow Trump to make progress on a signature campaign promise heading into his campaign for a second term.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight, a longtime supporter of President Donald Trump, released a two-part video on Twitter Friday night, saying that Trump has the “utmost respect and our love” of Voight and his fellow Republicans.

“This job is not easy, for he’s battling the left and their absurd words of destruction,” Voight said. “Our nation has been built on the solid ground from our forefathers, and there is a moral code of duty that has been passed on from President Lincoln.

“Our country is stronger, safer and with more jobs because our president has made his every move correct,” Voight continued. “Don’t be fooled by the political left because we are the people of this nation that is witnessing triumph.”

“Let us stand up for this truth,” Voight, said, “that President Trump is the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

A flood of laws banning abortions in Republican-run states has handed Democrats a political weapon heading into next year’s elections, helping them paint the GOP as extreme and court centrist voters who could decide congressional races in swing states, members of both parties say.

The Alabama law outlawing virtually all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, is the strictest so far. Besides animating Democrats, the law has prompted President Donald Trump, other Republican leaders and lawmakers seeking reelection next year to distance themselves from the measure.

Their reaction underscores that Republicans have risked overplaying their hand with severe state laws that they hope will prod the Supreme Court, with its ascendant conservative majority, to strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. It also illustrates the way that those statutes are forcing the GOP to struggle over how to satisfy its core anti-abortion supporters without alienating the vast majority of voters averse to strictly curbing abortion.

The Alabama law is “a loser for Republican candidates in Colorado, without question, and in many other swing parts of the country, because it’s extreme,” David Flaherty, a Colorado-based Republican consultant who’s worked on congressional races around the country. “It’s only going to widen the gender gap.”

Brian Fitzpatrick, a Vanderbilt Law School professor and former aide to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said there are many “women, moderate women who are going to be scared that this right that they thought they had for the last 40-some years is going to be shelved” and they will be motivated to vote.

GOP Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Susan Collins of Maine, both seeking reelection next year, said the Alabama ban goes too far by eliminating exceptions for pregnancies involving rape or incest. A 2005 survey by the Guttmacher Institute, which backs abortion rights, found about 1% of women said they had abortions because of rape or incest.

Democrats see the statutes as a way to weave a broader message about Republicans.

“You use it as an example of what they do when they’re unchecked,” said Rep. A. Donald McEachin, D-Va., a leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House Democrats’ campaign organization. “I think it drives moderate Republicans away from their party.”

Democratic presidential contenders are competing to lambast the Alabama law, which allows exceptions when the mother’s health is endangered. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., called it an “existential threat to the human rights of women,” while former Vice President Joe Biden said GOP hopes of striking down Roe v. Wade are “pernicious and we have to stop it.”

Campaign Facebook and Twitter accounts of Democrats seeking reelection next year, such as Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, are littered with posts attacking the harsh restrictions. “The people of Alabama deserve to be on the #rightsideofhistory — not the side of extremists,” Jones tweeted.

Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio have enacted or neared approval of measures barring abortion once there’s a detectable fetal heartbeat, which can occur in the sixth week of pregnancy, before a woman may know she is pregnant. Missouri lawmakers approved an eight-week ban.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that of the country’s 638,000 abortions in 2015, almost two-thirds were performed within the first eight weeks of pregnancy. About 1% were performed during or after the 21st week.

Spotlighting the perilous political territory Republicans are navigating, an April poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that Americans support Roe v. Wade by 2-1. A Gallup poll last year found that 57% of adults who described themselves “pro-life” nonetheless said abortion should be legal if the pregnancy results from rape or incest.

The focus on the state measures has also stolen GOP momentum on abortion. Until now, congressional Republicans had spent much of this year forcing Democrats onto the defensive, goading them into blocking bills aimed at curbing the rare abortions performed late in pregnancies and misleadingly accusing them of supporting infanticide.

“Obviously, the attention has shifted,” said Sarah Chamberlain, president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, which represents dozens of moderate GOP lawmakers. She said while her group doesn’t think Democrats’ focus on the harsh laws has gained traction, “We are talking about that and how it’s going to play in our districts.”

Some Republicans say the Democratic drive will have minimal impact because the abortion issue drives relatively few voters from each party. Others say GOP candidates should accuse Democrats of extremism by opposing bills restricting abortions late in pregnancy and, if they wish, cite their support for exempting rape and incest victims.

Democrats have “never seen an abortion they don’t like,” said David O’Steen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee.

Added Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP campaign arm: “We’re not Alabama state representatives, we’re United States senators. And each of us has to make our positions known.”

Yet the laws have generated energy among abortion-rights groups, which held more than 500 demonstrations and other events this past week. “We will power this movement into 2020. There will be political consequences,” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., distanced themselves early last week from the Alabama statute. They were joined Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who told The Associated Press, “My position remains unchanged for 25 years. I’m opposed to abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother” being in jeopardy.

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump urged Japanese business leaders on Saturday to increase their investment in the United States while he chided Japan for having a “substantial edge” on trade that negotiators were trying to even out in a bilateral deal.

Trump arrived in Japan on Saturday for a largely ceremonial state visit meant to showcase strong ties even though trade relations are problematical. In the evening, the Tokyo Sky Tree tower was lit up red, white and blue in Trump’s honor.

Shortly after arriving at the airport to a red-carpet welcome, Trump attended a reception at the residence of U.S. Ambassador William Hagerty that the White House said included Japanese business executives from Toyota, Nissan , Honda, SoftBank and Rakuten.

Trump told the company officials there had never been a better time to invest in the United States and repeated a complaint that the Federal Reserve’s policies had kept U.S. economic growth from reaching its full potential.

With trade talks ongoing, Trump also got in a dig at Japan and said he wanted a deal to address the trade imbalance between the two countries.

“Japan has had a substantial edge for many, many years, but that’s OK, maybe that’s why you like us so much,” he said.

“With this deal we hope to address the trade imbalance, removing barriers to United States exports and ensure fairness and reciprocity in our relationship,” Trump said.

Trade is one of Trump’s signature issues, and encouraging foreign investment in the United States is a hallmark of his trips abroad.

Trump will meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday for a round of golf, a sumo tournament and a private dinner.

The two men share a warm relationship, which the Japanese leader aims to emphasize as Washington considers tariffs on Japanese auto exports that the Trump administration views as a potential national security threat.


Trade is likely to be addressed during a formal meeting on Monday between Trump and Abe, but even a partial trade agreement isn’t expected, said Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi after meeting his counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, in Tokyo on Saturday.

Motegi said there was no discussion of Trump’s decision to declare some auto imports a national security threat.

“We deepened our understanding of each other’s positions on trade. However, we’re not in complete agreement,” Motegi told reporters following the talks. “There are still some gaps. We need to work to narrow our differences.”

The United States is in the middle of an expensive trade war with China, and trade tensions als als simmering with Japan and the European Union.

Trump’s Japan trip is largely ceremonial in nature. The president will become the first foreign leader to be received by new Japanese Emperor Naruhito since he inherited the throne earlier this month; he and Harvard-educated Empress Masako will host an elaborate dinner for the Trumps on Monday night.

A medium-strength earthquake hit eastern Japan, causing buildings to shake in Tokyo, hours before Trump’s arrival. The epicenter was southern Chiba, southeast of the capital, the prefecture where Trump is due to play golf on Sunday.

No tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage.

Source: NewsMax Politics

A federal judge has blocked President Donald Trump from building sections of the border wall with money secured under his emergency declaration.

Developing …

Source: NewsMax Politics

L. Francis Cissna, the director of the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, submitted his resignation Friday at the direction of President Donald Trump, according to multiple reports.

He’ll be replaced by former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Politico reported, citing an unnamed source. 

His resignation takes effect June 1, BuzzFeed reported. Cissna served for more than a decade at the Department of Homeland Security, and was appointed to lead USCIS in the early days of the Trump administration.

According to Politico, the ouster has been in the works for weeks as Trump shakes up his officials. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Ronald Vitiello, who was acting director of  Immigration and Customs Enforcement, left their positions last month.

Republican lawmakers had urged the president to keep Cissna, but White House adviser Stephen Miller pushed for the ouster, Politico reported.

“We are the government servants charged with lawfully, efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits, while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our nation’s values,” Cissna wrote in an email to staff, Politico reported.

“I have always been and will remain keenly aware of these charges and your diligence in fulfilling our mission.”

USCIS oversees legal immigration. Under the Trump administration and Cissna’s leadership, the agency has been a key element in the hardline crackdown on immigration. 

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump said Friday he “may very well talk” to Prime Minister Theresa May about potential spying on the 2016 campaign by the Five Eyes intelligence alliance of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In remarks Trump made before departing on a trip to Japan, the president touched on an issue that he’s made a priority: the origins of the FBI Russia probe.

“Mr. President, are you going to talk to Theresa May about potential Five Eyes spying into your campaign,” he was asked.

“I may very well talk to her about that, yeah,” he responded, according to a transcript of the remarks released by the Office of the Press Secretary.

“There’s word and rumor that the FBI and others were involved, CIA were involved, with the U.K., having to do with the Russian hoax,” he continued. “And I may very well talk to her about that, yes.”

Trump on Thursday issued an order allowing Attorney General William Barr to declassify any information Barr sees fit during his review of the events that prompted the FBI to open an investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Musician and fashion designer Kanye West reportedly laments the treatment of President Donald Trump voters, saying they’re “bullied” by “liberals,” and “treated like enemies of America.”

In an interview on David Letterma’s Netflix show “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction,” West tried to explain his affection for Trump in a conversation that began about his “fear” as a man during the #MeToo movement, the Daily Beast reported.

“This is like my thing with Trump—we don’t have to feel the same way, but we have the right to feel what we feel,” he said, adding that when he wears his “Make America Great Again” hat, it’s “not about politics” but an attempt to break the stigma of supporting Trump.

“So if I see a person that I admire talking about Donald Trump can think whatever he does, I wonder if those thoughts, indirectly, aren’t hurting people who are already being hurt,” Letterman said.

West responded instead that he sympathized with Trump voters who are “treated like enemies of America because that’s what they felt.” 

“Have you ever been beat up in your high school for wearing the wrong hat?” West asked later. “Liberals bully people who are Trump supporters.”

The hour-long discussion and four other episodes of the show can be streamed on Netflix beginning May 31.

West has expressed support for Trump in the past and met with him last year in the Oval Office.

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump is reportedly ready to release an executive order to mandate the disclosure of healthcare prices in an industry that’s used to conducting its business in private, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The order, which has the force of law, could come as early as next week, the Journal reported, citing unnamed sources.

According to the news outlet, the order could direct federal agencies to push the healthcare industry for transparency on cost data – and could use the Justice Department to bust up monopolies of hospitals and health-insurance plans for driving up the cost of care.

The White House has been working for months on a strategy to lower healthcare costs by giving consumers and employers data on the discounted and negotiated rates between insurers, hospitals, doctors and other providers, the Journal reported.

Internal administrative disputes over how aggressively to mandate price disclosure have delayed earlier plans for an executive order, the Journal reported.

The administration is also likely to use a coming hospital outpatient rule to require hospitals to disclose their negotiated rates with insurers – a move expected in the summer, the Journal reported.

 “In a grocery store, you can get a price check for a can of peas on Aisle 2,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in introducing legislation that would make insurers tell consumers what their out-of-pocket costs would be for drugs or in-network procedures, the Journal reported.

“Health care is much more difficult, but it ought to be a lot easier for Americans to find out what they will have to pay before they get to a doctor.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

The Health and Human Services Department on Friday released a proposed regulation that in effect says “gender identity” is not protected under federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination in health care. It would reverse an Obama-era policy that the Trump administration already is not enforcing.

“The actions today are part and parcel of this administration’s efforts to erase LGBTQ people from federal regulations and to undermine nondiscrimination protections across the board,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a senior attorney on health care at Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization representing LGBT people.

The administration also has moved to restrict military service by transgender men and women , proposed allowing certain homeless shelters to take gender identity into account in offering someone a bed for the night and concluded in a 2017 Justice Department memo that federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination at work. As one of her first policy moves, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos withdrew guidance that allowed students to use bathrooms matching their gender identity.

More than 1.5 million Americans identify as transgender , according to the Williams Institute, a think tank focusing on LGBT policy at the UCLA School of Law. A bigger number — 4.5% of the population— identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), according to Gallup.

Pushing back against critics, the HHS official overseeing the new regulation said transgender patients would continue to be protected by other federal laws that bar discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability.

“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect,” said Roger Severino, who heads the HHS Office for Civil Rights. “We intend to fully enforce federal laws that prohibit discrimination.”

Asked about the charge that the administration has opened the door to discrimination against transgender people seeking needed medical care of any type, Severino responded, “I don’t want to see that happen.”

In some places LGBT people are protected by state laws, said Lambda Legal attorney Gonzalez-Pagan, “but what do you say to people living in a state that doesn’t have state-explicit protections? Do they move their home?”

Behind the dispute over legal rights is a medically recognized condition called “gender dysphoria” — discomfort or distress caused by a discrepancy between the gender that a person identifies as and the gender at birth. Consequences can include severe depression. Treatment can range from sex-reassignment surgery and hormones to people changing their outward appearance by adopting a different hairstyle or clothing.

Many social conservatives disagree with the concept.

“Sex is not subjective, it is an objective biological reality,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a statement supporting the Trump administration’s move. The proposed rule will ensure that federal law “isn’t used as a vehicle to advance transgender or abortion politics,” he said.

Under the Obama-era federal rule, a hospital could be required to perform gender-transition procedures such as hysterectomies if the facility provided that kind of treatment for other medical conditions. The rule was meant to carry out the anti-discrimination section of the Affordable Care Act, which bars sex discrimination in health care but does not use the term “gender identity.”

The proposed new rule would also affect the notices that millions of patients get in multiple languages about their rights to translation services. Such notices often come with insurer “explanation of benefits” forms. The Trump administration says the notice requirement has become a needless burden on health care providers, requiring billions of paper notices to be mailed annually at an estimated five-year cost of $3.2 billion.

The American Civil Liberties Union served notice it expects to challenge the rule in court when it is final. Louise Melling, ACLU deputy legal director said the potential impact could go beyond LGBT people and also subject women to discrimination for having had an abortion.

That’s because the proposal would remove “termination of pregnancy” as grounds for making a legal claim of sex discrimination in health care, one of the protections created in the Obama years. Abortion opponents had argued that the Obama regulation could be construed to make a legal argument for federal funding of abortions.

UCLA legal scholar Jocelyn Samuels, who oversaw the drafting of the HHS transgender anti-discrimination rule under Obama, said that rule reflected established legal precedent that transgender people are protected by federal anti-discrimination laws.

“This administration has manifested its intent to roll back that well-considered understanding in every context,” she said.

Samuels questioned the timing of the Trump action, since the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear three cases this year looking at whether federal civil rights law bans job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The proposed rule change is unlikely to have immediate consequences beyond the realm of political and legal debate. It faces a 60-day comment period and another layer of review before it can be finalized.

HHS official Severino said the Trump administration is going back to the literal text of the ACA’s anti-discrimination law to correct an overly broad interpretation.

The Obama rule dates to a time when LGBT people were gaining political and social recognition. But a federal judge in Texas has said the rule went too far by concluding that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of sex discrimination.

Severino said the proposed rule does not come with a new definition of a person’s sex. Earlier, a leaked internal document suggested the administration was debating whether to issue an immutable definition of sex, as based on a person’s genital organs at birth.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Since announcing my campaign to challenge Thom Tillis to represent North Carolina in the U.S. Senate two weeks ago, the Swamp – Washington politicians and their consultants – have come out of the woodwork to challenge my support of President Trump.

In 2016, during the presidential primary, like other conservatives I had my doubts about Mr. Trump. Without a policy record, I questioned whether he would govern as a conservative.  Like millions of Americans, I could not more delighted, and frankly amazed, at how he has transformed this country in the last two years. His policies and leadership have more than fulfilled his commitment to conservatives and to the American people and I proudly stand with him in his initiatives.

Mr. Tillis, on the other hand, has publicly opposed the president numerous times. My doubts were in 2016. In 2019, Thom Tillis wrote a scathing op-ed opposing the president on the emergency funding for the border wall and he placed it in The Washington Post, the biggest opponent of the president in media, save MSNBC and CNN.

What’s worse, Tillis co-sponsored a bill with liberal Democrat New Jersey Senator Cory Booker to protect the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s search and destroy investigation against President Trump.

When President Trump proposed cuts to foreign aid spending by 30%, Thom Tillis said ‘No.’

Thom Tillis voted to bust President Trump’s 2018 and 2019 budgets by $200 billion and voted to give Congress a veto over President Trump’s tariffs.

Veto power over the most successful negotiating position the President could put us in? 

This is what Washington insiders do, they claim to be something that they are not. Tillis has proven, time after time, that he does not have the president’s back.  When it comes to difficult decisions to do the right thing for the American people, President Trump goes one way, Tillis goes the other. 

The Senate Leadership Fund, the Washington insider Super PAC that ran ads supporting anti-Trump Senator Jeff Flake two years ago, is now trying to tell the media and voters in North Carolina that Tillis is pro-Trump.  I say actions speak louder than words.

That’s why President Trump has turned Washington upside down.  He is actually accomplishing what he told the voters he would do in 2016.  He cut taxes and cut onerous regulations on businesses to allow them to thrive, which they, and the economy have done. Job numbers at an all-time low. On foreign policy, he has crushed ISIS, brought home three hostages and Otto Wambier from North Korea. Despite all the naysayers, President Trump got North Korea to the table, is standing up to Russia and China and Iran and affirming our close alliance with Israel in the Middle East.

President Trump has been the most pro-life president in the last several decades and he has stood strong to protect religious liberty both on the domestic and international front. 

After elected he worked quickly to repeal Obamacare only to be stymied by John McCain.  On his signature issue, he has done everything in his power to build the wall he promised the American people he would build and is getting it done by finding bloated bureaucratic spending that could be better spent on protecting the American people.

Fulfilling your promises to the American people is foreign to the elite powerbrokers in Washington who want to keep the status quo and their padded consulting and lobbying fees. 

The powerbrokers and establishment in U.S. Senate, like Tillis and Mitch McConnell, want to keep their power and have shown they will oppose the president at will to do so.

These are the reasons North Carolinians need a new, fresh, outside-the-Beltway conservative to represent them.  Someone who can admit when they are wrong about this president and who can work with him to continue to fulfill his promises to the American people.

Garland Tucker, a respected entrepreneur, founded Triangle Capital Corporation, in Raleigh, North Carolina.  He is the author of Conservative Heroes: Fourteen Leaders Who Changed America – Jefferson to Reagan.

This opinion piece first appeared in The American Spectator.

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump, saying there is a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, is clearing the sale of billions of dollars worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and other countries, U.S. senators said on Friday, despite strong resistance to the plan from both Republicans and Democrats.

The administration has informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 arms deals worth some $8 billion, congressional aides said, sweeping aside a long-standing precedent for congressional review of such sales.

Some lawmakers and congressional aides had warned earlier this week that Trump, frustrated with Congress holding up weapons sales like a major deal to sell Raytheon Co precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, was considering using a loophole in arms control law to go ahead with the sale by declaring a national emergency.

“I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Trump Administration has failed once again to prioritize our long-term national security interests or stand up for human rights, and instead is granting favors to authoritarian countries like Saudi Arabia,” Senator Bob Menendez said in a statement.

Menendez is one of the members of Congress who reviews such sales because he is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Another, the Republican Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Senator Jim Risch, said he had received formal notification of the administration’s intent to move forward with “a number of arms sales.”

In a statement, Risch said, “I am reviewing and analyzing the legal justification for this action and the associated implications.”

The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Source: NewsMax Politics

The American people have every right to know if there was “political misrepresentation” occurring in the Department of Justice in the days leading to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, Rep. Greg Steube said Friday in response to President Donald Trump’s order to declassify information about the probe.

“I hope we find out soon,” the Florida Republican told Fox News’ “Outnumbered Overtime.” “If there’s documents that evidence that there were political motivations going on at the DOJ, and they were legitimately spying on the Trump campaign for political purposes and not for legitimate legal purposes, that’s going to completely change what the Democrats are talking about right now.”

Steube also said that he would think Americans would have “grave concerns” of an entity like the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court working in secret, as was the case when the DOJ obtained a warrant to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page.

“Given all the information and facts, if the information that was represented to the FISA court, if they knew this was campaign fodder or promulgated and still decided to issue a warrant, that would bring a lot of things to question,” said Steube, a member of both the House Judiciary and Oversight committees. “Those are questions that I would have.”

Meanwhile, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler has said Mueller would like to testify privately before the committee, and Steube said that’s because Democrats have changed their tone.

Further, Steube said he’d like to see Mueller testify publicly because he encourages the public to watch all such hearings.

Source: NewsMax Politics

The vast majority of American voters say that prescription drug prices are too high, and Congress must do something to lower costs for patients, a new poll shows.

Hart Research Associates and North Star Opinion Research conducted the poll on drug pricing, and found that “more voters identify the cost of health care as a top issue Congress and the president should address… than any other issue,” and more than 8 in 10 voters “think prices charged for prescription drugs are unreasonable.”

  • 84 percent think drug prices are unreasonable.
  • 45 percent think prices are very unreasonable.
  • 75 percent “think drug manufacturers had a lot of responsibility for the high cost.”

The poll also found that the vast majority of American voters support allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices or similar policies.

  • 95 percent support “Medicare drug negotiation for drugs with no competition in the marketplace.”
  • 43 percent think that “allowing Medicare to negotiate with manufacturers to lower prices for expensive, single source drugs is a good approach.
  • 49 percent think such an approach “does not go far enough to control drug prices.”

“In our experience, the voter intensity and anger about prescription drug pricing is at a record level,” Geoff Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, and Whit Ayers, president of North Star Opinion Research, wrote in The Hill. “We believe it reflects the trends for higher deductibles and cost-sharing over time, high launch prices, price increases, reported profits of the pharmaceutical industry and years of unrealized policymaker pledges.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Sen. Richard Blumenthal D-Conn., is calling for a congressional investigation into the use of solitary confinement on immigrant detainees in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security, NBC News is reporting.

His comments came after an NBC News investigation in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the Intercept. NBC News said that investigation revealed the extensive use of solitary for immigrant detainees.

It found thousands of immigrants suffer in solitary confinement in U.S. detention centers. Only half the cases involved punishment for rules violations. The other half involved the mentally ill, the disabled or safety reasons.

The story also detailed the attempts of a Homeland Security employee to call attention to the rampant use of solitary confinement.

“This report should shock the conscience of every member of Congress,” Blumenthal said on Friday. “Putting immigrants fleeing for their lives in solitary confinement, alone and away from any human contact for days, weeks, months is inhumane. It is un-American.

“We must open an investigation, seek testimony from DHS whistleblowers and hold individuals responsible for these abhorrent conditions and policies.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Moves to send more troops into the Middle East shows President Donald Trump is serious about deterring Iran from launching attacks against U.S. interests or allies, Rep. Pete King said Friday.

“The last thing he wants is war, but on the other hand, he can’t allow Iran to think they can get away with attacks against us or our allies,” the New York Republican told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

“The president is doing the right thing. I think the president in the world we live in today has to have this power.”

On Friday, officials reported the Trump administration plans to send a few thousand more troops to U.S. Central Command, which oversees Middle East military operations, reports The Washington Post. The decision was made late Thursday in a meeting between Trump and Pentagon leaders.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff also support the move, said King, as they believe the build-up is not large, but it is significant and “sends a strong signal to Iran.”

Meanwhile, Hamas has enacted austerity plans, noted show host Bill Hemmer, and Shia militia groups have been told to uncover new revenue sources. King said that shows sanctions are working.

“Iran is more vulnerable than it had been,” said King. “Iran is a state terror nation and to the extent, we can weaken them and they run short on cash or assets it’s extremely important and again it strengthens our hand. You combine that with the military deterrents and what the president I think is doing is really reducing the threat of war at the same time reducing the threat from Iran.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Catholic League President Bill Donohue blasted passage a bill by the California State Senate, which he says will “require” priests “to violate the seal of confessional.”

State senators voted 30-4 to approve the bill requiring Catholic priests to report to civil authorities when a penitent confesses to sexual abuse of a minor.

Donohue, in an emailed statement, called the bill “a frontal assault on religious freedom.”

This bill is absolutely unenforceable,” he said. “No priest is going to respect it and violate the sanctity of the confessional. Moreover, Catholics are not required to respect unjust laws—and this is a clear example of such a law.”

The bill now goes before the State Assembly.

“It is all smoke and mirrors,” Donohue said. “It will do nothing to help protect minors from the scourge of sexual abuse. “ 

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are in the middle of a “short-term breakup” but now it’s time for them to “calm it down a bit,” and get back to business, Rep. Pete King said Friday.

“I understand Nancy Pelosi has to satisfy her base,” the New York Republican told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” “She has to say some anti-Trump comments about impeachment but she went too far. You can’t call the president of the United States a criminal an hour before you go in to have bipartisan negotiations and talks, so the speaker was wrong in doing that.”

Trump walked out of an infrastructure meeting with Pelosi and other Democratic leaders on Wednesday after Pelosi accused him of engaging in a cover-up.

Pelosi “has a left-wing base trying to put her in a direction she doesn’t want to go,” said King, but she must “control that base without directly insulting and not calling the president of the United States a criminal.”

On Thursday, Pelosi, D-Calif., doubled down on her cover-up comments and said Trump’s family should stage an intervention with him “for the good of the country.”

Trump shot back that Pelosi is “crazy” and “a mess” and referred to himself as a “stable genius.”

King said he also thinks Trump has gotten “inside Nancy’s head,” as her attacks have become more personal, but both parties are “tough fighters and know what they’re doing.”

Meanwhile, if they could calm down their attacks, Trump could sit and negotiate with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and talk about infrastructure, which is more important, said King.

“They’ve taken their shots,” said King. “Declare victory and go on.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking $100 million on behalf of the family of a Guatemalan woman who was shot to death by a U.S. Border Patrol agent, CBS News is reporting.

The legal claim was filed Thursday – one year after Claudia Patricia Gómez González, 20, was killed.

The ACLU claims she “posed no threat to anyone, as would have been obvious from the slightest glance.” The claim says she was unarmed.

CBS News said that Gómez González, along with several migrants, had crossed the southern border and were confronted by a Border Patrol agent, who opened fire.

The claim, filed by the ACLU of Texas, demands $50 million each for personal injury and her wrongful death.

“Her life was as valuable as anyone else’s, and her family deserves justice for their loss,” said Andre Segura, the group’s legal director. “Our government has a responsibility to treat everyone lawfully, humanely, and with respect regardless of how they came into this country.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s parent agency, maintained a member of the group rushed the agent and ignored orders to get on the ground. It claimed the agent fired one round.

Gómez González had left for the U.S. after living in poverty and not being able to find work, CBS News reported.

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump on Friday accused Democrats in Congress of looking for a “do-over” by having special counsel Robert Mueller testify.

“I don’t know why the Radical Left Democrats want Bob Mueller to testify when he just issued a 40 Million Dollar Report that states, loud & clear & for all to hear, No Collusion and No Obstruction (how do you Obstruct a NO crime?),” Trump tweeted. “Dems are just looking for trouble and a Do-Over!”

Trump had said earlier this month that he would let Attorney General William Barr decide whether Mueller can testify. Barr has stated that he has no problem with Mueller testifying.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said Thursday that Mueller has told him that he’s open to making a public opening statement, but would rather deliver his testimony in a private session.

“We think it’s important for the American people to hear from him and to hear his answers to questions about the report,” Nadler said on MSNBC Thursday night.

Mueller concluded in his report that his investigation did not find sufficient evidence to charge any members of the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russia or any Russian representatives to interfere in the 2016 election. However, he did cite multiple examples of potential obstruction of justice, and noted that “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Longtime radio host Howard Stern this week stuck by his theory that President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign began as a publicity stunt to promote his NBC reality show, “The Apprentice.”

Trump was a frequent guest on Stern’s show for many years. During a recent interview to promote his new book, Stern claimed to have “inside information” that told him Trump’s campaign was an attempt to boost ratings for his show, increase his own profile and secure a new deal from NBC.

“This is a publicity stunt,” Stern told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday. “I have no doubt because I have some inside information.”

Stern said that the scheme was a “PR guy’s idea.” Back in 1987, when Trump released his first book. 

“He said, ‘Donald, what you need to do is we’ll … make sort of a rumor that you’re running for president’” to increase sales of his books, “The Art of the Deal,” and “The Art of the Comeback.”

“So all of a sudden he was being interviewed. The book goes right to No. 1,” Stern said.

He added that, “In the last election, ‘The Apprentice’ ratings were not what they were; NBC was not going to give him a raise, and what’s a better way to get NBC’s interest? ‘I’ll run for president, get lots of press,’ and I think that’s what happened.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

The White House could be forced to turn over President Donald Trump’s tax returns in the heat of the 2020 campaign, Politico is reporting.

The website noted federal courts are ruling quickly in the president’s other efforts to block Congress. And should the Supreme Court find the tax case doesn’t present any new legal issues, there’s a decent chance the White House could have to turn over the tax returns before the presidential election, Politico said..

He’s gambling,” said Michael Stern, a former senior counsel in the House of Representatives’ Office of General Counsel. “I don’t think anyone would say that it’s impossible for there to be a final order for him to produce the tax returns by the middle of next year.”

If so, it could focus public attention on what it is in tax returns just as voters get set to go to the polls.

Politico noted House Democrats are set to go to court to enforce a subpoena for the tax records. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has rejected their request saying it “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump may be fighting back against “crazy people,” who want to destroy his life, but that doesn’t mean he’s covering up anything, Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday while rejecting claims House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been making.

“You’re not covering anything up when you’re fighting a bunch of politicians trying to destroy you and your family,” the South Carolina Republican told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “Here is what I would say is being covered up, the division in the Democratic Party. When she said there is no division in the Democratic Party…either she is delusional or she is misleading us.”

He also rejected Pelosi’s comment that further investigations may bring Democrats to a place where impeachment is “unavoidable.”

“What is unavoidable is she will lose (her) job if she doesn’t embrace impeachment,” said Graham. “The people she is in charge of lost their mind.”

Graham also Friday said Trump’s decision to allow Attorney General William Barr to declassify intelligence showing the origins of the Russian probe should reveal interesting information.

“You will find out the mentality of the people investigating the president,” said Graham. “You will find out what they did, you find out George Papadopoulos was not working with Russians.”

Graham, as head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also said Friday he’ll look at the information to make sure FISA laws can “detect somebody giving the court a bunch of garbage.”

“I want rules that you can’t open up a counterintelligence investigation on a presidential candidate without having a good reason,” said Graham.

Source: NewsMax Politics

A Florida manufacturer of voter registration software says it has proof its systems were not breached by Russians in 2016, Politico is reporting.

VR Systems made its claim in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. A copy of the letter was posted by Politico.

The company said that based on a series of reviews, “we are confident that there was never an intrusion” in its servers or network.

The final report by special counsel Robert Mueller on Russian election interference said hackers had installed malware on the network of an unnamed voting technology company.

Politico pointed to a leaked National Security Agency document published by The Intercept as indicating that VR Systems was the most likely victim.

Politico noted that in the letter to Wyden, the company does say it received so-called “spearphishing emails” in 2016.

The website said VR Systems hired a company called FireEye to conduct an examination, which found no breach. And an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security in 2018 found no malware on VR system’s network.

However, the company would not share the FireEye report with Wyden, Politico reported.

“It is simply unacceptable that VR Systems is stonewalling Congressional oversight by refusing to provide my office with the report produced as part of its external security audit of its systems from 2017,” Wyden told Politico.

VR Systems sells software containing voter records that are used in Florida and seven other states.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Sen. Joni Ernst said Friday the Department of Defense gets her monthly “Squeal Award” because it is as “guilty as anyone out there” for overspending.

“The Squeal Award is highlighting waste that’s in the federal government and then trying to find ways that we can cut back on that waste,” the Iowa Republican and combat veteran told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “The Department of Defense, they are as guilty as anyone out there.”

The award went in part to the DOD because of its purchase of 25 coffee cups, valued at $1,220 each, but also because of several pricey studies. According to Ernst’s website, they include:

  • $209,000 grant to the Office of Naval Research (ONR) grant for helping determine the sociability of 18 different dog breeds.
  • $25,000 study by the Air Force to examine the “physics of teleportation.” The technology could potentially cost $7.5 million to develop.
  • $3.9 million grant from the DOD to determine if junk food is more distracting than healthy food.
  • The ONR spent $3.85 million to investigate a study that looks into the “tingling sensation the fictional comic book character Spider-man experiences.”
  • A cheating study by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation involving 20 rounds of “Rock-Paper-Scissors” played between 60 humans and a robot designed to cheat.

“What are we doing to modernize our military?” Ernst told Fox News. “What are we doing to make sure that our men and women actually stay safe? Are those dollars being well-spent? These dollars are not being well-spent.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Sen. Joni Ernst said Friday the Department of Defense gets her monthly “Squeal Award” because it is as “guilty as anyone out there” for overspending.

“The Squeal Award is highlighting waste that’s in the federal government and then trying to find ways that we can cut back on that waste,” the Iowa Republican and combat veteran told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “The Department of Defense, they are as guilty as anyone out there.”

The award went in part to the DOD because of its purchase of 25 coffee cups, valued at $1,220 each, but also because of several pricey studies. According to Ernst’s website, they include:

  • $209,000 grant to the Office of Naval Research (ONR) grant for helping determine the sociability of 18 different dog breeds.
  • $25,000 study by the Air Force to examine the “physics of teleportation.” The technology could potentially cost $7.5 million to develop.
  • $3.9 million grant from the DOD to determine if junk food is more distracting than healthy food.
  • The ONR spent $3.85 million to investigate a study that looks into the “tingling sensation the fictional comic book character Spider-man experiences.”
  • A cheating study by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation involving 20 rounds of “Rock-Paper-Scissors” played between 60 humans and a robot designed to cheat.

“What are we doing to modernize our military?” Ernst told Fox News. “What are we doing to make sure that our men and women actually stay safe? Are those dollars being well-spent? These dollars are not being well-spent.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., might be the only Democrat who can keep the party from pursuing President Donald Trump’s impeachment, if she decides that it’s not the best course of action, Axios reports.

“The president’s behavior in terms of his obstruction of justice… yes, these could be impeachable offenses,” Pelosi said in remarks to reporters on Thursday, according to Politico. “If we can get the facts to the American people through our investigation, it may take us to a place that is unavoidable in terms of impeachment or not. But we’re not at that place.”

Axios notes that some of the pressure to impeach Trump could be lost if his financial documents, including his tax returns, are released by the courts. But if Democrats lose these fights, impeachment becomes a more appealing option. Some members of the party see impeachment as “inevitable,” Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, told Politico.

“I do think it’s inevitable. And I think timing is something we have to be very careful about,” she said on Thursday.

“I know there should not be political considerations, but in practical terms the longer we wait, my fear is the closer we get to political season,” Escobar added.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro’s stance on immigration, including decriminalizing border crossings and redefining the meaning of a merit-based system may be further left than that of his fellow party hopefuls, but he insists in an interview that he is “on the right path.”

“I don’t care first about what the party approach is, what I care about is getting this right for human beings,” the former Housing and Urban Development secretary told NPR’s “Morning Edition” Friday.

He added that for many years, the border crossings were not treated as a criminal act, but as a civil violation.

“A lot of the problems that we see in the system today flared up after we started treating it as a criminal offense,” said Castro.

He further said he doesn’t agree with President Donald Trump’s stance on illegal immigration, including his call last week to focus on a merit-based immigration system, and he does not agree with Trump about what constitutes a “skilled” job.

“Do you think that you could go and spend 10 hours picking a crop in the fields of California?” said Castro. “Do you think that you could spend 10 hours in 102 degrees, underneath the blaring sun on a roof in Texas? That is skilled labor.”

Castro said his grandmother came to the United States from Mexico in 1922 when she was just 7 years old, along with her little sister, because their parents had died.

“I don’t know that she ever would’ve made it in if we use the rules that this president wants to use, and yet two generations later, one of her grandsons is a congressman and the other is a candidate for president of the United States,” said Castro.

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump is questioning when Twitter will restore accounts to popular conservative voices.

Trump tweeted Thursday night: “When is Twitter going to allow the very popular Conservative Voices that it has so viciously shut down, back into the OPEN? IT IS TIME!”

He did not specifically mention which accounts he was referring to.

Earlier this month, Trump had criticized social media companies after Facebook banned a number of extremist figures, declaring that he was “monitoring and watching, closely.”

He had previously claimed that social media companies exhibit bias against conservatives, something the companies have rejected as untrue.

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump’s campaign believes he can turn Republicans’ biggest liability from last year’s congressional elections – the debate about the future of healthcare in America – into a winning issue for his reelection.

That would have appeared highly unlikely just months ago, when Democrats seized upon the issue of coverage for pre-existing medical conditions to capture control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Since then, the 2020 Democratic presidential field has been locked in a debate about how far to go to transform the U.S. healthcare system. Some candidates have suggested abolishing private insurance in favor of a single government-run plan, sometimes referred to as “Medicare for All,” while others favor more modest reforms.

Trump’s campaign is betting that whoever emerges with the Democratic nomination next year will have been forced to embrace a sweeping healthcare reform proposal that may spook moderate voters.

“The president has taken the issue back,” Tim Murtaugh, Trump’s campaign communications director, told Reuters in an interview. “(Democrats are) taking the Blue Cross (private insurance) card out of your wallet and making it worthless.”

About half of the dozen top-tier of Democratic hopefuls vying for the nomination have endorsed some form of Medicare for All, according to a Reuters analysis of campaign positions.

Democrats could end up ceding political ground if they nominate a candidate who advocates for universal healthcare, said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan healthcare advocacy group.

“The polls show very clearly that the Democrats have a very substantial advantage on health and all the health issues,” Altman said. “If the Democrat is a candidate who is a big advocate for Medicare for All, it will play a little differently.”

Some voters will be leery of losing their private insurance, but Democrats are still likely to win over those concerned about pre-existing conditions and abortion access, Altman said.


Trump has yet to set forth his long-promised healthcare reform plan.

But he is speaking about healthcare more frequently. At a rally in Pennsylvania on Monday, Trump repeated his promise to keep protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

He also is likely to tout what the White House and his campaign say are meaningful changes the administration has made to help small businesses and to try to reduce the price of prescription drugs for U.S. consumers. His administration recently mandated pharmaceutical companies include list prices of drugs in television ads in a bid to get them to lower prices.

His administration argued in a report released in February that it has made healthcare markets more efficient by de-regulating some aspects of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Those included doing away with the law’s mandate to purchase health insurance and expanding coverage options through association plans, which allow small businesses to band together to purchase insurance.

“The president can point to real results on healthcare,” Murtaugh said.

But Trump also has provided Democrats with fodder they are likely to use to challenge his healthcare claims, and they are sure to argue that Trump will cost millions of Americans their coverage.

The president already backed a proposal in Congress that would have reduced protections for pre-existing conditions – despite his continued insistence that he does not want to eliminate those rules. And he has proposed reductions to Medicaid and Medicare funding.

His campaign will be forced to navigate those decisions as well as dispel voters’ worry that Trump wants to gut the existing Obamacare framework with no effective replacement.

Trump said in a local media interview in Pennsylvania this week he would roll out a new healthcare plan soon. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the timing.

Providing such a plan will be critical to winning over voters next year, said Michael Steel, a former top aide to former Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

Steel said that while he thinks Democrats are “overreaching” on the issue, “we’ll need our own conservative cost-containment plan to truly go on offense. And we don’t have that yet.”


Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist and former chief of staff to Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate from West Virginia, said Trump’s campaign underestimates the depth of voter anxiety over healthcare costs and coverage.

Branding Democratic proposals as “socialist” will not be persuasive, he said.

“They’re wrong if they think they can win this as an ideological debate,” Kofinis said, adding that his own work with voter groups has shown some appetite for a large-scale overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system.

Kofinis warned that Democrats risk losing their edge on the issue, however, if they fail to heed the lesson of the 2018 midterm elections and instead become preoccupied with investigations of Trump.

Last year, Democrats took 40 seats to regain the House, a victory largely fueled by voter concerns over losing coverage if Republicans dismantled Obamacare.

Murtaugh believes that Democrats did not act quickly enough to turn their electoral victories into action.

“The big conversation was about healthcare and what are they talking about? Impeachment,” Murtaugh said. “They won the election, but they haven’t done a damn thing with it.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

The Democratic head of the House Judiciary Committee said Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller, who has completed his investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 election, “wants to testify in private” to lawmakers.

In an interview on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. , who chairs the panel, said “There are a lot of people who should come in and testify who the administration is saying they will not permit to testify.

“They’re blanket stonewalling . . . Congress and the American people,” he said of the Trump administration. “The president was foolish enough to admit that he was engaged in stonewalling including [former White House counsel Donald] McGahn and a lot of other people.”

“Mueller, I think I can say at this point, that he wants to testify in private,” Nadler declared.

“He’s willing to make an opening statement but he wants to testify in private,” he added. “We’re saying he ought to – we think it’s important for the American people to hear from him and to hear his answers to questions about the report.”

Though Mueller wants his testimony private, there would be a transcript of it, Nadler said.

“He envisions himself correctly as a man of great rectitude and apolitical and he doesn’t want to participate in anything that he might regard as a political spectacle, especially if Republicans on the committee start asking him questions about the beginning of the investigation.

“I’m speculating really. But he doesn’t want to be public in what some people will regard as a political spectacle, I think,” he said.

He added he believes the committee “probably” hear from Mueller’s investigators as well.

“I think we’ll probably hear from them and a lot of other people,” Nadler said. “Our intention is to open all of this up to the American people, to have everybody relevant testify so people understand what was in the Mueller report, what wasn’t in the Mueller report, to understand what was going on.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump boasted Thursday about being featured as Japan’s guest of honor during his upcoming trip to Tokyo, The Washington Post reports.

Trump will become the first foreign leader Monday to meet Japan’s newly enthroned Emperor Naruhito, who was named monarch after his father, Akihito, became the first Japanese emperor to abdicate in more than 200 years.

“It’s a very big thing going on with the emperor,” Trump said. “It’s something that hasn’t happened in over 200 years. I am the guest, meaning the United States is the guest, but Prime Minister [Shinzō] Abe said to me very specifically, ‘You are the guest of honor. There’s only one guest of honor. You are the guest of honor.'”

Trump will also attend a banquet at the imperial palace and take ringside seats at the first sumo tournament of the imperial era. There, he will present a specially made “Trump Cup” to the winner.

“With all the countries of the world, I am the guest of honor at the biggest event that they’ve had in over 200 years,” he added. “So, it’s a great thing. And we get along very well with Japan. I get along very well with the prime minister, so we’re going to be spending two days over there.”

Trump told reporters he agreed to visit because Prime Minister Abe told him the imperial succession is “about 100 times bigger” for people in Japan than the Super Bowl is for Americans.

Source: NewsMax Politics

A video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with the audio slowed to make her speech sound drunkenly slurred, made the rounds on social media Thursday.

The video is from Pelosi’s Wednesday speech at the Center for American Progress — but the altered version was posted on multiple social media platforms, including Facebook’s Politics WatchDog page, where it was viewed more than 2 million times, with more than 43,000 shares.

“Good Lord lady . . . How many drinks did you have today,” one commenter wrote, according to Talking Points Memo.

“Omg is she drunk or having a stroke??? Bet that makes the Dems so proud of their Leader, LMAO,” another said. “How can you have a meaningful meeting with a drunken Speaker of the House?” said another.

And The Washington Post explained both verified and altered versions.

The video of Pelosi “shows that there is a larger threat of misinformation campaigns — too many of us are willing to believe the worst in people that we disagree with,” Hany Farid, a computer science professor and digital-forensics expert at the University of California, Berkeley, told The Washington Post.

“It is striking that such a simple manipulation can be so effective and believable to some.”

The video was linked by multiple YouTube and Twitter accounts, as well as comments sections for local news outlets, The Hill reported.

A spokesperson for YouTube told the news outlet the video had been removed from the platform for company policy violations.

“YouTube has clear policies that outline what content is not acceptable to post and we remove videos violating these policies when flagged to us,” the YouTube spokesperson said. “These videos violated our policies and have been removed.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump issued an order Thursday allowing Attorney General William Barr to declassify any information Barr sees fit during his review of the events that prompted the FBI to open an investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The order also directed leaders of the U.S. intelligence community and other departments and agencies to cooperate with Barr during his review.

The memorandum to the heads of agencies to cooperate with Barr’s inquiry included the Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Department, State Department, and Energy Department.

“Today, at the request and recommendation of the Attorney General of the United States, President Donald J. Trump directed the intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 Presidential election,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement, per the Washington Examiner.

“The Attorney General has also been delegated full and complete authority to declassify information pertaining to this investigation, in accordance with the long-established standards for handling classified information,” she added. “Today’s action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions.”

Response from Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was swift.

“The fact of the matter is this is all nonsense,” he declared on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

“There is no basis whatsoever to believe that anybody in the intelligence community did anything wrong in terms of starting the investigation or the Hillary [Clinton] email investigation,” Rep. Nadler added. “What they’re really trying to do is to divert attention from the Mueller report and from the president’s actions against the rule of law to an imaginary scandal.

“It’s part of the Trump and Republican plot to dirty up the intelligence community, to pretend that there’s something wrong with the beginning of the Mueller investigation and to persecute and bring into line the intelligence agencies.”

Trump has promised the action for nearly a year. 

In a Sept. 17, 2018, statement, the White House said Trump had ordered the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice to prove certain portions of the June 2017 application to the FISA court concerning Carter Page, FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation, and FBI reports of interviews prepared related to the Page FISA applications.

He also ordered the public release of “all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.” 

But within days he backed down, the Examiner noted.

“I met with the DOJ concerning the declassification of various UNREDACTED documents,” Trump tweeted. “They agreed to release them but stated that so doing may have a perceived negative impact on the Russia probe. Also, key Allies’ called to ask not to release.

“Therefore, the Inspector General has been asked to review these documents on an expedited basis. I believe he will move quickly on this (and hopefully other things which he is looking at). In the end, I can always declassify if it proves necessary. Speed is very important to me — and everyone!”

Barr has asked U.S. Attorney John Durham to review the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation and has said he is working with Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is expected to soon wrap up a FISA abuse investigation.

Newsmax’s Cathy Burke contributed to this report.

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump on Thursday issued an order allowing Attorney General William Barr to declassify any information Barr sees fit during his review of the events that prompted the FBI to open an investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The order also directed leaders of the U.S. intelligence community and other departments and agencies to cooperate with Barr during his review.

Source: NewsMax Politics

The Trump administration is considering an emergency declaration that would allow it to make an arms shipment to Saudi Arabia without the approval of Congress, two U.S. officials and lawmakers opposed to the move said Thursday.

The officials say a decision on invoking a national security waiver in the Arms Export Control Act to bypass congressional review of proposed sales to the Saudis could be made as early as Friday. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

It was not immediately clear what sales would be covered by the possible waiver, which could allow previously blocked weapons transfers to move forward or be applied to new ones. A sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia has been on hold for over a year.

Congressional opposition to U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia has been growing and lawmakers have blocked about $2 billion in arms sales to the kingdom for more than a year due to concerns over civilian casualties in the Saudi-led military operation in Yemen and outrage over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October by Saudi agents.

President Donald Trump last month vetoed legislation that would have ended U.S. military assistance for the Saudi-led war in Yemen against Iran-backed rebels but administration officials have complained that sales remain blocked. The law requires Congress to be notified of potential arms sales, giving the body the opportunity to block the sale. But the law also allows the president to waive that review process by declaring an emergency that requires the sale be made “in the national security interests of the United States.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who would authorize the waiver, has been considering the step for months, according to the officials. But the matter has become more pressing in recent weeks due to what the administration says are heightened threats from Iran and drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities by Yemen’s Houthi rebels this week.

Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, The ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Thursday that he would move to halt any sales that arise from an exemption.

“I will pursue all appropriate legislative and other means to nullify these and any planned ongoing sales should the administration move forward in this manner,” he said in a statement. “The Congressional review process exists so that the Senate can ask questions about whether a particular arms sale serves our national interests and supports our values, including human rights and civilian protections.”

Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut warned Wednesday that the administration might use the “obscure loophole” to bypass congressional approval.

“Trump knows he would lose a vote on the sale — Congress and the American public object to selling these bombs to the Saudis,” Murphy said in a series of tweets on the matter. “If there is an emergency, it’s a humanitarian emergency caused by the bombs we sell the Saudis.”

There is precedent for using the emergency exemption for arms sales to Saudi Arabia. President Ronald Reagan invoked it in the 1980s and both Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush used it for sales before the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq war.

The State Department declined to comment, citing a policy against discussing potential arms sales until Congress is notified.

Source: NewsMax Politics

John Walker Lindh, the American captured in Afghanistan in 2001 fighting for the Taliban, was freed early from federal prison on Thursday after serving 17 years amid concerns he might still harbor extremist views.

President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House that he had asked government lawyers whether the release could be stopped but said nothing could be done.

“What bothers me more than anything else is that here’s a man who has not given up his proclamation of terror, and we have to let him out. Am I happy about it? Not even a little bit,” Trump said.

Lindh, who was 20 years old when captured, left the prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, on Thursday morning, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said. He had been sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty in 2002 to charges of supplying services to the Taliban and carrying an explosive during the commission of a felony.

Lindh is among dozens of prisoners to be released during the next few years after being captured in Iraq and Afghanistan and convicted of terrorism-related crimes following the attacks on the United States by al Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001.

Leaked U.S. government documents published by Foreign Policy magazine show the federal government as recently as 2016 described Lindh as holding “extremist views.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Lindh’s release “unexplainable and unconscionable.”

“There’s something deeply troubling and wrong about it,” he said on Fox News on Thursday morning.

“What is the current interagency policy, strategy, and process for ensuring that terrorist/extremist offenders successfully reintegrate into society?” asked U.S. Senators Richard Shelby and Margaret Hassan in a letter to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The bureau said in a statement that it does not share details of specific inmates’ release plans but that it does have policies for monitoring parolees with ties to terrorism.

During his supervised release, Lindh will not be allowed to possess any internet-capable device without permission from his probation officer, and any such device must be monitored continuously, according to court documents.

He is not allowed to hold a passport, communicate with known extremists or have any online communications in any language other than English unless approved. He also must undergo mental health counseling, court documents showed.

Lindh’s parents, Marilyn Walker and Frank Lindh, did not respond to requests for comment and Lindh’s lawyer, Bill Cummings, declined to comment.

U.S.-born Lindh converted from Catholicism to Islam as a teenager. At his sentencing in 2002, he said he traveled to Yemen to learn Arabic and then to Pakistan to study Islam.

Lindh said he volunteered as a soldier with the Taliban, the radical Sunni Muslim group that ruled most of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, to help fellow Muslims in their struggle or “jihad.” He said he had no intention “to fight against America” and never understood jihad to mean anti-Americanism.

Lindh told the court he condemned “terrorism on every level” and attacks by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden were “completely against Islam.”

But a January 2017 report by the U.S. government’s National Counterterrorism Center, published by Foreign Policy, said that, as of May 2016, Lindh “continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts.”

NBC News reported that Lindh wrote a letter to its Los Angeles station KNBC in 2015 expressing support for Islamic State, saying the Islamic militant group was fulfilling “a religious obligation to establish a caliphate through armed struggle.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump said on Thursday he did not think additional U.S. troops are needed in the Middle East to counter Iran, casting doubt on a Pentagon plan to bolster forces in the region.

“I don’t think we’re going to need them. I really don’t,” Trump told reporters. “I would certainly send troops if we need them.” If needed, “we’ll be there in whatever number we need,” he added.

Trump, who has been focused on trying to reduce the number of U.S. troops deployed around the world, spoke shortly before he was to be briefed at the White House on a new deployment plan by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

Shanahan said the Pentagon was considering sending additional U.S. troops to the Middle East as one of the ways to bolster protection for American forces there amid tensions with Iran.

“What we’re looking at is: Are there things that we can do to enhance force protection in the Middle East?” Shanahan said.

“It may involve sending additional troops.”

But Shanahan, in remarks to reporters outside the Pentagon, dismissed reports suggesting specific numbers of troops were being considered at this point, saying: “As soon as there’s a change, I’ll give you an update.”

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have been steadily escalating in recent weeks, as Trump tightens sanctions meant to cut off Iran’s ability to sell oil on global markets. The Trump administration is also warning of possible Iranian plots against America and its allies.

Iran denies the accusations.

Any decision to send additional U.S. troops would follow a move to accelerate the deployment of a carrier strike group to the Middle East and send bombers and Patriot missiles to the region in response to what Washington said were troubling indications of possible preparations for an attack by Iran.

The United States says the steps are aimed at preventing conflict by deterring any dangerous activity by Iran or Iran-backed forces. But Iran has accused the United States of brinksmanship.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the Pentagon was considering a proposal to send about 5,000 troops while other media reported that up to 10,000 could be deployed.

“I got up this morning and read that we were sending 10,000 troops to the Middle East, and then I read more recently that there was 5,0000,” Shanahan said.

“There is no 10,000 and there is no 5,000.”

The Pentagon regularly receives – and declines – requests for additional resources from U.S. combatant commands throughout the world.

A senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards on Thursday described the standoff between Iran and the United States as a “clash of wills.”

“The confrontation and face-off of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the malicious government of America is the arena for a clash of wills,” Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri said.

He pointed to a battle during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war where Iran was victorious and said the outcome could be a message that Iran will have a “hard, crushing and obliterating response” for any enemy “adventurism.”

On Sunday, Trump tweeted: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” But he has also signaled a willingness to talk with Tehran.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Kris Kobach said he declined an immigration adviser’s post at Homeland Security because it did not carry enough clout to solve the crisis at the southern border.

His comments came in an interview with The Washington Times. The former Kansas secretary of state, said only a White House “czar”-style post, would carry enough weight to achieve President Donald Trump’s goals at the border.

Former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli has been selected by Trump to fill the undefined advisory role at Homeland Security, the Times noted.

The New York Times that Kobach had set conditions for accepting any czar-like role, including having access to a government jet 24 hours a day, an office in the West Wing and an assurance of being made secretary of homeland security by November.

Kobach said he turned down the adviser’s job because he was concerned he couldn’t cut through the bureaucracy.

“It’s something that requires the White House to be directly engaged and moving the chess pieces on the table very quickly,” he said. “A subordinate official at any one of those agencies isn’t going to be able to get it done.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., blasted House Democrats for engaging more in “harassment than oversight” when it came to President Donald Trump.

Blunt made his comments Thursday during an interview with Hill.TV.

““I’m disappointed by the House’s actions,” Blunt said. “I think there’s more harassment than oversight going on, and even (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi seems to have agreed that the better thing to do is to legislate rather than to investigate.

“You can’t expect the president to hear that diatribe all day every day and not have a reaction to it.”

Trump had also ripped Democrats on Thursday. In morning tweets, he accused the Democrats of squandering time “day after day, trying to find anything which will be bad for me.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

In preparation for pro-choice and media attacks against Republicans and pro-life backers after Alabama’s strict anti-abortion legislation, the GOP released a confidential talking points memo via Republican Study Committee’s “Messaging the Minority,” warning of “gotcha moments” to “divide” Republicans.

Vice News obtained the document, which are labeled “off the record” and “not to be printed or reproduced by/for the media.”

The secret talking points were sent by the RSC to counter opposition and media attacks for the strictest abortion law in the United States recently passed by Alabama, a deep red state.

“Unfortunately, the media is attempting to use these new developments to create ‘gotcha moments’ for Republicans and a divide within our party,” the memo read, per the report.

“While some Republicans may disagree with the timing and/or particular legal strategies being implemented with the various state measures, it is critical our members speak with clarity and conviction about the broader issue of the sanctity and inherent value of every human life.”

Stressing the pro life belief “every single human life” is sacred and has an “inherent right to life,” the memo laid out four bullet points to counter the arguments for allowing exceptions for abortion in the cases of rape and incest:

  • While rape and incest are “traumatic” and “atrocities,” “we should not, however, give a death sentence to the innocent child.”
  • Abortion would be a “second violent act” to a woman victimized by rape or incest.
  • “We should provide these women with the resources and care they need to heal, not encourage more pain and suffering.
  • “Every single child should be afforded the opportunity to live, regardless of how they were conceived.”

The memo, before admonishing it to not be released to media, finished with a trio of links as “additional resources,” including “Debunking 9 myths surrounding Alabama’s abortion law.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway hit out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday, saying the congresswoman “treats everybody like they’re her staff.”

Conway told “Americas Newsroom” on Thursday that after President Donald Trump abruptly ended a planned meeting with Democrats, she offered to meet with Pelosi only to be rebuffed.

“She said … ‘I talk to the president, I don’t talk to staff,’” Conway said. “You know, let’s face it, she’s the sixth-most-rich member of Congress. She treats everybody like they’re her staff.”

Although Pelosi is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, Fox News notes that her actual ranking depends on how that wealth is calculated.

“She treats me like I’m either her maid or her driver or her pilot or her makeup artist and I’m not. And I said to her ‘how very pro-woman of you’ … she’s not very pro-woman.”

Pelosi declined to comment on Conway’s remarks while speaking to reporters later on Thursday.

“I’m not going to talk about her. I responded as the speaker of the House to the [president]. Other conversations people want to have among themselves is up to them,” she said.

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump is delivering $16 billion more in aid to farmers hurt by his trade policies, an effort to relieve the economic pain among his supporters in rural America.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the first of three payments is likely to be made in July or August and suggested that U.S. negotiators may be weeks away from settling a bitter trade dispute with China.

The latest bailout comes atop $11 billion in aid Trump provided farmers last year.

Trump, seeking to reduce America’s trade deficit with the rest of the world and with China in particular, has imposed import taxes on foreign steel, aluminum, solar panels and dishwashers and on thousands of Chinese products.

U.S trading partners have lashed back with retaliatory tariffs of their own, focusing on U.S. agricultural products in a direct shot at the American heartland, where support for Trump runs high.

“The package we’re announcing today will ensure that farmers will not bear the brunt of those trade actions,” Perdue said.

Financial markets buckled Thursday on heightened tensions between the U.S. and China. The Dow Jones industrial average was down more than 400 points in mid-day trading.

U.S. crude plunged 6 percent on fears that the trade standoff could knock the global economy out of kilter and kill demand for energy.

Talks between the world’s two biggest economies broke off earlier this month with no resolution to a dispute over Beijing’s aggressive efforts to challenge American technological dominance. The U.S. charges that China is stealing technology, unfairly subsidizing its own companies and forcing U.S. companies to hand over trade secrets if they want access to the Chinese market.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to discuss the standoff at a meeting of the Group of 20 major economies in Osaka, Japan, next month.

But briefing reporters on the farm aid package, Perdue said he doubted that “a trade deal could be consummated before” the first payments to farmers in July or August.

In Beijing, China held the door open to resuming talks in the tariff war with Washington on Thursday, but lashed out at limits on access to key technologies that it said might hurt global supply chains.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China hopes to restart the talks that broke down earlier this month after the U.S. hiked tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports, but only if the conditions are deemed fair.

“China is open to the door of dialogue, but sincerity is indispensable to make a consultation meaningful,” Lu said at regularly scheduled briefing. “A mutually beneficial agreement must be based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.”

Seeking to rally support for its side in the tariff war, Beijing is vehemently protesting the Trump administration’s decision last week to impose controls on exports of computer chips and other key components.

The move, mainly aimed at telecom equipment maker Huawei and other Chinese high-tech companies, will hinder global cooperation in science and technology and has “harmed the vital interests of relevant enterprises and countries,” Lu said.

A spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry said Washington was “using American national power to suppress Chinese companies.”

This “not only seriously disrupts regular business cooperation between the sides’ enterprises, but also seriously threatens the security of the global industrial supply chain,” the spokesman, Gao Feng, told reporters.

The Trump administration has singled out Huawei, accusing it of posing a security threat. As a result, U.S. allies and their companies increasingly have put cooperation with the company on hold.

On Wednesday, Britain’s EE and Vodafone and Japan’s KDDI and Y! Mobile said they were holding off on the launch of Huawei smartphones, including some that can be used on next generation mobile networks, amid uncertainty about the devices from the world’s No. 2 smartphone maker.

As the trade dispute drags on, battering Chinese manufacturers and raising uncertainty for investors, Beijing has stepped up efforts to sway opinion in its favor both at home and abroad.

That extends even to neighboring countries whose economies are unlikely to be much affected by friction between Beijing and Washington.

Speaking to members of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization at a meeting in Kyrgyzstan, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi vowed to match “extreme pressure” from the U.S. with its own measures.

The trade frictions have “aroused great concern from the international community,” Wang said. “I stress to everyone that China’s actions are not just about preserving our own legitimate rights and interests but also to maintain the norms of international relations and safeguard the international free trading system.”

Wang, whose comments Wednesday were posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website, said representatives of the group had expressed “broad support” for China’s position.

A security-oriented group dominated by Moscow and Beijing, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization also includes Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan and several observer states and “dialogue partners.”

Beijing has already responded to Trump’s tariff hikes on $250 billion of Chinese imports by slapping penalties on $110 billion of American goods. Based on last year’s trade, that leaves about $45 billion in imports from the U.S.

They include semiconductors and other critical inputs needed by fledgling Chinese tech industries.

So far, Beijing has sought to win sympathy and support by burnishing its credentials as a rules-abiding member of the World Trade Organization.

China has hinted it could also leverage its role as the main global supplier of rare earths used in smartphones, lightweight magnets, batteries and other components to slap back. It could also target Apple and other companies that rely on Chinese manufacturing and sales.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Every president has been subject to an investigation of one kind or another, and while they hate it, they went on about the business of the office, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin said Thursday about President Donald Trump’s statement that he will no longer work with Democrats unless they drop their investigations of him.

“I think the president has declared that he is not going to be the president,” the Illinois Democrat told CNN’s “New Day.” “He’s not going to lead or work with Congress until investigations come to an end. That I think is an unreasonable request. No former president that I know of has said such a thing.”

Durbin was at Wednesday’s meeting at the White House that had been called to discuss infrastructure and said he believes Trump choreographed his walkout.

“It was a petulant moment, it was an awkward moment and sadly at the end of it the American people were the losers,” said Durbin.

Durbin added that in a “transparent, accountable democracy” investigations never end, and complained that the Senate is not getting anything done because of political fighting.

“We’re doing virtually nothing in the U.S. Senate,” with the exception of approving judicial nominees, said Durbin. “That’s all we’ve done for weeks and weeks and weeks. We don’t address the basic issues the American people sent us to look at…he has decided not to engage the Congress, (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch Mcconnell is complicit in this and we are wasting our time.”

He also said he agrees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Trump’s behavior could be considered a cover-up, based on the findings in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz warned Democrats they are seeking to go above the law when it comes to trying to impeach President Donald Trump.

Dershowitz made his remarks in a column posted Thursday on the Fox News website.

“The mantra invoked by those Democrats who are seeking to impeach President Donald Trump is that “No one is above the law,” he wrote. “That, of course, is true, but it is as applicable to Congress as it is to the president. 

“Those members of Congress who are seeking to impeach the president, even though he has not committed any of the specified impeachable offenses set out in the Constitution, are themselves seeking to go above the law.” 

He noted that under the Constitution, a president’s impeachable actions must consist of “treason, bribery or other high crimes of misdemeanors.”

“Yet Democrats who are now seeking to impeach the president, despite the absence of impeachable offenses, are trying to do precisely what the Framers of the Constitution forbade them from doing: mainly exercising control over a president that is not authorized in the Constitution itself,” he said.

He maintained the time “has come to stop weaponizing the Constitution for partisan advantage.”

“No one is above the law, but no one is beneath the legal protection of the law as well,” he said. “Both parties should operate within the law for the benefit of the American people.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

President Donald Trump punched back Thursday against former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s claim that the president was not prepared for the summit last August with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

President Trump tweeted:

“Rex Tillerson, a man who is ‘dumb as a rock’ and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State, made up a story (he got fired) that I was out-prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Hamburg, Germany. I don’t think Putin would agree. Look how the U.S. is doing!”

The Tillerson claim that  President Trump was rebuking were made to members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a secret meeting Tuesday, according to The Washington Post.

The summit in question is the same one President Trump’s critics claimed the president was bowing to the Russian president as an example of how he has been compromised from the Russian election meddling campaign in the 2016 presidential election.

Although, Tillerson “wasn’t there to bash the president,” House Foreign Affairs Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y, told ABC News, House Democrats are using the fired ex-Cabinet member to find deficiencies in President Trump’s administration and discredit it, according to ABC News.

“His telling to us of what life was like in that short year that he was secretary of State was very interesting,” Rep. Engel told ABC News in an exclusive interview. “It just solidified my feeling that there was disorganization and that the president was not focused.”

Source: NewsMax Politics

Three Republican congressmen are relaunching a PAC aimed at getting more GOP military veterans to run for Congress, Roll Call is reporting.

Reps. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., and Michael Waltz, R-Fla., who all were in the military, said the War Veterans Fund PAC will recruit Republican veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan to run and assist in funding campaigns.

“We’ve seen the Democrats do a good job of recruiting young veterans to run in the midterms, to great political effect,” Gallagher is quoted in The Dallas Morning News. “We would be dumb not to do the same.”

Waltz said veterans often lack the resources to fund a campaign.

“Veterans tend to want to be ultra-prepared,” Crenshaw said. “They want to know everything they possibly can before running for Congress. That’s great … but don’t undersell yourself. You can do this.”

Roll Call noted there are currently 96 veterans serving in the House and Senate – just 18% of the 116th Congress’ membership.

Source: NewsMax Politics

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., on Thursday shared a tense exchange on Twitter over Carson’s recent congressional testimony.

Carson appeared before the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday, where he misheard some common real estate terms and appeared unprepared for the questions posed to him.

Ilhan knocked Carson in a tweet on Thursday, saying she’s “not sure he was fully awake,” during an exchange with Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

At one point during the hearing, Carson grew irritated with Pressley’s questions and refused to answer, saying “reclaiming my time,” according to CSPAN.

On Thursday, Pressley tweeted that “maybe he meant to reclaim his time back to sleep.”

The secretary responded by referring to his time as a practicing surgeon, and blasting Omar for her pro-choice views.

“Since you brought it up… I know what it’s like to actually be sleepy, especially after 18-hour surgeries and operating on babies in the womb. I hope [Omar] knows I care about all people, even those she doesn’t recognize as having a right to life.”

Thursday wasn’t the first time Carson has been criticized for his demeanor. In 2015, President Donald Trump called Carson, his then-rival for the Republican nomination, “super low energy,” according to Fox News.

Source: NewsMax Politics

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