Gregg Re

U.S. Rep. Max Rose, a Jewish New York Democrat in his first term in Congress, apologized to visibly frustrated constituents at a town hall in Staten Island on Tuesday for not "protecting them" from fellow freshman Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar’s repeated use of "anti-Semitic tropes."

Rose’s comments came as Minnesota Democrats are seriously considering the prospect of supporting an unprecedented primary challenge against the 37-year-old Omar in 2020, following bipartisan condemnation of several of her remarks, according to officials and state representatives. Earlier this month, the House passed a bipartisan resolution condemning hate of all kinds in the wake of Omar’s comments. But Democrats kept Omar’s name out of the resolution, which several Republicans opposed as a watered-down, half-hearted effort.

ON THE STREETS IN OMAR’S DISTRICT: SOMALI GANGS, NO TALKING WITH THE COPS

“As a young congressman, I’ve got to tell you I’m sorry,” Rose told an audience gathered by the Council of Jewish Organizations (COJO), according to a video of the town hall posted on Facebook by Jewish Insider, which first reported the comments. “You sent me to Congress to take responsibility. You sent me to Congress to have your back … and I failed you. Because I know that Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s comments really caused you all a lot of pain by bringing up anti-Semitic tropes.”

Omar, 37, a Somali-American and one of two Muslim women in Congress, posted on Twitter in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” She drew condemnation in February even from fellow Democrats after she implied that Jewish politicians in the U.S. were bought.

Omar re-ignited the flames later that month when she once again suggested that groups supportive of Israel were pushing members of Congress to have "allegiance to a foreign country."

Democrat Max Rose won in an upset over Republican Rep. Dan Donovan in New York's 11th Congressional District. Photo Credit: Pool / Staten Island Advance via AP/Bill Lyons

Democrat Max Rose won in an upset over Republican Rep. Dan Donovan in New York’s 11th Congressional District. Photo Credit: Pool / Staten Island Advance via AP/Bill Lyons

Rose, 32, a U.S. Army veteran of the war in Afghanistan and Purple Heart recipient, denied that his Jewish faith affected his patriotism and called Omar’s remarks "horrifying" — but he said she should not yet lose her seat on the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee, a prospective move he called an unnecessary "escalation." Republicans, earlier this year, stripped U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, of his committee assignments after he made remarks widely seen as supportive of white nationalism, although King denied those charges.

“Certainly as a Jewish combat veteran, I could tell you I don’t have dual allegiance,” Rose said, as an attendee pushed him for answers on Democrats’ response to Omar’s comments. “I have allegiance to the flag. I have allegiance to the United States of America.”

Rose continued: “We have got to show her that there is a pathway for her to do the right thing, and we have to be vigilant towards that. Believe me, she understands that [removing her from her committee assignments] is a possibility, and nobody is taking that off the table, but we are not there yet.”

Adding that “I am not satisfied with what I’ve seen thus far, I’m not," Rose concluded by saying that he nevertheless accepted Omar’s apology. President Trump and top Republicans have characterized Omar’s apology as half-hearted and insincere, saying that her repeated anti-Israel comments revealed her true feelings.

"I was horrified and sad when she made the comments," Rose said. "So horrified that as a freshman member of Congress I stepped in front of my party’s leadership and I was the first member of the Democratic Party to criticize her. I did say that I accepted her apology. You know why I did that? Because I am an adult. Because my goal was to continue the quiet and non-glamorous actions of coalition-building and trying to protect the people in this room from those comments being made.”

"I was horrified and sad when she made the comments."

— U.S. Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y.

Other Democrats have offered less-than-flattering defenses for the congresswoman. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised eyebrows earlier this month when she said Omar “doesn’t understand” that some of the words she uses are "fraught with meaning."

Activists and officials interviewed in Minnesota have said recently while they have not yet recruited a viable alternative candidate to run against Omar, frustrations are mounting.

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“There’s definitely some buzz going around about it, but it’s more a buzz of, ‘Is anyone talking about finding someone to run against her?’ than it is anyone saying they’re going to run against her or contemplate it," state Rep. Ron Latz, a Democrat, told the Hill. "There’s definitely talk about people wanting someone to run against her."

And Omar Jamal, a Somali community activist, told the Washington Post that he has been in touch with Jewish community leaders about Omar. He said he supported her campaign but called her recent comments, "wrong, period."

"This is up to Ilhan Omar," he said. "She has really spoken in a very dangerous way, and it’s going to be up to her to reach out to people and fix this."

Source: Fox News Politics

Less than three months after taking office, New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose favorability numbers have plummeted in some recent polls,  is already front and center in a GOP congressional candidate’s upcoming campaign advertisement.

The 30-second spot, obtained by Fox News and currently available on YouTube, features Michele Nix, a candidate for the North Carolina 3rd Congressional District seat in the race to replace the late Republican Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., who died in February.

"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: she has the media, she has the followers, but bless her heart, she has some terrible ideas," Nix says. "Guaranteeing government jobs for some, while killing small-town jobs for others. Her green deal is a bad deal for North Carolina."

Nix concludes: "I’ll stand up to socialism. Congress needs a good, strong dose of conservative, mature common sense."

UNION LEADERS WARN GREEN NEW DEAL MAY LEAD TO POVERTY

More than a dozen other Republicans and several Democrats have entered the district race, with a primary set for April 30 and runoffs tentatively scheduled for July 9 if needed. The general election will either occur in July or September, depending on whether a primary runoff is necessary.

Nix’s ad in the strongly Republican-leaning district offered a strong signal that upcoming congressional campaigns will take their cue from President Trump’s messaging on Ocasio-Cortez, and on socialism in general. Trump has repeatedly vowed amid a humanitarian and political crisis in Venezuela that "America will never be a socialist country," and his administration has dismissed Ocasio-Cortez as a clueless politician who’s in over her head.

A Gallup poll released Friday shows that Ocasio-Cortez’s unfavorable rating has risen by 15 points since last September, when she had yet to win the general election, increasing from 26 percent to 41 percent of the American adults polled.

Among the possible causes: The Green New Deal resolution Ocasio-Cortez introduced earlier his year suffered a botched rollout, including the release of an official document by her office that promised economic security even for those "unwilling to work," as well as the elimination of "farting cows" and air travel. Prominent Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, have criticized the plan.

And a newly published poll from Siena College shows that Ocasio-Cortez is seen as New York’s "biggest villain" when it comes to Amazon’s decision to spurn the city and abandon plans for a second headquarters in Long Island City. Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly suggested that Amazon was receiving billions in cash handouts from the city — though it would have received tax reductions as incentive to build the headquarters. New York City’s Democrat mayor, Bill de Blasio, publicly called out Ocasio-Cortez’s confusion on the topic.

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However, despite the blowback from top Democrats and her own constituents, the 29-year-old freshman congresswoman has also managed to increase her favorability rating, if only by seven points. About 31 percent of surveyed people view her favorably, compared to 24 percent in September, according to Gallup.

Nearly three-quarters of Republican respondents say they view her negatively, with only 5 percent having a positive view. Among the Democrats, 56 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Ocasio-Cortez, compared to only 15 percent of the Democrats polled who don’t support her.

Even some Republicans in Congress have admitted they admire Ocasio-Cortez’s political acumen — and others warn that focusing too much on her may only raise her profile.

“Laughing at Trump, as the libs did, sure stopped him from being POTUS,” right-wing activist Mike Cernovich tweeted late last year. “Laughing at AOC, as the cons are doing now, sure is hurting her.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Colorado’s attorney general testified said week that country sheriffs vowing not to enforce the state’s proposed anti-gun "red flag" bill should "resign" — a challenge that threatened to ramp up tensions between state officials and local leaders who were already creating droves of so-called Second Amendment "sanctuary counties" to resist the legislation.

Democrat Phil Weiser made the remarks, which were first reported by The Colorado Sun, while testifying before a state committee on Friday. Weiser has said that the red flag legislation, which would permit a court to the seizure of weapons from people determined to be a threat to others or themselves, would save lives, particularly in domestic violence situations.

“If a sheriff cannot follow the law, the sheriff cannot do his or her job,” Weiser said. “The right thing to do for a sheriff who says, ‘I can’t follow the law’ is to resign.”

Phil Weiser, seen here in October 2018, said sheriffs unwilling to enforce Colorado's "red flag" bill should resign.

Phil Weiser, seen here in October 2018, said sheriffs unwilling to enforce Colorado’s "red flag" bill should resign. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

The proposed state law, House Bill 1177, is expected to secure passage in the Colorado legislature and be approved by the state’s Democrat governor, Jared Polis. It says petitioners, under oath, must establish by a "preponderance of the evidence" — a relatively lax legal standard essentially meaning that something is "more likely than not" — that a person "poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody or control or by possessing, purchasing or receiving a firearm."

An emergency hearing must then be held within 24 hours, and if an "extreme risk protection order" (ERPO) is issued by a judge, an individual will be barred from "possessing, controlling, purchasing or receiving a firearm for 364 days," and must "surrender all of his or her firearms and his or her concealed carry permit."

CALIFORNIA’S GUN SEIZURE PROGRAM HITS HURDLES

Defendants can successfully override the ERPO only by establishing by "clear and convincing evidence" — a legal standard even more strict than guilt beyond a reasonable doubt — "that he or she no longer poses a significant risk of causing personal injury to self or others."

“Because ERPO will be constitutionally upheld, every sheriff will be required and, I believe, will follow through to uphold an act under that law," Weiser told the state Senate panel.

Several other states are considering similar red flag laws, and counties in states as far apart as New Mexico and Illinois have responded by creating Second Amendment sanctuaries, leading to court challenges. But Weiser’s comments were perhaps the most direct repudiation by state officials of local leaders who have resisted their gun control efforts.

Similar red flag laws have passed since 2018 in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Connecticut, California, Indiana, Oregon and Washington had versions of red flag laws prior to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February 2018.

Weiser did not respond to Fox News’ request for clarification on his remarks.

A man wears a patriotic-themed cowboy hat during a pro gun-rights rally at the state capitol, Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Austin, Texas. Gun rights supporters rallied across the United States to counter a recent wave of student-led protests against gun violence. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A man wears a patriotic-themed cowboy hat during a pro gun-rights rally at the state capitol, Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Austin, Texas. Gun rights supporters rallied across the United States to counter a recent wave of student-led protests against gun violence. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Conservatives have said Colorado’s legislation should focus more on providing mental health services, and they warn that the bill would only discourage distressed individuals from seeking help. Legislators, critics say, should focus instead on expanding and improving the state’s existing provisions for 72-hour mental health holds.

"The criteria for a 72-hour hold is you are a danger to yourself and others,” Assistant State Senate Minority Leader John Cooke, a Republican and former sheriff, told The Colorado Times. “Well, that’s what this bill is saying, too — to come in and take your guns. But the problem is you leave the person at the house. It’s gun confiscation, and it’s really short on mental health. So, if you’re going to take the gun, you ought to take the person instead if they are that dangerous.”

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams told Fox News that Weiser, effectively, could take a hike.

NRA’S DANA LOESCH RIPS CNN’S AWARD FOR TOWN HALL IN WHICH SHE WAS HECKLED, RUBIO WAS COMPARED TO SERIAL KILLER

“If you pass an unconstitutional law, our oaths as commissioners or myself as the sheriff — we’re going to follow our constitutional oath first,” Reams, whose county commissioners recently voted to become a Second Amendment "sanctuary," told Fox News. “And we’ll do that balancing act on our own.”

On Wednesday afternoon, commissioners in Logan County, Colo., became the latest officials to pass such a sanctuary measure. The vote among commissioners was unanimous.

"It’s time we quit trying to put lipstick on a pig and start funding our mental health facilities, instead of trying to take the rights from our people," Logan County Sheriff Brett Powell said in public remarks prior to the vote.

He added that law enforcement searches are traditionally only acceptable during criminal investigations.

"In Colorado, it’s not a crime to harm yourself," Powell said.

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According to a list compiled by Rally for Our Rights, a nonprofit, 22 Colorado counties have become "Second Amendment sanctuaries" in the last month, including El Paso County, among the state’s largest.

El Paso last week vowed to fight the Colorado measure in court if needed, and pledged not to “appropriate funds, resources, employees, or agencies to initiate unconstitutional seizures in unincorporated El Paso County." The country affirmed its "support for the duly elected Sheriff of El Paso County, Colorado and collaborate with the Sheriff to refuse to initiate unconstitutional actions against citizens."

El Paso Commissioner Stan VanderWerf called on the state’s Democrat leaders to change course.

“I would ask Governor Polis to refuse to sign it,” VanderWerf said, “because of the unconstitutionality of the bill as presently written. No governor or senate should willfully sign into law or pass legislation that are violations of a set of documents that protect our rights.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Colorado’s attorney general testified said week that country sheriffs vowing not to enforce the state’s proposed anti-gun "red flag" bill should "resign" — a challenge that threatened to ramp up tensions between state officials and local leaders who were already creating droves of so-called Second Amendment "sanctuary counties" to resist the legislation.

Democrat Phil Weiser made the remarks, which were first reported by The Colorado Sun, while testifying before a state committee on Friday. Weiser has said that the red flag legislation, which would permit a court to the seizure of weapons from people determined to be a threat to others or themselves, would save lives, particularly in domestic violence situations.

“If a sheriff cannot follow the law, the sheriff cannot do his or her job,” Weiser said. “The right thing to do for a sheriff who says, ‘I can’t follow the law’ is to resign.”

The proposed state law, House Bill 1177, is expected to secure passage in the Colorado legislature and be approved by the state’s Democrat governor, Jared Polis. It says petitioners, under oath, must establish by a "preponderance of the evidence" — a relatively lax legal standard essentially meaning that something is "more likely than not" — that a person "poses a significant risk to self or others by having a firearm in his or her custody or control or by possessing, purchasing or receiving a firearm."

An emergency hearing must then be held within 24 hours, and if an "extreme risk protection order" (ERPO) is issued by a judge, an individual will be barred from "possessing, controlling, purchasing or receiving a firearm for 364 days," and must "surrender all of his or her firearms and his or her concealed carry permit."

CALIFORNIA’S GUN SEIZURE PROGRAM HITS HURDLES

Defendants can successfully override the ERPO only by establishing by "clear and convincing evidence" — a legal standard even more strict than guilt beyond a reasonable doubt — "that he or she no longer poses a significant risk of causing personal injury to self or others."

“Because ERPO will be constitutionally upheld, every sheriff will be required and, I believe, will follow through to uphold an act under that law," Weiser told the state Senate panel.

Several other states are considering similar red flag laws, and counties in states as far apart as New Mexico and Illinois have responded by creating Second Amendment sanctuaries, leading to court challenges. But Weiser’s comments were perhaps the most direct repudiation by state officials of local leaders who have resisted their gun control efforts.

Weiser did not respond to Fox News’ request for clarification on his remarks.

A man wears a patriotic-themed cowboy hat during a pro gun-rights rally at the state capitol, Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Austin, Texas. Gun rights supporters rallied across the United States to counter a recent wave of student-led protests against gun violence. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A man wears a patriotic-themed cowboy hat during a pro gun-rights rally at the state capitol, Saturday, April 14, 2018, in Austin, Texas. Gun rights supporters rallied across the United States to counter a recent wave of student-led protests against gun violence. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Conservatives have said Colorado’s legislation should focus more on providing mental health services, and they warn that the bill would only discourage distressed individuals from seeking help. Legislators, critics say, should focus instead on expanding and improving the state’s existing provisions for 72-hour mental health holds.

"The criteria for a 72-hour hold is you are a danger to yourself and others,” Assistant State Senate Minority Leader John Cooke, a Republican and former sheriff, told The Colorado Times. “Well, that’s what this bill is saying, too — to come in and take your guns. But the problem is you leave the person at the house. It’s gun confiscation, and it’s really short on mental health. So, if you’re going to take the gun, you ought to take the person instead if they are that dangerous.”

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams told Fox News that Weiser, effectively, could take a hike.

NRA’S DANA LOESCH RIPS CNN’S AWARD FOR TOWN HALL IN WHICH SHE WAS HECKLED, RUBIO WAS COMPARED TO SERIAL KILLER

“If you pass an unconstitutional law, our oaths as commissioners or myself as the sheriff — we’re going to follow our constitutional oath first,” Reams, whose county commissioners recently voted to become a Second Amendment "sanctuary," told Fox News. “And we’ll do that balancing act on our own.”

On Wednesday afternoon, commissioners in Logan County, Colo., became the latest officials to pass such a sanctuary measure. The vote among commissioners was unanimous.

"It’s time we quit trying to put lipstick on a pig and start funding our mental health facilities, instead of trying to take the rights from our people," Logan County Sheriff Brett Powell said in public remarks prior to the vote.

He added that law enforcement searches are traditionally only acceptable during criminal investigations.

"In Colorado, it’s not a crime to harm yourself," Powell said.

CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

According to a list compiled by Rally for Our Rights, a nonprofit, 22 Colorado counties have become "Second Amendment sanctuaries" in the last month, including El Paso County, the state’s largest.

El Paso last week vowed to fight the Colorado measure in court if needed, and pledged not to “appropriate funds, resources, employees, or agencies to initiate unconstitutional seizures in unincorporated El Paso County." The country affirmed its "support for the duly elected Sheriff of El Paso County, Colorado and collaborate with the Sheriff to refuse to initiate unconstitutional actions against citizens."

El Paso Commissioner Stan VanderWerf called on the state’s Democrat leaders to change course.

“I would ask Governor Polis to refuse to sign it,” VanderWerf said, “because of the unconstitutionality of the bill as presently written. No governor or senate should willfully sign into law or pass legislation that are violations of a set of documents that protect our rights.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Back when police were vigorously pursuing suspects following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, a senior communications adviser and speechwriter with 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wrote, "Let’s hope the Boston Marathon bomber is a white American" — and then confidently doubled down hours later, in a separate piece entitled, "I still hope the bomber is a white American."

David Sirota, an investigative journalist and social media attack dog who has slammed Sanders’ opponents in recent weeks, was formally brought into Sanders’ campaign on Tuesday, along with a slew of other political veterans.

In his 2013 op-eds, published by Slate, Sirota attempted to argue that "double standards" in politics and law enforcement meant that a non-white perpetrator would lead to an unjust response.

The April 15, 2013, bombings, which killed three and injured dozens others, were perpetrated by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The Kyrgyz-American brothers invoked extremist Islamic beliefs and said American military actions had motivated them. Dzhokhar has been sentenced to death; Tamerlan was killed.

The "specific identity of the Boston Marathon bomber (or bombers) is not some minor detail — it will almost certainly dictate what kind of governmental, political and societal response we see in the coming weeks," Sirota, who was Sanders’ press secretary when he served in the House of Representatives, wrote.

The site of the second of two bombs that exploded near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon.

The site of the second of two bombs that exploded near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. (AP)

He added: "That means regardless of your particular party affiliation, if you care about everything from stopping war to reducing the defense budget to protecting civil liberties to passing immigration reform, you should hope the bomber was a white domestic terrorist. Why? Because only in that case will privilege work to prevent the Boston attack from potentially undermining progress on those other issues."

After accusing the American government of mobilizing "a full-on war effort exclusively against the prospect of Islamic terrorism," despite the existence of other terror threats, Sirota continued with a discussion of white privilege.

"I still hope the bomber is a white American."

— Bernie Sanders 2020 communications adviser David Sirota

"If recent history is any guide, if the bomber ends up being a white anti-government extremist, white privilege will likely mean the attack is portrayed as just an isolated incident — one that has no bearing on any larger policy debates," Sirota said. "Put another way, white privilege will work to not only insulate whites from collective blame, but also to insulate the political debate from any fallout from the attack."

WHAT OTHER ALL-STAR HIGH-LEVEL STAFFERS DID SANDERS ANNOUNCE? 

Amid a fierce backlash on social media, Sirota largely restated his arguments in a follow-up piece and asserted that a "measured" response to the bombings would not be possible unless the attackers were white.

Police patrol through a neighborhood in Watertown, Mass., while searching for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, Friday, April 19, 2013. All residents of Boston were ordered to stay in their homes Friday morning as the search for the surviving suspect in the marathon bombings continued after a long night of violence that left another suspect dead. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Police patrol through a neighborhood in Watertown, Mass., while searching for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, Friday, April 19, 2013. All residents of Boston were ordered to stay in their homes Friday morning as the search for the surviving suspect in the marathon bombings continued after a long night of violence that left another suspect dead. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (AP2013)

"The reason … to hope that the bomber ends up being a white American is because the double standard may prevent an overreaction to the heinous attacks in Boston," Sirota wrote. "Indeed, if the bomber ends up being a white American, there’s a decent chance we will not see a redux of the post-9/11 period when we (among other things) initiated reckless wars, passed privacy-trampling bills like the Patriot Act, overspent on the Pentagon and targeted wide swaths of the population for surveillance/warrantless wiretapping.

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"By the way, you don’t have to be a person of color or a political liberal to hope the bomber ends up being a white American," Sirota continued. "You just have to be among the groups of Americans who don’t like stuff like pre-emptive wars, the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, the drone war, an unsustainable Pentagon budget and a broken immigration system. By their own rhetoric, some of those groups must include many self-described conservatives — after all, they purport to care about civil liberties and say they want to reduce government spending."

Neither Sirota nor Sanders’ campaign responded to Fox News’ request for comment.

Sirota has a history of no-holds-barred rhetoric, and was apparently using his skills on Sanders’ behalf even before he was officially brought aboard the campaign on Tuesday.

An analysis by The Atlantic found that Sirota apparently scrubbed his social media profiles, including more than 20,000 tweets, on Tuesday after the magazine asked him questions about his aggressive posts blasting Sanders’ Democrat opponents — without disclosing that he had any affiliation with Sanders’ campaign. Sirota was, at the time, working as an "investigative journalist" for his website Capital & Main.

Sirota, according to The Atlantic, blamed an "autodeleter" for the missing tweets, and said he was taking care of a sick child and could not respond to inquiries on Tuesday.

Despite that purported inconvenience, Sirota "did post a photo on Twitter of himself bowling on Monday evening, wearing a turkey hat," The Atlantic noted.

Source: Fox News Politics

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., charged on Tuesday that a selective New York public high school should have admitted more black applicants this year, saying their relatively low admit rate was an "injustice" and a "system failure" — although an objective state-mandated test is used to determine admissions decisions, and low-income Asian students took most of the spots.

In her fiery social media post, Ocasio-Cortez pointed to news reports that only seven black applicants secured offers of admission to Stuyvesant High School this year, out of 895 available slots.

"68% of all NYC public school students are Black or Latino," Ocasio-Cortez began. "To only have 7 Black students accepted into Stuyvesant (a *public* high school) tells us that this is a system failure. Education inequity is a major factor in the racial wealth gap. This is what injustice looks like."

The progressive New York Democrat cited a Monday New York Times report, which noted that the population of black students at Stuyvesant was seemingly decreasing: 10 were admitted in 2018, and 13 in 2017.

At the highly selective Bronx High School of Science, meanwhile, only 12 black students received offers of admission, compared with 25 in 2018.

But the report also mentioned several facts Ocasio-Cortez did not — including that "low-income" Asian students are a majority at New York City’s most selective schools. At Stuyvesant, for example, 74 percent of current students are Asian-Americans who performed very well on the admissions test, known as the Specialized High School Admissions Test, which is used by eight of New York City’s most selective high schools.

Approximately 19 percent of the students are white and 3 percent are Hispanic, according to school data.

HARVARD APPEARS TO PENALIZE ASIAN APPLICANTS, BOOST BLACK STUDENTS, EXPERT SAYS

The Times noted that state efforts to help students prepare for the test — including free test prep for minority students — have not helped change the admissions numbers in favor of black applicants.

"The numbers are abysmal; we knew that."

— NYC public advocate Jumaane Williams

As a result, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio last year called for a new admissions system to New York’s most prestigious schools, which would simply scrap that test, and instead ensure that top students from each local middle school received admissions offers.

“These numbers are even more proof that dramatic reform is necessary to open the doors of opportunity at specialized high schools,” de Blasio said, responding to the Times’ report.

In an op-ed last year, de Blasio elaborated: "Eight of our most renowned high schools – including Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Technical High School – rely on a single, high-stakes exam. The Specialized High School Admissions Test isn’t just flawed – it’s a roadblock to justice, progress and academic excellence. If we want this to be the fairest big city in America, we need to scrap the SHSAT and start over.”

He added: "Right now, we are living with monumental injustice. The prestigious high schools make 5,000 admissions offers to incoming ninth-graders. Yet, this year just 172 black students and 298 Latino students received offers. This happened in a city where two out of every three eighth-graders in our public schools are Latino or black. … Can anyone defend this?"

Stuyvesant High School in New York, in JuneMARY ALTAFFER / AP

Stuyvesant High School in New York, in JuneMARY ALTAFFER / AP

But his proposal to eliminate the test remains unpopular in New York. A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said only that there were "two sides" to the issue, and Jumaane Williams, the city’s public health advocate, told the Times that he opposed scrapping the test.

“The numbers are abysmal; we knew that,” Williams, who is black, told the Times. “The question is what do we do about it, how do we do it without needlessly pitting communities against each other?”

Asian-Americans, backed by the Trump adminstration, have increasingly challenged what they characterize as Democrats’ insensitivity to racism directed at them by institutions and individuals. In one closely watched case, the Justice Department last year filed court documents siding with Asian-American students who allege Harvard discriminates against them in its admissions process.

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William Fitzsimmons, the 30-year dean of admissions at Harvard, who oversees the screening process of about 40,000 applicants and narrows them down to 2,000 acceptance letters that are handed out each year, testified during the trial that African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic high schoolers with mid-range SAT scores out of a possible 1600 combined math and verbal, are sent recruitment letters with a score as low as 1100, whereas Asian-Americans need to score at least 250 points higher – 1350 for women and 1380 for men.

"That’s race discrimination, plain and simple,” argued John Hughes, a lawyer for Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA).

Fox News’ Caleb Parke contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Former Obama White House Counsel and Clinton-linked attorney Greg Craig may soon be charged by the Justice Department for engaging in illegal unregistered overseas lobbying, in a case initially probed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller — a development that would make him the first Democrat to face prosecution amid the long-running Russia investigation.

The case centers on lobbying work that Craig performed in 2012 for the Russian-backed president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, while Craig was a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Craig allegedly never registered as a foreign agent under a U.S. law known as the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which requires lobbyists to declare publicly if they represent foreign leaders, governments or their political parties.

FARA violations were only rarely prosecuted until Mueller took aim at Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, for his lobbying work in Ukraine. Manafort, who connected Craig with Yanukovych, has been convicted on numerous bank and tax fraud charges, and was separately accused of FARA violations as well. He was sentenced earlier this month to approximately seven years in prison.

Craig left Skadden last year as his work with Manafort became public. In January, Skadden agreed to cooperate with the DOJ’s registration requirements and paid $4.6 million in a settlement to avoid a criminal prosecution. "We have learned much from this incident and are taking steps to prevent anything similar from happening again,” the firm said in a statement at the time.

CLINTON FOUNDATION DONATIONS PLUNGE AFTER WHITE HOUSE DEFEAT

As with Manafort’s case, there is no indication that Craig improperly colluded with a foreign government while he was serving in any official capacity. Craig worked as White House Counsel from 2009 to 2010, and previously worked in the Clinton administration on impeachment matters.

Mueller referred the Craig case to New York federal prosecutors, apparently because it fell outside his mandate of determining whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia.

Former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig may soon become the first Democrat indicted in the Mueller probe.

Former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig may soon become the first Democrat indicted in the Mueller probe.

New York prosecutors ultimately forwarded the case to the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. in January for a now-imminent final decision on filing charges, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Separately, New York prosecutors are also looking into potential similar charges regarding another Clinton-connected Washington insider, Tony Podesta. In September, Manafort admitted to directing two firms — Mercury Public Affairs and the Podesta Group — to lobby in the U.S. on behalf of a Ukrainian political party and Ukraine’s government, then led by Yanukovych, Manafort’s longtime political patron.

Mercury and Podesta, which were paid a combined $2 million on the project, then registered under a less stringent lobbying law that doesn’t require as much public disclosure as FARA.

MUELLER’S TEAM THREATENED FLYNN WITH FARA PROSECUTION, TOO — SAY HE COOPERATED TO AVOID MORE JAIL TIME

Both firms have said they registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, rather than FARA, on the advice of lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Craig’s former firm. But in court papers, Mueller’s prosecutors suggested the firms were aware they were working on Ukraine’s behalf.

The Times reported on Tuesday that the Podesta probe apparently has not been moved to the DOJ, and that Manahattan prosecutors remain in control of the investigation. In a flurry of new activity in January, though, federal prosecutors began systematically interviewing witnesses and contacting lawyers to schedule additional questioning related to the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs.

Podesta is a longtime Democratic operative whose brother, John Podesta, ran Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign; Weber is a former Republican congressman from Minnesota. Neither man has been charged with any crimes. Their firms have defended the decisions by saying they relied on the advice of outside attorneys.

Mercury spokesman Michael McKeon said the firm has "always welcomed any inquiry since we acted appropriately at every step of the process, including hiring a top lawyer in Washington and following his advice. We’ll continue to cooperate as we have previously."

Foreign lobbying work was central to Mueller’s case against Manafort and his longtime associate Rick Gates, two high-profile Trump campaign officials who pleaded guilty earlier this year and have been interviewed extensively by prosecutors.

The Podestas have been frequent targets of Trump and his associates, who have repeatedly demanded to know why Tony Podesta has not been arrested and charged.

Gates admitted in his plea deal that he lied to Mercury’s attorneys about the project, a fact the lobbying firm has publicly highlighted. The Podesta Group has said it was misled by the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, citing a written certification from the nonprofit stating it wasn’t directed or controlled by the Ukrainian Party of Regions, one of Manafort’s clients.

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For Trump and other Republicans — who have long accused Clinton backers of skirting the law — that explanation amounted to a weak effort to obtain plausible deniability.

"Was the brother of John Podesta paid big money to get the sanctions on Russia lifted?" Trump tweeted in 2017. "Did Hillary know?"

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White House hopeful Beto O’Rourke seemingly endorsed the practice of third-trimester abortions at a campaign event in Ohio on Monday, less than a month after Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have required doctors to provide medical care to newborns amid a swirling infanticide controversy in Virginia.

The third trimester extends from the 28th week of pregnancy up until birth, and polls consistently show that nearly 80 percent of Americans oppose such late abortions.

"Are you for third-trimester abortions?" an attendee of the campaign event in Cleveland asked O’Rourke, before describing the medical alternatives to such a procedure and disputing the medical necessity of late-term abortions. "Are you going to protect the lives of third-trimester babies? … Are you for or against third-trimester abortions?"

O’Rourke responded: "The question is about abortion and reproductive rights. And, my answer to you is, that should be a decision the woman makes. I trust her."

He then quickly took another question, as sustained applause broke out.

Fox News reached out to O’Rourke’s campaign to confirm his position on third-trimester abortions but did not receive a reply.

Alexandra Desanctis, a staff writer at the conservative National Review, characterized O’Rourke’s remarks as a cynical sleight of hand.

“Notice how Beto takes an articulate question about abortion *after fetal viability* and the medical details of these procedures and restates it to the crowd as a question about “abortion and reproductive rights,” DeSanctis tweeted. “That’s what they have to do to defend third-trimester abortion."

BETO’S ROCKY ROLLOUT: LOTS OF CROWDS AND CASH, BUT ALSO LOTS OF STUMBLES 

O’Rourke already has become known on the campaign trail for speaking in generalities, and it remained unclear whether he intended specifically to endorse third-term abortions during his comments on Monday. In January, O’Rourke sat for a widely panned interview with The Washington Post, during which he refused to offer specifics on an array of policy issues. Last week, O’Rourke said he was "kicking himself" for his answers during that interview — including when he offered the following prescription for the immigration crisis: "I don’t know."

Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, last Friday. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, last Friday. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

However, there was perhaps at least one clue as to O’Rourke’s intent in his career as a legislator. He co-sponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act when he was a Texas congressman in 2017 — a bill that would have lifted most state restrictions on abortion, including waiting periods.

Abortion already has emerged as a hot-button issue in the upcoming presidential campaign – as progressives fear that the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court could roll back abortion rights that have existed for generations, while conservatives have accused prominent Democrats of indifference to infanticide.

All prominent Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls in the Senate last month voted down The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act last month, including Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

The GOP-backed bill would have required "any health care practitioner present" at the time of a birth, including during a failed abortion, to "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age."

In response, President Trump tweeted that "This will be remembered as one of the most shocking votes in the history of Congress." Many Democrats had panned the bill as merely a stunt.

The legislation was introduced after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, endorsed post-birth abortions while discussing The Repeal Act, a state bill which sought to repeal restrictions on third-trimester abortions. Virginia Democratic Del. Kathy Tran, a sponsor of that bill, was asked at a hearing if a woman about to give birth and dilating could still request an abortion.

"My bill would allow that, yes,” Tran said.

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Northam, in a later interview with a radio station, backed up Tran. "When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of, obviously, the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician, by the way," he said. "And, it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable."

Northam continued: "So, in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So, I think this was really blown out of proportion."

Fox News’ Patrick Ward contributed to this report.

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For the third straight year, President Trump’s budget request for the upcoming year calls for effectively defunding the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), National Public Radio (NPR), and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) — prompting a harsh rebuke from PBS’ top executive, even as Congress again appears unwilling to agree to the White House proposal.

The full version of Trump’s budget request, released on Monday, called for eliminating $435 million in funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the private nonprofit that serves as the government’s investment vehicle for public broadcasting, and more than $120 million from the NEA.

The Trump administration called the move a plan to generate "major savings," including $48.8 billion in cuts for discretionary programs, and to reduce deficits by $2.7 trillion within the budget window. The proposal said arts funding was not among the "core Federal responsibilities," and argued that the federal government’s money was not needed to keep PBS and NPR on the air.

BEHIND THE BUDGET GIMMICK THAT COULD FINALLY GET TRUMP’S BORDER WALL FUNDED

PBS and NPR "primarily rely on private donations to fund their operations," according to the proposal. To conduct an "orderly transition away from Federal funding," the budget requested $30 million in 2020 and $30 million in 2021, which would include funding for personnel costs of $20 million; rental costs of $30 million; and other costs totaling $10 million.

"CPB provides grants to qualified public television and radio stations to be used at their discretion for purposes related to program production or acquisition, as well as for general operations. CPB also supports the production and acquisition of radio and television programs for national distribution," the budget proposal read.

PBS' long-running programs include "Sesame Street," with characters including Big Bird, seen here.

PBS’ long-running programs include "Sesame Street," with characters including Big Bird, seen here. (Getty Images, File)

It continued: "CPB funding comprises about 15 percent of the total amount spent on public broadcasting, with the remainder coming from non-Federal sources, with many large stations raising an even greater share. This private fundraising has proven durable, negating the need for continued Federal subsidies. Services such as PBS and NPR, which receive funding from CPB, could make up the shortfall by increasing revenues from corporate sponsors, foundations, and members. In addition, alternatives to PBS and NPR programming have grown substantially."

FLASHBACK: ELMO FROM ‘SESAME STREET’ LAMENTS POTENTIAL FIRING AFTER TRUMP’S 2017 BUDGET REQUEST

However, Congress seemed unlikely to respond to Trump’s request. His similar efforts to defund NPR and PBS were ignored in 2017 and 2018, when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate.

PBS executives pointed to the longstanding support for the network from both Democrats and Republicans and said the federal funds helped ensure that rural areas would have access to broadcasts.

"Federal funding is critical for public television to do this essential work."

— PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger

"PBS and our 350 member stations across the country have earned bipartisan Congressional support over the years due to the high value the American people place on the services we provide their communities," PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger said in a statement. "For a modest investment of about $1.35 per citizen per year, public television provides school readiness for children, support for teachers and caregivers, public safety communications and lifelong learning through high-quality content."

Kerger continued. "For the 16th year in a row, Americans named PBS and member stations #1 in public trust among nationally known institutions. The same survey revealed that Americans rank PBS and our member stations second only to the country’s military defense in terms of value for taxpayer dollars. PBS and its supporters across every region of the country will continue to remind legislators that federal funding is critical for public television to do this essential work."

In 2017, when Trump first moved to eliminate funding for public broadcasting, a viral video showed the lovable character Elmo from the PBS show "Sesame Street" reacting to his apparently imminent firing.

"Just like that? Elmo has been working at Sesame Street for 32 years!" Elmo said, before wondering what would happen to his health coverage due to a pre-existing condition.

Comedian Jimmy Kimmel, meanwhile, aired a video showing Trump on "Celebrity Apprentice" firing Big Bird, another prominent "Sesame Street" character.

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Separately, Trump’s 2020 budgets called for the elimination of several other programs and offices.

"The savings and reform proposals described in this volume continue, and expand on, the Administration’s efforts to put the taxpayers first," the proposal asserted.

Source: Fox News Politics

California GOP Rep. Devin Nunes filed a major lawsuit seeking $250 million in compensatory damages and $350,000 in punitive damages against Twitter and a handful of its users on Monday, accusing the social media site of "shadow-banning conservatives" including himself to influence the 2018 elections, explicitly and systematically censoring opposing viewpoints and "ignoring" lawful complaints of repeated abusive behavior.

In a complaint filed in Virginia state court on Monday, Nunes said Twitter was guilty of "knowingly hosting and monetizing content that is clearly abusive, hateful and defamatory – providing both a voice and financial incentive to the defamers – thereby facilitating defamation on its platform."

Although federal law ordinarily exempts services like Twitter from defamation liability, Nunes’ suit said the platform has taken such an active role in curating and banning content that it should lose that protection and face liability like any other organization that defames.

"Twitter created and developed the content at issue in this case by transforming false accusations of criminal conduct, imputed wrongdoing, dishonesty and lack of integrity into a publicly available commodity used by unscrupulous political operatives and their donor/clients as a weapon," Nunes’ legal team wrote.

In large part because of Twitter’s actions, Nunes "endured an orchestrated defamation campaign of stunning breadth and scope, one that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life" in the past year, according to the complaint.

The complaint also named specific Twitter accounts that spread allegedly defamatory material about Nunes. One defendant, identified as "Liz" Mair, purportedly published tweets that "implied that Nunes colluded with prostitutes and cocaine addicts, that Nunes does cocaine, and that Nunes was involved in a ‘Russian money laundering front,’" according to Nunes’ lawyers. They specifically quoted a June 22, 2018 tweet that implied Nunes invested in a winery that "allegedly used underage hookers to solicit investment."

Mair did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

The complaint also names "Devin Nunes’ Mom," "a person who, with Twitter’s consent, hijacked Nunes’ name, falsely impersonated Nunes’ mother, and created and maintained an account on Twitter (@DevinNunesMom) for the sole purpose of attacking, defaming, disparaging and demeaning Nunes," according to the complaint.

"In her endless barrage of tweets, Devin Nunes’ Mom maliciously attacked every aspect of Nunes’ character, honesty, integrity, ethics and fitness to perform his duties as a United States Congressman," Nunes’ lawyers wrote.

As of Monday afternoon, the DevinNunesMom account was suspended by Twitter when Fox News tried to access it. The complaint stated that "Twitter only suspended the account in 2019 after Nunes’ real mother, Toni Dian Nunes, complained. … Twitter permitted @DevinNunesMom, for instance, to tweet and retweet with impunity throughout 2018."

However, according to the complaint, "Twitter did nothing to investigate or review the defamation that appeared in plain view on its platform. Twitter consciously allowed the defamation of Nunes to continue. As part of its agenda to squelch Nunes’ voice, cause him extreme pain and suffering, influence the 2018 Congressional election, and distract, intimidate and interfere with Nunes’ investigation into corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election, Twitter did absolutely nothing."

The complaint also charged that Twitter "shadow-banned" Nunes in 2018 "in order to restrict his free speech and to amplify the abusive and hateful content published and republished by Mair, Devin Nunes’ Mom," and other accounts.

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"The shadow-banning was intentional," the complaint continued. "It was calculated to interfere with and influence the federal election and interfere with Nunes’ ongoing investigation as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Twitter’s actions affected the election results. The combination of the shadow-ban and Twitter’s refusal to enforce its Terms and Rules in the face of clear and present abuse and hateful conduct caused Nunes to lose support amongst voters."

The lawsuit cited numerous media reports, including a Vice News story from last summer, reporting that Twitter had, for a time, downplayed the visibility of prominent conservatives in its search results.

On Monday, Sean Davis, the managing editor of The Federalist, wrote that he had recently been the apparent victim of a form of shadow-banning on Twitter.

"Twitter gave me no notice or explanation when it shadowbanned one of my Tweets about Russian interference in our elections," Davis wrote. "But what’s worse is how Twitter apparently gives its users the fraudulent impression that their tweets, which Twitter secretly bans, are still public."

Davis charged that Twitter "claimed in its e-mail to me that it ‘mistakenly remove[d]’ a completely anodyne tweet about public congressional testimony, but didn’t explain why it left the tweet–and metrics showing no engagement–visible to me when logged in. Is conning users a bug, or a feature?"

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

In a video posted to social media on Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio again directly blamed climate change for 2012’s deady Superstorm Sandy — a contention that lacks scientific support - and touted his plan to spend $10 billion to fortify and "protect Lower Manhattan" against future storms.

Even as local leaders warned that de Blasio’s plan to construct new barriers would actually destroy the waterfront neighborhoods he says he wants to protect, de Blasio insisted his views were now mainstream among New Yorkers.

"After Sandy, there weren’t a lot of climate change deniers left in New York City," de Blasio said directly into the camera, after reminding viewers that the storm left dozens dead and cost the city billions in economic losses. "We need to protect this city and this country, and this world, from global warming. There’s no national policy to do it right now. … We have to do it ourselves."

Mayor de Blasio added in the video, which appeared on Facebook and Twitter, that the federal government also must act quickly: "We have to fight for the bigger changes, like the Green New Deal," de Blasio said.

The mayor claimed that studies undertaken by his office and others has determined that if the city does not prepare for climate change, rising seas will expose 20 percent of lower Manhattan to daily flooding by 2100.

However, past expert predictions on the effects of global warming have proven inaccurate at best. For example, United Nations scientists predicted that the world had only 10 years to immediately address climate change all the way back in 1989, in order to protect entire cities from destruction and a resulting flood of eco-refugees. A NASA scientist falsely predicted the same thing in 2006.

FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2011 file photo, a bicyclist makes his way past a stranded taxi on a flooded New York City street as Tropical Storm Irene passes through the city.  (AP Photo/Peter Morgan, File)

FILE – In this Aug. 28, 2011 file photo, a bicyclist makes his way past a stranded taxi on a flooded New York City street as Tropical Storm Irene passes through the city.  (AP Photo/Peter Morgan, File)

Contrary to de Blasio’s assertions, no study has defintively linked the existence or power of Superstorm Sandy to man-made climate change, or made the claim that such a link can be definitively established at all. Some contested studies have, however, suggested the storm may have become more intense to some degree as a result of warming sea temperatures.

"We suggest that it is more useful to regard the extreme circulation regime or weather event as being largely unaffected by climate change, and question whether known changes in the climate system’s thermodynamic state affected the impact of the particular event," stated one paper produced by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

GREENPEACE CO-FOUNDER TEARS INTO OCASIO-CORTEZ: ‘POMPOUS LITTLE TWIT’

The researchers added: "Some examples briefly illustrated include ‘snowmaggedon’ in February 2010, Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 and supertyphoon Haiyan in November 2013, and, in more detail, the Boulder floods of September 2013, all of which were influenced by high sea surface temperatures that had a discernible human component."

The Green New Deal backed by de Blasio has not attracted universal support even among Democrats, after the resolution’s botched rollout in Congress earlier this year included the release of an official document by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office that promised economic security even for those "unwilling to work," as well as the elimination of "farting cows" and air travel.

"We have to fight for the bigger changes, like the Green New Deal."

— New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

The Democratic mayor on Thursday first announced his plan to meet the "existential threat" of climate change, specifically by extending a section of the lower Manhattan coastline as much as 500 feet into the East River. He said the $10 billion effort to protect lower Manhattan from flooding by extending the shoreline between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Battery will be funded partly by private development if federal funds are not available.

WHAT DOES TRUMP ADMIN’S OWN CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT SAY IS COMING?

"If there’s federal money in play, it probably looks one way," de Blasio said last week. "If there’s not federal money in play, we have to get some private money into it and there has to be some development."

Officials have been developing schemes to fortify New York City’s waterfront since Superstorm Sandy destroyed thousands of homes and businesses in 2012.

De Blasio said it will cost about $500 million to fortify most of lower Manhattan from future effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and intense precipitation, with grassy berms and removable barriers.

But planners determined that protecting the lowest-lying area, including South Street Seaport and the financial district, will require adding more land over several years.

FILE - In this Oct. 19, 2017 file photo, a boat crosses New York Harbor in front of the Manhattan skyline. Mayor Bill de Blasio is announcing a plan to protect lower Manhattan from rising sea levels by surrounding it with earthen berms and extending its shoreline by as much as 500 feet. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 19, 2017 file photo, a boat crosses New York Harbor in front of the Manhattan skyline. Mayor Bill de Blasio is announcing a plan to protect lower Manhattan from rising sea levels by surrounding it with earthen berms and extending its shoreline by as much as 500 feet. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

De Blasio, who is contemplating joining the crowded field of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, said the $10 billion landfill project should be supported by federal funds, but that’s unlikely to happen during the administration of Republican President Donald Trump.

"Lower Manhattan is one of the core centers of the American economy," he said. "It’s where the financial capital of the United States is. The security of lower Manhattan should be a national priority. The fact is it is not. And it’s incomprehensible to me that there’s no sense of urgency from the federal government."

He added, "We can’t afford to bury our head in the sand and that’s right now what our federal government is doing."

The plan to extend the coastline will go through the city’s environmental review process, de Blasio said, but he hopes to avoid "the endless dragging on that usually accompanies something of this scale."

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But the prospect of private development on the newly built land is sure to meet resistance from downtown Manhattan community members.

City Council member Margaret Chin, who represents the area, said a more resilient future "cannot be paid for by private real estate development that would destroy the waterfront neighborhoods that we are trying to protect."

De Blasio announced the climate resilience plan at a news conference after previewing it in New York magazine .

"This is the existential threat," de Blasio said. "This is the core issue we all must face as aggressively as humanly possible."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who is contemplating mounting an independent bid for the presidency in 2020, apologized on Thursday for saying he probably had served more time in the military than any of the candidates who’ve entered the race, admitting he was simply "wrong."

The flap again put Schultz, a billionaire with no prior political experience, on the defensive. Democrats have spent weeks attacking Schultz and openly worrying that an independent run would split their base and hand the White House back to President Trump.

Two Democratic candidates are veterans: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Gabbard served in Iraq with the Hawaii Army National Guard from 2004 to 2005, and Buttigieg is a veteran of the Afghanistan War, having served a tour with the Navy Reserve as an intelligence officer.

Schultz made the comments during an interview Thursday with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

SCHULTZ: DEMS WOULD BE PICKING A ‘SPOILER’ IF THEY NOMINATE A SOCIALIST

“Do you consider yourself competent to run the American military?” Hewitt asked.

“Yes, I do,” Schultz replied. “I probably have spent more time – in the last decade, certainly – than anyone running for president, with the military. I’ve been to Okinawa. I’ve been to Kuwait. I’ve – with Marines, with the Army. I’ve been to the national training center in Mojave Desert.”

Schultz also pointed out that he has "great friends" in the military, including retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal and William McRaven, the retired admiral who oversaw the bin Laden raid in Pakistan.

Soon after Schultz’s comments aired, Buttigieg tweeted he didn’t "recall seeing any Starbucks" in Afghanistan, where he deployed in 2013.

“I remember a Green Beans Coffee at the exchange at Bagram, and a decent espresso machine run by the Italian NATO element at ISAF HQ," Buttigieg wrote. "But I don’t recall seeing any Starbucks over there . . .”

Afterward, Schultz tweeted that leaders must accept responsibility for mistakes and his comment "was wrong."

"I apologize to @PeteButtigieg and @TulsiGabbard who served our country honorably,” Schultz wrote on Twitter. “In that moment I made something that should unite us all, about me. I made a mistake and I apologize.”

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A flood of mocking posts quickly appeared on social media. But earlier in the week, Schultz indicated that he was well aware his campaign would face harsh critics and unknown future headwinds — and said the struggle was worth the cost anyway.

"I refuse to be deterred by the naysayers," Schultz said, "because I love this country and because so much is at stake."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Local Democrats are seriously considering the prospect of supporting an unprecedented primary challenge to Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar in 2020, following a bipartisan condemnation of several of her remarks as anti-Semitic, according to officials and state representatives.

Activists and officials interviewed by The Hill said that although they have not yet recruited a viable alternative candidate to the 37-year-old Omar, frustrations are mounting.

“There’s definitely some buzz going around about it, but it’s more a buzz of is anyone talking about finding someone to run against her than it is anyone saying they’re going to run against her or contemplate it," state Rep. Ron Latz, a Democrat, told The Hill. "There’s definitely talk about people wanting someone to run against her."

Omar Jamal, a Somali community activist, told the Washington Post that he has been in touch with Jewish community leaders about Omar. He said he supported her campaign but called her recent comments, "wrong, period."

"This is up to Ilhan Omar," he said. "She has really spoken in a very dangerous way, and it’s going to be up to her to reach out to people and fix this."

ON THE STREETS IN OMAR’S DISTRICT, SOMALI GANGS AND DISTRUST OF POLICE

Added Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas: "Our community is exasperated by Rep. Omar’s unfulfilled promises to listen and learn from Jewish constituents while seemingly simultaneously finding another opportunity to make an anti-Semitic remark and insult our community."

Hunegs noted that he had met with Omar, a Somali-American and one of two Muslim women in Congress, after she initially implied that Jewish politicians were bought. Omar re-ignited the flames later, when she once again suggested that groups supportive of Israel were pushing members of Congress to have "allegiance to a foreign country.

"Unfortunately, having the opportunity to speak with her about that point didn’t dissuade her making that statement,” Hunegs said in an interview with The Hill. “We were appalled.”

EX-ISRAELI SECURITY CHIEF SLAMS DEMS FOR TOLERATING OMAR

Omar has apologized for her comments and has support from her Democratic colleagues, although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi raised eyebrows earlier this month when she said the congresswoman “doesn’t understand” that some of the words she uses are "fraught with meaning."

Last week, the House passed a bipartisan resolution condemning hate of all kinds in the wake of Omar’s comments. But Democrats kept Omar’s name out of the resolution, which several Republicans opposed as a watered-down, half-hearted effort.

Any primary challenge would face an uphill battle, given Omar’s strong base of urban support and her backing by the influential Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.  An Omar spokesperson told The Hill that Omar was not concerned.

The changing demographics that contributed to Omar’s rise would also likely serve to buttress her 2020 bid. The Somali community grew in Minneapolis rapidly during the 1990s, when large numbers of Somalis fled a devastating civil war. The community has since grown with the addition of U.S.-born children of those refugees – as has the debate over the Somalis’ desire and ability to culturally assimilate.

Minnesota is now home to one of the largest Somali communities in the global diaspora, with an estimated 100,000 living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood is the center of the Somali community – and is fondly nicknamed “Little Mogadishu” – for its array of Somali-centered organizations, businesses, and mosques.

Fox News’ Hollie McKay and Edmund DeMarche contributed to this report.

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Beto O’Rourke all but announced his 2020 presidential candidacy in a wide-ranging interview published Wednesday in Vanity Fair magazine, confidently saying he was "just born to do this" — a move that would contradict his multiple previous assurances that he would not seek the White House, and further crowd a Democratic primary field already chock-full of progressive candidates.

The move seemed inevitable Wednesday night. KTSM reported it received a text message from O’Rourke earlier in the day saying he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination, writing: "I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents. It’s a big part of why I’m running. This city is the best example of this country at its best."

O’Rourke’s spokesman would not confirm to Fox News that the former congressman is running for president.

The Vanity Fair piece, written by Joe Hagan, seemed to echo the fawning tone of much of the media coverage that followed his failed bid to unseat Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz last fall. But, conservative commentators said, the interview still indirectly highlighted the 46-year-old O’Rourke’s glaring vulnerabilities as he seeks to mount his first-ever national campaign despite lacking significant government experience.

At one point, Hagan detailed when O’Rourke and his wife, Amy, "both describe the moment they first witnessed the power of O’Rourke’s gift" — in Houston, on the third stop on O’Rourke’s unsuccessful Senate campaign.

Beto O'Rourke laughing during an Oprah Winfrey in New York last February. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

Beto O’Rourke laughing during an Oprah Winfrey in New York last February. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

“Every seat was taken, every wall, every space in the room was filled with probably a thousand people,” Amy O’Rourke told Vanity Fair. “You could feel the floor moving almost. It was not totally clear that Beto was what everybody was looking for, but just like that people were so ready for something. So that was totally shocking. I mean, like, took-my-breath-away shocking.”

Hagan, who previously penned a similarly photographed and written profile of another Democrat, former presidential candidate John Edwards, wrote in the new piece: "For O’Rourke, what followed was a near-mystical experience."

“I don’t ever prepare a speech,” O’Rourke explained. “I don’t write out what I’m going to say. I remember driving to that, I was, like, ‘What do I say? Maybe I’ll just introduce myself. I’ll take questions.’ I got in there, and I don’t know if it’s a speech or not, but it felt amazing. Because every word was pulled out of me. Like, by some greater force, which was just the people there. Everything that I said, I was, like, watching myself, being like, How am I saying this stuff? Where is this coming from?"

However, this carefree, spur-of-the-moment approach has backfired in the past, the article went on to note. For example, O’Rourke acknowledged he was "kicking himself for giving a damaging, freewheeling interview to The Washington Post, which quoted his prescription for immigration as ‘I don’t know.’"

In that interview, O’Rourke also suggested parts of the Constitution may be unnecessary and outdated.

Although the Post article drew widespread jeers, Hagan seemingly found it endearing.

"Unlike Trump," Hagan wrote, "O’Rourke can appear almost too innocent to be a politician—too decent, too wholesome, the very reason he became popular also the same reason he could be crucified on the national stage."

O’ROURKE SAYS HE ‘ABSOLUTELY’ SUPPORTS DESTROYING SOUTHERN BORDER WALLS

Reaction on social media, both to O’Rourke and Hagan’s aggressively positive portrayal of his prospective candidacy, was unsparing.

"It’s extremely subtle, but with a trained eye, you can detect a slight difference in the media posture toward Robert O’Rourke and the average Republican congressman running for president after losing a Senate race," Mollie Hemingway, a senior editor at The Federalist and a regular Fox News panelist, wrote on Twitter.

Washington Free Beacon reporter Alex Griswold added, "They really aren’t bothering to hide it," referring to media bias.

Elsewhere in the sprawling deep-dive, Hagan noted that O’Rourke’s home has boasted a slew of presidential biographies — a seemingly mundane observation that Hagan imbued with heavy implications.

"Arranged in historical order, the biographies suggest there’s been some reflection on the gravity of the presidency," Hagan wrote, noting that O’Rourke has the support of Oprah Winfrey. "But there’s also some political poetry to it, a sense that O’Rourke might be destined for this shelf."

But, O’Rourke himself seemingly had shut the door on any such poetry, again and again, while running against Cruz.

MSNBC reporter Garrett Haakey tweeted last November: "’I will not be a candidate for president in 2020,’ @BetoORourke tells me. ‘That’s as definitive as it gets.’"

And, in an interview with CBS News’ "60 Minutes," O’Rourke said simply, "I don’t want to do it. I will not do it."

O’Rourke went on to explain that raising his young children would keep him off the campaign trail.

'Draft Beto' group makes Beto-inspired alcoholic beverages in effort to get Beto O'Rourke to run for president in 2020.

‘Draft Beto’ group makes Beto-inspired alcoholic beverages in effort to get Beto O’Rourke to run for president in 2020. (Fox News)

Speaking to Hagan, O’Rourke attempted to explain the abrupt turnaround, saying that "the week before he was to appear onstage with Oprah Winfrey in New York, he had what he describes as a breakthrough conversation with his wife" and stayed up late into the night.

But, conservative commentator Stephen Miller had a less flattering interpretation, writing that O’Rourke must have "spent literally 6 months around his wife and kids and said, … This sucks.”

Although O’Rourke has not formally entered the presidential fray, there are multiple other indications he is intending to do so. The former Texas representative is slated to make his first trip to Iowa of the 2020 campaign, visiting the state that kicks off presidential voting.

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A spokesman said O’Rourke will visit the University of Northern Iowa on Saturday to campaign for Eric Giddens, the Democratic candidate running in a state Senate special election there. And, O’Rourke released a video Monday night from Texas backing Giddens and wearing a Northern Iowa cap.

Meanwhile, Twitter users who reportedly tried to unsubscribe from O’Rourke’s mailing list were being told in automated replies on Wednesday, apparently inadvertently, that there was an ongoing "campaign to elect Beto for president."

Source: Fox News Politics

An internal chart prepared by federal investigators working on the so-called "Midyear Exam" probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails, exclusively reviewed by Fox News, contained the words "NOTE: DOJ not willing to charge this" next to a key statute on the mishandling of classified information. The notation appeared to contradict former FBI Director James Comey’s repeated claims that his team made its decision that Clinton should not face criminal charges independently.

Fox News has confirmed the chart served as a critical tip that provided the basis for Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe’s explosive questioning of former FBI lawyer Lisa Page last year, in which Page agreed with Ratcliffe’s characterization that the DOJ had told the FBI that "you’re not going to charge gross negligence." A transcript of Page’s remarks was published Tuesday as part of a major document release by the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins.

The document, entitled "Espionage Act Charges – Retention/Mishandling," contained a list of several criminal statutes related to the mishandling of classified information, as well as a list of all the elements that prosecutors would need to prove in order to successfully prosecute a case.

Among the statutes listed are 18 U.S.C. 793(d), which covers the “willfull” retention of national defense information that could harm the U.S.; 18 U.S.C. 793(f), which pertains to "gross negligence" in the handling of classified information by permitting the information to be "removed from its proper place of custody"; and 18 U.S.C. 1924, listed as a misdemeanor related to retaining classified materials at an "unauthorized location."

Listed directly below to the elements of 18 U.S.C. 793(f) were the words: "NOTE: DOJ not willing to charge this; only known cases are Military, cases when accused lost the information (e.g. thumb drive sent to unknown recipient at wrong address.)"

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page arriving for a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees on Capitol Hill in July 2018.

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page arriving for a closed-door interview with the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees on Capitol Hill in July 2018. (Associated Press, File)

None of the other descriptions of the statutes had a similar notation.

FBI GENERAL COUNSEL THOUGHT HILLARY CLINTON SHOULD HAVE BEEN CRIMINALLY CHARGED UNTIL CONVINCED OTHERWISE ‘PRETTY LATE’ IN THE PROCESS

In July 2016, Comey took the unusual step of making a public statement about the Clinton email investigation findings and his decision to recommend against criminal charges. He said Clinton had been "extremely careless" in handling classified information but insisted that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring a case against her.

Comey stated: "What I can assure the American people is that this investigation was done competently, honestly, and independently. No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear."

He later explained that he took the unusual step of announcing the FBI’s conclusions because then-Obama administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch was spotted meeting secretly with former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac as the probe into Hillary Clinton, which Lynch was overseeing, continued.

Federal law states "gross negligence" in handling the nation’s intelligence can be punished criminally with prison time or fines, and there is no requirement that defendants act intentionally. Nevertheless, Comey said at the news conference, "Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges," including "the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent."

Loretta Lynch in Washington in November 2016.

Loretta Lynch in Washington in November 2016. (REUTERS/Gary Cameron, File)

Originally Comey accused the former secretary of state of being “grossly negligent” in handling classified information in a draft dated May 2, 2016, but that was modified to claim that Clinton had merely been “extremely careless” in a draft dated June 10, 2016.

Page and since-fired FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, who were romantically involved, exchanged numerous anti-Trump text messages in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, and Republicans have long accused the bureau of political bias.

However, Page’s testimony and the internal "Midyear Exam" chart constituted perhaps the most salient evidence yet that the Justice Department may have interfered improperly with the FBI’s supposedly independent conclusions on Clinton’s criminal culpability.

"So let me if I can, I know I’m testing your memory," Ratcliffe began as he questioned Page under oath, according to a transcript excerpt he posted on Twitter. "But when you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to —"

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Page interrupted: "That is correct," as Ratcliffe finished his sentence, " — bring a case based on that."

Responding to the transcript revelations, Trump on Wednesday tweeted: "The just revealed FBI Agent Lisa Page transcripts make the Obama Justice Department look exactly like it was, a broken and corrupt machine. Hopefully, justice will finally be served. Much more to come!"

Fox News’ Cyd Upson contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Documents filed with the Supreme Court and unsealed on Wednesday revealed definitively, and for the first time, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is the party seeking a grand jury subpoena and subsequent contempt citation against an unnamed, government-controlled foreign corporation that has resisted prosecutors’ efforts at every turn.

Fox News has previously reported on strong indications that Mueller’s office was behind the case, although neither his office nor lawyers for the unnamed overseas company would provide confirmation.

The proceedings are believed to be linked to attempts by Mueller’s team to secure information to present to an empaneled grand jury in the special counsel’s Russia investigation. Mueller is looking into not only whether members of President Trump’s inner circle improperly colluded with Russia, but also a range of other matters pertaining to foreign activities by high-ranking Americans.

Court proceedings have been closed to the public, and court documents have redacted the name of the corporation. During oral arguments in the case late last year, court officials shuttered an entire floor of the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., from the public and the press.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has doggedly pursued a subpoena against an unnamed foreign corporation.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has doggedly pursued a subpoena against an unnamed foreign corporation.

“Earlier this year, Special Counsel Robert Mueller served a grand jury subpoena on is a ‘foreign state’ as the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act defines the term," the unsealed filing, written by lawyers for the unknown corporation, reads. "From the outset, argued that it is immune under the FSIA from complying with, a criminal subpoena because American courts lack criminal jurisdiction over foreign states. The Special Counsel has argued from the outset that the FSIA does not apply to criminal proceedings and that, if it does, the statute’s exceptions can support criminal jurisdiction over a foreign state.”

In January, the Supreme Court issued an unsigned order refusing to dismiss a contempt citation from a federal judge against the corporation for failure to comply with Mueller’s subpoena.

WHAT DID CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS SAY LAST YEAR ABOUT MYSTERY CORPORATION’S SUBPOENA?

The unnamed company — listed cryptically in court records as owned by "Country A" — had challenged the subpoena from a federal grand jury in Washington, including daily fines, after it refused to turn over requested documents to U.S. investigators.

The corporation argued that complying with the subpoena would violate the laws of its country and thus constitute an undue hardship. But in December, a three-judge panel for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held otherwise.

The judges ruled "that text of the foreign law provision the Corporation relies on does not support its position" and found that the country’s counsel — and a regulator from the country — offered only an "atextual" contrary interpretation that lacked "critical indicia of reliability."

The appellate panel also rejected the corporation’s argument that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act rendered it immune from prosecutors’ request.

An interpretation of federal law that "would completely insulate corporations majority owned by foreign governments from all criminal liability," the judges wrote, "seems in far greater tension with Congress’s choice to codify a theory of foreign sovereign immunity designed to allow regulation of foreign nations acting as ordinary market participants."

The panel found "that text of the foreign law provision the Corporation relies on does not support its position" and found that the country’s counsel — and a regulator from the country — offered only an "atextual" contrary interpretation that lacked "critical indicia of reliability."

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Shortly after the Supreme Court issued its order upholding the contempt citation, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a separate, partially redacted opinion upholding its earlier ruling against the company. The opinion noted that the company is facing a $50,000-per-day fine for failure to turn over the documents. The papers in question are kept overseas, though the company does have an office in the U.S.

The opinion also noted that prosecutors have been trying to obtain the information since at least this past summer, and the three-judge panel determined it could get involved in the dispute because "there is a reasonable probability the information sought through the subpoena here concerns a commercial activity that caused a direct effect in the United States."

Source: Fox News Politics

President Trump’s nominee to replace Brett Kavanaugh on the influential D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Neomi Rao, secured Senate confirmation on Wednesday — and she did it with the support of a key Republican who had questioned whether she supported the expansive "substantive due process" judicial theory that has been used to justify pro-abortion laws.

Rao, 45, the so-called Trump "regulatory czar" who pushed for deregulation as head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, was confirmed on a straight party-line vote, 53-46. No Republican opposed Rao, and no Democrat supported her.

Rao also worked in the George W. Bush White House but has never tried a case in state or federal court.

Her confirmation process hit heavy turbulence late last month, when Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley told Axios that he had "heard directly from at least one individual who said Rao personally told them she was pro-choice." Hawley clarified, "I don’t know whether that’s accurate, but this is why we are doing our due diligence."

“Josh Hawley is single-minded and focused only on representing the common-sense conservative voters of Missouri. No threat from any group in Washington on either side of the aisle matters to him.” Hawley spokeswoman Kelli Ford told Fox News in a statement at the time, as multiple conservative groups immediately rushed to Rao’s defense.

According to Hawley, Rao’s academic writings have indicated she may support the concept of "substantive due process," a legal framework that identifies constitutional rights not expressly provided by the text of the Constitution. Conservatives have opposed the use of substantive due process to provide for some rights, including the rights to privacy and abortion, which are not stated in the constitutional text but are seen as implied.

For example, in a 2011 Notre Dame Law Review article, Rao referred to the "anti-abortion movement," rather than the pro-life movement. Rao, describing other courts’ reasoning and not necessarily her own, also discussed the principles that liberals say justify a constitutional right to abortion.

9TH CIRCUIT GETS ANOTHER TRUMP-PICKED JUDGE, AS WHITE HOUSE BLOWS PAST DEM CONSULTATIONS IN BID TO REMAKE LEFT-WING COURT

“Constitutional courts frequently suggest that dignity requires the right to a certain degree of individual autonomy, a space for freedom of action without interference by the state," Rao wrote. "These decisions suggest that providing a wide sphere of autonomy and ensuring a minimum of state interference with property, bodily integrity, and privacy enhances intrinsic dignity.”

Rao went on to call for more legal clarity on the topic: “In the existing confusion, it may be desirable for liberty (not to mention clarity) to take dignity talk out of our constitutional law. But if, as I suspect, dignity cannot be extricated, in partbecause of the established pull of the word, then we need clarity about what dignity means."

Freshman Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has suggested he might vote against Neomi Rao, President Trump's replacement for Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Freshman Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has suggested he might vote against Neomi Rao, President Trump’s replacement for Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

In a reference to substantive due process, Hawley has said that "the implied fundamental rights cases are where the courts just make stuff up," and that he will press "every" judicial nominee on the issue.

Many conservative groups spent big on ads to change Hawley’s mind. Columnist Quin Hillyer, meanwhile, wrote in The Washington Examiner that Hawley’s approach was a "dicey" push for a judicial litmus test.

"Conservatives have argued long and correctly that professional qualifications and personal integrity, along with a basic commitment to the Constitution itself, should be the only determinants of nominees’ fitness for appointment to federal judgeships," Hillyer wrote. "In particular, conservatives have inveighed against any result-oriented, single-issue litmus tests for judges, especially for those below the level of the Supreme Court."

Lawmakers from both parties had additionally expressed concerns about her past writings on the topics of date rape and other sexual assault. As a Yale undergraduate Rao suggested that intoxicated women were partly responsible for date rape. She also criticized affirmative action and questioned equal rights for women and gay people.

Rao distanced herself from language she used as a college student, saying at her confirmation hearing that she cringes at some of the language she used in opinion articles she said were intended to be provocative.

WHO IS NEOMI RAO, REALLY?

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who recently revealed she was raped in college, called Rao’s 1990’s opinion pieces "absolutely abhorrent and reprehensible at best," but said she was reassured after Rao wrote a letter to senators repudiating her past views.

Ernst and other Republicans said she was qualified despite her lack of courtroom experience. They said Rao’s work on federal regulations qualifies her for the District of Columbia circuit, which handles many administrative appeals of executive branch actions, Ernst said. But she and other Republicans said they might view Rao differently if she is nominated to the Supreme Court.

Rao, widely seen as a future candidate for a Supreme Court seat, is a member of the conservative Federalist Society. The legal policy group has played a key role in Trump’s judicial nominations, including Kavanaugh’s elevation to the high court.

Democrats staunchly opposed Rao, citing her lack of trial experience and publicly stated pride at rolling back federal rules on Trump’s behalf. Rao said at her confirmation hearing that she and Trump have successfully pushed deregulation that "gets government out of the way" and helps small businesses and other companies create jobs.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called Rao "an outstanding choice" to serve on the District of Columbia Circuit, widely considered the nation’s second-most-important federal court, below only the Supreme Court.

"She is an expert on administrative law and has a sound, conservative judicial philosophy that one would expect from a Republican nominee for such an important position," Graham said of Rao.

But California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the panel’s top Democrat, said Rao has a "troubling and aggressive record" on deregulation, particularly on rules that protect health and the environment. She was especially troubled at Rao’s efforts to dismantle a rule to increase fuel economy standards for cars, Feinstein said. The rule is based on a law Feinstein co-wrote.

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The Democratic National Committee said in a statement that Rao does not belong on the federal bench.

"A vote for Neomi Rao is a vote for a judge who blamed survivors of sexual assaults for being attacked. It is a vote for a judge who claimed sexual orientation is a ‘behavior’ that can be changed," Elizabeth Renda, the Democratic National Committee’s women’s media director, and Lucas Acosta, the committee’s LGBTQ media director, said in a joint statement.

The Republican senators who voted in favor Rao "willfully turned their back on women, the LGBTQ community, people with disabilities, low-income families and countless others," the DNC said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on Wednesday faces his second federal sentencing this month, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller pushes for him to receive 10 additional years in prison on top of the 47-month term issued less than a week ago by Virginia Judge T.S. Ellis.

Two key questions remained lingering and unanswered in the hours leading up to the hearing. First: will Obama-appointed Washington, D.C. Judge Amy Berman Jackson allow Manafort to serve whatever sentence she gives him concurrently with that 47-month term — a move that Mueller’s prosecutors haven’t outwardly resisted, and that Manafort’s team argues is the most legally sound approach?

And second: Will President Trump, who has long characterized Mueller’s Russia probe as a partisan "witch hunt" that unfairly has ensnared his onetime campaign manager, eventually issue a pardon or commutation regardless of what Jackson does? ("Why would I take [a pardon] off the table?" Trump asked last year.)

Mueller, in court documents, has stopped short of recommending a specific sentence in the D.C. case, but has argued that Jackson has no reason not to throw the book at the 69-year-old Manafort. The former lobbyist and political consultant avoided a trial before Jackson late last year by agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors and pleading guilty to two felony conspiracy charges related to his overseas lobbying work.

Jackson ruled in February that Manafort "intentionally" breached that plea agreement by lying to investigators, and Mueller’s team has presented Manafort as a hardened criminal who "repeatedly and brazenly violated the law … for over a decade."

Perhaps most significantly, Mueller’s team alleged that Manafort had lied about an August 2016 meeting with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate who the U.S. said had ties to Russian intelligence. Mueller’s prosecutors have said that cut to the "heart" of the Russia probe, but Manafort’s lawyers have maintained that any misstatements by Manafort were immaterial or unintentional, and that there was no evidence Manafort had any illegal contacts with Kilimnik.

This sketch shows Judge Amy Berman Jackson presiding over the Roger Stone case earlier this year. (The Associated Press, File)

This sketch shows Judge Amy Berman Jackson presiding over the Roger Stone case earlier this year. (The Associated Press, File)

The meeting involved a discussion of a potential peace plan between Russia and Ukraine, but many other details about it have been redacted in court papers.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for Manafort to receive nearly two decades in prison, although the two charges to which Manafort pleaded carry a maximum term of 5 years imprisonment each. In the Virginia case, in which Manafort was convicted by a jury on eight bank-and-tax-fraud charges, Ellis said the guidelines of sentencing Manafort to between 19 and 24 years in prison were "excessive."

Unlike Ellis – the Reagan-appointed Virginia-based judge who repeatedly taunted and tormented Mueller’s team last year, and declared openly that Manafort was being prosecuted only to get to President Trump — Jackson is widely seen as relatively sympathetic to the government’s case against Manafort.

JUDGE MOCKS MUELLER PROSECUTORS, ACCUSES ONE OF CRYING PATHETICALLY IN OPEN COURT

Judge Jackson has taken a tough approach in ongoing prosecution of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, which is also being run by Mueller. And, in 2013, the judge sentenced former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., a Democrat, to 30 months in prison — less than the 46 to 57 months requested by the government, but also significantly more than the 18 months defense attorneys had requested.

"The inescapable fact is that you and Sandra Jackson used campaign funds to sustain a lifestyle that you cannot afford,” Judge Jackson said at the time, referring to the congressman’s wife. At the same time, the judge did cut the two something of a break by granting them the ability to serve their sentences at separate times to accommodate their two children.

Judge Jackson has a major opportunity to show similar leniency to Manafort: She has the authority to allow Manafort to serve his sentence in the D.C. case concurrently with the 47-month sentence from the Virginia case. And, Manafort’s lawyers have argued there’s a strong legal basis for Judge Jackson to do so, noting that federal sentencing guidelines ordinarily advise judges to exercise their discretion and consider allowing sentences to run concurrently where two separate criminal cases involve conduct "relevant" to one another.

In sentencing documents, Mueller did not take a position on whether Judge Jackson should afford Manafort that luxury, explaining that it was "unknown" what the sentence would be. Still, Mueller reserved the right to take a position later in court on Wednesday.

But, Manafort’s team countered that he essentially had been caught at the wrong place at the wrong time.

A courtroom sketch shows Paul Manafort, in a wheelchair, awaiting his sentence in the Virginia case.

A courtroom sketch shows Paul Manafort, in a wheelchair, awaiting his sentence in the Virginia case.

"It is fair to say that, but for the appointment of the Special Counsel and his Office’s decision to pursue Mr. Manafort for a rarely prosecuted FARA [Foreign Agents Registration Act] violation, Mr. Manafort would not have been indicted in the District of Columbia," the attorneys wrote to Jackson.

The defense team’s filing also included numerous letters from friends and associates of Manafort arguing on his behalf. In one letter, a family friend wrote that Manafort frequently would cut short business trips and even take overnight flights, solely to see his children’s basketball games and attend to other family responsibilities.

Further, Manafort’s team argued, the relatively light sentences handed out in other cases prosecuted by Mueller should guide Jackson — and provided evidence that Mueller has come up empty in his search for improper Russia collusion by the Trump team.

"The sentences already imposed in other cases that have been investigated and/or prosecuted by the Special Counsel’s Office reflect the fact that courts recognize that these prosecutions bear little to no relation to the Special Counsel’s core mandate of investigating allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government to influence the 2016 election," the attorneys wrote.

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They specifically cited the two-week sentence given to former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI, as well as the 36-month sentence given to former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress, five counts of tax evasion, one count of falsifying submissions to a bank and two campaign finance violations. Cohen was ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution and a $50,000 fine, and to forfeit $500,000.

"The Special Counsel’s attempt to portray [Manafort] as a lifelong and irredeemable felon is beyond the pale and grossly overstates the facts before this Court," the attorneys wrote, adding that the case has "devastated him personally, professionally, and financially."

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

An opinion writer for the Washington Post on Tuesday joined prominent Democrats in resisting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s newly announced opposition to impeachment proceedings against President Trump, although the columnist wistfully suggested that Pelosi could still "get it right" by effectively reversing course instead of continuing to voice her opinion on the matter.

In comments published by The Washington Post Magazine on Monday, Pelosi announced, “I’m not for impeachment. … Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country." She added: “And he’s just not worth it.”

Greg Sargent, who writes about national politics, charged that Pelosi had significantly "muddled the issue" by speaking up and "declaring a personal preference on the outcome" before the numerous investigations into Trump and his orbit are concluded. Moreover, Sargent explained, Pelosi was focusing on the "wrong question."

"It isn’t: Do you favor impeachment right now, yes or no?" Sargent wrote. "Rather, it’s: Are you ruling out impeachment hearings, or are you leaving that option open, depending on what emerges?"

WHAT DID THE FOUNDERS THINK ABOUT THE PROPER USE OF THE IMPEACHMENT POWER?

Even so, Sargent saw some room for nuance in Pelosi’s comments, writing with a hint of optimism, "In fairness to Pelosi, her comments don’t entirely preclude impeachment later."

There was also the slim chance Pelosi was not entirely wrong to voice her opinion that impeachment proceedings should only begin with bipartisan support, Sargent conceded. In fact, Sargent said, Pelosi’s comments presented another important potential avenue of debate, full of possibilities and opportunities to argue with one another.

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., left, joins Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as Democrats rally outside the Capitol ahead of passage of H.R. 1, "The For the People Act," a bill which aims to expand voting rights and strengthen ethics rules, in Washington, Friday, March 8, 2019. The House passed a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism and other bigotry on Thursday following debate over Omar's recent comments suggesting House supporters of Israel have dual allegiances. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., left, joins Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as Democrats rally outside the Capitol ahead of passage of H.R. 1, "The For the People Act," a bill which aims to expand voting rights and strengthen ethics rules, in Washington, Friday, March 8, 2019. The House passed a resolution to condemn anti-Semitism and other bigotry on Thursday following debate over Omar’s recent comments suggesting House supporters of Israel have dual allegiances. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

"It’s possible that Pelosi genuinely believes the downsides to the country of hearings absent bipartisan backing militate against them no matter what the facts demand. If so, let’s litigate that, too," Sargent wrote.

But if Pelosi were more familiar with history, Sargent noted, she would know that impeachment proceedings — ordinarily considered divisive, unnecessary, and expensive — would be a positive and productive fact-finding exercise for all Americans to witness.

"It’s also odd to hear the argument that no inquiry should happen simply because the Senate probably would never convict," Sargent said. "Impeachment hearings would be carried out to benefit the public and the country, and thus can’t turn on projections of the ultimate outcome. … Just as during the Nixon years, the first step is congressional investigations (which we’re seeing now), which then might lead to the opening of impeachment hearings. Those would weigh whether newly gathered facts merit impeachment or not, to inform the public of the momentous stakes and complexities involved in this decision."

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The Constitution technically prescribes impeachment only for treason, bribery, and "high crimes and misdemeanors," a broad term of art that virtually all legal scholars agree encompasses more than just criminal offenses. The framers knowingly appropriated the phrase from their English root: In the 17th and 18th centuries, it served as the basis for a variety of impeachments for behaviors by officeholders that, while objectionable, were not criminal.

That wiggle room, Sergent implied, made it impossible for Pelosi to rule out impeachment proceedings, even though she appeared to rule out impeachment proceedings.

"Even if special counsel Robert S. Mueller III brings no further charges, we may still learn a great deal more about Trumpian wrongdoing and misconduct (such as obstructing the Russia probe) from his findings, which Congress will likely access," Sergent concluded. "Former lawyer Michael Cohen’s claims of financial fraud have led to investigations by other entities. Of course impeachment hearings can’t be ruled out now."

Other Democrats seemingly agreed with Sargent’s position this week. Outspoken Democratic Texas Rep. Al Green, for example, told Fox News he would bring articles of impeachment for a floor vote.

“Each member of the House has the prerogative to bring impeachment to a vote," Green said. "I intend to bring impeachment to a vote, and I will do so because the president has been acknowledged by leaders and others that he is not fit to hold the office. He’s causing harm to society and as such, he should be impeached.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan fired back at New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a contentious hearing in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, after the freshman legislator accused the bank of "financing the caging of children" and suggested it should bear financial liability for everything from oil spills to climate change.

Ocasio-Cortez’s inquiries come as activists increasingly seek to "deplatform" political opponents by cutting off their funding from banks and other financial services providers — a concerted effort that conservatives and libertarians have said threatens free speech.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., brought Sloan before the panel Tuesday as part of a broad, four-hour inquiry into widely reported fraudulent misconduct in recent years by Wells Fargo employees. But in questioning Sloan, who faced bipartisan criticism during the hearing, Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described Democratic socialist, quickly went much further.

"Why was the bank involved in the caging of children and financing the caging of children to begin with?" Ocasio-Cortez asked at one point, in an apparent reference to the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, which resulted in increased separations of parents suspected of criminal activity from the minors who accompanied them.

The White House has insisted that images widely circulated on social media showing migrant children in large, fenced-off detention rooms were taken during the Obama administration.

Sloan responded simply, "I don’t know how to answer that question, because we weren’t."

"You were financing, involved in debt financing in CoreCivic and GEO Group, correct?" Ocasio-Cortez pressed, referring to two companies that manage private detention and rehabilitation facilities.

GREENPEACE CO-FOUNDER SAYS AOC’S GREEN NEW DEAL WOULD LEAD TO ‘END OF CIVILIZATION’ ; CALLS FRESHMAN DEM ‘POMPOUS LITTLE TWIT’

"For a period of time, we were involved in financing one of the firms, we are not anymore. I’m not familiar with the specific assertion you are making. We were not involved in that," Sloan said.

Ocasio-Cortez went on to ask whether the bank was "responsible for the damages incurred by climate change" because of its financing of fossil fuel companies, such as reinvestment costs.

"I don’t know how you’d calculate that," Sloan retorted.

The progressive firebrand from New York, pressing on, raised the prospect that Wells Fargo could face liability from any environmental disaster involving the Dakota Access pipeline, which runs 1,200 miles through the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois.

Wells Fargo was one of more than a dozen financial institutions to contribute financing to the project, which has been attacked by its critics as environmentally unsafe and an encroachment upon Native American lands. Conservatives have maintained that the project has significant economic benefits.

"Hypothetically, if there was a leak from the Dakota Access pipeline, why shouldn’t Wells Fargo pay for the cleanup of it, since they paid for the construction of the pipeline itself?" Ocasio-Cortez asked. (In 2017, the Dakota Access pipeline and a feeder line leaked more than 100 gallons of oil in North Dakota in separate incidents in March as crews prepared the disputed $3.8 billion pipeline for operation.)

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"Because we don’t operate the pipeline," Sloan responded, apparently surprised by the question. "We provide financing to the company that’s operating the pipeline. "Our responsibility is to ensure that at the time that we make that loan, that that customer — we have a group of people in Wells Fargo, including an environmental oversight group."

Ocasio-Cortez interrupted to ask why Wells Fargo would consider lending money to a project criticized widely on environmental grounds.

"Again, the reason that we were one of the 17 or 19 banks that financed that, was because our team reviewed the environmental impact," Sloan said. "And we concluded it was a risk we were willing to take."

Democrats have called on Wells Fargo to be broken up amid a slew of scandals.

Democrats have called on Wells Fargo to be broken up amid a slew of scandals. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Concluding the hearing, Waters suggested that Wells Fargo should be broken up. Waters also asked Sloan if the bank had become "too big to manage."

“This hearing has revealed Wells Fargo has failed to clean up its act, it’s too big to manage and the steps regulators have taken to date are wholly inadequate,” Waters said.

Republicans, too, laid into Sloan, although they did not go as far as Waters or Ocasio-Cortez.

“Each time a new scandal breaks, Wells Fargo promises to get to the bottom of it. It promises to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but then a few months later, we hear about another case of dishonest sales practices or gross mismanagement,” said North Carolina Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, a Republican.

“Every single member of this committee has constituents in their state who were impacted by Wells Fargo,” he added. “Our constituents should be able to trust their own bank.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

In its budget request for the upcoming fiscal year, the Justice Department said it needs over $72 million to fund the “stronger enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws,” according to materials released Monday, in an aggressive move intended to reduce the nation’s backlog of asylum cases dramatically.

As part of his fiscal year 2020 budget plan totaling $4.7 trillion, which was unveiled Monday and faced immediate pushback in Congress, President Trump is also seeking billions more in funding for a border wall and controversial work requirements for Americans collecting a variety of welfare benefits.

The DOJ, for its part, said it’s aimed to hire more than 100 new immigration judges and support staff, including hundreds of, “attorneys, judicial law clerks, legal assistants and administrative support staff, including interpreters.”

The goal would be to have 659 immigration judges in place by sometime in 2020, officials said in the budget request. There are currently 412 immigration judges.

The materials noted that the jump would represent a “36 percent increase in [immigration judges] since FY [fiscal year] 2018.”

WHAT ELSE IS IN TRUMP’S BUDGET?

“At the beginning of FY 2019, there were nearly 790,000 cases pending in immigration courts nationwide, a nearly 20 percent increase from October 2017 and by far the largest pending caseload before the agency, marking the 12th consecutive year of increased backlogs,” the materials stated.

In this Dec. 2, 2018 file photo, a Honduran migrant helped a young girl cross to the U.S. side of the border wall, in Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

In this Dec. 2, 2018 file photo, a Honduran migrant helped a young girl cross to the U.S. side of the border wall, in Tijuana, Mexico. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa, File)

“These investments will also improve our ability to conduct immigration hearings to help combat illegal immigration to the United States by expanding capacity, improving efficiency, and removing impediments to the timely administration of justice,” according to the DOJ. “This budget supports the Department’s efforts, along with our partners at the Department of Homeland Security, to fix our immigration system.”

The bar for receiving a favorable determination on an asylum applicant is high, and most applicants do not end up receiving asylum. Citing widespread fraud and abuse of the process, the Trump administration last year rolled back an Obama-era expansion of potential asylum justifications, which extended protections to those alleging domestic abuse or gang-related attacks back home.

LIBERAL 9TH CIRCUIT RULES ASYLUM APPLICANT HAS THE RIGHT TO HEARING BEFORE A FEDERAL JUDGE

The White House has argued that the asylum system is heavily overburdened, and that asylum law never was meant to provide safe haven to everyone suffering unfortunate circumstances in their homelands. The number of asylum seekers has ballooned in recent years, and immigration officials say it’s in part because migrants have known they’d be able to live and work in the U.S. while their cases play out.

That process could take years, in part because the immigration court has a backlog of over 700,000 cases.

Central American immigrant families looking out through the fence of a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, last month. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP, File)

Central American immigrant families looking out through the fence of a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, last month. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP, File)

In a ruling last week, the left-leaning San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals threatened to extend the backlog even further, in a ruling that would provide a constitutional right to asylum applicants to be heard by a federal judge. The ruling, which conflicted with another appellate court opinion, appeared destined for an eventual Supreme Court challenge.

The DOJ also announced it was seeking $290.5 million in program enhancements and transfers to “fight the opioid crisis and support law enforcement safety,” as well as to fight “transnational criminal organizations, known for supplying illicit substances to the United States.”

The department also pushed for $137.9 million to strengthen “federal law enforcement’s ability to reduce violent crime,” including $6 million for the so-called Southwest Border Rural Law Enforcement Violent Crime Reduction Initiative, designed to “assist law enforcement agencies serving rural jurisdictions along or near the Southwest Border to address increases in crime, with a special focus on violent crime, in border communities.”

Additional funds were requested for a variety of law enforcement services, including $4.2 million for the FBI’s background check system for firearms purchases and transfers, as well as $5.8 million for more paralegals and support staff for U.S. attorneys offices, which prosecute most federal crimes.

The DOJ request also included another $132 million in program enhancements to address “critical national security and cyber threats,” and $4.3 billion in discretionary and mandatory funding for federal grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement and victims of crime “to ensure greater safety for law enforcement personnel and the people they serve.”

Included in the counterterrorism budget: $16.6 million, plus 48 positions, in the National Vetting Center (NVC), which would allow the FBI to coordinate with other agencies to vet people “seeking to enter or remain within the United States.”

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The NVC, according to the materials, “will increase the government’s ability to identify terrorists, criminals, and other nefarious actors and allow the FBI to provide timely information regarding the risk an individual poses. … The NVC will strengthen, simplify, and streamline the complex way that intelligence and law enforcement information is used to inform operational decisions and allow departments and agencies to contribute their unique information, all while ensuring compliance with applicable law and policy and maintaining robust privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties protections.”

Should those efforts fail to stop an incoming threat, the DOJ added that it was requesting another $17.1 million and 41 positions in order to help improve the FBI’s capability to “access, diagnose, and render safe a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear device within the United States and its territories.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate considered a rising star in the Democratic Party despite her defeat, announced Monday that a 2020 presidential bid is "definitely on the table" — just hours after seemingly telling attendees at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, that she wouldn’t be ready to run until at least 2028.

Abrams, 45, who repeatedly blamed voter fraud for her defeat in Georgia, became the first African-American woman to deliver a formal State of the Union response earlier this year. In that nationally televised address, she hurled epithets at the White House and emphasized her time leading Democrats in the state House of Representatives — experience that, on Monday, she initially appeared to recognize as insufficient to support a presidential candidacy.

"In the spreadsheet with all the jobs I wanted to do, 2028 would be the earliest I would be ready to stand for president because I would have done the work I thought necessary to be effective at that job," Abrams said onstage at SXSW, adding that she likely would make up her mind by the end of April.

DEFEATED ABRAMS REFUSES TO CALL BRIAN KEMP THE LEGITIMATE GOVERNOR OF GEORGIA 

In a follow-up tweet that she labeled a "fact check," Abrams’ former campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, wrote: "@staceyabrams’ remarks at #SXSW were in reference to her years-old spreadsheet, not her current considerations. She is taking a look at all options on the table in 2020 and beyond."

Abrams herself later tweeted: "In #LeadFromTheOutside, I explore how to be intentional about plans, but flexible enough to adapt. 20 years ago, I never thought I’d be ready to run for POTUS before 2028. But life comes at you fast – as I shared in Q&A w @Yamiche at @sxsw. Now 2020 is definitely on the table…"

Democratic leaders reportedly have encouraged Abrams to run for Senate in Georgia in 2020 or again for governor in 2020, and analysts have pointed to numerous potential problems with her skipping ahead straight to a White House bid.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle: The Democratic field is already stocked full with better-known candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren.

Although Abrams made history by becoming the first black woman to run as a major-party nominee for governor, several of the announced Democratic contenders would make history in their own ways if they managed to unseat Trump.

And, Abrams — who lost to Republican Brian Kemp by 1.4 percentage points in 2018 but has refused to call his tenure "legitimate" – likely would face withering attacks from Republicans accusing her of being, in essence, a sore loser.

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Seemingly well aware of the hurdles, Abrams reassured SXSW attendees that she was focused not on raising her own soaring profile, but on the greater good of the Democrat Party.

"My task is to make certain that a Democrat is elected not only to the White House, but that we have a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Democratic majority in Congress," Abrams said.

Source: Fox News Politics

Several Democratic 2020 presidential hopefuls — including Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and now Kirsten Gillibrand – are defending their self-professed commitment to the ideals of the #MeToo movement against a series of accusations they recently mismanaged sexual-misconduct claims against their subordinates.

As the three prominent senators each have sought to draw a sharp contrast with President Trump, who has faced his own misconduct allegations, the claims highlighted vulnerabilities that could become major liabilities not only in a heated Democrat Party primary, but also in the general election.

Back in 2017, Gillibrand and others ramped up the pressure for then-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., to resign amid sexual misconduct allegations. He ultimately stepped down.

Gillibrand, who has been described by GQ Magazine as "the face of the MeToo movement," said at the time that Franken’s alleged conduct had "shocked and disappointed her" and that he should "step aside" because "enough is enough." But, it emerged on Monday that last summer, an aide in her mid-20’s who was working in Gillibrand’s Senate office also apparently decided that enough was enough, as she resigned in protest over the office’s handling of her sexual-harassment complaint against a senior male adviser to Gillibrand.

“I have offered my resignation because of how poorly the investigation and post-investigation was handled,” the woman, who resigned less than three weeks after reporting the purported harassment, wrote to Gillibrand in a letter obtained by Politico. Gillibrand, responding to the allegations on Monday, said an appropriate investigation was launched — and her office later said the male staffer had been fired after other unreported, "deeply disturbing" comments surfaced.

The woman was granted anonymity because of fears of retaliation.

Gillibrand faced immediate friendly fire after calling for Franken’s resignation — in 2018, liberal billionaire megadonor George Soros argued that Gillibrand turned on Franken to "improve her chances" in the 2020 presidential race — and some of those hard feelings among her fellow progressives have not subsided.

For Sanders, the Vermont Independent who caucuses with Democrats, looming resentment from establishment progressives also has posed a major challenge. A January report in The New York Times outlining what one former Sanders delegate called an "entire wave of rotten sexual harassment that seemingly was never dealt with" during his 2016 presidential run seemed only to bolster on-the-record claims from Democrats that Sanders was too impersonal and arrogant to lead the party.

Asked by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper earlier this year whether he was unaware of the sexual harassment allegations, Sanders replied: "Uh, yes. I was a little bit busy running around the country, trying to make the case." He then appeared to smile.

EX-SPOKESMAN FOR SANDERS CALLS CLINTON TEAM ‘BIGGEST A–HOLES IN AMERICAN POLITICS,’ SAYS NEITHER HILLARY NOR HER SUBORDINATES ARE ‘NICE’ PEOPLE

The next week, after reports surfaced that a top aide was accused of sexually assaulting a female subordinate during Sanders’ campaign, he issued a strong apology and a vow to change.

Bernie Sanders kicking off his 2020 presidential campaign earlier this month in Brooklyn, N.Y. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

Bernie Sanders kicking off his 2020 presidential campaign earlier this month in Brooklyn, N.Y. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, File)

"To the women in that campaign who were harassed or mistreated I apologize," Sanders said in a statement. "Our standards and safeguards were inadequate."

Allegations of sexism also briefly surfaced contemporaneously during Sanders’ 2016 bid, as some of his young, white male supporters — known as "Bernie Bros" — attacked Hillary Clinton and her followers online, contributing to a hostile atmosphere between the campaigns. In her book, the election retrospective "What Happened," Clinton slammed Sanders for using “innuendo and impugning my character” such that she suffered “lasting damage" into the general election, although Clinton did not accuse Sanders of orchestrating the gender-based attacks.

The back-and-forth has continued into 2019. Late last month, after former members of Clinton’s team leaked details concerning Sanders’ expensive travel on behalf of the Clinton campaign after she secured the Democratic nomination, Sanders 2016 campaign spokesman Michael Briggs returned fire. "You can see why she’s one of the most disliked politicians in America," Briggs said, referring to Clinton. "She’s not nice. Her people are not nice." Briggs went on to call Clinton and her team among the "biggest a–holes in American politics."

ROSEANNE BARR CALLS #METOO FOUNDERS ‘HOS,’ SAYS ‘HARRIS SLEPT HER WAY TO THE BOTTOM’

But, although Gillibrand and Sanders have made public overtures to the alleged victims who worked for them, California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris acknowledged earlier this month that she still had not spoken to a woman who sued her former top adviser for sexual harassment, leading to a $400,000 settlement.

A spokeswoman for Harris insisted last December the team was “unaware” of the harassment allegations while Harris was California’s attorney general, but the agency that she oversaw, California’s Department of Justice, reportedly was informed about the complaint three months before she exited in early 2017.

The lawsuit, filed by Danielle Hartley, accused Larry Wallace of demeaning her based on her gender while she worked for him as his assistant. Hartley said Wallace placed his computer printer under his desk and often asked her to crawl under and refill it with paper as he sat and watched, sometimes with other men in the room.

"In this specific case, I have not talked to the victim," Harris told Univision. "That case is being handled by the Attorney General’s Office and I’ve left it up to that office to handle the case as they’ve seen fit, which included a settlement."

KLOBUCHAR, WHO REPORTEDLY ATE SALAD WITH COMB, DOESN’T DENY TOSSING BINDER IN ANGER AS HORRIFIED STAFF LOOKED ON

In an uncomfortable twist, Harris’ autobiography, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey,” which was released in January, praised Wallace’s "leadership" in orchestrating a bias training program. Wallace, the former director of the Division of Law Enforcement in California, resigned last December.

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Republicans, meanwhile, have previewed a possible line of attack against Harris on the episode as primary season approaches.

“No one is buying Kamala Harris’s claim she didn’t know her top aide of 14 yrs was accused of sexual harassment, resulting in a $400K settlement,” GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted.

Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser, Louis Casiano and Lukas Mikelionis contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

The top Republicans on the House Oversight Committee are demanding to know why the panel’s Democratic leadership allegedly leaked key documents concerning Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s security clearances to the media, without bothering to keep Republicans on the committee in the loop and while continuing to press the White House to provide the same documents.

In a letter sent Monday to House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking members Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan raised the alarm over a Mar. 8, 2019 article in Axios, in which reporter Alexi McCammond wrote that a "senior Democratic aide involved in handling the documents" told the outlet that "the House Oversight Committee has obtained documents related to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump’s security clearances that the Trump administration refused to provide."

McCammond went on to write that Axios had "obtained" one of those documents, which "provides some details about why Kushner’s security clearance was changed to ‘interim’ in September 2017. One document quoted by Axios read: "Per conversation with WH counsel the clearance was changed to interim Top Secret until we can confirm that the DOJ or someone else actually granted a final clearance. This action was taken out of an abundance of caution because the background investigation has not been completed."

Another document, dated Feb. 23, 2018, read simply: "Clearance downgraded to Interim Secret per COS direction" — then-chief of staff John Kelly, according to Axios.

KUSHNER TEAM RESPONDS TO SECURITY CLEARANCE ALLEGATIONS 

The article raised several questions for Jordan, R-Ohio, and Meadows, R-N.C., especially given the oversight panel’s repeated requests to the White House, from January through February, for documents pertaining to the security clearance process. Earlier this month, White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote a letter to Cummings rejecting the committee’s request for documents as "extraordinarily intrusive," while asserting that Cummings has rejected reasonable compromises.

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump make their way to board Marine One before departing from South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on October 30, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump make their way to board Marine One before departing from South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on October 30, 2018. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

"We first learned about these documents from Axios’s reporting," Meadows and Jordan wrote to Cummings. "However, according to the article, the Committee had been in possession of the documents since early February. The article quoted a ‘senior Democratic aide’ as characterizing the documents as ‘part of the puzzle that we would be asking for.’ Axios reported that it had even obtained access to at least one of these documents."

The Republicans continued: "Axios’s reporting, if accurate, is concerning for two reasons. First, if you already possessed in early February the documents that you ‘would be asking for’ from the White House, there would be no legitimate oversight basis to renew your request that the White House produce these documents to the Committee on February 11, 2019.

"Second, and most troubling, the Axios article—if accurate—suggests a departure from the Committee’s historical practice of sharing documents that will be made publicly available," the GOP representatives added. "The Axios article suggests the reporter ‘obtained’ a document from a larger group of documents provided to the Committee. If accurate, the story seems to suggest that you made these documents available to the press. We have yet to receive this same courtesy."

"These actions are not indicative of the objective, fact-based oversight you promised."

— GOP Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows

By not sharing documents with Republicans on the committee, Meadows and Jordan wrote, Cummings had deprived the panel’s GOP minority of the "opportunity to participate in and be aware of the Committee’s work."

"Without access to these documents, we cannot determine whether the information in the Axios story is cherry-picked, inaccurate, or out of context," they wrote. "In addition, the disclosure of documents to the press so early in an investigation undercuts the sincerity of the Committee’s investigation. By providing documents to the media before the Committee issues any reports or holds any hearings, one may conclude that the Committee is seeking documents for future public disclosure to harass and embarrass the President and his senior advisors."

Meadows and Jordan charged that "this conduct seems to be part of a larger trend," noting that "as the star witness of your first big hearing, you invited Michael Cohen, a convicted liar who then lied to the Committee several times under oath."

They concluded with a demand for the documents, and an admonition: "These actions are not indicative of the objective, fact-based oversight you promised."

Late last month, a spokesman for Kushner’s attorney told Fox News that President Trump’s son-in-law received a top-secret security clearance through "the regular process with no pressure from anyone," after The New York Times reported that Trump "ordered" then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to grant the clearance against the advice of then-White House Counsel Don McGhan.

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Fox News reported in May 2018 that Kushner had obtained a full security clearance. He had been working at the White House with an interim security clearance for the better part of a year, through late February 2018. That month, Kushner’s interim clearance was downgraded from "interim top secret" to "interim secret" after Kelly set a Feb. 23, 2018, deadline for halting access to top-secret information for those whose applications have been pending since June 1, 2017, or earlier.

The Times report, which cited "four people briefed on the matter," said that Trump told Kelly to grant Kushner a top-secret clearance the day after the White House Counsel’s Office recommended that he not be given one. The report claimed that Kelly was so disturbed by Trump’s command that he wrote an internal memo stating that he had been "ordered" to give Kushner the clearance.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

President Trump kicked off a new battle with Congress on Monday by releasing his fiscal 2020 budget plan seeking billions more in funding for a border wall and controversial work requirements for Americans collecting a variety of welfare benefits.

Both proposals are sure to face resistance from Democrats, especially coming off a partial shutdown triggered by a border wall dispute that only ended when Trump declared a national emergency over immigration — a step being litigated in the courts and challenged in Congress. The requests are part of the president’s $4.7 trillion budget plan.

Escalating Trump’s pursuit of wall funding, the White House in the new budget requested an additional $8.6 billion to build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border—seeking $5 billion from Congress, plus $3.6 billion from the military construction budget, for fiscal 2020.

TRUMP TO REQUEST $8.6 BILLION IN WALL FUNDING IN ‘TOUGH’ BUDGET REQUEST, SETTING UP CONGRESSIONAL SHOWDOWN

Meanwhile, the budget aims to implement new welfare requirements — namely, that Americans 18-65 years old work at least 20 hours a week in a job, a job training program or a community service program to secure a range of benefits and aid.

According to the administration, the work requirement would apply to federal programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and federal housing, but would come with a hardship exemption. Last year, the administration opened the door for states to impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients. This part of the budget proposal would bring those work requirements to the federal level.

The budget, meanwhile, projects a $1.1 trillion deficit for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, but also calls for deep cuts to domestic programs.

“In the last two years, President Trump and his Administration have prioritized reining in reckless Washington spending. The Budget that we have presented to Congress and the American people…embodies fiscal responsibility and takes aim at Washington’s waste, fraud, and abuse,” Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russ Vought said in a statement.

“Our national debt nearly doubled under the previous Administration and now stands at more than $22 trillion,” he continued. “This Budget shows that we can return to fiscal sanity without halting our economic resurgence while continuing to invest in critical priorities.”

The budget also includes a national paid family leave proposal and seeks money to establish the Space Force, as a new branch of the military, while sharply curbing spending on domestic safety-net programs. The outline includes a total of $2.7 trillion in nondefense spending cuts and the administration says the proposal would put the federal government on track to balance the budget by 2034.

The White House’s request for billions of dollars in additional funding for a wall comes as senior Homeland Security officials told Fox News that the administration is preparing for an estimated 180,000 migrants traveling as families to cross the border—either illegally, or claiming asylum—marking a record in family units crossing.

“We want to strengthen legal immigration and welcome more individuals through a merit-based system that enhances our economic vitality and vibrancy of our diverse nation. We also will continue to uphold our humanitarian ideals,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said last week during a House hearing. “But illegal immigration is simply spiraling out of control and threatening public safety and national security.”

NIELSEN DECLARES MIGRATION CRISIS ‘SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL,’ WARNS IT WILL GET ‘EVEN WORSE’

The $8.6 billion would allow the administration to complete more than the promised 722 miles of wall along the border, according to White House officials. The funding comes on top of the billions Trump is working to shift from military accounts after declaring a national emergency last month. The emergency declaration came after Congress blocked Trump’s original request for $5.7 billion for construction of the wall. That denial sparked the longest partial shutdown of the federal government in U.S. history.

Democrats, though, continue to argue that an emergency at the border is “non-existent,” and promised to block the proposal to build the wall again.

“President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.

“Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson,” they said, adding that the funding would be better put to use toward domestic programs like “education and workforce development.”

The administration is expecting pushback on this “tough” budget, according to White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow.

“I would just say that the whole issue of the wall, of border security, is of paramount importance,” Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday. “We have a crisis down there. I think the president has made that case very effectively.”

Trump also proposed an additional $750 billion for defense, while cutting non-defense discretionary spending by 5 percent below the cap. The budget will also increase requests for some agencies, while reducing others to reflect those priorities. For example, the 2020 budget seeks to reduce funding for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Budgets are mainly seen as blueprints for the White House’s priorities and agenda, but are often debated and negotiated on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers craft the appropriation bills that eventually fund the government.

And while the budget will suggest it balances in future years, it is also expected to rely on projections for continued economic growth from the tax cuts Trump signed into law in 2017. But there’s no guarantee that would cover the lost tax revenues.

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By proposing spending levels that don’t raise the budget caps, the president is courting a debate with Congress. Lawmakers from both parties have routinely agreed to raise spending caps established by a previous deal years ago to fund the government.

Fox News’ Griff Jenkins, John Roberts, Chris Wallace and The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

Source: Fox News Politics

Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren announced in an interview on Saturday that she wants to break up not only Amazon, Google, and Facebook, but also Apple — as the Massachusetts senator pushes further to the left of her numerous Democratic rivals on a host of populist issues.

Speaking to The Verge at the South by Southwest (SXSW) technology conference in Austin, Texas, Warren specifically demanded that Apple must be forced to either surrender control over the App Store, or cease selling its own apps within it.

"Apple, you’ve got to break it apart from their App Store. It’s got to be one or the other," Warren said. "Either they run the platform or they play in the store. They don’t get to do both at the same time."

She elaborated: "If you run a platform where others come to sell, then you don’t get to sell your own items on the platform because you have two comparative advantages. One, you’ve sucked up information about every buyer and every seller before you’ve made a decision about what you’re going to to sell. And second, you have the capacity — because you run the platform — to prefer your product over anyone else’s product. It gives an enormous comparative advantage to the platform."

Warren asserted that similar antitrust principles were "applied to railroad companies more than a hundred years ago," and that "we need to now look at those tech platforms the same way."

WARREN FLOATS IDEA OF TAXPAYER-FUNDED REPARATIONS FOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS, BUT ALSO NATIVE AMERICANS

In a lengthy post on the website Medium on Friday, Warren targeted Amazon, Facebook, and Google for breakup, but did not mention Apple.

Warren said the large tech giants had used mergers to "limit competition," citing examples such as Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp; Amazon using its market power to "force" smaller competitors, such as Diapers.com to sell to the company; and Google buying mapping company Waze and advertising company DoubleClick.

President Donald Trump talks to Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook during the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board's first meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

President Donald Trump talks to Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook during the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board’s first meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

She also mentioned that their marketplaces were used to limit competition. "Amazon crushes small companies by copying the goods they sell on the Amazon Marketplace and then selling its own branded version. Google allegedly snuffed out a competing small search engine by demoting its content on its search algorithm, and it has favored its own restaurant ratings over those of Yelp," Warren wrote.

Warren, who specifically denied being a Socialist as recently as this weekend, proposed two ways of restoring competition to the tech sector, including passing legislation that would designate the large platforms as "platform utilities" and reversing already approved mergers, which she deemed "illegal and anti-competitive."

TRUMP CALLS TIM COOK ‘TIM APPLE’ TO HIS FACE; COOK REACTS BY CHANGING NAME ON TWITTER

Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a think tank for science and technology policy, sharply disagreed with Warren’s proposal.

"The Warren campaign’s call to break up big tech companies reflects a ‘big is bad, small is beautiful’ ideology run amok," Atkinson said in a statement obtained by Fox News. "The proposal ignores the fact that many of the services big tech companies now provide free used to cost consumers money. Breaking up large Internet companies just because they are large won’t help consumers. It will hurt them by reducing convenience, reducing quality of service and innovation, and in some cases leading to the introduction of priced services."

"Breaking up large Internet companies just because they are large won’t help consumers."

— ITIF president Rob Atkinson

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Warren herself tempered some of her rhetoric on Saturday, saying simply, "I am not" when asked if she considered herself a democratic Socialist, in the vein of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“All I can tell you is what I believe – there’s an enormous amount to be gained from markets. Markets create opportunities. … but markets have to have rules. They have to have a cop on the beat,” Warren told an energetic crowd at the Austin City Limits’ Moody Theater.

Warren’s calls for major changes in antitrust law follow her other relatively radical proposals, including her idea of taxing idle wealth. Specifically, Warren has proposed an annual 2 percent tax on every dollar of net worth above $50 million and a 3 percent tax on every dollar of net worth above $1 billion.

But because Warren would seek to tax wealth itself — as opposed to income or some other kind of transfer — without equally apportioning such a tax among the states, legal experts say it is likely unconstitutional.

Warren has also said that Native Americans should be “part of the conversation” on reparations for African-Americans — a move that threatens to bring back her own history with Native Americans.

Her fellow 2020 hopefuls Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro have come out in favor of reparations for African Americans, but have so far not gone as far as Warren in opening the door to reparations for Native Americans.

Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

A top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee told "Fox News Sunday" that she believes the panel’s chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings, will "end up referring" former Trump attorney Michael Cohen to the Department of Justice for a perjury investigation, after numerous contradictions and inconsistencies have surfaced in his dramatic public testimony late last month.

Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., who also serves as the liason to the Democratic leadership, additionally charged that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) erred by blocking Fox News from hosting any Democratic primary debates, saying the move doesn’t do anything to "help" the growing partisan tensions.

Hill’s comments came as Cohen’s own lawyer, Lanny Davis, has corrected Cohen’s statements before the House oversight panel. Several Republicans have accused Cohen of perjury on a variety of matters.

Fox News exclusively reported on Friday, citing two sources familiar with the matter, that Cohen met with staff for Adam Schiff, D-Calif., for more than 10 hours before his testimony. In addition to his public remarks, Cohen has met with the House panel several times behind closed doors.

Even as she seemingly acknowledged that Democrats "can’t go anywhere" on impeaching President Trump at the moment, Hill indicated that Cummings had more than enough justification to request another criminal probe into Cohen, who has already pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 concerning the duration of negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

SCHIFF STAFF WENT TO NEW YORK FOUR TIMES TO MEET WITH COHEN FOR MORE THAN 10 HOURS — FOR TESTIMONY LASTING ONLY 7 HOURS, SOURCES SAY. WAS HE COACHED?

"I don’t know if he lied or not," Hill said. "I think that this is, Chairman Cummings is incredibly deliberate. I know that he’s reviewing the entire testimony, all the transcripts with [GOP ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan] who also is going to make sure that we get to the bottom of this."

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, becomes emotional as he finishes a day of testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, becomes emotional as he finishes a day of testimony to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Among the key areas of focus: Cohen’s own attorney, Lanny Davis, seemingly contradicted Cohen’s claims under oath that he had never sought a pardon from the White House.

On Friday, President Trump blasted Cohen, confirming that he denied Cohen’s request for a pardon.

"Bad lawyer and fraudster Michael Cohen said under sworn testimony that he never asked for a Pardon. His lawyers totally contradicted him. He lied! Additionally, he directly asked me for a pardon. I said NO. He lied again! He also badly wanted to work at the White House. He lied!" Trump tweeted.

Hill told Wallace she was not sure "how that went down exactly," but suggested that Cohen was in a "panic."

"I would imagine that in the panic that was going on when you’re about to go down [on criminal charges], right, that you’re going to say like ‘yeah, figure out whatever you can do,’" Hill said. "And I imagine that Chairman Cummings will end up referring him. That’s just my guess."

Cummings said on Thursday that he has "to make sure" that Cohen’s statements were "true inconsistencies and not outright lies,” and claimed he told Cohen personally that he would “nail you to the cross” if he had lied to Congress again. “And I meant that,” Cummings said.

Referencing those comments, Hill told Wallace: "When [Cummings] says something like, ‘I’m going to nail you to the cross’  he means it. I’ve seen him in action. He’s not going to let this go."

"He’s not going to let this go."

— Rep. Katie Hill, on Elijah Cummings

And Cohen has also faced scrutiny from multiple fronts — including CNN and the Trump administration — for claiming under oath that he had not sought out a job in the Trump White House. Davis later acknowledged that Cohen was, in fact, at one time considering the possibility of working in the White House.

Cohen is set to head to prison in May, although his sentence is yet to be determined. Some Republicans accused Cohen of seeking to garner favor with prosecutors with his testimony.

Still, despite the debate over Cohen’s truthfulness, Hill said, the Trump administration is still blameworthy — even if it may lack criminal culpability.

"I really think that this is about getting to the truth, about showing it to the American people, and then we go from there. But at the end of the day if — if people — you know, the citizens of the United States — don’t believe that it has risen to that level, then we can’t go anywhere," Hill said. "So really it’s about exposing the truth and it’s about getting to the bottom of this and it’s about asking the questions of ‘Is this the kind of government, is this the kind of leadership that we want to see, is this OK, is this the kind of state that we want to leave our democracy in to our children?’ And right now I just don’t believe that it is."

Hill went on to imply that the media climate has become "more and more partisan," after anchor Chris Wallace pressed for her response to DNC Chairman Tom Perez’s decision to ban Fox News from hosting Democratic primary debates. Perez claimed Fox News would not be “fair and neutral” forums for the candidates, citing contested allegations in a recent article in The New Yorker.

"I think it’s the Democratic primary and I think we know that there are basically no Democrats who watch Fox News, so to me that’s pretty fair," Hill began, although she later acknowledged that "certainly Independents" would be potential debate viewers.

"I’m here because I do represent a purple district," Hill told Wallace. "You know, I think that there’s a lack of bias and I’m hoping that we can change that. I feel like you’re treating me without bias, and I appreciate that. And I think that this is something we have to change. I personally don’t think it helps when we’re saying we’re not going to have any of the debates on Fox News."

Hill added: "I don’t know how much of that was driven by the candidates, how much of it was driven by the party. I’d like to see all of that change. I want to see the media become as unbiased as possible, but you know, I don’t know that we’re in that state right now, which is really unfortunate."

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Former DNC Chairman Ed Rendell told Fox News on Thursday that the decision was a grave strategic mistake by Democrats.

“If we could pick the commentators and moderators, I think we should have the debate on Fox, because let me tell you — even if we can persuade 3 percent of Fox viewers, 3 percent last time out, carries Michigan,” Rendell, who served as DNC chair during the 2000 election, said in an interview. “I was the DNC chair, I would say, ‘Give me Bret Baier, Chris Wallace and Juan Williams, and you can have that Fox debate anywhere, anytime, any number of times."

Fox News’ Chris Wallace and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen told House investigators this week that staff for Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., traveled to New York at least four times to meet with him for over 10 hours immediately before last month’s high-profile public testimony, according to two sources familiar with the matter — as Republicans question whether the meetings amounted to coaching a witness.

The sources said the sessions covered a slew of topics addressed during the public hearing before the oversight committee — including the National Enquirer’s “Catch and Kill” policy, American Media CEO David Pecker and the alleged undervaluing of President Trump’s assets.

COHEN DOCS UNDERCUT CLAIMS TRUMP LAWYERS MADE EDITS TO ALTER CRUCIAL TIMELINE 

But, Republicans have signaled they’re not convinced, with Ohio Rep. Mike Turner sending a letter to Cohen’s team on Wednesday demanding answers.

Turner specifically asked for confirmation of Cohen’s contacts, if any, "with Democratic Members or Democratic staff of SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence], COR [House Committee on Oversight and Reform], or HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] prior to his appearances before House and Senate committees last week" — as well as the lengths of such contacts, their locations and who exactly was involved.

"These questions are important for the public to understand whether or not they were watching witness testimony, a public hearing, or well-rehearsed theater," he wrote.

During last month’s seven-hour public hearing before the House Oversight Committee, Cohen hesitantly acknowledged, under questioning from Ohio GOP Rep. Jim Jordan, that he had spoken with Schiff "about topics that were going to be raised at the upcoming hearing."

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., in 2017, when he was the panel's ranking member. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, File)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., in 2017, when he was the panel’s ranking member. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, File)

But, he did not elaborate on the discussions, which Fox News is told extended significantly longer than the seven hours that the public hearing itself lasted.

One by one, during the dramatic hearing, Cohen fielded questions on precisely the same topics that the sources told Fox News he discussed with Schiff’s staff during the sit-downs in New York.

For example, in response to questioning from Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., Cohen discussed the purported practice of paying for the rights to news stories harmful to Trump, only to bury them.

"I was involved in several of these catch-and-kill episodes," Cohen told Maloney, "but these catch-and-kill scenarios existed between David Pecker and Mr. Trump long before I started working in 2007."

Cohen went on to testify that Pecker, whose company publishes the National Enquirer, had paid $30,000 to a former Trump World Tower doorman who alleged he had information about a supposed love child fathered by Trump. The former Trump fixer asserted that Trump was concerned also about the "treasure trove of documents" Pecker had that could implicate him.

Further, Cohen was asked by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., "To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?"

Cohen replied: "Yes."

COHEN SUES TRUMP ORGANIZATION FOR MILLIONS IN LEGAL FEES

"Who else knows that the president did this?" Ocasio-Cortez pressed.

"Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman and Matthew Calamari," Cohen said, referring to the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer and other key Trump associates. "You deflate the value of the asset and then you put in a request to the tax department for a deduction."

Cohen also brought documents that he claimed proved Trump "inflated" his assets in order to obtain loans from Deutsche Bank.

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, testified last month before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, testified last month before the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Asked about the revelations by email, a House Intelligence Committee spokesman defended the Schiff staff’s pre-hearing discussions with Cohen.

"We are running a professional investigation in search of the facts, and we welcome the opportunity to meet with potential witnesses in advance of any testimony to determine relevant topics to cover in order to make productive use of their time before the Committee," spokesman Patrick Boland told Fox News.

"Despite this professed outrage by Republicans, it’s completely appropriate to conduct proffer sessions and allow witnesses to review their prior testimony before the Committee interviews them — such sessions are a routine part of every serious investigation around the country, including congressional investigations."

Schiff was asked about the frequency of his contacts with Cohen on CBS News’ "Face the Nation" this weekend, and gave the number "seven" — but Schiff did not distinguish between the number of his own contacts with Cohen and the committee staff’s interactions with him.

Schiff asserted, "The extent of my contact was just inviting him to testify and also trying to allay his concerns about the president’s threats against him and his family … but our staff certainly sat down to interview him, and that’s what you do in any credible investigation."

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A source close to Schiff claimed some details about the staff meetings were “not accurate” but did not point to specifics.

On Cohen, a source familiar with his closed-door testimony before the House Intelligence Committee would not comment directly on the number and substance of the meetings between Cohen and the Schiff staff, but said more broadly that Schiff "pledged to release the full transcript of Mr. Cohen’s eight hour testimony, at which point Mr. Cohen will be vindicated and others will be implicated."

Source: Fox News Politics

President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen said Tuesday that the American people can decide "exactly who is telling the truth" when he testifies Wednesday before the House Oversight and Reform Committee — but in a remarkable social media post on the eve of the hearing, a top Republican suggested that lurid details of Cohen’s private life may take center stage.

The blockbuster public testimony threatened to overshadow Trump’s summit in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, prompting some observers to say the timing was more than coincidental. The testimony comes as Cohen is set to begin a three-year prison sentence in May – he has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 and committing campaign finance violations while working for Trump.

Cohen, once Trump’s loyal attorney and fixer, has turned on his former boss and has cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

"I look forward to tomorrow, to be able to in my voice to tell the American people my story," Cohen told reporters Tuesday.

He made the comments after meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee for more than nine hours behind closed doors. Cohen said he appreciated the opportunity to "clear the record and tell the truth" to the Senate committee, after acknowledging he’d lied to the panel in 2017.

Tuesday was the first of three consecutive days of congressional appearances scheduled for Cohen. After the public hearing Wednesday, he will appear before the House intelligence panel Thursday, again speaking in private.

Cohen’s public testimony is likely to be a spectacle, in part because of the accusations he plans to level against the president. He’ll give lawmakers a behind-the-scenes account of what he will claim is Trump’s lying, racism and cheating, and possibly even criminal conduct, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. He is expected to provide what he will claim is evidence, in the form of documents, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss the confidential testimony.

Republicans are expected to aggressively attempt to discredit Cohen, given that he has acknowledged lying previously. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement Tuesday it was "laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies."

RNC TELLS MICHAEL COHEN TO ‘HAVE FUN IN PRISON,’ AS GOP PREPS WAR ROOM AHEAD OF TESTIMONY

It appeared unlikely Cohen would directly implicate Trump in instructing his subordinates to lie. Buzzfeed News last month published a bombshell, discredited report, citing two law enforcement officials, who said Cohen acknowledged to Mueller’s office that Trump told him to lie to Congress about a potential real estate deal in Moscow, and claim that the negotiations ended months before they did so as to conceal Trump’s involvement.

But Mueller issued his first public statement in more than a year to repudiate the BuzzFeed report just 24 hours after its publication, flatly asserting that the story was "not accurate." The Washington Post has since reported that Mueller intended his rare denial to mean that the story was "almost entirely incorrect," and that the Special Counsel’s Office immediately "reviewed evidence to determine if there were any documents or witness interviews like those described, reaching out to those they thought might have a stake in the case. They found none."

One Republican House member, meanwhile, did more than just question Cohen’s credibility in the run-up to the hearing on Wednesday. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted Tuesday that the world is "about to learn a lot" about Cohen and suggested he knew of disparaging information that could come out during his testimony.

Gaetz, a Trump ally who talks to the president frequently, is not a member of the committee that will question Cohen. He did not offer any evidence. Still, the tweet was extraordinary because his remarks appeared to some Democrats to constitute threatening or intimidating a witness.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz defended a tweet he sent Tuesday about Michael Cohen, suggesting that President Trump’s former attorney had been unfaithful to his wife.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz defended a tweet he sent Tuesday about Michael Cohen, suggesting that President Trump’s former attorney had been unfaithful to his wife. (Getty/AP)

In a tweet, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote, "I encourage all Members to be mindful that comments made on social media or in the press can adversely affect the ability of House Committees to obtain the truthful and complete information necessary to fulfill their duties."

Pelosi went on to suggest that Gaetz may have even opened himself to legal liability, warning that the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause — which provides virtually absolute legal immunity to statements made by senators and representatives during congressional debates — might not protect Gaetz, who made his comments away from the House floor.

"We’re witness testing, not witness tampering," Gaetz countered in an interview with reporters. "When witnesses come before Congress, their truthfulness and veracity are in question and we have the opportunity to test them."

Lanny Davis, one of Cohen’s lawyers, said in a statement that he wouldn’t respond to Gaetz’s "despicable lies and personal smears, except to say we trust that his colleagues in the House, both Republicans and Democrats, will repudiate his words and his conduct."

Democrats have been alternately suspicious of Cohen and eager to hear what he has to say. Sen. Mark Warner, the intelligence panel’s top Democrat, suggested in a brief statement to reporters outside Tuesday’s interview that Cohen had provided important information.

"We’re witness testing, not witness tampering."

— Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz

JUDGE NAP: COHEN TESTIMONY IS DESIGNED TO DISTRACT FROM SECOND TRUMP-KIM SUMMIT

"Two years ago when this investigation started I said it may be the most important thing I am involved in in my public life in the Senate, and nothing I’ve heard today dissuades me from that view," Warner said.

Senators on the intelligence panel attended Tuesday’s private meeting, a departure from the committee’s usual practice, where witness interviews are conducted by staff only. The Senate intel panel’s chairman, Richard Burr, suggested to The Associated Press before the meeting that his committee would take steps to ensure that Cohen was telling the truth.

"I’m sure there will be some questions we know the answers to, so we’ll test him to see whether in fact he’ll be truthful this time," Burr said.

At least one Republican member of the intelligence panel refused to go to the meeting. "I don’t have any desire to go listen to a lying lawyer," said Texas Sen. John Cornyn.

In addition to lying to Congress, Cohen pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance violations for his involvement in payments to two women who allege they had affairs with Trump.

Federal prosecutors in New York have said Trump directed Cohen to arrange the payments to buy the silence of adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 campaign. Cohen told a judge that he agreed to cover up Trump’s "dirty deeds" out of "blind loyalty."

Trump denies the allegations and says Cohen lied to get a lighter sentence.

The person with knowledge of what Cohen intends to tell Congress said he will provide information about Trump’s financial statements that he will claim shows Trump deflated assets to pay lower taxes on golf courses; will provide details of the Daniels payment and claim that Trump organized a cover-up by pretending Cohen would be repaid; and claim that Trump talked to him and asked him questions about the Trump Moscow project throughout 2016.

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He is also expected to discuss what he knows about a meeting between Trump campaign associates and a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower before the 2016 election, a matter that is of particular interest to Mueller and congressional investigators.

Cohen is not expected to discuss matters related to Russia in the public hearing, saving that information for the closed-door interviews with the intelligence committees. House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings has said he doesn’t want to interfere with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and links to Trump’s campaign.

Members of the oversight panel are expected to ask questions about the campaign finance violations, Trump’s business practices and compliance with tax laws and "the accuracy of the president’s public statements," according to a memo laying out the scope of the hearing.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Elizabeth Zwirz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

In his testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committe Wednesday, Michael Cohen will accuse his former client, President Trump, of knowing that his adviser Roger Stone was reaching out to Wikileaks concerning the publication of stolen Democratic National Committee emails.

According to his prepared remarks, first obtained by Politico, Cohen will tell Congress that Trump "was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails."

Cohen will also call Trump a "racist," a "conman," and a "cheat," all based, he will claim, on "documents that are irrefutable."

Among those documents Cohen will purportedly provide Congress: "A copy of a check Mr. Trump wrote from his personal bank account – after he became president – to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made to cover up his affair with an adult film star and prevent damage to his campaign," as well as "Copies of financial statements for 2011 – 2013 that he gave to such institutions as Deutsche Bank."

Additionally, Cohen will offer "a copy of an article with Mr. Trump’s handwriting on it that reported on the auction of a portrait of himself – he arranged for the bidder ahead of time and then reimbursed the bidder from the account of his non-profit charitable foundation, with the picture now hanging in one of his country clubs."

Cohen also claims he will provide "Copies of letters I wrote at Mr. Trump’s direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores."

Meanwhile, in a remarkable social media post on the eve of the hearing, a top Republican suggested that lurid details of Cohen’s private life may take center stage.

The blockbuster public testimony threatened to overshadow Trump’s summit in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, prompting some observers to say the timing was more than coincidental. The testimony comes as Cohen is set to begin a three-year prison sentence in May – he has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 and committing campaign finance violations while working for Trump.

Cohen, once Trump’s loyal attorney and fixer, has turned on his former boss and has cooperated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

"I look forward to tomorrow, to be able to in my voice to tell the American people my story," Cohen told reporters Tuesday.

He made the comments after meeting with the Senate Intelligence Committee for more than nine hours behind closed doors. Cohen said he appreciated the opportunity to "clear the record and tell the truth" to the Senate committee, after acknowledging he’d lied to the panel in 2017.

Tuesday was the first of three consecutive days of congressional appearances scheduled for Cohen. After the public hearing Wednesday, he will appear before the House intelligence panel Thursday, again speaking in private.

Cohen’s public testimony is likely to be a spectacle, in part because of the accusations he plans to level against the president. He’ll give lawmakers a behind-the-scenes account of what he will claim is Trump’s lying, racism and cheating, and possibly even criminal conduct, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. He is expected to provide what he will claim is evidence, in the form of documents, said the person, who requested anonymity to discuss the confidential testimony.

Republicans are expected to aggressively attempt to discredit Cohen, given that he has acknowledged lying previously. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement Tuesday it was "laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like Cohen at his word, and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies."

RNC TELLS MICHAEL COHEN TO ‘HAVE FUN IN PRISON,’ AS GOP PREPS WAR ROOM AHEAD OF TESTIMONY

It appeared unlikely Cohen would directly implicate Trump in instructing his subordinates to lie. Buzzfeed News last month published a bombshell, discredited report, citing two law enforcement officials, who said Cohen acknowledged to Mueller’s office that Trump told him to lie to Congress about a potential real estate deal in Moscow, and claim that the negotiations ended months before they did so as to conceal Trump’s involvement.

But Mueller issued his first public statement in more than a year to repudiate the BuzzFeed report just 24 hours after its publication, flatly asserting that the story was "not accurate." The Washington Post has since reported that Mueller intended his rare denial to mean that the story was "almost entirely incorrect," and that the Special Counsel’s Office immediately "reviewed evidence to determine if there were any documents or witness interviews like those described, reaching out to those they thought might have a stake in the case. They found none."

One Republican House member, meanwhile, did more than just question Cohen’s credibility in the run-up to the hearing on Wednesday. Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted Tuesday that the world is "about to learn a lot" about Cohen and suggested he knew of disparaging information that could come out during his testimony.

Gaetz, a Trump ally who talks to the president frequently, is not a member of the committee that will question Cohen. He did not offer any evidence. Still, the tweet was extraordinary because his remarks appeared to some Democrats to constitute threatening or intimidating a witness.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz defended a tweet he sent Tuesday about Michael Cohen, suggesting that President Trump’s former attorney had been unfaithful to his wife.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz defended a tweet he sent Tuesday about Michael Cohen, suggesting that President Trump’s former attorney had been unfaithful to his wife. (Getty/AP)

In a tweet, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote, "I encourage all Members to be mindful that comments made on social media or in the press can adversely affect the ability of House Committees to obtain the truthful and complete information necessary to fulfill their duties."

Pelosi went on to suggest that Gaetz may have even opened himself to legal liability, warning that the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause — which provides virtually absolute legal immunity to statements made by senators and representatives during congressional debates — might not protect Gaetz, who made his comments away from the House floor.

"We’re witness testing, not witness tampering," Gaetz countered in an interview with reporters. "When witnesses come before Congress, their truthfulness and veracity are in question and we have the opportunity to test them."

Lanny Davis, one of Cohen’s lawyers, said in a statement that he wouldn’t respond to Gaetz’s "despicable lies and personal smears, except to say we trust that his colleagues in the House, both Republicans and Democrats, will repudiate his words and his conduct."

Democrats have been alternately suspicious of Cohen and eager to hear what he has to say. Sen. Mark Warner, the intelligence panel’s top Democrat, suggested in a brief statement to reporters outside Tuesday’s interview that Cohen had provided important information.

"We’re witness testing, not witness tampering."

— Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz

JUDGE NAP: COHEN TESTIMONY IS DESIGNED TO DISTRACT FROM SECOND TRUMP-KIM SUMMIT

"Two years ago when this investigation started I said it may be the most important thing I am involved in in my public life in the Senate, and nothing I’ve heard today dissuades me from that view," Warner said.

Senators on the intelligence panel attended Tuesday’s private meeting, a departure from the committee’s usual practice, where witness interviews are conducted by staff only. The Senate intel panel’s chairman, Richard Burr, suggested to The Associated Press before the meeting that his committee would take steps to ensure that Cohen was telling the truth.

"I’m sure there will be some questions we know the answers to, so we’ll test him to see whether in fact he’ll be truthful this time," Burr said.

At least one Republican member of the intelligence panel refused to go to the meeting. "I don’t have any desire to go listen to a lying lawyer," said Texas Sen. John Cornyn.

In addition to lying to Congress, Cohen pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance violations for his involvement in payments to two women who allege they had affairs with Trump.

Federal prosecutors in New York have said Trump directed Cohen to arrange the payments to buy the silence of adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 campaign. Cohen told a judge that he agreed to cover up Trump’s "dirty deeds" out of "blind loyalty."

Trump denies the allegations and says Cohen lied to get a lighter sentence.

The person with knowledge of what Cohen intends to tell Congress said he will provide information about Trump’s financial statements that he will claim shows Trump deflated assets to pay lower taxes on golf courses; will provide details of the Daniels payment and claim that Trump organized a cover-up by pretending Cohen would be repaid; and claim that Trump talked to him and asked him questions about the Trump Moscow project throughout 2016.

CLICK TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

He is also expected to discuss what he knows about a meeting between Trump campaign associates and a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower before the 2016 election, a matter that is of particular interest to Mueller and congressional investigators.

Cohen is not expected to discuss matters related to Russia in the public hearing, saving that information for the closed-door interviews with the intelligence committees. House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah Cummings has said he doesn’t want to interfere with Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and links to Trump’s campaign.

Members of the oversight panel are expected to ask questions about the campaign finance violations, Trump’s business practices and compliance with tax laws and "the accuracy of the president’s public statements," according to a memo laying out the scope of the hearing.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Elizabeth Zwirz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Democrats on Tuesday pushed unprecedented legislation through the House to block President Trump’s national emergency declaration to steer billions of extra dollars to his southern border wall, raising the prospect that Trump might issue his first-ever veto to defeat the effort.

Monday’s vote marked the first time the House or Senate has tried to terminate a presidential declaration of a national emergency, using the provisions of the National Emergencies Act of 1976. Former Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., attempted a similar effort regarding a national emergency declared by then-President George W. Bush, but the measure never came to a vote on the House floor.

Should enough Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate defect and support the House bill, a two-thirds supermajority in both the Senate and House would be needed to override Trump’s veto. The White House issued a formal veto threat Tuesday ahead of the House vote, ramping up pressure on Republicans to hold the line.

It took President George W. Bush more than five years before he used his veto, and President Barack Obama only 11 months. For President Bill Clinton, it took two and a half years.

With three Senate Republicans saying they would support the legislation, only one more was needed to vote with all the Democrats to pass the measure and send it to Trump.

House Democrats have aimed to block the national emergency declaration that President Trump issued last week to fund his long-sought wall along the U.S-Mexico border, setting up a fight that could result in Trump's first-ever veto. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

House Democrats have aimed to block the national emergency declaration that President Trump issued last week to fund his long-sought wall along the U.S-Mexico border, setting up a fight that could result in Trump’s first-ever veto. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

"When you see the vote today there will be nowhere near the votes to override a veto," House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told reporters.

Even many GOP lawmakers who have viewed themselves as protectors of Congress’ power of the purse said they would defer to Trump in this case, saying he has the authority under a mid-1970s statute.

"They love Trump in my district," said Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo. "I’m for Trump."

CROWD OF FOUR PEOPLE HOLDS PRO-TRUMP, PRO-WALL RALLY IN SAN FRANCISCO

Democratic leaders said the vote was not about the merits of Trump’s wall but how Trump was trampling on the Constitution by grabbing money that he couldn’t obtain through the usual means.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Trump’s action "steals billions of dollars" from military construction projects— including, possibly, family housing and child care centers — to build the wall along the Mexico border.

Republicans have countered that problems with drug runners and human trafficking gave merit to Trump’s maneuver.

"I went down there neutral on this question, didn’t know whether or not I’d support a national emergency," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who recently returned from a National Guard deployment along the border in Arizona. "And, I came back more convinced than probably anybody that this is the right thing to do."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., seen here on Tuesday, said Trump was trying to "bend the law" with his declaration of a national emergency on the southern border. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., seen here on Tuesday, said Trump was trying to "bend the law" with his declaration of a national emergency on the southern border. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

"If Republicans vote their beliefs, we’ll get a lot. If they vote their party, we won’t get a lot," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.

Trump on Monday urged Senate Republicans to stick with him.

"I hope our great Republican Senators don’t get led down the path of weak and ineffective Border Security," Trump tweeted. "Without strong Borders, we don’t have a Country — and the voters are on board with us. Be strong and smart, don’t fall into the Democrats ‘trap’ of Open Borders and Crime!"

TRUMP’S BORDER WALL PROTOTYPES TO COME DOWN

Vice President Mike Pence discussed the issue with GOP senators during their weekly private lunch. In a statement after the sit-down, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham accused Democrats of hypocritically changing their mind about realities on the southern border.

“We had a great presentation from Vice President Pence and his team regarding the emergency declaration and the need for additional spending to protect our southern border," Graham said. "The Vice President made a compelling case that the border crisis is real and President Trump has both the authority and legal backing to declare a national emergency."

Graham added: "In 2014, President Obama declared a humanitarian crisis at our southern border because 120,000 unaccompanied minors were apprehended.  As of today, we have already apprehended 120,000 in Fiscal Year 2019.  The problems of 2014 are only getting worse."

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Trump was trying to "bend the law" with his declaration of a national emergency on the southern border. He called on lawmakers to "speak up with one bipartisan voice" to put a check on the executive branch as the founding founders envisioned.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, center, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, second from the right, during a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border at Santa Teresa Station in Sunland Park, N.M., on Saturday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, center, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, second from the right, during a tour of the U.S.-Mexico border at Santa Teresa Station in Sunland Park, N.M., on Saturday. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

"What would stop a future president from claiming an emergency every week?" he asked.

On Monday, GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said he would vote to block the order, joining Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski as Republicans supporting the resolution. Congress must defend its power of the purse and warned that a future Democrat in the White House might abuse the power to advance "radical policies," Tillis said.

Another Republican, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, called Trump’s order "unnecessary, unwise, and inconsistent with the United States Constitution and I’ll decide how to vote when I’m presented with something to vote on."

Senate voting on Trump’s emergency order could drag under a rarely used procedure, which an aide said is possibly a first for the chamber. The law allows for up to 15 days of committee review— in this case, at the Armed Services panel — with a full Senate vote three days later. Senators, though, said the process could be expedited.

At issue is Trump’s longstanding vow to build a wall along the 1,900-mile southwest border, perhaps his top campaign promise. He has long since dropped any pretense that money for the wall would come from Mexico, which he once claimed would be the source of funding.

Earlier this month Congress approved a huge spending bill providing nearly $1.4 billion to build 55 miles of border barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, ending a dispute that had led to a record 35-day partial shutdown of the government. Trump had demanded $5.7 billion to construct more than 200 miles.

Trump’s declaration of a national emergency gives him access to about $3.6 billion in funding for military construction projects to divert to border fencing. Lawmakers in both parties are recoiling at the politically toxic prospect of losing cherished projects at back-home military bases. The Defense Department has not identified which projects may face the ax.

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But, the administration is more likely to tap $600 million from a federal asset forfeiture fund first. In addition, it is considering shifting more than $2 billion from Defense Department accounts into a Pentagon counter-drug fund to be tapped for wall construction.

Trump’s edict is also being challenged in the federal courts, where a host of Democratic-led states such as California are among those that have sued to overturn the order. The House may also join in.

Fox News’ Chad Pergramm, Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign spokesman unloaded on Hillary Clinton and her team on Monday, calling them the "biggest a–holes in American politics," after former members of Clinton’s campaign leaked details this week about Sanders’ use of private jets to attend campaign rallies on her behalf.

Speaking to Politico, the spokesman, Michael Briggs, proceeded to call Clinton’s staff "total ingrates," given that Sanders claims he billed the Clinton-Kaine campaign for private air travel in order to attend events that he otherwise would have needed to skip.

“You can see why she’s one of the most disliked politicians in America," Briggs said, referring to Clinton. "She’s not nice. Her people are not nice. [Sanders] busted his tail to fly all over the country to talk about why it made sense to elect Hillary Clinton and the thanks that [we] get is this kind of petty stupid sniping a couple years after the fact.”

Briggs added: “It doesn’t make me feel good to feel this way but they’re some of the biggest a–holes in American politics."

"She’s not nice. Her people are not nice."

— Bernie Sanders 2016 spokesman Michael Briggs

FIVE THINGS BERNIE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT SOCIALISM

Several former Clinton staffers, also speaking to Politico, reported that Sanders’ frequent requests for private planes from the campaign became “a running joke in the office" — in part because Sanders is a socialist, and also because he has pushed for the elimination of carbon-generating heavy aircraft in favor of high-speed rail networks. In all, Sanders reportedly billed the Clinton-Kaine campaign approximately $100,000 for air travel.

Some bad blood remains between the Clinton and Sanders camp, according to insiders, in part because of Sanders’ harsh criticisms of Clinton during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

Talking to the liberal “Pod Save America” podcast in 2017, Clinton said she "couldn’t believe" that, because of Sanders, she was forced into "basically defending President Obama in a Democratic primary." And in her book, the election retrospective "What Happened," Clinton slammed Sanders’ ideas as unrealistic and decried him for using “innuendo and impugning my character” such that she suffered “lasting damage" into the general election.

Then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks aggressively at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane - D1BEULPJOPAC

Then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks aggressively at a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Keane – D1BEULPJOPAC

GREEN NEW DEAL WOULD COST UP TO $92 TRILLION, STUDY SAYS — THAT’S APPROX. $600G PER HOUSEHOLD

Sanders spokesperson Arianna Jones, though, maintained that Sanders put everything he had into helping Clinton once she had secured the Democratic nomination. Jones said it was physically impossible for Sanders to get to all of the Clinton event locations in such a short period of time without chartered flights, especially since the senator was traveling to many smaller markets with limited commercial air travel options.

“That’s why chartered flights were used: to make sure Sen. Sanders could get to as many locations as quickly as possible in the effort to help the Democratic ticket defeat Donald Trump,” Sanders spokeswoman Arianna Jones told Politico. "Sen. Sanders campaigned so aggressively for Secretary Clinton, at such a grueling pace, it became a story unto itself, setting the model for how a former opponent can support a nominee in a general election.”

Jones reported that in the three months prior to the November 2016 election, Sanders supported Clinton by attending 39 rallies in 13 states.

Sanders stunned the Democratic establishment in 2016 with his spirited challenge to Clinton, and his campaign helped lay the groundwork for the leftward lurch that has dominated Democratic politics in the era of President Trump.

Sanders’ campaign said earlier this month that he raised more than $4 million in the 12 hours since announcing his 2020 presidential bid. Previously, the biggest first-day fundraiser in the race had been California Sen. Kamala Harris, who raised $1.5 million in the first 24 hours of her campaign. And this week, Sanders announced he has already signed up a historic 1 million volunteers.

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The question now for Sanders is whether he can stand out in a crowded field of Democrats who embrace many of his policy ideas and who are newer to the national political stage — and whether Sanders can survive with the evident lingering resentment from members of the Democratic Party establishment.

This single family house built on 1981 and located in Burlington, Vermont, is listed to Bernard and Jane Sanders. (Google Maps)

This single family house built on 1981 and located in Burlington, Vermont, is listed to Bernard and Jane Sanders. (Google Maps)

"Our campaign is not only about defeating Donald Trump," the 77-year-old self-described democratic socialist said in an email to supporters announcing his srun. "Our campaign is about transforming our country and creating a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice."

As for whether Sanders — who has pushed for the Green New Deal, which would strive to greatly reduce air travel — would be flying commercial for upcoming campaign trips this year, Jones told Politico he "will be flying commercial whenever possible," and that the "campaign will consider the use of charter flights based on a variety of factors, including security requirements, logistics, and media interest in traveling with the senator.”

Also causing headaches for Sanders’ socialist, penny-pinching image: His high-end income and multiple houses.  Notably, he owns three houses. In 2016, he bought a $575,000 four-bedroom lake-front home in his home state. This is in addition to a row house in Washington D.C., as well as a house in Burlington, Vermont.

“The Bern will keep his home in Burlington and use the new camp seasonally,” Vermont’s Seven Day’s reported in 2016.

Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The sweeping "Green New Deal" proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., could cost as much as $93 trillion, or approximately $600,000 per household, according to a new study co-authored by the former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The sobering and staggering cost estimate came as Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris pointedly declined in an interview broadcast Sunday to put a price tag on the Green New Deal and "Medicare-for-all," saying "it’s not about a cost," but rather return on investment. The Green New Deal’s botched rollout included the release of an official document by Ocasio-Cortez’s office that promised economic security even for those "unwilling to work," and called for the elimination of "farting cows" and air travel.

The unprecedented plan doesn’t come cheap, American Action Forum president Douglas Holtz-Eakin and his co-authors wrote in the study.

"The Green New Deal is clearly very expensive," the study concluded. "Its further expansion of the federal government’s role in some of the most basic decisions of daily life, however, would likely have a more lasting and damaging impact than its enormous price tag."

At the same time, "the breadth of its proposals makes it daunting to assess the GND (Green New Deal) using the standard tools of policy analysis," the study stated, noting that "many of the policies proposed in the GND are redundant with other aspects in it, which also complicates a precise analysis, as the interactions are difficult to predict."

Nevertheless, Holtz-Eakin, who previously served as an economic adviser to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, assessed that the resolution’s sweeping jobs guarantee would likely run somewhere between $6.8 trillion to $44.6 trillion, or approximately $49,000 to $322,000 per household.

Universal health care would tally roughly $36 trillion, according to the study. That aligns with other figures: According to the nonpartisan Mercatus Center at George Washington University, for example, Ocasio-Cortez’s plan for universal Medicare would end up costing more than $30 trillion, even after factoring in the sweeping tax hikes that would offset the expense by only about $2 trillion.

AOC ADVISER ADMITS HE WAS WRONG, ACKNOWLEDGES GREEN NEW DEAL DID INCLUDE MONEY GUARANTEE FOR THOSE ‘UNWILLING’ TO WORK

Charles Blahous, a senior strategist at the Mercatus Center and an author of its study, later charged that Ocasio-Cortez had wildly misinterpreted his findings to try to argue that "Medicare-for-all" would save money.

Throwing in the more clearly environmentally-focused Green New Deal initiatives, Holtz-Eakin determined, would drive costs even higher.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaking in the New York City borough of the Bronx borough earlier this month. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen, File)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaking in the New York City borough of the Bronx borough earlier this month. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen, File)

The cost of a 10-year transition to an exclusively low-carbon electricity grid: $5.4 trillion. Net-zero emissions from the transportation network, to the point that air travel is no longer a necessity: from $1.3 to $2.7 trillion. Guaranteed green housing, including potential building renovations: $1.6 to $4.2 trillion. Food security for every living person in the U.S.: $1.5 billion.

The study acknowledged that some double-counting may have occurred, due to apparent flaws in the Green New Deal resolution introduced by Ocasio-Cortez in Congress earlier this month.

"A costly retrofitting of every structure in the United States seems considerably less environmentally beneficial once the electricity grid is completely transformed to use 100 percent clean energy than it would be if undertaken with today’s energy mix," the study stated. "Such a retrofit would have no impact on emissions. Similarly, the GND promises to ensure that every person has a guaranteed job, a family-sustaining rate of pay, and benefits such as paid leave and paid vacations. If everyone has good pay with good benefits, why is it simultaneously necessary to provide targeted programs for food, housing, and health care?"

"The Green New Deal is clearly very expensive."

— American Action Forum study 

UNION LEADERS WARN GREEN NEW DEAL MAY LEAD TO TOTAL POVERTY

On high-speed rail, the study relied principally on figures from California — where state Democrats recently abandoned a beleaguered rail project after numerous delays and cost overruns. The Trump administration has suggested it will sue California to reclaim billions of dollars spent on the botched project.

In her remarks Sunday, Harris suggested that the return on investment from the Green New Deal would make the project worthwhile, despite a high initial cost.

"One of the things that I admire and respect is, the measurement that is captured in three letters: ROI," Harris told CNN’s John King. "What’s the return on investment? People in the private sector understand this really well. It’s not about a cost. It’s about an investment. And then the question should be, is it worth the cost in terms of the investment potential? Are we going to get back more than we put in?"

But, the study found that total savings would pale in comparison to the prohibitive price tag of the sweeping proposal.

Cows have been targeted for potential elimination in the Green New Deal. (iStock, File)

Cows have been targeted for potential elimination in the Green New Deal. (iStock, File)

"The GND envisions enough high-speed rail to make air travel unnecessary. We conclude that the rail itself would cost between $1.1 and $2.5 trillion," the study stated. "As a matter of perspective, total 2017 revenue in the airline industry was $175.3 billion, with expenses of $153.9 billion. Fuel expenses were $26.3 billion. It would take decades to pay off the capital investment required for [high-speed rail], and the fuel savings that would presumably be the most important cost difference would only be a fraction of the total investment required."

Separately, on energy, the study found that electricity costs, optimistically, could be expected to increase by 22 percent and that "with an average monthly electric bill in 2017 of $111, the average household could expect around $295 of increased annual expenditures on electricity."

"Total retail revenue in the electric power sector was $390 billion in 2017," the study found. "Generation costs were 59 percent of that, and would go from $230 billion to $387 billion each year in the above scenario, about a $157 billion difference, though if $70.5 billion of annual fuel costs are avoided by 2029 the net annual difference falls to $86.5 billion. That increase (accounting for avoided fuel costs) would drive up total electricity costs by 22 percent."

On Friday, a group of children visiting California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office suggested that cuts to "the military" could pay for the Green New Deal, after Feinstein said that it was impossible to afford the planned legislation as-is. The fiscal-year 2019 budget for the military includes under $700 billion in appropriations — far less than the $93 trillion estimate from the American Action Forum.

On Monday, protesters from the same group that organized the children’s trip — the Sunrise Movement — flooded the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and several reportedly were arrested. Democrats recently have complained that McConnell was "rushing" a vote on the Green New Deal resolution.

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Meanwhile, the White House has shown signs it’s angling for socialism to become the defining issue in the 2020 debate amid Democrats’ evolving vows for higher minimum wages and a new array of costly, universal benefits. Even some labor leaders — who represent typically Democrat-leaning rank-and-file constituents – have pushed back in recent weeks against the Green New Deal, saying its call for a total economic transformation could lead to widespread poverty.

Aside from the Green New Deal, conservative commentators have argued that most proposed solutions to climate change would do more harm than good, and also have accused climate activists of crying wolf. In 2006, a NASA scientist declared that the world had only 10 years to avert a climate catastrophe – a deadline that has come and gone.

Source: Fox News Politics

Conservative politicians, legal experts, and activist groups are rushing to the all-out defense of President Trump’s D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Neomi Rao, after a freshman Republican senator suggested he might vote against her confirmation because she may harbor pro-choice views.

Rao, who would take now-Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s vacated seat on the nation’s most influential appellate court, was questioned earlier this month by Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning her past writings that implied intoxicated women might share some blame if they are raped. The defection of even a handful of conservatives could sink Rao’s confirmation in the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim 53-47 majority.

Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley told Axios over the weekend that he had "heard directly from at least one individual who said Rao personally told them she was pro-choice." Hawley clarified: "I don’t know whether that’s accurate, but this is why we are doing our due diligence."

Rao, 45, currently serves as administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and observers have said she’s played a key role in executing the Trump administration’s deregulation agenda. She would be the first South Asian woman to serve on a federal appeals court.

WATCH: RAO SCHOOLS CORY BOOKER AFTER FLAMEOUT QUESTION ON LGBTQ LAW CLERKS

However, Rao has never tried a case in state or federal court, and some of her writings — including as a professor at the George Mason University School of Law, later renamed the Antonin Scalia Law School – are leading conservatives to raise last-minute concerns.

Freshman Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has suggested he might vote against Neomi Rao, President Trump's replacement for Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Freshman Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has suggested he might vote against Neomi Rao, President Trump’s replacement for Brett Kavanaugh on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

According to Hawley, Rao’s academic writings have indicated she may support the concept of "substantive due process," a legal framework that identifies constitutional rights not expressly provided by the text of the Constitution. Conservatives fiercely have opposed the use of substantive due process to provide for some rights, including the right to privacy and abortion, which are not stated in the constitutional text but instead are purportedly implied by it.

OPINION: I WAS NEARLY RAPED, AND I SUPPORT RAO

"I am only going to support nominees who have a strong record on life," Hawley told Axios. "To me, that means … someone whose record indicates that they have respect for what the Supreme Court itself has called the interests of the unborn child; someone whose record indicates they will protect the ability of states and local governments to protect the interests of the unborn child to the maximum extent … and number three somebody who will not extend the doctrines of Roe v. Wade and Casey, which I believe are deeply incompatible with the constitution."

Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were the seminal Supreme Court cases to find and define a constitutional right to an abortion. But, conservatives and legal scholars are aggressively pushing back on Hawley’s concerns this week, saying variously that there is no evidence that Rao is pro-choice — and some are suggesting that even if she supports abortion rights, her personal views should not bar her from judicial service.

Carrie Severino, the Chief Counsel and Policy Director at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, accused Hawley of continuing the policies of the Democrat he defeated last November, then-Sen. Claire McCaskill.

"Sadly, barely a month after moving to Washington, Josh Hawley is already acting like Claire McCaskill when it comes to judges," Severino said. "Instead of supporting President Trump’s top judicial nominee, he is spreading the very same kind of rumors and innuendo and character assassination that Republican leaders fought during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation.  Hawley could be working to confirm her and other extraordinary nominees, but it seems he’d rather be making headlines.”

Hawley did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Columnist Quin Hillyer, meanwhile, wrote in The Washington Examiner that Hawley’s approach was a "dicey" push for a judicial litmus test.

"Conservatives have argued long and correctly that professional qualifications and personal integrity, along with a basic commitment to the Constitution itself, should be the only determinants of nominees’ fitness for appointment to federal judgeships," Hillyer wrote. "In particular, conservatives have inveighed against any result-oriented, single-issue litmus tests for judges, especially for those below the level of the Supreme Court."

Neomi Rao smiling as President Trump announced his intention to nominate her to fill Brett Kavanaugh's seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last November. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Neomi Rao smiling as President Trump announced his intention to nominate her to fill Brett Kavanaugh’s seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last November. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

In a statement, Club for Growth President David McIntosh praised Rao as an "originalist who is faithful to the Constitution," citing her work on deregulation in the Trump White House. McIntosh, whose organization is devoted to reducing taxes, also exalted Rao’s "extensive knowledge of administrative rulemaking."

“I have known Neomi for decades and have no doubt that she will be a principled jurist, cut from the same cloth as Justices Scalia and Thomas,” McIntosh said. "Senate Republicans should not be thrown off track by rumors and innuendo."

LESSONS FROM RAO HEARING — DEMS ARE CLUELESS ABOUT WOMEN

In a barrage of similar statements, other conservative luminaries lined up to defend Rao. Ed Meese, the former attorney general under President Ronald Reagan, said he also personally knew Rao and could vouch for her commitment to constitutional principles.

"I have had the privilege of knowing Professor Neomi Rao, and have observed her work, since she first started teaching at the Scalia Law School at George Mason University," Meese said. "She has made it her life’s work to support the Constitution as it is written, and she understands the proper judicial role in our society and what that requires of judges when they are interpreting the Constitution and the laws.  I have no doubt that she will uphold the rule of law and not legislate from the bench."

Ralph Reed, the chairman of the nonprofit Faith and Freedom Coalition, which focuses on outreach to evangelicals, said he supported Rao’s confirmation and asserted that "her judicial philosophy is antithetical to federal judges issuing rulings untethered from the enumerated rights found in the Constitution."

Conservative groups also have ramped up spending with hundreds of thousands of dollars in media outreach to promote Rao, whose rocky confirmation hearing already gave some analysts cause for alarm. Democrats hammered Rao for working to kill regulations they helped champion, while Republicans questioned her past writings on sexual assault.

In a 1994 opinion column, Rao wrote: "Unless someone made her drinks undetectably strong or forced them down her throat, a woman, like a man, decides when and how much to drink. And if she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was a part of her choice."

A good way to avoid a potential rape "is to stay reasonably sober," Rao added.

"To be honest, looking back at some of those writings … I cringe at some of the language I used," Rao told the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month, adding that writings in which she criticized affirmative action and suggested that intoxicated women were partly responsible for date rape did not reflect her current thinking.

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"I like to think I’ve matured as a thinker, writer and indeed as a person," she said.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, who recently revealed she was raped by her boyfriend in college, said Rao’s writings "give me pause," in part because of the message they’ve sent to young women who may be reluctant to report a rape.

Fox News’ Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The California Republican Party chose 38-year-old Jessica Patterson as its leader on Monday, and the first-ever woman to chair the state GOP wasted no time in vowing to "take the fight to Democrats" and lead a "Republican comeback" in the liberal stronghold.

Patterson’s appointment comes as state Democrats are foundering on a series of high-profile issues on the national stage, with the White House suggesting it will sue the state to reclaim billions of federal dollars wasted on the state’s constantly delayed — and eventually abandoned — high-speed rail project.

"Let’s serve notice to the Democrats in California that we are back and we are ready to deliver on the Republican comeback," Patterson, who also became the first Latina to ever chair the state GOP, said after winning. "Then let’s dig in and make it happen."

She added: "We’re going to take the fight to Democrats. We’re going to fight them in the press, at community gatherings … and we’re going to beat them in elections.”

Patterson has a lengthy career in Republican politics, and previously directed the organization California Trailblazers, which prepares new candidates to run for office. She previously worked for the administrations of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as the campaign of gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, among others.

Jessica Patterson, candidate for chair of the California Republican Party, speaks to delegates after her nomination during the party convention in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Jessica Patterson, candidate for chair of the California Republican Party, speaks to delegates after her nomination during the party convention in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

The state, however, has shifted markedly leftward in recent years. California Democrats hold all statewide offices and a veto-proof supermajority in the state legislature, and Republicans have not won statewide office since 2006. The GOP ranks as third party status in voter registration behind Democrats and independents.

The 2018 election pushed the party further toward the brink of extinction in the nation’s most populous state, with Democrats flipping seven U.S. House seats once considered GOP strongholds and Republicans holding less than a quarter of state legislative seats.

"We’re going to be about one thing: Winning."

— Jessica Patterson

The results stunned Republicans, with then-House Speaker Paul Ryan calling the outcome "bizarre." Despite holding substantial leads on Election Day, many Republican candidates in California saw their advantage shrink, and then disappear, as late-arriving Democratic votes were counted in the weeks following the election.

HOW A MINOR CHANGE IN CALIFORNIA’S ELECTION LAW MAY HAVE DOOMED REPUBLICANS’ CHANCES

Some Republicans blamed a newly legal practice called "ballot harvesting." Two years ago, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB1921, which legalized the so-called practice of “ballot harvesting.” Previously, only a family member or someone living in the same household was permitted to drop off mail ballots for a voter, but the new allowed anyone – including political operatives – to collect and return them for a voter.

But without substantive evidence of electoral misconduct, the California Republican Party’s delegates had to look inward and decide where the party would go next with its leadership. A majority of about 1,200 delegates chose Patterson, who previously headed a Republican candidate recruitment and training program.

Patterson argued bringing the Republican message into new communities would be the key to success and said she would push candidates to focus on California issues rather than the president’s message.

Her two rivals, former state Assemblyman Travis Allen and party activist Steve Frank, said energizing the party base that loves President Trump was the key to success. Both are strident backers of the president.

Stephen R. Frank, candidate for chair of the California Republican Party, speaks to delegates after his nomination during the party convention in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Stephen R. Frank, candidate for chair of the California Republican Party, speaks to delegates after his nomination during the party convention in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

But Patterson had the backing of most elected officials, including top Trump supporters like GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. She was viewed as the candidate better prepared to raise money and do the grunt work required of a chair.

Her opponents argued she represents more of the same leadership that led the party into decline. Both charged the state party has not advocated for strong conservative values and shied away from full-throated Trump support. Allen came in second and Frank placed third.

CALIFORNIA NEWS CREW SURPRISED AS ROBBERS DRIVE UP, ROB THEM, SHOOT THEIR GUARD IN LEG

"California Republicans are every bit as Republican as Republicans across the country," Allen said in an interview last week. "It’s about time we have a Republican party that stands for our values, our ideals and supports our Republican president."

After the vote, Allen said only that he hopes "the Republican party starts fighting again for the good of all Californians."

Patterson said prior to the election she supports Trump. Beyond McCarthy, she had the backing of key Trump supporters such as U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes and the state’s two Republican National Committee members.

Jessica Patterson, right, shares a moment with her mother Julie Millan, after being nominated for chair of California Republican Party during their convention in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Jessica Patterson, right, shares a moment with her mother Julie Millan, after being nominated for chair of California Republican Party during their convention in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

But some of Trump’s most fervent California supporters were disappointed by the outcome. Stephanie Sporcich, a teacher, said she got involved with the state party because of Trump’s election. She cast her vote for Allen, and saw the chairmanship race as a battle between the grassroots and the establishment.

"We’re the ones that are the strongest Trump supporters with Trump values," she said, adding she and other new activists have already successfully infiltrated the party structure and will keep working to do so.

ANALYSIS: CALIFORNIA POLITICS WILL GET CRAZY IN 2019. WHAT’S THE SILVER LINING FOR THE GOP?

But Elizabeth Patock, another teacher, liked Patterson’s focus on bringing "non-traditional Republicans" into the party. Patock did not vote for Trump and said she dislikes how ugly national politics have become.

She said Patterson "has a positive message."

U,S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson speaks to delegates during the California Republican Party convention in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

U,S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson speaks to delegates during the California Republican Party convention in Sacramento, Calif., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Patterson is the first Latina to lead the state party. She did not make her personal heritage a major piece of her campaign, but said the party needs to use "new messengers."

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California Republicans have struggled to appeal to the state’s growing Latino and Hispanic population because of the party’s position on illegal immigration, among other things. Patterson did not provide specifics Sunday on how she will deal with that issue.

As a gesture of goodwill, she named Frank and Allen as co-chairs of a voter registration committee. Both had highlighted the party’s outsourcing of voter registration activities as a major flaw. And she called for unity among California Republicans.

"Our success will be a team effort, no egos, no personal agenda, no drama," she said. "We’re going to be about one thing: Winning."

Fox News’ Alex Pappas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

A federal judge has completely barred former Trump political adviser Roger Stone from speaking publicly about his ongoing prosecution on obstruction and false statement charges, following a hearing on Thursday in which Stone took the stand to insist he was "heartfully sorry" for the picture of the judge that appeared on his Instagram showing what seemed to be crosshairs in the background.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson tore into Stone, saying she simply didn’t believe his explanation that an unnamed "volunteer" had selected the image.

"I have serious doubts about whether you learned anything at all," Jackson said. "From this moment on, the defendant may not speak publicly about this case — period. No statements about the case on TV, radio, print reporters, or Internet. No posts on social media. [You] may not comment on the case through surrogates. You may send out emails about donating to the Roger Stone defense fund."

Jackson added an apparent threat to revoke Stone’s bail and send him to jail: "This is not baseball. There will be no third chance. If you cannot abide by this, I will be forced to change your surroundings so you have no temptations."

Jackson had issued a limited gag order in Stone’s case last week, preventing him from discussing the case near the courthouse. Stone was being questioned Thursday by Jackson and government lawyers as to why Jackson should not issue a full gag order, or modify or revoke Stone’s bail — potentially sending him to jail.

On Thursday, Stone made the risky decision to take the stand. He denied using his phone to post the image himself, and under questioning from prosecutors and Jackson, claimed that an unnamed "volunteer" had picked the image — even though he said he accepted responsibility for the post. The image was accompanied by a caption referring to "deep state hitman Robert Mueller" and called his prosecution a "show trial."

At one point during Thursday’s hearing, Stone’s lawyer, Bruce Rogow, called the post that featured Jackson’s image "indefensible." Jackson replied: "I agree with you there."

The government is asking for additional restrictions on Stone’s ability to talk about this case, while Stone’s attorneys are requesting a more detailed court order that still allows Stone to be able to retain his ability to speak publicly about the case, citing his First Amendment rights. A final ruling from Jackson could come within minutes.

"I am under enormous pressure," Stone testified. "I now have TV people saying I will be raped if I go to jail. I’m having trouble putting food on the table and paying the rent." (Indeed, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen pondered on air Monday if Stone – whom he called a "dandy" — would be raped in prison.)

Stone deleted the Instagram photo, but later posted the same one again, this time without the apparent crosshairs, and slammed the trial in a caption.

Former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, Roger Stone walks out of the federal courthouse following a hearing, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Stone was arrested Friday in the special counsel's Russia investigation and was charged with lying to Congress and obstructing the probe. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Former campaign adviser for President Donald Trump, Roger Stone walks out of the federal courthouse following a hearing, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Stone was arrested Friday in the special counsel’s Russia investigation and was charged with lying to Congress and obstructing the probe. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Associated Press)

In court, Stone said he "didn’t recognize it as a crosshair" and "didn’t notice" a crosshair in the image. Stone claimed a "volunteer" has selected the image, although Stone acknowledged reviewing the image before it was posted.

"This was a screwup," Stone said. "I admit it."

Rather than crosshairs, Stone said, he thought the image contained a "Celtic occult" symbol. But, he added, he wasn’t sure what the symbol meant, because "I’m not into the occult."

CNN ANALYST PONDERS: WILL STONE BE SUBJECT TO RAPE IN PRISON?

Jackson reminded Stone before his testimony that he would be subject to government cross-examination and was under oath. Asked whether he understood the picture could be construed as a threat, Stone replied: "I now recognize that. … I can’t rationalize my thinking because I wasn’t thinking, and that’s my fault."

"I am kicking myself for my own stupidity, but not more than my wife is kicking me," Stone later told Jackson. He added that "my consulting business has dried up" and said, "I’ve exhausted my savings."

"This is not baseball. There will be no third chance."

— U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson

Stone acknowledged that "the posting was my responsibility, and I regret it. This was an egregious stupid error, for which I apologize again to the court."

Stone and his lawyers filed a notice on Monday night, admitting that sharing the picture wasn’t appropriate and that he was sorry.

Stone pleaded not guilty last month to obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and making false statements to Congress after being indicted last month as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, was also ordered not to travel anywhere other than Washington, the Eastern District of New York, and the Southern District of Florida while the case is pending.

Stone is not permitted to have a passport in his possession or apply for any new passport. Stone was also ordered to return to court “whenever required.”

This is a developing story. Check back soon for more updates.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

House Democrats are planning to file a resolution Friday to block President Trump’s emergency declaration to secure more funding for a southern border wall, although the resolution faces questionable odds in the GOP-led Senate and the virtually certain prospect of a White House veto that would be nearly impossible for Congress to overcome.

The full House is expected to vote on the measure by mid-March, if not sooner. Trump ally Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told ABC News this weekend that he believes there are enough GOP votes in Congress to prevent the two-thirds supermajorities required to overcome a veto in both the House and the  Senate.

"I think there are plenty of votes in the House to make sure that there’s no override of the president’s veto," he said. "So it’s going to be settled in court, we’ll have to wait and see."

The brewing legislative fight comes as the attorneys general of California, New York and 14 other states on Monday filed a lawsuit in the liberal Ninth Circuit against the White House’s emergency declaration, claiming Trump has "veered the country toward a constitutional crisis of his own making."

Trump mockingly predicted the lawsuit at the White House last week, saying the Ninth Circuit would predictably issue an injunction in a "bad ruling," only for the Supreme Court to hand him a "win" after a "fair hearing." That path, the president said, that has become all too familiar in the wake of similar reversals on his travel ban and other initiatives.

In this Feb. 13, 2018, photo, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., joins supporters of President Donald Trump and family members of Americans killed by undocumented immigrants as they gather to to promote their support for a border wall with Mexico, at the Capitol in Washington. When you want results in a polarized Washington, sometimes it pays to simply leave the professionals alone to do their jobs. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In this Feb. 13, 2018, photo, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., joins supporters of President Donald Trump and family members of Americans killed by undocumented immigrants as they gather to to promote their support for a border wall with Mexico, at the Capitol in Washington. When you want results in a polarized Washington, sometimes it pays to simply leave the professionals alone to do their jobs. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The White House has also fired back at the lawsuit on the merits, saying the National Emergencies Act includes provisions for Congress to file resolutions disputing the president’s reallocation of funds previously appropriated for general military purposes by Congress.

TRUMP MOCKS CALIFORNIA OVER ‘FAST TRAIN’ CATASTROPHE, LAWSUIT OVER EMEGENCY DECLARATION

But Democrats were making clear they didn’t want to leave the matter exclusively to the courts. Aides to Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, were circulating a letter Wednesday to other congressional offices seeking additional co-sponsors to his one-page resolution trying to block the declaration. "We are planning to introduce it on Friday morning," said the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

Castro’s measure, which described Trump’s emergency declaration, says it "is hereby terminated." Castro chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

FILE - In this March 5, 2018, file photo, construction continues on a new, taller version of the border structure in Calexico, Calif. A federal appeals court has rejected arguments by the state of California and environmental groups who tried to block reconstruction of sections of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, that the Trump administration did not exceed its authority by waiving environmental regulations to rebuild sections of wall near San Diego and Calexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, file)

FILE – In this March 5, 2018, file photo, construction continues on a new, taller version of the border structure in Calexico, Calif. A federal appeals court has rejected arguments by the state of California and environmental groups who tried to block reconstruction of sections of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, that the Trump administration did not exceed its authority by waiving environmental regulations to rebuild sections of wall near San Diego and Calexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, file)

The plan for introducing the resolution was initially described by officials at three progressive groups who heard of them from congressional aides but were not authorized to discuss the plans privately.

Congress approved a vast spending bill last week providing nearly $1.4 billion to build 55 miles of border barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley while preventing a renewed government shutdown. That measure represented a rejection of Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to construct more than 200 miles.

Besides signing the bill, Trump also declared a national emergency that he says gives him access to an additional $6.6 billion that would be taken from a federal asset forfeiture fund, Defense Department anti-drug efforts and military construction projects.

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Democrats and some Republicans say there is no emergency at the border and say Trump is improperly declaring one to work around Congress’ rejection of the higher amounts.

Top White House adviser Stephen Miller, however, defended the emergency declaration in an exclusive interview with "Fox News Sunday" this weekend.

Miller, asked by anchor Chris Wallace why a wall is necessary if most drugs are caught at ports of entry, said the government statistics on the matter are misleading and easily misinterpreted.

"The problem with the statement that you’re ‘apprehending 80 or 90 percent of drugs at ports of entry’ — that’s like saying you apprehend most contraband at TSA checkpoints at airports," Miller said. "You apprehend the contraband there because that’s where you have the people, the screeners. I assure you if we had screeners of that same density across every single inch and mile of the southern border, you’d have more drugs interdicted in those areas."

Miller added that the reason why four times as many illegal immigrants were stopped at the border in 2000 as compared to 2018 is that now, illegal immigrants are much harder to detain due to laxer asylum and immigration laws.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe is wrapping up soon, and a source familiar with the investigation tells Fox News it is "near the end game" — although there has been no formal notification to President Trump’s legal team that Mueller’s work is completed.

Exiting Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversaw the Mueller probe for 18 months until the recent confirmation of AG William Barr, had said privately he intended to remain in his role until the Mueller report was delivered to Congress. On Tuesday, the White House announced that Deputy Secretary of Transportation Jeff Rosen would replace Rosenstein.

Sources close to the investigative process have told Fox News that the high-level shakeup at Justice — with Barr assembling his new team, and Rosenstein planning to leave by mid-March — is a sign that the stars are aligning for the probe’s conclusion.

The DOJ has not confirmed it is planning an announcement on the inquiry, and neither Mueller’s team nor the DOJ responded to Fox News’ request for comment.

ROSENSTEIN, FMR FBI DIRECTOR MCCABE NEED TO TESTIFY ABOUT APPARENT PLOT TO REMOVE TRUMP, GOP SAYS

Also unclear is whether the final Mueller report will be made public. Barr testified during his confirmation hearings that, as he understands the regulations governing the special counsel, the report will be confidential – and any report that goes to Congress or the public will be authored by the attorney general.

Some Democrats sounded the alarm after Barr’s testimony, with Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal charging that Barr  indicated he’d exploit legal "loopholes" to hide Mueller’s final report from the public and to resist subpoenas against the White House.

"I will commit to providing as much information as I can, consistent with the regulations," Barr had told Blumenthal when asked if he would ensure that Mueller’s full report was publicly released.

Mueller’s team is still leading several prosecutions, including against longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone on charges of witness tampering and lying to Congress, and against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who awaits sentencing on charges he lied to FBI agents during the Russia probe. Flynn is cooperating as part of a separate Foreign Agents Registration Act case regarding lobbying work in Turkey as part of his plea deal.

Roger Stone leaves federal court Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, in Washington. Stone appeared for a status conference just three days after he pleaded not guilty to felony charges of witness tampering, obstruction and false statements. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Roger Stone leaves federal court Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, in Washington. Stone appeared for a status conference just three days after he pleaded not guilty to felony charges of witness tampering, obstruction and false statements. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The flurry of activity comes shortly after Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley — who until recently was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – said he expected Mueller’s final Russia report "within a month." Grassley later walked back those comments, saying they were based on unconfirmed news reports and rumors.

The top Republicans on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, meanwhile, are calling for former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe and Rosenstein to testify before their respective panels, following McCabe’s explosive claims in an interview last week that senior Justice Department officials had considered removing President Trump using the 25th Amendment.

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According to McCabe, Rosenstein offered to wear a wire to record the president, seemingly confirming reports last year. Rosenstein strongly denied that allegation, calling McCabe’s statements "factually incorrect."

The 25th Amendment governs the succession protocol if the president dies, resigns or becomes temporarily or permanently incapacitated. While the amendment has been invoked six times since its ratification in 1967, the specific section of the amendment purportedly discussed by top DOJ officials — which involves the majority of all Cabinet officers and the vice president agreeing that the president is "unable" to perform his job — has never been invoked.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

President Trump will nominate Jeff Rosen to replace outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, White House officials announced Tuesday, confirming previous reports and seemingly cementing the ouster of the embattled No. 2 at the Justice Department.

A graduate of Northwestern University and Harvard Law School, Rosen previously served as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the White House Office of Management and Budget (2006 to 2009) and as General Counsel at the Department of Transportation (2003 to 2006), according to his online biography.

Rosen, confirmed for his current role by the Senate in May 2017, works under Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in overseeing the daily operations of the department.

"Jeffrey Rosen is a distinguished lawyer who has served at the highest levels of government and the private sector," Attorney General William Barr said in a statement. "As an attorney, he has more than 35 years’ experience litigating complex matters in state and federal courts across the country, including as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis. He supervised more than 400 attorneys while serving as General Counsel at the Department of Transportation and also served as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Management and Budget."

Jeff Rosen's official portrait.

Jeff Rosen’s official portrait.

Barr continued: "He currently serves as Deputy Secretary of Transportation, where he leads 50,000 employees. His years of outstanding legal and management experience make him an excellent choice to succeed Deputy Attorney  General Rod Rosenstein, who has served the Department of Justice over many years with dedication and distinction.”

Rosenstein, who was nominated to his post by Trump in 2017, repeatedly has denied explosive allegations — first leveled last year and revived this week in televised interviews of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — that he sought to wear a wire to help bring down the president.

McCabe also suggested that the deputy attorney general had broached the idea of invoking the Constitution’s 25th Amendment, which governs the succession protocol if the president dies, resigns or becomes temporarily or permanently incapacitated. While the amendment has been invoked six times since its ratification in 1967, the specific section of the amendment purportedly discussed by Rosenstein – which involves the majority of all Cabinet officers and the vice president agreeing that the president is "unable" to perform his job — has never been invoked.

McCabe specifically charged that he believed Rosenstein was "counting votes or possible votes" to invoke the amendment’s procedures.

Congressional Republicans have long sought Rosenstein’s departure. A group of 11 House Republicans last July introduced five articles of impeachment against Rosenstein, accusing him of intentionally withholding documents and information from Congress, failure to comply with congressional subpoenas on the Russia probe and abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

ELIZABETH WARREN URGES TRUMP CABINET TO INVOKE 25TH AMENDMENT TO REMOVE TRUMP

Fox News reported in January that Rosenstein was expected to step down in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition for Barr, who was sworn in on Thursday.

Rosenstein long thought of his role as a two-year position and the two-year mark is coming soon, officials close to the departing attorney general previously told Fox News.

Speculation of Rosenstein’s departure mounted after the firing of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in November. Rosenstein has, until recently, overseen Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. He’s often been a target of President Trump on Twitter as well.

Most recently, Trump accused Rosenstein, along with McCabe, of pursuing an "illegal and treasonous" plot against him after McCabe detailed the private DOJ discussions about secretly recording and potentially ousting the president.

“He and Rod Rosenstein, who was hired by Jeff Sessions (another beauty), look like they were planning a very illegal act, and got caught," the president tweeted early Monday.

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Trump continued: "There is a lot of explaining to do to the millions of people who had just elected a president who they really like and who has done a great job for them with the Military, Vets, Economy and so much more. This was the illegal and treasonous ‘insurance policy’ in full action!”

The DOJ, in response, said Rosenstein "was not in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment" and denied the allegations.

Fox News’ Nicole Darrah and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

In his new book, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe offers extensive new details of investigators’ fateful January 2017 interview with former national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House — a breezy conversation which began, according to McCabe, with all the urgency of a "playdate."

McCabe wrote in “The Threat,” released Tuesday, that "one thing [Flynn] said stands out in my memory" — namely that "when I told him that people were curious" about his conversations with the then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Flynn replied, "You know what I said, because you guys were probably listening."

Without confirming Flynn’s suspicions, McCabe wrote: "I had to wonder, as events played out: If you thought we were listening, why would you lie?"

According to McCabe, the interview was "very odd" because "it seemed like [Flynn] was telling the truth" to the two agents who interviewed him, including since-fired FBI agent Peter Strzok.  Flynn "had a very good recollection of events, which he related chronologically and lucidly," did not appear to be "nervous or sweating," and did not look "side to side" — all of which would have been "behavioral signs of deception."

McCabe wrote that Flynn seemed "completely normal" — even when, on three occasions, Flynn looked at the window and told agents, "What a beautiful black sky."

STRZOK’S TEXTS FROM MUELLER PROBE COMPLETELY WIPED — NOTHING TO SEE HERE, IT OFFICIAL SAYS

McCabe maintained that Flynn made that memorable comment three times – first, at "noon," then an hour later, and then one more time shortly after that. However, McCabe’s timeline appeared to contradict the sentencing memorandum filed late last year by Flynn’s attorneys, citing government documents.

The memorandum, which was not challenged by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, asserted that McCabe had called Flynn to set up the interview at 12:35 p.m. on Jan. 24, 2017, and that agents arrived at the White House at 2:15 p.m. — more than two hours after McCabe claimed that Flynn first made the comment to the agents about the "beautiful black sky."

McCabe was fired last year for multiple violations of the FBI’s ethics code.

In a post-interview meeting in McCabe’s office, the agents "weren’t saying they believed [Flynn], and they weren’t saying they didn’t believe him." McCabe said the interviewers "struck me as being mainly surprised by the encounter" and "the difficulty of resolving their observations," because "what he said was in absolute, direct conflict with the information that we had."

Setting up the interview, McCabe wrote, was effortless, as Flynn brushed off the need for a lawyer to be present. In a bombshell court filing last December, Flynn’s legal team noted that McCabe had suggested the Justice Department would need to get involved if Flynn sought to involve the White House Counsel or a personal lawyer — a claim McCabe confirmed in his book.

MCCABE DISCUSSES POTENTIAL USE OF 25TH AMENDMENT TO REMOVE TRUMP

"The tone was as friendly, and as detached, as if we were planning a playdate for our kids," McCabe wrote.

The former FBI deputy director noted that then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates thought there was "good reason to believe Flynn had lied to [Vice President Mike Pence] concerning his communications with Kislyak as of Jan. 12. Pence had appeared on national television and vouched for Flynn, saying that Flynn had explained that his communications with Kislyak did not, in any way, involve the sanctions that had been imposed by the Obama administration.

Michael Flynn arrives at federal court in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Michael Flynn arrives at federal court in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Nevertheless, McCabe said, the FBI decided that while it seemed "plausible" that Flynn was liable to be blackmailed by Russia, the concern "did not seem imminent enough to warrant disrupting the ongoing investigative work." The FBI did, however, respond to the DOJ’s "sense of urgency" by "hastening the FBI’s own work," including the Flynn interview.

MCCABE ALSO RAILS AGAINST OBAMA AG LORETTA LYNCH IN BOOK, SAYS SHE SHOULD’VE RECUSED AFTER TARMAC FIASCO

During the interview, Flynn told the agents "not really" when asked if he had sought to convince Kislyak not to escalate a brewing fight with the U.S. over sanctions imposed by the Obama administration, according to a FD-302 witness report released last year.

Flynn issued other apparently equivocal responses to FBI agents’ questions, and at various points suggested that such conversations might have happened or that he could not recall them if they did, according to the 302. The 302 indicated that Flynn was apparently aware his communications had been monitored, and at several points he thanks the FBI agents for reminding him of some of his conversations with Russian officials.

After the interview, Yates went to the White House to explain her concerns, McCabe wrote.

Flynn was not charged with wrongdoing as a result of the substance of his calls with Kislyak — and a Washington Post article published one day before his White House interview with the agents, citing FBI sources, publicly revealed that the FBI had wiretapped Flynn’s calls and cleared him of any criminal conduct.

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Facing other potential charges related to his overseas lobbying work, Flynn, who sold his home in Virginia last year as his legal bills mounted, declared in his guilty plea nearly 11 months later that his comments on the issue were a knowing lie to the FBI agents.

At a fiery hearing in December, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan suggested Flynn should be tried for treason before walking back his comments. He set a status conference for Flynn’s sentencing on Mar. 13 — a significant delay he said was necessary to assess Flynn’s cooperation with a separate ongoing criminal case involving foreign lobbying violations in Turkey.

The date of Flynn’s ultimate sentencing is undecided, pending that status conference.

Also in the book, McCabe rails against President Obama’s attorney general, Loretta Lynch, for her decisions and actions while the FBI investigated Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during the 2016 campaign, saying Lynch should have been recused from the probe and a special counsel should have been appointed.

McCabe said Lynch, after the outcry over the meeting, should have stepped away from the probe – which was code-named "Midyear Exam" by the FBI.

“She should have recused herself from Midyear at that point,” McCabe wrote. “She did not — she made things worse.”

Fox News’ Alex Pappas contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion released Tuesday, called for reversing decades of jurisprudence that has made it harder for public figures to sue media outlets and other organizations for defamation — restrictions that were premised, he said, on a series of "policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law."

Thomas’ opinion comes against the backdrop of President Trump’s repeated calls to make it easier to sue for defamation. Last weekend, Trump reacted to a "Saturday Night Live" skit about his southern-border emergency declaration by asking on Twitter, "How do the Networks get away with these total Republican hit jobs without retribution? Likewise for many other shows? Very unfair and should be looked into."

And last December, Trump wrote on Twitter: "Isn’t it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost. Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?"

Trump has sought elimination of the high "actual malice" standard that politicians must meet in order to prove they have been defamed by media organizations and other entities. In his opinion, Thomas argued at length that Trump’s burden in such cases is indeed unfair.

Ordinarily, to prove defamation has occurred, a private individual only has to to show that a defendant negligently failed to exercise reasonable care in spreading a provable falsehood that has harmed his reputation. But in 1964, the Supreme Court ruled in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan that public officials must meet a higher "actual malice" burden. This means they must prove that the defendant spread a falsehood either intentionally or with reckless disregard for the truth.

The high court’s ruling, which came amid a surge of politically motivated lawsuits by Southern political officials, unilaterally struck down the common law on defamation that was employed by each of the states and inherited from Britain.

"The common law of libel at the time the First and 14th Amendments were ratified did not require public figures to satisfy any kind of heightened liability standard as a condition of recovering damages," Thomas wrote.

In finding a constitutional basis for its ruling superseding that common law, the Sullivan court relied heavily on opposition by the founding fathers, including James Madison, to the Sedition Act of 1798, which would have prohibited any "false" or "scandalous" writings against government officers.

Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on "Saturday Night Live." Trump has suggested liberal media portrayals of him constitute defamation and contain falsehoods.

Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on "Saturday Night Live." Trump has suggested liberal media portrayals of him constitute defamation and contain falsehoods. (YouTube)

According to Thomas, though, the fact that the framers opposed criminal punishment for criticisms of public officials did not necessarily mean they opposed providing an accessible civil defamation remedy for those politicians. In fact, Thomas said, the founders consistently opposed using federal law to override state common law, which controlled defamation actions at the time.

TRUMP: OUR LIBEL LAWS ARE A ‘SHAM’

"Far from increasing a public figure’s burden in a defamation action, the common law deemed libels against public figures to be, if anything, more serious and injurious than ordinary libels," Thomas wrote. "Libel of a public official was deemed an offense ‘most dangerous to the people, and deserv[ing of] punishment, because the people may be deceived and reject the best citizens to their great injury, and it may be to the loss of their liberties.’"

Thomas added: "Madison seemed to contemplate that ‘those who administer [the federal government]’ retain “a remedy, for their injured reputations, under the same laws, and in the same tribunals, which protect their lives, their liberties, and their properties. … In short, there appears to be little historical evidence suggesting that The New York Times actual-malice rule flows from the original understanding of the First or 14th Amendment."

In the absence of a compelling constitutional basis to override common law, Thomas said, the Supreme Court had no business getting involved in state-level defamation law in the first place.

Thomas’ opinion came in an unrelated case in which the high court rejected an appeal from actress Kathrine McKee, who said comic icon Bill Cosby raped her in 1974. McKee sued Cosby for damaging her reputation after a lawyer for the comedian allegedly leaked a letter attacking McKee. Two lower courts ruled against her and dismissed the case, based largely on McKee’s role as a public figure.

No other justice joined Thomas’ opinion on Tuesday, and it appeared unlikely that the Supreme Court would agree to hear a challenge to the case.

But Thomas’ opinion may have been an effort to signal to other groups to bring a lawsuit based on Sullivan, amid an increasingly changed media landscape in which information travels more quickly than ever, legal experts said. One of the key rationales for setting a higher bar for public officials to sue for defamation relates to their perceived ability to quickly quash misinformation on their own — an ability that some observers say is fading in the age of blogs and around-the-clock news coverage.

Thomas is not the only prominent conservative justice to voice disdain for the Sullivan decision. The late Justice Antonin Scalia publicly railed against the court’s ruling in that case, saying it was abhorrent and constitutionally baseless.

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Thomas has issued striking opinions in other cases that seemingly also served as signals. In support of Trump’s reinstated travel ban, Thomas wrote that nationwide injunctions issued by individual federal judges “take a toll on the federal court system — preventing legal questions from percolating through the federal courts, encouraging forum shopping, and making every case a national emergency for the courts and for the executive branch.”

In Tuesday’s opinion, Thomas suggested federal judges should similarly butt out of defamation cases.

Fox News’ Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

The attorneys general of California, New York, and 14 other states on Monday filed a lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit against the White House’s recent national emergency declaration over border security, claiming President Trump has "veered the country toward a constitutional crisis of his own making."

President Trump sarcastically had predicted the lawsuit last week. He’s slammed the Ninth Circuit multiple times as "disgraceful" and politically biased.

The litigation, brought before a federal trial court in the Northern District of California, seeks an injunction to prevent Trump from shifting billions of dollars from military construction to the border without explicit congressional approval. The suit also asks a court to declare Trump’s actions illegal, arguing that Trump showed a "flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles engrained in the United States Constitution" by violating the Constitution’s Presentment and Appropriations Clauses, which govern federal spending.

The litigation additionally includes allegations that Trump is violating the National Environmental Policy Act, by planning to build a wall that could impact the environment without first completing the necessary environmental impact reports.

The states argue they have standing to sue the administration largely because, they allege, the federal funds could have been spent on their defense. "Maine is aggrieved by the actions of Defendants and has standing to bring this action because of the injury to the State and its residents caused by Defendants’ reduction of federal defense spending in Maine due to diversion of funding to the border wall," one section of the suit reads.

"California is aggrieved by the actions of Defendants and has standing to bring this action because of the injury due to the loss of federal drug interdiction, counter-narcotic, and lawenforcement funding to the State caused by Defendants’ diversion of funding," reads another paragraph.

A person dressed to look like President Donald Trump in a prison uniform, and others gather Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, in front of the White House in Washington, to protest that President Donald Trump declared a national emergence along the southern boarder. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

A person dressed to look like President Donald Trump in a prison uniform, and others gather Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, in front of the White House in Washington, to protest that President Donald Trump declared a national emergence along the southern boarder. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“Declaring a National Emergency when one does not exist is immoral and illegal,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who previously vowed to use "every area of the law" to investigate Trump and his family, said in a statement. “Diverting necessary funds from real emergencies, crime-fighting activities, and military construction projects usurps Congressional power and will hurt Americans across the country. We will not stand for this abuse of power and will fight using every tool at our disposal.”

In a separate statement, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, remarked, "President Trump is manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up ‘national emergency’ in order to seize power and undermine the Constitution."

The litigation came amid scattered anti-Trump Presidents Day protests across the country, including a group of more than a hundred demonstrators who waved signs at the White House while the president was speaking in Florida.

At a news conference outside the White House on Friday, Trump mockingly predicted legal challenges against his emergency declaration would follow a tried-and-true path.

WHITE HOUSE SAYS SUBSTANTIAL BORDER WALL CONSTRUCTION SHOULD BE COMPLETED BY SEPT. 2020

"So the order is signed and I’ll sign the final papers as soon as I get into the Oval Office," Trump told reporters. "And we will have a national emergency and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit even though it shouldn’t be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling, and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake and we’ll win in the Supreme Court just like the ban. They sued us in the Ninth Circuit and we lost, and then we lost in the Appellate Division, and then we went to the Supreme Court and we won."

President Donald Trump speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over all appeals coming out of the Northern District of California, where Monday’s lawsuit was filed. The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit has long been a legal stumbling block for conservative policies, and the White House has sought to appoint conservative justices to thin out the liberal ranks on the court. Last year, Trump bypassed traditional protocols and ignored the concerns of the state’s Democratic politicians to nominate prominent conservatives to the Ninth Circuit.

Late last year, Trump engaged in a public spat with Chief Justice John Roberts on the issue, after Roberts took the unusual step of disputing Trump’s comments that the nation has biased judges on some courts. Roberts has sought to portray himself as a nonpartisan justice.

But, Democrats have said it’s the president who defies basic legal norms.

"President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday. "He knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court."

Protesters of President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration block traffic near Trump International Hotel & Tower on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Protesters of President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration block traffic near Trump International Hotel & Tower on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

James, the New York attorney general, argued that the emergency declaration was not only legally unconstitutional, but also unnecessary as a practical matter, asserting that "unlawful southern border entries are at their lowest point in twenty-years, immigrants are less likely than native-born citizens to commit crimes, and illegal drugs are more likely to come through official ports of entry."

Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller, speaking exclusively to "Fox News Sunday" anchor Chris Wallace, disputed those arguments over the weekend.

"The problem with the statement that you’re ‘apprehending 80 or 90 percent of drugs at ports of entry’ — that’s like saying you apprehend most contraband at (Transportation Security Administration) checkpoints at airports," Miller said. "You apprehend the contraband there because that’s where you have the people, the screeners. I assure you if we had screeners of that same density across every single inch and mile of the southern border, you’d have more drugs interdicted in those areas."

TRUMP CONDEMNS ‘DISGRACEFUL’ NINTH CIRCUIT, DEEMING IT RUBBER STAMP FOR HIS FOES

In response to claims that the president was unconstitutionally taking power from Congress, Miller noted that the National Emergencies Act includes an express grant of power from the legislature to the executive branch — and also includes dispute mechanisms in case Congress disagrees with the president’s use of his authority.

"The statute, Chris, is clear on its own terms," Miller said. "Congress has appropriated money for construction of border barriers consistently.  This is part of the national security."

Still, even a single federal judge could issue an order blocking the national emergency declaration, which has occurred nearly three dozen times so far under Trump’s watch.

Central American immigrants lining up for breakfast at a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, earlier this month. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Central American immigrants lining up for breakfast at a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, earlier this month. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

The Trump administration repeatedly has condemned the increasingly common practice of one judge issuing such a sweeping order, and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who concurred in the high court’s decision last year to reinstate Trump’s travel ban, wrote that such injunctions “take a toll on the federal court system—preventing legal questions from percolating through the federal courts, encouraging forum shopping, and making every case a national emergency for the courts and for the executive branch.”

TRUMP ANNOUNCES NEW CONSERVATIVE PICKS FOR NINTH CIRCUIT

The stakes are high for the White House, which has struggled to see new wall funding win approval in Congress. On Friday, Trump signed a compromise spending bill that included just $1.4 billion for border security — far short of the $5.7 billion he’d requested for the wall.

The compromise legislation, which overwhelmingly passed in the House and Senate last week, contained enough funding for building just 55 miles of barricades, not the 200-plus miles the White House has sought.

NEW YORK AG PROMISES TO PROBE TRUMP USING ‘EVERY’ RESOURCE POSSIBLE

Still, neither party seemed enthused about the legislation, save for its provisions averting another partial federal government shutdown. Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, speaking to "Fox News Sunday," called the bill "outrageous," pointing to is provisions for what he called "welcoming centers for newly arriving illegal aliens, and all kinds of medical care" — a reference to the allocation of $192,700,000 in the bill’s conference agreement to enhance medical care and transportation for illegal immigrants in U.S. custody, including to shelters run by nonprofits.

The bill provided additional funding for 5,000 more beds that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could use to house illegal immigrants. But, in an attempt to pressure the agency to detain fewer illegal immigrants, Democrats ensured that the bill did not include funding for the 2,000 additional ICE agents requested by the Trump administration, or the 750 Border Patrol agents who also were sought.

Cathy Clark holding a sign during a protest in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Cathy Clark holding a sign during a protest in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Several Republicans, including Texas Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Chip Roy, voted against the bill, saying it didn’t properly address the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs across the border. Roy called the bill a "sham" and said it "undermines the whole point of an emergency declaration."

Prominent Democrats, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, rejected the spending bill as well, saying it did not do enough to curb ICE.

A senior administration official told Fox News the White House planned to move $8 billion in currently appropriated or available funds toward construction of the wall. Of that, $3 billion could be diverted with help from the emergency declaration.

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That money would include about $600 million from the Treasury Department’s forfeiture fund. That money has been described as “easy money” that the White House can use however it wants. The White House also is expected to use drug interdiction money from the Defense Department.

But, by declaring an emergency, Trump is potentially able to unlock money from the Pentagon’s military construction budget, to the tune of $3.5 billion.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Kelly Phares, Kathleen Foster and Chris Wallace contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

President Donald Trump, speaking in a major foreign policy address in Miami to members of the Venezuelan community, declared Monday that "a new day is coming in Latin America" and issued a stark assessment that "socialism is dying" across the world.

In a wide-ranging rebuke of socialism that seemed targeted as much at Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua as it was at congressional Democrats, Trump remarked: "We know that socialism is not about justice, it’s not about equality, it’s not about lifting up the poor — it’s about one thing only: power for the ruling class. And, the more power they get, the more they crave. They want to run health care, run transportation and finance, run energy, education, run everything. They want the power to decide who wins and who loses, who’s up and who’s down, what’s true and what’s false, and even who lives and who dies."

Before a supportive and raucous crowd at Florida International University in Miami Trump announced, flanked by large American and Venezuelan flags, "This will never happen to us. … America will never be a socialist country."

The president’s vow came as Democrats have proposed an evolving agenda of "Medicare-for-all," free college tuition, minimum wage increases and even guaranteed basic income.

"When Venezuela is free, and Cuba is free, and Nicaragua is free, this will become the first free hemisphere in all of human history," Trump said.

The address was the second time Trump publicly and forcefully has condemned what he has called "the horrors of socialism and communism" and "massive wealth confiscation" in recent weeks, following his similar vow during the State of the Union address that "America will never be a socialist country."

That remark, which left Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., stone-faced, came as part of a larger condemnation of disputed President Nicolas Maduro for "turning that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair" through a mixture of "brutality" and "socialist policies."

Venezuelan boys holding cups of a grape-flavored drink, part of the free lunch that is given out daily at the "Divina Providencia" migrant shelter in La Parada, near Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, on Monday. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Venezuelan boys holding cups of a grape-flavored drink, part of the free lunch that is given out daily at the "Divina Providencia" migrant shelter in La Parada, near Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, on Monday. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

On Monday, Trump hammered that theme repeatedly and called on Venezuela’s military to rise up and take on Maduro, who has blocked U.S. humanitarian aid shipments.

"We know the truth about socialism in Venzuela, in Cuba, in Nicaragua, and all around the world. Socialism promises prosperity, but it delivers poverty," Trump said. "Socialism promises unity, but it delivers hatred and it delivers division. Socialism promises a better future, but it always returns to the darkest chapters of the past. That never fails. It always happens. Socialism is a sad and discredited ideology rooted in a total ignorance of history and human nature, which is why socialism, eventually, must always give rise to tyranny — which it does. Socialists profess a love of diversity, but they always insist on absolute conformity."

DEMS SIT EXPRESSIONLESS AS TRUMP DECLARES SOCIALISM WILL NEVER COME TO THE U.S.

As the crowd chanted "USA," Trump, who was joined by first lady Melania Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton, asserted, "The people of Venezuela stand at the threshold of history — ready to reclaim their country and to reclaim their future. Not long ago, Venezuela was the wealthiest nation by far in South America. But, years of socialist rule have brought this once-thriving nation to the brink of ruin.

"The results have been catastrophic," Trump continued. "Almost 90 percent of Venezuelans now live in poverty. In 2018, hyperinflation in Venezuela exceeded one million percent. Crippling shortages of food and medicine plague the country. Socialism has so completely ravaged this great country that even the world’s largest reserves of oil are no longer enough to keep the lights on."

FOX NEWS POLL: CAPITALISM TRUMPS SOCIALISM

As the monthslong political crisis in Venezuela continued, Trump took multiple generalized shots at socialism that pointedly were not limited to the country’s borders.

"America will never be a socialist country."

— President Trump

"The days of socialism and communism are numbered not only in Venezuela, but in Nicaragua and Cuba as well," Trump said, as the crowd roared. "Do we love Cuba? Do we love Nicaragua? Great countries. Great potential."

SOCIALIST OCASIO-CORTEZ SAYS TRUMP IS ‘SCARED’ OF SOCALISM, AS AMAZON BAILS ON NYC

Trump again declared that Guaido was the country’s rightful president amid what he called an unprecedented "humanitarian disaster." He also made a public case to Venezuela’s military, which could play a decisive role in the stalemate, to support Guaido’s government. The Venezuelan military largely has remained loyal to Maduro.

Free lunches prepped with lentils, a slice of bologna, rice and a piece of plantain ready to be served at a migrant shelter in La Parada, near Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, Monday. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Free lunches prepped with lentils, a slice of bologna, rice and a piece of plantain ready to be served at a migrant shelter in La Parada, near Cucuta, Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, Monday. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Trump told the Venezuelan military that they "have a clear choice — work toward democracy for their future and the future of their families, or they will lose everything they have."

The Maduro-controlled military has blocked the U.S. from moving tons of humanitarian aid airlifted in recent days to the Colombian border with Venezuela. The aid shipments have been meant in part to emphasize the hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicine that are gripping Venezuela.

"Unfortunately, Dictator Maduro has blocked this life-saving aid from entering the country. He would rather see his people starve than give them aid, than help them," Trump said. "Millions of Venezuelans are starving and suffering while a small handful at the top of the Maduro regime plunder the regime into poverty and death. We know who they are and we know where they keep the billions of dollars they have stolen."

The aid is supposed to be moved into Venezuela on Feb. 23 by supporters of Guaido. But, Maduro has called the aid unnecessary and said it constituted an attempt to destabilize his government.

Trump delivered the remarks to a supportive audience at Florida International University in Miami. South Florida is home to more than 100,000 Venezuelans and Venezuelan-Americans, the largest concentration in the country. Trump has largely been spending the holiday weekend at his private club in West Palm Beach.

Juan Guaido speaking during an economic forum in Caracas last week. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Juan Guaido speaking during an economic forum in Caracas last week. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Critics said Maduro’s re-election last year was fraudulent, making his second term illegal.

On Sunday, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio — whom Trump invoked in his Monday address — visited a border staging point for U.S. aid to Venezuela and warned soldiers loyal to Maduro that it would be a "crime against humanity" if they blocked entry of the goods being channeled through Maduro’s rivals.

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An enthusiastic throng of Venezuelan migrants, some chanting "Rubio! Liberty," met the senator as he visited Cucuta and held a news conference in sight of a border bridge that has been flooded in recent months by people escaping the hardships of Venezuela’s hyperinflation and severe shortages of food and medicine.

While Russia, China, Turkey and a large number of Asian and African countries still back Maduro, Rubio dismissed them, saying in English: "The countries that support Maduro do not surprise us. All of them are corrupt and none of them is a democracy and many of them are owed billions of dollars that they want to get paid by the corrupt regime."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Rush Limbaugh: Spending bill was effort by some Republicans to sabotage Trump

Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, speaking to "Fox News Sunday," charged that the compromise spending bill recently signed by President Trump to avert another partial government shutdown was little more than a disguised effort by some Republicans to torpedo his 2020 presidential candidacy.

Limbaugh also rejected claims that President Trump is unduly influenced by right-wing media figures and "wackos" — an accusation that resurfaced amid the ongoing border wall funding dispute.

Late last year, a slew of prominent conservatives, including columnist Ann Coulter, excoriated Trump for appearing to back down on his threat not to sign any spending bill without wall funding. Trump responded by unfollowing Coulter on Twitter, then reversing course and insisting on money for the barrier project on the way to a historic 35-day partial government shutdown.

"It’s just another effort to continue to try to diminish the president — diminish President Trump as someone who doesn’t know what he’s doing, can’t do it without guidance from the wacko right," Limbaugh told host Chris Wallace. "It’s not at all the way he’s governing, and there isn’t anybody doing what I do that has a thing to do with actually making policy for this president."

FILE - In this March 5, 2018, file photo, construction continues on a new, taller version of the border structure in Calexico, Calif. A federal appeals court has rejected arguments by the state of California and environmental groups who tried to block reconstruction of sections of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, that the Trump administration did not exceed its authority by waiving environmental regulations to rebuild sections of wall near San Diego and Calexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, file)

FILE – In this March 5, 2018, file photo, construction continues on a new, taller version of the border structure in Calexico, Calif. A federal appeals court has rejected arguments by the state of California and environmental groups who tried to block reconstruction of sections of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday, Feb. 11, 2019, that the Trump administration did not exceed its authority by waiving environmental regulations to rebuild sections of wall near San Diego and Calexico. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, file)

On Friday, Trump said he is declaring a national emergency on the southern border, tapping into executive powers in a bid to divert billions toward construction of a wall even as he signed a funding package to avert another shutdown that includes just $1.4 billion for border security — far short of the $5.7 billion he has long requested for the wall.

The compromise legislation, which overwhelmingly passed in the House and Senate last week, contained enough funding for building just 55 miles of barricades, not the 200-plus miles the White House has sought.

MCCABE, ROSENSTEIN NEED TO TESTIFY ON PLOT TO REMOVE PRESIDENT VIA 25TH AMENDMENT, TOP GOP OFFICIALS SAY

The bill, which took bargainers three weeks to strike, provided additional funding for 5,000 more beds that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can use to house illegal immigrants. But in an attempt to pressure the agency to detain fewer illegal immigrants, Democrats ensured that the bill did not include funding for the 2,000 additional ICE agents requested by the Trump administration, or the 750 Border Patrol agents that were also sought.

Mexican Federal Police in riot gear guard outside of a migrant shelter for Central American immigrants in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Mexican Federal Police in riot gear guard outside of a migrant shelter for Central American immigrants in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Several Republicans, including Texas Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Chip Roy, voted against the bill, saying it didn’t properly address the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs across the border. Roy called the bill a "sham," and said the funding bill "undermines the whole point of an emergency declaration."

"We have an emergency — this is an invasion."

— Rush Limbaugh

For his part, Limbaugh said not enough attention is being given to Democrats’ resistance to even minimal border security measures. In an interview last week, potential Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke called for existing border walls to be torn down.  Democratic presidential contender Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she "could support" that position as well.

Central American immigrants line up to register with Mexican Immigration officials at a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Central American immigrants line up to register with Mexican Immigration officials at a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

"We have an emergency — this is an invasion," Limbaugh said, referring to the flow of thousands of illegal immigrants — including many in organized caravans — that continue to approach the U.S. border.

"The very existence and definition of American culture, American society, the rule of law — why does nobody talk about the fact that millions and millions and millions of people are breaking the law here illegally and the Democrat Party wants that to happen?" Limbaugh asked.

The compromise spending bill will undermine the White House and won’t produce results at the border, Limbaugh added — and, he asserted, that might be what some Republicans intended.

Central American immigrant families look out through the fence of a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Central American immigrant families look out through the fence of a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. A caravan of about 1,600 Central American migrants camped Tuesday in the Mexican border city of Piedras Negras, just west of Eagle Pass, Texas. The governor of the northern state of Coahuila described the migrants as "asylum seekers," suggesting all had express intentions of surrendering to U.S. authorities. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

"Both parties have people that are still trying to get rid of Donald Trump. I read this bill — this spending bill, this bill is outrageous," Limbaugh said. "The thing’s welcoming centers for newly arriving illegal aliens, and all kinds of medical care for – the purpose of this bill, I think, was eventually to be used by the Democrats and some Republicans to tell the American people, ‘See, electing President Trump was pointless, worthless, he can’t protect you, he can’t stop us, he can’t do what he said he was going to do, because we hate him so much we’re not going to allow him to do it — that’s what this bill is."

Recently unearthed efforts by the FBI and Justice Department to begin discussions about ousting Trump in 2017, Limbaugh continued, only serve to underscore his point further. Fox News first reported on Sunday that top FBI lawyer James Baker, in closed-door testimony to Congress, detailed alleged discussions among senior officials at the Justice Department about invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office, claiming he was told Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said two Trump Cabinet officials were “ready to support” such an effort.

The testimony was delivered last fall to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. Fox News has confirmed portions of the transcript. It provides additional insight into discussions that have returned to the spotlight in Washington as fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe revisits the matter during interviews promoting his forthcoming book.

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"People, simply because they don’t like a guy’s hairstyle or like where he came from, decided the American people’s decision was invalid and began a systematic process to get him out of office — this is a silent coup," Limbaugh said. "These guys, if you ask me, ought to be the ones in jail."

Asked who the likely 2020 Democratic presidential nominee will be, Limbaugh sided with former Vice President Joe Biden. Although Biden has not formally announced a bid, a source with direct knowledge told Fox News on Thursday that he is virtually certain to run.

"The frontrunner would probably be right now Joe Biden, 77 years old, plagiarist, nicknamed ‘plugs’ – I think he’s the guy they are probably thinking is the leader in the polls right now," Limbaugh said. "But it’s going to be very crowded. They’re going to be knocking each other off. That’s going to be fun to watch. Incumbancy carries with it a lot of power. … They’re getting way ahead of the game, and I don’t think it’s going to be as easy as they think."

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Democrats reject push to alert ICE when illegal immigrants fail firearm background checks

Democrats this week approved legislation to require background checks for essentially all sales and transfers of firearms — but rejected GOP-led efforts to amend the legislation to alert law enforcement authorities when gun buyers, including illegal immigrants, fail those background checks.

The House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the bill 23-15, in a strict party-line vote, sending it to the House floor. If approved by the full House, the bill would be the most significant gun-control legislation approved by either chamber of Congress in at least a decade — although it stands little chance of passage in the Senate, where Republicans command a slim majority.

Republicans in the House charged that H.R. 8, known as "The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019," should have included Florida Rep. Greg Steube’s proposed amendment to require that law enforcement be notified "when an individual attempting to purchase a firearm fails a federal background check." (H.R. 8 was numbered in honor of former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in Arizona on Jan. 8, 2011 by a mentally ill gunman.)

“Clearly, the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee don’t care about preventing gun violence, they simply are playing politics with Americans’ Second Amendment rights,” Steube, a Republican, said after the vote. “The fact that Democrats do not want law enforcement notified if an individual attempting to purchase a firearm fails a background check is truly troubling.”

WATCH: FATHER OF PARKLAND SHOOTING VICTIM BLAMES ‘OBAMA-ERA’ POLICIES, REFLECTS ON 1-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

He continued: “In rejecting this amendment, the Democrats have shown their true colors. It is clear they are not interested in preventing gun violence or stopping the illegal purchase of firearms, but rather they are only interested in limiting the rights of law-abiding citizens to advance their own political agenda."

Wednesday’s vote came a day before the one-year anniversary of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people. However, Steube dismissed arguments that the massacre necessitated the new legislation.

“As written now, H.R. 8 would not have prevented any of the mass shootings in Florida in recent years,” Steube’s office said in a press release. “The shooter in Parkland passed a background check before purchasing a firearm, the shooter at Pulse Nightclub passed a background check before purchasing a firearm, and the shooter just weeks ago that murdered five women in District 17 passed a background check before purchasing the handgun he used in the commission of that heinous crime."

Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz echoed Steube’s concerns.

"Democrats in the Judiciary Committee just voted against notifying ICE when an illegal alien fails a background check to buy a gun," Gaetz wrote on Twitter. "They hate ICE so much that they’d keep ICE in the dark when illegals try to get guns!"

The vote on the bill came after a contentious, daylong hearing in which Republicans offered a series of other amendments in addition to Steube’s proposal, all of which were blocked by Democrats. Among the rejected amendments were some seeking to address background check fees, which Republicans said could be unduly burdensome for family members trying to transfer guns to relatives.

Republicans said they were ready to offer additional amendments when Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., shut off debate around 8 p.m., 10 hours after the hearing began.

CONNECTICUT DEM INTRODUCES 50 PERCENT TAX ON AMMO

Nadler called the background checks bill long overdue to address a "national crisis of gun violence" that claimed nearly 40,000 lives in 2017.

"Our country is awash in guns, and we have the shameful death toll to show for it," he said.

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the panel’s senior Republican, called Nadler’s action "disturbing" and said it did not bode well for the two-year congressional session.

In this Feb. 8, 2019, photo, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., gestures during questioning of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Capitol Hill in Washington. A key House committee has approved a bill to require background checks for all sales and transfers of firearms, a first by majority Democrats to tighten gun laws after eight years of Republican rule. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In this Feb. 8, 2019, photo, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., gestures during questioning of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Capitol Hill in Washington. A key House committee has approved a bill to require background checks for all sales and transfers of firearms, a first by majority Democrats to tighten gun laws after eight years of Republican rule. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

"If this is the way the chairman wants to begin this session of Congress, I really wonder where we go from here" and whether the two parties can work together, Collins said.

But Democrats said Republicans were delaying a vote on the bill because they oppose universal background checks for gun purchases.

"This isn’t a debate, it’s a show," said Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla. She called universal background checks for all gun sales common sense and said, "Let’s move forward."

At one point, Steube displayed a large cup that read, "The Second Amendment is my gun permit."

Democrats have pledged additional gun legislation, including restrictions on high-capacity magazines and a measure to allow temporary removal of guns from people deemed an imminent risk to themselves or others.

Meanwhile, fellow freshman Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., said lawmakers "know background checks work, that they save lives, and yet we need to close loopholes" that allow some private purchases and transfers to be made without background checks.

"They hate ICE so much that they’d keep ICE in the dark when illegals try to get guns!"

— Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz

Instead of working with Democrats, "Republicans are adding more loopholes, which is shameful," Dean said.

BACKGROUND CHECK REQUIREMENTS ACTUALLY DO VERY LITTLE, STUDY SHOWS

However, earlier this month, gun violence experts from the Center for Gun Policy and Research and the Violence Prevention Research Program conducted a study in Washington state, Colorado and Delaware to analyze whether state laws requiring more background checks actually resulted in more checks.

The results, published in medical journal Injury Prevention, suggest the laws had little impact.

Delaware was the only state that saw apparent results, with an increase ranging from 22 to 34 percent based on the type of firearm. But according to the study, "no overall changes were observed in Washington and Colorado."

The study said data "external to the study" suggested Washington saw a “modest, but consistent” increase in background checks for private-party sales, and Colorado saw a similar increase in checks for non-gun show sales.

Separately, Republicans pushed to allow exceptions for victims of domestic violence and transfers among family members, but were dismissed by Democrats.

Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., a freshman whose son was killed by gun violence, said she has been working on gun legislation since his death more than six years ago.

"As a survivor of gun violence myself, I refuse to let my colleagues stand here and devalue the importance that this bill has," she said.

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And Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., said that while the bill "can’t bring back" any of those killed in Parkland or other shootings, it will help reduce gun violence.

"If this legislation prevents one person wishing to do harm to others with a gun from doing that, it will be something we can be proud of," he said.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

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