December 16, 2018

‘Pay to Play’ at Clinton Foundation Under Investigation

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee on Thursday examined accusations of “pay to play” at the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, as Democrats dismissed the Capitol Hill hearing as a partisan exercise.

North Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, opened Thursday’s hearing by expressing concern over recently reported tax documents showing donations to the Clinton Foundation plunged in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

The filings showed that the foundation took in $26.6 million in 2017, a 58 percent drop from the $62.9 million it received the previous year.

“Now several reports suggest that the decrease in donations could reflect a ‘pay to play’ activity in the years prior to the decline in donations,” Meadows said.

The Clinton Foundation has repeatedly denied all allegations of “pay to play.”

Meadows added that the committee sought to have U.S. Attorney John Huber, the prosecutor appointed to investigate the foundation, testify at Thursday’s hearing. But Meadows said the Justice Department did not accept the invitation.

“Mr. Huber was asked to join us this afternoon and update the committee on the operations and progress of his investigation, and unfortunately, DOJ has been unwilling to make him available,” Meadows said. “I find this not only frustrating for me, but frustrating for the American people.”

Meadows told Fox News last week three people have come forward with hundreds of pages of evidence of potential wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation, including misappropriation of funds and allegations of quid-pro-quo promises made to donors during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

Clinton Foundation whistleblowers come forward, Rep. Meadows says

Video

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed Huber to lead the evaluation into issues involving the FBI, the Clinton Foundation and the sale of Uranium One, amid calls from some conservatives to appoint a special counsel.

The top Democrat on the subcommittee, Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, ripped into Republicans at the beginning of the hearing, accusing them of recycling attacks on the Clintons. He asked why the committee wasn’t investigating conflicts in the Trump administration, and referenced other scandals, like former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen being sentenced to prison for a variety of crimes.

CLINTON FOUNDATION WHISTLEBLOWERS HAVE COME FORWARD WITH HUNDREDS OF PAGES OF EVIDENCE, MEADOWS SAYS

“Here we are, a few weeks before Christmas, and my Republican friends are re-gifting an old probe,” Connolly said, adding, “They’ve found nothing, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to do it again.”

Still, the committee had a slate of other witnesses — Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch, Phillip Hackney, a law professor at the University of Pittsburg, Lawrence Doyle of DM Income Advisors and John Moynihan of JFM Associates – appear to discuss the Clinton Foundation and laws governing non-profits.

Fitton referenced reports of the Clinton Foundation receiving “staggering sums” of money from Saudi benefactors, estimated between $18 million and $50 million, he said. Fitton added: “While Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, Bill Clinton gave two speeches in Saudi Arabia earning a total of $600,000.”

“There is enough evidence to warrant serious investigations of the Clinton Foundation,” Fitton said.

Fitton, a conservative whose group frequently sues for public records from government agencies, also dinged agencies inside the Trump administration for not doing more to turn over documents.

“It’s unfortunate that even the Trump administration doesn’t want to divulge the full truth about this,” he said.

According to a committee notice, the purpose of Thursday’s hearing was to discuss the management of 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, using the Clinton Foundation as a case study.

The committee advisory said these organizations are “not permitted to be organized or operated for the benefit of any private individual and are only permitted to engage in minimal political activity” and added that when “a nonprofit organization violates these terms, defrauds contributors, or engages in impermissible political activity, the IRS may revoke its tax exempt status.”

Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.

Facebook’s Fall: Enemy of Democracy

In 2010, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s story was the stuff of Hollywood movies. “The Social Network,” about the website and its founder’s meteoric rise, starred A-listers Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake, won an Oscar and made almost $250 million in the United States alone.

What a difference eight years makes.

Today, Zuckerberg is seen by many as a wincing megalomaniacal multibillionaire, and the personal data-mining company he created is viewed by some as an existential threat to democracy itself.

“It’s been a sudden thing. These people are not the darlings anymore and it’s been hard for them to adapt,” Lincoln Network President Aaron Ginn told Fox News. “So they’ve made a lot of unforced errors.”

Ginn, who co-founded the Lincoln Network five years ago to help technology and government work together to promote individual liberty and economic opportunity, added that “there are significant internal company responsibilities that, I think, [Facebook executives] have not lived up to.”

FACEBOOK COULD THREATEN DEMOCRACY, WARNS FORMER GCHQ CHIEF

Indeed, in less than a decade, Zuckerberg has managed to enrage leaders on both sides of the aisle in the U.S., and around the world, as his social media network has emerged as a polarizing tool that can be politically weaponized amid concerns about algorithms issues, privacy, misinformation and bias.

‘Zuckerberg got too big for his hoody, lost track of his responsibilities to Facebook users, advertisers and employees’— Porter Bibb

Facebook’s perceived threat has reached such a level that Damian Collins, chairman of the U.K. Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, recently took the extraordinary step of sending a sergeant-at-arms from the legislative body to use forceful tactics to seize secret documents that could contain data about Facebook’s privacy controls and potentially shady correspondence between Facebook’s top executives.

Other high-profile figures in the U.K. have also voiced their concerns about the social network. Asked in a BBC interview whether Facebook is a threat to democracy, Robert Hannigan – the former head of GCHQ, the British equivalent of the NSA replied: “Potentially yes. I think it is if it isn’t controlled and regulated.”

The documents, which are under seal in the U.S., are part of an ongoing lawsuit in California between Facebook and app developer Six4Three. Brits clearly think they’re damaging, as the BBC described a sergeant-at-arms being sent to nab the documents as a “highly unusual” tactic that hasn’t been employed “in living memory.”

The once-sterling company has been operating under a dark cloud of suspicion for most of 2018, with European regulators insisting to probe the tech giant’s internal communications and British regulators hitting Facebook with a fine of 500,000 U.K. pounds ($644,000) — the highest possible — for failing to protect the privacy of its users in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

But the drama with Facebook is hardly limited to incidents across the pond – and both British and American lawmakers have mocked Zuckerberg’s lack of cooperation with empty chairs to represent where he would have sat if he actually attended various hearings that he has blown off.

FACEBOOK’S AUDIT OF ALLEGED ANTI-CONSERVATIVE BIAS ONGOING, WON’T COMMIT TO RELEASING FINAL REPORT

“Facebook is the villain and finally people know it,” Washington University professor Liberty Vittert wrote in a Fox News Op-Ed pegged to both the British lawmaker and the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal. “If the government doesn’t get its act together and start creating and enforcing laws to regulate these powerful companies, we are in real trouble.”

As Facebook’s issues tick off lawmakers in various countries, the tech monster has also caught the attention of both liberal and conservative groups on U.S. soil.

‘Facebook has now become part of the broader ‘establishment,’ which doesn’t necessarily look out for the regular people, and thus, is now treated with suspicion’— DePauw University professor Jeffrey McCall

Progressive advocacy groups, including MoveOn and Public Citizen, teamed up to create Freedom From Facebook – which calls on the FCC to break up Zuckerberg’s massive conglomerate. Freedom From Facebook has accused the social media network of curating the news that billions of people consume, bankrupting potential competitors, killing innovation, reducing choice, tracking users and “spending millions on corporate lobbyists.”

Liberal advocacy groups have also decried Facebook’s use of a GOP opposition firm to do some digging on billionaire George Soros.

Meanwhile, Facebook has long been accused of censoring conservative viewpoints and promoting news with a liberal bias.

Ginn said that the majority of employees who determine what is considered hate speech and oversee content have liberal political views. He feels that institutional bias, combined with data proving the majority of users lean left, has turned Facebook into “activist central,” despite the social network not being designed for political activism.

FACEBOOK’S MOUNTING WOES WEIGH ON SOCIAL NETWORK’S STOCK

“It doesn’t remove that they have a responsibility, when 50 percent of the nation believes something different, generally speaking, to accept them on their platform,” Ginn said.

Earlier this year the conservative Media Research Center launched TechWatch, a project dedicated to exposing those kinds of incidents as they plague the tech industry.

MRC Vice President Dan Gainor, who heads up the project, feels that the mainstream media “has been looking for someone or something to blame for Trump winning in 2016 and journalists are pointing the finger at social media.”

‘The top social media, search media companies reach billions of people and have the ability to silence the right more than even a major government’— Media Research Center VP Dan Gainor

“They are convinced that somehow the right used Facebook to win and they want it reined in or destroyed before a repeat performance in 2020,” Gainor told Fox News. “Facebook made its relationship with the media worse because it dared to work with a right-leaning group like Definers and used them to prepare ordinary research about billionaire liberal George Soros… the press has been on an anti-Facebook crusade ever since.”

Facebook Inc.’s board of directors defended the Soros controversy, saying that it was “entirely appropriate” to ask if the billionaire investor had shorted the company’s stock after he called the social-media giant a “menace.”

While the folks behind TechWatch and Freedom From Facebook don’t share ideologies, the two groups seem to agree that Zuckerberg’s company is causing people harm.

SECRET FACEBOOK DOCUMENTS SHOW COMPANY ALLEGEDLY GAVE ADVERTISERS SPECIAL ACCESS TO USER DATA

“Censorship got very bad — bad in ways that are tough to track, because all of our experiences online are personalized. People from ordinary citizens to major politicians have been censored and these firms use the vague term ‘hate speech’ to restrict any content they simply don’t like,” Gainor said. “The top social media, search media companies reach billions of people and have the ability to silence the right more than even a major government.”

DePauw University professor Jeffrey McCall told Fox News that Americans have “long suffered from the false notion that if something is technologically glitzy, it must necessarily be great,” and feels Facebook is the latest example.

 Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in September.

 Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in September. (AP)

“Facebook emerged as a craze that led people to believe the platform was a life enhancer in terms of social connections and flow of information, broadly considered.  While many people enjoy sharing photos and updates with friends, it turns out the platform gave false hope and expectations on many levels,” McCall said. “Hanging out on Facebook doesn’t really make us happier and what we learn there might or might not be reliable. Individual privacy has been lost in many regards.”

Ginn noted that Facebook has become sort of “the middle man between the media and the customer,” and hasn’t gained many corporate friends in the process.

Among the mainstream media organizations that have attacked Facebook are BuzzFeed and The New York Times. BuzzFeed News recently quoted a number of current and former employees as saying the atmosphere at the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company is one of feeling “under siege” with a growing sense of “paranoia.”

The New York Times recently published a bombshell report that detailed Facebook’s attempt to distance itself from various controversies, ranging from Russia-linked activity on the platform to attempting to discredit enemies. The report noted that Facebook has connected more than 2 billion people, essentially creating a “global nation unto itself” that has “reshaped political campaigns, the advertising business and daily life around the world.”

“Along the way, Facebook accumulated one of the largest-ever repositories of personal data, a treasure trove of photos, messages and likes that propelled the company into the Fortune 500,” the Times wrote. “As Facebook grew, so did the hate speech, bullying and other toxic content on the platform.”

The scathing Times report painted Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg as careless regarding their company’s ability to “disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe.”

‘Legitimate concerns about the machinations behind the scenes at Facebook have surfaced now, and it is clear that big tech is not promoting individual empowerment’— DePauw University professor Jeffrey McCall

Reporter-turned-investment banker Porter Bibb specializes in media, entertainment and technology ventures, with over 40 years of experience moving money in those fields. He told Fox News that it’s time to “bring in the grownups” because Zuckerberg is “blind to the fact that he is driving his company off the cliff.”

“Zuckerberg got too big for his hoody, lost track of his responsibilities to Facebook users, advertisers, and employees and failed to accept the fact that his inexperience does not qualify him to run the world’s largest social media enterprise,” Bibb said. “Sandberg and Facebook’s feckless board only intensified the likelihood that the roof will fall in on Facebook.”

Facebook algorithm issues are yet another concern for users on both sides of the political spectrum. The social network, for example, accidentaly tagged an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence as hate speech, and briefly censored a photo of Santa Claus.

TechWatch has only been around for three months but has faced no shortage of Facebook-related content, posting stories about the company failing to protect users from foreign scam artists, shadowbanning pro-life contentupsetting a journalists’ union, raising the eyebrows of various lawmakers and examined a potential conflict of interest over Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., — who warned a colleague to back off Facebook — because his daughter is employed at the company.

Ginn said that a lot of steps Facebook has taken to rectify the issues actually made the problems worse, pointing to Zuckerberg declaring he wanted the social media service to make people better as an example.

“Most people on the right would say, ‘That’s not your role,’ and they receive pressure from internal employees and users who say, ‘That is your role,’” Ginn said, before adding that the exit strategy for Facebook should simply be to act more “laissez-faire and Libertarian.”

In addition to displeasing users, staffers, voters, lawmakers, reporters, activists and tech rivals, Facebook could suddenly agitate investors, too.

The company’s mounting problems and newly-disclosed internal documents prompted a research firm to downgrade its stock to hold from buy last Thursday.

“Facebook has now become part of the broader ‘establishment,’ which doesn’t necessarily look out for the regular people, and thus, is now treated with suspicion. Legitimate concerns about the machinations behind the scenes at Facebook have surfaced now, and it is clear that big tech is not promoting individual empowerment, but instead exploiting the masses for profit, power and pushing of ideology,” McCall said.

Brian Flood
 

By Brian Flood | Fox News

Brian Flood covers the media for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @briansflood.

Fox News’ James Rogers contributed to this article.

Conservative-friendly social media site: PlanetUS.com

of US . . . by US . . . for US

It’s THANKSGIVING DAY, not Turkey Day

For many generations Americans have rightly paused on Thanksgiving Day to give thanks to a generous God, who is our Heavenly Father. America was founded on principles of Judeo-Christian ethics, and a shared faith in a personal God, who caringly watches over the affairs of humanity with a concerned eye (while leaving us to exercise free will).

As socialists have struggled to wrestle our personal liberties from us, one of their main tools has been to secularize our society. Indeed, the ACLU, Democratic Party and similar leftist organizations have led the fight to remove any mention of God or His Son, Jesus Christ, from the public’s vernacular.

As a result of this attempt to make God and Christ politically incorrect in our nation, we have recently been greeted with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” and with “Happy Turkey Day” instead of “Happy Thanksgiving Day.”

We can see why the left would seek to take Christ out of Christmas, but why the shift from Thanksgiving Day to Turkey Day? Because “Thanksgiving” implies there is a reason to be thankful, and someone to whom we should give thanks–and that’s God.

I for one am careful to wish everyone I meet, at the store, at work, or in other public places, a hearty Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas. As a child of our Heavenly Father, I would much rather offend an anti-American, than offend God.

Happy Thanksgiving Day America, and may God bless us.

By James Thompson

 

Conservative-friendly social media: PlanetUS

Trump Speaks on Acosta, Obama’s Private Advice on Greatest US threat

President Trump, speaking exclusively to Fox News’ Chris Wallace in a wide-ranging interview, revealed what President Obama told him was the biggest challenge facing the U.S., discussed pending high-level departures from his administration and admitted that he occasionally enjoys calling on CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

“Actually I like to do it, but in many cases I don’t,” Trump acknowledged. In ruling that the administration temporarily has to restore Acosta’s White House access pass on Fifth Amendment due process grounds, federal judge Timothy J. Kelly noted that Trump could simply choose to ignore Acosta. (The judge, in his preliminary decision, did not rule on CNN’s First Amendment claim.)

But Trump, speaking to Wallace, floated another idea for handling Acosta.

“I think one of the things we’ll do is maybe turn the camera off that faces them, because then they don’t have any air time, although I’ll probably be sued for that and maybe, you know, win or lose it, who knows,” Trump mused. “I mean, with this stuff you never know what’s going to happen.”

Calling Acosta “unbelievably rude to [White House Press Secretary] Sarah Huckabee, who’s a wonderful woman,” Trump said his administration is currently formulating “rules and regulations” for White House reporters. “And if he misbehaves, we’ll throw him out or we’ll stop the news conference,” the president added.

As President Donald Trump points to CNN's Jim Acosta, a White House aide takes the microphone from him during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

As President Donald Trump points to CNN’s Jim Acosta, a White House aide takes the microphone from him during a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump also defended Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker against Democrats’ calls that he should recuse himself because he has written critically of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

“I did not know that,” Trump said, when asked if he was aware prior to appointing him that Whitaker had argued Mueller’s authority and funding could justifiably be limited. “I did not know he took views on the Mueller investigation as such.”

Trump added that he “would not get involved” in Whitaker’s decisions as he oversees Mueller’s probe in his new role as head of the Justice Department. The DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion affirming the constitutionality of Whitaker’s temporary appointment without Senate approval.

“Look he — it’s going to be up to him,” Trump said. I think he’s very well aware politically.  I think he’s astute politically.  He’s a very smart person.  A very respected person.  He’s going to do what’s right.  I really believe he’s going to do what’s right.”

FILE -Then-Iowa Republican senatorial candidate and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker watches before a live televised debate in Johnston, Iowa.

FILE -Then-Iowa Republican senatorial candidate and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker watches before a live televised debate in Johnston, Iowa. (Associated Press)

The president added that he has personally responded to Mueller’s written questions in the Russia probe and that they would be submitted “very soon.” Trump said his team is “writing what I tell them to write” in response to the inquiries.

Turning to another one of his frequent critics — former President Barack Obama — Trump took something of a victory lap, following news that some of the top candidates Obama had backed in the midterm elections had come up short.

“I won against President Obama and Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama in a great state called Georgia for the governor,” Trump said, referring to defeated Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams’ top surrogates. “And it was all stacked against Brian [Kemp], and I was the one that went for Brian, and Brian won.” (Abrams acknowledged in a fiery speech this week that she would not win the race, but strongly suggested Republican Brian Kemp had prevailed because of voter suppression, and vowed a lawsuit.)

“Look at Florida,” Trump continued. “I went down to Florida. [GOP Senate candidate] Rick Scott won, and he won by a lot.  I don’t know what happened to all those votes that disappeared at the very end.  And if I didn’t put a spotlight on that election before it got down to the 12,500 votes, he would have lost that election, OK?  In my opinion he would have lost.  They would have taken that election away from him. Rick Scott won Florida.”

The results of a manual recount in the Florida Senate will be reported on Sunday, and Scott is expected to prevail over Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, following a series of lawsuits and snafus that exposed long-running issues with ballot counting in the state. In the gubernatorial race, Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded this weekend in his close fight with Republican Ron DeSantis.

Michelle Obama, right, is greeted by Oprah Winfrey to discusses her new book during an intimate conversation to promote "Becoming" at the United Center on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Chicago. (Photo by Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)

Michelle Obama, right, is greeted by Oprah Winfrey to discusses her new book during an intimate conversation to promote “Becoming” at the United Center on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Chicago. (Photo by Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)

But Trump also revealed that Obama, who also campaigned against Trump in several other states, had offered him some important guidance in the White House shortly after his 2016 election.

“I think North Korea’s been very tough because you know we were very close. When I took that over — President Obama right in those two chairs, we sat and talked and he said that’s by far the biggest problem that this country has,” Trump told Wallace.  And I think we had real decision as to which way to go on North Korea and certainly at least so far I’m very happy with the way we went.”

Addressing national security matters, Trump told Wallace that he has been briefed on the audio recording of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s apparent murder in Turkey, but said he hasn’t listened to it, calling it a “suffering tape” that he was advised not to hear.

“You saw we put on very heavy sanctions, massive sanctions on a large group of people from Saudi Arabia,” Trump said. “But at the same time we do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good.” He also said it “takes two to tango” to resolve the conflict in Yemen, where Iranian-backed insurgents are facing off in a proxy war against Saudi-backed forces, noting that “I want Saudi to stop, but I want Iran to stop also.”

Trump went on to defend his administration’s decision to pull hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, saying the country doesn’t do “a damn thing for us” and charging that its government helped terror leader Osama bin Laden hide there.

“They don’t do a damn thing for us.”

— President Trump on Pakistan

“You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer,” Trump said, referring to bin Laden and his former compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The compound was demolished shortly after United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group forces, in a daring late-night helicopter raid, killed bin Laden there in 2011.

“But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there,” he added.  “And we give Pakistan $1.3 billion a year . … [bin Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them $1.3 billion a year — which we don’t give them anymore, by the way. I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us.”

And Trump sounded a note of regret for not visiting Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., on Veterans Day — which Obama did several times when he was in office.

“I should have done that,” Trump said. “I was extremely busy on calls for the country, we did a lot of calling, as you know. …  I probably, you know, in retrospect I should have and I did last year and I will virtually every year.  But we had come in very late at night and I had just left, literally, the American cemetery in Paris and I really probably assumed that was fine and I was extremely busy because of affairs of state doing other things.”

Trump, who spent nearly an hour Thursday at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. — where tables were lined with miniature pumpkin pies ahead of Thanksgiving — said he has some plans to potentially visit U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan for the first time.

“Well, I think you will see that happen,” the president said, after Wallace noted that Obama and former President George W. Bush had each visited soldiers in war zones. “There are things that are being planned.  We don’t want to talk about it because of — obviously because of security reasons and everything else.”

Two Central American migrants walk along the top of the border structure separating Mexico and the United States Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, in Tijuana, Mexico. Migrants in a caravan of Central Americans scrambled to reach the U.S. border, catching rides on buses and trucks for hundreds of miles in the last leg of their journey Wednesday as the first sizable groups began arriving in the border city of Tijuana. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Two Central American migrants walk along the top of the border structure separating Mexico and the United States Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, in Tijuana, Mexico. Migrants in a caravan of Central Americans scrambled to reach the U.S. border, catching rides on buses and trucks for hundreds of miles in the last leg of their journey Wednesday as the first sizable groups began arriving in the border city of Tijuana. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Explaining why he canceled a trip to visit a World War I memorial ceremony in Paris, Trump cited the weather and sharply criticized the media for making a “big deal” out of the situation. The president noted he attended an event the next day in the rain at a cemetery just outside Paris on Armistice Day.

“They said, ‘Sir,’ the Secret Service said, ‘Sir, you cannot go. We are not prepared. You cannot go,'” Trump said. “Because it was supposed to be helicopter, but the helicopter couldn’t fly because of zero visibility.”

Calling media reports that he is bitter and resentful following the midterm elections nothing more than “disgusting fake news,” Trump next addressed some potential high-level departures from his administration.

On Department of Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump suggested he wants to see an improvement on border security. The first members of a large Central American migrant caravan arrived in the Mexican city of Tijuana last week and were photographed attempting to climb a border fence there.

A Catholic nun gives travel advice to Central American migrants riding in the bed of a semi-trailer, as they move toward the U.S. border, in Ixtlán del Rio, Nayarit, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to "harden" the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

A Catholic nun gives travel advice to Central American migrants riding in the bed of a semi-trailer, as they move toward the U.S. border, in Ixtlán del Rio, Nayarit, Mexico, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. The U.S. government said it was starting work Tuesday to “harden” the border crossing from Tijuana, Mexico, to prepare for the arrival of a migrant caravan leapfrogging its way across western Mexico. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

“Well, I like her a lot. I respect her a lot,” Trump said, referring to Nielsen. “She’s very smart.  I want her to get much tougher and we’ll see what happens there. But I want to be extremely tough. …  I like her very much, I respect her very much, I’d like her to be much tougher on the border — much tougher, period.”

He added there’s a “chance” that Nielsen, who was accosted in a restaurant this summer by far-left progressive activists as her security detail kept close watch, will continue in her role.

Trump definitively told Wallace that Chief of Staff John Kelly will “move on” at some point, even as he claimed there was still some chance Kelly will stay with the administration through 2020.

“There are certain things I love what he does,” the president said. “And there are certain things that I don’t like that he does — that aren’t his strength. It’s not that he doesn’t do — you know he works so hard. He’s doing an excellent job in many ways. There are a couple of things where it’s just not his strength. It’s not his fault, it’s not his strength. … But John, at some point, is going to want to move on. John will move on.”

Multiple reports have suggested that Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, will replace Kelly.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly takes questions from the media while addressing the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - HP1EDAC1F1Q8V

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly takes questions from the media while addressing the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque – HP1EDAC1F1Q8V (REUTERS)

And on Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel, whom the White House announced would depart her role this week, Trump offered a blunt assessment.

“I met with Mira two days ago, and we’re going to move her around,” Trump said. “She was with me for a long time, although I don’t know her.  She’s really somebody I don’t know very well.  But we’re going to move her around because she’s got certain talents. But, frankly, she is not — she’ll never be put in the United Nations, let me put it that way. … She’s not too diplomatic, but she’s talented.”

Taking stock of the administration’s progress after two years, amid some past and apparently pending roster changes, Trump gave himself high marks — literally.

“I think I’m doing a great job.  We have the best economy we’ve ever had,” the president said. “We’re doing really well. We would have been at war with North Korea if, let’s say, that administration continued forward.”

Trump continued: “I would give myself, I would – look, I hate to do it, but I will do it, I would give myself an A+, is that enough? Can I go higher than that?”

 

Conservative-friendly social media. Because Facebook hates conservatives. PlanetUS.com

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg Hospitalized After Fall

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fractured three ribs after a fall at her office Wednesday evening, the court said in a news release.

Ginsburg, 85, later experienced discomfort and was admitted to George Washington University Hospital “for observation and treatment.”

Tests showed the justice fractured three ribs on her left side. The justice broke two ribs in a fall in 2012. She has had two prior bouts with cancer and had a stent implanted to open a blocked artery in 2014.

The justice, who studied at Harvard Law School, was nominated to the highest court in the land by former President Bill Clinton. She was the president’s first Supreme Court appointment.

Ginsburg is the court’s oldest member and there has been much speculation on her retirement. She is one of the four liberal justices that sits on the bench.

Ginsburg has became a liberal icon and has appeared on late night television shows including the “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert where she showed him her workout routine.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Kathleen Joyce is a breaking/trending news producer for FoxNews.com. You can follow her at @Kathleen_Joyce8 on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Conservative-friendly social media PlanetUS.com

 

Jeff Sessions Resigns as Attorney General; Matthew Whitaker Steps In

Jeff Sessions, once one of President Trump’s most loyal and trusted advisers before infuriating Trump over his recusal from the Russia investigation, has resigned as attorney general at the request of the president.

“At your request, I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions wrote in the Wednesday letter to Trump.

The president tweeted that Matthew Whitaker, who currently serves as chief of staff to Sessions, will become the acting attorney general.

“We are pleased to announce that Matthew G. Whitaker, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, will become our new Acting Attorney General of the United States. He will serve our Country well,” he said.

Trump added: “We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well! A permanent replacement will be nominated at a later date.”

Sources told Fox News that Trump did not call Sessions, but rather White House Chief of Staff John Kelly  informed him of the president’s request for him to resign. Sessions is expected to leave the Justice Department by the end of the day and Whitaker is expected to be sworn in Wednesday.

In his resignation letter, Sessions said was “honored to serve” as attorney general and said his Justice Department “restored and upheld the rule of law – a glorious tradition that each of us has a responsibility to safeguard.”

Sessions’ departure from the Justice Department is not unexpected, as the president has signaled changes to his administration after the midterms. But no one faced more rumors of an imminent dismissal than Sessions.

For more than a year, Trump has repeatedly lambasted Sessions over his recusal, saying he wouldn’t have installed Sessions as the country’s top law enforcement officer had he known his attorney general would recuse himself from the Russia probe.

In September, Trump said of his strained relationship with Sessions, “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.”

Shortly after taking office, Sessions removed himself from the Russia investigation in March of 2017, citing his involvement as a high-profile surrogate and adviser to Trump’s campaign.

 

The investigation into the Russian government’s attempted meddling in the election has hung over the president since he took office. Trump and his aides have denied any collusion with the Russians.

Sources told Fox News Whitaker will now be overseeing the Russia investigation. However, Justice Department ethics officials have not yet determined whether Whitaker will be able to hold that responsibility, or whether he may also eventually have to recuse himself from the investigation.

It’s unclear if Special Counsel Robert Mueller was informed before the announcement.

In March 2017, Sessions announced his plans to recuse himself after reports surfaced detailing undisclosed conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign. Sessions has said he was acting in his capacity as a Republican senator from Alabama.

At the time of his recusal, Sessions said he met with the “relevant senior career department officials” to discuss the issue.

“Having concluded those meetings today, I have decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matters related in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States,” Sessions said.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein then took control of the investigation and decided to appoint Mueller to take over the probe.

Trump’s falling out with Sessions was remarkable, considering the pivotal and trusted role the Alabama Republican played for Trump during the campaign.

Sessions — who bonded with Trump over their populist views on trade and immigration — became the first sitting senator to endorse Trump in February 2016 when he announced his support of the New York businessman’s then-underdog campaign.

The endorsement was seen as a blow to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump’s conservative rival in the Republican race whose path to victory included a strong performance in Southern states. Trump won Alabama.

Sessions went on to become one of Trump’s most outspoken and prominent surrogates during the campaign. A number of Sessions’ top staffers – including Rick Dearborn and Stephen Miller – took senior White House roles. When other Republicans abandoned Trump after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape just days before the general election, Sessions stood by Trump.

After Trump won the White House, Sessions, who faced no opposition in his 2014 re-election to the Senate, gave up a safe seat to become Trump’s attorney general.

During his confirmation hearing, Sessions denied accusations from Democrats that he had made racially insensitive statements in the past. Though most Democrats voted against their former colleague, his confirmation was seen as redemption for Sessions, whose nomination for a 1986 federal judgeship was rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time.

As attorney general, Sessions cracked down on illegal immigration, vowing to enforce federal law.

Sessions’ former Senate colleagues on Wednesday praised him for his service.

“As our country’s top law enforcement official, he has been integral in fighting the opioid epidemic, keeping violent criminals off our streets, and supporting victims,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said in a statement. “Those who know him understand his commitment to the rule of law, and his deep and abiding concern for our country.”

But Sessions also had his critics.

“Jeff Sessions was the worst attorney general in modern American history,” American Civil Liberties Union executive director Anthony D. Romero said.

 

Get conservative-friendly social media: PlanetUS.com

President Trump’s Closing Argument: Vote Republican and Continue the Jobs Boom

OP ED by President Donald J. Trump.

For many Americans, the Great Recession brought dark days we will never forget – and never want to repeat. It wasn’t long ago that economists told us sluggish growth and flat wages were here to stay.

Pundits talked about a “jobless recovery.” And politicians promised hope and change but never delivered.

But now, thanks to Republican leadership, the United States has the best economy in the history of our country – and hope has finally returned to cities and towns across America.

Since I was elected, we have created 4.5 million new jobs. In the last month alone, we added another 250,000 jobs, and nearly a half-million Americans returned to the workforce. We have added nearly 500,000 manufacturing jobs to our economy – jobs that many self-proclaimed experts said would never return.

The unemployment rate just fell to the lowest level in nearly 50 years. More Americans are working today than ever before. And wages are now rising at the fastest rate in a decade.

Today, if you want a job, you can get a job. If you want a better job, you can get a better job. African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans have the best job prospects in history. The employment outlook for women is the best in more than 65 years.

Students graduating from high school and college are entering the workforce with an abundance of opportunities.

These things didn’t happen by accident. They happened because Republicans are putting American workers and families first.

To reclaim America’s competitive edge, Republicans passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history. In addition to saving the average family $2,000 per year, our tax cuts kicked off a growth boom as businesses expanded and hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign profits flooded back into our country.

By doubling the child tax credit, providing a $500 tax credit for non-child dependents, and lowering tax rates, Republicans delivered the tax relief that working families need and deserve.

Republicans have waged the largest regulatory reduction campaign in our history – eliminating unnecessary regulation after unnecessary regulation that killed jobs and drove businesses overseas.

We have unleashed American energy resources. We ended ObamaCare’s punitive individual mandate and created new, affordable health-care options with lower premiums for families and businesses. And we are fixing broken trade deals and cracking down on foreign trading abuses that have, for decades, plundered America’s wealth.

Democrats adamantly, aggressively and hysterically opposed every one of these policies.

The top Democrat in Congress even predicted our tax cuts would lead to “Armageddon.” But here we are, two years later, and America has never been more prosperous or more optimistic.

Now America faces a critical choice: whether to build on the extraordinary prosperity that Republican policies have delivered for our nation – or whether to allow Democrats to take control and take a giant wrecking ball to your economy and your future.

If House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., take control of Congress, they will drag America back into the economic abyss we struggled so hard to climb out of.

The Democrats have promised to raise taxes, restore job-killing regulations, restrict American energy production, and impose socialism through a government takeover of your health care that would bankrupt our country with a $32 trillion price tag.

Put simply, the Democrats will pursue economic policies that are the exact opposite of the successful policies that Republicans have implemented. Democratic economic policies will drive our factories overseas, destroy the American health-care system, and obliterate American jobs, American wages and American wealth.

We have already tried the Democratic way – and it produced the worst so-called economic recovery on record. Why would we ever go back?

Instead, I am asking you to vote for a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and Republican governors so we can continue the incredible economic success that families across the nation are now enjoying.

America’s red-hot economy is the envy of the world, and it is only getting stronger every day. A strong jobs economy helps working Americans lift up the people they love: children, parents, friends, and neighbors.

A strong jobs economy also means that our government can protect the American people with the strongest military in the world, protect Medicare and Social Security for our great seniors, protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, and protect our borders.

With your vote for Republican candidates, we can keep our economy growing and our nation on the right track.

With your vote, we will keep lifting millions of our citizens from welfare to work, dependence to independence, and poverty to prosperity. And together, we will build a future of safety, security, prosperity, and freedom for all our citizens.

 

Donald J. Trump is president of the United States.

 

Conservative-friendly social media. Set up your free account today. PlanetUS.com

 

Trump Executive Order to End Illegal Birthright Citizenship

President Trump said in a newly released interview he plans to sign an executive order ending so-called “birthright citizenship” for babies of non-citizens born on U.S. soil — a move that would mark a major overhaul of immigration policy and trigger an almost-certain legal battle.

Birthright citizenship allows any baby born on U.S. soil to automatically be a U.S. citizen.

The policy, which stems from a disputed but long-recognized interpretation of the 14th Amendment, has given rise to what Trump considers abuse of the immigration system. Trump told “Axios on HBO” that the U.S. is the only country in the world “where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States … with all of those benefits.”

Despite Trump’s claim, the U.S. is not the only nation to have birthright citizenship, but the policy is rare outside of the Americas. Trump called birthright citizenship “ridiculous” and said that “it has to end.”

Under current policy, anyone born in the U.S. – regardless of whether they are delivered by a non-citizen or undocumented immigrant – is considered a citizen. The interpretation has been blamed for so-called ‘birth tourism’ and chain migration.

The 14th Amendment states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Trump, should he pursue the executive order, would face court challenges, and it remains unclear whether he could prevail. Many legal scholars would argue such a change requires a constitutional amendment. But some conservatives argue the existing amendment holds room for interpretation.

Michael Anton, a former national security adviser for Trump, pointed out in July that “there’s a clause in the middle of the amendment that people ignore or they misinterpret – subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”

“What they are saying is, if you are born on U.S. soil subject to the jurisdiction of the United States – meaning you’re the child of citizens or the child of legal immigrants, then you are entitled to citizenship,” Anton told Fox News’ Tucker Carlson in July. “If you are here illegally, if you owe allegiance to a foreign nation, if you’re the citizen of a foreign country, that clause does not apply to you.”

The interview was released after Trump told Fox News that Central American migrants who are approaching the U.S.-Mexico border in caravans are “wasting their time” and vowed, “they are not coming in.”

Trump spoke to “The Ingraham Angle” hours after the Pentagon announced it would deploy some 5,200 troops to the southern border in what the commander of U.S. Northern Command described as an effort to “harden the southern border” by stiffening defenses at and near legal entry points.

“When they are captured, we don’t let them out,” Trump told host Laura Ingraham. “We’re not letting them out … We’re not catching, we’re not releasing … We’re not letting them into this country.”

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge James C. Ho, who was appointed by Trump, has argued that it would be “unconstitutional” to change how the 14th amendment was written and that the line subject to debate applies to the legal obligation of all foreigners and immigrants to follow U.S. law, Axios reported.

 

/Benjamin Brown is a reporter for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @bdbrown473./Fox News’ Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report

 

 

 

Conservative-friendly social media. Facebook will eventually delete you and ban your free speech. PlanetUS.com

BREAKING: Bombing Suspect arrested in Florida – Cesar Sayoc

Cesar Altieri Sayoc has been arrested in connection with the suspicious packages that were sent across to various liberal personalities and CNN. Sayoc was named as the suspect by NY1’s Myles Miller. Sayoc is 54 years old and is a resident of Aventura, Florida.

A male suspect was arrested in Florida on Friday morning in connection with the rash of suspicious packages sent to prominent Democrats nationwide, law enforcement sources confirmed to Fox News.

A law enforcement source told Fox News that the suspect is a white male in his 50s, a former New Yorker, who lives in Aventura, Florida, who had prior arrests for terroristic threats. Several of the packages went through a U.S. postal facility in Opa-locka, which is less than 10 miles from Aventura.

The Department of Justice will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Federal authorities had been focusing on Florida as the location where the majority of packages originated.

“Some of the packages went through the mail,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen earlier told Fox News. “They originated, some of them, from Florida. I am confident that this person or people will be brought to justice.”

TRUMP SAYS ‘BOMB STUFF’ SLOWING GOP MOMENTUM, IN FRESH APPEAL FOR TURNOUT

The Miami-Dade County Police Department confirmed Thursday it was helping federal agents who were at the facility in Opa-locka as part of the ongoing investigation.

The USPS operates an innovative imaging system that photographs each piece of mail processed throughout the country. Investigators were likely relying on that system to pinpoint where some of the packages were mailed.

The FBI said the packages each consisted of a manila envelope with a bubble-wrap interior containing potentially destructive devices. The packages were addressed with a computer-printed address label and six stamps.

A government source told Fox News the FBI was analyzing the stamps in Quantico. The source also said the investigation had progressed “significantly” and that the FBI was reaching out to retailers to zero in on where the elements of the bombs were made and where they were sold.

SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE ADDRESSED TO JAMES CLAPPER, SEN. CORY BOOKER RECOVERED IN NEW YORK, FLORIDA

The envelopes and packaging materials likely contained a treasure trove of DNA information. Tiny bits of genetic material – traces of sweat, skin cells, saliva, hair or fingerprints – are typically used as a roadmap to the suspect’s door, investigators and bomb experts say.

The Washington, D.C., field office and the FBI headquarters had 24 teams in place and on the hunt for the culprit.

Forensic investigators in Quantico, Va., have been sifting through the packages addressed to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, liberal billionaire George Soros, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan and California Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters.

The devices are thought to have been fashioned from crude, bomb-making designs widely available on the Internet. Authorities haven’t said whether the devices were built to explode and kill or simply sow fear.

ROBERT DE NIRO SPEAKS OUT ON SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE AT HIS RESTAURANT

Ryan Morris, founder of Tripwire Operation Group, a company that provides explosives training to law enforcement and military officials, called the devices “Mickey Mouse” bombs that were meant to be found. He told Fox News he believes the primary motive is fear. The packages were sent about two weeks ahead of the midterm elections.

Regardless, investigators were treating the devices as “live” explosives New York City Police Commissioner James O’Neill said.

Larry Johnson, a former head of criminal investigations for the U.S. Secret Service who also served as a special agent in charge of the presidential protective detail, agreed that bomb makers usually leave evidence – and their signature- behind.

“If there is a human involved, there is a high probability you’re going to get somewhere investigatively,” he told The Associated Press. “There will be no stone left unturned.”

Johnson believes it’s “highly likely” the person who built the bombs will have been previously flagged by law enforcement. The Secret Service maintains a wide database of groups and individuals who have made threats in the past against presidents or other top political leaders and activists via email, letters or on social media.

James Fitzgerald, a retired FBI profiler and forensic linguist who, in 1996, helped catch “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski — who killed 3 people and injured 23 in bombings between 1978 and 1995 — told Fox News on Wednesday that the letter sent to John Brennan, the former director of the CIA and a staunch Trump critic, reminded him of something the Unabomber would send because of the number of stamps used on the package.

“The linguist in me noticed that Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the last name is spelled missing a ‘c’ and John Brennan’s name is spelled missing an ‘n’ and that kind of surprised me and I have a feeling that was done on purpose to make this look like somebody who doesn’t really know who these people are and that it wasn’t an honest mistake. If he had this much anger and vitriol against these people, you would think he would know how to spell their names.

 

Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Rick Leventhal and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report

Conservative-friendly social media PlanetUS.com

JOIN FREE TODAY!

Conservative-friendly social media. Join Free Today!

‘Potential Explosive Devices’ Sent to Clintons, Obama, Soros and CNN

The Secret Service said Wednesday it has “intercepted” two suspicious packages identified as “potential explosive devices” sent to former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

The security scare comes after an explosive device was found in the mailbox of liberal billionaire George Soros, though it’s unclear if any of the incidents are related. CNN employees also said Wednesday that they were being evacuated from their New York office, after reports of a suspicious package at the Time Warner Center.

The news of the additional packages to Clinton and Obama unfolded quickly Wednesday morning. It first emerged that the FBI was investigating one suspicious package found by the home of Bill and Hillary Clinton in Chappaqua, New York. But in a statement, the Secret Service said after that package addressed to Hillary Clinton was caught late Tuesday, a second package addressed to Obama “was intercepted by Secret Service personnel in Washington, DC” on Wednesday morning.

“The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such. The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them,” the Secret Service said in its statement.

The Secret Service said it has launched a “full scope criminal investigation that will leverage all available federal, state, and local resources to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible.”

Sources told Fox News that former President Clinton was at home in Chappaqua when the suspicious package was found, but that it was screened in Westchester County–not at the Clinton residence. A spokesperson for Hillary Clinton told Fox News that the former secretary of state has been in Florida for the last several days.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, in a written statement, condemned what she described as “attempted violent attacks” against the two former first families.

“We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures. These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards,” she said.

In New York, the New Castle Police Department and the Westchester County Police are assisting in their investigation into the first suspicious package.

“The matter is currently under federal investigation,” a spokesman for the New Castle Police Department said in a statement to Fox News.

The FBI’s New York Field Office tweeted Wednesday morning that they are “aware” of a “suspicious package found in the vicinity of the Clinton residence,” stating the investigation is ongoing.

According to The New York Times, an explosive device was found by a technician who screens mail for the Clintons.

On Monday, an explosive device also was found in the mailbox at the Bedford, New York, home of George Soros.

The Times reported that the device found by the Clintons’ home was similar to the one found at Soros’ home.

Chappaqua is approximately 20 minutes from Bedford. Both towns are about one hour outside of New York City.

 

Trump and Pence: Democrats and Leftist Groups May be Funding Migrant Caravan

President Trump on Tuesday accused Democrats of possibly funding the caravan of migrants from Central America that is currently making its way through Mexico.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, the president offered no proof that the Democrats were funding the migrant caravan, but was reacting to an announcement by Vice President Mike Pence that the caravan was being backed by “leftist organizations” and “Venezuela.”

“Maybe they made a bad mistake,” Trump said of the Democrats.

Trump’s comments came on the heels of a series of tweets that he would cut aid to three Central American countries he accused of failing to stop thousands of migrants heading for the U.S. border even as there was no indication of any other action within the administration.

Trump tweeted on Monday, “Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States.” He added without evidence that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in.”

Trump continued, “Must change laws!”

Pence said on Tuesday that “it is inconceivable” that people from the Middle East are not in the caravan.

Associated Press journalists traveling with the caravan for more than a week have spoken with Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans but said they have not met any of the “Middle Easterners” that Trump claimed had “mixed in” with the Central American migrants. It was clear, though, that more migrants were continuing to join the caravan.

Trump’s tweets marked the latest escalation of his efforts to thrust immigration politics into the national conversation in the closing weeks of the congressional elections. He and his senior aides have long believed the issue — which was a centerpiece of his winning presidential campaign — is key to revving up his base and motivating GOP voters to turn out in November.

“Blame the Democrats,” he wrote. “Remember the midterms.”

The three countries received about $500 million from the U.S. in fiscal year 2017. That money funds programs that promote economic development and education, as well as supporting democracy and human rights, among other issues. It was not immediately clear how much money Trump now hopes to cut, though the administration already had been pushing to reduce the government’s global aid and foreign operations budget by about 30 percent for fiscal 2019 that began Oct 1.

Paul O’Brien, the vice president for policy and advocacy at Oxfam America, said that any attempts to decrease aid to the Central American countries would be “devastating” since the U.S. is a key investor in the region, funding programs on issues ranging from workforce development to reducing violence and improving human rights. In addition, other investors look to the U.S. as a guide.

“If you take that money away or you make it unpredictable, you’re actually going to foster the very conditions that are driving people toward migration,” said O’Brien, who accused Trump of “essentially seeking to use migrants as a political chip.”

Trump on Tuesday acknowledged that there was “heartache on both sides,” but said that work to improve the human rights conditions in Central America “hasn’t worked for a long time.” The president added that the U.S. needed to implement a merit-based immigration system.

“We cannot allow our country to be violated like this,” he said. “We have to focus on our country for a change.”

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Conservative-friendly social media — PlanetUS.com
Set up your free account today, because Facebook will eventually delete your account.

Freed American Pastor Brunson Meets Trump, Given Hero’s Welcome in Oval Office

Freed American pastor Andrew Brunson met and prayed with President Trump in the Oval Office Saturday, thanking him for having “really fought for us” — a day after his release from house arrest in Turkey.

Brunson, from North Carolina, arrived in the U.S. earlier Saturday after stopping in Germany on Friday. Brunson was imprisoned in October 2016 due to his alleged ties to an outlawed group as part of a crackdown on a failed coup in Turkey against President Recep Erdogan’s government. A Turkish judge on Friday ordered him freed from house arrest on Friday after sentencing him to time served on terror and treason charges.

Brunson thanked Trump in the Oval Office, saying “you really fought for us, unusually so, from the time you took office.” He also thanked members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who had worked for his release. In a dramatic moment, Brunson knelt down and prayed with the President — asking God for “supernatural wisdom to accomplish all the plans you have for this country and for him.”

In his remarks, Trump said it was a “great honor” to have Brunson in the White House and thanked a number of lawmakers and members of the Cabinet for their assistance in securing Bunson’s release.

“If ever there was a bipartisan effort, this was it,” he said. A number of senators, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, were in attendance in the Oval Office.

Brunson said he and his wife looked forward to spending time with children and praying to see what God wants next from him.

Trump, who had thanked Turkish President Erdogan “for his help” earlier in the day, expressed hope that Brunson’s release would mark the start of better relations between the two countries. Trump said on Twitter that while there was “great appreciation” and a hope of good relations between the U.S. and Turkey, but there was “no deal” made for Brunson’s return.

“There was NO DEAL made with Turkey for the release and return of Pastor Andrew Brunson. I don’t make deals for hostages,” he tweeted. “There was, however, great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States & Turkey!”

The Trump administration advocated persistently for Brunson’s release, leading to an intense economic showdown between the two NATO allies. In August, the U.S. slapped sanctions on an array of Turkish officials and on some goods, sending Turkish currency into freefall.

Fox News’ Greg Norman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

Social Media for Conservatives  PlanetUS.com

Laura Ingraham: Democrats Unleash Fury on Kanye for Daring to Think for Himself

It was an amazing moment in the Oval Office Thursday when pop culture icon, rapper extraordinaire Kanye West, met with President Trump before the cameras and unleashed a 10-minute monologue in which he explained his love of all things MAGA.

“You know, people expect that if you’re black you have to be Democrat,” West said. “You know, they tried to scare me to not wear this (red MAGA) hat, my own friends. But this hat, it gives me power in a way.

“It was something about when I put this hat on, it made me feel like superman,” he continued. “Like what I need “Saturday Night Live” to improve on or what I need the liberals to improve on is, if he don’t look good, we don’t look good. This is our president… He has to be the freshest, the flyest…”

Sometimes unlikely figures emerge in American history to play important roles, illuminating important truths. And Kanye West in his own eccentric way, has exposed the intolerance of the left. Their denunciations of his White House appearance were immediate and withering.

“When it comes to the issue of Kanye West bringing black people to President Trump, that’s a misnomer,” said one personality on CNN. “He certainly doesn’t speak to the diversity or to the broad experiences of 40 million black people.”

And on MSNBC one anchor remarked “That was an assault on our White House.”

An assault on our White House? Sure, West used some coarse language that he shouldn’t have, but in other settings, liberals would have called that “authentic.” The would have said he was being his “true self, speaking his own truth.” If you’re truly concerned about assaults or improprieties in the White House, how about what went on between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky?  Or the Clintons’ close relationship with Harvey Weinstein?

Kanye West is hardly a political philosopher, and I’ve always believed that entertainers should first entertain and keep their politics separate from their art. But I cannot remember any artist on the left who was treated with the same vitriol and hatred as West has been subjected to since he announced his support for the president.

When Katy Perry or Miley Cyrus were headlining Hillary Clinton rallies, running through dorms to register voters, I don’t remember anyone at MSNBC or CNN criticizing them for lacking policy experience. And what about when Hillary Clinton sat down for an interview with the probing policy maven, Mary J. Blige, who serenaded the presidetial candidate with a song that went like this: “It ain’t no secret, no secret my friend, you can get killed just for living in your American skin.”

That was like an old coffee commercial from the 70’s. And remember, Obama was the biggest celebrity hound of them all. His cringe-worthy celebrity crushes were mutual. Remember when Barack and Michelle serenaded Usher in the White House? No one cried “impropriety” or “assault on the White House” then.

And how about Beyonce and Jay-Z? They were in and out of the Obama White House more frequently than the Secret Service. That was all perfectly acceptable. No policy concerns then. But when it was announced that Kanye West would be holding a meeting with Trump at the White House, all hell broke loose.

“So Kanye is going to let the president use him again,” said CNN’s Don Lemon.  A commentator on that network remarked, “He is the token Negro of the Trump administration…Black folks are about to trade Kanye West in the racial draft.”  Another said “Kanye West is what happens when Negroes don’t read.”

West is being subjected to the attacks that await any black conservative who dares to break ranks with the Democratic monolith. Liberals treat these entertainers like pawns who are not allowed to deviate from the leftist groupthink at all. God protect any Hispanic, gay or black who  goes his or her own way politically.

Remember the scorn that singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte heaped on Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell for working for George W. Bush? “Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell served Bush because they believe as he does,” Belafonte said. “They embrace his ideology. They embrace his imperial appetite. They are lackeys and tools of that. And my reference to them as the failed house slaves, meant that they were not the masters of their own destiny, although they had the choice to be and didn’t.”

House slaves – that was really nice. More than 30 years ago, a prominent figure in the Reagan administration argued that black Americans should cast off liberalism for conservative solutions, and summed up how the GOP had lost so much ground saying, “Democrats smugly assume blacks are monolithic and will by force of circumstances always huddle to the left of the political spectrum. The political right watches this herd mentality and action, concedes that blacks are monolithic, picks up a few dissidents, and wistfully shrugs at the seemingly unbreakable hold of the liberal left on black Americans.”

That official’s name was Clarence Thomas, then chair of the Equal Opportunity Commission. Individuals such as the brilliant conservative economist Thomas Sowell were courageous because, as Thomas noted, “they refused to give into the cult mentality and childless obedience that hypnotized black Americans into mindless political trance.”

I’m not going to say that rapper Kanye West is Thomas Sewell or Clarence Thomas.  But I will say that unless he is doing a giant punking of America, he has guts and gusto. Just because he dares to think for himself, to think differently, in his outspoken, over-the-top manner, he is pilloried by the politically correct performers in politics and journalism and of course in the entertainment industry. He represents a danger to the left because of his huge cultural influence. And moments like this, they are absolutely intolerable and frightening to liberals.

So next time you hear liberal pundits writing Kanye West off as a crazy, slavery-denying lunatic, remember this: They have to smear West for fear that black Americans will follow him into the arms of President Donald Trump. And what are the Democrats going to do then?

Conservative-friendly social media

www.PlanetUS.com

Kavanaugh Confirmed to Supreme Court by Senate: What Happens Next?

Brett Kavanaugh, who has been embroiled in controversy over decades-old sexual assault allegations, was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate Saturday in a 50-48 vote.

Trump officially tapped Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court pick on July 9 – less than two weeks after Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the bench. Since then, several women, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh vehemently denied the allegations.

After an FBI investigation into the allegations, Trump continued to voice support for Kavanaugh. On Saturday, he congratulated Kavanaugh on his approval in a tweet and said he would sign his commission of appointment later the same day.

From how the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing works to the actual vote, read on for a look at how the confirmation process works.

The hearing

Once the president announces his nomination to the Court, the Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing for the nominee to provide testimony and answer questions. This hearing can take multiple days.

After the hearing, the committee will vote, and it typically recommends the nominee to the full Senate for a vote. The committee can give a favorable or unfavorable recommendation – or none at all.

In 1991, Justice Clarence Thomas was sent to the Senate for a vote without a recommendation – favorable or not – from the Judiciary Committee. Robert Bork was sent to the full floor with an unfavorable recommendation in 1987; the full Senate ultimately did not confirm him.

The vote

For the Supreme Court nominee to be confirmed, he or she needs to receive a simple majority of 51 votes.

But this wasn’t always the case.

Senate Republicans deployed the so-called “nuclear option” in 2017 to ensure Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the nation’s highest court. This changed the rules, allowing a nominee to be confirmed with only 51 votes instead of 60.

Currently, there are 51 Republican senators and 49 Democrats (which includes two independents who caucus with Senate Democrats).

If there is a tie on the Senate floor, the vice president would break it, and he would be more than likely vote for Trump’s nominee.

President signs off

The final step in the confirmation process involves approval from the president.

Once the Supreme Court nominee is confirmed by the Senate, the president must issue a written commission to his nominee. Afterward, the nominee needs to be sworn in – taking two oaths of office – before assuming his official position on the nation’s highest court.

 

Fox News’ Judson Berger, John Roberts and The Associated Press have contributed to this report.

 

Conservative-friendly social media – PlanetUS.com

Trump: Dems Piling on Kavanaugh Have Issues of Their Own

President Trump on Monday sought to turn the tables on Senate Democrats acting “holier-than-thou” over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s drinking and behavior in school, saying many of them “are not angels” themselves.

“I watched the senators on the Democrat side and I thought it was a disgrace,” Trump said of last week’s hearing with Kavanaugh over allegations of sexual assault. “And partially because I know them. I know them too well. And you know what? They are not angels.”

Taking questions in the Rose Garden during a press conference on the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, the president cryptically referenced one senator “on the other side who is pretty aggressive.”

“I’ve seen that person in very bad situations,” Trump said. “Okay? I have seen that person in very, very bad situations. Somewhat compromising.”

Pressed by a reporter, the president wouldn’t clarify to whom he was referring.

“I think I will save it for a book like everybody else,” Trump said.

But Trump did fire back at several specific Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee who aggressively questioned Kavanaugh over the allegations, which the nominee denies.

He took aim at Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who battled accusations during his 2010 Senate race that he falsely claimed to have served in the Vietnam War.

Trump added: “And now he’s up there talking like he’s holier-than-thou.”

Trump also singled out New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who once wrote a newspaper column admitting to groping a friend without her consent in high school. Trump on Monday referred to those “statements” about what Booker “was doing” in school.

“Take a look at Cory Booker,” Trump said, adding, “And now he is talking about Judge Kavanaugh?”

Booker’s office recently pushed back on criticism over that column, noting it was meant to condemn a culture that encourages young men to take advantage of women.

The president also criticized Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, for sitting on the allegations against Kavanaugh for months before turning them over to the FBI. He then speculated that Feinstein “leaked” the allegations to the media – something the Democrat has repeatedly denied.

“She probably leaked it. But, you know, who am I to say? But she probably leaked it, based on her very bad body language the other day,” he said.

Monday’s Rose Garden press conference was tense at times, as the president repeatedly shot down reporters who tried to ask about Kavanaugh while he was still discussing the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“She’s shocked that I picked on her,” Trump said of one reporter. “She’s like in a state of shock.”

Eventually, Trump moved on from his comments on trade, opening up the floodgates for questions on Kavanaugh.

The president, asked about the FBI supplemental probe ordered last week into Kavanaugh’s behavior, said he wants the FBI to do a “very comprehensive investigation” but “with that being said, I’d like it to go quickly.”

The president also said he’s fine with the FBI interviewing all of Kavanaugh’s accusers, including Julie Swetnick, who is represented by Democratic attorney Michael Avenatti. Swetnick’s claim – that Kavanaugh was present for “gang rapes” and rape “trains” in the 1980s – has faced skepticism from some on Capitol Hill. During Thursday’s hearing, Kavanaugh called the “Swetnick thing” a “joke” and a “farce.”

Meanwhile, a senior Senate GOP source told Fox News they were told the Kavanaugh FBI probe could be completed by Tuesday. The GOP leadership is hoping the FBI report will push Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska — all seen as swing votes — to vote yes on the nomination.

In a light-hearted moment, the president referenced his own teetotaler practices, and said, “I’m not a drinker. I can honestly say I’ve never had a beer in my life. Okay? It’s one of my only good traits.”

He added, “Can you imagine if I had? What a mess I would be? I would be the world’s worst. But I never drink.”

He also drew laughter when he said many people in Washington could have skeletons in their closet – except his vice president.

“Except for Mike Pence, by the way,” Trump said. “If we find one on him, that will be the greatest shock of all time.”

 

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

 

 

Conservative-friendly social media PlanetUS.com

Kavanaugh Denies Sexual Misconduct in Interview: ‘I know I’m telling the truth’ and ‘I was a Virgin During High School and College’

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh denied accusations of sexual misconduct that have threatened to derail his confirmation in an exclusive interview with Fox News on Monday.

“What I know is the truth, and the truth is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone,” Kavanaugh told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum.

The full interview with Kavanaugh and his wife, Ashley, is set to air at 7 p.m. ET on “The Story”.

California professor Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of covering her mouth and trying to remove her clothing at a party in the early 1980s, when both were in high school. Kavanaugh and Ford are set to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

In the interview, Kavanaugh emphatically denied Ford’s claim against him, telling McCallum that he was a virgin through high school and for “many years after.”

“I was never at any such party,” Kavanaugh said. “The other people who alleged to be present have said they do not remember any such party. A woman who was present, another woman who was present who was Dr. Ford’s lifelong friend has said she doesn’t know me and never remembers being at a party with me at any time in her life.”

Kavanaugh added that he was “not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone at some place but what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.”

Kavanaugh also told MacCallum that he would not withdraw his name from consideration over the allegations.

“I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity, and I know I’m telling the truth,” the judge said. “I know my lifelong record and I’m not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process. I have faith in God and I have faith in the fairness of the American people.”

Kavanaugh also addressed a New Yorker report published Sunday night in which classmate Deborah Ramirez said he exposed himself to her while they were students at Yale.

The couple also discussed how their two daughters are dealing with the accusations against their father.

KAVANAUGH FIGHTS BACK AGAINST ‘SMEARS, PURE AND SIMPLE’

Top Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have slammed what they described as a “smear campaign” orchestrated in part by Democrats. Meantime, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, has asked for the Kavanaugh nomination to be halted while the FBI investigates the allegations.

This is a developing story; check back tonight for the full interview. Fox News’ Martha MacCallum contributed to this report.

Social media that does not censor conservatives: PlanetUS.com

NYT: DOJ’s Rosenstein Suggested He and Others Secretly Record Trump

WASHINGTON — The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.

Mr. Rosenstein made these suggestions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director plunged the White House into turmoil. Over the ensuing days, the president divulged classified intelligence to Russians in the Oval Office, and revelations emerged that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty and end an investigation into a senior aide.

Mr. Rosenstein was just two weeks into his job. He had begun overseeing the Russia investigation and played a key role in the president’s dismissal of Mr. Comey by writing a memo critical of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Mr. Rosenstein was caught off guard when Mr. Trump cited the memo in the firing, and he began telling people that he feared he had been used.

Mr. Rosenstein made the remarks about secretly recording Mr. Trump and about the 25th Amendment in meetings and conversations with other Justice Department and F.B.I. officials. Several people described the episodes, insisting on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The people were briefed either on the events themselves or on memos written by F.B.I. officials, including Andrew G. McCabe, then the acting bureau director, that documented Mr. Rosenstein’s actions and comments.

None of Mr. Rosenstein’s proposals apparently came to fruition. It is not clear how determined he was about seeing them through, though he did tell Mr. McCabe that he might be able to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions and John F. Kelly, then the secretary of homeland security and now the White House chief of staff, to mount an effort to invoke the 25th Amendment.

The extreme suggestions show Mr. Rosenstein’s state of mind in the disorienting days that followed Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Sitting in on Mr. Trump’s interviews with prospective F.B.I. directors and facing attacks for his own role in Mr. Comey’s firing, Mr. Rosenstein had an up-close view of the tumult. Mr. Rosenstein appeared conflicted, regretful and emotional, according to people who spoke with him at the time.

Mr. Rosenstein disputed this account.

“The New York Times’s story is inaccurate and factually incorrect,” he said in a statement. “I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources who are obviously biased against the department and are advancing their own personal agenda. But let me be clear about this: Based on my personal dealings with the president, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment.”

A Justice Department spokeswoman also provided a statement from a person who was present when Mr. Rosenstein proposed wearing a wire. The person, who would not be named, acknowledged the remark but said Mr. Rosenstein made it sarcastically.

Andrew G. McCabe, who became acting director of the F.B.I. after Mr. Comey was fired, memorialized his interactions with Mr. Rosenstein in memos. CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

But according to the others who described his comments, Mr. Rosenstein not only confirmed that he was serious about the idea but also followed up by suggesting that other F.B.I. officials who were interviewing to be the bureau’s director could also secretly record Mr. Trump.

Mr. McCabe, who was later fired from the F.B.I., declined to comment. His memos have been turned over to the special counsel investigating whether Trump associates conspired with Russia’s election interference, Robert S. Mueller III, according to a lawyer for Mr. McCabe. “A set of those memos remained at the F.B.I. at the time of his departure in late January 2018,” the lawyer, Michael R. Bromwich, said of his client. “He has no knowledge of how any member of the media obtained those memos.”

The revelations about Mr. Rosenstein come as Mr. Trump has unleashed another round of attacks in recent days on federal law enforcement, saying in an interview with the Hill newspaper that he hopes his assaults on the F.B.I. turn out to be “one of my crowning achievements” and that he only wished he had terminated Mr. Comey sooner.

“If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the primaries,” Mr. Trump said. “I should have fired him right after the convention. Say, ‘I don’t want that guy.’ Or at least fired him the first day on the job.”

Days after ascending to the role of the nation’s No. 2 law enforcement officer, Mr. Rosenstein was thrust into a crisis.

On a brisk May day, Mr. Rosenstein and his boss, Mr. Sessions, joined Mr. Trump in the Oval Office, where the president informed them of his plan to oust Mr. Comey. To the surprise of White House aides who were trying to talk the president out of it, Mr. Rosenstein embraced the idea, even offering to write the memo about the Clinton email inquiry. He turned it in shortly after.

A day later, Mr. Trump announced the firing, and White House aides released Mr. Rosenstein’s memo, labeling it the basis for Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Democrats sharply criticized Mr. Rosenstein, accusing him of helping to create a cover story for the president to rationalize the termination.

“You wrote a memo you knew would be used to perpetuate a lie,” Senator Christopher Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote on Twitter. “You own this debacle.”

The president’s reliance on his memo caught Mr. Rosenstein by surprise, and he became angry at Mr. Trump, according to people who spoke to Mr. Rosenstein at the time. He grew concerned that his reputation had suffered harm and wondered whether Mr. Trump had motives beyond Mr. Comey’s treatment of Mrs. Clinton for ousting him, the people said.

A determined Mr. Rosenstein began telling associates that he would ultimately be “vindicated” for his role in the matter. One week after the firing, Mr. Rosenstein met with Mr. McCabe and at least four other senior Justice Department officials, in part to explain his role in the situation.

During their discussion, Mr. Rosenstein expressed frustration at how Mr. Trump had conducted the search for a new F.B.I. director, saying the president was failing to take the candidate interviews seriously. A handful of politicians and law enforcement officials, including Mr. McCabe, were under consideration.

To Mr. Rosenstein, the hiring process was emblematic of broader dysfunction stemming from the White House. He said both the process and the administration itself were in disarray, according to two people familiar with the discussion.

Mr. Rosenstein then raised the idea of wearing a recording device or “wire,” as he put it, to secretly tape the president when he visited the White House. One participant asked whether Mr. Rosenstein was serious, and he replied animatedly that he was.

If not him, then Mr. McCabe or other F.B.I. officials interviewing with Mr. Trump for the job could perhaps wear a wire or otherwise record the president, Mr. Rosenstein offered. White House officials never checked his phone when he arrived for meetings there, Mr. Rosenstein added, implying it would be easy to secretly record Mr. Trump.

The suggestion itself was remarkable. While informants or undercover agents regularly use concealed listening devices to surreptitiously gather evidence for federal investigators, they are typically targeting drug kingpins and Mafia bosses in criminal investigations, not a president viewed as ineffectively conducting his duties.

In the end, the idea went nowhere, the officials said. But they called Mr. Rosenstein’s comments an example of how erratically he was behaving while he was taking part in the interviews for a replacement F.B.I. director, considering the appointment of a special counsel and otherwise running the day-to-day operations of the more than 100,000 people at the Justice Department.

Mr. Rosenstein’s suggestion about the 25th Amendment was similarly a sensitive topic. The amendment allows for the vice president and majority of cabinet officials to declare the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

Merely conducting a straw poll, even if Mr. Kelly and Mr. Sessions were on board, would be risky if another administration official were to tell the president, who could fire everyone involved to end the

effort.

Mr. Rosenstein acknowledged that Mr. Comey was a role model but said he thought it was appropriate to seek a new leader for the F.B.I.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Mr. McCabe told other F.B.I. officials of his conversation with Mr. Rosenstein. None of the people interviewed said that they knew of him ever consulting Mr. Kelly or Mr. Sessions.

The episode is the first known instance of a named senior administration official weighing the 25th Amendment. Unidentified others have been said to discuss it, including an unnamed senior administration official who wrote an Op-Ed for The New York Times. That person’s identity is unknown to journalists in the Times news department.

Some of the details in Mr. McCabe’s memos suggested that Mr. Rosenstein had regrets about the firing of Mr. Comey. During a May 12 meeting with Mr. McCabe, Mr. Rosenstein was upset and emotional, Mr. McCabe wrote, and said that he wished Mr. Comey were still at the F.B.I. so he could bounce ideas off him.

Mr. Rosenstein also asked F.B.I. officials on May 14, five days after Mr. Comey’s firing, about calling him for advice about a special counsel. The officials responded that such a call was a bad idea because Mr. Comey was no longer in the government. And they were surprised, believing that the idea contradicted Mr. Rosenstein’s stated reason for backing Mr. Comey’s dismissal — that he had shown bad judgment in the Clinton email inquiry.

Mr. Rosenstein, 53, is a lifelong public servant. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School, he clerked for a federal judge before joining the Justice Department in 1990 and was appointed United States attorney for Maryland.

Mr. Rosenstein also considered appointing as special counsel James M. Cole, himself a former deputy attorney general, three of the people said. Mr. Cole would have made an even richer target for Mr. Trump’s ire than has Mr. Mueller, a lifelong Republican: Mr. Cole served four years as the No. 2 in the Justice Department during the Obama administration and worked as a private lawyer representing one of Mrs. Clinton’s longtime confidants, Sidney Blumenthal.

Mr. Cole and Mr. Rosenstein have known each other for years. Mr. Cole, who declined to comment, was Mr. Rosenstein’s supervisor early in his Justice Department career when he was prosecuting public corruption cases.

Mr. Trump and his allies have repeatedly attacked Mr. Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia investigation because Mr. Sessions recused himself because of his role as a prominent Trump campaign supporter. Many of those same critics also have targeted Mr. McCabe, who was fired in March for failing to be forthcoming in a Justice Department inspector general investigation. Mr. McCabe’s actions were referred to federal prosecutors in Washington.

The president’s allies have seized on Mr. McCabe’s lack of candor to paint a damning picture of the F.B.I. under Mr. Comey and assert the Russia investigation is tainted.

The Justice Department denied a request in late July from Mr. Trump’s congressional allies to release Mr. McCabe’s memos, citing an ongoing investigation that the lawmakers believed to be Mr. Mueller’s. Mr. Rosenstein not only supervises that investigation but is considered by the president’s lawyers as a witness for their defense because he also sought the dismissal of Mr. Comey, which is being investigated as possible obstruction of justice.

Matt Apuzzo and Nicholas Fandos contributed reporting.

Follow Adam Goldman and Michael S. Schmidt on Twitter: @adamgoldmanNYT and @nytmike.

Finally, social media that does not censor and discriminate. JOIN FREE TODAY! www.PlanetUS.com

 

Trump Orders Feds to Declassify Key FISA Documents

President Trump Monday ordered the declassification of several key documents related to the FBI’s probe of Russian actions during the 2016 presidential election, including 21 pages of an application for a renewed surveillance warrant against former campaign aide Carter Page, and text messages from disgraced FBI figures Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump had ordered the documents released “[a]t the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency.”

The documents to be declassified also include 12 FBI reports on interviews with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr and all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all other applications to surveil Carter Page.

Trump also ordered the Justice Department to release text messages from a number of the key players in the Russia investigation “without redaction” — including Ohr, Strzok, Lisa Page, former FBI Director James Comey, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

It was not immediately clear when or how the documents would be released. Congressional sources told Fox News that House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., does not know how soon he will get the documents, but said Trump’s order covers “pretty much everything that he wanted … and the text messages are a bonus.”

Earlier this month, 12 Republican members of Congress publicly asked the president to declassify the June 2017 application for a warrant against Page as well as the FBI reports of interviews with Ohr, known in bureaucratic parlance as “Form 302s.”

On Sunday, Nunes told Fox Business Network that witness interview transcripts and other documents from that committee’s now-concluded Russia investigation should be made public before November’s midterm elections.

“If the president wants the American people to really understand just how broad and invasive this investigation has been to many Americans and how unfair it has been, he has no choice but to declassify,” Nunes said on FBN’s “Sunday Morning Futures.”

House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said last week that it would be “beneficial” for Americans to see those documents.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and John Roberts contributed to this report.

 

Social Media for Conservatives. PlanetUS.com

Sen. Kennedy: Kavanaugh Confirmation Process ‘An Intergalactic Freak Show’

Sen. John Kennedy called the confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh “an intergalactic freak show” and said he was embarrassed for Congress by the accusations of sexual misconduct leveled at the Supreme Court nominee.

“So far, it’s pretty much been an intergalactic freak show,” Kennedy, R-La., told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “Most Americans are looking at this – most mainstream Americans – and they’re thinking that Congress has hit rock bottom and started to dig.”

Kennedy added: “I have been embarrassed by the whole process and, frankly, I’m – no disrespect to Senator Feinstein or to Stanford Law School – but I’m a little bit offended. I sit on Judiciary Committee. They’ve had this stuff for three months. If they were serious about it, they should’ve told us about it.”

The Louisiana lawmaker was referencing a secret letter that has been the subject of intrigue on Capitol Hill over the last week. A source familiar with the confirmation proceedings told Fox News that California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., received the letter back in July, but did not make its existence known publicly until Thursday.

The letter was relayed to lawmakers by 51-year-old research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford and concerns an alleged incident involving the 53-year-old Kavanaugh and her while they were in high school. The Washington Post first reported that Ford was the letter’s author.

In a statement released by the White House Friday, Kavanaugh said: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Senate Republicans insist Kavanaugh’s confirmation remains on track for a committee vote this upcoming Thursday. But the allegation has inflamed an already intense political battle over President Trump’s nominee. It also pushes the #MeToo movement into the court fight, less than two months before congressional elections that have seen a surge of female Democratic candidates.

The New Yorker magazine reported that the alleged incident took place at a party when Kavanaugh, now 53, was attending Georgetown Preparatory School. The woman making the allegation attended a nearby school.

The accusations against Kavanaugh resurfaced similar ones leveled against Associate Justice Clarence Thomas during his own confirmation hearings in 1991. Anita Hill accused Thomas, who was her supervisor at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, of sexually harassing her. Thomas denied those allegations and was confirmed.

Hill, who is now a professor at Brandeis University, urged the Senate to put in place a process for people to come forward.

“Even in the #MeToo era, it remains incredibly difficult to report harassment, abuse or assault by people in power,” she said.

The eleventh-hour revelations drew sharp criticism not only from Feinstein’s Republican colleagues in the Senate, but from the media in her home state of California, with the San Francisco Chronicle calling the allegations “unfair all around.”

“Feinstein’s treatment of a more than three-decades-old sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was unfair all around,” the newspaper’s editorial board noted on Sunday. “It was unfair to Kavanaugh, unfair to his accuser and unfair to Feinstein’s colleagues — Democrats and Republicans alike — on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

The editorial continued: “Feinstein… took the worst possible course by waiting until almost a week after Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing was completed to ominously announce that she had turned over ‘information from an individual’ about Kavanaugh to the FBI, and adding that she would be honoring the person’s ‘strongly requested’ confidentiality.”

While Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court seems likely, it is not guaranteed and he will certainly not be a unanimous pick.

Feinstein penned an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times over the weekend, explaining that she strongly opposes Kavanaugh’s nomination because of his stance on issues ranging from reproductive rights to judicial deference.

“Supreme Court justices should not be an extension of the Republican Party,” Feinstein wrote. “They must also have unquestionable character and integrity, and serious questions remain about Judge Kavanaugh in this regard, as indicated in information I referred to the FBI. For these and other reasons detailed below, I strongly oppose Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.”

Kennedy told “Fox News Sunday” that he believes it will be a close vote for Kavanaugh, but in the end the judge will join the Supreme Court.

“I think the vote will be 11-10 Wallace,” Kennedy said. “Straight party line vote. I think the nomination will come to the floor; that’ll be up to Senator (Mitch) McConnell (a Republican from Kentucky). I think every Republican will vote for Judge Kavanaugh. I think at least two and probably more Democrats will.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Denies Claim About Behavior in High School

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh vigorously denied claims involving an alleged high school incident made in an undisclosed letter and turned over to FBI by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time,” Kavanaugh, 53, said in a statement Friday.

Feinstein ignited controversy Thursday by releasing a statement saying she turned information about Kavanaugh over to the FBI. She did not detail the accusation, and Republicans accused her of trying to orchestrate a last-minute smear.

“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Feinstein said in her surprise statement. “That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

Fox News confirmed that the letter involved an allegation about Kavanaugh while a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Maryland in the 1980s. A woman, who was also in high school at the time, accused Kavanaugh in the letter of holding her down and trying to force himself on her during a party, before she got away. The details were first reported Friday by the New Yorker.

The woman also claimed Kavanaugh was joined at the time by a friend who turned up music to conceal her protests. But that unnamed classmate reportedly told the New Yorker, “I have no recollection of that.”

Meanwhile, the Judiciary Committee on Friday received a letter from 65 women who said they knew Kavanaugh from high school and vouched for him as a “good person.” The letter was addressed to Feinstein and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

“We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983,” the letter, obtained by Fox News, reads. “For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect. We strongly believe it is important to convey this information to the committee at this time.”

The White House blasted the charge on Thursday as a last-minute gambit.

“Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new ‘information’ about him,” White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec said in a statement.

The accusation comes after the Senate Judiciary Committee already grilled Kavanaugh and other witnesses and prepares to vote on sending his nomination to the full Senate.

A source familiar with the confirmation proceedings told Fox News that Feinstein received the letter back in July, but did not make its existence known publicly until Thursday.

The letter reportedly was given to Feinstein by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., but has not been publicly disclosed by senators who have seen the document.

Feinstein met privately with Kavanaugh on August 20 and also questioned him repeatedly in open and closed session during the Judiciary Committee hearings on his nomination last week. There is no indication that the matter came up in either the private meeting or the closed committee session.

The FBI conducts background checks on all major government appointees, including Supreme Court nominees.

“Upon receipt of the information on the night of September 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process,” the FBI said in a statement. Fox News has learned that the White House would have to request that the bureau follow up on the letter for the matter to be investigated further. It was not clear whether the White House had done so as of Thursday evening.

The woman referenced in the letter has yet to be identified, but is being represented by Debra Katz, a whistleblower attorney who works with #MeToo survivors, according to The Intercept.

Despite the turmoil over the letter, a spokesperson for Grassley said there is no plan to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Grassley set the panel’s vote on Kavanaugh for Sept. 20 and Republicans hope to confirm Kavanaugh by the start of the new court session Oct. 1.

 

Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Mike Emanuel and John Roberts contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.