January 21, 2018

Leftist Attacks on Tax Reform All Lies

As president of the State Financial Officers Foundation, I have the privilege of working with some of the nation’s sharpest financial officers.

They are not merely treasurers. They are thought leaders, experts, and fighters who, day-in and day-out, serve on the front lines of fiscal policy and intimately understand their state budgets, cash flow, and state pensions.

These leaders—state treasurers, state controllers, and state auditors—know firsthand how policies coming from inside the beltway impact the states.

The rhetoric during this year’s tax reform debate is producing more heat than light. While Democrats portray the tax reform bill as an all-out assault on the American middle class, members of the State Financial Officers Foundation have a different view. We believe tax reform is vital to growing our economy and empowering innovators in our states.

Regarding the middle class, Democrats fail to mention that under the new House plan, the standardized deduction would almost double from $6,350 to over $12,000 for single filers, and $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. That means the number of Americans who claim the standard deduction would likely go from 60 percent of all filers to 90 percent.

Critics also fail to mention that the tax credit per child would increase from $1,000 to $1,600.

Additionally, critics don’t admit that the impact of simplifying the tax code would disproportionately help lower- and middle-income taxpayers, most of whom would be able to file their taxes using a simple postcard.

Democrats are also arguing that higher education will be in shambles because students will no longer be able to deduct student loan interest. The current tax code allows a deduction up to $2,500 if your income is $65,000 or less.

However, this deduction goes away if your adjusted gross income is $80,000 or more. An analysis done by the American Enterprise Institute estimates the average benefit actually received by students is just $202.

The claim that losing the student loan interest deduction would prevent students from applying for new student loans and attending a college or university isn’t supported by facts. And frankly, if that were true, everyone should be pushing to eliminate the deduction, given that the student loan debt crisis in America has ballooned to an astonishing $1.3 trillion.

Democrats continue to argue that states with high taxes will be “destroyed” if state and local tax deductions are eliminated. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned in a tweet earlier this month that “New York will be destroyed, if the deductibility of state and local taxes is included in any final plan that passes the House.”

Some claim eliminating the state and local tax deduction is a “revenue grab” on behalf of the federal government. But the reality is that repealing the deduction would allow $1.3 trillion to be used to reduce tax rates for all individuals and business. The state and local tax deduction is nothing more than an unfair federal subsidy of wealthier states with higher tax rates.

And lastly, Democrats argue that eliminating the mortgage interest deduction on mortgages worth up to $1 million is somehow a tax increase on the middle class.

Aside: It is humorous to most of us that live between the coasts that somehow someone with a $1 million mortgage is still considered to be middle class.

This disingenuous claim only impacts new mortgages. Homeowners who currently own a home would still be able to deduct their mortgage interest. And for new home purchases, one would still be able to deduct the interest up to the first $500,000 of the mortgage.

Given the analysis by the National Low Income Housing Coalition that fewer than 4 percent of mortgages in the United States are over $500,000, the “middle class” statistically has nothing to worry about when it comes to the proposed changes.

State leaders from the State Financial Officers Foundation act as the chief financial officers and chief financial literacy officers for their states. Tax reform is one of the most common issues that constituents bring up to these elected officials.

The complicated tax code has made millions of Americans hate April 15 and has required many to hire accountants and lawyers to help them maneuver through the system.

Americans haven’t seen serious changes to the tax code since the Reagan administration. America is long overdue for sweeping tax reform.

Portrait of Derek Kreifels

Derek Kreifels is the president of the State Financial Officers Foundation, an organization of state treasurers, state controllers, and state auditors dedicated to free market principles and limited government.

Judge Denies Democrats Restraining Order to Stop Trump’s Pick for CFPB

In a victory for the Trump White House, a temporary restraining order to halt the president’s pick for acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Mick Mulvaney, was denied by a judge late Tuesday though the decision is likely to be appealed.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly ruled in favor of Trump in his effort to appoint White House budget director Mulvaney to lead the bureau, the nation’s top financial watchdog agency.

“Denying the president’s authority to appoint Mr. Mulvaney raises significant constitutional questions,” Kelly, a Trump nominee for the bench, said.

The ruling comes after a nasty partisan spat that pitted the Trump administration against an Obama-era holdover.

Leandra English was elevated to acting deputy director Friday when Richard Cordray resigned. The fight for control bled into the weekend and on Sunday, English filed an emergency restraining order to keep Mulvaney out.

The government filed a response to English’s restraining-order request late Monday, calling her claims to the office a “bureaucratic sleight-of-hand” meant to circumvent presidential authority.

English cited the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB. She said that as deputy director, she became the acting director under the law and argued that the federal law the White House contends supports Trump’s appointment of Mulvaney doesn’t apply when another statute designates a successor.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision to deny the request for a temporary restraining order, finding that the plaintiff had not shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,” Lauren Ehrsam, a spokesperson with the Department of Justice, said in a statement.

Former CFPB litigation counsel Deepak Gupta, who represented English, said the career civil servant would weigh her next step but added he didn’t think Kelly’s ruling was “the final stop for this case.”

Earlier Tuesday, Mulvaney instructed staff to “disregard” instructions from English and then tweeted a picture of himself working at a desk under the handle @CFPBDirector.

“Consistent with my email from yesterday, please disregard any email sent by, or instructions you receive from, Ms. English when she is purporting to act as the Acting Director,” Mulvaney wrote in an email Tuesday. “I apologize for having to send this instruction again. And I feel terrible about you folks being put in this position, as I understand it can be both confusing and disruptive.”

The scene was a follow-up to an awkward power struggle that played out Monday when Mulvaney and English both showed up for work. Mulvaney brought donuts. English sent out post-Thanksgiving holiday wishes.

Both declared in emails that they were in charge.

Mulvaney, a former congressman, has called the agency a “joke” and an example of bureaucracy run amok. He is expected to dismantle much of what the bureau has done.

A new director for the CFPB must be confirmed by the Senate.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trump Calls Jones ‘Weak’ in Alabama Senate Race

President Trump on Sunday weighed in again on the fast-approaching Election Day in the Alabama Senate race, calling Democratic nominee Doug Jones “weak” on crime and other conservative issues, but stopping short of backing embattled GOP candidate Roy Moore.

“The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES [sic] TAXES TO THE SKY,” Trump tweeted. “Jones would be a disaster!”

Trump is in a tough political position. He and fellow Republicans desperately need to keep the Alabama Senate seat left open after GOP Sen. Jeff Session became U.S. attorney general, considering they now have just a narrow 52-46 member majority in the chamber.

Moore, a Christian conservative, has been accused in recent weeks of sexual misconduct with teenage women roughly four decades ago. He has denied the allegations and refused to quit the race, with Election Day on December 12.

Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., unsuccessfully backed Moore’s rival in the Alabama GOP primary, Luther Strange, a more moderate Republican appointed to Sessions’ seat until the election.

Trump has said Moore should step aside if the allegations are true. However, the president, before leaving on Thanksgiving break, appeared to soften his position, telling reporters, “I can tell you one thing for sure: We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat Jones.”

He also said Moore “denies” the allegations.

“He says it didn’t happen,” Trump said. “He said 40 years ago this did not happen.”

By Joseph Weber

6 Key Elements in Understanding the Tangled Uranium One Scandal

Two House committees are investigating the tangled deal involving Russia, its acquiring of U.S. uranium, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. But the multiple layers that lawmakers, and potentially a special counsel, will explore take some unpacking.

The probe addresses unanswered questions about the Uranium One mining company’s ties to the Clinton Foundation, the nonprofit founded by the former president, during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

In a 2010 deal approved by a committee including Hillary Clinton and eight other members of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, a Kremlin-connected entity obtained 20 percent of America’s uranium production by acquiring Canada-based Uranium One.

Although a joint investigation by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is just getting under way, many congressional Republicans already are calling for a special counsel to look into the facts.

A Clinton Foundation spokesperson, citing numerous news stories and fact-checking organizations, told The Daily Signal that the Uranium One-related allegations against Hillary Clinton, Democrats’ 2016 nominee for president, have been debunked. A spokesperson for Uranium One did not respond to The Daily Signal’s phone and email messages Wednesday.

Here are six major elements to the scandal now known as Uranium One.

1. What Is the Deal, and Who Approved It?

Uranium One announced in June 2010 it was selling a majority of the mining company to ARMZ, part of Rosatom, a Russian-owned nuclear energy company. Promoters of the Russian company were involved in a $500,000 speaking engagement for Bill Clinton in Moscow.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a panel charged with approving any merger where national security questions emerge, approved the deal in October 2010.

National security came up in this case because uranium is the primary fuel for nuclear energy and can be used either to make weapons or produce electricity.

The foreign investment panel is made up of nine Cabinet members, two ex officio members, and others as appointed by the president. So, neither Clinton, who was secretary of state from 2009 until 2013, nor the State Department were in a sole position to approve the deal in which Russian interests acquired Uranium One. These officeholders frequently are represented on the foreign investment panel by lower-ranking officials.

If any member of the Foreign Investment Committee opposes a sale, then the president, in this case Barack Obama, is the only one who can step in to block it, according to Treasury Department guidelines.

Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, led by ranking member Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, warned against the sale in an October 2010 letter to then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, arguing:

The transaction could give Moscow control of up to 20 percent of the U.S. national uranium extraction capability and a controlling interest in one of the country’s largest uranium mining sites. … Russia’s record of transferring dangerous materials and technologies to rogue regimes, such as those in Iran and Syria, is very troubling.

The Uranium One logo.

2. What’s All This About Racketeering?

Most recently, The Hill news organization reported the foreign investment panel of Obama administration officials charged with approving the Russia-backed purchase of U.S. uranium resources was not made aware of an in-depth FBI criminal investigation related to Uranium One.

“I would hope the board and decisionmakers are as aware as possible of all factors, so they would know what they are voting on,” Ron Hosko, a former assistant director at the FBI, told The Daily Signal this week in a phone interview.

The FBI investigation appeared to be quite broad, The Hill reported that it found “substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money laundering designed to grow [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.”

The FBI probe began in 2004 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, was director of the bureau. The probe ended in three convictions of individuals for money laundering and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a federal law.

Rod Rosenstein, then U.S. attorney for Maryland and now the Trump administration’s deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, supervised the FBI investigation.

After Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself early this year from probes of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, Rosenstein—No. 2 to Sessions at Justice—appointed Mueller as special counsel.

“There was a criminal investigation related to Uranium One already and it seems because of political considerations, it was kept from the American people,” Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative government watchdog, told The Daily Signal.

“Uranium One is just the tip of the iceberg regarding foreign money when Hillary Clinton was the secretary of state,” Fitton said in a phone interview. “With the information about the [Clinton] foundation and the State Department, there is easily enough to form the basis for a criminal investigation.”

Published reports have focused on numerous cases in which countries that gave money to the Clinton Foundation also had business before the State Department.

In August 2015, the Justice Department announced the guilty plea of Russian official Vadim Mikerin, a resident of Chevy Chase, Maryland, for his role in arranging more than $2 million in payments to corruptly influence the awarding of private contracts with Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy corporation.

Mikerin was head of Tenam Corp., a U.S.-based subsidiary of Moscow-based Tenax, the supplier and exporter for Russian uranium to nuclear power companies. Tenax was aligned with Rosatom, the Russian energy company, at the time Rosatom acquired Uranium One.

Daren Condrey of Glenwood, Maryland, also pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiring to commit wire fraud. Boris Rubizhevsky of Closter, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Justice Department press release explained:

According to court documents, between 2004 and October 2014, Mikerin conspired with Condrey, Rubizhevsky and others to transmit funds from Maryland and elsewhere in the United States to offshore shell company bank accounts located in Cyprus, Latvia and Switzerland. Mikerin admitted the funds were transmitted with the intent to promote a corrupt payment scheme that violated the FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act]. Specifically, he admitted that the corrupt payments were made by conspirators to influence Mikerin and to secure improper business advantages for U.S. companies that did business with TENEX. …

According to court documents, over the course of the scheme, Mikerin conspired with Condrey, Rubizhevsky and others to transfer approximately $2,126,622 from the United States to offshore shell company bank accounts.

Hosko, the former FBI official, said he doesn’t believe the bureau’s past investigation would pose a conflict for Rosenstein, Sessions’ No. 2 at the Justice Department.

Hosko also said he doesn’t think the racketeering case should bear on Mueller’s current investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and suspected collusion between Russians and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, since an FBI director likely wouldn’t be aware of every investigation.

3. How Is the Clinton Foundation Involved?

Conservative author Peter Schweizer’s 2016 book “Clinton Cash,” as well as The New York Times, reported in April 2015 that the Clinton Foundation got millions from investors in Uranium One both before and after the government approved the deal, and the foundation didn’t disclose those donations.

The Clinton Foundation is a 20-year-old nonprofit charitable organization run by the former president along with his wife, Hillary, and their daughter, Chelsea.

After initially making denials, several days after the Times story appeared the Clinton Foundation issued a statement acknowledging that it had made a mistake:

Like every contributor to the Foundation, the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada) is publicly listed as a donor on our website. But as it is a distinct Canadian organization, separate from the Clinton Foundation, its individual donors are not listed on the site. … So yes, we made mistakes, as many organizations of our size do, but we are acting quickly to remedy them, and have taken steps to ensure they don’t happen in the future.

As widely reported, Bill Clinton spoke at a Moscow conference organized by the Russia-based Renaissance Capital Group, collecting $500,000 for the appearance.

Clinton made the speech shortly after the Rosatom-Uranium One merger was announced in June, but before U.S. government officials approved it in October. Renaissance Capital Group reportedly had “talked up Uranium One’s stock.”

4. What’s the Case for a Special Counsel Probe?

Sessions told the House Judiciary Committee during testimony Tuesday that the Justice Department is reviewing requests from Congress to name a special counsel to investigate Uranium One and other legal questions surrounding Hillary Clinton.

However, the attorney general insisted a legal process exists to determine whether an independent investigator is needed.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., for one, is losing patience.

“I have been calling for three and a half months for an investigation on Uranium One and the Obama-Clinton era scandals, and have now reached the point that I am done with the DOJ’s smoke and mirrors,” Gaetz said in a written statement Thursday. “The time has come for Jeff Sessions to name a special counsel and get answers for the American people, or step down from his position as the attorney general.”

Conservative groups also strongly advocate an independent investigation, regarding not only Hillary Clinton but other Obama administration officials.

“The Obama administration cover-ups need to be investigated and exposed. This one is a no-brainer,” Jenny Beth Martin, chairwoman of the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, told The Daily Signal in an email. “In a nutshell, the American people need to know whether or not Robert Mueller—then the FBI director—and Rod Rosenstein—then a U.S. attorney—told the committee of senior Obama administration officials about the FBI’s yearslong investigation into Uranium One that included allegations of kickbacks, bribery, and money laundering.”

Martin continued:

Those officials, who eventually decided to approve the sale of 20 percent of America’s uranium reserves to the Russians, needed that information before voting to approve the deal. Those officials included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder. If they weren’t told about the [FBI] investigation, why not? If they were told, why did they approve a deal they should’ve certainly nixed? Either way, some big names are in hot water and either way, President Obama had to know.

It would benefit the public to have a fact-finding process, Hosko said, although the former assistant FBI director added that he agrees with the caution expressed by Sessions.

Hosko said the first step is establishing that a crime might have been committed.

“Second, if there is a crime to investigate, has the statute of limitations run out?” Hosko continued. “Third, is there some reason the Department of Justice or the FBI is disabled from conducting the investigation?”

5. Does a National Security Threat Exist?

Uranium, as a nuclear fuel, could be weaponized. However, under the rules of the deal, the Uranium One merger with the Kremlin-backed company Rosatom may not pose a national security threat, based on what the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has stated.

At the time, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said of two Uranium One facilities in Wyoming that “no uranium produced at either facility may be exported.”

In June 2015, the nuclear commission determined that Uranium One could export uranium from the Wyoming sites to Canada. The agency explained that Canada, where the mining company is headquartered, must obtain U.S. government approval to ship U.S. uranium to any country other than the United States.

The commission also said that “no Uranium One Inc.-produced uranium has been shipped directly to Russia and the U.S. government has not authorized any country to re-transfer U.S. uranium to Russia.”

The United States is home to 1 percent of the world’s uranium reserves, while Russia has 9 percent, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Uranium is significant because the metal is the primary fuel for nuclear energy power plants and is used in some regions of the world to produce electricity. Canada has the highest grade uranium in the world, while Australia has the greatest quantity.

6. What About the Congressional Probes?

In late October, the two House committees announced plans to investigate.

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the inquiry would focus on:

… regulatory approvals related to the U.S. uranium industry, foreign donations seeking to curry favor and influence with U.S. officials, whether a federal nuclear bribery probe developed evidence of wrongdoing connected to the Uranium One mining company, and Department of Justice criminal and counterintelligence investigations into bribery, extortion, and other related matters connected to Russian acquisition of U.S. uranium.

The two committees sent letters Tuesday to the FBI, the Treasury Department, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the State Department.

The House intelligence committee’s investigation is led by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the emerging threats subcommittee, and the oversight panel’s inquiry is led by Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., chairman of the national security subcommittee.

Democrats Turn on Franken Over Groping Allegations

Democrats lashed out at Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., Thursday after Los Angeles TV and radio host Leeann Tweeden accused him of kissing and groping her during a USO tour in 2006, with at least two female lawmakers pledging to return campaign funds raised for them by Franken’s political action committee.

Leaders of both parties in the Senate called for an ethics investigation of Franken, a request echoed by the senator himself, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

“The allegations brought forth are extremely disturbing,” Perez said in a statement. “Sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault are never acceptable, no matter one’s party or politics. The Senate should immediately begin an ethics investigation into Senator Franken’s conduct.”

Pelosi said any “credible allegation” should be subject to an ethics probe, telling Fox News “We are at a watershed moment and now is the time for Congress to overhaul how it deals with the issue of sexual harassment.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., went a step further, tweeting that she had donated $30,000 in campaign contributions from Franken’s Midwest Values PAC to food banks in her home state.

McCaskill said she was “shocked and concerned” by Tweeden’s allegations against Franken, who was elected to the Senate in 2008.

“Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct,” McCaskill’s statement added.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., announced that she planned to donate $20,000 raised by Franken’s PAC to a group working on behalf of female veterans in the state.

“This type of behavior isn’t acceptable whether it’s from a Democrat or a Republican or an independent,” Baldwin, who is up for re-election next year, told MSNBC in an interview.

Another prominent Democratic woman, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, reportedly planned to donate $12,500 in campaign funds to Protect our Defenders, a nonprofit group dedicated to combating sexual assault in the military.

“The allegations against Sen. Franken are deeply concerning,” Gillibrand posted on Twitter. “This kind of behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated anywhere in our society. There is nothing funny about it and there is no excuse for it.”

Franken’s fellow Minnesota Democrat, Amy Klobuchar, said, “This should not have happened to Leeann Tweeden. I strongly condemn this behavior, and the Senate Ethics Committee must open an investigation.”

A spokeswoman for Klobuchar, who has received at least $15,000 from Midwest Values PAC, did not immediately respond to queries from Fox News about the senator’s plans for the money.

In a series of statements, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), singled out eleven Democratic senators and called on them to return their donations from Midwest Values PAC.

“If [senator’s last name] won’t immediately denounce Franken and return his donations, it will be clear [he or she] puts partisan politics over basic decency,” each statement read.

The senators named by the NRSC were McCaskill; Baldwin; Joe Manchin of West Virginia; Jon Tester of Montana; Tim Kaine of Virginia; Joe Donnelly of Indiana, to whom the NRSC referred as “Mexico Joe”; Debbie Stabenow of Michigan; Bob Casey of Pennsylvania; Bill Nelson of Florida; Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Of the eleven, only McCaskill and Baldwin had announced plans to return the money Thursday evening.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

House Passes Republican Tax Reduction Bill

The House on Thursday passed a sweeping tax bill largely along party lines that makes good on a Republican campaign promise to reform the country’s tax code.

The House bill passed 227-205.

But the future of the Senate version, which includes a repeal of ObamaCare’s individual mandate, is still very much up in the air.

While the “Tax Cut and Jobs Act” was pitched as a plan to help middle income Americans, the final version scaled back many popular deductions while cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. It also collapsed tax brackets to four from seven.

Republicans aggressively marketed their plan as something that would benefit everyone but critics said much of the financial gains would go to the wealthiest Americans and big corporations.

New York Rep. Pete King, one of the most ardent opponents of the proposal, called the House bill “an unforced error,” and suggested it could come back to bite Republicans in next year’s midterm elections.

Ahead of the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed it as “a tax hike on 36 million middle class familiar that is dead on arrival in the Senate.”

The Senate version, which is working its way through the Finance Committee this week, is facing a lot of obstacles, including pushback from GOP senators.

Earlier Thursday, President Trump visited Capitol Hill to meet with House Republicans ahead of the vote.

“He told us that we have this once-in-a lifetime opportunity to do something really bold, and he reminded us that is why we seek these offices,” Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said of Trump’s closed-door pep rally. “And here we are on the cusp of getting something really important done.”

Some House Republicans spoke warily of what might happen to the tax bill in the Senate.

“Political survival depends on us doing this,” said Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D. “Frankly, one of the things that scares me a little bit is that they’re going to screw up the bill to the point we can’t pass it.”

The House measure would collapse today’s seven personal income-tax rates into four: 12, 25, 35 and 39.6 percent. The Senate would have seven rates: 10, 12, 23, 24, 32, 35 and 38.5 percent.

Both bills would nearly double the standard deduction to around $12,000 for individuals and about $24,000 for married couples and dramatically boost the current $1,000 per-child tax credit.

Each plan would erase the current $4,050 personal exemption and annul or reduce other tax breaks. The House would limit interest deductions to $500,000 in the value of future home mortgages, down from today’s $1 million, while the Senate would end deductions for moving expenses and tax preparation.

Each measure would repeal the alternative minimum tax paid by higher-earning people. The House measure would reduce and ultimately repeal the tax paid on the largest inheritances, while the Senate would limit that levy to fewer estates.

Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bitter Hillary Unloads on Trump DOJ as Possible Uranium One, Clinton Foundation Probes Loom

Clinton calls Uranium One story a ‘distraction,’ warns of dictatorship

Hillary Clinton on Wednesday slammed what she described as the “politicization of the Justice Department” after reports that the Trump administration was considering a special counsel to probe the Uranium One deal and alleged conflicts with the Clinton Foundation.

President Trump has criticized the uranium deal and suggested that Clinton, who served as U.S. secretary of state in the Obama administration, may be implicated in wrongdoing.

But in an interview with Mother Jones, Clinton claimed that the Uranium One story has been “debunked” a number of times and that the Trump administration was merely using the story as a distraction.

“And if they send a signal that we’re going to be like some dictatorship, some authoritarian regimen where political opponents are going to be unfairly, fraudulently investigated — that rips at the fabric of the contract we have that we can trust our justice system,” she said.

Trump and his supporters have accused Clinton of overseeing the sale of 20 percent of America’s uranium supply to Russia. They see her alleged role as a scandal, particularly amid charges the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.

Allegations also have been made that the approval of the sale of Uranium One benefited major donors to the Clinton Foundation, raising conflict-of-interest questions.

Fox News reported exclusively Tuesday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate “certain issues” requested by congressional Republicans, involving the sale of Uranium One and alleged unlawful dealings related to the Clinton Foundation, leaving the door open for an appointment of another special counsel.

The alleged relationship between the approval of the sale and the Clinton Foundation was first raised in 2015 by conservative author Peter Schweizer. He and others have pointed to some of the investors in the deal and their ties to former President Bill Clinton and his foundation.

In April 2015, The New York Times published an article echoing much of the Schweizer book, including one sensational contention that not long after the Russians said they wanted to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Bill Clinton received $500,000 for a speech in Moscow. The speech was paid for by a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin as it promoted Uranium One stock.

Canadian financier Frank Giustra, a top Clinton Foundation donor, sold his company, UrAsia, to Uranium One, which was chaired by Ian Telfer, also a Clinton Foundation donor. Giustra has said he sold his stake in the deal in 2007, while Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were vying for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

PolitiFact found that the majority of the donations from individuals related to Uranium One and UrAsia were made before and during Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign — but before she became secretary of state in 2009.

FoxNews.com/The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trump Assist: President Gets 3 UCLA Athletes Released From China

3 UCLA basketball players return to US after being detained in China for allegedly shoplifting

UCLA basketball players LiAngelo Ball, left, and Cody Riley, were two of the three players detained in China after being accused of shoplifting. (AP)

Three UCLA basketball players who were arrested in China for allegedly shoplifting while their team was in the country for a tournament last week were released and placed on a flight home Tuesday, Fox News confirmed.

UCLA Men’s Basketball players LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were arrested after being accused of stealing designer sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store next to the team’s hotel in Hangzhou. They boarded a plane on Tuesday and are headed back to Los Angeles. The rest of the team flew back last Saturday.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Tuesday the matter “has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities.”

President Trump personally asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help resolve the case during his visit to Beijing last week, Fox News confirmed. Scott thanked Trump, the White House and the State Department for their efforts in resolving what he called “the incident with authorities in Hangzhou, China.” He indicated UCLA made “significant efforts” on behalf of its three players.

The team was playing their season-opening game against Georgia Tech in Shanghai on Saturday. They won the game 63-60.

It’s unclear if the players would be playing in Wednesday night’s home opener against Central Arkansas. They are expected to make a statement after they arrive in Los Angeles.

FoxNews.com/The Associated Press contributed to this report.

NPR Legal Reporter Criticizes Gorsuch for Citing the Constitution

The newest Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, has made headlines since joining the court last spring—and not just for his written opinions. Pedantic. Boorish and juvenile. Annoying. In his colleagues’ faces. These are some of the harsh things liberal Court watchers have had to say about Gorsuch.

It’s hard to square these comments with the outpouring of support Gorsuch received from former clerks, classmates, and others after he was nominated to the Supreme Court earlier this year. Just watch a few minutes of this speech by Mark Hansen, Gorsuch’s former law partner, who was close to tears at the end, talking about what an honorable, decent (and whip smart) friend and colleague he has been:

But the left would have you believe otherwise.

In a recent episode of the Supreme Court podcast “First Mondays,” NPR’s legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg took aim at Gorsuch. First in her crosshairs was his habit of frequently citing the Constitution. She objected to Gorsuch bringing things back to first principles at oral argument. He often prefaces his questions by saying, “Let’s look at what the Constitution says about this … It’s always a good place to start.” This should come as no surprise.

When rumors were swirling about potential Supreme Court nominees in late 2016, a former Gorsuch clerk wrote on Yale’s Notice & Comment blog: “Whenever a constitutional issue came up in our cases, he sent one of his clerks on a deep dive through the historical sources. ‘We need to get this right,’ was the memo—and right meant ‘as originally understood.’”

As a member of the Supreme Court, Gorsuch is putting these principles into practice and fulfilling his commitment to faithfully interpret the Constitution according to its original public meaning.

And that’s not all Totenberg had to say about Gorsuch. She claimed there is a rift on the court between Gorsuch and Justice Elena Kagan. Here’s what she said:

My surmise, from what I’m hearing, is that Justice Kagan really has taken [Gorsuch] on in conference. And that it’s a pretty tough battle and it’s going to get tougher. And she is about as tough as they come, and I am not sure he’s as tough—or dare I say it, maybe not as smart. I always thought he was very smart, but he has a tin ear somehow, and he doesn’t seem to bring anything new to the conversation.

First, I’m highly skeptical of someone purporting to know what happened when the court met in conference. The justices are notoriously secretive about these meetings—not even law clerks are allowed in the room. During conference, the justices discuss cases following oral argument and cast their initial votes in conference, though they sometimes change after draft opinions have been circulated. This is precisely the time for the justices to debate the issues in a case.

Second, Totenberg’s assertion that Gorsuch is “maybe not as smart” as she thought is off base. Anyone who has read his speeches or his written opinions—either from his time on the appeals court or his first two months on the Supreme Court—can see why that is patently false. The Columbia-Harvard-Oxford-educated judge weaves literary references into his opinions and writes in a clear, concise manner that’s easy for lawyers and lay people alike to understand.

Totenberg also said she hears Gorsuch “doesn’t believe in precedent”—which is likely motivated by a concern that he would overturn cases liberals like if given the chance. This same issue came up during his confirmation hearing, when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., grilled Gorsuch about his views on the “superprecedent” status of Roe v. Wade. During the hearing, Gorsuch explained several factors that judges weigh when deciding whether an old decision is still good law.

He even wrote a book on this topic, along with 11 other judges and leading lexicographer Bryan Garner. And he’s given every indication that he’ll follow the Supreme Court’s guideposts for when to overrule or uphold a past decision. It’s also worth mentioning that, even if he disagreed with a past decision, Gorsuch can’t singlehandedly overturn precedents like Roe v. Wade. If an appropriate case came before the court, a majority of the justices would need to agree.

Gorsuch rubs Totenberg the wrong way—and she isn’t the only one.

At the start of the court’s current term, Jeffrey Toobin wrote an article for The New Yorker taking issue with Gorsuch “dominat[ing] oral arguments, when new Justices are expected to hang back” and writing dissents in his first couple months on the job.

Toobin highlighted a case involving statutory interpretation where Gorsuch dissented from the majority’s reading of the statute. Gorsuch wrote, “If a statute needs repair, there’s a constitutionally prescribed way to do it. It’s called legislation.” What Toobin objected to are basic functions of the job—if justices aren’t to ask questions at argument or write separately when they disagree with the majority, what are they supposed to do?

In an article in The New York Times over the summer, Linda Greenhouse—who referred to Gorsuch as “the justice who holds the seat that should have been Merrick Garland’s”—said the new justice violated the court’s unwritten rules and norms and “morph[ed]… quickly into Donald Trump’s life-tenured judicial avatar.” This gets to the heart of the problem.

According to the left, Gorsuch shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court, and Trump shouldn’t be in the White House. In other words, these criticisms of Gorsuch can be explained as simply another iteration of the resistance movement.

But Gorsuch isn’t going anywhere. The apoplectic left better get used to him sparring with the other justices, asking questions, writing fiery dissents, and generally returning to first principles.

By Elizabeth Slattery / /

ABC, CBS, NBC Initially Fail to Cover Donna Brazile’s Claim That the DNC Rigged Primary for Clinton

Three major news networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC— failed to cover on their nightly news programs Thursday the explosive allegations from Donna Brazile that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) rigged the 2016 Democratic primary in Hillary Clinton’s favor.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – JULY 26: on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the number of votes needed to secure the party’s nomination. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Brazile claimed in an excerpt from her soon-to-be-released book that Clinton’s campaign had control over the DNC’s pocketbook and strategy in exchange for paying down the Party’s 2012 presidential campaign debt, explaining that the Party skewed the primary in Clinton’s favor through backroom financial deals so she could easily beat Bernie Sanders.

Despite these bombshell allegations, ABC, CBS, and NBC did not cover these revelations on their evening newscasts, even though the excerpt, taken from Brazile’s new book Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House, had been published more than 12 hours prior.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) spoke about the DNC rigging scandal on CNN at 4:40 p.m. Eastern, but ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS’s Evening News, and NBC Nightly News did not feature any segment about the subject on their 6:30 p.m. Eastern programs.

Instead, CBS broadcast a segment on the Niger ambush, while ABC and NBC led off with segments on President Trump’s proposed tax cut.

Trump called out the three networks for not giving any airtime to the DNC rigging revelations:

Media watchdog organizations, such as the Media Research Center, took notice of the networks’ failure to cover Brazile’s allegations.

Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor told Fox News:

The Donna Brazile story is astonishing. The media loves to tell stories of Republican discord. Here’s the woman who was the interim head of the DNC saying Bernie Sanders got screwed by the party and Team Clinton. No matter how much the media wants to hide that, it’s a huge issue and will impact future elections.

Brazile took over as interim chairperson of the DNC in July 2016 after party insiders ousted Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) as chair on the evening before the DNC convention in Philadelphia.

After Fox News and CNN aired segments about Brazile’s DNC rigging claims and the president tweeted about the subject, CBS and NBC published stories on their websites Friday afternoon about the matter. ABC published a story about it Friday night.

Democratic Party Rocked by Bombshell Claims, Infighting

Still reeling from Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump in last year’s presidential election and wondering how to move forward, the schism within the Democratic Party appears to have widened even more in the wake of the bombshell claims made Thursday by a former interim party boss.

The allegations by Donna Brazile not only asserted that the Democratic National Committee helped rig last year’s presidential primary in favor of Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, but also raised a number of troubling questions as the party attempts to regroup ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

Are Brazile’s revelations the first shots in a virtual civil war between the Democratic establishment faithful to the Clintons and a growing progressive wing represented by lawmakers like Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren? Is this the final nail in the coffin for Clinton’s influence within the Democratic Party? Will this scandal linger into 2020 when the party challengesTrump for the White House?

“This is standard in politics when you don’t have the presidency because there is nobody in charge of the party,” Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor, told Fox News. “You’re going to have an all-out battle and a new voice will eventually emerge.”

Finding out who that voice is and when it will emerge appears, for the time being, to be a long way away as the fallout from Brazile’s claims reverberate throughout the Democratic Party.

“It was obviously a shocking revelation,” Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN on Friday. “”It was pretty clear that they were on the Clinton side … I don’t think any of us imagined that there was actually a formal arrangement giving the Clinton campaign control of the DNC.”

In her new book – excerpts of which were published on Politico – Brazile writes that the DNC signed a joint fundraising agreement document with the Hillary Victory Fund and Hillary for America. It had been signed in August 2015, four months after Clinton announced her candidacy and a year before she officially secured the nomination over Sanders.

“The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised,” Brazile wrote. “Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff.”

Defenders of Clinton have noted that the Sanders’ campaign also signed its own joint fundraising agreement with the DNC during the campaign season.

Clinton Southbank London

Brazile took over as the interim DNC chairman in 2016 when Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced out as chairman over emails that indicated the party organization unfairly favored Clinton over Sanders during the primary.

DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa, who works under current DNC chairman Tom Perez, told Fox News that the party “must remain neutral in the presidential primary process, and there shouldn’t even be a perception that the DNC is interfering in that process.” But it appears the damage has been done.

Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii said Brazile’s revelations confirmed “what many suspected for a long time” and added that the “deep financial debt, closed door decision-making, complete lack of transparency, and unethical practices are now front and center.”

Gabbard’s statement was preceded by a video earlier in this week in which she slammed Perez for a recent overhaul of the party’s executive committee, which she said was intended “to cast out those who haven’t fallen in line with the establishment and who are actually demanding real reform.”

Massachusetts’ Warren, who campaigned for Clinton during the presidential campaign and is rumored to be eyeing a run herself in 2020, said “yes” when asked if the campaign was rigged and called it “a real problem.”

“But what we’ve got to do as Democrats now, is we’ve got to hold this party accountable,” she said, according to the BBC.

Trump weighed in on social media on the mounting scandal and said the American public “deserves” an inquiry, while lashing out at Clinton in a series of tweets.

FoxNews.com/Alex Pappas contributed reporting to this story. 

Islamic Terror Attack in Manhattan Kills 8, Injures 9; Suspect in Custody

At least 8 people are dead after a driver barreled into a bike path and crashed a rental pickup truck into a crowd in Lower Manhattan Tuesday afternoon, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” law enforcement sources tell Fox News and The Associated Press.

Another nine people were injured, authorities said. Police tweeted that one person — who police shot twice — has been taken into custody and is expected to survive. Police added that there are “no others outstanding.”

NYPD shooting photo

The NYPD is responding to reports of a shooting in Lower Manhattan Tuesday, a few blocks from the World Trade Center Memorial.  (New York Police Department)

FBI officials confirmed to Fox News that they have agents responding to the situation “with NYPD.” A bomb squad is also on scene examining a vehicle.

A law enforcement source said the suspect had two weapons, believed to be a paintball gun and a B.B. gun.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been briefed on the situation, and is at the scene. The mayor’s press secretary tweeted there was “NO active threat.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted he has “been briefed with preliminary information on the situation in Lower Manhattan and am heading to the scene.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump been briefed on the incident. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also been briefed.

One witness who passed the scene while on the West Side Highway said he saw several peple bleeding on the ground and a truck hit several people. Another witness told The Associated Press the truck had collided with a small bus and another vehicle.

A school photographer nearby said he peeked around the corner, where he saw a thin man in a blue track suit running and holding a gun. He claimed he saw a heavier man chasing after him.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson and Rick Leventhal and The Associated Press contributed to this report. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

North Korea’s Mountain Nuclear Site Collapsed, Killing at Least 200

200 feared dead after tunnel collapses at North Korean nuclear test site, Japanese TV claims

About 200 people are feared dead in North Korea after underground tunnels at a nuclear test site that was feared to be unstable reportedly collapsed, crushing 100 people in the initial cave-in and 100 others when the tunnels again gave way on top of rescuers.

The collapse at the Punggye-ri test site on Oct. 10 occurred while people were doing construction on the underground tunnel, Japan’s Asahi TV reported, citing a source in North Korea. The television station also said North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 most likely caused the tunnel to crumble and created serious damage in the region.

No officials have confirmed the Japanese TV station’s claims, but experts have feared for more than a month that the test site was on the verge of crumbling since the nuclear blast. North Korea said it detonated a hydrogen bomb, calling it a “perfect success.” It was the country’s most powerful bomb tested to date and the blast was reportedly 10 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb that was dropped over Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

Japan Meteorological Agency's earthquake and tsunami observations division director Toshiyuki Matsumori speaks in front of a screen showing the seismic event that was indicated on North Korea and observed in Japan, during a news conference at the Japan Meteorological Agency in Tokyo, Japan, September 3, 2017, following the earthquake felt in North Korea and believed to be a nuclear test. REUTERS/Toru Hanai - RC19ECC1F430

Japan Meteorological Agency’s earthquake and tsunami observations division director Toshiyuki Matsumori speaks in front of a screen showing the seismic event that was indicated in North Korea and observed in Japan.  (Reuters)

The test triggered a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that day and multiple tremors have been detected from the area since then. Satellite images obtained by 38 North, which specializes in North Korea issues, showed several landslides occurred after the Sept. 3 test. Also a possible “collapse chimney crater” was seen on Mount Mantap, possibly caused by the underground tests.

It’s unclear if the mountain will collapse in the near future, but the report said there was “significant cracking” and “irreversible strain” on the land because of the nuclear test.

Some experts also said Mantap was suffering from “tired mountain syndrome” due to the stress on the ground, the Washington Post reported. Chinese scientists have also warned the mountain could collapse and release radiation. Radioactive xenon-133 was detected in South Korea after the test.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance with Ri Hong Sop (2nd L) and Hong Sung Mu ( 2nd R) on a nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. - RC173054AEE0

Kim Jong Un inspects what North Korea claims to be a nuclear warhead. The photos were released the same day North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in September.  (Reuters)

Additionally on Tuesday, North Korea rebuked Trump and the U.S., saying “the Trump group’s vicious vituperation against the DPRK is an expression of their frustration, fear and horror,” according to a statement released by state-run Korean Central News Agency. The day before, the Hermit Kingdom blamed Trump’s “extreme, direct and long threats” for driving them to obtain “complete nuclear deterrence.”

“The U.S. has to ponder over the possible consequences,” the statement said.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam

Paul Manafort, Rick Gates to Surrender to Special Counsel

DEVELOPING:

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates were reportedly told to surrender to federal authorities on charges including tax fraud as part of the special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign officials during the 2016 presidential election.

According to The New York Times, Manafort and Gates will face the first charges in the special counsel’s investigation, though the charges are not immediately clear.

Manafort is expected in federal court in Washington, D.C. on Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal. The indictment is expected to be unsealed later Monday.

Gates is a longtime associate of Manafort. According to the Times, his name appeared on documents linked to companies that Manafort’s firm created in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe.

The special counsel’s office declined to comment to Fox News on the report.

White House lawyer Ty Cobb told Fox News he had no comment on the report at this time.

It was widely speculated that Manafort would receive the first charges in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Manafort has been investigated for his dealings in Ukraine several years ago, for which he did not register as a foreign agent until June 2017.

Top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said on ABC News’  “This Week” that the indictment could come for either Manafort, or former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

But House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said on “Fox News Sunday” that it was unclear who would be charged.

“We don’t know who’s being charged…We don’t know what they are being charged for. We don’t know the time period,” Gowdy said Sunday, adding that “It’s kind of ironic that the people charged with investigating the law and executing the law would violate the law.”

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort surrendered to federal authorities Monday morning, after a person close to the case said the first charges were filed in a special counsel investigation.

The charges against Mr. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman were not immediately clear but represent a significant escalation in a special counsel investigation that has cast a shadow over the president’s first year in office. Also charged was Mr. Manafort’s former business associate Rick Gates, who was also told to surrender.

Mr. Manafort walked into the F.B.I.’s field office in Washington about 8:15 a.m. with his lawyer.

Mr. Gates is a longtime protégé and junior partner of Mr. Manafort. His name appears on documents linked to companies that Mr. Manafort’s firm set up in Cyprus to receive payments from politicians and businesspeople in Eastern Europe, records reviewed by The New York Times show.

Mr. Manafort had been under investigation for violations of federal tax law, money laundering and whether he appropriately disclosed his foreign lobbying.

Attempts to reach Mr. Gates on Monday were not successful. A spokesman for Mr. Manafort did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

When the campaign chairman you sought to lead ends up in jail, it speaks to the campaign itself, the relationship, the prior relationship,…

Mr. Manafort has expected charges since this summer, when F.B.I. agents raided his home and prosecutors warned him that they planned to indict him. That warning raised speculation that Mr. Manafort might try to cut a deal to avoid prosecution.

Mr. Trump’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, said there were no concerns that Mr. Manafort would offer damaging information about the president in exchange for a deal.

Some close to Mr. Manafort, including his former business partner Roger J. Stone Jr., have said he had nothing to offer that would help prosecutors build a case against Mr. Trump.

“He’s not going to lie,” Mr. Stone said in September.

Mr. Manafort, a veteran Republican strategist, joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 to help keep delegates from breaking with Mr. Trump in favor of establishment Republican candidates. Mr. Trump soon promoted him to chairman and chief strategist, a job that gave him control over day-to-day operations of the campaign.

But Mr. Trump fired Mr. Manafort just months later, after reports that he received more than $12 million in undisclosed payments from Viktor F. Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president and a pro-Russia politician. Mr. Manafort spent years as a political consultant for Mr. Yanukovych.

American intelligence agencies have concluded that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia launched a stealth campaign of hacking and propaganda to try to damage Hillary Clinton and help Mr. Trump win the election. The Justice Department appointed Robert S. Mueller III as special counsel in May to lead the investigation into the Russian operations and to determine whether anyone around Mr. Trump was involved.

Mr. Trump has denied any such collusion, and no evidence has surfaced publicly to contradict him. At the same time, Mr. Trump and his advisers this year repeatedly denied any contacts with Russians during the campaign, only to have journalists uncover one undisclosed meeting after another.

The New York Times revealed in July that Mr. Manafort and others close to Mr. Trump met with Russians last year, on the promise of receiving damaging political information about Mrs. Clinton.

President Fires on Fusion, Uranium One and Hillary Scandals as Mueller Preps ‘Collusion’ Announcement

President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he walks to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump on Sunday said the lack of investigation into the Clinton campaign spending a reported $12 million on a dossier crafted during the 2016 presidential race to smear him has sparked unprecedented “anger and unity” among fellow Republicans.

“Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?),” Trump said first in a series of tweets.

The president tweeted after South Carolina GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight committee, told “Fox News Sunday” that his concerns about Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign purportedly paying a law firm at least $10 million for the dossier, which was to be used as Trump opposition research.

“I’m interested in that … laundering money through a law firm,” Gowdy said.

In the series of tweets Sunday, the president again attempted to make the larger case that Washington and the rest of the country is consumed by the Justice Department’s special counsel probe into whether Trump associates colluded with Russia during the White House race, amid similar issues related to Democrats and others.

“The Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia,” Trump tweeted following news reports earlier this weekend that special counsel Robert Mueller now has federal grand jury charges in the Russia investigation that could be made public as early as Monday.

Congressional investigators are in fact looking into new details about an Obama-era Uranium deal with connections to Russia and perhaps Clinton when she was secretary of State. The FBI investigated her use of private email servers and deleted emails when she ran the State Department.

However, then-FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump recently fired, concluded the server-email investigation without recommending criminal charges.

“The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s … are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!,” Trump also said.

FoxNews.com

Kimberley Strassel: The Fusion GPS Bombshells Have Just Begun to Drop

The confirmation this week that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid an opposition-research firm for a “dossier” on Donald Trump is bombshell news. More bombshells are to come.

The Fusion GPS saga isn’t over. The Clinton-DNC funding is but a first glimpse into the shady election doings concealed within that oppo-research firm’s walls. We now know where Fusion got some of its cash, but the next question is how the firm used it. With whom did it work beyond former British spy Christopher Steele ? Whom did it pay? Who else was paying it?

This probe of the Democratic Party’s Russian dalliance has a long, long way to go.

The answers are in Fusion’s bank records. Fusion has doggedly refused to divulge the names of its clients for months now, despite extraordinary pressure. So why did the firm suddenly insist that middleman law firm Perkins Coie release Fusion from confidentiality agreements, and spill the beans on who hired it?

Because there’s something Fusion cares about keeping secret even more than the Clinton-DNC news—and that something is in those bank records. The release of the client names was a last-ditch effort to appease the House Intelligence Committee, which issued subpoenas to Fusion’s bank and was close to obtaining records until Fusion filed suit last week. The release was also likely aimed at currying favor with the court, given Fusion’s otherwise weak legal case. The judge could rule as early as Friday morning. . .

Keep reading Kimberley Strassel’s column in the Wall Street Journal. >>

Kimberley Strassel writes the Potomac Watch column for the Wall Street Journal where she is a member of the editorial board. Her latest book is “The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech” (Twelve, 2016).  Follow her on Twitter @KimStrassel.

 

Released JFK Assassination Documents Reveal New Info

The highly-anticipated release of long-secret documents detailing the investigation into the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy have provided fresh fodder to fuel conspiracy theories surrounding the controversial death of the former commander in chief.

President Trump on Thursday released the trove of records, however, the collection was incomplete, with some records being held back. Trump cited “potentially irreversible harm” to national security if he were to allow all records to come out now. He placed the remaining files under a six-month review, but released 2,891 others, racing to honor a deadline mandating their release.

On Nov. 22, 1963, Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas by, authorities contend, a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 1963 file photo, President John F. Kennedy waves from his car in a motorcade in Dallas. Riding with Kennedy are First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, right, Nellie Connally, second from left, and her husband, Texas Gov. John Connally, far left.  President Donald Trump, on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017,  says he plans to release thousands of never-seen government documents related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination.  (AP Photo/Jim Altgens, File)

John F. Kennedy waves from his car during the motorcade in Dallas before he was shot and killed.  (AP)

But a segment of the public never bought into the official explanation of Kennedy’s assassination, citing video clips, interviews and science experiments in an attempt to prove Oswald, who was himself assassinated two days after Kennedy, did not act alone.

JFK FILES: FROM 2ND SHOOTER TO MEXICO TRIP, TOP QUESTIONS ASSASSINATION DOCUMENTS COULD ANSWER

The files released Thursday show the aftermath of Kennedy’s death included then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover venting his frustration about Oswald’s killing at the hands of Jack Ruby, bellowing that the shooting would cause the public to suspect a conspiracy, NBC News reported.

“There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead,” Hoover said. “The thing I am concerned about, and so is [deputy attorney general] Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin.”

Hoover reported the FBI received a call from the Dallas office stating the caller was part of a cabal “organized to kill Oswald.”

Hoover said he relayed that warning to Dallas police and was assured Oswald would be protected. However, Oswald was shot dead the next day by Jack Ruby.

“Oswald having been killed today after our warnings to the Dallas Police Department was inexcusable,” Hoover said. “It will allow, I am afraid, a lot of civil rights people to raise a lot of hell because he was handcuffed and had no weapon. There are bound to be some elements of our society who will holler their heads off that his civil rights were violated — which they were.”

FILE - In this Nov. 23, 1963, file photo, surrounded by detectives, Lee Harvey Oswald talks to the media as he is led down a corridor of the Dallas police station for another round of questioning in connection with the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. President Donald Trump is caught in a push-pull on new details of Kennedy’s assassination, jammed between students of the killing who want every scrap of information and intelligence agencies that are said to be counseling restraint.  How that plays out should be known on Oct. 26, 2017, when long-secret files are expected to be released. (AP Photo)

Authorities say Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman responsible for John F. Kennedy’s death.  (AP)

Hoover suggested that “instead of a Presidential Commission, we can do it with a Justice Department report based on an FBI report.”

Hoover’s suggestion went nowhere. President Lyndon B. Johnson established the Warren Commission to investigate the assassination the following week.

JFK FILES: ‘BIG NEWS’ COMING, BRITISH REPORTER WAS TOLD BEFORE SHOTS FIRED 

In 1964, the Warren Commission concluded Oswald and Ruby acted alone in their assasinations. No other blame was put on other organizations, actors or foreign governments.

Johnson was mentioned in the files as well. The Soviet Union believed Kennedy’s vice president was behind the assassination, the New York Post reported. The Societs also feared they would be blamed for the slaying and attacked in retaliation.

In a Dec. 1, 1966 FBI memo, sources said the KGB, the world’s largest “spy and state-security machine” claimed they had “possession of data purporting to indicate President Johnson was responsible for the assassination of the late President John F. Kennedy.”

The memo, titled: “REACTION OF SOVIET AND COMMUNIST PARTY OFFICIALS TO JFK ASSASSINATION” was sent to Hoover.

Part of a file, dated Nov. 24, 1963, quoting FBI director J. Edgar Hoover as he talks about the death of Lee Harvey Oswald, released for the first time on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017,  is photographed in Washington. The public is getting a look at thousands of secret government files related to President John F. Kennedy's assassination, but hundreds of other documents will remain under wraps for now. The government was required by Thursday to release the final batch of files related to Kennedy's assassination in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. But President Donald Trump delayed the release of some of the files, citing security concerns. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)

The files on President John F. Kennedy’s killing were released on Oct 26, 2017.  (AP)

“KGB headquarters indicated that in view of this information, it was necessary for the Soviet Government to know the existing personal relationship between President Johnson and the Kennedy family, particularly that between President Johnson and Robert and ‘Ted’ Kennedy,” the document stated.

The Soviet Union also feared the U.S. would use the assassination to bolster “anti-Soviet sentiment and even lead to an attack.”

Oswald lived in the Soviet Union for three years and married a woman from there. He reportedly had ties to the KGB while in America.

Johnson also believed in conspiracy theories himself, the New York Post reported. Richard Helms, the CIA director under Johnson, said the former president said he believed Kennedy was killed in retaliation for the assassination of South Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem.

Diem was arrested and killed by a CIA-backed coup in Vietnam in 1963.

The files also showed that a British reporter with the Cambridge News received an anonymous phone call prior to the assassination, alerting the reporter to “some big news.”

“The caller said only that the Cambridge News reporter should call the American Embassy in London for some big news and then hung up,” reads the document from former CIA Deputy Director James Angleton.

The reporter, who was not identified in the Nov. 26, 1963, report, “never received a call of this kind before and MI5 said that he is known to them as a sound and loyal person with no security record.” (MI5 is Britain’s Security Service, similar to the CIA in the United States.)

After Kennedy’s death, the reporter told Cambridge police about the call and they informed M15.

This image provided by the Warren commission, shows Warren Commission Exhibit No. 697, President John F. Kennedy at the extreme right on rear seat of his limousine during Dallas, motorcade on Nov. 22, 1963. His wife, Jacqueline, beside him, Gov. John Connally of Texas and his wife were on jump seats in front of the president. President Donald Trump is caught in a push-pull on new details of Kennedy’s assassination, jammed between students of the killing who want every scrap of information and intelligence agencies that are said to be counseling restraint.  How that plays out should be known on Oct. 26, 2017, when long-secret files are expected to be released. (Warren Commission via AP)

A British reporter said he received a phone call promising ‘big news’ prior to the assassination.  (AP)

Despite the new details unleashed by the files, some felt the bath did not have the “smoking gun” many have urged for following the mysterious death. The full record will still be kept from the public for at least six months – and longer if agencies make a persuasive enough case for continued secrecy.

FoxNews.com/The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

BOMBSHELL–Clinton and DNC Paid for Fake Russian Dossier on Trump

Clinton Used Putin Smear Firm to Smear Trump

The controversial dossier containing salacious allegations about President Donald Trump and his possible connections to Russia, including coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, resulted from funding by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee to the firm Fusion GPS, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to Fox News.

Fusion GPS was retained by Marc E. Elias, an attorney representing the DNC and the Clinton campaign, The Washington Post first reported Tuesday. Fusion GPS then reportedly hired former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele to write the now-infamous dossier.

Steele had ties both to the U.S. intelligence community and the FBI.

Prior to the firm being retained in April 2016 by Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, Fusion GPS’s research had been subsidized by an unidentified Republican during the GOP primary.

But the Clinton campaign – and the DNC – saw the research through, funding the firm through the end of October 2016, just days before Trump defeated Clinton in the general election, according to The Post’s reporting.

Steele’s findings and other research were then submitted to Elias via Fusion GPS, The Post reported. The method and the amount of the information that was provided to the campaign and the DNC wasn’t immediately clear. It also wasn’t known who in those organizations knew about the roles of both Steele and Fusion GPS.

Following Trump’s victory, The Post reported, the FBI arranged to pay Steele to proceed with intelligence gathering about both Trump and Russia. That deal was later nixed after the former intelligence officer was identified in news reports.

Perkins Coie was paid $5.6 million in legal fees by the Clinton campaign in a time period ranging from June 2015 to December 2016, The Post reported, citing campaign finance records. The DNC also paid the firm $3.6 million for “legal and compliance consulting” going back to November 2015.

Sources told The Post that neither the Clinton campaign or the DNC specifically directed Steele’s work, labeling the intelligence officer simply as a Fusion GPS subcontractor.

FUSION GPS OFFICIALS TAKE THE FIFTH IN TRUMP DOSSIER INTERVIEW ON CAPITOL HILL

Fusion GPS has recently been in the spotlight of congressional Republicans as they’ve tried to get the firm to reveal those who supported Steele’s work.

Fusion GPS has refused to do so, citing client confidentiality agreements.

Officials with the firm have also invoked their right to refuse to answer questions from the House Intelligence Committee. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., subsequently subpoenaed the firm’s bank records in order to identify the client who subsidized the dossier.

Meanwhile, Glenn Simpson, the Fusion GPS founder, already gave a 10-hour interview to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

TRUMP DOSSIER FIRM’S ‘SMEAR’ TACTICS UNVEILED

The report on the dossier’s funding come just days after the president tweeted about the controversial file. “Officials behind the now discredited ‘Dossier’ plead the Fifth,” Trump tweeted on Oct 21. “Justice Department and/or FBI should immediately release who paid for it.”

“Tom Perez and the new leadership of the DNC were not involved in any decision-making regarding Fusion GPS, nor were they aware that Perkins Coie was working with the organization,” DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement following the report’s publication.

“But let’s be clear, there is a serious federal investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, and the American public deserves to know what happened.”

First published by Buzzfeed in January, the dossier contained a series of controversial financial and sexual allegations about Trump.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and Ashley Koerber contributed to this report.

‘Collusion’ Claims Boomerang on Dems as Hillary, Obama Face Fresh Allegations

After months of batting back accusations of collusion with Moscow in last year’s presidential campaign, Republicans say Democrats are the ones who now have “some explaining to do” as fresh developments raise questions about their own Russia connections.

First came reports that the FBI knew about a Russian bribery plot tied to nuclear energy interests in the U.S. well before the Obama administration OK’d a mining company sale to a Russian firm, giving it partial control over American uranium reserves.

Then came a report that Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is looking at the dealings of Tony Podesta, a powerful Democratic lobbyist and the brother of former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Meanwhile, Fusion GPS, the firm behind the controversial anti-Trump dossier, has gone to court to block Congress from getting its bank records after its representatives pleaded the Fifth in a Capitol Hill appearance last week.

Hillary Clinton on Monday brushed off the revival of the uranium deal controversy as “baloney” meant to distract from GOP controversies.

But Republicans beg to differ.

“Now it’s the Democrats who have some explaining to do,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement overnight. “I hope they will cooperate with the investigation, be forthcoming with the American people and I expect the media to cover these new developments with the same breathless intensity that they have given to this investigation since day one.”

NBC News first reported early Monday that Tony Podesta and The Podesta Group are now subjects in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, following inquiries regarding former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s finances.

According to Monday’s NBC News report, Mueller’s team started looking into a Manafort-involved PR campaign for a pro-Ukraine nonprofit reportedly backed by a pro-Russia party; the Podesta Group reportedly was one of many firms that worked on the campaign. According to the report, Mueller’s investigators have since launched a criminal inquiry into whether the company violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires people in the U.S. who lobby on behalf of foreign entities to register as foreign agents and disclose their work.

Podesta’s firm eventually filed a registration for the work, after the media reported on the business and Congress started asking questions. But in a statement on Monday, a spokesperson for The Podesta Group claimed the company was in compliance — citing a series of filings dating back years — and is “fully” cooperating with the special counsel’s office.

“The Podesta Group fully disclosed its representation of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine (ECFMU), and complied with FARA by filing under the lobbying disclosure act over five years ago and within weeks of starting our work,” the spokesperson said. “Any insinuation to the contrary is false. The Podesta Group has fully cooperated with the Special Counsel’s office and taken every possible step to provide documentation that confirms compliance with the law.”

Meanwhile, new details have emerged since last week on the 2010 approval of the sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to Russia’s Rosatom nuclear company. The U.S. was involved because the sale gave the Russians control of part of the uranium supply in the U.S.

Tony Podeta. Facebook

Tony Podesta’s firm is facing scrutiny from the Robert Mueller probe.  (Facebook)

The Hill reported, however, that the FBI had evidence as early as 2009 that Russian operatives used bribes, kickbacks and other dirty tactics to expand Moscow’s atomic energy footprint in the U.S., related to a subsidiary of the same Russia firm.

Several Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill are now asking questions about how the deal was approved the next year by an inter-agency committee. Among them, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. – who has raised concerns about the Uranium One transaction since 2010 – wrote to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Oct. 19 that he’s “extremely disheartened and disturbed” by reports indicating the government approved the deal despite the DOJ having “evidence of corruption by Russian nuclear energy officials in the United States.”

He asked for “all documents” disclosed by the department to the committee – of which the DOJ was a member – concerning the investigation prior to the approval.

The Hill has since reported that as Hillary Clinton began her role as secretary of state, a Russian spy posing as an accountant became close to a Democratic donor in hopes of gathering intelligence on Clinton’s State Department. (The spy was later arrested.) Lawmakers have also revived questions that first surfaced in 2015 about payments to both Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation from “interested parties.”

Addressing the matter Monday on C-SPAN, Clinton said “it’s the same baloney they’ve been peddling for years, and there’s been no credible evidence by anyone. In fact, it’s been debunked repeatedly and will continue to be debunked.”

The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee said these issues are just part of the “distraction and diversion” from the investigation into Russian meddling and possible coordination with Trump associates in last year’s election.

“The closer the investigation about real Russian ties between Trump associates and real Russians … the more they want to just throw mud on the wall,” Clinton said.

But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday that the only “collusion” is on the other side.

“If you want to see collusion with anyone and the Russians, look no further than the Democrats. Look no further than Tony Podesta and the Clinton crew,” she said.

On another front, Fusion GPS has gone to court in an attempt to block a House committee subpoena for the company’s banking records.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., had issued a subpoena on Oct. 4 for those TD Bank records. But, according to documents reviewed by Fox News, Fusion is seeking a “temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction” to block the release of those records.

Fusion’s filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia claimed that complying with the subpoena would “deny Plaintiff and its clients their rights to free speech and expressive association as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

House Republican lawyers countered Monday in their own court filing that the company is a for-profit business and not an “association” engaged in protected activity under the First Amendment. “Plaintiff’s argument is too clever by half, and an insult to the efforts of true advocacy organizations,” they said.

Fusion has refused to tell congressional committees who paid for the dossier or reveal its sources. Two top officials from the political research firm invoked their Fifth Amendment right and refused to answer questions last Wednesday before the same House panel.

FoxNews.com

Fox News Finally Reveals Why They Fired Bill O’Reilly Amid Story About O’Reilly Settlement

Fox News over the weekend revealed the reason network executives ultimately made the decision to dismiss star host Bill O’Reilly in April. The revelation came in response to a bombshell New York Times story.

What did the story say?

The Times’ story rocked the political world Saturday because it reported the dollar amount that O’Reilly paid to settle sexual harassment accusations levied by Lis Wiehl, one of six woman to levy sexual misconduct accusations against O’Reilly. The settlement was finalized in January.

The amount? $32 million.

The story really rattled cages because it reported Fox News renewed O’Reilly’s contract — for $25 million per year for four years — after O’Reilly reached a settlement with Wiehl. The Times’ reported Fox executives knew of the settlement, but not the details, and made a calculated business decision to renew O’Reilly’s contract, which came after Megyn Kelly departed the network, as part of an effort to revitalize the network after it was rocked by the Roger Ailes scandal.

Network executives later made the decision to fire O’Reilly in April because details about the January settlement were slated to become public, according to the Times.

What did Fox reveal?

According to a statement obtained by CNN, Fox News knew of the January settlement, but did not know of the settlement amount.

The Fox spokesman also explained that new conditions were placed in O’Reilly’s contract that said the company could dismiss him should new or additional information surface regarding the sexual misconduct allegations. The company then exercised that new clause in April.

The spokesman said:

When the company renewed Bill O’Reilly’s contract in February, it knew that a sexual harassment lawsuit had been threatened against him by Lis Wiehl, but was informed by Mr. O’Reilly that he had settled the matter personally, on financial terms that he and Ms. Wiehl had agreed were confidential and not disclosed to the company.

“His new contract, which was made at a time typical for renewals of multi-year talent contracts, added protections for the company specifically aimed at harassment, including that Mr. O’Reilly could be dismissed if the company was made aware of other allegations or if additional relevant information was obtained in a company investigation. The company subsequently acted based on the terms of this contract.

How did O’Reilly respond?

In an interview with the Times, O’Reilly maintained his innocence.

“I never mistreated anyone,” he said. “It’s politically and financially motivated, and we can prove it with shocking information, but I’m not going to sit here in a courtroom for a year and a half and let my kids get beaten up every single day of their lives by a tabloid press that would sit there, and you know it.”

Mark Fabiani, an O’Reilly spokesman, elaborated in a statement that the Times, in its latest story, has “maliciously smeared” O’Reilly by choosing to rely on “unsubstantiated allegations, anonymous sources and incomplete, leaked or stolen documents” instead of concrete, provable facts.

Fabiani also said the story is intended to “embarrass Bill O’Reilly and to keep him from competing in the marketplace.”