July 7, 2020

Independence Day: What We Declared on July 4th

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
  • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    -For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
    -For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
    -For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
    -For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
    -For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
    -For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring -Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
    -For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
    -For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

Climate Activist Michael Shellenberger Aplogizes for Decades of Lies

On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare

Climate activist Michael Shellenberger at Ted Talks

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem. 

I may seem like a strange person to be saying all of this. I have been a climate activist for 20 years and an environmentalist for 30. 

But as an energy expert asked by Congress to provide objective expert testimony, and invited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to serve as Expert Reviewer of its next Assessment Report, I feel an obligation to apologize for how badly we environmentalists have misled the public.

Here are some facts few people know:

  • Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction” 
  • The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”
  • Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
  • Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003
  • The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska
  • The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California
  • Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s 
  • Netherlands became rich not poor while adapting to life below sea level
  • We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter
  • Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change
  • Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
  • Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture

I know that the above facts will sound like “climate denialism” to many people. But that just shows the power of climate alarmism. 

In reality, the above facts come from the best-available scientific studies, including those conducted by or accepted by the IPCC, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other leading scientific bodies. 

Some people will, when they read this imagine that I’m some right-wing anti-environmentalist. I’m not. At 17, I lived in Nicaragua to show solidarity with the Sandinista socialist revolution. At 23 I raised money for Guatemalan women’s cooperatives. In my early 20s I lived in the semi-Amazon doing research with small farmers fighting land invasions. At 26 I helped expose poor conditions at Nike factories in Asia. 

The author Michael Shellenberger in Maranhão, Brazil, 1995

I became an environmentalist at 16 when I threw a fundraiser for Rainforest Action Network. At 27 I helped save the last unprotected ancient redwoods in California. In my 30s I advocated renewables and successfully helped persuade the Obama administration to invest $90 billion into them. Over the last few years I helped save enough nuclear plants from being replaced by fossil fuels to prevent a sharp increase in emissions 

But until last year, I mostly avoided speaking out against the climate scare. Partly that’s because I was embarrassed. After all, I am as guilty of alarmism as any other environmentalist. For years, I referred to climate change as an “existential” threat to human civilization, and called it a “crisis.” 

But mostly I was scared. I remained quiet about the climate disinformation campaign because I was afraid of losing friends and funding. The few times I summoned the courage to defend climate science from those who misrepresent it I suffered harsh consequences. And so I mostly stood by and did next to nothing as my fellow environmentalists terrified the public.

I even stood by as people in the White House and many in the news media tried to destroy the reputation and career of an outstanding scientist, good man, and friend of mine, Roger Pielke, Jr., a lifelong progressive Democrat and environmentalist who testified in favor of carbon regulations. Why did they do that? Because his research proves natural disasters aren’t getting worse. 

But then, last year, things spiraled out of control. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said “The world is going to end in twelve years if we don’t address climate change.” Britain’s most high-profile environmental group claimed “Climate Change Kills Children.” 

The world’s most influential green journalist, Bill McKibben, called climate change the “greatest challenge humans have ever faced” and said it would “wipe out civilizations.” 

Mainstream journalists reported, repeatedly, that the Amazon was “the lungs of the world,” and that deforestation was like a nuclear bomb going off.

As a result, half of the people surveyed around the world last year said they thought climate change would make humanity extinct. And in January, one out of five British children told pollsters they were having nightmares about climate change.

Whether or not you have children you must see how wrong this is. I admit I may be sensitive because I have a teenage daughter. After we talked about the science she was reassured. But her friends are deeply misinformed and thus, understandably, frightened. 

I thus decided I had to speak out. I knew that writing a few articles wouldn’t be enough. I needed a book to properly lay out all of the evidence. 

 And so my formal apology for our fear-mongering comes in the form of my new book, Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. 

It is based on two decades of research and three decades of environmental activism. At 400 pages, with 100 of them endnotes, Apocalypse Never covers climate change, deforestation, plastic waste, species extinction, industrialization, meat, nuclear energy, and renewables.

Some highlights from the book:

  • Factories and modern farming are the keys to human liberation and environmental progress 
  • The most important thing for saving the environment is producing more food, particularly meat, on less land 
  • The most important thing for reducing air pollution and carbon emissions is moving from wood to coal to petroleum to natural gas to uranium 
  • 100% renewables would require increasing the land used for energy from today’s 0.5% to 50% 
  • We should want cities, farms, and power plants to have higher, not lower, power densities
  • Vegetarianism reduces one’s emissions by less than 4%
  • Greenpeace didn’t save the whales, switching from whale oil to petroleum and palm oil did
  • “Free-range” beef would require 20 times more land and produce 300% more emissions
  • Greenpeace dogmatism worsened forest fragmentation of the Amazon
  • The colonialist approach to gorilla conservation in the Congo produced a backlash that may have resulted in the killing of 250 elephants

Why were we all so misled?

In the final three chapters of Apocalypse Never I expose the financial, political, and ideological motivations. Environmental groups have accepted hundreds of millions of dollars from fossil fuel interests. Groups motivated by anti-humanist beliefs forced the World Bank to stop trying to end poverty and instead make poverty “sustainable.” And status anxiety, depression, and hostility to modern civilization are behind much of the alarmism

Once you realize just how badly misinformed we have been, often by people with plainly unsavory or unhealthy motivations, it is hard not to feel duped. 

Will Apocalypse Never make any difference? There are certainly reasons to doubt it. 

The news media have been making apocalyptic pronouncements about climate change since the late 1980s, and do not seem disposed to stop. 

The ideology behind environmental alarmsim — Malthusianism — has been repeatedly debunked for 200 years and yet is more powerful than ever.

But there are also reasons to believe that environmental alarmism will, if not come to an end, have diminishing cultural power. 

The coronavirus pandemic is an actual crisis that puts the climate “crisis” into perspective. Even if you think we have overreacted, Covid-19 has killed nearly 500,000 people and shattered economies around the globe.

Scientific institutions including WHO and IPCC have undermined their credibility through the repeated politicization of science. Their future existence and relevance depends on new leadership and serious reform.

Facts still matter, and social media is allowing for a wider range of new and independent voices to outcompete alarmist environmental journalists at legacy publications. 

Nations are reverting openly to self-interest and away from Malthusianism and neoliberalism, which is good for nuclear and bad for renewables.

The evidence is overwhelming that our high-energy civilization is better for people and nature than the low-energy civilization that climate alarmists would return us to. 

The invitations from IPCC and Congress are signs of a growing openness to new thinking about climate change and the environment. Another one has been to the response to my book from climate scientists, conservationists, and environmental scholars. “Apocalypse Never is an extremely important book,” writes Richard Rhodes, the Pulitzer-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb. “This may be the most important book on the environment ever written,” says one of the fathers of modern climate science Tom Wigley.

“We environmentalists condemn those with antithetical views of being ignorant of science and susceptible to confirmation bias,” wrote the former head of The Nature Conservancy, Steve McCormick. “But too often we are guilty of the same.  Shellenberger offers ‘tough love:’ a challenge to entrenched orthodoxies and rigid, self-defeating mindsets.  Apocalypse Never serves up occasionally stinging, but always well-crafted, evidence-based points of view that will help develop the ‘mental muscle’ we need to envision and design not only a hopeful, but an attainable, future.”

That is all I hoped for in writing it. If you’ve made it this far, I hope you’ll agree that it’s perhaps not as strange as it seems that a lifelong environmentalist, progressive, and climate activist felt the need to speak out against the alarmism. 

I further hope that you’ll accept my apology.

By Michael Shellenberger, author of Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All. 


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Supreme Court Orders Taxpayer Funding for Religious Schools

Significant win for the school choice movement 

US Supreme Court strikes down state ban on taxpayer funding for religious schools

The Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a ban on taxpayer funding for religious schools, in a narrow but significant win for the school choice movement.

In the 5-4 ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court essentially backed a Montana tax-credit scholarship program that gave residents up to a $150 credit for donating to private scholarship organizations, helping students pay for their choice of private schools. The state’s revenue department made a rule banning those tax-credit scholarships from going to religious schools before the state’s supreme court later struck down the entire program.

“A State need not subsidize private education. But once a State decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious,” Roberts wrote in the court’s opinion.

Under the program, a family receiving a scholarship originally could use it at any “qualified education provider,” which the court’s opinion noted means “any private school that meets certain accreditation, testing, and safety requirements.” The Montana Department of Revenue, citing the state constitution, then changed the definition of “qualified education provider” to exclude those “owned or controlled in whole or in part by any church, religious sect, or denomination.”

That decision, which the state attorney general disagreed with, was based on a “no-aid” clause in the state’s constitution, which bars the state from giving aid to schools “controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect, or denomination.”

Parents of children attending a religious private school sued, and a lower court ruled in their favor, holding that the tax credits did not violate the state constitution because they were not appropriations made to religious institutions. The state supreme court overruled that decision and ordered the entire program to be scrapped.

“I feel that we’re being excluded simply because we are people of religious background, or because our children want to go to a religious school,” Kendra Espinoza, a lead plaintiff in the case, said after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in January. “We’re here to stand up for our rights as people of faith to have the same opportunities that a secular schoolchild would have.”

Roberts noted that the Montana scholarship program in no way violated the U.S. Constitution, noting that the Supreme Court has “repeatedly held that the Establishment Clause is not offended when religious observers and organizations benefit from neutral government programs.” The chief justice pointed out that neither side in the case disputed this.

What was at issue in the case is the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause — which applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment — which forbids laws that prohibit the free exercise of religion. Roberts said that the Montana Supreme Court erred when they failed to recognize that the state constitution’s “no-aid” clause violated the First Amendment.

“When the Court was called upon to apply a state law no-aid provision to exclude religious schools from the program, it was obligated by the Federal Constitution to reject the invitation,” Roberts wrote.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued that there was no constitutional violation because the program ended up being shut down entirely, leaving families from all schools in the same position. Justice Sonia Sotomayor argued in her own dissent that the Montana state court decision was based on state law having nothing to do with the Free Exercise Clause. Roberts rejected those arguments because “[t]he program was eliminated by a court, and not based on some innocuous principle of state law.”

In a third dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer — joined by Justice Elena Kagan — argued that while Montana’s aid program’s inclusion of religious schools may not have been forbidden by the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, it was not required by the Free Exercise Clause as Roberts’ claimed it was.

Tuesday’s ruling is a victory for school choice proponents and some conservative religious groups who had challenged the provision in court. Montana’s program was similar to many across the U.S., and other states have proposed tax-credit scholarship programs but not passed them due to confusion about their legality.

Roberts once again served as the swing vote in a 5-4 decision. This time, he joined his fellow justices in the conservative wing of the court. On Monday, Republicans railed against him for siding with the liberal contingent in a 5-4 case that struck down a Louisiana law that place restrictions on abortions by requiring that those who perform the procedures have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. He was also the deciding vote in a recent ruling against the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind DACA.

By Ronn Blitzer, Bill Mears, Shannon Bream Tyler Olson contributed to this report. 


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SCOTUS Hands Trump Win on Deportation Powers

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday for the Trump administration in a key immigration case, determining that a federal law limiting an asylum applicant’s ability to appeal a determination that he lacked a credible fear of persecution from his home country does not violate the Constitution.

The ruling means the administration can deport some people seeking asylum without allowing them to make their case to a federal judge. The 7-2 ruling applies to those who fail their initial asylum screenings, making them eligible for quick deportation.

In a decision in the case of Dept. of Homeland Security v. Thuraissigiam, the court ruled that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) – which prevents judicial review of the credible fear determination – does not violate the Constitution’s Suspension Clause, which protects habeas corpus privileges that allow courts to determine if a person should be released due to unlawful detention.

“In this case, however, respondent did not ask to be released. Instead, he sought entirely different relief: vacatur of his ‘removal order’ and ‘an order directing [the Department] to provide him with a new . . . opportunity to apply for asylum and other relief from removal,’” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion, ruling “that relief falls outside the scope of the common-law habeas writ.”

Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam, a Sri Lankan national, had crossed the southern U.S. border without documentation in January 2017, was apprehended within 25 yards of the border, and detained for expedited removal. According to court documents, he said he was afraid of returning to Sri Lanka because he had once been abducted and beaten by a group of men, but did not know who they were or why they attacked him. At the time, he said that he did not fear persecution due to his political beliefs, race, or any other protected characteristics.

As a result, an asylum officer determined that he did not have the requisite “credible” fear of persecution. A supervisor agreed and signed off on a removal order, which was then affirmed by an immigration judge who had heard additional testimony. This led to Thuraissigiam filing a habeas corpus petition for unlawful detention, which a federal District Court denied. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the decision, ruling that the law was unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court reversed this with Thursday’s ruling.

Alito’s opinion also shot down the argument that the IIRIRA violated the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, citing an 1892 decision that ruled that for “foreigners who have never been naturalized, nor acquired any domicil or residence within the United States, nor even been admitted into the country pursuant to law,” decisions of administrative or executive officers exercising powers granted by Congress amount to due process.

The Supreme Court ruled that someone in Thuraissigiam’s position – being apprehended within 25 yards of the border – should be treated the same as someone who was taken into custody at the time they attempted to enter the country, and therefore the 1892 decision applies.

The Trump administration is seeking to expand authority so that people detained anywhere in the U.S. and up to two years after they got here could be quickly deported. On Tuesday, a federal appeals court threw out a trial judge’s ruling that had blocked the expanded policy. Other legal issues remain to be resolved in the case.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor — joined by Justice Elena Kagan — argued that the ruling “deprives [asylum seekers] of any means to ensure the integrity of an expedited removal order, an order which, the Court has just held, is not subject to any meaningful judicial oversight as to its substance.”

“Today’s decision handcuffs the Judiciary’s ability to perform its constitutional duty to safeguard individual liberty and dismantles a critical component of the separation of powers,” Sotomayor continued.

Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed with the majority’s ruling, but in a concurring opinion authored by Breyer, they made clear they believe the ruling only applies in this particular case.

“I agree that enforcing those limits in this particular case does not violate the Suspension Clause’s constitutional command,” Breyer wrote. “But we need not, and should not, go further.”

Taking a broader approach, Breyer said, “may raise a host of difficult questions in the immigration context,” questioning what could happen in a case habeas corpus is denied where a person is detained after living in the U.S. for years, or if someone claims to be a naturalized citizen.

“I would therefore avoid making statements about the Suspension Clause that sweep beyond the principles needed to decide this case,” Breyer wrote, “let alone come to conclusions about the Due Process Clause, a distinct constitutional provision that is not directly at issue here.”

By Ronn Blitzer | The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Biden Says ‘You ain’t black’ If You Don’t Vote for Him

Biden says ‘you ain’t black’ if torn between him and Trump, in dustup with Charlamagne tha God

Joe Biden faced a swift backlash on Friday for suggesting during a contentious radio interview with host Charlamagne tha God that those having a hard time “figuring out” whether to support him or President Trump “ain’t black.”

The dustup occurred 17 minutes into the former vice president’s interview on “The Breakfast Club” – a nationally broadcast morning talk show popular with black listeners – when a Biden aide tried to end the interview, prompting the host to charge, “You can’t do that to black media.”

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee stressed that his wife had an upcoming engagement, and suggested he would have to go whether dealing with “white media” or “black media.”

“Uh, oh … I’m in trouble,” he joked as he referred to making his wife late. Biden and his wife Jill Biden share the same studio in the basement of their home in Wilmington, Del.

After Charlamagne tha God, who is black, then asked Biden to come back on the program again and the former vice president agreed, the host added, “It’s a long way to November. We’ve got more questions.”

That’s when Biden dove into a rapid-fire defense of his record with the black community.

“I tell you if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black,” he said.

It’s unclear whether Biden meant to refer only to the host or to the black community as a whole.

Charlamagne tha God responded that “it has nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with the fact that I want something for my community.”

Biden fired back, “Take a look at my record. I extended the Voting Rights Act for 25 years. I have a record that is second to none. The NAACP’s endorsed me every time I’ve run. Take a look at the record.”

After the friction, the interview – which was pre-taped on Thursday – ended on a mutually positive note with Biden again agreeing that he “will come back.”

But the “You ain’t black” moment reverberated on social media, with the host retweeting a variety of listeners complaining about it. Biden “should never say to a black man ‘You aint black’ under ANY circumstances,” one wrote.

“The Breakfast Club” put the question to listeners on whether they agree with Biden:

President Trump’s campaign, meanwhile, quickly highlighted the clip, tweeting, “This is disgusting.”

Trump senior adviser Katrina Pierson called the remarks “racist and dehumanizing,” saying Biden believes black voters are “incapable of being independent or free thinking.”

She added: “He truly believes that he, a 77-year-old white man, should dictate how Black people should behave. Biden has a history of racial condescension and today he once again proved what a growing number of Black Americans and I have always known: Joe Biden does not deserve our votes.”

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh spotlighted a quote from Kanye West, a prominent African-American supporter of the president, saying, “I will not be told who I’m gonna vote on because of my color.”

But Biden campaign adviser Symone Sanders defended the comments, stressing Biden’s record with the black community and saying: “The comments made at the end of the Breakfast Club interview were in jest, but let’s be clear about what the VP was saying: he was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period.”

Pierson, in a Trump campaign conference call with reporters, fired back that Biden’s comment “wasn’t in jest. He was serious.”

And Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina — the only black GOP senator and a supporter of the president — said “I won’t even dignify that with a response” when asked about Sanders’ comment that Biden was joking.

Pierson, when asked by Fox News if Trump had ever been a guest on “The Breakfast Club” or if there were now plans to have the president do an interview on the program, said “the president has not been on The Breakfast Club, I’m not sure that he’s been invited.” She added that “I’m not opposed to it you know, I think it’s a place that we should go.”

Biden has enjoyed widespread support among black voters, not just in general election polls – Fox News polling shows black voters favor Biden over Trump by 76-12 percent – but during the primary battle. His victory in the South Carolina primary, boosted by black voters’ support, helped revive his then-struggling campaign and catapult him toward a dominating performance on Super Tuesday.

Meanwhile, this is not the first time a 2020 contender has questioned the party affiliation of a particular race or religion. Last year, President Trump faced a backlash for saying American Jews who support Democrats show “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

He was pointing to anyone supporting Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, both critics of Israel.

Fox News’ Madeleine Rivera and Judson Berger contributed to this report. 

By Brooke Singman. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeSingman.


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House Intel Transcripts Prove Obama Officials Had No Evidence of Trump-Russia Collusion

Should Schiff step down from House Intelligence Committee after release of Russia docs?
Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff is reportedly in ‘panic mode’ as House transcripts appear to contradict claims on collusion evidence in the Russia probe; Fox News contributor Lisa Boothe and former D.C. Democrat Party Chair Scott Bolden debate.

Newly released transcripts of interviews from the House Intelligence Committee’s long-running Russia investigation reveal top Obama officials acknowledged that they knew of no “empirical evidence” of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, despite their concerns and suspicions.

Fox News first reported Wednesday night that the transcripts would show this. The officials’ responses align with the results of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation—which found no evidence of criminal coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016, while not reaching a determination on obstruction of justice.

The transcripts, which were released by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., revealed top Obama officials were questioned over whether they had or had seen evidence of such collusion, coordination or conspiracy — the issue that drove the FBI’s initial case and later the special counsel probe.

“I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting/conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified in 2017. “That’s not to say that there weren’t concerns about the evidence we were seeing, anecdotal evidence. … But I do not recall any instance where I had direct evidence.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, according to the transcript of her interview, was asked about the same issue. Power replied: “I am not in possession of anything—I am not in possession and didn’t read or absorb information that came from out of the intelligence community.”

When asked again, she said:  “I am not.”Video

Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice was asked the same question.

“To the best of my recollection, there wasn’t anything smoking, but there were some things that gave me pause,” she said, according to her transcribed interview, in response to whether she had any evidence of conspiracy. “I don’t recall intelligence that I would consider evidence to that effect that I saw…conspiracy prior to my departure.”

When asked whether she had any evidence of “coordination,” Rice replied: “I don’t recall any intelligence or evidence to that effect.”

When asked about collusion, Rice replied: “Same answer.”

Former Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes was asked the same question during his House Intelligence interview.

“I wouldn’t have received any information on any criminal or counterintelligence investigations into what the Trump campaign was doing, so I would not have seen that information,” Rhodes said.

When pressed again, he said: “I saw indications of potential coordination, but I did not see, you know, the specific evidence of the actions of the Trump campaign.”

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch also said that she did “not recall that being briefed up to me.”

“I can’t say that it existed or not,” Lynch said, referring to evidence of collusion, conspiracy or coordination.

Meanwhile, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was not asked that specific question but rather questions about the accuracy and legitimacy of the unverified anti-Trump dossier compiled by ex-British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Video

McCabe was asked during his interview in 2017 what was the most “damning or important piece of evidence in the dossier that” he “now knows is true.”

McCabe replied: “We have not been able to prove the accuracy of all the information.”

“You don’t know if it’s true or not?” a House investigator asked, to which McCabe replied: “That’s correct.”

Schiff released the files — approved in late 2018 for release by the committee — after facing pressure earlier this week from Republicans to do so. Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell then notified Schiff that the redaction and declassification process was complete, and that the records were ready to be made public.

“At the bipartisan request of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Intelligence Community reviewed all transcripts for classification and made appropriate redactions. HPSCI voted unanimously in 2018 to publicly release these transcripts, and it is long past time that these are released,” Grenell said in a statement Thursday.

Schiff, though, faulted the White House for the delay, accusing them of dragging their feet on the classification review.

And even as officials in those interviews said they didn’t have hard evidence of collusion, conspiracy or coordination, Schiff pointed to a variety of examples he described as “ample evidence of the corrupt interactions” between Trump associates and Russia.

For instance, he cited how Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., infamously accepted an offer of supposed Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton.

He also pointed to then-candidate Trump saying in 2016, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.” This referred to then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Schiff said in a statement: “The transcripts released today richly detail evidence of the Trump campaign’s efforts to invite, make use of, and cover up Russia’s help in the 2016 presidential election. Special Counsel Robert Mueller identified in his report similar, and even more extensive, evidence of improper links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government. A bipartisan Senate investigation also found that Russia sought to help the candidacy of Donald Trump in 2016.”

He also cited how former national security adviser Michael Flynn tried to “undermine U.S. sanctions on Russia” in his transition-period conversations with Russia’s ambassador. Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about those talks; however, the Justice Department on Thursday moved to drop the case entirely, saying the FBI interview had no legitimate basis.

Meanwhile, Schiff accused Republicans of using the committee interviews to simply “press President Trump’s false narrative of ‘no collusion, no obstruction,’” despite intelligence findings that Russia sought to meddle in the election to boost Trump.

Yet Republicans told Fox News the transcripts still show the collusion claims could not be supported.

“The transcripts show a total lack of evidence, despite Schiff personally going out saying he had more than circumstantial evidence that there was collusion,” one source involved in House Russia investigations told Fox News.

Mueller, similarly, at the conclusion of his nearly two-year-long investigation, said he and his team found no evidence of criminal conspiracy or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, but did not reach a conclusion on obstruction of justice, which Attorney General Bill Barr ultimately decided not to pursue.

By Brooke Singman. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeSingman.


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BOMBSHELL – Biden Accuser Blasts Liberal Media for Ignoring Sex Assault Claim – Proof Surfaces

Leftist Media Ignoring Biden Aid who Claims He Sexually Assaulted Her

Biden accuser Tara Reade ‘lost total respect’ for CNN’s Anderson Cooper for not asking former VP about assault claim

The woman who has accused Joe Biden of a sexual assault in the early 1990s says she’s disappointed that CNN anchor Anderson Cooper failed to ask the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee about the allegation when he had the chance — not once, but twice.

Tara Reade, a former staffer for then-Sen. Biden, told her story about the former vice president over a month ago with progressive podcast host Katie Halper. Since then, Biden has done nearly a dozen TV interviews with news anchors including NBC News’ Chuck Todd, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, and twice with Cooper — all of whom failed to ask Biden about her public claim.

“I think it’s shocking that this much time has passed and that he is an actual nominee for president and they’re not asking the questions,” Reade told Fox News. “He’s been on ‘Anderson Cooper’ at least twice where he was not asked.”

“I guess my question is, if this were Donald Trump, would they treat it the same way? If this were Brett Kavanaugh, did they treat it the same way?” Reade said. “In other words, it’s politics and political agenda playing a role in objective reporting and asking the question.”

During the Brent Kavanaugh hearings, Biden was all about the #MeToo movement, and women’s allegations against men being taken very seriously. Now, he, and the press are ignoring very credible accusations that he sexually assaulted a female aid.

Reade believes that the news anchors who have interviewed Biden “don’t want to ask him” about her assault allegation.

“There are two things happening at once. [Biden] is not making himself accessible to be asked the question. And when he does make himself accessible, they are not asking, those anchors. And so that tells there may be a political agenda behind that and that’s gross. … I’m a survivor and I would like the question asked.”

Reade said her opinions of some journalists and media outlets have shifted in recent weeks based on their coverage of her claim.

“I really would look to [Cooper] for answers and I would never do that again. I’ve lost total respect,” Reade said, adding that “as a civilian,” it’s difficult to know “what news source to trust” since shows like Cooper’s have a “blatant bias.”

On Friday evening, a clip from 1993 surfaced showing an anonymous California resident phoning in to CNN’s “Larry King Live” asking the TV host and his panel about “problems” her daughter had with a “prominent senator.”

Tara Reade’s mother (a Democrat and Women’s Rights Activist) calls “Larry King Live” in 1993 to ask what her daughter can do after being sexually assaulted by a powerful senator.

Reade confirmed to Fox News that the woman heard in the clip was her late mother, Jeanette Altimus.

CNN waited until Saturday afternoon to issue a report on its website and briefly mentioned on-air, which was the first time the network has addressed the Biden assault claim since Reade came forward in March.

Reade’s story first resurfaced in an article in The Intercept on March 24. Halper then interviewed Reade, who said that in 1993, a more senior member of Biden’s staff asked her to bring the then-senator his gym bag near the U.S. Capitol building, which led to the encounter in question.

“He greeted me, he remembered my name, and then we were alone. It was the strangest thing,” Reade told Halper. “There was no like, exchange really. He just had me up against the wall.”

Reade said that she was wearing “a business skirt,” but “wasn’t wearing stockings — it was a hot day.”

She continued: “His hands were on me and underneath my clothes, and he went down my skirt and then up inside it and he penetrated me with his fingers and he was kissing me at the same time and he was saying some things to me.”

Reade claimed Biden first asked if she wanted “to go somewhere else.”

“I pulled away, he got finished doing what he was doing,” Reade said. “He said: ‘Come on, man. I heard you liked me.’”

Reade said she tried to share her story last year, but nobody listened to her. Earlier this month, she filed a criminal complaint against Biden with police in Washington, D.C.

Fox News reached out to the Biden campaign on Friday for comment. The campaign referred Fox News to a statement earlier this month from Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield that said: “What is clear about this claim: it is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.”

“Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women,” Bedingfield said. “He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard – and heard respectfully. Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press.”

CNN did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Joseph A. Wulfsohn is a media reporter for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @JosephWulfsohn.


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Socialist Sanders is OUT, Suspends Presidential Campaign

Sanders suspends presidential campaign, rendering Biden presumptive Democratic nominee

Bernie Sanders suspends 2020 presidential campaign
Sen. Bernie Sanders announces he is suspending his campaign for the Democrat presidential nomination on a staff conference call.

Bernie Sanders has suspended his Democratic presidential campaign — all but handing the nomination to former Vice President Joe Biden.

The senator from Vermont initially announced the decision during an all-staff conference call Wednesday morning, and followed up with a formal livestreamed address to supporters shortly before noon.

Citing Biden’s lead of over 300 convention delegates, Sanders declared: “The path toward victory is virtually impossible.”

He continued: “I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic nomination will not be successful. … I do not make this decision lightly.”

In a curious moment, though, Sanders said that Biden “will be the nominee,” yet went on to stress the importance of continuing to win delegates for his own campaign so he’ll be able to exert “influence” on the party platform.

Calling it a “difficult and painful decision,” Sanders stressed that “while this campaign is coming to an end, our movement is not.”

More than any other Democratic campaign, Sanders’ candidacy indeed represented a movement — a populist, liberal, grassroots army of young people and others drawn to his democratic socialist beliefs, which he brought from the fringes to the mainstream of the party.

Biden, in a statement, said he and his supporters “changed the dialogue.”

He said: “But more than any one issue or set of issues, I want to commend Bernie for being a powerful voice for a fairer and more just America. It’s voices like Bernie’s that refuse to allow us to just accept what is — that refuse to accept we can’t change what’s wrong in our nation — that refuse to accept the health and well-being of our fellow citizens and our planet isn’t our responsibility too. Bernie gets a lot of credit for his passionate advocacy for the issues he cares about. But he doesn’t get enough credit for being a voice that forces us all to take a hard look in the mirror and ask if we’ve done enough.”

On Twitter, Biden praised him for creating a movement.

“I know Bernie well. He’s a good man, a great leader, and one of the most powerful voices for change in our country. And it’s hard to sum up his contributions to our politics in one, single tweet. So I won’t try to,” Biden tweeted.

“To Bernie and Jane, as friends, from Jill and me: You haven’t just run a political campaign; you’ve created a movement. And make no mistake about it, we believe it’s a movement that is as powerful today as it was yesterday. That’s a good thing for our nation and our future.”

For a time, Sanders almost looked poised to clinch the nomination, as he and a handful of others emerged in early 2020 as the last candidates standing from a once-massive field of primary contenders.

Sanders won New Hampshire’s primary and scored a landslide victory in the Nevada caucuses in late in February, as he surged to front-runner status in the nomination race.

The populist lawmaker, however, then suffered a string of major primary defeats in his second straight presidential bid.

Biden steadily amassed a near-insurmountable delegate lead, following decisive victories in South Carolina and then on Super Tuesday as well as subsequent contests — before coronavirus measures forced most primaries on the calendar to be delayed.

But until now, Sanders had refused to back out of the race, instead pressing Biden to embrace progressive policy positions. Sanders’ lingering presence in the race had agitated Biden allies, concerned he would continue to make it difficult for Biden to fully focus on a general election battle against President Trump.

Biden, however, was already moving ahead, planning to consider running mates and even downplaying the possibility of any future debates with Sanders as part of the primary process.

The most recent primary was held Tuesday in Wisconsin, though most others are postponed. Results in that race are not expected for another week, though Biden was thought to have the clear advantage there.

Sanders was considered the longest of long-shots when he launched his first White House bid in the spring of 2015. But after nearly defeating Hillary Clinton in the Iowa caucuses and then crushing the former secretary of state in the New Hampshire primary, he battled the eventual nominee throughout the primary calendar.

He made an uneasy peace with Clinton in the summer of 2016, but many of his progressive and younger supporters never embraced the Democratic nominee. The lack of unity was a contributing factor in helping Donald Trump upset Clinton.

There are deep concerns among Democrats of a repeat of the 2016 lack of unity. Biden has praised Sanders in recent weeks and has said he would not pressure the senator to drop out of the race.

Biden has also embraced some progressive proposals, such as bankruptcy reform and free college tuition at public colleges and universities — policies that Sanders had pushed. But he has not embraced “Medicare-for-all,” Sanders’ signature policy that has many supporters among congressional Democrats.

Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire. 


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This Easter Season, Let Us Remember

The New Testament of the Bible contains the story of the life of Jesus Christ. Within its pages is recounted how He was crucified on Friday, and his body was hastily removed from the cross and placed into a tomb hewn into the rock, with very little time to appropriately prepare the body for final burial before the Jewish Sabbath started at sunset.

It was early Sunday morning when Mary Magdalene and other women disciples arrived at the tomb to see the sepulcher and prepare His body. Suddenly there was a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.

The angel said to the women, “Fear not: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is arisen. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” He then instructed her to go and tell Jesus’ disciples that He was risen from the dead and that He would go before them to Galilee; and there they would see Him.

The others ran to tell the Apostles what they had seen and heard, but Mary stood at the door of the sepulcher weeping. As she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, and saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain.

They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

empty-tomb

She said, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”

And when she had spoken she turned back, and saw Jesus standing, but knew not that it was Him. He spoke to her and said, “Woman, why are you crying? Whom do you seek?”

She, supposing him to be the gardener, said, “Sir, if you have borne him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Jesus looked upon her with compassion, and said, “Mary.”

Suddenly recognizing His voice, she turned herself and said to him, “Rabboni,” which is to say, Master.

Mary ran to him and embraced him, but Jesus said to her, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.’”

What is the significance of this story nearly 2,000 years later? Each of us must decide its implications and importance for ourselves, and apply its lessons in our own lives as we interpret the message for ourselves. John, the Apostle who recorded this version of the incident gives us his own explanation of why he recorded it: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.”

Let us remember Him this Easter.


James Thompson is a Christian author, political commentator and ghostwriter.


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Doctors: COVID-19 Patients go from ‘Very Ill’ to ‘Symptom-Free’ in 8 to 12 Hours using Hydroxychloroquine

A doctor in Los Angeles is reporting remarkable success in treating COVID-19 patients with a combination of zinc and the Trump-touted anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine.

Dr. Anthony Cardillo, an ER specialist and the CEO of Mend Urgent Care, has been prescribing the combination of drugs to patients experiencing severe symptoms of the disease after contracting the novel coronavirus.

“Every patient I’ve prescribed it to has been very, very ill and within 8 to 12 hours, they were basically symptom-free,” Cardillo said in an interview Sunday with KABC-TV. “So, clinically I am seeing a resolution.”

He added that combining the drug with zinc has been the key to the success. The hydroxychloroquine, he said, “opens the zinc channel” allowing the zinc to enter the cell, which then “blocks the replication of cellular machinery.”

Cardillo was careful to note that the drug should only be prescribed for patients who are extremely sick and in urgent need so as to not blow through the limited supply of the drug, which is used to treat other illnesses, as well.

“We have to be cautious and mindful that we don’t prescribe it for patients who have COVID who are well,” he said. “It should be reserved for people who are really sick, in the hospital or at home very sick, who need that medication. Otherwise we’re going to blow through our supply for patients that take it regularly for other disease processes.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19 late last month after three separate studies showed the pair of anti-malaria drugs to be a potentially promising remedy against the infectious disease.

President Trump has been optimistic about hydroxychloroquine’s efficacy against the virus despite warnings from some health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci who sits on the White House coronavirus task force, that evidence of its effectiveness is anecdotal.

Trump called the drug a possible “game-changer” at a White House press briefing on March 19, arguing that prescribing the drug is worth a try since it is considered generally safe to use. However, the FDA advises against taking any form of the drug unless it has been prescribed by a doctor.

By Phil Shiver


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Maddow Called Trump’s Claim About Navy Medical Ships ‘Nonsense.’ Wrong Again

Last week, Rachel Maddow called Trump’s claim that Navy medical ships would be ready in a week ‘nonsense.’ The USNS Comfort arrived in NYC this morning.

Just over one week ago, MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow called President Trump’s claim that two U.S. Navy medical ships would soon be operational “nonsense.” By Monday morning, both ships had arrived at their destinations in Los Angeles and New York City.

“There is no sign that the Navy hospital ships that the President made such a big deal of — the Comfort and the Mercy — there’s no sign that they’ll be anywhere on-site helping out anywhere in the country for weeks yet,” Maddow said during a March 20 broadcast of her show.

“The president said when he announced that those ships would be put into action against the COVID-19 epidemic. He said one of those ships would be operational in New York harbor by next week. That’s nonsense. It will not be there next week,” she claimed.

But on Monday morning, the USNS Comfort arrived in New York Harbor as crowds awaited, along with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D).

The ship houses roughly 1,000 beds and a dozen operating rooms and will be used to ease the strain that the virus outbreak has put on the city’s hospital system. Patients who have not contracted the virus but who urgently need care will be treated aboard the ship.

At its send-off from Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday, President Trump called the ship “a 70,000-ton message of hope and solidarity to the incredible people of New York” amid the nation’s war with “an invisible enemy.”

In a news conference at its arrival in the city, Gov. Cuomo said the ship will act as a “relief valve for hospitals that are struggling now, that are over capacity all over this city.”

Mayor de Blasio called the ship’s entrance “absolutely extraordinary” and “inspiring.”

Actor Hugh Jackman captured the triumphant arrival on video and made sure to thank everyone involved in getting the ship ready to go.

“Wow, look at this — this is history. To all the doctors, all the nurses, and everyone involved with the Navy, thank you, thank you, thank you — you guys are amazing,” Jackman said.

Last Friday, the USNS Mercy arrived in Los Angeles and by Monday it was already treating patients, the Department of Defense reported.

By Phil Shiver


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5 Major Paradigm Shifts The Wuhan Flu Crisis Has Revealed Americans Need

Our first priority amid coronavirus must be neutralizing immediate threats to health and safety, but the disruption also provides a chance to engage in national reflection.

Crises have a way of revealing critical, unspoken truths. If we can recognize these truths, we can emerge from such crises significantly stronger. While America’s first priority in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus crisis must be neutralizing immediate threats to the health and safety of our people, the disruption of our lives also provides an opportunity to engage in national reflection.

If we do so, amid the pandemic hysteria, several critical signals emerge. Acknowledging those signals today and internalizing them tomorrow can help us prevent, or be better positioned to handle, such Black Swan shocks to our system in the years ahead.

1. Communist China Is a Global Menace

When the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic arose and began spreading, for weeks the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sought to cover it up, with deadly consequences for the world. When communist China was blamed, it not only refused to take responsibility, but slandered America for pointing the finger, to the point of calling the United States culpable as part of a disinformation campaign.

The CCP even threatened, via a state-backed publication, to cut off essential medical supplies should Americans continue speaking openly and honestly about the CCP’s role in creating the crisis. Then the CCP cynically tried to act as a savior for the crisis it created.

Every day this pandemic persists, and long after it is neutralized, we must remember the CCP bears by far the greatest responsibility of any party for this pandemic. If the CCP is not made to pay in a meaningful sense for the global catastrophe it caused, it will continue to act with impunity in its quest for hegemony, guaranteed.

This pandemic should represent the most tangible sign yet for all of America that we must decouple from communist China in every strategically significant sector. We cannot put our survival in the hands of a hostile adversary.

2. Coronavirus Starkly Illustrates Globalism’s Downsides

The Chinese coronavirus pandemic should serve as a figurative punch in the mouth to the Davoisie class. This pandemic spread as a result of human-to-human transmission beginning in a far-flung province in central China. As it metastasized, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations-based agency on which governments around the world rely, parroted the Chinese Communist Party’s chosen narratives, including that the Wuhan virus could not be passed from one human to another, and that it was “racist” to refer to the virus by its place of origin.

The chief praiser of China’s response, and propagator of its favored messages, was WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. He won that position with Chinese backing and collaborated with China as Ethiopia’s health minister.

As the pandemic spread to the United States and criticism of the CCP grew, China again threatened to leverage its dominant position in the production of essential medical supplies to cut off Americans from vital equipment. It signaled that either we tow the CCP line or people will die.

This series of events perfectly illustrates the downsides to the globalist agenda of open borders, global political institutions, and global economic integration at all costs. It perfectly illustrates the merits of an America First, nationalist agenda, including a focus on border control, national sovereignty, and eschewing of global institutions, as well as an economic independence combined with truly free, fair, and reciprocal trade. Does anyone believe America would have been hit as hard by coronavirus if China were not so deeply integrated into our architecture?

3. We Must Establish Principles for Dealing with Crises

As a society, we must create some agreed-upon principles for dealing with a pandemic or analogous crisis. One of the most astounding aspects of the response to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic has been the willingness of our leaders to call for societal shutdown based on shoddy data and flawed source models. Those leaders have definitively damaged our economy, stretched the limits of constitutional governmental power, and threatened to inflame and endanger civil society by forcing people to comply with draconian lockdowns while releasing criminals into the streets and ceasing policing — all on the basis of hypotheticals.

One need not be a medical doctor to understand the “garbage in, garbage out” issues inherent to projections in which the underlying data sets are incomplete, inconsistent, suffer from selection bias and correlation-versus-causation issues, or are just plain dubious — as in the case of data from China.

It is not surprising that politicians would err to the extreme side in seeking to avoid a public health catastrophe. But can a society long function by cutting off its nose to spite its face? And what kind of precedent is being set in the process? Going forward, it is incumbent upon our leaders to articulate and codify at minimum a general set of broadly agreed-upon principles for dealing with such crises.

4. The GOP Needs a Real Response for Democrats’ Games

For Democrats, politics trumps all else, and Republicans must have a response. In case the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process or the more than three years of anti-constitutional and unconstitutional resistance to President Donald Trump did not make it crystal clear, the Democrats’ brazen gambit to use the coronavirus crisis to impose their radical agenda on the country by holding hostage emergency relief legislation should have removed all doubt about their singular desire for power.

Simply put, for Democrats, the ends justify any and all means. The fact that Republicans were so blindsided and befuddled by this in the coronavirus context indicates the GOP still lacks an understanding of the nature of their political adversary.

Democrats will shamelessly use crises to cram their policies down our throats. Do Republicans have any answer to this? Do they understand that Democrats will seek to make any and all of their favored temporary measures that pass in coronavirus-tied legislation permanent after the crisis subsides? Have Republicans formulated a counter-response not only for that possibility, but for their own policies that cut in the opposite direction? Where is the GOP counter-agenda?

5. We Need to Get Our Fiscal House in Order

While a society-wide shutdown certainly represents the most extreme kind of financial shock, nevertheless, the devastating impact of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic accentuates the problem of our largely debt-based economy in both the public and private spheres.

At the governmental level, the fact that we are likely to completely blow out budgets that were already so bloated as to ensure interest payments on the national debt would soon swamp all spending besides entitlements shows the extent of our profligacy and misplaced confidence we can debt-finance the U.S. government forever. There appears to be zero national will to deal with runaway spending and the runaway deficits and debt it creates.

But the reality is that in the next major crisis, we will be in an even worse financial position. What will happen if multitrillion-dollar relief bills are simply not tenable at that point?

Everyone knows U.S. government spending is unsustainable. But the fact that no one is prepared to make the case to the public that we are better off making difficult financial trade-offs now to stop calamity later — while we are doing this precise thing in dealing with the pandemic — leads to the question: Are we simply comfortable as a nation guaranteeing future financial calamity? Should the cost and extent of this crisis not cause us to revisit this issue?

We find an analogous issue in the private sector. While the bailouts from the federal government fundamentally differ from those during the financial crisis — in this instance, government has effectively killed businesses — that in a humming system so few businesses could withstand such a shock indicates the problems again with our debt-based economy and short-term orientation.

There is likely little will among businesses, their shareholders, and their stakeholders to be more prudent, keeping substantial cash in reserve, and ensuring they can survive if their operations withstand a tremendous hit and capital markets are closed to them. But perhaps the Wuhan coronavirus should serve as a wakeup call that there ought to be. Prudence is as important for government and businesses as it is for households.

It is paramount that the American people get healthy and that our country gets back to the business of business. But we must not simply gloss over the truths this crisis has revealed. Recognizing them and incorporating them into future policies will ensure the long-term vitality of our country.


Ben Weingarten is a Federalist senior contributor, senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, and fellow at the Claremont Institute. He was selected as a 2019 Robert Novak Journalism fellow of the Fund for American Studies, under which he is currently working on a book on U.S.-China policy. You can find his work at benweingarten.com, and follow him on Twitter @bhweingarten.


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Weinstein Guilty!

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of third-degree rape, criminal sex act

Former Hollywood film producer Harvey Weinstein was found guilty by a Manhattan jury Monday of two of five charges relating to sexual assaults and faces as many as 25 years in prison.

He was found guilty of criminal sex act for assaulting production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in 2006 and third-degree rape of a woman in 2013. The jury found him not guilty on the most serious charge, predatory sexual assault, that could have resulted in a life sentence.

The verdict followed weeks of often harrowing and excruciatingly graphic testimony from a string of accusers who told of rapes, forced oral sex, groping, masturbation, lewd propositions and that’s-Hollywood excuses from Weinstein about how the casting couch works.

The jury of seven men and five women handed down the on Monday after five days of deliberating.

Weinstein has maintained any sexual encounters were consensual.

The case against the once-feared producer was essentially built on three allegations: that he raped an aspiring actress in a New York City hotel room in 2013, that he forcibly performed oral sex on Haleyi and that he raped and forcibly performed oral sex on “Sopranos” actress Annabella Sciorra in her apartment in the mid-1990s.

The case marks the only criminal trial to stem from the many accusations that came out about Weinstein following a bombshell expose written by Ronan Farrow in 2017 in which 13 women accused the now-disgraced movie mogul of sexual assault.

In this Oct. 24, 2017, file photo, Mimi Haleyi appears at a news conference in New York. Weinstein was found guilty of criminal sex act for assaulting the then-production assistant at his apartment in 2006. (AP)

As expected, Weinstein chose not to testify, avoiding the risk of having prosecutors grill him on cross-examination about the vile allegations. He confirmed the decision on Feb. 11 after returning to the courtroom from meeting with his lawyers behind closed doors for about a half-hour as speculation swirled that he was pushing to testify.

Asked as he left court if he was thinking of testifying, Weinstein said: “I wanted to.”

Defense lawyer Arthur Aidala added that Weinstein “was ready, willing, able and actually quite anxious to testify and clear his name” but didn’t do so because his lawyers felt prosecutors ”failed miserably” to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Six women out of the many who have accused Harvey Weinstein of vile sexual behavior testified at the trial. Their harrowing accounts were the centerpiece of a prosecution case. Other accusers were allowed to testify because prosecutors allege there was a practiced method to Weinstein’s attacks.

Lauren Marie Young, a model from suburban Philadelphia, testified that Weinstein invited her to his Beverly Hills hotel room, lured her to the bathroom, stripped off his clothes, pulled down her dress and groped her breast. Her allegation is part of a criminal case that was filed against Weinstein in California just as this trial was getting underway.

In this Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 file photo, actress Annabella Sciorra returns after a lunch break in Harvey Weinstein’s rape trial in New York. (AP)

Her testimony bookended that of the first accuser to testify, actress Annabella Sciorra, who alleges Weinstein barged into her apartment in the mid-1990s, threw her on a bed and raped her as she tried to fight him off by kicking and punching him.

In between, jurors heard similar stories of Weinstein ingratiating himself with much younger women, appearing to show interest in helping their careers before getting them into a hotel room or an apartment and violating them.

Most were aspiring actresses. Sciorra was a star on the rise. Another, the 2006 accuser Mimi Haleyi, was looking at the time to get more involved in behind-the-scenes aspects of the entertainment business.

The defense case, meanwhile, mainly relied on the testimony of three witnesses that Weinstein’s lawyers used to try to cast doubt on the accounts on two of the accusers.

Talita Maia, a former roommate of the woman Weinstein is charged with raping, told the jury the woman never gave any indication that he victimized her — in fact, she said, the woman spoke highly of him and once called him her “spiritual soulmate.”

“She seemed to really like him as a person,” Maia said. “She would only compliment him.”

Another friend of the woman testified that she seemed like “her everyday self” when they met up for breakfast with Weinstein just a short time after she alleges he assaulted her.

Thomas Richards, a Hollywood talent agent, testified the woman was friendly toward Weinstein during the breakfast and didn’t say or do anything to indicate she’d just been raped.

The third witness, Mexican model and actress Claudia Salinas, repudiated the testimony of Young, one of the women called by the prosecution to bolster the allegations of Weinstein’s main accusers.

Asked about Young’s claims that she stood by and did nothing while Weinstein groped her at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2013, Salinas responded that it “never happened.”

Young had testified that Salinas closed the door behind her and Weinstein as they went into the bathroom, where she alleges he stripped off his clothes, grabbed her breast and masturbated. Once it was over, Young said she found Salinas standing outside the bathroom and shot her an evil look before leaving as quickly as she could.

“If I had done that, I would remember that,” Salinas testified. “I would never close the door on anybody.”

By Sasha Savitsky, Marta Dhanis |The Associated Press contributed to this report. You can find Sasha Savitsky on Twitter @SashaFB.

By James Thompson. James holds a doctoral degree, and is a political commentator and professional ghostwriter.


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Unfortunately, It’s time for a National ID

WERE YOU AWARE THAT MOST NATIONS HAVE A NATIONAL ID?

It’s true. For a quick lesson in how many countries issue a National ID for their citizens, do a Google search for “national id” and click on images. Hundreds of nations issue ID cards for their citizens, to differentiate them from non-citizens and ensure that national benefits and rights are extended to their citizens, and that they are not removed as non-citizens.

For all of us civil libertarians, who abhor ‘Big Brother’ tracking our every move and knowing what we are doing in our private life, the thought of a National ID card has been a very sore subject for decades. We have simply rejected any mention of it at every turn.

Yet, we live in a nation where liberals create problems, then create solutions to those problems, which create bigger problems — perpetuating the escalating cycle of government intrusion and bureaucratic expansion.

Because we are overrun with non-citizens who seek American citizen rights and privileges — like voting, welfare benefits, employment, etc. — and because the left has been pushing so hard to make those rights and privileges available to non-citizens, we must seriously consider the reality that we must now provide all Americans with federal government issued identification. Those who hold the ID are extended the rights and privileges of US citizens, and those who do not hold it are not. It’s really that simple.

Of course, those who are in favor of open borders and who have a desire to dilute the status of US citizenship will hate the idea. They will decry a National ID as being exclusive, discriminatory, and limiting. They will tell us that there will be a few citizens who have difficulty obtaining a National ID, and therefore, no one should have it (like a Voter ID card, for example).

We are at the point that we can make a National ID card that is nearly impossible to replicate. A biometric database (fingerprint or retina scan) can quickly identify anyone who is asked to produce his ID, but left it in his other wallet.

Again, critics will argue that those who are unable to obtain a Nation ID will be discriminated against, and illegal aliens will be deported. Of course, every nation on the earth defines its borders and only allows certain people within its borders (try to visit Canada or Sweden without their permission, and you’ll see how archaic America has become), and America should be no different. To those who fear that illegals will be discovered through this process, all I can say is — you’re right. That is exactly what will happen.


By James Thompson. James holds a doctoral degree, and is a political commentator and professional ghostwriter.


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Presiding Bishopric: LDS Church Spends Nearly $1 Billion Annually On Humanitarian Efforts

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nears $1 billion a year in fast-growing humanitarian, welfare spending

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doubled its humanitarian spending over the past five years and now annually provides nearly $1 billion in combined humanitarian and welfare aid, the church’s Presiding Bishopric said this week in a rare interview.

But the church’s work and missions cannot be reduced to its humanitarian spending and charity efforts, said Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé and his counselors, Bishop Dean M. Davies and Bishop W. Christopher Waddell. Those represent just one function of a sprawling global faith that funds 30,000 congregations, more than 200 temples and educational opportunities for hundreds of thousands of students while also providing food, clothing and shelter for hundreds of thousands of people a year.

“It’s no surprise we are talking about billions of dollars,” Bishop Caussé said. “Nobody should be surprised, given the number of members, millions of members, 16 million members in so many countries. This is a church that has become quite large, and so there’s a large budget, and we are grateful for that because that’s an opportunity to expand the reach of all the good that the church can do around the world.”

The bishopric gave a unique look at the breadth and depth of the financial dealings of the global faith in a sit-down interview with the Deseret News and Church News two weeks after the bishopric spoke to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) answering critics’ charges that the church is amassing wealth.

To the contrary, church leaders said it is fulfilling its mission to care for the poor, spread the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world, strengthen the spiritual foundation of its members and live the principles of self-reliance it teaches to all.

The church’s investment arm, Ensign Peak Advisors, reportedly has grown to $100 billion, a figure claimed by the brother of a former worker at Ensign Peak. The members of the bishopric said they were aware that those reports drew both praise from some about the way church leaders are managing what they and members consider sacred donations as well as criticism and questions about what the church is doing with such a large amount of money.

They did not confirm whether that amount was accurate, but they said they expect leaner economic times will come in the future and also acknowledged that the church’s needs and expenditures are accelerating as the faith grows around the world. They also rejected the notion they are hoarding money for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Instead, they said, they are making prudent, diverse investments to protect against economic downturns and prepare for the future.

What follows is a look at the faith’s holdings through the eyes of the men tasked with receiving and distributing donations to the church.

‘We won’t have to stop’

Bishop Caussé said the size of the fund is a proper backstop for the church’s full breadth and depth of operation.

Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé
Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé

“Most of the growth, I have to say, is because we are right now in the longest period of prosperity in the United States that has ever been recorded, and this is creating that surge of financial markets,” he said. “We are just beneficiaries of it.”

In 2008, the credit crisis and related stock market plunge reportedly obliterated 21% of the value of Ensign Peak’s holdings, according to a document produced by the former employee’s brother. The Ensign Peak fund reportedly has more than doubled in the subsequent, ongoing economic upswing.

The bishopric did not confirm those reports, but did say the church froze budgets and hiring during the crisis. The only budget item that increased in that period was humanitarian and welfare spending, because church leaders knew more people would need help. “Most of the growth, I have to say, is because we are right now in the longest period of prosperity in the United States that has ever been recorded, and this is creating that surge of financial markets. We are just beneficiaries of it.” — Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé

“There will be future downturns,” Bishop Waddell said.How extensive, how dramatic we don’t know. But one of the comments we made to the Journal was that if that were to happen, because of the reserves being carefully watched over, protected and wisely handled, we won’t have to stop missionary work, we won’t have to stop maintaining buildings and building temples, we won’t have to stop humanitarian and welfare work, we won’t have to stop education work. What the journalist (wrote) was that we won’t have to stop missionary work, period. Well, there’s more than that.”

The Presiding Bishopric said a large reserve is necessary, specifically citing as reasons the church’s expansion into countries in which congregations are not self-sustaining, the construction of 50 more temples and the growing cost of providing educational opportunities for more and more students. The church is educating 880,500 students through its seminary and institutes program, universities and Pathway program.

FILE – BYU students participate in a campus devotional with Elder David A. Bednar in the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018.

They said tithing and fast offerings are spiritual principles that benefit church members, shared more details about the church’s farms and educational expenses and described its humanitarian donations as precision-guided aid.

“It is a church,” Bishop Caussé said. “It’s not a financial institution … and because it is a church, the funds that are managed within the church are contributed by the members of the church and are really sacred. We really consider those funds as belonging to the Lord.

“It’s difficult to understand the church,” he added. “If you look at it as a financial institution, you will never understand it. You have to look at it as an organization of consecrated followers of Jesus Christ. This is what it is, with a mission assigned by the Lord.”

Humanitarian and welfare spending

The three bishops challenged some of what they’ve seen in previous reports.

“The people who say we’re not doing our part, that is just not true,” Bishop Waddell said. “We’re talking close to $1 billion in that welfare/humanitarian area on an annual basis. Yes, we are using our resources to bless the poor and the needy as well as all of the other responsibilities we have as a church.”

The figure includes all humanitarian and welfare expenditures, including fast offering aid.

The budget for humanitarian work “has gone up dramatically,” Bishop Waddell said.

Warehouse workers load supplies as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints send aid to China in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. Respirator masks, protective googles and protective suits were sent.
Warehouse workers load supplies as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends aid to China in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020.

In fact, Bishop Caussé added, humanitarian expenditures have doubled in the past five years.

“And we believe they are going to increase fast,” he said.

Increases in humanitarian and welfare spending are driven first by the contributions and volunteerism of church members, the bishops said. The other major factor is how quickly the church can ensure new avenues for precise giving. For example, Latter-day Saint Charities carefully and thoroughly assesses each partner. “The last thing you want to do is just give them money and then you really don’t know where it goes,” Bishop Davies said. “So we have both missionaries and area staff on the ground, feet on the ground, who actually are there, they can see that food’s being distributed, or equipment, or schools are being built as part of our program.”

“We have an obligation to the members of the church who pay their tithes and offerings to make sure that is going to organizations or areas that will actually meet a need,” Bishop Waddell said. “The members of the church have a right to trust that it’s going to be managed and handled well and not just thrown at issues.”

The leaders said the church’s expansion into more countries is increasing its ability and opportunities to help others.

“As the church has been established in many more countries, we develop local relationships with nongovernmental organizations and governments, and as we develop those types of relationships, we become aware of more and more needs,” Bishop Caussé said. “In the past our humanitarian reach was done mostly either directly or through our partnerships with global organizations” the church trusts to ensure donations are effective. “We’re going to see more and more partnerships with local organizations, because we are there and we are present and we know the people.”

50 temples under construction

While humanitarian spending is increasing, so are all the other costs associated with operating the church.

“The (financial) needs of the church are increasing and accelerating,” Bishop Caussé said. For example, “There are 50 temples that have been announced that are either under construction or in preparation for construction right now, 50. That’s huge.”

The church has 167 operating temples, which come with operational and maintenance costs.

Provo City Center Temple dedication Sunday, March 20, 2016.
FILE – The Provo City Center Temple, which was built after a fire destroyed the Provo Tabernacle, is seen in March 2016.

Among the other missions of the church is missionary work, which includes funding 399 missions and the travel and health care expenses of 67,695 missionaries.

Education is another massive expenditure that must be backstopped. Bishop Caussé said the church’s five universities and colleges, which educate 90,000 students, operate at a cost of $1.5 billion a year paid for by tuition and tithing.

Previous statements by leaders show that tithing subsidizes well over half of the cost. That allows many students to graduate with little to no debt. Brigham Young University ranks No. 1 on the latest Forbes list of best value colleges.

Universities are only a portion of the church’s education costs. It pays for a Seminary and Institutes program that provides religious education to more than 800,000 teens and college students around the world. The effort includes 50,000 teachers, Bishop Caussé said.

The church operates 27 wheat storage facilities and funds nine refugee resettlement agencies in the United States. It also operates more than 100 bishops’ storehouses full of food and commodities to help church members around the world.

Family history work is growing and the church allocates resources to obtain records and produce searchable records, Bishop Caussé said. There is urgency, because some of the records are deteriorating.

FILE – Steven Watrous scans a book at the FamilySearch free book scanning booth at the RootsTech conference on Feb. 6, 2016.

All those growing and varied missions of the church are part of what its leaders call preparing for Christ’s Second Coming.

“When we talk about preparing for the Second Coming, that doesn’t mean we’re hoarding money so that we have it when the Second Coming takes place,” Bishop Waddell said. “In preparing for the Second Coming, we’re talking about building temples and providing places of worship and temples where people can receive sacred and exalting ordinances so we can gather Israel, we can do the missionary work in preparation for that day. And so, when we talk about preparing for it, that means all the work that’s going on now.”

That work could be jeopardized by an economic disaster like the Great Depression, he said.

“There will come a time when all of these resources, reserves, will be necessary,” he said. “We don’t know when, we don’t know exactly in what form, but you think of the (Bible story of the) seven fat years and the seven lean years, there’s so many examples in the scriptures that we strive to follow, whether it’s the parable of the talents and not to bury the talent. We saw what the Lord did to that individual. We want to be ready for any contingency.”

Why tithe when there is a surplus?

In the Bible and Latter-day Saint scripture, Jesus Christ commands church members to “pay one-tenth of all their interest annually” as “a standing law forever.” Church members believe scriptural promises that tithing provides spiritual and temporal blessings.

The bishopric said the law of tithing is a principle that works and, in addition to being a commandment, called it an expression of gratitude to the Lord.

“It’s very valid and current in our world,” Bishop Caussé said, “and we see it over generations, how the gospel is blessing families and their lives.”

FILE – The Bishop’s Storehouse at Welfare Square in Salt Lake City in 2016.

Bishop Davies said paying tithing and fast offerings — the value of meals skipped during a 24-hour fast once a month — are spiritual commitments with promised blessings. Fast offering funds first stay within a ward or a branch to help people in the congregation. Excess funds are shared around the church.

He said the leaders of local congregations have the ability to obtain resources needed to help members of the church in their areas and reach out to strengthen others in their communities.

He and the other two bishops said they know it can be difficult for the poorest members to pay tithing, but all church leaders teach that all members should do so. They said no church member has to choose between eating and paying tithing.

Bishop Waddell said some are making an assumption that the church is bleeding the poor by having them pay tithing so it can amass reserves.

“It’s anything but,” he said. “They pay their tithing because it’s a commandment, and they are encouraged to, if they only have enough money to pay tithing or eat, ‘Pay your tithing and we’ll help with food,’ because the blessings that are associated with the payment of tithing will then be theirs, and they won’t go hungry, because we have the ability to assist them now.”

FILE – Volunteers slice and package loaves of bread at the Welfare Square bakery in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, May, 31, 2016.

Bishop Caussé called it an act of faith to pay tithing and receive fast offering aid from other members. There is great concern that members all over the world be treated equally and fairly.

“There’s always the church reaching out to those people, making sure that nobody will be set aside and everybody will benefit from the great blessing it is to be a member of the church,” he said.

Church leaders use tithing funds and fast offerings from established areas of the church to help finance less-established areas, the bishops said.

“In these emerging countries of the church, there is no way that the tithing, although members are very faithful … their tithing cannot cover all the expenditure, so it’s very important that members here in the United States and many other countries where the church has been established for a long time will contribute to it,” Bishop Caussé said. “There’s a great transfer of funds that happens, and it will be more and more in the future as the church develops in those countries.”

Bishop Caussé added, “In the center of everything that we do, is to care for those around us and to love our neighbor. And sometimes our neighbor can be in a faraway country.”

Bishop Davies said the number of church members who pay a full tithing is very close to the number who pay a fast offering.

Ensign Peaks Advisors

The church transfers surplus tithing each year to Ensign Peaks to invest for a rainy day.

“The church practices what it preaches in terms of setting aside and having budgets,” Bishop Davies said. “We never expend more than what we estimate will be coming in terms of tithes and offerings. And also by definition we set aside a certain amount every year in reserve for those times when there will be a need, and there will be a need in the future.”

Ensign Peak invests in a diverse portfolio. Some of the money is invested in U.S. equities, which are stocks and bonds. Previous filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission have shown that Ensign Peaks’ various funds hold stock in companies such as Apple, Home Depot and Alphabet.

But that is just a portion of the reserve fund.

“In addition to the reserves that are invested by Ensign Peak, we have reserves invested in real property and commercial real estate, residential real estate and in agriculture,” Bishop Waddell said. “The church practices what it preaches in terms of setting aside and having budgets.” — Bishop Dean M. Davies

That includes many large ranches and farms, which produce food to feed the hungry as well as provide long-term investment. The church recently bought a 15,000-acre, Dallas-area corn and sorghum farm with 10,000 head of cattle through one of its tax-paying agriculture companies, which include AgReserves Inc. and Farmland Reserve Inc. The property was listed for nearly $50 million, the Dallas Morning News reported on Thursday.

“They are one of the largest cattle ranch operators in the U.S.,” Icon Global founder Bernard Uechtritz told the newspaper.

The church’s ranch holdings are public.

For example, the church owns 670,000 acres of cattle ranches, farms and timberland in Florida. It started Deseret Ranches of Florida in 1950. It shared information about the ranch in a 1975 issue of the Ensign, one of the faith’s magazines, and on its Church Newsroom website in 2016. The Deseret News wrote about the ranches in 2013 and also covered the purchase of the timberland. It is public information that the church plans to develop some of the ranch property over the next 60 years.

The church invests in stocks so it can capture the value in economic boom times. It invests in agriculture, commercial real estate, residential real estate and other financial instruments to hedge against inflation during tougher times.

“The church has an attitude of being very conservative, very prudent,” Bishop Caussé said. “We really look in the long term. It’s not about having your reserves fluctuate all the time but looking into long-term care of those funds so they can be available to the church for accomplishing its mission. For example we have agricultural land that we look at with a 20- to 30-year perspective. It’s about how can we develop in a way that will be safe for the environment, that will be developing the land and the community, providing a great increase for the church or an interest of the church, but also preserving it for generations. That’s something that the church can do with its reserves that most businesses cannot do, because we are church. It’s a different way of reasoning.”

FILE – The Church Office Building in Salt Lake City.

Blessing the receiver and the giver

The church has not released financial reports since 1959, when it ran a deficit. The financial policies it now follows, never spending more than it takes in and setting aside some money in a reserve fund each year, were established in the 1970s, prior to the tenure of any of today’s church leaders. The late church leader President Gordon B. Hinckley explained the philosophy in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, which he called perilous times. “We cannot provide against every contingency,” he said, “but we can provide against many contingencies. Let the present situation remind us that this we should do.”

For the past four decades, media outlets have published newspaper series, magazine cover stories and books about the church’s property, investments and reserves. In the latest example two months ago, a man posted information online that he said contained documents his twin brother took from Ensign Peak before he resigned last year. The man filed a complaint with the IRS alleging the church should be forced to pay taxes on the returns earned by Ensign Peak because it is not spending its funds. The Washington Post later reported that the twins have had a falling out.

Independent tax experts have told multiple publications the IRS is unlikely to act on the man’s complaint because Ensign Peak is integral part of the church, legally known as an integrated auxiliary.

There have been no allegations of leaders enriching themselves, something noted in multiple reports on church finances. The church’s general authorities leave their professional careers to serve as church leaders full time often at significant financial sacrifice.

Bishop Caussé said the church’s work cannot be measured by dollars alone. He called the volunteer work of members an intangible, citing doctors and medical staff who train others and more.

“There are really two objectives of what we do,” he said. “The first one is to bless the receiver, and the other one is to bless the giver, and both are equally important. So, we always look at ‘Who is it that we can help,’ but also, ‘Can we provide enough opportunities for the members of the church to go and to reach out to others?’”

By Tad Walch@Tad_Walch


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Limbaugh: Radio and Political Genius

“I’m one of the luckiest people to be alive”

Rush Limbaugh receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom

His ‘army of one,’ inspiring millions who’d been ignored, changed the political landscape.

Genius is often defined in myriad ways. One trusted criterion is the ability to do something extraordinary in a field where others could not — and doing something that perhaps will never be done again by anyone else.

By that measure, Rush Limbaugh certainly is the genius of talk radio, a genre in which he not merely excelled but that he also singlehandedly reinvented as something entirely different — and entirely more powerful and instrumental in American life — from what was imaginable pre-Limbaugh.

Even stranger still, his ascendance coincided with the presumed nadir of radio itself. It was supposedly a has-been, one-dimensional medium, long overshadowed by television. Even in the late 1980s, radio was about to be sentenced as obsolete in the ascendant cyber age of what would become Internet blogs, podcasts, streaming, and smartphone television.

Stranger still, Limbaugh has prospered through two generations and picked up millions of listeners who were not born when he first went national and who had no idea of why or how he had become a national presence.

He certainly did not capture new listeners by adjusting to the times. While tastes changed and the issues often metamorphosed, he did not. He remained conservative, commonsensical, and skeptical of Washington and those in it, as if he knew all the predictable thousand faces of the timeless progressive project, whose various manifestations reappear to mask a single ancient and predictable essence: the desire of a self-appointed group of elites to expand government in order to regiment the lives of ordinary people, allegedly to achieve greater mandated equality and social justice but more often to satisfy their own narcissistic will to power. It was Limbaugh who most prominently warned that lax immigration enforcement would soon lead to open calls for open borders, that worry about “global warming” would transform into calls to ban the internal combustion engine, and that the logical end of federal takeover of health care would be Medicare for All.

The Left — and many too who would later become the Never Trump Right — thought that Limbaugh’s worst moment finally came after Obama’s 2008 victory, during the post-election euphoria and just days before the January 2009 inauguration. It was a heady time, when the media would go on to declare soon-to-be Nobel laureate President Obama as, variously, a living “god” and “the smartest guy” ever to assume the presidency. His supporters often compared him to iconic wartime presidents such as FDR and Lincoln. Americans had been lectured on Obama’s divinity even as a candidate, and the evidence had ranged from the mundane of Platonically perfect creases in his trousers, to the telepathic ability to prompt spontaneous electrical impulses in the legs of cable television anchors.

In answer to Obama’s promise to fundamentally “transform America,” Limbaugh flat-out said he hoped that the new president would not succeed: “I hope Obama fails.” Outrage followed. Was Limbaugh rooting for the failure of America itself? In fact, he was worrying about how America might survive the first unabashedly progressive president in over 60 years, now empowered by an obsequious media, a House majority, a veto-proof Senate, and Supreme Court picks on the near horizon.

Limbaugh was the first voice to warn that what would soon follow the election was not the agenda that Obama sometimes disingenuously voiced on the campaign trail — Obama’s ruse of occasionally sounding concerned about illegal immigration, gay marriage, the spiraling debt, a rapid pullout from Iraq, and identity politics — but rather a move to the progressive hard-left.

What would ensue instead lined up with Obama’s senatorial voting record, his prior associations with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, and Father Pfleger, and his occasional slips on the campaign trail: “I want you to argue with them and get in their face,” “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a knife,” and (in the pre-Netflix, pre–Martha Vineyard estate days), “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” Once elected, Obama was unbound. He lectured the nation about the wages of the West’s sin: the Crusades, America’s prior role in the world, and its own domestic woes. He instructed Americans on when it was the time to profit and when it was not, the point at which people should concede they had made enough money. And he listed the various reasons that he could not, as some anti-constitutional “king,” grant unconstitutional amnesties by fiat — before he went on to do just that.

Prior to Limbaugh’s national prominence, radio talk-show hosts were not shapers of national culture or politics. Even the few local and regional celebrity radio hosts had little power to influence issues of the day. While local talk radio was more conservative than liberal, it was hardly seen as traditional conservatives’ answer to the liberal biases of the major national newspapers, network evening news, and public radio and TV, much less the aristocratic pretensions of the Republican Beltway hierarchy.

So, what was inconceivable in 1988 was not just that any one person could leap from local prominence to national dominance, but that he could empower (rather than replace) his legions of radio subordinates. Far from making them irrelevant, Limbaugh energized talk-radio hosts. Once he became a national force, hundreds of others became far more effective conservative local and regional voices, partly through the art of emulation, partly through scheduling to lead in to or follow Limbaugh’s daily three-hour show, partly in the general renewed public interest in talk radio itself.

Call that coattails, or force multiplication, but in essence, Limbaugh redefined the genre as something more entertaining, more political, and yet more serious — an “army of one” antidote to the New York and Washington media corridor. How strange that after progressives achieved a monopoly in network news, public television and radio, the Internet conglomerates, Hollywood, and network prime-time programing, they sought to emulate Limbaugh by creating their own leftist version of national talk radio, Air America. Millions of dollars, dozens of talk-radio hosts, and Chapter 11 later, the venture collapsed in abject failure.

I wager that more Democrats listened to Limbaugh than to Air America, in the fashion of my late Democratic father, who used to sneak into my office on the farm and listen with me to Rush during the 1991 Gulf War.

How did Limbaugh do it?

No one really knows because few have been able to duplicate his success, despite a number of gifted hosts who have tried. For all the criticism that Limbaugh was crass, over some 25,000 hours of the syndicated Limbaugh show, there were few embarrassments. And in cases where Limbaugh said something he regretted, he later apologized. He certainly could grow animated but seldom shouted and yelled. He talked about having talent “on loan from God” but could turn self-deprecatory and compliment callers for insights that he found original and noteworthy, saying, “I hadn’t thought of that.” He mocked identity politics but at work and in life often surrounded himself with talented people who were not white, and he seemed oblivious to any significance of that fact other than that he’d found friends and employees who were competent and whom he liked. He was a self-made multimillionaire many times over and proud of it, and yet felt and acted more comfortable with those of the Midwestern middle classes with whom he’d grown up.

Perhaps the best clue is that Limbaugh was never just a talk-show host at all. Or rather, he redefined the talk-radio three-hour format into something far more expansive than the critical arts of editorializing and answering impromptu listeners’ calls. In his prime role as unyielding conservative explicator of the daily news without the filters of the Washington and New York commentariat, he combined the jobs of entertainer, stand-up comedian, psychologist, impressionist, satirist, provocateur, therapist, and listener to the nation.

Yet ultimately his audience listened because he differentiated between two worlds. On one hand, he saw, with a skeptic’s eye, the cosmos of progressive and liberal translators who selectively edit the day’s events and massage their supposed importance to Americans, to present the news in line with liberals’ preconceived agendas — under the guise that such reporting was beyond reproach as professional, disinterested, and entirely based in facts. Limbaugh exploded all those pretenses.

But he also saw the other world that was never reported. He did not claim to be a traditional journalist or even an opinion journalist. Instead, he proudly assumed the mantle and collective voice of a conservative Everyman. Or maybe, more dramatically, his listeners saw him as an atoll of traditional sanity in a turbulent sea of postmodern madness. His forte was explaining why nominal conservatives were infected with a fatal virus of wanting to be liked by the “mainstream media” and the cultural elite — and thus often “grew” in office, moving leftward, as if they had become smarter and more sophisticated than those who had voted for them.

People tuned in because they knew in advance that Rush would not weaken or deviate, much less “transcend” them. There would be no faddish Limbaugh who renounced his prior personas and positions. So his listeners were reassured each day that they were not themselves crazy to express doubt about what the nation was told or instructed.

Rush Limbaugh speaks at the 2019 Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach, Fla., December 21, 2019. (Gage Skidmore)

The New York Times story picked up by their local paper, the NPR segment they heard in the car, and the commentary of the ABC, CBS, or NBC evening news anchors were rarely if at all the whole truth and anything but the truth. Limbaugh reminded them that what was purportedly the news was increasingly the output of a rather narrow slice of cocooned America between Washington, D.C., and New York City, offered up by affluent progressives (the “drive-bys”) who had come to believe that the media’s role was not to report events per se, but to do so in a way that would not only educate the otherwise blinkered American masses but would also improve them morally and make them redeemable spiritually.

Limbaugh did all that, day in and day out, without any sense of monotony or boredom, but with almost adolescent energy and excitement about just talking to America each day. He never dialed it in. And his audience knew it.

Limbaugh himself knew his listeners, not just by class or locale, but through a shared skepticism about the values of coastal America and its inability to show any correlation between proven excellence and an array of letters after one’s name or name-dropping on a résumé. Does anyone think that a professor of journalism, a Washington pundit, a network anchor, a Senate elder, a president, or even a late-night TV host could host 30 hours of the Limbaugh show without losing most of the audience?

He was the Midwestern college drop-out who had bounced around among jobs before he found his natural place. Through that experience, he posed an ancient Euripidean question, “What is wisdom?” The answer was found in many of his targets: academics, editorialists, celebrities, journalists, government functionaries, and politicos whose bromides Limbaugh made ridiculous, and he instructed millions on how and why their ideas made no sense in a real world beyond their enclaves. Rush was hated by the Left supposedly for his politically incorrect -isms and -ologies; in truth, it was because he so often made them look ridiculous.

Limbaugh sounded sane when giddy Stanford grad and Rhodes scholar Rachel Maddow enthused about Robert Mueller’s daily walls-are-closing-in bombshells — much as farmer and Cal Poly graduate Devin Nunes wrote the truth in his House Intelligence Committee majority report while Harvard Law graduate Adam Schiff’s nose grew in his minority-report reply, and in the way that supposedly idiotic wheeler-dealer Donald Trump energized the economy after Ivy League sophisticate Barack Obama said it would require a magic wand.

In response to Rush Limbaugh’s announcement that he has advanced lung cancer, millions voiced sympathy, support — and shock. Last week, millions asked, “What are Rush’s chances?” The correct answer might be, “Not good — if it was anyone but Rush.”

Yet one who can create national talk radio ex nihilo can similarly beat toxic malignancy. His listeners seemed worried not just over Rush’s health but about their own equally ominous future of the day’s events without him.

May that day be far off.

By Victor Davis Hanson, NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump. @vdhanson


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Jussie Smollett Indicted on 6 Counts for Lying to Police

Judge upholds decision to appoint special prosecutor in Jussie Smollett case.
A Chicago judge denied requests from Jussie Smollett’s legal team to block the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a grand jury on six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police about his claims of a racist and homophobic attack against him in January 2019, a special prosecutor announced on Tuesday.

Special prosecutor Dan Webb issued a statement announcing the indictment against the 37-year-old former “Empire” star. He is due in court on Feb. 24, Fox 32 reported citing a source.

Smollett, who is black and gay, originally was charged last year with disorderly conduct for allegedly staging the attack and lying about it to investigators. The charges were dropped in March 2019 with little explanation, angering police officials and then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Cook County Judge Michael Toomin in August appointed Webb, a former U.S. attorney, as a special prosecutor to look into why the charges were dropped. Webb was also charged with looking into whether Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s calls with a Smollett relative and an ex-aide of former first lady Michelle Obama unduly influenced the decision to drop charges. Foxx recused herself from the case but continued to weigh in.

In January 2019, Smollett told police he was attacked by two masked men as he was walking home from a Chicago Subway sandwich shop at approximately 2 a.m. The actor alleged that the masked men taunted him with homophobic and racial slurs, beat him and looped a noose around his neck before fleeing.

He said his attackers, at least one of whom he said was white, told him he was in “MAGA country” — a reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Several weeks later, investigators alleged that Smollett had paid two friends $3,500 to help him stage the attack because he was unhappy with his salary as an actor on “Empire” and wanted to drum up publicity for his career.

By Mariah Haas. Fox News’ Matt Finn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Trump Acquitted

Despite years of searching for, then manufacturing episodes of wrongdoing, the US Senate has overwhelmingly voted to acquit.
The Senate overwhelmingly acquitted President Trump on both articles of impeachment against him Wednesday afternoon following a brief trial, in a historic rejection of Democrats’ claims that the president’s Ukraine dealings and handling of congressional subpoenas merited his immediate removal from office.
All Democratic senators supported convicting the president of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, including swing-vote moderate Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Doug Jones, D-Ala.

The only party defection was on the abuse of power charge from Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who declared hours before the final vote that Trump had engaged in as “destructive an attack on the oath of office and our Constitution as I can imagine.” Romney voted not guilty on the obstruction charge.

By a final vote of 52-48 against conviction on the abuse of power charge and 53-47 on the obstruction charge, the Senate fell far short of the two-thirds majority needed to convict and remove the president. Swing-vote Republican senators — including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee — voted to acquit on both counts.

The separate obstruction of Congress charge concerned the White House’s assertion of executive privilege and refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas. Romney explained he would acquit on the obstruction count, saying House Democrats had chosen not to respond to the White House’s legal arguments against the subpoenas.

Publius

BREAKING: Senate Votes NO on Additional Impeachment Witnesses

51 to 49 Vote. Murkowski comes out against impeachment witnesses, putting Trump on path to acquittal

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski came out Friday against calling witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial, all but assuring the Senate will move to wrap up proceedings with a likely acquittal in a matter of days, if not hours.

“Given the partisan nature of this impeachment from the very beginning and throughout, I have come to the conclusion that there will be no fair trial in the Senate. I don’t believe the continuation of this process will change anything. It is sad for me to admit that, as an institution, the Congress has failed,” said Murkowski, R-Alaska, a key moderate senator who has been closely watched on the witness question.

The announcement came after Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who also had been on the fence on the issue, announced late Thursday that he would not support additional witnesses in Trump’s “shallow, hurried and wholly partisan” trial.

The Senate voted on the witness question later Friday. From there, proceedings could drag on through Friday night and into the weekend – and possibly beyond – but it takes a two-thirds super-majority to convict a president.

Few senators have publicly budged from party lines during the course of the trial, leaving impeachment managers far short of the votes needed to convict barring some extraordinary turn.

Murkowski, after keeping her views close to the vest, issued her statement just as what could be the final day of proceedings got underway. In it, she said she “carefully considered” the question of allowing witnesses and documents in the trial, “but ultimately decided that I will vote against considering motions to subpoena.”

She even seemed to take a swipe at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for a day earlier applying not-so-subtle pressure on Chief Justice John Roberts to side with those seeking witnesses. On the floor Thursday, Warren gave Roberts a question that asked if refusing to allow witnesses would “contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution?”

Murkowski said in her statement: “It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the Chief Justice. I will not stand for nor support that effort. We have already degraded this institution for partisan political benefit, and I will not enable those who wish to pull down another.”

The statement also could have been a reference to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., clashing with Roberts over the last two days for the latter’s refusal to read aloud his question naming the alleged Ukraine whistleblower.

“We are sadly at a low point of division in this country,” Murkowski said.

Trump is accused of withholding aid to Ukraine as leverage to extract an investigation led by that country into Democrats including 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his family. He denies it, but former national security adviser John Bolton reportedly has alleged, in his forthcoming book, that the president indeed linked the aid and the investigations.

This prompted a renewed scramble by Democrats to muster the votes to demand witness testimony, from Bolton and others. The New York Times reported Friday that Bolton also claims Trump told him to help with his Ukraine pressure campaign as early as May.

Trump denied the claim.

As it became clear that votes were lining up to block witnesses, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., alleged earlier Friday that Republicans were on the verge of participating in the “greatest cover-up since Watergate.”

“The president’s acquittal will be meaningless because it will be the result of a sham trial,” he declared.

Judson Berger

By Judson Berger


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US Attorney Durham Confirms He Will Prosecute Dems in Russia Criminal Probe

The U.S. attorney who is conducting a wide-ranging investigation of the origins of the Trump-Russia probe released a rare statement Monday saying he disagrees with conclusions of the so-called FISA report — after DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz found in that review that the probe’s launch largely complied with DOJ and FBI policies.

“Based on the evidence collected to date, and while our investigation is ongoing, last month we advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened,” U.S. Attorney John Durham said in a statement.

Horowitz released his report Monday saying his investigators found no intentional misconduct or political bias surrounding efforts to launch that 2016 probe and to seek a highly controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page in the early months of the investigation. Still, it found that there were “significant concerns with how certain aspects of the investigation were conducted and supervised.”

“I have the utmost respect for the mission of the Office of Inspector General and the comprehensive work that went into the report prepared by Mr. Horowitz and his staff,” Durham said. “However, our investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department. Our investigation has included developing information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S.”

As Horowitz has conducted his review of DOJ actions during the Russia probe, Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, has also been conducting a wider inquiry into alleged misconduct and alleged improper government surveillance on the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election.

Fox News reported in October that Durham’s ongoing probe has transitioned into a full-fledged criminal investigation.

Meanwhile, Attorney General William Barr ripped the FBI’s “intrusive” investigation after the release of Horowitz’s review, saying it was launched based on the “thinnest of suspicions.”

“The Inspector General’s report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Barr said in a statement.

Barr expressed frustration that the FBI continued investigating the Trump campaign, even as “exculpatory” information came to the light.Video

“It is also clear that, from its inception, the evidence produced by the investigation was consistently exculpatory,” Barr said. “Nevertheless, the investigation and surveillance was pushed forward for the duration of the campaign and deep into President Trump’s administration.”

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller acknowledged in his report that investigators did not find evidence of a conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and the Russians in 2016 – which the FBI probed extensively.

Barr said the FISA report shows a “clear abuse” of the surveillance process.

“In the rush to obtain and maintain FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associates, FBI officials misled the FISA court, omitted critical exculpatory facts from their filings, and suppressed or ignored information negating the reliability of their principal source,” Barr said.

He added, “The Inspector General found the explanations given for these actions unsatisfactory. While most of the misconduct identified by the Inspector General was committed in 2016 and 2017 by a small group of now-former FBI officials, the malfeasance and misfeasance detailed in the Inspector General’s report reflects a clear abuse of the FISA process.”

Monday’s FISA report dealing with the investigation into Trump’s campaign has long been expected. Horowitz in September submitted a draft of the report to Barr and the FBI so they could identify any classified information. But it had not been publicly released until now.

The release comes as Washington has been consumed with an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The House Judiciary Committee is holding the inquiry’s latest hearing Monday, days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are moving forward with plans to bring articles of impeachment against the president over his dealings with Ukraine.

Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a senior politics editor at FoxNews.com. 


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