Another White House Shakeup, National Credit Card Explodes and So Much More: Look At News Daily  (March 17-23/Day 57-63) Week 9

By Michael Hernandez

March 17 (Saturday): Day 57

Trump administration seeks more water for California; State opposes plan

The next battle between the State of California and the Trump administration — after clashes over the environment, “sanctuary” laws, and the border wall, to name a few — will be over water.

The Trump administration is embracing a proposal to raise the height of the Shasta Dam in Northern California, the Los Angeles Times notes, to provide additional water storage to the thirsty Golden State.  Raising the height of the Shasta Dam from the current 600 feet to 800 feet, as originally designed would add nine million acre-feet to its existing storage capacity–double its present volume.

But California’s government is trying to stop the project, thanks largely to the influence of environmental groups that have staunchly opposed the construction or expansion of dams in recent decades. A local Native American tribe, the Winnemem Wintu, also opposes raising the dam.

The dam was first built during the latter years of the Great Depression, and was completed in 1945.

The state’s farming interests are intensely interested in the project. The Westlands Water District, which represents farmers in the relatively dry western portion of the agricultural Central Valley, is hoping that new water from the Shasta Dam will replace water that has been lost to state restrictions and to a federal judicial mandate that flushes water out to sea to protect the endangered San Joaquin Delta smelt.

As the Times notes, a former lobbyist for Westlands, David Bernhardt, is now Deputy Secretary of the Interior. And Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who represents part of the southern Central Valley, is in a position to bring farmers’ concerns to the fore.

The dam is located on federal land. But state law prohibits raising it. The federal government is pushing ahead with the project, regardless. That means the clash will ultimately come down to the Constitution — and the courts.

 

Up to 25 States allow teachers to carry guns

Numerous districts in Colorado and Ohio allow teachers to carry guns for defense of themselves and their students. Teachers in Utah are allowed to carry, as are teachers in certain districts in Arkansas. Gun Owners of America reports that 12 to 25 states — depending on how one interprets the law — allow teachers to carry.

Fox 5 reports that Texas has 1,000 school districts, and approximately 170 of those districts allow teachers and school staff to be armed on campus for self-defense.

Missouri College president praises Trump tax plan

The president of a Missouri college and a member of his staff who sat at a roundtable with the Commander-In-Chief praised President Trump for his tax plan.

Jerry Davis of College of the Ozarks near Branson said he noticed that many American businesses were passing their tax savings to their employees. “We want to be a part of that and be a good example,” he said.

Davis said the College of the Ozarks is a “work college” where students are simultaneously employed while at school, and normally do not graduate with debt. “[The bonuses] are especially appropriate because [we] are a work college,” he said. “We’re certainly not an environment for snowflakes.”

Cafeteria worker Bonnie Brazzeal said each employee received $204 in bonuses.

Rachel Campos-Duffy asked Brazzeal about her emotional reaction during the roundtable with Trump and Boeing aerospace manufacturing executives. Brazzeal said it was “an amazing experience” to meet the president and be able to thank him in person for the money, which she said she deposited in her retirement fund.

 

March 18 (Sunday): Day 58

Andrew McCabe

President never saw fired FBI official take notes of conversations

President Trump responded Sunday to reports that fired FBI official Andrew McCabe took notes of their conversations, saying he never saw McCabe write down messages and suggesting the purported notes be called “fake memos,” like those purportedly taken by “lying James Comey” — the FBI director fired by Trump.

McCabe, the onetime FBI deputy director long scorned by Trump, was fired Friday evening, two days short of his retirement and receiving a full pension. The firing was followed by reports that McCabe kept personal memos detailing interactions with the president. The memos reportedly have been provided to the office of the special counsel conducting the Russia investigation and are similar to the notes compiled by Comey.

“Spent very little time with Andrew McCabe, but he never took notes when he was with me,” Trump tweeted. “I don’t believe he made memos except to help his own agenda, probably at a later date. Same with lying James Comey. Can we call them Fake Memos?”

The memos could factor into Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as his team examines Trump campaign ties to Russia and possible obstruction of justice.

McCabe’s memos include details of his own interactions with the president, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation who wasn’t authorized to discuss the notes publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.  McCabe’s memos also recount different conversations he had with Comey.

Trump on Sunday also tweeted: Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!”

Democrat House leader says McCabe firing might be “justified”

House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who often has fought the Republicans over the actions of President Trump and the FBI, said on Sunday that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s firing from the bureau might be “justified.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe late Friday night, just hours before the FBI official was set to retire, jeopardizing McCabe’s ability to collect full pension benefits. 

“There’s no way for us to know at this point, but even though it may have been justified, it can also be tainted,” Schiff said on ABC News’ “This Week,” referencing McCabe’s potential role in a probe investigating the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.

The ranking Democrat added that he thought it was difficult to know whether the firing was legitimate because it happened before the release of an inspector general report expected to conclude McCabe was not forthcoming about matters related to the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Adam Schiff

Former CIA Director attacks President for firing former FBI official

Former CIA Director John Brennan reacted to the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe — and President Donald Trump’s celebration of it — by tweeting a strident attack against Trump:  “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history. You may scapegoat Andy McCabe, but you will  not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”

Former UN Ambassador Samantha Power supported Brennan’s tweet by saying,  

“Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan.”  Power later tried to walk back her tweet:  “Whoa! Just home & see much misinterp. of earlier tweet. It’s testament to polarized times that it cd be misread as referring to something other than Brennan’s indignation. So will translate: not a good idea to upset ‪@JohnBrennan bc/ he will raise an angry (& eloquent) voice.”

Power’s warning echoes that of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), who warned Trump last January — in the midst of heavy leaks to the media by the FBI and intelligence services: “You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

 

March 19 (Monday): Day 59

Republican Congressman wants wall funded

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Breitbart News Sunday says he believes that Congress should fund the wall in the ensuing omnibus spending battle, saying, “Let’s fund the whole wall and let’s build it all.”

King declared:  “Of course, there’s a list of things that I want to see: let’s fund the wall, let’s fund the whole wall, and let’s build it all. I used to say let’s build the wall until they stop going around the end.”

Congressman King also cautioned that Congress might not push to defund Planned Parenthood in the omnibus spending bill, but there is a push for the New York Gateway Bridge project that will benefit Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “I’m most concerned about two things, great big things, shame on us if we cannot defund Planned Parenthood,” King said. “I don’t want to see money go to Schumer. I don’t want to see amnesty in the bill.”

Rep. King also told Breitbart News Sunday that he wants to remove the 60-vote majority to pass legislation in the Senate. King explained, “I am ready to get rid of the filibuster. It was clear that it forces bipartisan most of the time, but we don’t we have bipartisanship anymore. We have partisanship more than ever.”

The Iowa Republican continued, “We should get rid of the filibuster and then we just ram stuff through. By the way, if we were to that level, we could get back to regular order much, much, easier.”

Rep. King also called for Congress to defund sanctuary cities in the incoming spending bill. “Defund Sanctuary cities and of course the state of California,” King charged. “I would shut down every dollar going into that state until they began to honor their obligation to the United States of America. They don’t have the authority to be sanctuary cities and states.”

U.S. Supreme Court  to rule on California forced speech on abortion

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments challenging California’s law requiring Christian pregnancy clinics to provide mandatory disclosure of abortion options on Tuesday, March 20.

In 2015, California Democrats passed the “Reproductive Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency Act,” which forces doctors and counselors at dozens of Christian pregnancy crisis clinics to inform clients about abortion services that are available elsewhere as an alternative.

The clinics argue that the so-called “equal option” violates the protections set forth in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, as applied to the states by the Fourteenth Amendment.

California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra claims that there are no free-speech protections that are violated by regulations ensuring that basic health information is provided to all women through the “Reproductive FACT Act.”

Becerra also claims that nonprofit organizations, often affiliated with Christian groups opposed to abortion, have been providing women with inaccurate and misleading information, while masquerading as full-service reproductive health clinics.

California’s Attorney General and local government lawyers can sue non-compliant facilities under the law to extract $500 fines for first offenses, and $1,000 in follow-on fines.

The centers claim the law only requires those opposing abortion to post messages about alternative options. They argue the disclosures are so broad and onerous “that it is difficult, if not impossible, for unlicensed centers to advocate their own pro-life message in most media.” The centers are also forced to “begin their expressive relationship with an immediate unwanted or negative message that crowds out and confuses their intended message.”

The U.S. District Court ruled against the centers, and the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the decision, but the U.S. Supreme Court took the appeal.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) network of 3,200 faith-based attorneys is now representing the Christian centers. ADF is also handling the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case, in which a Colorado Christian baker is resisting being forced to create custom cakes for same-sex weddings; and the Zubik v. Burwell challenge by religious nonprofits to Obamacare’s supposed birth-control “work-arounds.”

ADF’s Jan. 17 brief argues: “Licensed clinics have a strong interest in refraining from speech that advertises third-party services they find morally repugnant.” It adds: “California has not substantiated any particularized interest in having licensed clinics themselves disseminate the notice.”

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a “friend of the court” amicus brief at the Supreme Court, urging the justices to overturn the California law. But the DOJ did agree that California may have a “state interest” in requiring unlicensed centers to disclose “uncontroversial information” that its staff are not licensed medical professionals.

March 20 (Tuesday): Day 60

Secret Empires book debuts on Amazon bestseller list

On Tuesday, the new book Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends by Government Accountability Institute President and Breitbart Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer debuted at #3 on the Amazon bestseller list.

A four-time New York Times bestselling investigative journalist, Schweizer has garnered a reputation for unearthing never-before-revealed facts about how political elites enrich themselves. His last book, Clinton Cash, sparked an FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation. Now, in Secret Empires, he exposes how top Republicans and Democrats have engineered what he calls “the new corruption”—a system Washington elites use to grease highly lucrative deals by routing them through their children and family members.

The investigative book contains 859 endnotes and includes revelations involving George Soros, Barack Obama, Tom Steyer, Penny Pritzker, Jared Kushner, John Kerry, and myriad others. Four of the book’s central characters are Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, Mitch McConnell, Elaine Chao. In particular, Schweizer traces the intersection between these four individuals and deals involving China.

Here, then, are five China-related revelations Schweizer exposes in his new book:

  1. Biden’s Son’s Firm Scored a $1.5 Billion Deal with the Bank of China 10 Days After Joe Biden and His Son Flew to China Aboard Air Force Two

As an exclusive New York Post excerpt reveals, Secret Empires uncovers the previously unreported Biden China deal. Schweizer reports that in 2013, Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s firm signed a billion-dollar deal with a subsidiary of the Chinese government’s Bank of China 10 days after Joe and Hunter Biden flew to China aboard Air Force Two. The newly formed investment fund is called Bohai Harvest RST.

  1. The China-Backed Investment Fund Invested in Dual-Use Military Technology

As Schweizer explains: “So [Hunter Biden’s firm] get this $1.5 billion to invest, and what they are supposed to do is basically invest in companies that benefit the Chinese government,” stated Schweizer. “So just think about this for a second. This is the vice president of the United States whose father is supposed to be commanding American presence and power in the Pacific to deal with the rising challenge from China, and his son is investing $1.5 billion of Chinese government money. So what do they do? They invest in an American high-precision tools company called Henniges, which used to be owned by Rocket Company, but they produce anti-vibration technologies which have a dual-use application, so this transaction actually requires the approval of the federal government, as it has national security implications. So again, the vice president’s son is helping the Chinese government take over a dual-use military technology-related company called Henniges.”

  1. The Obama Justice Department Charged One of the Companies with Stealing U.S. Nuclear Secrets

“But it gets even worse because another investment that they make is in something called CGN—China General Nuclear—which is an atomic power company,” says Schweizer. “They invest in this company in 2014. A year later, what happens? The FBI arrests and charges senior officials in this company with stealing nuclear secrets in the United States. Specifically, they’re trying to get access to something called the AP-1000 nuclear reactor that is very similar to the ones that we put on U.S. submarines. So again, you have the son of the vice president, a close aide to the secretary of state who are investing in a company that is trying to steal nuclear secrets in the United States.”

  1. Mitch McConnell and His Wife Elaine Chao Received a $5 Million to $25 Million Gift from a Family Member Who Sat on the Board of a Top Chinese Government Military Contractor

According to Secret Empires, in 1993, just months after Mitch McConnell married Elaine Chao (the current Secretary of Transportation), the senator and his father-in-law, James Chao, flew to China. Chao is the owner of Foremost Group, a shipping company that has done substantial business with the state-owned China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC). The two men went to Beijing at CSSC’s invitation and had a meeting with a classmate of Chao’s, Chinese President Jiang Zemin. Schweizer says McConnell was only the second Republican senator to visit China since the Tiananmen Square massacre.

“McConnell’s rhetoric and policy toward mainland China softened in the decades that followed,” writes Schweizer.  “As McConnell gained political weight on Capitol Hill and his position toward China softened, the Chao family saw its business ties with the Chinese government increase dramatically—to their financial benefit.”

Starting in 2007, “just as the U.S. Senate was taking up sensitive legislation concerning China,” Schweizer writes that the Chinese government’s CSSC Holdings, Ltd.—the financial arm of the Chinese government’s military contractor CSSC—appointed Mitch McConnell’s father-in-law to its board. CSSC Holdings also added Mitch McConnell’s sister-in-law Angela Chao to the board as well.

“The fact that both the father-in-law and sister-in-law of Senator McConnell sat on the board of CSSC Holdings is highly unusual, to say the least,” writes Schweizer. “One could say it is unprecedented in American political history. In general, CSSC is a sensitive, critical asset of the Chinese government and operates under a veil of privacy and secrecy.”

Then in 2008, following the death of his wife, James Chao gave a gift to Mitch McConnell and Elaine Chao for between $5 million to $25 million, according to Sen. McConnell’s Senate financial disclosure forms. Last week, the New York Post reported on the Secret Empires McConnell revelation and showed its impact on the McConnell family’s net worth: “In 2004, current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his wife, current US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, had an average net worth of $3.1 million. Ten years later, that number had increased to somewhere between $9.2 million and $36.5 million.”

  1. Mitch McConnell’s Sister-in-Law Sits on the Board of the Chinese Government’s Bank of China

Last week the Wall Street Journal highlighted the book’s revelation that the Communist Chinese government’s Bank of China appointed Mitch McConnell’s sister-in-law, Angela Chao, to its small board of directors. “Mr. Schweizer also points to the appointment of Ms. Chao’s sister, Angela Chao, to the board of state-owned Bank of China, 10 days after the 2016 election,” reported the Journal. Indeed, the Bank of China’s website lists Angela Chao in its online listing of board members and includes a photo and professional bio.

Book publisher Harper released Secret Empires nationwide on Tuesday, March 20.

Los Alamitos passes ordinance defying sanctuary state laws

The city council of Los Alamitos passed an ordinance defying the state’s new legislation preventing cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

Leaders of Los Alamitos, in Orange County, passed the ordinance 4-1 and instructed the city attorney to file an amicus brief in the ongoing Department of Justice lawsuit against the State of California. The lawsuit challenges the Immigrant Worker Protection Act (HB 450), the Inspection and Review of Facilities Housing Federal Detainees law (AB 103); and the California Values Act (SB 54).

The Orange County Register reports that other cities — and even Orange County itself — are now thinking of following suit in a bid to opt out of state law that limits cooperation with federal immigration officials. Officials with the county as well as leaders in Aliso Viejo and Buena Park said Tuesday they plan to push for various versions of the anti-sanctuary ordinance approved in Los Alamitos late Monday by a 4-1 vote of that city council.

Immigration advocates said Los Alamitos and cities and counties that follow its opt-out ordinance will be violating state law and at risk of litigation. But Los Alamitos’ anti-sanctuary push also received wide attention in conservative media, and gained support from those who don’t agree with California’s protective stance on all immigrants, regardless of legal status.

Orange County is a key battleground in 2018, both at the state and federal levels. Democrats are hoping to pick up several U.S. House seats in the county, which voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 — the first time in decades that the traditionally conservative county had backed a Democrat.

But Republicans are backing a recall of State Sen. Josh Newman (D-Fullerton) for voting to raise the gas tax. A ballot initiative to repeal the gas tax hike could also bring Republicans out to vote. And the immigration issue is likely to fuel turnout even more.

Proponents of the Los Alamitos legislation argued that the state was forcing local officials to defy their oath to the Constitution, and that the new ordinance was faithful to the rule of law.

Los Alamitos City Council Screenshot

Google announces $300 million News Initiative for monitoring elections

Google has announced a $300 million “News Initiative,” which will support and promote what the company deems to be “high quality journalism,” and work towards monitoring “misinformation” during elections.

“Google says the News Initiative is focused on three broad goals — strengthening quality journalism, supporting sustainable business models and empowering newsrooms through technological innovation,” reported Tech Crunch, Tuesday. “It’s also committing to spend $300 million over the next three years on its various journalism-related projects.”

Google Chief Business Officer Phillipp Schindler also announced a partnership with the Harvard Kennedy School’s First Draft to launch something called the Disinfo Lab, which will ‘use computational tools and journalistic oversight to monitor misinformation during elections.’ And there’s a separate project called MediaWise, a partnership with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University and the Local Media Association. Google.org’s Jacqueline Fuller described this as a $3 million, two-year media campaign to improve media literacy among teens.”

Despite the fact that Google will be funding attempts to “monitor disinformation during elections,” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has claimed that Google was “directly engaged in Hillary Clinton’s campaign,” during the 2016 presidential election. Google has also frequently targeted conservative and libertarian news sources, partnering last year with a fact-checking service funded by far-left billionaire George Soros.

In 2017, Google changed their search engine to combat “fake news,” and “hate speech,” and this year the company introduced a fact-checking feature that was revealed to almost exclusively target conservative media, including Breitbart News and the Daily Caller.

Prager University, also known as PragerU, is currently engaged in a lawsuit against Google, alleging targeted censorship against conservatives, while during a lawsuit filed against Google following the company’s firing of employee James Damore, after he published a viewpoint diversity manifesto, lawyer Harmeet Dhillon claimed Google is a “bubble of very very liberal groupthink,” which considers diversity to be anyone who isn’t Caucasian or Asian. Further allegations also claimed routine discrimination against white male employees at Google.

 

March 21 (Wednesday): Day 61

New poll shows Republican Gubernatorial candidate in second place

A new poll from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shows Republican businessman John Cox in second place, with Democrat Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom leading the crowded field of mostly Democratic candidates in California’s gubernatorial race.

According to the new poll, which was released Wednesday evening, Cox has 14 percent support among likely voters. However, Newsom, who is the top choice among likely voters, has 28 percent support, Villaraigosa, a Democrat, who was in a virtual tie with Newsom in January (with 21 percent compared with Newsom’s 23 percent support) now has 12 percent support among likely voters. Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) has 10% support and Democrats John Chiang and Delaine Eastin has 6 and 5 percent support.

Cox has so far poured $4 million of his own money into his campaign, and has reportedly spent over $1.5 million on ads in the Golden State. Democrat Amanda Renteria, former national political director for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, was not included in the poll. Her sudden and late entry into the race had many people scratching their heads and thought she did so to take Latino votes away from Newsom.

The PPIC poll also found that incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is leading her fellow Democratic challenger state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin dd León (D-Los Angeles) by a wide margin. Feinstein has 42 percent support among likely voters compared with 16 percent for de León.  The poll also found that Feinstein is leading among men, women, individuals across every income level, all ethnicities, and among Latinos. De León is Latino.

Despite that lead, the California Democratic Party decided not to endorse Feinstein, in what was seen as a major rebuke of the lawmaker who has represented the Golden State for over 20 years.  Feinstein received just 37 percent of the party’s votes while the delegates gave de León 54% of their votes, which fell six points short of the 60% he would have needed to secure the party’s endorsement.

 

March 22 (Thursday):  Day 62

Rush Limbaugh: Special Counsel intends to financially “ruin” President

Special Counsel Robert Mueller intends to financially “ruin” President Donald Trump by investigating the Trump Organization’s business operations, said Rush Limbaugh on his eponymous Thursday radio show. He also rejected ubiquitous news media and political narratives framing Special Counsel Robert Mueller as a man of integrity.

Limbaugh described Washington-based political and bureaucratic interests as broadly desiring an ousting of Trump from the presidency:  “They want Trump gone. They want everybody anything to do with Trump gone. They all do. Everybody at the State Department, everybody in this immediate FBI circle with Rosenstein, Murphy, and McKinnon, the Republican establishment community, Republican consultants, they want Trump gone. Mueller is the guy to do it. Mueller is carrying the water for the entire establishment in getting Trump gone. And they don’t care how they do it. And I think their objective is to ruin him.”

Limbaugh accused Mueller of seeking to “nullify” Trump’s 1995 IRS claim of approximately $900 million in operational losses in order to pursue a reclamation of the money with added penalties and accrued interest.  “And these requests, the subpoena for documents from the Trump Organization, I ask you again, what has that to do with the campaign and with collusion and with the Russians? They’ve already been looking into Trump business in Russia with the Miss, what is it, USA, whatever his pageant is.

“Do you all remember during the early days of the campaign there was news that Trump, in a tax return something like 20 years ago, took a $900 million deduction that was granted and survived an audit by the IRS? Now, I forget the details. It had to do with losses that he had incurred in that year in building things. It was around 900 or $920 million deduction. I’ll never forget when it was reported because most people will never come close to ever having that in a lifetime, and to have a guy personally write that much off?

“Anyway, I think Mueller wants that $920 million back. I think Mueller wants to prove that that was a faulty deduction. I think that they want to go back, they want to get Trump’s tax returns because they want to nullify that $900 million deduction, and then they want to collect 20 years of interest and penalties and wipe Trump out.”

Limbaugh also challenged the pervasive framing of Mueller as an honorable man across the joint news media and political landscape.  “We’ve been told as long as I have been aware of the name Robert Mueller, we are told that Mr. Mueller is a man of impeccable character, a man of refined tastes, a man of immense sophistication and qualification. The man was a judge, he ran the FBI, he is a fair person. He’s an all-round good guy. And in terms of people in Washington when it comes to the integrity, there are none with any more integrity than Robert Mueller.

“Well, I’m sorry, but that doesn’t fit with what we see this man doing. And what I ask myself is, does Mueller ever get up and ask himself, “What the hell am I doing? I don’t have a crime here. I don’t have any evidence of a crime. Does Mueller ever get up or does anybody on his team, do they get up in the morning and they ever ask themselves, are we really doing the right thing here in seeking to destroy an American citizen whose only audacious behavior is winning the presidency?”

A man of honor and integrity, suggested Limbaugh, would not accept a limitless role to pursue the political destruction of President Donald Trump: “There aren’t any limits on this guy! There is no crime that he has been charged with investigating. He’s been given a free rein to go find a crime anywhere he wants!

“We’re told this guy’s the best of the best,” said Limbaugh. “We’re told this guy, nobody could hold a candle to him in terms of honesty and integrity and character. Well, then how does somebody with all of those fine traits even participate in a sham like this?”

Mueller’s mandate to “investigate Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and related matters” — issued by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — lists no financial or temporal limitations. In addition to a nebulous scope, no specific crimes are listed within the mandate.

MoveOn.org established a “rapid response” project in the event of Trump’s firing of Mueller, soliciting contact information from persons interested in political agitation operations.

Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Ben Sasse (R-NB) — Never Trump politicians who both present themselves as conservatives — have both cast Mueller as an honorable man.  “We are fortunate that Bob Mueller has accepted the role of Special Counsel in the Russia probe. He is a respected public servant.”

Robert Muller

President Trump says he will sign the Omnibus spending bill

President Donald Trump will sign the proposed Omnibus spending bill, White House officials confirmed on Thursday, even though the 2,232-page bill has yet to pass through Congress.

“Let’s cut right to the chase: Is the President going to sign the bill?” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at a briefing. “The answer is yes.”

The budget director made a practical case for the Republican-led budget process, even though he admitted that it was not “perfect. This is how it works,” he said, adding that because of the 60 vote threshold, Democrats could get their “pound of flesh” of funding priorities. 

House Freedom Caucus demands a “no vote” on Omnibus bill

The House Freedom Caucus sent a letter to the White House on Thursday, urging President Donald Trump to reject the Republican leadership’s $1.3 trillion, 2,232-page omnibus spending bill, arguing that it “outright rejects” the promises conservatives made to the voters.

The Freedom Caucus wrote to President Trump:  “The funding proposal drafted by House and Senate leadership not only forgets the promises we made to the voters—it outright rejects them. Below are a few of our specific policy concerns:

  • This bill does not provide adequate funding for border security. $1.5 billion will be minimally effective in delivering not just our promise, but your promise, to build a wall and keep our country secure. Sanctuary cities also continue to receive federal funds.
  • The bill includes the “Fix NICS” proposal, which provides a pathway for unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats to revoke, without due process, the rights of American citizens to keep and bear arms.
  • The bill fully funds grants that will go to Planned Parenthood.
  • The bill does nothing to further our promise to provide Americans relief from Obamacare. We must continue to reduce burdensome regulations in the healthcare marketplace, return to free market principles, and empower consumers. This bill fails on all three fronts.

The omnibus spending bill contains language that explicitly bars funding for a southern border wall. The omnibus also contains provisions that expand the H-2B visa-worker program, which would reduce market pressure on companies to offer American workers higher wages.

Republican leadership also included provisions that will allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct gun research.

The omnibus also has the Fix NICS Act, which would allow unelected bureaucrats to remove Americans’ right to purchase firearms without due process.  The omnibus spending bill includes funding for the New York Gateway Bridge project that will benefit Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The House Freedom Caucus spoke against the omnibus on Wednesday night, calling the legislation an “insult to American taxpayers.” House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) lamented that  the “Senate Democrats seem to be calling most of the shots.” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) called for the White House to veto the legislation on Wednesday.

The House Freedom Caucus chairman then suggested that Congress should pass another Continuing Resolution (CR) to “deal with the omni in a more deliberate fashion.”  Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) said Wednesday that the omnibus spending bill “is a Great Dane-sized whiz down the leg of every taxpayer.”

The House Freedom Caucus continued in its letter to the White House:  “The American people elected us not to buckle, but to deliver. We as the House Freedom Caucus exist to “give a voice to countless Americans who feel that Washington does not represent them. We support open, accountable and limited government, the Constitution and the rule of law, and policies that promote the liberty, safety and prosperity of all Americans.” Each of those principles—fiscal responsibility, Constitutionalism and candor—demand a no vote on the omnibus.

The House conservatives then said, “We urge you to remember the countless forgotten men and women of America who placed their faith in you to change business as usual in Washington, DC.”  The Freedom Caucus concluded, “We urge you to join us and reject this omnibus.”

Key President Trump attorney resigns

John Dowd, the lead attorney representing President Donald Trump in dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign, has resigned.

Dowd gave no reason for his resignation, but it came just days after Mueller had submitted a list of questions to the White House as the Special Counsel’s office sought to interview the president. Following the submission of those questions, President Trump had posted several tweets criticizing Mueller’s entire investigation: “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime,” he tweeted on Sunday.

Dowd’s resignation also came after the president appointed former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova to his legal team. DiGenova has been a harsh critic of Mueller’s investigation, saying it was a political setup to hurt Trump.

Until now, President Trump’s legal team has pursued a strategy of cooperation with Mueller — a strategy that was reaffirmed Thursday by Jay Sekulow, another one of the president’s lawyers. Ty Cobb, another attorney on the team,  has repeatedly said in public that the investigation is winding to a close — though he has been wrong every time.

Last month, after Mueller indicted 13 Russians on charges related to meddling in the 2016 election — though none of the charges affected the vote, and none involved collusion with the Trump campaign — Dowd told the media that he was glad: “I think the special counsel found the culprits. I think he did a good job. I think he did a hell of a job.”

Dowd is well-regarded in Beltway legal circles. However, last September, he committed a major error when he and Cobb discussed the Mueller investigation openly at an outdoor table at a popular Washington, DC, restaurant. The conversation was overheard by New York Times reporter Ken Vogel, who happened to be seated at the next table.

 

March 23 (Friday):  Day 63

President announces new national security advisor

President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he is appointing Ambassador John Bolton as his new national security advisor, ending weeks of speculation he would be tapped for the job.  Trump made the announcement via Twitter.

Bolton’s appointment comes after months of speculation that current National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster was on his way out, after repeated reports that he and the president were not close.

According to a White House official, the president and McMaster had “mutually agreed” on his resignation, and the two had been discussing it for “some time.” However, the timeline was “expedited as they both felt it was important to have the new team in place, instead of constant speculation.  This was not related to any one moment or incident, rather it was the result of ongoing conversations between the two,” the official said.  Trump announced last week that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was resigning, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo would take his place.

McMaster, a lieutenant general, said in a statement that he is requesting retirement from the Army, and will leave public service. “I am thankful to President Donald J. Trump for the opportunity to serve him and our nation as national security advisor. I am grateful for the friendship and support of the members of the National Security Council who worked together to provide the President with the best options to protect and advance our national interests,” he said.

Trump praised McMaster in a statement. “H.R. McMaster has served his country with distinction for more than 30 years. He has won many battles and his bravery and toughness are legendary. General McMaster’s leadership of the National Security Council staff has helped my administration accomplish great things to bolster America’s national security. He helped develop our America First National Security Strategy, revitalize our alliances in the Middle East, smash ISIS, bring North Korea to the table, and strengthen our nation’s prosperity. This work and those achievements will ensure that America builds on its economic and military advantages. I thank General McMaster and his family for their service and wish them the very best.”

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called McMaster a “true soldier-scholar. His impact on his country and this government will be felt for years to come,” he said.

Bolton was spotted entering the West Wing late Thursday afternoon. Bolton last served in the George W. Bush administration as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton is a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and a frequent Fox News commentator.

Pentagon reverses transgender policies

President Donald Trump’s Pentagon chief is reversing the pro-transgender policy set by former President Barack Obama and will reject soldiers or recruits who demand to be classified as members of the other sex.

The Pentagon’s rejection of the transgender ideology pushed by Obama is a huge win for the feminist and conservative groups who want to preserve the legal and civic distinctions between the two equal, different and complementary male and female biological sexes.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House’s minority leader, described the revived policy as a “hateful” insult to “our brave transgender members of the military who serve with honor & dignity.”

Trump, as the Commander in Chief, sets policies in the military. Pro-transgender groups want judges to override the president’s authority and to bar the military from using biology to determine a soldier’s legal sex.

The revived policy will not exclude stable soldiers who want to live privately as members of the other sex, but it declines to validate their demand to be classified and treated as members of the other sex.

Under Obama, Pentagon deputies allowed soldiers to flip their “gender marker” in personnel files once the soldiers declared they have the “gender identity” of an opposite-sex person.  That gender-identity-beats-biology policy had many knock-on effects, including orders to female soldiers that they must welcome men into their showers once the men have registered themselves as female in the military’s personnel files.

Obama pushed the policy even though very few people claim to be transgender, and far fewer undergo surgery. For example, only 4,118 people tried to change their bodies in surgery from 2000 to 2014, according to a recent, peer-reviewed study. After the 2016 election, Obama told National Public Radio that his transgender push help Trump win the election.

The Pentagon policy is approved by a Trump memo and is detailed in a February memo from Defense Secretary James Mattis that was released March 23. Mattis’s memo says he will grandfather in the small number of soldiers who switched their “gender marker” under the Obama administration.

The memo says the military will accept recruits who prefer to live as members of the other sex but would not recognize their claim or provide any related medical treatment — such as hormones and cosmetic genital surgery.  The memo says:

Transgender persons without a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria, who are otherwise qualified for service, may serve, like all other Service members, in their biological sex. People who want — or have undergone — sex-related medical treatment will be excluded, says the document:  “Transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition are disqualified from military service;

People who have mental health problems because of their desire to flip sex from male to female, or from female to male, will not be allowed to serve; Transgender persons with a history or diagnosis of gender dysphoria are disqualified from military service.

Mattis allowed three exceptions to that “gender dysphoria” rejection. The exemptions mean the military will accept people who say they are transgender but have not undergone medical treatment, will accept existing soldiers who do not ask to be classified as a member of the other sex, and will accept soldiers grandfathered in because of their acceptance under the Obama administration.

The memo says:  “Therefore, in light of the Panel’s professional military judgment and my own professional judgment, the Department should adopt the following policies: ( 1) if they have been stable for 36 consecutive months in their biological sex prior to accession; (2) Service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria after entering into service may be retained if they do not require a change of gender and remain deployable within applicable retention standards; and (3) currently serving Service members who have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria since the previous administration’s policy took effect and prior to the effective date of this new policy, may continue to serve in their preferred gender and receive medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria.

Mattis’ memo also slammed the secretive Pentagon panel created by Obama to push his transgender policy: “The prior administration largely based its policy on a study prepared by the RAND National Defense Research Institute; however, that study contained significant shortcomings. It refered to limited and heavily caveated data to support its conclusions, glossed over the impacts of healthcare costs, readiness, and unit cohesion, and erroneously relied on the selective experiences of foreign militaries with different operational requirements than our own. In short, this policy issue has proven more complex than the prior administration or RAND assumed.”

The presidential memo endorsed Mattis’ policy, saying: “These documents set forth the policies on this issue that the Secretary of Defense, in the exercise of his independent judgment, has concluded should be adopted by the Department of Defense …”

President Trump signs $1.3 trillion Omnibus bill

President Donald Trump signed Congress’s $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill on Friday afternoon. The president described the 2,232-page bill as “ridiculous” but said he felt the need to sign it because of his duty to protect the country.

“As a matter of national security, I’ve signed this omnibus budget bill,” Trump said. “There are a lot of things I’m unhappy about in this bill. I say to Congress: I will never sign another bill like this again.” Trump complained that the bill was too long with too little time to read. “You tell me, who can read that quickly,” Trump said to reporters.

Trump spoke at length about the bill, specifically pointing out the increases in military spending. “So while we’re very disappointed in the $1.3 trillion, nobody more disappointed than me because the number is so large,” Trump said. “We had no choice but to fund our military.”

He brought Gen. Jim Mattis to the podium to praise the bill’s big investment in the U.S. armed forces. “Today we received the largest military budget in history, reversing many years of decline and unpredictable funding,” Mattis said. “Together, we’re going to make our military stronger than ever.” Mattis urged the military to “spend every dollar wisely” and serve as good stewards of the taxpayer’s money.

 

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor.  He has worked 23 years as a middle school teacher.   Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email:  [email protected].

Mr. Hernandez is dedicated himself to advance the 13 spheres—as a “City Upon A Hill”; developing an interactive California citizens news platform as an alternative to mainstream media; while building local school-community partnerships and supporting constitutional awareness and active citizenship.


 

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