What a Year! Trump’s Accomplishments and the President may never visit California – The Fourth 100 Days (Trump Briefs:  Dec. 23-29/Day 345-351) Week 49

By Michael Hernandez

 

Saturday, December 23  (Day 345):

Congressman:  FBI “extreme pro-Hillary Clinton bias”

“I can certainly say that my impression after these (Judicial Committee) interviews is that there was extreme pro-Hillary Clinton bias,” said Rep. Matt Gaetez (R-FL) “that benefitted her in this investigation and that she received special treatment as a consequence of her candidacy for president.

“That shouldn’t happen. The law should apply equally to all Americans whether they’re political candidates or not. And so, we need to institute reforms through the Judiciary Committee for more oversight, for more transparency so that this never happens again.”

Gaetz said a congressional committee had evidence FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe indicated Hillary Clinton was going to get an “HQ special” regarding the investigation of her unauthorized email server and ties to the Clinton Foundation during her tenure as secretary of state.

The FBI “had a very small group of people that had a pro-Hillary Clinton bias who had a direct role in changing that investigation from one that likely should have been criminal to one where she was able to walk. And so I think that we’ve gotta ensure that that never happens again,  that the same processes that would apply to any American would also apply to people who were running for president of the United States.”

 

Departures taking place at Environmental Protection

More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration.

More than 27 percent of those who left this year were scientists, including 34 biologists and microbiologists; 19 chemists; 81 environmental engineers and environmental scientists; and more than a dozen toxicologists, life scientists and geologists.

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is achieving what President Trump appointed him to do.

The EPA’s Endangerment Finding, declared carbon dioxide – and various other harmless trace gases – to be a threat to “the public health and welfare of current and future generations.”

As Dennis Ambler argued at the time in this Science and Public Policy paper: “The EPA is effectively no longer under the control of the US Congress; its allegiance is to the UN and implementation of the policies of Sustainable Development via Agenda 21. It has considerable involvement in the IPCC reports and claims the UN body as a peer reviewed authority, in pursuing ever more rigorous controls of “CO2 pollution”, to bring about the realization of “environmental governance”.

As Dennis Ambler argued at the time in this Science and Public Policy paper: “The EPA is effectively no longer under the control of the US Congress; its allegiance is to the UN and implementation of the policies of Sustainable Development via Agenda 21. It has considerable involvement in the IPCC reports and claims the UN body as a peer reviewed authority, in pursuing ever more rigorous controls of “CO2 pollution”, to bring about the realization of “environmental governance”.

President Trump seeks to work with Democrats on infrastructure spending

President Donald Trump expressed hope on Friday that Democrats will work with him on infrastructure spending in the United States.

“At some point, and for the good of the country, I predict we will start working with the Democrats in a bipartisan fashion,” he wrote on Twitter. “Infrastructure would be a perfect place to start.”

The president and his economic advisers have previewed infrastructure spending in 2018 as members of both parties in Congress face the midterm re-election. Despite some Republican resistance to more deficit spending, Trump has long expressed interest in rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.

“After having foolishly spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, it is time to start rebuilding our country!” he wrote.

Haley to hold reception for 65 United Nations partners standing with U.S.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley will hold a reception for the ambassadors of countries who did not support a U.N. General Assembly vote condemning the U.S. for its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The invitation to the Jan. 3 reception was sent to the 65 countries who either rejected, abstained from, or declined to vote on the resolution that censured the U.S. for President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

“The Honorable Nikki R. Haley … invites you to a reception to thank you for your friendship to the United States,” the invite for the Jan. 3 reception says.

The nonbinding resolution, which passed 128-9, expressed “deep regret” at the call made by President Trump, and calls on “all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem.” A total of 35 countries abstained and 21 countries did not turn up to vote.

The resolution was sponsored by Turkey and Yemen and came days after the U.S. vetoed a similar resolution at the Security Council. Haley took to the General Assembly floor to blast the U.N. over the vote and to warn countries that the vote “will be remembered.

“We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations and we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit,” she warned.

President Trump on Wednesday warned that the U.S intended to pull money from “nations that take our money and vote against us.  They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars then vote against us, well we’re watching those votes,” he said. “Let them vote against us; we’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

The reception will likely be seen as symbolic of the Trump administration’s intent to keep note of who is and who is not supporting the U.S. agenda at the U.N. The aggressive stance over the resolution by the U.S., particularly the funding threat, sparked anger from some diplomats.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley

FBI Deputy Director to retire in 90 days

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is planning to retire in the coming months amid accusations from Republicans of partisanship and bias within the law enforcement agency.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that McCabe plans to step down in a few months, when he is fully eligible for pension benefits. That is expected to happen in early March.

McCabe has weathered GOP criticism of the FBI for over a year, with Republicans questioning the agency’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server and, more recently, the probe into possible collusion between President Trump‘s campaign and Russia

FBI thwarts ISIS-inspired attack on San Francisco’s Pier 39

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) on Saturday offered praise for the FBI and intelligence community after federal authorities thwarted a planned Christmas Day terrorist attack in San Francisco.

“The thwarted ISIS-inspired attack on San Francisco’s Pier 39 is yet another example of the amazing work that the @FBI & intel community do every day,” Lankford tweeted. “Most Americans will never know these heroes or the many threats they stop. I’m thankful to Christopher Wray & his team.”

The FBI investigated the would-be attack by Everitt Aaron Jameson, a 26-year-old tow-truck driver, on San Francisco’s Pier 39, a popular tourist destination in the city, and arrested the suspect after he talked to an undercover agent about his plans.

Lankford’s praise for the FBI comes as many Republican lawmakers and President Trump himself have questioned the agency’s work, particularly its handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server and whether it is biased against the president.   Trump unleashed a series of tweets earlier this month taking aim at the FBI, whose reputation, he said, is in “tatters.”

Other Republicans have ramped up questions about bias in the agency, especially after it was revealed that a former FBI agent on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s election meddling had sent text messages critical of Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Trump has also questioned the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that the Kremlin sought to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and sway the race in Trump’s favor.

 

Sunday, December 24 (Day 346):

CNN host:  President Trump could become ‘most consequential president’

Saturday on his weekly CNN show, host Michael Smerconish argued that President Donald Trump could become “the most consequential president” of what he called the modern era.

“If the pace of change continues for the duration of Trump’s presidency, however long that might be, I think he could become the most consequential president in the modern era,” Smerconish stated. “Consequential meaning most important and significant, having the biggest overall impact.”

Tax reform bill allows Las Vegas Fontainebleau resort to be completed

Only days after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed, New York developer Steven Witkoff announced that he is now surging ahead with his plans to complete the Fontainebleau resort in Las Vegas, Bloomberg Politics reported.

“Now, we’re not going to be patient,” Witkoff told Bloomberg. “We’ve basically pressed the ‘go’ button to do everything necessary to finish design on the project and take down a construction loan.”  The developer added that as soon as he saw the bill was going to become law, he was ready to ease off the brakes. He quickly launched an effort to restart his financing process for the estimated $3 billion he needs to finish the project.

Witkoff also noted that an important benefit in the tax reform law that allows full and immediate expensing of capital investments spurred him to immediate action. He also insisted to Bloomberg that the new tax law will spark great economic activity in the U.S.  “You can just feel it,” Witkoff said. “You can feel the pent-up fervor that’s happening out there, and it hasn’t even seeped through the system yet.”

The new Fontainebleau resort will create 6,000 permanent hotel jobs and 5,000 construction jobs for the duration of the project and is set to have 4,000 rooms, a casino, and a restaurant when completed.

The Fontainebleau was about 70 percent complete when billionaire Carl Icahn bought the stalled project out of bankruptcy in 2010. The site was idle until last year when Witkoff began toying with jumping in to finish the building. But, until now, going was slow with an uncertain economy and a slow commercial property market dogging the project.

U.S. troops serving in Middle East enjoy traditional Christmas meal

U.S. troops serving in the Middle East enjoyed a traditional Christmas meal thanks to the men and women of the Pentagon’s Defense Logistic Agency Troop Support. DLA provided more than 200,000 pounds of turkey, ham, shrimp, and other foodstuffs, including more than 6,500 pounds of marshmallows.

In total, DLA Troop Support provided troops deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, and Kuwait:

. 112,092 pounds of turkey

. 59,430 pounds of beef

. 38,430 pounds of ham

. 29,304 pounds of shrimp

. 690 cases of cookies

. 16,002 assorted cakes and pies

. 6,564 pounds of marshmallows

. 3,743 gallons of juice

. 2,145 gallons of eggnog

“Our warfighters spend a lot of holidays away from their families and miss out on some of their favorite family traditions,” Robin Whaley, who leads a DLA Troop Support Subsistence team in Philadelphia said. “We take great pride in ensuring a taste of home is delivered to every warfighter.”

DLA Troop Support is also sending food to troops at other locations around the world, including those at sea.  In addition to making sure troops are well fed for the holidays, DLA also supplies troops all around the world with uniforms, protective equipment, medicine, medical supplies, repair parts, construction, fuel, and equipment.

 

Monday, December 25 (Day 347):

President Trump and Melania wish America a ‘very Merry Christmas’

“Melania and I are delighted to wish America and the world a very Merry Christmas,” the president said. “At this time of year we see the best of America, and the soul of the American people, Mrs. Trump said. The first lady also tweeted out a Snapchat selfie wearing a Santa hat.

The president also recited a passage from the Book of Isaiah to mark the Christmas season: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6.

The first family attended Christmas Eve worship services at an Episcopal church in Palm Beach, Florida. The Trumps were married at the church in 2005. The first lady recently said that attending church on Christmas Eve is a family tradition. The entire Trump family is spending the Christmas holiday at Mar-A-Lago in Florida.

Earlier Sunday, Trump offered season’s greetings to U.S. troops stationed overseas. He also joined the first lady for the tradition of fielding telephone calls from kids tracking Santa’s progress by way of a Defense Department program.  See story below:

 

President Trump wishes Merry Christmas to deployed soldiers

“I just want to wish everybody a very, very Merry Christmas, we say Merry Christmas, again, very, very proudly,” Trump told the armed forces, according to White House pool reports. “Very very Merry Christmas. We’re going to have a great year, an incredible year. I’m thrilled to bring seasons greetings on behalf of the first lady and our entire family and most importantly, on behalf of the American people.

During a video conference call at Mar-a-Lago on Sunday, Trump addressed rooms full of deployed military personnel at five overseas bases in Qatar, Kuwait and Guantanamo Bay, wishing them a Merry Christmas and thanking them and their families for their service on behalf of the American people.

“Today and every day we’re incredibly thankful for you and for your families. Your families have been tremendous. Always underappreciated, military families, the greatest people on earth.

“As we celebrate this most precious holiday, we’re grateful for each of you who spend this Christmas away from our families and defend all of our families, our freedom and our flag,” Trump said.

U.S. reduces United Nations contribution by 285 million dollars

Nikki Haley, United States Ambassador to the United Nations (U.N.), announced Sunday night that the U.S. federal government has reduced its contribution to the U.N.’s annual budget by 285 million dollars.

The Christmas Eve statement reads in full:  “Today, the United Nations agreed on a budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. ‎Among a host of other successes, the United States negotiated a reduction of over $285 million off the 2016-2017 final budget. In addition to these significant cost savings, we reduced the UN’s bloated management and support functions, bolstered support for key U.S. priorities throughout the world, and instilled more discipline and accountability throughout the UN system.

“The inefficiency and overspending of the United Nations are well known. We will no longer let the generosity of the American people be taken advantage of or remain unchecked. This historic reduction in spending – in addition to many other moves toward a more efficient and accountable UN – is a big step in the right direction. While we are pleased with the results of this year’s budget negotiations, you can be sure we’ll continue to look at ways to increase the UN’s efficiency‎ while protecting our interests,” said Ambassador Haley.

Haley’s statement comes after the U.N. voted to condemn the United States for President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The resolution, backed by nations with long records of extreme human rights abuses, passed 128-9 last Thursday. Haley immediately responded by threatening to reduce America’s U.N. funding.

“The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation,” Haley told the assembly in New York City.

“We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations and we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”

 

Tuesday, December 26 (Day 348):

U.S. has estimated 4.5 million anchor babies with birthright citizenship

There are an estimated 4.5 million United States-born children who were given birthright citizenship despite at least one of their parents being an illegal alien.  These children are commonly known as “anchor babies,” as they are able to eventually bring an unlimited number of foreign relatives to the U.S. through the process known as “chain migration.”

A new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report reveals the extent to which the illegal alien population in the U.S. has had children that are given automatic citizenship simply for being born within the borders of the country.  According to the CBO, there are 4.5 million anchor babies in the U.S. under the age of 18-years-old. This estimate does not include the potentially millions of anchor babies who are older than 18-years-old.  The CBO estimates that at least another 600,000 anchor babies will be born to illegal alien parents in the next 10 years

Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) Director of Policy Jessica Vaughan says that there are more anchor babies than estimated because the CBO data does not include the U.S.-born children who have departed the country when their parents were deported. Vaughan said these anchor babies can still eventually return to the U.S. as citizens and sponsor foreign relatives through chain migration.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) filed legislation at the beginning of 2017 to permanently end birthright citizenship, putting the U.S. on par with other Western nations, but the bill has not moved in the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.  Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) once opposed birthright citizenship, saying in 1993 that “no sane country” would reward illegal aliens with U.S. citizenship for their children.

The U.S. is nearly alone in granting citizenship to illegal aliens’ children. For example, the U.S. and Canada are the two only developed nations with birthright citizenship. On the other hand, countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, and Germany all have either outlawed birthright citizenship or never had such a policy to begin with.

Proponents of birthright citizenship often claim the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the policy. The Supreme Court, however, has never explicitly ruled that the children of illegal aliens must be granted automatic citizenship and many legal scholars dispute the idea.

Senator Cotton:  Immigration should “benefit American citizens”

The leading voice in the U.S. Senate to reduce immigration levels, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), says it is “not a ‘nativist view” to want a national immigration policy that benefits American citizens, rather than foreign nationals.

In a series of posts via Twitter, Cotton slammed a New York Times report for being biased against President Trump’s pro-American immigration agenda and favoring an immigration policy that puts foreign nationals first.

Cotton additionally defended Trump’s reduction of overall refugee resettlement levels — despite running on a campaign promise to stop all refugee resettlement, at least temporarily — was more in-line with traditional levels.

Since February, the Trump administration has admitted more than 26,500 foreign refugees to the U.S., a major lowering of refugee totals from President Obama’s administration, which allowed hundreds of thousands of refugees into the U.S. during his tenure.

Cotton, along with Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), introduced the legal immigration-cutting RAISE Act in the beginning of 2017, eventually earning the endorsement of Trump. Under the RAISE Act, legal immigration would be reduced from more than 1 million immigrants arriving a year to about 500,000 a year. At the same time, the RAISE Act would raise Americans’ wages, specifically Americans working in blue-collar industries, by ending the flow of low-skilled foreign workers to the U.S.

The RAISE Act would end the process known as “chain migration,” where newly naturalized immigrants are allowed to bring an unlimited number of foreign relatives to the U.S. with them. Currently, 70 percent of all immigration to the country is due to chain migration. The RAISE Act would require that immigration be based on merit, skills and English proficiency, rather than family ties.

Every year, the U.S. admits more than 1.5 million foreign nationals, with the vast majority deriving from family-based chain migration. In 2016, the legal and illegal immigrant population reached a record high of 43.7 million. By 2023, the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that the legal and illegal immigrant population of the U.S. will make up nearly 15 percent of the entire U.S. population.

 Governor Brown pardons two convicted criminal aliens

California Gov. Jerry Brown celebrated a Sanctuary State Christmas by pardoning two convicted criminal aliens to prevent their deportation next week by the Trump administration.

Brown’s Christmas giving this year included granting 132 pardons and commuting 19 prison sentences. According to the online application, pardons are reserved for those individuals that have completed their sentence, and then received a court-issued certificate of rehabilitation for living crime-free in California for over a decade.6776Y

Brown pardoned Mony Neth of Modesto and Rottanak Kong of Davis. Both convicted criminals were arrested in October task force sweeps by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (ICE) and were subject to deportation orders signed by federal judges effective beginning Dec. 25.

Neth and Rottanak immigrated to the United States in 1995 as children of families that received refugee status after escaping the Cambodia’s Marxist Khmer Rouge regime. According to the Sacramento Bee, “neither has engaged in criminal activity since being released from prison,” but their crimes resulted in the loss of legal U.S. residency.

Gov. Brown stated on October 7 when he signed the sanctuary state bill that the legislation only “bans unconstitutional detainer requests.” Brown emphasized that sanctuary state protections do not “prevent cooperation in deportation proceedings.” Brown added that the sanctuary state policy does not “prevent cooperation in deportation proceedings for anyone in state prison or for those in local jails for any of the hundreds of serious offences listed in the TRUST ACT.”

Democrats that control the California legislature demanded that gun control violations be incorporated into the 2014 TRUST ACT to invalidate protections against deportation for any aliens that had engaged in the “Unlawful possession or use of a weapon, firearm, explosive device, or weapon of mass destruction.”

Due to his 1995 conviction on felony weapons charge with a gang enhancement and misdemeanor charges for receiving stolen property, Mony Neth was not shielded from ICE under the sanctuary state law while sitting in the Sacramento County Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Elk Grove.

Brown used his gubernatorial power to prevent Neth and Kong’s deportation by issuing a state pardon on December 23, defying the Trump administration’s initiative to expel any legal aliens that violate the terms of their visas by engaging in criminal activity.

The Bee reported that Neth was released with an ankle tracking bracelet. His attorney stated that Brown’s pardon only eliminates any felony charge against Neth, but the U.S. immigration law does not eliminate the risk of being rearrested and deported on a federal firearms count.

But Neth’s attorney believes that the 2014 voter-approved Proposition 47, which allowed some felony crimes to be reclassified as misdemeanors, could be used to restate Neth’s firearm count to a lesser charge.

 

Wednesday, December 27 (Day 349):

ACLJ:   Obama administration ‘advanced interests’ of U.S. enemy

“The Obama administration advanced the interests of Hezbollah—the enemy of the United States (which some believe were behind the 1983 Beirut bombing that killed 220 Marines and 241 total soldiers),” said Jay Sekulow on the American Center for Law and Justice radio broadcast.  “The Obama administration took a do nothing to interfere with (the) Iran (nuclear) deal” position despite Israel, border security and drug cartel issues.

Jay Sekulow, the chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice alluded to the Politico report:  “The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook” (written by Josh Meyer) please see link:

https://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/obama-hezbollah-drug-trafficking-investigation/

(Editor’s Note:   Politico was started 10 years ago by two former Washington Post journalists and their first hire was a Time magazine journalist.  This 3-part investigation highlights the 8-year Drug Enforcement Administration investigation out of Chantilly, Virginia by 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies that highlight the billions of dollars made by Hezbollah—which has 100,000 active soldiers—in drug operations in what was known as Operation Cassandra and led by long-time DEA agent John “Jack” Kelly and David Asher from the Pentagon and overseen by senior official Derek Maltz.  Other parallel operations included: Operation Titan, a joint investigation with Colombian authorities into a global money-laundering and drug trafficking alliance between Latin America and traffickers and Lebanese operatives as well as Operation Perseus, targeting Venezuelan syndicates.   The American Center for Law and Justice is filing freedom of information requests seeking to have the Justice Department reopen its Operation Cassandra investigation.)

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” David Asher, a veteran Pentagon illicit finance expert deployed to combat the alleged Hezbollah criminal enterprise, told Politico, referring to the DEA operation, dubbed Project Cassandra. “They [Obama administration] serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

For years, the U.S. military has been sounding the alarm on the threat against the United States posed by the presence of Iran and Hezbollah in America’s backyard — Latin America.

“However, the Obama administration argued that Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere was “waning,” reported the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’ watchdog arm, in late September 2014, months before world powers and Iran approved the nuclear deal in July 2015.”

According to Politico:  “In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States.

“The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.”

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC), the chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, chastised the Obama administration for undermining the DEA operation. In a statement, Pittenger, the vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, said, “The nexus between terrorists organizations, including Hezbollah, and Latin American drug cartels is a subversive alliance which provides hundreds of millions of dollars to global jihad.

“The witnesses providing account of the Obama administration derailing and stonewalling the prosecution of this illicit funding investigation has resulted in the most serious consequences of the misguided and injudicious actions of President Obama and his team.”

In June 2016, Michael Braun, a former DEA agent, told lawmakers that Hezbollah is generating hundreds of millions from a “cocaine money laundering scheme” in Latin America that “provides a never-ending source of funding” for its terrorist operations in the Middle East and elsewhere.  Iran has deployed thousands of Hezbollah militants to fight on behalf of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad—a move that has allowed the ruthless leader to remain in power.

Politico reports:  “As Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.

“The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested.

Soon after U.S.-led world powers and Iran approved the nuclear pact, Obama predicted that Iran would use sanction relief funds to boost its terrorist proxies, namely Hezbollah, saying in August 2015:  “Let’s stipulate that some of that money will flow to activities that we object to … Iran supports terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. It supports proxy groups that threaten our interests and the interests of our allies — including proxy groups who killed our troops in Iraq.

A day after the deal’s approval, Obama also said:  “Do we think that with the sanctions coming down, that Iran will have some additional resources for its military and for some of the activities in the region that are a threat to us and a threat to our allies? I think that is a likelihood that they’ve got some additional resources. Do I think it’s a game-changer for them? No. They are currently supporting Hezbollah, and there is a ceiling — a pace at which they could support Hezbollah even more, particularly in the chaos that’s taking place in Syria. So can they potentially try to get more assistance there? Yes.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Iran has dramatically increased its financial support to Hezbollah from $200 million to $800 million per year, two years after the nuclear deal was signed by Iran and world powers.

In 2010, John Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and then CIA director, confirmed that former president’s administration was trying to build up “moderate elements” within Iran’s terror proxy Hezbollah. “Hezbollah is a very interesting organization,” Brennan told a Washington conference, saying it had evolved from “purely a terrorist organization” to a militia and, ultimately, a prominent Shiite political party in Lebanon, reported Reuters.

 

Thursday, December 28 (Day 350):

Attorney General orders review of shutdown of Hezbollah operations

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered a review of law enforcement efforts to shutdown  Hezbollah’s money-laundering and drug-trafficking operations during the Obama Administration.  Sessions ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to “evaluate allegations that certain matters were not properly prosecuted and to ensure all matters are appropriately handled.”  This was sparked by last Friday’s report by Politico that the previous administration sought to hinder a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation (code named Project Cassandra) into Hezbollah’s criminal activities, in order to placate Iran as the controversial Iran nuclear deal was being hammered out by the Obama Administration.  Congress is also investigating whether the Obama Administration thwarted the investigation.

The American Center for Law and Justice’s response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions actions:   “The Politico report was well-sourced and credible. It cannot be dismissed as a political hack job. The details of the article are extremely troubling.  The investigations by the Department of Justice and the U.S. Congress are warranted, as Politico is not a right-wing news organization and its allegations are serious matters of national security.  To turn a blind eye to an international terrorist organization in order to broker an ill-advised nuclear agreement with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism is the irony of ironies—and, if true, the Obama Administration’s efforts to derail Project Cassandra wreaks of disrespect for law enforcement, a cavalier approach to national security, and a casual disregard for the victims of the drug trade across the United States.

“Everyone who believes in the Rule of Law, and in those sworn to protect us, should pay attention to the efforts of Congress and the Justice Department to get to the bottom of this alleged miscarriage of justice.  It is a matter of utmost seriousness.  At the very least, the DEA and the Department of Justice should re-authorize Project Cassandra and continue their efforts to oppose Hezbollah and bring its operatives to justice.”

Senator McCain arranged and then took Trump dossier to FBI Director

House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) has issued a subpoena to David Kramer, a former State Department official who traveled to London in late November 2016 to get a briefing on the Trump dossier from its author, and then returned to the U.S. to give the document to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

McCain later took a copy of the dossier to the then-FBI Director James Comey. News of the subpoena, first reported by the Washington Examiner’s Byron York, came after the committee interviewed Kramer last week. The subpoena stems from statements he made during that interview, according to the Examiner.

Kramer is a senior fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University, which has an office in Washington, D.C. During his Dec. 19 interview, Kramer told House investigators that he knew the identities of the Russian sources for the allegations in the dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign, produced by Fusion GPS, and authored by British ex-spy Christopher Steele.

The Washington Free Beacon, backed by GOP mega-donor Paul Singer, originally hired Fusion GPS to dig up dirt on Trump, though the funding stopped when Trump appeared on track to win the Republican primary, and before Steele got involved.  When investigators asked Kramer to reveal those names, he declined to do so. The subpoena, issued Wednesday afternoon, directs Kramer to appear before the committee on January 11.

According to the Washington Examiner:  “There is a growing belief among some congressional investigators that the Russians who provided information to Steele were using Steele to disrupt the American election as much as the Russians who distributed hacked Democratic Party emails. In some investigators’ views, they are the two sides of the Trump-Russia project, both aimed at sowing chaos and discord in the American political system.

“The dossier may have also been used to launch the investigation into the Trump campaign, and to obtain a surveillance warrant on Trump campaign members – something House investigators are trying to determine.”

Kramer was one of a “small handful” of people known to have handled the complete 35-page version of the dossier. McCain, Steele, and Fusion GPS have all denied giving the document to BuzzFeed, who published it in January, according to the Daily Caller.

Friday, Dec. 29 (Day 351):

President Trump first since Eisenhower not to visit California in first year

The Los Angeles Times reports that President Donald Trump could become the first president since Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower not to visit the State of California in his first full year in office.

The Times reports:  “Trump is about to become the first president since Dwight D. Eisenhower 64 years ago to skip a visit to California during his first calendar year in office.” The Times notes that California might be a problematic destination for Trump in particular because the state has declared itself to be “ground zero” for the so-called “Resistance” to his presidency. State politicians have sued the administration over almost all of its major policies, and thousands of activists have organized regular protests against Trump in the Golden State.

Trump has also accused California of allowing voter fraud, which he alleged earlier this year had cost him a popular vote victory over Hillary Clinton because of the large margin she ran up in the state. (Without California, Trump would have won the popular vote nationwide as well as the Electoral College vote.)

The president did provide rapid disaster aid for California to aid with flooding as well as wildfires in 2017.

Breitbart lists President Trump’s five UN major accomplishments

Conservatives are hailing President Donald Trump and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for following through on their threats to cut funding to the UN after the UN General Assembly singled out the U.S. for criticism last week.  President Trump has been fighting for American sovereignty.

The President’s UN accomplishments:

  1. Withdrawal from Paris Climate Accords. In June, President Trump dropped the Obama administration’s effort to force the U.S. to bear the economic burden of addressing global climate change (without having a major impact on global temperatures).
  2. Speech to the UN General Assembly. Trump delivered a speech at the UN in September, openly threatening to destroy North Korea, telling the truth about the Iranian regime, blasting socialism (“The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented”), and standing up for the idea of national sovereignty rather than rule by unaccountable supranational bureaucrats.
  3. Withdrawal from UNESCO. In October, the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) because of its anti-Israel and antisemitic bias.
  4. Withdrawal from the Global Compact on Migration. In early December, President Trump pulled the U.S. out of an agreement that, critics charged, would have given other nations control over American borders. The compact had other odd provisions, like a commitment to provide “access to sexual and reproductive health-care services” to migrants. The president also reportedly overruled Ambassador Haley in pulling out of the migration agreement.
  5. Jerusalem. In recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and announcing that the U.S. would be moving its embassy there, President Trump was recognizing reality and also defying the UN, which had passed a resolution in the UN Security Council the year against Israel’s claims in Jerusalem. After last week’s anti-American vote, Trump and Haley followed through on their threat by stripping $285 million from U.S. funding to the UN.

Other U.N  actions (not viewed favorable by Breitbart News):

  1. Staying in the UN Human Rights Council. The Obama administration

gleefully seized the opportunity to report America’s own human rights “abuses” to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

  1. United Nations Day. The Trump administration declared “United Nations Day,” to recognize “the more than seven decades of contributions the United Nations has made to peace and security among nations.” The proclamationclaimed that the U.S. had led efforts to reform the UN, whose fruits have yet to be seen.
  2. Budget reform. Currently the UN budgeting process is still based on capacity to pay.

White House announces 81 Trump achievements in 12 categories

The Trump administration has announced 81 major achievements in its first year, which includes making good on campaign promises to provide significant tax cuts, boost U.S. energy production, and restore respect to the United States. President Trump has also slashed 11 major legacy items of former President Barack Obama, including cracking down on the open border, slowing recognition of communist Cuba and effectively killing Obamacare by ending the mandate that everyone have health insurance or face a tax.

According to the White House, the 81 accomplishments are in 12 major categories and include well over 100 other minor achievements.  For a complete listing see link from the Washington Examiner below:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/year-one-list-81-major-trump-achievements-11-obama-legacy-items-repealed/article/2644159

The unofficial list helps to counter the impression in the mainstream media and among congressional Democrats that outside the approval of Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch and passage of the tax reform bill little was done.

Below are the 12 categories with a few (not all) accomplishments cited by the White House:

Jobs and the economy

  • Passage of the tax reform bill providing $5.5 billion in cuts and repealing the Obamacare mandate.
  • Increase of the Gross Domestic Product above 3 percent. 
  • Creation of 1.7 million new jobs, cutting unemployment to 4.1 percent. 
  • Saw the Dow Jones reach record highs.

Killing job-stifling regulations

  • Signed an Executive Order demanding that two regulations be killed for every new one created and President Trump saved $8.1 billion.
  • Signed 15 congressional regulatory cuts. Withdrew from the Obama-era Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Signed an Executive Order cutting the time for infrastructure permit approvals.
  • Eliminated an Obama rule on streams that Trump felt unfairly targeted the coal industry.

 Fair trade

  • Made good on his campaign promise to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
  • Opened up the North American Free Trade Agreement for talks to better the deal for the U.S.
  • Worked to bring companies back to the U.S., and companies like Toyota, Mazda, Broadcom Limited, and Foxconn announced plans to open U.S. plants.
  • Ended Obama’s deal with Cuba.

 Boosting U.S. energy dominance

  • The Department of Interior, which has led the way in cutting regulations, opened plans to lease 77 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas drilling.
  • Trump traveled the world to promote the sale and use of U.S. energy.
  • Expanded energy infrastructure projects like the Keystone XL Pipeline snubbed by Obama.
  • Ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to kill Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
  • EPA is reconsidering Obama rules on methane emissions.

Protecting the U.S. homeland

  • Laid out new principles for reforming immigration and announced plan to end “chain migration,” which lets one legal immigrant to bring in dozens of family members.
  • Made progress to build the border wall with Mexico.
  • Ended the Obama-era “catch and release” of illegal immigrants.
  • Boosted the arrests of illegals inside the U.S.
  • Doubled the number of counties participating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement charged with deporting illegals.
  • Removed 36 percent more criminal gang members than in fiscal 2016.
  • Cracking down on some 300 sanctuary cities that defy ICE but still get federal dollars. Added some 100 new immigration judges/

Protecting communities

  • Announced grants of $98 million to fund 802 new law enforcement officers.
  • Worked with Central American nations to arrest and charge 4,000 MS-13 members with Homeland Security rounding up nearly 800 MS-13 members, an 83 percent one-year increase. 
  • Signed three executive orders aimed at cracking down on international criminal organizations.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions created new National Public Safety Partnership, a cooperative initiative with cities to reduce violent crimes.

Accountability

  • Trump has nominated 73 federal judges and won his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
  • Called for a comprehensive plan to reorganize the executive branch.
  • Ordered an overhaul to modernize the digital government.
  • Called for a full audit of the Pentagon and its spending.

Combating opioids

  • First, the president declared a Nationwide Public Health Emergency on opioids.
  • His Council of Economic Advisors played a role in determining that overdoses are underreported by as much as 24 percent. 
  • The Department of Health and Human Services laid out a new five-point strategy to fight the crisis.
  • Justice announced it was scheduling fentanyl substances as a drug class under the Controlled Substances Act.
  • The administration added $500 million to fight the crisis.
  • On National Drug Take Back Day, the Drug Enforcement Agency collected 456 tons.

Protecting life

  • In his first week, Trump reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy that blocks some $9 billion in foreign aid being used for abortions.
  • Worked with Congress on a bill overturning an Obama regulation that blocked states from defunding abortion providers.
  • Published guidance to block Obamacare money from supporting abortion.

Helping veterans

  • Signed the Veterans Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act to allow senior officials in the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire failing employees and establish safeguards to protect whistleblowers.
  • Signed the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act.
  • Signed the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, to provide support.
  • Signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act of 2017 to authorize $2.1 billion in additional funds for the Veterans Choice Program.
  • Created a VA hotline. 
  • Had the VA launch an online “Access and Quality Tool,” providing veteran with a way to access wait time and quality of care data. 
  • With VA Secretary Dr. David Shulkin, announced three initiatives to expand access to healthcare for veterans using telehealth technology.

Promoting peace through strength

  • Directed the rebuilding of the military and ordered a new national strategy and nuclear posture review.
  • Worked to increase defense spending.
  • Empowered military leaders to “seize the initiative and win,” reducing the need for a White House sign off on every mission.
  • Directed the revival of the National Space Council to develop space war strategies. 
  • Elevated U.S. Cyber Command into a major war fighting command. 
  • Imposed a travel ban on nations that lack border and anti-terrorism security. 
  • Saw ISIS lose virtually all of its territory. 
  • Pushed for strong action against global outlaw North Korea and its development of nuclear weapons.
  • Announced a new Afghanistan strategy that strengthens support for U.S. forces at war with terrorism.
  • NATO increased support for the war in Afghanistan.
  • Approved a new Iran strategy plan focused on neutralizing the country’s influence in the region.
  • Ordered missile strikes against a Syrian airbase used in a chemical weapons attack.
  • Prevented subsequent chemical attacks by announcing a plan to detect them better and warned of future strikes if they were used.
  • Ordered new sanctions on the dictatorship in Venezuela.

Restoring confidence in and respect for America

  • Trump won the release of Americans held abroad, often using his personal relationships with world leaders.
  • Made good on a campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
  • Conducted a historic 12-day trip through Asia, winning new cooperative deals.
  • On the trip, he attended three regional summits to promote American interests.
  • He traveled to the Middle East and Europe to build new relationships with leaders.
  • Traveled to Poland and on to Germany for the G-20 meeting where he pushed again for funding of women entrepreneurs.

 

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 dedicating 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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