News Domestic and International

Sessions hits back at Trump: I’ll continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor

Hot Air - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 20:31

I thought the only options on the table were Trump firing Sessions or Sessions continuing in the job while silently absorbing sporadic public abuse from his boss.

It didn’t occur to me that there might be a door number three: Sessions defending himself by issuing some cutting public statements of his own.

This is far more mild in tone than Trump’s “disgraceful!” tweet this morning was, but it’s easy to read between the lines. Sessions is telling him here that he refuses to be a crony who considers job one to be protecting the president. Which, let’s face it, is what Trump wants him to be.

“We have initiated the appropriate process that will ensure complaints against this Department will be fully and fairly acted upon if necessary,” Sessions said in a statement that did not mention Trump by name.

“As long as I am the Attorney General, I will continue to discharge my duties with integrity and honor, and this Department will continue to do its work in a fair and impartial manner according to the law and Constitution,” he said.

Translation: “I’m not quitting. If you want a crony as AG, man up and sign the termination letter.” Which reminds me, has Trump’s “badmouth an employee until he resigns in disgust” strategy ever worked? Ever? He tried it to some extent on Comey. He’s tried it on Rod Rosenstein. He and his allies are trying it right now on John Kelly, albeit via leaks to the media about Trump’s annoyance with Kelly rather than disparaging tweets. It never works! None of those people quit. You’re left wondering what Trump thinks he’s accomplishing by badmouthing them publicly. It’s one thing to attack Comey after he’s been axed and is no longer in a position to damage Trump’s interests at the FBI, but Sessions, Rosenstein, and Kelly are all tremendously powerful figures and Trump’s making enemies of all of them *while leaving them in positions of power.* Sessions’s statement today is practically a declaration of independence from the White House. He can have the AG’s loyalty by leaving Sessions in place and praising him or by firing Sessions and bringing in someone who’ll do the president’s bidding. The one way he can’t have the AG’s loyalty is by doing what he’s doing now.

Which is to say, Trump popping off about Sessions can’t possibly be strategic. He’s venting just to vent, no matter how that may imperil him politically.

I don’t understand the strategy either of demanding that DOJ lawyers take over the investigation into FISA abuses from the Inspector General, Michael Horowitz. Because Horowitz is an Obama appointee, Trump’s in something of a no-lose situation with him as lead investigator. If the IG finds no FISA abuse by the FBI, no problem: The White House can call him a Democrat and an Obama hack and howl that his inquiry was biased. (And they will, no doubt.) If the IG *does* find FISA abuse, then Trump’s enemies on the left are boxed in. Here’s one of Barack Obama’s own appointees at Justice confirming Republican suspicions that the surveillance of Carter Page was ill-gotten. It’d be a political blockbuster. If, on the other hand, Trump got his wish and Sessions assigned the FISA abuse probe to regular DOJ prosecutors and then they found no abuse, what would he say then? His AG followed his orders and let the Department investigate — and it was a bust. There’s nowhere to hide politically in that case.

Another thing. The boss emeritus, Michelle Malkin, reminded everyone this morning that while Horowitz may be an Obama appointee, he’s not a left-wing hack. From a column she wrote in 2015:

Last year, 47 of the nation’s 73 federal IGs signed an open letter decrying the Obama administration’s stonewalling of their investigations. The White House, they reported, had placed “serious limitations on access to records that have recently impeded the work” of IGs at the Peace Corps, the EPA and the Department of Justice, and jeopardized their “ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner.”…

Earlier this year in congressional testimony, DOJ IG Michael Horowitz exposed the Obama administration’s “continued refusal by the Department to recognize that Section 6(a) of the Inspector General Act authorizes the DOJ OIG to obtain access to all records in the Department’s possession that we need in order to perform our oversight responsibilities” as the office investigates the IRS witch hunts, the Fast and Furious scandal, and systemic public disclosure evasions. The FBI has repeatedly run out the clock to thwart IG document production requests and unilaterally claimed power to pre-screen and limit records disclosures.

There’s every reason to think Horowitz’s forthcoming report on DOJ activities during the 2016 campaign will find fault with some of the Department’s procedures. If that happens, what will Trump’s spin on the IG be? He’s either a political hack who’s in the tank for Justice agencies or he isn’t.

As for Jeff Sessions, whose dream job under a supposedly likeminded nationalist Republican president has turned into a Twilight Zone episode, this will probably be the consensus line on the right before long, assuming it isn’t already:

I couldn’t agree more. @USAGSessions must be part of the Bush/Romney/McCain Republican Establishment. He probably supported @realDonaldTrump early in campaign to hide who he really is. Or he could just be a coward. https://t.co/9D1ppRTSyp

— Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) February 28, 2018

Falwell’s been president of Liberty University since 2007 and a trustee of the school since 2000. In that time the school’s commencement speakers have included … Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and John McCain.

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ICE: ‘864 criminal aliens’ remain at large, partly thanks to ‘reckless’ warning by Oakland’s mayor

Hot Air - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 20:01

Jazz wrote Monday about Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s decision to warn the public that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents would be sweeping the city and making arrests. ICE revealed Tuesday that it had detained 150 people in its latest sweep. But ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan said another 864 criminal aliens managed to elude the sweep. He added that Schaaf’s warning was probably responsible for helping some of those individuals avoid arrest. From the Mercury News:

“The Oakland mayor’s decision to publicize her suspicions about ICE operations further increased that risk for my officers and alerted criminal aliens — making clear that this reckless decision was based on her political agenda with the very federal laws that ICE is sworn to uphold,” ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan said…

Homan said ICE deportation officers were still able to remove many “public safety threats” from Bay Area streets.

“However, 864 criminal aliens and public safety threats remain at large in the community, and I have to believe that some of them were able to elude us thanks to the mayor’s irresponsible decision,” he said. “Unlike the politicians who attempt to undermine ICE’s critical mission, our officers will continue to fulfill their sworn duty to protect public safety.”…

ICE officials said they made arrests in cities including Sacramento, Stockton, San Francisco and Bay Point, where they detained a Mexican citizen who had been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and had been removed from the U.S. by ICE eight times. About half of those arrested reportedly had criminal convictions in addition to immigration violations.

But Mayor Schaaf isn’t backing down from her sanctuary city policy:

“I do not regret sharing this information,” she continued. “It is Oakland’s legal right to be a sanctuary city and we have not broken any laws. We believe our community is safer when families stay together. We know that law-abiding residents live in fear of arrest and deportation every day. My priority is for the long-term well-being of Oakland, and I know that our city is safer when we share information that leads to community awareness.”

Last night on Special Report, Claudia Cowan reported ICE is asking the DOJ to look into Mayor Schaaf’s actions to see if they violated the law:

ICE Deputy Director Thomas D. Homan also appeared on Fox News this morning and repeated his criticisms of Mayor Schaaf: “I watched her statement where she says her priority is the safety of her community. Well, what she did had the exact opposite effect,” Homan said.

Acting ICE director Thomas Homan: “Being a law enforcement officer is already dangerous enough, but to give the criminals a heads up that we're coming in the next 24 hours, increases that risk.” pic.twitter.com/edZvDTYZic

— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 28, 2018

Homan also promised that ICE would not give up on doing its job:

Acting ICE director Thomas Homan: “I’ll say this to the mayor and every other politician that wants to vilify the men and women of ICE: We’re not going away, we’re going to keep enforcing the law.” pic.twitter.com/LaZDIH9UNI

— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 28, 2018

The reason ICE is banging on doors and going into neighborhoods to find people is that California has forbidden local law enforcement officers from allowing ICE agents to sit in jails to process paperwork on people it wants to detain as they are released. So instead of processing many people a day in a safe environment, officers now have to go into communities where they may end up encountering other people, especially family members, who are also in the country illegally. The overall effect is to make ICE much more likely to encounter a lot of people who are not involved in criminal activity but who could be subject to deportation.

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Another state comes one step closer to sanctuary status

Hot Air - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 19:31

Will the Bay State be joining California as an official sanctuary state when it comes to cooperating with immigration authorities? That proposal appeared to be dead in Massachusetts last summer, but like a zombie, it’s rising from the grave for another walk around the block this month. The Boston Globe reports that the state’s police chiefs, formerly opponents of the measure, have been lured into supporting it by adjusting the bill so it’s not quite so strict in terms of dealing with ICE.

The state’s top police chiefs have breathed new life — and new controversy — into a bill that would limit state and local law enforcement’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities by endorsing a revised version of legislation that would turn Massachusetts into a so-called sanctuary state.

The Safe Communities Act, sponsored by Representative Juana Matias of Lawrence and Senator Jamie Eldridge of Acton, had been criticized by law enforcement and by Governor Charlie Baker, who has said he opposes the bill.

But after working with the sponsors on a compromise, the police chiefs officially endorsed a revised version of the bill Tuesday.

So here’s the compromise. Previously the bill would have banned any and all cooperation with ICE by police. No detainers, no sharing of information… nothing. That was several steps too far for the cops who refused to give their endorsement despite significant pressure from state legislators. The newly revised bill allows the police the option of accepting an ICE detainer and holding an illegal alien in jail, but only for up to six hours.

That’s inconvenient for ICE but better than nothing I suppose. Still, if you’re going to accept detainers and place a hold on illegal aliens when asked to do so, doesn’t that sort of deflate the entire concept of being “a sanctuary state” for the most part? If you’re going to be cooperating, then you’re really just a regular state putting on the fancy dress attire of a sanctuary state to tell people you don’t like Donald Trump. What’s the point?

It all may still be for nothing, however. The bill would have to make it past the Governor and he’s already gone on record pretty strongly against it.

“The safety and security of our communities is a top priority for our administration, and I oppose this bill that would prohibit law enforcement from enforcing bipartisan policies that have been in place for 10 years and prevented violent and dangerous convicted criminals from being released back onto our streets.”

The newly altered bill doesn’t remove the concerns expressed by the governor. It merely dampens them down a bit. If ICE can’t be contacted promptly or if their agents are busy and can’t make it to the jail in six hours, the criminal illegal alien still winds up “back onto our streets.” If Baker caves now and goes along with it, this will look like a serious case of pandering on a subject which he previously stressed as being very important.

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WaPo: Why are Senate Dems torpedoing their own gun bill?

Hot Air - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 19:01

Answer: Because it might pass — and this tells you everything you need to know about Washington DC. When Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) first proposed the Fix-NICS act last November, he had four members of each party as sponsors, calling it “the most important piece of bipartisan guns legislation since Manchin-Toomey.” The bill would plug the gaps in reporting by federal agencies to the background-check system, failings that contributed to the fatal church shooting that month in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

Now, though, Democrats have spent their first days back from recess rejecting Fix-NICS, and even Murphy doesn’t want a stand-alone vote for his “most important” bill. Why? Amber Phillips explains at The Washington Post:

It’s not that Democrats don’t want to patch up what both sides say are obvious holes in the background-check system; it’s that they think this is a small step to reinforce an existing law rather than expand it. And if they support it, that might be the end of gun control reforms in this Congress, since Republicans will be reluctant to act on much else.

This leaves Democrats toying with opposing the one gun-control bill that has a realistic shot of passing Congress right now, one championed by their most vocal gun-control advocate, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). It’s a weird look, for sure.

Murphy doesn’t want his own bill brought up for a vote without a guarantee from Republicans to allow votes on other Democratic priorities, like universal background checks. “If we were only to debate the Fix NICS Act,” Murphy told reporters Tuesday, “we would be slamming the door in the face of all these kids who are demanding change.”

That’s a sharp turn from what Murphy said in November, calling his bill the most important piece of bipartisan gun-control legislation since the Senate voted on (and didn’t pass) a universal background check proposal after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn.

If it comes to the floor, Fix-NICS would almost certainly pass for two reasons. One: It addresses an actual problem that actually contributed to a mass shooting. The Pentagon revealed after the Sutherland Springs shooting that the perpetrator — who was killed by an armed civilian responding to the massacre — had been convicted of a crime that would have disqualified him from owning a weapon. It also turns out that the same man had been named as a sexual assailant, but that the local law enforcement agency didn’t pursue the case vigorously enough to flag him in the system.

Two, and more importantly: Fix-NICS doesn’t intrude on the right to bear arms. And that’s what Democrats really want to get out of this particular political moment, as well as a wedge issue for the midterms. And guess who’s organizing that effort?

For years, Democrats have struggled to balance calls from the party’s base to push for stricter gun-control laws with electoral realities that see the party struggling to maintain support in rural areas of the country, where support for gun rights is stronger — and where groups such as the National Rifle Association often succeed in attacking Democratic candidates.

But the recent shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., has exposed fissures in the GOP ranks, as several House and Senate Republicans are pushing to strengthen the national criminal background check system, supporting proposals to expand funding for mental health programs and even advocating for a ban on certain assault-style weapons.

“A lot of us have a feeling that 2018 is going to be the first year in which this issue is a true liability to Republicans who refuse to break from the NRA at all,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who organized the meeting. “We also want to make sure that all of these new entrants into the issue stick with us into the elections. I’ve never had a meeting like this before with that many members of Congress and every anti-gun-violence group.”

Chris Murphy’s a busy guy, eh? In other words, Democrats don’t want to fix anything, not even with their own solutions to real issues. They want to posture for the upcoming elections and exploit the moment for maximum impact.

For those who wonder why nothing ever gets done in Washington, this provides an object lesson.

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Report: McGahn warns Trump not to grant Kushner a special security clearance

Hot Air - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 18:31

That’s funny. McGahn hasn’t been a stickler about security clearances in the past.

A leftover from yesterday’s juicy Gabriel Sherman item about tension between Trump and John Kelly over Jared Kushner’s access to highly sensitive information:

According to five Republicans close to the White House, Trump has told advisers that he won’t fire John Kelly for the time being despite intense lobbying by son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka. “The president doesn’t have the balls to fire Kelly,” one Trump friend said…

[I]f Trump fired Kelly now, it would appear that the decision was made in part to benefit Kushner. On Monday, according to Kelly’s new rules for security clearances, Kushner would apparently have had his clearance revoked, but the White House declined to say whether this had occurred. Two sources said White House counsel Don McGahn has advised Trump he shouldn’t give Kushner a special waiver. Last week, Trump told reporters that Kushner’s clearance would “be up to General Kelly.” Kushner has been pushing behind the scenes to get Kelly removed. He’s told people that Kelly is partly responsible for having his security clearance held up. “Jared feels like he’s being slow-rolled by Kelly’s cronies,” a Kushner friend said. “He’s confident he has paperwork to get the clearance.”

Jared thinks it’s Kelly’s fault that he hasn’t been cleared yet? But … Kelly wasn’t named chief of staff until late last summer, long after Kushner started working in the White House. If he had the paperwork to get his clearance, he would have gotten it months ago like Gary Cohn did. Especially since everyone at the FBI understands that the president himself is eager to see Jared cleared.

Given how chill he was about Rob Porter’s lack of a full security clearance, I assume McGahn would be fine with Kushner continuing to operate at high levels without one as well if not for the politics the Porter situation has created for Trump. Granting Kushner a special waiver when the FBI refuses to sign off would be bad optics under any circumstances but doing it now after Kelly has (reluctantly) cracked down post-Porter on vulnerable aides accessing highly classified info would be atrocious. And Kushner’s a horrible candidate for special treatment. It would be one thing if Trump carved out an exemption for a supremely experienced but compromised advisor like David Petraeus, who might be semi-plausibly defended as too valuable not to have in the White House. But Kushner’s an example of pure, lurid nepotism, palpably lacking the credentials that would justify handing him the sort of portfolio Trump has, and he’s badly compromised by his foreign financial dealings. Granting him a special waiver to view the most sensitive U.S. intelligence when seemingly all the other relevant players in government are reluctant would stink on ice.

Still, Trump being Trump, he must be tempted. Which explains, I assume, this mini-bombshell from WaPo late yesterday afternoon:

Officials in at least four countries have privately discussed ways they can manipulate Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties and lack of foreign policy experience, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter…

Officials in the White House were concerned that Kushner was “naive and being tricked” in conversations with foreign officials, some of whom said they wanted to deal only with Kushner directly and not more experienced personnel, said one former White House official.

“Officials from the UAE identified Kushner as early as the spring of 2017 as particularly manipulable because of his family’s search for investors in their real estate company,” claimed WaPo’s sources, whom the paper describes as “current and former U.S. officials familiar with intelligence reports on the matter.” Hmmmm. The paper also notes that “H.R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report.” Double hmmmmm. McMaster is famously a close ally of John Kelly’s, one whom Sherman claims might be booted out as NSA by Trump in hopes of putting pressure on Kelly to resign. And this WaPo story appeared online within hours yesterday of news breaking that Kushner’s security clearance had been downgraded from “top secret” to “secret.” Triple hmmmmm.

Looks to me like the Kelly/McMaster team worried that Trump might reverse Kelly’s decision to downgrade Kushner’s clearance and tried to preempt him by sending out deputies to whisper to WaPo about why Kushner is suspect. The worse Kushner looks, the harder it’ll be politically for Trump to justify overruling Kelly and the FBI in giving him that waiver. What we’re seeing here, in other words, is a leak war at full tilt between Team Kelly and Team Javanka. That seems to have begun a few weeks ago, with Javanka trying to exploit the Porter fiasco to get Kelly fired allegedly because they resented Kelly limiting their access to Trump. Now Kelly’s trying to return the favor by making Kushner’s continued service at the White House a liability for Trump. “Javanka and Kelly are locked in a death match. Two enter. Only one survives,” said a White House official to Axios.

I wonder too if Team Javanka isn’t forging new alliances that might have seemed improbable in the past. Another tidbit from Sherman’s item:

The president has in recent days told Kelly that he can no longer bar Trump loyalists like Corey Lewandowski, Anthony Scaramucci, and Dave Bossie from the White House. Last week, as Axios reported, Trump held an Oval Office meeting with Kelly and Lewandowski. According to two sources with knowledge of the meeting, things got heated when Trump informed Kelly that he needed to “get along” with Lewandowski. After the meeting, Trump told Kelly that he wanted to “find a role“ for Lewandowski in the West Wing, a source briefed on the conversation said. Kelly, according to a source, replied that Lewandowski couldn’t pass a security clearance. Scaramucci’s return to the fold also represents something of a rebuke of Kelly, given that firing the Mooch was one of Kelly’s first moves as chief.

Ivanka Trump was reportedly a driving force in getting Lewandowski fired as campaign manager in 2016, but maybe now she’s rethinking that. Corey’s motto is “Let Trump be Trump”; he’s a yes man, and as such would never tell Trump or his kids that they can’t see each other during the day whenever they want. Corey would also obviously owe Jared and Ivanka greatly if they helped land him a job in the West Wing. Javanka may be willing to make a devil’s bargain with Lewandowski: They’ll try to advance him within Trump’s inner circle, possibly up to and including the job of chief of staff eventually, and in return he’ll be their boy. He’ll stay out of their way and he’ll make sure they have whatever they need, including security clearances. The Corey/Javanka alliance may be the next episode of Trump’s “Game of Thrones.”

Two exit questions for you. One: Rick Wilson is right that even if Kushner were to leave the White House, “[w]hat he knows after a year in this position makes him the juiciest intelligence target in the world.” How is U.S. intelligence planning to make sure he doesn’t get chatty with those mysterious “foreign officials” he’s been talking to in return for some helpful investments in his family’s properties? Two: When exactly did the “current and former U.S. officials” who spoke to WaPo find out that foreign diplomats were targeting Kushner? More importantly, when did McMaster find out that Jared was talking to foreign officials without coordinating with the NSC? The story is conspicuously coy about when, precisely, the suspicions around Kushner began to develop within the West Wing. Which is interesting, because Kushner’s lack of a full security clearance wasn’t a secret. It drew public attention recently only because Rob Porter’s similar situation led reporters to start asking who else in the West Wing might be vulnerable to blackmail due to their personal history. Jared was the most glaring example, yet he’s been operating without a full clearance for more than a year. If Kelly and McMaster knew that, or were capable of easily finding out, why did they wait so long to start whispering to the newspapers about foreign officials’ interest in Kushner?

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Chicago community organizer blasts Obama: ‘He forgot the community got him where he is’

Hot Air - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 18:01

Last month the Obama Presidential Center unveiled a new design aimed at satisfying critics of a previous design released last year. But the new design isn’t the only problem critics have with the plan. Politico Magazine reports that the Center is facing pushback from a determined community organizer in Chicago named Jeanette Taylor. Last September, Taylor even confronted Obama about it (via video conference) at a public meeting:

“The library is a great idea, but what about a community benefits agreement?” Taylor asked, referring to a contract between a developer and community organizations that requires investments in, or hiring from, a neighborhood where a project is built. “The first time investment comes to black communities, the first to get kicked out is low-income and working-class people. Why wouldn’t you sign a CBA to protect us?”

Measured as always, Obama began by telling Taylor, “I was a community organizer.” Then he said, “I know the neighborhood. I know that the minute you start saying, ‘Well, we’re thinking about signing something that will determine who’s getting jobs and contracts and this and that’ … next thing I know, I’ve got 20 organizations coming out of the woodwork.”

The answer infuriated Taylor, who pays $1,000 a month for the Woodlawn apartment she shares with her mother and two children, and is worried that the Obama Center’s cachet will drive up neighborhood rents. Months later, she is still furious at the former president.

“He got a lot of nerve saying that,” Taylor told me. “He forgotten who he is. He forgot the community got him where he is.”

Taylor is not alone in her complaint. Since 2016, more than a dozen local groups—neighborhood organizations, labor unions and tenants’ rights activists—have come together to form the Obama Library South Side Community Benefits Coalition, which is pushing the library to account for local needs. At the University of Chicago, where Obama once taught at the law school, more than 100 faculty members signed a letter in January supporting the demands of local organizers. “There are concerns that the Obama Center as currently planned will not provide the promised development or economic benefits to the neighborhoods,” the letter reads. “It looks to many neighbors that the only new jobs created will be as staff to the Obama Center.”

The irony of having Obama, the former community organizer in Chicago, being opposed by someone who has taken up his old job is not lost on Politico. “Obama now finds himself on the receiving end of the same demands his younger self once made to crusty Chicago politicians he derided as ‘ward heelers,'” the piece notes.  In fact, the community organizers see the Obama Presidential Center as the leading edge of something that is of great concern to many left-wing activists: gentrification.

Woodlawn residents worry that their neighborhood is an ideal target for gentrification, and that the center will raise rents. Jeanette Taylor originally moved to Woodlawn because she was priced out of Bronzeville, a historically black neighborhood closer to downtown that Chicago Agent magazine calls “the next most-desired neighborhood for developers and homebuyers.” Taylor says she doesn’t want to move again, and she is surely not the only one—just 24 percent of Woodlawn residents own their homes.

The contract that community organizers are demanding—the “community benefits agreement”—would require the city to freeze property taxes within a 2-mile radius of the Obama Center and guarantee “a significant guaranteed set-aside of new housing for low-income housing in the area surrounding” the center. It would also require the foundation to establish a trust fund for nearby public schools and small businesses, and mandate that 80 percent of library construction jobs go to South Side residents.

As the neighborhood improves, more people will want to live there. It’s supply and demand and there’s no way around it except some kind of rent control policy. Obama will get his new landmark and people like Jeanette Taylor will see their rent go up.  President Obama has gone from community organizer to bringer of gentrification in the same neighborhood. I wonder if he feels any differently about it now that it’s his project driving up local rents. Has he forgotten where he came from or just seen the issue it from a different perspective?

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VA Secretary getting ready for a purge of the unfaithful

Hot Air - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 17:31

Defying the odds, it appears that VA Secretary David Shulkin has survived the debacle of the one-memoed hacker and will be keeping his job, at least for now. The same can’t be said for some of the people working under him, however. Government Executive has a story out today quoting Shulkin as saying that he’s preparing to clean house at the VA, and those who can’t manage to go along with the program should get their resumes updated.

The embattled head of the Veterans Affairs Department on Tuesday shook off any indication that he might step down from his post in the wake of a scandal regarding his travel last year, saying he was setting the direction for the agency and everyone should either get on board or find another place to work.

Reforms and changes at VA are moving forward and that progress will continue, Secretary David Shulkin said after addressing the American Legion’s Commander’s Call conference. Other people throughout the department are reconsidering their roles and their future there, he said, but Shulkin himself has no plans to resign his post. Shulkin came under fire recently when an inspector general’s report found the secretary had improperly accepted gifts and used government funds while traveling in Europe last year on official business.

“I have very little tolerance for people who aren’t willing to focus on moving forward and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Shulkin said. “I’ve made it clear that there’s only one agenda in the department and that is to get back on track and anybody who doesn’t want to do that shouldn’t be in the VA.”

Shulkin must have a lot of good karma built up in the cosmic bank because he’s apparently thriving under worse conditions than some others who have lost their jobs. A lot of this likely has to do with the fact that the Secretary maintains strong support on the House Veteran Affairs Committee, as Ed noted in the previous article linked at the top. He’s a Democrat and an Obama holdover, but Donald Trump decided to keep him on. From the moment that decision was made, Shulkin appeared to do an abrupt 180-degree turn and fully got on board with Trump’s agenda. That’s earned him a lot of faith from the Oval Office. But being a Democrat with the Obama seal of approval, Democrats in Congress don’t appear to want to go after him too hard either.

The language he’s using in terms of cleaning house is pretty severe, however, if a bit on the cryptic side. He was recently quoted as saying “I will not accept people who are going around the process to try to hurt the momentum and progress that we are having at the VA and working against the president’s agenda.” That sounds more like a search for subversive agents than incompetent staff members. Still, it’s hard to blame him. If he has people on staff who are trying to undermine the mission, why should he tolerate that?

Now if he could only find that hacker who broke into his former Chief of Staff’s email system.

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Ben Shapiro DISMANTLES New York Times article on AR-15s and firepower

Twitchy - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 17:00

The New York Times is out with a new article today on AR-15s claiming that they have the same “firepower typically used by US infantry troops.”

Well, that’s true. But as Ben Shapiro points out below, that same “firepower” is common in lots of popular sport rifles:

I'm going to need the NYT to explain what a semi-automatic rifle looks like that DOESN'T have "firepower typically used by US infantry troops." https://t.co/3Q0BN45NK6

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 28, 2018

I earlier posted a chart of muzzle velocity for particular caliber rounds (so deleted it, for sake of clarity). But the point is that virtually all rifles have high muzzle velocity. That's what they're for.

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 28, 2018

As Shapiro notes, this would be like saying, “The engine in your car uses the same mechanics as the engines in US military vehicles”:

This headline is somewhat like stating, "The engine in your car uses the same mechanics as the engines in US military vehicles."

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 28, 2018

The details matter here:

I know many don't want to have this discussion…but the specifics matter. https://t.co/AAt0w8lGma

— Pradheep J. Shanker, M.D., M.S. (@Neoavatara) February 28, 2018

And many hunting rifles are more powerful than what the infantry uses:

@benshapiro is right. Go find any ‘hunting rifle’ in .270, .308, .300 Win Mag, .30-06, .338 Lapua, etc that doesn’t meet or exceed the “typical firepower” those guns use. https://t.co/5pfYjCxHn0

— Phil (@GTOphil) February 28, 2018

And the Remington 700 is the civilian version of the Military's M24 Sniper Rifle, but buying one doesn't make you a sniper. https://t.co/9hRo6R2aNZ

— cb@spinninghead (@budasc2) February 28, 2018

Not to mention, it’s not the AR-15 that’s the problem:

There are over 5 million AR-15s in this country. If they were the problem we would have a hopeless problem that no law could solve. https://t.co/fGlNDYvKvT

— Timothy Rombach (@TimothyRombach) February 28, 2018

Oh, no … we get what liberals really want:

Ben you are just not getting it. We want them all gone. Whatever you call it, it doesn't matter.

— Justin (@JustinDecker) February 28, 2018

Bingo. It’s not just the AR-15s liberals want to take — that’s just what they say out loud — it’s all semi-automatic guns:

No, I totally get that part. Which is why I'm pointing out that the campaign against AR-15s is really a campaign against all semi-automatic rifles. https://t.co/PwCjsd1XL9

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 28, 2018

***

The post Ben Shapiro DISMANTLES New York Times article on AR-15s and firepower appeared first on twitchy.com.

Larwyn's Linx: Rethinking Watergate

DougRoss - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 11:24
Send us tips! Bloggers: install a Larwyn's Linx widget. Get real-time news, 24/7, at BadBlue.

Nation

Rethinking Watergate: Victor Davis Hanson
Jeff Sessions Affirms Inspector General Review of FISA Court Abuse by DOJ: CTH
Schiff memo in direct conflict to what then-FBI Director James Comey testified: Fox

Report: Deputies Were Told Not To Go Into High School: Justin Caruso
Profits of Doom: Rising Serpent
Gun Rights Are Women's Rights: Katie Pavlich

Assault On The Constitution: John Spiropoulos
Comey, Brennan and Clapper Have Until Friday to Disclose Dossier Intel: GWP
One School Shooting Killed Hundreds Despite Gun-Grabber Wish List: David Codrea

Justices Vote Immigrants Can Be Detained Indefinitely Without Bond: OAN
NY State Dems propose giving illegal immigrants legal protections: Post
Accused MS-13 members laugh in court near victim’s family: Post

Economy

Heritage Foundation: 64% of Trump's agenda already done, faster than Reagan: Exam
U.S. consumer confidence rises to highest level since November 2000: Paul Wiseman
The Trump revolution is here to stay: Sebaktain Gorka

Scandal Central

Broward County & Sheriffs Shameful Response: Rich Lowry
Every Government Authority Failed In Parkland. So We Should Forfeit Our Self-Defense Rights?: Ben Shapiro
The Slimy Trail of Marc Rich: How a Clinton Buddy Gave the Gift That Keeps on Giving: ALR

Media

The Trumpian Rorschach Test Never Ends: Roger L. Simon
David Hogg asks to be proven wrong: Thomas Wictor
Hannity and Tucker Most-Watched Cable News Programs in February: Mediaite

World

A Tidal Wave of Refugees Is Coming: Spengler
Japanese Fighter Jets Intercept Nuclear-Capable Russian Bombers Near US Base: The Diplomat
Venezuelan Inmates Eating Rats and Pigeons to Avoid Starvation: Ben Kew

Sci-Tech (courtesy BadBlue Tech News)

Amazon Paid Zero in Federal Taxes in 2017, Gets $789 Million Windfall from New Tax Law: ITEP
The Feds Can Now (Probably) Unlock Every iPhone Model In Existence: Thomas Fox-Brewster
Why a Tiny Kentucky Firm Rules a Corner of the Crypto Market: Erin Griffith

Cornucopia

#TransformationTuesday: MOTUS
Naked man on ATV goes on wild ride in Kansas City: Fox2Now
Man armed with AR-15 stops attack by neighbor in Oswego: WGN-9

Sponsored by: Subscribe to Doug Ross @ Journal!

QOTD:

Broward Sheriff got 45 calls about Cruz and his brother and did nothing.

Broward Sheriff had a policy that when students commit a crime, to do nothing.

Broward Sheriff was at the school during the massacre, and did nothing.

Clearly, the problem is the NRA.

— Razor (@hale_razor) February 27, 2018

RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA: More Ties Between Democrats and Russian Oligarchs Poised for Exposure

DougRoss - Wed, 02/28/2018 - 00:05
By Chuck Ross

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is requesting an interview with a Washington-based lobbyist who served as an intermediary between a Democratic senator and two key figures in the Russia investigation, dossier author Christopher Steele and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.

“The nature and extent of the relationship between Mr. Steele, Mr. Deripaska, and you are of potential relevance to the Committee’s work,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote Monday to the lobbyist, Adam Waldman.

Waldman emerged earlier this month as a figure in the Russia investigation after it was revealed that he exchanged text messages last year with Virginia Sen. Mark Warner regarding Steele and Deripaska.

Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is also investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Waldman and Warner exchanged text messages beginning February 2017 discussing how to make Steele available for an interview with the Intelligence panel. Warner at first attempted to speak to Steele separate from other members of the committee, but negotiations fell through because Steele wanted a bi-partisan letter requesting an interview.

In the texts, Waldman also discussed visa issues related to Deripaska, an aluminum magnate and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Waldman’s connection to both Steele and Deripaska has raised interesting possibilities for the Russia investigation and Steele’s dossier, which he wrote on behalf of opposition research firm Fusion GPS.

Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, asked Waldman to appear before the panel for a closed-door interview by next month.

Waldman has lobbied for Deripaska since 2009, mostly on visa issues. He was also counsel for Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov from 2010 to May 2017, according to documents filed with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Grassley posed 11 questions in his letter to Waldman regarding his connections to Steele, Deripaska and the infamous dossier.

The possibility of links between Steele and Deripaska are a surprise given that the former British spy’s work on the dossier was an exposé of sorts of Kremlin activities.

The dossier, which was funded by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, alleges that President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with Russian government officials to influence the 2016 election. The core allegations in the 35-page document remain unverified and have been hotly contested by the White House and Trump associates.

In his letter, Grassley asked Waldman if he has ever hired or worked with Steele or any his London-based private intelligence firm, Orbis Business Intelligence. He also questioned whether Waldman is aware of any work that Steele has done for Paul Hauser, Deripaska’s London-based lawyer. Grassley sent a letter to Hauser earlier this month asking similar questions about links to Steele.

Grassley’s letter to Waldman also points to Daniel Jones, another name that has emerged in the dossier saga.

Waldman’s text messages to Warner referred to Jones and suggested that he was in touch with the Democrat and with Steele.

Jones is a Washington-based consultant who served as a top staffer to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., when she chaired the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. He left the committee in 2015 to open his own consulting firm.

The Federalist reported Feb. 20 that Jones has worked for Fusion GPS to help verify the dossier since its publication.

Lastly, Grassley asked Waldman when and how he became aware of Steele’s work on the dossier project and whether he knows when Deripaska first became aware of it.

Waldman has not responded to several requests from The Daily Caller News Foundation for comment.


Read more at Daily Caller.

Larwyn's Linx: The Russians Colluded Massively — with Democrats

DougRoss - Tue, 02/27/2018 - 11:24
Send us tips! Bloggers: install a Larwyn's Linx widget. Get real-time news, 24/7, at BadBlue.

Nation

The Russians Colluded Massively — with Democrats: Deroy Murdock
Nunes: 'Chasing...Russian Ghosts,' But There's Only One 'Obvious Felony': CNS
Sheriff Scott Israel Exemplifies The Failures Of Our Institutions: Ben Domenech

Jack Cashill: “Incompetence Wasn’t The Problem in Broward County”: CTH
Obama-Era Education Policy Questioned After Parkland Shooting: Kerry Picket
Sheriff Israel Pushes Gun Control While His CAIR-Deputy Arms Muslims: S. Noble

Book timing suggests Michelle Obama running for president in 2020: Thomas Lifson
Walter Williams on Mark Levin’s Show: 'We Have Betrayed the Founding Fathers’: CNS
Supreme Court refuses to hear Trump challenge on DACA: The Hill

California

Kamala Harris Aide Arrested for Running Fake Police Force in Santa Clarita: KTLA
'Angel Dad': Oakland Mayor Should Be Charged for Warning About ICE Raids: FNI
Some Stockton students become violent during anti-gun protest: KCRA

Economy

Delta Airlines Loses Tax Break After Politicizing School Shooting In Florida: Bre Bayton
Goldilocks is Dead: Jim Quinn
20 states sue to kill Obamacare, citing Trump’s mandate repeal: Times

Scandal Central

Soros Buying a Texas DA Seat to Undermine Immigration Enforcement: Matthew Vadum
Fla. Governor orders investigation of terror-tied CAIR Sheriff Scott Israel: Geller
Dimwit Florida Sheriff Was 'Once a Proud Member of Team Obama': Jack Dunphy

Climate, Energy & Regulations

Report: NOAA Caught Lying About Arctic Sea Ice: Climate Depot

Media

Important free speech case filed against Twitter: Ann Corcoran
CPAC Recap: John Hinderaker
Exposing Parkland Crisis Actor David Hogg gets you 3 Day Suspension From Facebook: Jack Mullen

World

China’s terrifying and deadly arsenal of weapons: Matthew Dunn
Police 'Don't Know' Why Rape Is up 20 Per Cent in Sadiq Khan's London: Breitbart
UK grooming gangs were allowed to abuse 700 girls because police blamed the victims: Telegraph

Sci-Tech (courtesy BadBlue Tech News)

The Doomsday Inention: Raffi Khatchadourian
AI apocalypse where robots take over and ‘treat humans like guinea pigs’ could become reality: Sun
Google Word Coach, a fun word game in the search results: Barry Schwartz

Cornucopia

Counterattack Hard Against Liberal Attacks on Our Gun Rights and Other Civil Liberties: Kurt Schlichter
Good Monday Moanin’: MOTUS
Questions Emerge Over Florida Shooter's "Full Metal Garb": ZH

Sponsored by: YouTube continues to restrict many PragerU videos. Fight back!

QOTD:

Remember the time Donald Trump saw a bat wielding mugger and ran after him and stopped him: pic.twitter.com/MLqZlwpvti

— MARK SIMONE (@MarkSimoneNY) February 26, 2018

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