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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced after meeting with the House Democratic caucus on Tuesday that there will be no vote — at least for now — on the launch of formal impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

“There’s no requirement that we have a vote, and so at this time we will not be having a vote,” Pelosi said. “We’re not here to call bluffs — we’re here to find the truth, to uphold the Constitution of the United States. This is not a game for us. This is deadly serious.”

The move was seemingly a boon for moderate Democrats in swing districts, who have been reluctant to have a formal vote in favor of the proceedings as the 2020 elections approach — even as several of them have also sought to appease liberal constituents by vocally backing the ongoing inquiry.

A congressional aide familiar with House Democrats’ discussions told Fox News that many House Democrats did not want to be seen as letting the White House dictate how the House conducted itself. Last week, the White House sent a fiery letter to House Democrats announcing that it would not cooperate with their inquiry, for several reasons — including that, contrary to past precedent, no formal vote had been held on whether to begin impeachment proceedings.

Pelosi ripped those arguments: “They have no substance. They can’t defend the president, so they’re going to process,” she said.

In a head-turning moment, Pelosi told reporters, “All roads seem to lead to Putin with the president” — even though Democrats began their probe because of the president’s actions concerning Ukraine, not Russia.

Pelosi last month unilaterally held a news conference announcing that impeachment proceedings were in progress. House rules do not require a vote to begin an impeachment inquiry, but it remains unclear whether the courts will agree that an impeachment inquiry has begun without such a vote. If courts do not find that a formal inquiry is in progress, they could curtail Democrats’ evidence-gathering efforts.

However, the House speaker heralded a series of recent court victories by Democrats, including a key win in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that reaffirmed congressional authority to subpoena several years of Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm, Mazars.

“The rulings that we won last week — three of them were against the president’s hateful public charge rule from taking effect,” Pelosi said, referring to the administration’s immigration policy. “A ruling against the president’s sham national emergency declaration to build his wasteful border wall. A ruling in the Mazars case led by [House Oversight Committee] Chairman [Elijah] Cummings. … so again, five victories on Friday, one today, in terms of Emoluments.”

Separately at the press conference on Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., accused the White House of “stonewalling” despite those rulings.

“Were it not for the fact that at least some witnesses have given us documents, we would not know there is a paper record of efforts to condition this meeting, and perhaps condition military support itself, on these political investigations Donald Trump wanted,” Schiff said, referring to Trump’s fateful July call with Ukraine’s leader. “Those documents would have been completely bottled up by the State Department. … The evidence of obstruction of Congress continues to mount.”

Schiff said the Office of Management and Budget has refused to provide evidence concerning whether the Trump administration withheld aid to Ukraine, contingent on the country conducting an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden’s business dealings there.

“The Constitution is clear. … the House will have the sole power of impeachment,” Schiff said later, when asked why there would be no floor vote on an impeachment inquiry.

The White House has strongly suggested it will take the fight over the Democrats’ subpoenas to the Supreme Court.

“In the history of our nation, the House of Representatives has never attempted to launch an impeachment inquiry against the president without a majority of the House taking political accountability for that decision by voting to authorize such a dramatic constitutional step,” the White House letter to Pelosi and other top Democratic leaders stated.

It continued: “Without waiting to see what was actually said on the call, a press conference was held announcing an ‘impeachment inquiry’ based on falsehoods and misinformation about the call.”

Despite Pelosi’s claim that there was no “House precedent that the whole House vote before proceeding with an impeachment inquiry,” several previous impeachment inquiries have been launched only by a full vote of the House — including the impeachment proceedings concerning former Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

White House officials told Fox News the vote opening the proceedings was a small ask, considering the implications of potentially overturning a national election.

Responding to the letter, Pelosi accused Trump of “trying to make lawlessness a virtue” and added, “The American people have already heard the President’s own words – ‘do us a favor, though.’” (That line, from a transcript of Trump’s call with Ukraine’s leader, in reality referred to Trump’s request for Ukraine to assist in an investigation into 2016 election interference, and did not relate to Biden.)

Pelosi continued: “This letter is manifestly wrong, and is simply another unlawful attempt to hide the facts of the Trump Administration’s brazen efforts to pressure foreign powers to intervene in the 2020 elections. … The White House should be warned that continued efforts to hide the truth of the President’s abuse of power from the American people will be regarded as further evidence of obstruction. Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.”

Just before Pelosi took the microphone on Tuesday, a spokesperson for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office emphasized some of the White House’s other objections to Democrats’ inquiry.

Separately, the letter asserted multiple alleged violations of the president’s due-process rights. It noted that under current impeachment inquiry proceedings, Democrats were not allowing presidential or State Department counsel to be present.

Among the GOP’s complaints are that Democrats’ procedures did not provide for the “disclosure of all evidence favorable to the president and all evidence bearing on the credibility of witnesses called to testify in the inquiry,” according to the White House. And “the right to see all evidence, to present evidence, to call witnesses, to have counsel present at all hearings, to cross-examine all witnesses, to make objections relating to the examination of witnesses or the admissibility of testimony and evidence, and to respond to evidence and testimony” has also been obstructed.

The White House asserted that Democrats also have not permitted Republicans in the minority to issue subpoenas, contradicting the “standard, bipartisan practice in all recent resolutions authorizing presidential impeachment inquiries.”

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Pelosi announces House won’t vote now on whether to begin impeachment inquiry

A Louisiana Republican congressman introduced a resolution Tuesday to expel Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., from the House of Representatives, the latest sign that frustration in the GOP is building as Democrats continue their impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

Rep. Ralph Abraham’s resolution stands no realistic chance of passing in the Democratic-controlled House. Likewise, Republicans have argued that Democrats’ potential articles of impeachment are all but certain to stall if they ever reach the Senate.

“Nancy Pelosi’s vicious crusade against our lawfully-elected President is nothing more than a politically-motivated witch hunt and it must be stopped,” Abraham said in a statement. “She has disgraced the people’s House and weaponized the Speaker’s gavel for her party’s political gain.”

Abraham added: “House Democrats spent nearly three years obsessed with election meddling only to dwarf any such efforts with their own deceitful plan to nullify the 2016 election and prevent President Trump from winning in 2020. I have introduced a resolution calling for her to be expelled from the House and for the Speaker’s Office to be vacated.”

Fox News is told that the resolution has been closely held, and hasn’t secured many Republican cosponsors — but that Abraham’s office expects it to gain traction.

Abraham is running for Louisiana governor, along with fellow GOP candidate Eddie Rispone. A primary election will be held Saturday, and President Trump will visit Louisiana on Friday for a rally on behalf of both candidates as they seek to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards.

The text of the resolution reads simply: “Resolved, That pursuant to Article 1, Section 5, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, Representative Nancy Pelosi be, and she hereby is, expelled from the House of Representatives and the Office of the Speaker is declared to be vacant.”

That constitutional clause holds that “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.”

The Trump administration has mirrored congressional Republicans’ aggressive approach in response to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. The State Department on Tuesday barred Gordon Sondland, the U.S. European Union ambassador, from appearing before a House panel conducting the probe.

“I would love to send Ambassador Sondland, a really good man and great American, to testify, but unfortunately he would be testifying before a totally compromised kangaroo court, where Republican’s rights have been taken away, and true facts are not allowed out for the public to see,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The strategy risks further provoking Democrats in the impeachment probe, setting up court challenges and the potential for lawmakers to draw up an article of impeachment accusing Trump of obstructing their investigations. California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee, said that Sondland’s no-show would be grounds for obstruction of justice and could give a preview of what some of the articles of impeachment against Trump would entail.

But as lawmakers seek to amass ammunition to be used in an impeachment trial, the White House increasingly believes all-out warfare is its best course of action.

“What they did to this country is unthinkable. It’s lucky that I’m the president. A lot of people said very few people could handle it. I sort of thrive on it,” Trump said Monday at the White House. “You can’t impeach a president for doing a great job. This is a scam.”

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: GOP Rep. Ralph Abraham introduces resolution to expel Nancy Pelosi from House

EXCLUSIVE: A photo obtained by Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” shows former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter golfing in the Hamptons with Devon Archer, who served on the board of the Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings with Hunter.

Earlier this month, Joe Biden told Fox News in Iowa that he never discussed his son’s foreign business dealings with him.

“I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings,” Biden said, pointing the finger at President Trump. “I know Trump deserves to be investigated. He is violating every basic norm of a president. You should be asking him why is he on the phone with a foreign leader, trying to intimidate a foreign leader. You should be looking at Trump.”

Hunter Biden told The New Yorker previously that he and his father had spoken “just once” about his work in Ukraine.

A source close to Archer told Fox News the photo was taken in August 2014. Contemporaneous news reports indicate the vice president was in the Hamptons at the time.

Hunter Biden and Archer joined the Burisma Holdings board in April 2014.

Earlier this month, Trump suggested that despite his claims, Joe Biden seemingly discussed Ukraine matters with his son. The White House has sought to point to possible corruption by the Bidens, amid the House Democrats’ formal impeachment inquiry against the president.

Devon Archer, far left, with former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, far right, in 2014.

“And now, he made a lie when he said he never spoke to his son,” Trump said. “Of course you spoke to your son!”

Biden has acknowledged on camera that in spring 2016, when he was vice president, he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire top prosecutor Viktor Shokin. At the time, Shokin was investigating Burisma Holdings — where Hunter had a lucrative role on the board despite limited relevant expertise.

The vice president threatened to withhold $1 billion in critical U.S. aid if Shokin was not fired.

“Well, son of a b—h, he got fired,” Biden joked at a panel two years after leaving office.

Shokin himself had already been widely accused of corruption.

Critics alleged Hunter Biden might have been selling access to his father, who had pushed Ukraine to increase its natural gas production.

“Impossible to justify $50k/month for Hunter Biden serving on a Ukrainian energy board w zero expertise unless he promised to sell access,” political scientist Ian Bremmer tweeted.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, on Sunday, suggested Shokin was the target of an international smear campaign to discredit his work.

In a combative interview on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, Giuliani presented what he said was an affidavit signed by Shokin that confirmed Hunter Biden was being investigated when Shokin was fired.

“I have an affidavit here that’s been online for six months that nobody bothered to read from the gentleman who was fired, Viktor Shokin, the so-called corrupt prosecutor,” Giuliani said. “The Biden people say that he wasn’t investigating Hunter Biden at the time. He says under oath that he was.” The Shokin affidavit purportedly said the U.S. had pressured him into resigning because he was unwilling to drop the case.

Later, Giuliani added: “I have another affidavit, this time from another Ukrainian prosecutor who says that the day after Biden strong-armed the president to remove Shokin, they show up in the prosecutor’s office — lawyers for Hunter Biden show up in the prosecutor’s office and they give an apology for dissemination of false information.”

After anchor George Stephanopoulos expressed skepticism, Giuliani fired back: “How about if I — how about if I tell you over the next week four more of these will come out from four other prosecutors? … No, no, no, George, they won’t be [investigated], because they’ve been online for six months, and the Washington press will not accept the fact that Joe Biden might have done something like this.”

Speaking separately to Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Giuliani brought up the affidavits and called the situation Clintonesque.

“The pattern is a pattern of pay for play. It includes something very similar to what happened to the Clinton Foundation,” Giuliani said, “which goes to the very core of, what did Obama know and when did he know it?”

Giuliani referred to a December 2015 New York Times article about Hunter Biden, Burisma and a Ukrainian oligarch, and how the younger Biden’s involvement with the Ukrainian company could undermine then-Vice President Biden’s anti-corruption message.

“The question is,” Giuliani asked, “when Biden and Obama saw that article, about how the son was pulling down money from the most crooked oligarch in Russia, did Obama call Biden in and say, ‘Joe, how could you be doing this?'”

“Tucker Carlson Tonight” producer Alex Pfeiffer contributed to this report.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Joe, Hunter Biden seen golfing with Ukraine gas company exec back in 2014, photo shows

President Trump issued a full-throated call for resignations and changes in management at The New York Times during a fiery rally in Democratic-leaning New Mexico on Monday night, after the paper published a bombshell allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — before later acknowledging, under pressure, that the alleged victim said she had no recollection of the event.

The slew of Democrats running for president who quickly called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment over the weekend based on the Times’ reporting indicated later on Monday they weren’t backing down, despite the Times’ major revision to the story.

“The left tries to threaten, bully, [and] intimidate Americans into submission,” Trump began. “They try to blacklist, coerce, cancel, or destroy anyone who gets in their way. Look at what they’re doing today to Justice Kavanaugh. Do you see — the Democrats are calling for his resignation. They’re calling for his impeachment, and the woman involved said she doesn’t know anything. So the New York Times had to put out a major apology, and they had to change their story … and they still want him to be impeached!”

Trump added: “I call for the resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh smear story, and while you’re at it, the Russian witch hunt hoax, which is just as phony a story. They’ve taken the old Grey Lady, so prestigious, and broken her down, destroyed her virtue, and ruined her reputation. She can never recover, and will never return to greatness under current management. The Times is dead, long live the New York Times.

“Think of it — they wrote a story about somebody and she said, ‘I don’t remember this,'” Trump concluded. His remarks echoed his statements earlier in the day on social media.

Meanwhile, Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, the head of the House Judiciary Committee, appeared to throw cold water on the idea of impeaching Kavanaugh. Nadler remarked on a radio show Monday: “We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now.”

That effort also appeared to be stalled, with top Democrats unable to agree on whether impeachment proceedings are currently occurring.

The explosive rally in suburban Albuquerque came hours after New York City prosecutors went on the offensive by subpoenaing Trump’s tax returns. But Trump’s presence in the Democratic-leaning state was itself an aggressive maneuver that signaled a new campaign strategy.

The event is the first stop on a three-day swing that will also take him to California for fundraisers expected to raise more than $15 million. The county where the rally is being held, Rio Rancho, went to Hillary Clinton in 2016, if only by just 1,800 votes.

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a campaign rally at the Santa Ana Star Center, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in Rio Rancho, N.M. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“We will win the great state of New Mexico in 2020,” Trump said at the outset of the rally, before touting the state’s economic progress under his administration.

New Mexico is in the midst of an oil-production boom that has boosted employment and spurred a state government spending spree from first-year Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on public education, roadway projects and tax rebates for film productions.

“Crude oil production has more than doubled, and it’s going up higher, quickly,” Trump said. “And your state’s energy revenues are up by nearly two-thirds. Think of that.”

Chants of “Four more years!” broke out. Trump said the current spat with Iran in the Middle East would have caused a “panic” under previous administrations, when the U.S. was not a net exporter of energy and had not attained energy independence.

“Thank you very much, President Trump,” Trump said. “Now, under the Green New Deal, all of that goes away. No more cows. No more airplanes.”

“Thank you very much, President Trump.”

— President Trump

Trump’s efforts in New Mexico will provide a test of how well his often-harsh rhetoric about immigrants will play with Hispanic voters, who comprise nearly 40 percent of New Mexico’s electorate.

“Yesterday marked the beginning of the Hispanic Heritage month,” Trump said at the rally. “Who is Hispanic here? Latinos for Trump, right? Incredible people.”

Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking at a campaign event in Albuquerque, N.M., in 2016. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

Trump added: “The unemployment for Hispanic Americans is right now at the lowest level in the history of our country. Hispanic American poverty reached a brand-new all-time low in history. And after years of stagnation that you know very well, wages for Hispanic Americans are rising really fast, up nearly 8 percent since my election. Those are unheard-of numbers. And median income for Hispanic Americans surpassed $50,000 for the first time ever. That’s not bad.”

The president went on to praise Mexico’s efforts to assist in border enforcement, which commenced after Trump threatened the country with punishing tariffs. Border apprehensions have plunged as a result of that assistance, administration officials said, citing the latest data from the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump is looking to find the next Wisconsin or Michigan — states that Democrats generally win in presidential elections but that can surprise under certain conditions, as they did in 2016. Also on the Trump team’s shortlist: Nevada, New Hampshire and Minnesota.

New Mexico has not tilted toward a Republican in the presidential election since 2004. Trump captured just 40 percent of the state vote in 2016.

Hillary Clinton fell short of a majority victory, with 48 percent support in a state she did not visit.

Recent indicators have not been favorable fo the GOP. Last year, Republicans lost a House seat and the governor’s mansion. Last week, a congressional candidate went viral by taunting the president by name in an ad.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is running in an open Senate primary to replace retiring Democrat Tom Udall, greeted news of Trump’s rally in New Mexico at first with mocking disbelief, and then with a tweeted string of stern warnings.

“Rio Rancho is in my district, and anyone who undermines the safety, security, or way of life of our communities, isn’t welcome here,” he wrote.

Still, campaign officials say a Trump rally in nearby El Paso, Texas, last February was well attended by female and Hispanic voters and travelers from New Mexico, suggesting that New Mexico is in play.

Hundreds of people showed up early Monday to claim a place in line ahead of the evening event in Rio Rancho. Protesters, for their part, vowed to step up acts of civil disobedience and demonstrations.

Trump’s first visit to New Mexico as president drew visitors from Colorado, California and all parts of New Mexico, according to local media reports.

“This is New Mexico. A lot of people in New Mexico really like Trump because he’s fighting for them,” an attendee told local station KRQE-13.

Some observers, however, have their doubts.

“Bush had much higher favorable opinions by Hispanics,” said Lonna Atkeson, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico, who noted Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry 15 years ago by winning over large rural swaths of the state. “He was from Texas, not New York, and so he had more regional ties. … Trump paints a very different portrait.”

Among those waiting for the president in New Mexico was former CIA operative Valerie Plame, the top contender in a crowded Democratic primary race for New Mexico’s northern congressional district, which Luján currently represents. Plame noted she has a “few scores to settle” with the president in a swaggering new video that shows her speeding across the desert in a muscle car — in reverse — before spinning forward in a swirl of dust. The campaign advertisement’s accuracy was questioned.

The Trump campaign said that the situation on the ground in the state has changed significantly since 2016. In August, Vice President Pence declared New Mexico was back “in play” politically in a visit to the Permian Basin, a booming petroleum production zone overlapping portions of southern New Mexico and western Texas.

“We have the opportunity because of our fundraising and infrastructure to not only defend the states we carried in 2016, but to extend the map in 2020,” said Rick Gorka, a spokesman for a fundraising committee for Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said he believes the president’s standing has improved since 2016. He credited the economy, including the fact that Latino unemployment is at an all-time low, as well as the president’s stance on immigration enforcement.

“The most valuable commodity that we have as a campaign is the president’s time. And he will not travel all the way to New Mexico for a head fake,” Murtaugh said.

Gorka said New Mexico is a big part of that strategy, as are Minnesota, New Hampshire and Nevada.

President Trump boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base for his trip to Albuquerque on Monday. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Lujan Grisham, meanwhile, took aim at Trump ahead of his visit, describing the president as being demeaning to Hispanics and immigrants since being elected. She also said Trump’s policies had resulted in increased taxes for some New Mexicans.

Specifically, she has pilloried Trump’s border wall while withdrawing most National Guard troops from the border and suing the U.S. Homeland Security Department to recoup spending by local governments to shelter and feed asylum-seeking migrants released into southern New Mexico towns such as Las Cruces and Deming.

Trump will stay in Albuquerque on Monday night, then follow up his rally by flying to the San Francisco Bay area on Tuesday for a luncheon fundraiser. He’ll then attend a fundraising dinner that evening in Beverly Hills at the home of real estate developer Geoffrey Palmer. He has two more fundraisers planned in Los Angeles and San Diego on Wednesday.

The fundraisers will benefit Trump Victory, the joint entity that funds Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Trump demands resignations at NYT amid Kavanaugh outcry: ‘The Times is dead, long live the New York Times’

President Trump, in remarks broadcast Sunday, said former President Obama “certainly must have known about” what he characterized as high-level efforts by “FBI guys that were low-lifes” and other intelligence operatives to undermine his presidency.

Speaking in a contentious interview with ABC News’ “This Week” anchor George Stephanopoulos, Trump blunted his accusation by adding, “I’m not gonna make that statement quite yet.” But, as two Justice Department inquiries actively probe the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, Trump hinted more facts would soon come out.

“You clearly believe there was a group of people working against you,” Stephanopoulos asked. “Do you think President Obama was behind it?”

“I would say that he certainly must have known about it because it went very high up in the chain,” Trump responded. “But, you’re gonna find that out. I’m not gonna make that statement quite yet. But I would say that President Obama had to know about it.”

In May, Trump issued a memo giving Attorney General William Barr the authority to declassify any documents related to surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016.

As part of its ongoing “multifaceted” and “broad” review into potential misconduct by U.S. intelligence agencies during the 2016 presidential campaign, the Justice Department revealed last week it also was investigating the activities of several “non-governmental organizations and individuals.”

After Trump pointed out he had turned over more than a million documents and chose not to exert executive privilege over any aspect of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his level of cooperation with investigators.

“You didn’t sit for an interview. You didn’t answer questions on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos, a former top aide to Bill Clinton, said.

“Now, wait a minute,” Trump shot back. “Wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing.”

“Not on obstruction,” Stephanopoulos repeated twice.

Former FBI Agent Peter Strzok is a “lowlife,” Trump said Sunday, adding that President Obama likely was aware of his activities. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

“Look, George, you’re being a little wise guy, okay, which is, you know, typical for you,” Trump responded. “Just so you understand, very simple, it’s very simple, there was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means they set — it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s gonna come out.”

Trump continued: “I hope it’s gonna come out. We are going to find out very soon, because I really believe it’s gonna come out. When you look at [Peter] Strzok, these FBI guys that were lowlifes, when you look — ’cause the FBI’s the greatest. But these — the top people were absolutely lowlifes. When you look at Strzok and [Lisa] Page and they’re talking about an insurance policy just in case she loses, that was the insurance policy,” referring to the former FBI agent and attorney.

The DOJ has announced that its probe, let by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, also was looking into the involvement of “foreign intelligence services.” Former Trump aide George Papadopoulos told Fox News last month that an informant who was likely “CIA and affiliated with Turkish intel” had posed as a Cambridge University research assistant in September 2016 and tried to “seduce him” to obtain information linking the Trump team to Russia.

The DOJ also has indicated it was looking closely at work performed by Fusion GPS, the firm retained by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC) to conduct opposition research against the Trump campaign.

Fusion GPS, in turn, hired British ex-spy Christopher Steele to produce an unverified and largely discredited dossier that the FBI went on to cite in secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court applications to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page.

Internal FBI text messages, obtained by Fox News, showed that FBI brass tussled with a senior DOJ official over the apparent “bias” of a key FISA source at that time. Reporting by The Hill, confirmed by Fox News, has since revealed that Steele met with a State Department official shortly before the FBI obtained the Page FISA. The official then promptly communicated numerous concerns about Steele’s credibility to the FBI, including that some of his claims were self-evidently false and that his client was “keen” to see his work product surface prior to Election Day.

Multiple sources familiar with the matter told Fox News that Durham has been “very dialed in” and “asking all the right questions.” Separately, sources within the Justice Department confirmed to Fox News that Barr has met “on multiple occasions in recent weeks” with Durham in Washington, D.C.

The DOJ’s internal watchdog has been conducting an independent inquiry into potential surveillance abuses and misconduct. Previously the DOJ Inspector General (IG) found numerous actual and apparent violations of policy by FBI officials and agents, including taking inappropriate gifts and leaking without authorization to the media.

In May, the IG released an investigative summary finding that an unnamed former FBI deputy assistant director engaged in “misconduct,” including leaking “sensitive” information to the media, violating federal law by disclosing sealed court records and taking a gift from someone in the media. The IG declined to recommend prosecution without explanation.

“Do you believe that President Obama spied on your campaign?” Stephanopoulos asked toward the end of the interview after Trump remarked that “a previous administration used the intelligence data and the intelligence agencies to spy on my campaign.”

“I don’t know,” Trump said. “But, hopefully we’re gonna find out.”

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Fox News: Trump claims ‘Obama had to know about’ efforts to undermine presidency

Donald Trump Jr. has reached an eleventh-hour agreement to testify before the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee, most likely in June, Fox News has learned.

The development capped a contentious episode that began when the panel, led by Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Ranking Member Mark Warner, D-Va., subpoenaed the president’s son over remarks he made while testifying before the committee in 2017.

Trump Jr. had been concerned about an open-ended time and subject commitment, Fox News is told. In addition, Fox News has learned Trump Jr. was prepared to make the committee hold him in contempt and had a defiant letter drafted and ready to send — but at the last minute, the committee reached out to resolve the dispute.

Ultimately, the panel agreed to limit questioning to 1 to 2 hours, with narrow room for follow-ups, Fox News has learned. A source familiar with the discussions told Fox News the panel never would agree to limit topics.

Trump Jr.’s letter of refusal – which was never sent — cited the 20-plus hours of testimony and thousands of documents that he has already given to congressional committees, as well as his exoneration in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

The committee’s demand to have Trump Jr. testify again reportedly is related to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony earlier this year. Cohen, who reported to prison this week to begin a three-year sentence, told a House committee that he had briefed Trump Jr. approximately 10 times about a plan to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.

The committee’s demand to have Trump Jr. testify reportedly is related to the earlier testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, seen here. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

But, in 2017, Trump Jr. told the Senate Intelligence Committee he was only “peripherally aware” of the proposal.

In his draft letter to the committee, Trump Jr. pointed out that Cohen has pleaded guilty to multiple federal crimes, including lying to Congress.

The Intelligence Committee’s demand rankled top Republicans, including President Trump and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham.

“Anything based on what Michael Cohen said is worthless testimony. Michael Cohen is a worthless witness, and if I were Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer I would tell him, ‘You don’t need to go back into this environment anymore, you’ve been there for hours and hours and hours. And nothing being alleged here changes the outcome of the Mueller investigation,'” Graham, R-S.C., said. “I would call it a day.”

Trump Jr. has testified before congressional committees multiple times as part of their Russia investigations. Trump Jr. first fell under scrutiny in the early summer of 2017, after it was revealed that he helped to organize, and then attend, a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in Trump Tower in New York City.

The meeting initially was billed as one where Trump Jr. and members of the Trump campaign could obtain “dirt” on Hillary Clinton for their benefit in the 2016 election. The meeting apparently did not reveal any dirt on Clinton, but Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort attended the June 2016 meeting. Special Counsel Robert Mueller also investigated the meeting.

Both the Moscow project and June 2016 meeting are top priorities for the committee’s questioning, the source said.

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel and Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is a lawyer and editor based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Author: Gregg Re, John Roberts

Source: Foxnews: Trump Jr. reaches last-minute agreement to testify before Senate Intel Committee

Republicans believe he already gave ‘clear, informative testimony’ to the Senate about the Mueller report

The House Judiciary Committee has been informed that Attorney General Bill Barr (shown above right, beside Robert Mueller) will not testify at a planned hearing Thursday, an aide to the panel told Fox News — even as the Democrats who lead the committee vowed to hold the hearing anyway and threatened a possible contempt citation against Barr.

The prospect of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) gaveling a hearing with an empty chair came hours after Barr endured withering questioning from the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier on Wednesday.

A key sticking point was that Nadler wants to have House Judiciary Committee staff — rather than members of Congress — question Barr on his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

But DOJ officials said members should conduct the inquiry.

In remarks to reporters Thursday afternoon, Nadler said Democrats had “worked around the clock” to address Barr’s concerns and slammed what he called Barr’s “lack of candor.”

“He’s trying to blackmail the committee into not following the most effective means of eliciting the information we need,” Nadler said. “He is terrified of having to face a skilled attorney.”

Nadler also said the DOJ had denied House Democrats’ request for the full and unredacted Mueller report by Thursday, and said compliance with congressional subpoenas is “not optional.”

Although Barr has not yet been subpoenaed, Nadler said contempt citations could be possible down the road not only if the full Mueller report is not released, but also if Barr does not comply with a possible future subpoena.

“It’s a shame members of the House Judiciary Committee won’t get the opportunity to hear from Attorney General Barr this Thursday, because Chairman Nadler chose to torpedo our hearing,” House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.) said in a statement. “The attorney general gave clear, informative testimony in the Senate Wednesday, as he offered to do more than a month ago in the House tomorrow.”

Collins added, “By rejecting the chance to question Attorney General Barr or read the materials he’s provided, Democrats are trying to prolong an investigation the special counsel completed. Ultimately, though, they’re ignoring the will of the majority of Americans who want Congress to move on and secure our border and continue to strengthen our economy.”

“We’re not torpedoeing this hearing,” Nadler said, responding to Collins’ remarks.

He added that Barr has a “nerve” to challenge the panel’s ability to conduct its own hearing.

Republicans on the panel have echoed Collins’ argument for days.

“Attorney General Barr wasn’t asked to testify before the committee — he offered,” a spokesperson for House Judiciary Committee Republicans told Fox News earlier this week. “He provided the Mueller report voluntarily. He invited Democrat leaders to view the less redacted report in person. Yet the only thing, apparently, that will satisfy Democrats, who refuse to read the less redacted report, is to have staff pinch-hit when a cabinet-level official appears before us.”

The spokesperson continued, “What actual precedent is there for our committee making such demands of a sitting attorney general as part of our oversight duties? The attorney general isn’t a fact witness, and this committee’s investigations — as Democrat leadership reminds us daily — don’t constitute impeachment, so Democrats have yet to prove their demands anything but abusive and illogical in light of the transparency and good faith the attorney general has shown our committee.”

It is unusual for committee counsels to question a witness, especially a high-ranking Cabinet official.

“The attorney general isn’t a fact witness, and this committee’s investigations — as Democrat leadership reminds us daily — don’t constitute impeachment.”

Several top Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, have called for Barr’s resignation in the wake of his Senate testimony on Wednesday. The hearing covered everything from Barr’s decision not to pursue an obstruction case against President Trump to process delays in getting a redacted version of Mueller’s report to the public to Mueller’s apparent concerns about how Barr initially relayed his findings to Congress.

Barr, for his part, called some of Mueller’s comments “a bit snitty,” and suggested that the brouhaha was bizarre political theater, given that the Mueller report has been released publicly already.

Separately on Thursday, Democrats said Carl Kline, the former director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office, had failed to substantively answer several questions posed by the House Oversight and Reform Committee during a closed-door hearing.

Illinois Democrat Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi told reporters Kline will have to answer questions “one way or another.”

“I am not happy, since the White House is basically instructing the witness not to answer questions that are very pertinent to our inquiries,” Krishnamoorthi said. “We need to know about specific cases, specific individuals, and there seems to be some kind of blanket assertion that is not lodged in executive privilege or any kind of a recognizable basis for not answering questions. And so today’s a voluntary interview, but I suspect we’re going to be disputing this after today.”

Gregg Re is an editor and attorney based in Los Angeles. Fox News’ Jason Donner and Caroline McKee contributed to this Fox News report, which is used by permission.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Lifezette: Attorney General Bill Barr Will Not Testify at Planned Thursday Hearing; Dems Threaten Citation

Trump: We can never allow this to happen to another president

President Donald Trump joins ‘Hannity’ in an exclusive interview to discuss to outcome of the Mueller report and the role the FISA abuse scandal played.

President Trump, in an exclusive wide-ranging interview Wednesday night with Fox News’ “Hannity,” vowed to release the full and unredacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants and related documents used by the FBI to probe his campaign, saying he wants to “get to the bottom” of how the long-running Russia collusion narrative began.

Trump told anchor Sean Hannity that his lawyers previously had advised him not to take that dramatic step out of fear that it could be considered obstruction of justice.

“I do, I have plans to declassify and release. I have plans to absolutely release,” Trump said. “I have some very talented people working for me, lawyers, and they really didn’t want me to do it early on. … A lot of people wanted me to do it a long time ago. I’m glad I didn’t do it. We got a great result without having to do it, but we will. One of the reasons that my lawyers didn’t want me to do it, is they said, if I do it, they’ll call it a form of obstruction.”

Trump added: “Frankly, thought it would be better if we held it to the end. But at the right time, we will be absolutely releasing.”

Trump also accused FBI officials of committing “treason” — slamming former FBI Director James Comey as a “terrible guy,” former CIA Director John Brennan as potentially mentally ill, and Democrat House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff as a criminal.

Redacted versions of FISA documents already released have revealed that the FBI extensively relied on documents produced by Christopher Steele, an anti-Trump British ex-spy working for a firm funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, to surveil Trump aide Carter Page. At least one senior DOJ official had apparent concerns Steele was unreliable, according to text messages exclusively obtained last week by Fox News.

The leaked dossier, and related FBI surveillance, kickstarted a media frenzy on alleged Russia-Trump collusion that ended with a whimper on Sunday, when it was revealed Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe concluded finding no evidence of such a conspiracy, despite several offers by Russians to help the Trump campaign. Page was never charged with wrongdoing, and he is currently suing the DNC for defamation.

Citing a high-level source, Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul late Wednesday tweeted that anti-Trump ex-CIA Director John Brennan had internally pushed the dossier. Fox News has not independently verified Paul’s source.

“I think Brennan’s a sick person, I really do,” Trump said. “I believe there’s something wrong with him, for him to come out of the CIA and act that way was so disrespectful to the country and to the CIA. He was not considered good at what he did. He was never a respected guy.”

FILE – In this May 23, 2017, file photo, former CIA Director John Brennan testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the House Intelligence Committee Russia Investigation Task Force. President Donald Trump is revoking the security clearance of former Obama administration CIA director Brennan (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Brennan was one of the loudest and most virulent voices to trumpet the Russian collusion theory over the past two years, asserting falsely just weeks ago that Mueller was likely planning to indict members of the Trump administration’s family in a scene reminiscent of the “ides of March” and the assassination of Julius Caesar. Trump, who revoked Brennan’s security clearance last year amid concerns Brennan was improperly hinting that he had inside information about ongoing federal probes, called those remarks “horrible” on Wednesday.

Brennan has since acknowledged he was wrong, but has said inaccurately that Mueller merely could not find evidence meeting the high bar needed for a criminal prosecution — when in fact Mueller found no evidence at all that the Trump team responded to Russians’ numerous efforts to involve them in a conspiracy.

“When I said there could be somebody spying on my campaign, it went wild out there,” Trump told Hannity. “They couldn’t believe I could say such a thing. As it turned out, that was small potatoes compared to what went on. … Millions and millions [spent] on the phony dossier, and then they used the dossier to start things. It was a fraud, paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.”

Just hours earlier Wednesday, Trump made clear he was enthusiastic about the idea of appointing a second special counsel to review the origins of the Russia investigation when it came up during a meeting Tuesday with Republican senators, a source familiar with the discussions told Fox News.

Trump, speaking to Hannity, separately raised doubts about the secretive and mysterious June 27, 2016 Phoenix airport tarmac meeting between Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch — which was spotted while Lynch was overseeing the Hillary Clinton email probe.

“I had a lot of planes for a long time. I’ve never stopped the plane on the tarmac to let somebody on the plane,” Trump said. “Bill Clinton said he was there to play golf, but I know the area very well. Arizona. It’s a little warm at that time of year for golf, OK?”

In an apparent shot at former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Trump also told Hannity “this all would not have happened” if Attorney General William Barr had been with his administration from the beginning.

Trump also noted that ratings for several networks that aggressively pushed the Russia narrative have “fallen off” dramatically. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s audience of 2.5 million on Monday was 19 percent below her average this year, and it went down further to 2.3 million on Tuesday, according to the Nielsen company.

“If you wrote this as a novel, nobody would buy it; it would be a failure, because it would be too unbelievable,” Trump said. “We’re getting to the bottom of it. This can never, ever happen to a president again. That was a disgrace and an embarrassment to our country. … Hopefully they won’t get away with it.

“We’ll have to see how it all started, but I’m going to leave that to other people, including the attorney general and others, to make that determination,” Trump continued. “Fifty years, 100 years from now — if someone tries the same thing, they have to know the penalty will be very very great if and when they get caught.”

Trump also lashed out at Schiff, D-Calif., who has pushed strongly for investigations into possible Trump-Russia links. “Schiff is a bad guy, he knew he was lying — he’s not a dummy. For a year and a half he would just leak and call up CNN and others. You know, I watch him, so sanctimonious … He knew it was a lie, and he’d get in the back room with his friends in the Democrat Party, and they would laugh like hell. In one way, you could say it’s a crime what he did — he was making statements he knew were false. He’s a disgrace to our country.”

The president insisted the U.S. should have a “great relationship” with Russia and China, but that the “fake news” and “nonsense” distorted his intentions into something more sinister.

FILE – In this March 22, 2018 photo, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., then ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, exits a secure area to speak to reporters, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Trump also criticized Comey, whom he’d fired in 2017, as a “terrible guy.” He insisted he did not fire him to obstruct justice, telling Hannity he knew that firing Comey would only increase scrutiny on the White House.

“It was treason, it was really treason,” Trump said, referring to texts between former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page that discussed an “insurance policy” in the event of Trump’s election.

“You had dirty cops, you had people who are bad FBI folks … At the top, they were not clean, to put it mildly.” He said later, “We can never allow these treasonous acts to happen to another president.”

“I do, I have plans to declassify and release.”

— President Trump

Separately, Trump also said he hopes Democrats continue pushing the Green New Deal, which flamed out in a test vote on Tuesday, as most Democrats voted “present” instead of going on record supporting the sweeping transformation of the entire U.S. economy.

“I don’t want to speak badly about the New Green Deal, frankly, because I’m afraid they will stop using it,” Trump said. “I really do want to campaign against it. It’s ridiculous.”

Trump’s interview came as multiple GOP lawmakers have claimed the president may have somewhat undercut perhaps the best week of his presidency by backing the complete overturn of ObamaCare.

On Monday, the Justice Department asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans to affirm last year’s ruling by a Texas federal judge stating that the Affordable Care Act was no longer constitutional because the 2017 tax reform legislation eliminated the health care law’s penalty for not having health insurance.

Multiple congressional Republicans told Fox News they were bothered by the timing of the Trump administration’s intervention in the matter, which came on the heels of the Mueller report findings, the House sustaining the president’s veto of a bill to halt the national emergency for the border wall and a Senate vote that shined a spotlight on what conservatives described as problems with the Green New Deal, championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

Trump, despite the pushback, vowed that Republicans would soon be the “party of great health care.”

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Foxnews: Trump vows to release FISA docs now that Mueller probe is concluded, slams ‘treasonous’ FBI

Lisa Page: Justice Department told agents not to charge Hillary Clinton

Newly released transcripts from Page closed-door testimony show agency, DOJ conflicted on Clinton.

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page admitted under questioning from Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe last summer that “the FBI was ordered by the Obama DOJ not to consider charging Hillary Clinton for gross negligence in the handling of classified information,” the congressman alleged in a social media post late Tuesday, citing a newly unearthed transcript of Page’s closed-door testimony.

Page and since-fired FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, who were romantically involved, exchanged numerous anti-Trump text messages in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, and Republicans have long accused the bureau of political bias. But Page’s testimony was perhaps the most salient evidence yet that the Justice Department improperly interfered with the FBI’s supposedly independent conclusions on Clinton’s criminal culpability, Ratcliffe alleged.

“So let me if I can, I know I’m testing your memory,” Ratcliffe began as he questioned Page under oath, according to a transcript excerpt he posted on Twitter. “But when you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to —”

Page interrupted: “That is correct,” as Ratcliffe finished his sentence, ” — bring a case based on that.”

The document dump was part of a major release by House Judiciary Committee Republicans, who on Tuesday released hundreds of pages of transcripts from last year’s closed-door interview with Page, revealing new details about the bureau’s controversial internal discussions regarding an “insurance policy” against then-candidate Donald Trump. Fox News has previously reviewed portions of Page’s testimony.

Responding to the transcript revelations, Trump on Wednesday tweeted: “The just revealed FBI Agent Lisa Page transcripts make the Obama Justice Department look exactly like it was, a broken and corrupt machine. Hopefully, justice will finally be served. Much more to come!”

Page also testified that the DOJ and FBI had “multiple conversations … about charging gross negligence,” and the DOJ decided that the term was “constitutionally vague” and “had either never been done or had only been done once like 99 years ago,” and so “they did not feel they could sustain a charge.”

Former FBI Lawyer Lisa Page and fired FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok exchanged anti-Trump text messages during their time at the bureau. (AP, File)

In July 2016, then-FBI Director James Comey publicly announced at a bombshell press conference that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in handling classified information, but insisted that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against her.

Federal law states that “gross negligence” in handling the nation’s intelligence can be punished criminally with prison time or fines, and there is no requirement that defendants act intentionally or recklessly.

Originally Comey accused the former secretary of state of being “grossly negligent” in handling classified information in a draft dated May 2, 2016, but that was modified to claim that Clinton had merely been “extremely careless” in a draft dated June 10, 2016.

Comey also said that “although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

He added that “prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges,” including “the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent.”

Comey took the unusual step of holding a press conference and announcing the FBI’s purportedly independent conclusions because then-Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch was spotted meeting secretly with former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac as the probe into Hillary Clinton, which Lynch was overseeing, continued.

Comey’s conclusion that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case against Clinton has become the subject of significant debate in recent weeks. It was revealed last month that FBI’s top lawyer in 2016 thought Hillary Clinton and her team should have immediately realized they were mishandling “highly classified” information based on the obviously sensitive nature of the emails’ contents sent through her private server.

And he believed she should have been prosecuted until “pretty late” in the investigation, according to a transcript of his closed-door testimony before congressional committees last October.

Strzok and Page were involved in the FBI’s initial counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump campaign associates during the 2016 election, and later served on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Among the texts between the two was one concerning the so-called “insurance policy.” During her interview with the Judiciary Committee in July 2018, Page was questioned at length about that text — and essentially confirmed this referred to the Russia investigation while explaining that officials were proceeding with caution, concerned about the implications of the case while not wanting to go at “total breakneck speed” and risk burning sources as they presumed Trump wouldn’t be elected anyway.

Further, she confirmed investigators only had a “paucity” of evidence at the start. Comey, last December, similarly acknowledged that when the FBI initiated its counterintelligence probe into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government in July 2016, investigators “didn’t know whether we had anything” and that “in fact, when I was fired as director [in May 2017], I still didn’t know whether there was anything to it.”

Then-Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., kicked off that section of questioning by asking about the text sent from Strzok to Page in August 2016 which read: “I want to believe the path you threw out in Andy’s [McCabe’s] office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take the risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

The former FBI lawyer explained how the FBI was trying to strike a balance with the investigation into the Trump campaign—which agents called “Crossfire Hurricane,” in a nod to a Rolling Stones song.

“So, upon the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, we had a number of discussions up through and including the Director regularly in which we were trying to find an answer to the question, right, which is, is there someone associated with the [Trump] campaign who is working with the Russians in order to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton,” Page said. “And given that it is August, we were very aware of the speed and sensitivity that we needed to operate under.”

Page continued that, “if the answer is this is a guy just being puffery at a meeting with other people, great, then we don’t need to worry about this, and we can all move on with our lives; if this is, in fact, the Russians have coopted an individual with, you know, maybe wittingly or unwittingly, that’s incredibly grave, and we need to know that as quickly as possible.”

Page explained that the text message reflected their “continuing check-in” as to “how quickly to operate.”

“[W]e don’t need to go at a total breakneck speed because so long as he doesn’t become President, there isn’t the same threat to national security, right,” Page explained, while saying that if Trump were not elected president, the bureau would still investigate.

“But if he becomes president, that totally changes the game because now he is the President of the United States,” Page told lawmakers. “He’s going to immediately start receiving classified briefings. He’s going to be exposed to the most sensitive secrets imaginable. And if there is somebody on his team who wittingly or unwittingly is working with the Russians, that is super serious.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Foxnews: Lisa Page admitted Obama DOJ ordered stand-down on Clinton email prosecution, GOP rep says

Trump campaign begins fundraising on national emergency declaration

The Trump 2020 campaign is highlighting examples of the president keeping his promises, advisory board member Marc Lotter says.

The attorneys general of California, New York, and 14 other states on Monday filed a lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit against the White House’s recent national emergency declaration over border security, claiming President Trump has “veered the country toward a constitutional crisis of his own making.”

President Trump sarcastically had predicted the lawsuit last week. He’s slammed the Ninth Circuit multiple times as “disgraceful” and politically biased.

The litigation, brought before a federal trial court in the Northern District of California, seeks an injunction to prevent Trump from shifting billions of dollars from military construction to the border without explicit congressional approval. The suit also asks a court to declare Trump’s actions illegal, arguing that Trump showed a “flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles engrained in the United States Constitution” by violating the Constitution’s Presentment and Appropriations Clauses, which govern federal spending.

The litigation additionally includes allegations that Trump is violating the National Environmental Policy Act, by planning to build a wall that could impact the environment without first completing the necessary environmental impact reports.

The attorneys general specifically argue that the border wall does not “require[] use of the armed forces,” as mandated under 10 U.S.C. section 2808, the federal law which governs construction projects during national emergencies. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan reportedly said this week he isn’t sure there is a military necessity at the border, or how much the agency would need to spend.

A person dressed to look like President Donald Trump in a prison uniform, and others gather Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, in front of the White House in Washington, to protest that President Donald Trump declared a national emergency along the southern border. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The states contend they have standing to sue the administration largely because, they allege, the federal funds could have been spent on their defense. “Maine is aggrieved by the actions of Defendants and has standing to bring this action because of the injury to the State and its residents caused by Defendants’ reduction of federal defense spending in Maine due to diversion of funding to the border wall,” one section of the suit reads.

“California is aggrieved by the actions of Defendants and has standing to bring this action because of the injury due to the loss of federal drug interdiction, counter-narcotic, and law enforcement funding to the State caused by Defendants’ diversion of funding,” reads another paragraph.

In addition to Maine, California, and New York, the group of states also includes Delaware, Oregon, Hawaii, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico.

“Declaring a National Emergency when one does not exist is immoral and illegal,” New York Attorney General Letitia James, who previously vowed to use “every area of the law” to investigate Trump and his family, said in a statement. “Diverting necessary funds from real emergencies, crime-fighting activities, and military construction projects usurps Congressional power and will hurt Americans across the country. We will not stand for this abuse of power and will fight using every tool at our disposal.”

In a separate statement, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, remarked, “President Trump is manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up ‘national emergency’ in order to seize power and undermine the Constitution.”

The litigation came amid scattered anti-Trump Presidents Day protests across the country, including a group of more than a hundred demonstrators who waved signs at the White House while the president was speaking in Florida.

At a news conference outside the White House on Friday, Trump mockingly predicted legal challenges against his emergency declaration would follow a tried-and-true path.

“So the order is signed and I’ll sign the final papers as soon as I get into the Oval Office,” Trump told reporters. “And we will have a national emergency and we will then be sued, and they will sue us in the Ninth Circuit even though it shouldn’t be there, and we will possibly get a bad ruling, and then we’ll get another bad ruling, and then we’ll end up in the Supreme Court and hopefully we’ll get a fair shake and we’ll win in the Supreme Court just like the ban. They sued us in the Ninth Circuit and we lost, and then we lost in the Appellate Division, and then we went to the Supreme Court and we won.”

President Donald Trump speaks during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to declare a national emergency in order to build a wall along the southern border, Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has jurisdiction over all appeals coming out of the Northern District of California, where Monday’s lawsuit was filed. The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit has long been a legal stumbling block for conservative policies, and the White House has sought to appoint conservative justices to thin out the liberal ranks on the court. Last year, Trump bypassed traditional protocols and ignored the concerns of the state’s Democratic politicians to nominate prominent conservatives to the Ninth Circuit.

Trump even engaged in a public spat with Chief Justice John Roberts on the issue, after Roberts took the unusual step of disputing Trump’s comments that the nation has biased judges on some courts. Roberts has sought to portray himself as a nonpartisan justice.

But, Democrats have said it’s the president who defies basic legal norms.

“President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Monday. “He knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court.”

In an interview, Becerra added, “Probably the best evidence is the president’s own words, [when he said], ‘I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.” That was a reference to Trump’s comments on Friday.

Becerra also said Trump knew he would lose in the Ninth Circuit and wanted a “Hail Mary” win at the Supreme Court.

Protesters of President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration block traffic near Trump International Hotel and Tower on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

James, the New York attorney general, argued that the emergency declaration was not only legally unconstitutional, but also unnecessary as a practical matter, asserting that “unlawful southern border entries are at their lowest point in twenty-years, immigrants are less likely than native-born citizens to commit crimes, and illegal drugs are more likely to come through official ports of entry.”

Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller, speaking exclusively to “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace, disputed those arguments over the weekend. He said substantial border wall constructed should be completed by Sept. 2020 because of the emergency declaration.

“The problem with the statement that you’re ‘apprehending 80 or 90 percent of drugs at ports of entry’ — that’s like saying you apprehend most contraband at (Transportation Security Administration) checkpoints at airports,” Miller said. “You apprehend the contraband there because that’s where you have the people, the screeners. I assure you if we had screeners of that same density across every single inch and mile of the southern border, you’d have more drugs interdicted in those areas.”

In response to claims that the president was unconstitutionally taking power from Congress, Miller noted that the National Emergencies Act includes an express grant of power from the legislature to the executive branch — and also includes dispute mechanisms in case Congress disagrees with the president’s use of his authority.

“The statute, Chris, is clear on its own terms,” Miller said. “Congress has appropriated money for construction of border barriers consistently. This is part of the national security.”

Still, even a single federal judge could issue an order blocking the national emergency declaration, which has occurred nearly three dozen times so far under Trump’s watch.

Central American immigrants lining up for breakfast at a shelter in Piedras Negras, Mexico, earlier this month. (Jerry Lara/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

The Trump administration repeatedly has condemned the increasingly common practice of one judge issuing such a sweeping order, and Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who concurred in the high court’s decision last year to reinstate Trump’s travel ban, wrote that such injunctions “take a toll on the federal court system—preventing legal questions from percolating through the federal courts, encouraging forum shopping, and making every case a national emergency for the courts and for the executive branch.”

The stakes are high for the White House, which has struggled to see new wall funding win approval in Congress. On Friday, Trump signed a compromise spending bill that included just $1.4 billion for border security — far short of the $5.7 billion he’d requested for the wall.

The compromise legislation, which overwhelmingly passed in the House and Senate last week, contained enough funding for building just 55 miles of barricades, not the 200-plus miles the White House has sought.

Still, neither party seemed enthused about the legislation, save for its provisions averting another partial federal government shutdown. Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, speaking to “Fox News Sunday,” called the bill “outrageous,” pointing to is provisions for what he called “welcoming centers for newly arriving illegal aliens, and all kinds of medical care” — a reference to the allocation of $192,700,000 in the bill’s conference agreement to enhance medical care and transportation for illegal immigrants in U.S. custody, including to shelters run by nonprofits.

The bill provided additional funding for 5,000 more beds that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could use to house illegal immigrants. But, in an attempt to pressure the agency to detain fewer illegal immigrants, Democrats ensured that the bill did not include funding for the 2,000 additional ICE agents requested by the Trump administration, or the 750 Border Patrol agents who also were sought.

Cathy Clark holding a sign during a protest in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Several Republicans, including Texas Reps. Dan Crenshaw and Chip Roy, voted against the bill, saying it didn’t properly address the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs across the border. Roy called the bill a “sham” and said it “undermines the whole point of an emergency declaration.”

Prominent Democrats, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, rejected the spending bill as well, saying it did not do enough to curb ICE.

A senior administration official told Fox News the White House planned to move $8 billion in currently appropriated or available funds toward construction of the wall. Of that, $3 billion could be diverted with help from the emergency declaration.

That money would include about $600 million from the Treasury Department’s forfeiture fund. That money has been described as “easy money” that the White House can use however it wants. The White House also is expected to use drug interdiction money from the Defense Department.

But, by declaring an emergency, Trump is potentially able to unlock money from the Pentagon’s military construction budget, to the tune of $3.5 billion.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Kelly Phares, Kathleen Foster and Chris Wallace contributed to this report.

Gregg Re is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @gregg_re.

Author: Gregg Re

Source: Foxnews: New York, California, 14 other states sue Trump in Ninth Circuit over emergency declaration

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