August 21, 2019
Hillary Clinton recently said that she “lives rent-free” in President Donald Trump’s mind. Indeed, the POTUS continues to contest the fact that she won the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election—by nearly 2.9 million votes.
What’s more, Trump has asked the DOJ to investigate the former Secretary of State’s emails, her server, her business deals, and her husband.
But this week he returned to his familiar “ballot box” theme, according to a report by Politico—forcing Clinton yet again to rebut his conspiracy agenda.
“Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election!” Trump tweeted on Monday. “This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!”
While Trump did not cite the source of his claim, according to Politico, it came minutes after a segment on Fox Business Network referred to congressional testimony in July from behavioral psychologist Robert Epstein.
In testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Epstein claimed that, based on his research, “biased search results generated by Google’s search algorithm likely impacted undecided voters in a way that gave at least 2.6 million votes to Hillary Clinton.”
Epstein appears to have been citing a study based on a collection of tens of thousands of search engine results collected in the run-up to the 2016 election. The study analyzed a relatively small sample size: The results of 95 different voters, just 21 of whom he says were undecided. He based the results on a phenomenon he calls “Search Engine Manipulation Effect.”
Google has denied Epstein’s claims. Company Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said at a House Judiciary Committee hearing in December that Google had investigated Epstein’s findings and found his methodology flawed
According to the Politico report, Epstein also claimed in his congressional testimony that Big Tech, if left unchecked, could shift as many as 15 million votes toward a particular candidate in the 2020 election. Trump appeared to have nudged that number higher in his tweet Monday.
But Hillary clapped back, tweeting, “The debunked study you’re referring to was based on 21 undecided voters. For context that’s about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted.”
Research contact: @politico
August 20, 2019
He’s not invoking Constitutional Amendment 25, but former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said on August 19 that he, nonetheless, believes it is time to remove the president: According to a report by The Hill, Scaramucci has said he intends to assemble a coalition of former Cabinet members to speak out against President Donald Trump in an effort to find a Republican challenger to the president in 2020.
Under Amendment 25, ‘Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”
While the amendment provides an immediate (and dramatic) means of removal, Scaramucci is looking toward “primarying” the president out in 2020. There already are two Republicans who have said they are in the running: Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld and former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.
“I’m in the process of putting together a team of people who feel the exact same way that I do. This is not a ‘Never Trump’ situation, this is not just screeching rhetoric. This is, ‘OK, the guy’s unstable, everyone inside knows it, everyone outside knows it, let’s see if we can find a viable alternative,’” Scaramucci said Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”
Scaramucci would not reveal names of former officials that he said feel that Trump is unstable. But he said he expects more to come out publicly in upcoming months.
“I predict in middle or late fall there will be a trove of people who will come together in unity to say this is what’s going on. This is how the person’s acting. This is why there’s nobody inside the White House he’s taking any advice from,” Scaramucci said.
He also did not disclose names of possible candidates he’s looking to back along with the team he’s looking to assemble.
“I don’t think it’s fair to those people,” he said.
Around the same time Scaramucci spoke on CNN, Trump renewed an attack on his former staffer. He tweeted that Scaramucci is a “nut job” whom he “barely knew.”
Trump also tweeted that there is “great cohesion” inside the Republican Party.
Scaramucci had long defended Trump but in recent weeks has spoken out against the president’s rhetoric and actions, The Hill said.
Research contact: @thehill
August 19, 2019
“I don’t know why they would,” President Donald Trump said last week, when asked whether he thought that Israel should provide entrance to two U.S. Democratic representatives for a fact-finding visit.
The freshman lawmakers—Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota—are Muslims who have been disparaged, even by many of their fellow Democrats, for their posture on Israel; including their support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a global campaign designed to press Israel on human rights issues surrounding the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Nonetheless, it has been Israel’s position, as a close ally of the United States, to allow members of Congress to freely visit the nation—including the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The visit of the two lawmakers would have followed a visit by the largest-ever U.S. delegation—a group of 41 Congressional Democrats and 31 Congressional Republicans—who traveled to Israel to express solidarity with the Jewish state, following what they characterized as anti-semitic remarks by Tlaib and Omar.
However, U.S. President Donald Trump intervened to urge Israel to block the upcoming admission of the two Muslim observers.
According to a report by The Hill, President Trump “broke new ground [last] Thursday when he urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deny two Muslim congresswomen entrance to the country for a fact-finding visit, accusing them of harboring hatred toward “Israel & all Jewish people.”
The move reverberated across Washington, as pro-Israel groups condemned the president for threatening U.S.-Israel relations; foreign policy experts chimed in with warnings of frayed diplomatic ties; and stunned Democrats issued waves of statements denouncing Trump for pressuring a foreign government to deny his American political opponents rights of free passage.
Indeed, in a surprise response on August 16, even BDS condemned the move. The statement from the opposition organization left no doubt that even the Palestinians object to the U.S. president’s unprecedented intervention.
“The Palestinian-led BDS movement condemns the far-right Israeli government’s McCarthyite decision to prevent Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar from visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territory over their support for Palestinian freedom. We call for cutting US military aid to Israel,” BDS said in its official release, adding, “Israel’s far-right government, with Trump’s collusion, has again put itself on par with apartheid South Africa in the past, and other rogue regimes in the present.”
The statement ended with kudos for the two Muslim lawmakers. “We salute Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and we call for escalating pressure on Congress to implement the Leahy Law, which conditions U,S, military aid to other governments on their respect for human rights, by cutting U,S, military aid to Israel.”
“I can’t think of any other president, Democrat or Republican, doing something as outrageous as this,” Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Hill on August 15 during a phone interview. “If this is just providing cover for Netanyahu, that’s wrong. If this is Donald Trump playing politics, that’s wrong.
“Once again, Donald Trump is denigrating the office of the presidency,” he added.
Some Republicans also broke ranks to criticize the president’s intervention. “Israel is a U.S. ally and a thriving bastion of democracy and hope for freedom-loving people of the world. It would benefit all of us for Reps. Tlaib and Omar to see that firsthand,” Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said to Reuters’s Patricia Zengerle.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), a staunch ally of Israel who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, called Israel’s decision a “mistake,” while Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) singled out the Trump administration for urging Israel to deny the women entry.
Research contact: @thehill
August 16, 2019
Mark Sanford—the former South Carolina Republican governor (2003-2011) and representative (1996-2001) who vanished for a week in 2009 and subsequently confessed to an extramarital affair—has announced that he is considering mounting a challenge to President Donald Trump in 2020, CNN reports.
“There’s a big storm coming,” Sanford says in a campaign-style video released on August 12, adding that America is “in the most precarious financial position” and “not dealing with it could crush our economy, it could wipe out whatever we’ve saved, it could even destroy our republic.”
The former congressman has been privately considering whether to run since leaving office in January. Sanford’s presidential bid would be a long-shot against Trump, who has an 88% approval rating among Republican voters, according to the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center..
Sanford told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he’s been encouraged to run for president by people who “have said we need to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican.”
He suggested that South Carolina voters are weary of “the bully in the schoolyard routine” from Trump. “So I think something is afoot both on the financial front and frankly on the tone and tenor front,” he told CNN.
In fact, he told the cable news network, “I just got through watching two Democratic debates that offered little more than a long laundry list of new political promises that we can’t afford. [Then] … I listen to the president, who rules out action on the very things that drive our debt and spending.”
Sanford says some have suggested an advocacy group, while “others have suggested running in the Republican primary against the President as a way of elevating the issue and changing the debate.”
Sanford lost his primary race in 2018, running as a “Never Trumper” for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Should he decide to run, Sanford also would take on former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who announced in April that he was officially entering the race, as a Republican to take on Trump in 2020.
Sanford has said he expects to make his decision by September.
Research contact: @CNNPolitics
August 15, 2019
Stacey Abrams, who lost her 2018 gubernatorial race in Georgia by a narrow margin to Republican Brian Kemp, said she would be “honored” to be considered as a running mate for any of the two dozen hopefuls who are making a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination next year, The Hill reported on August 14.
Abrams already had announced on August 13 that she would not throw her hat into the presidential race-but that she would work instead to combat voter suppression and increase participation in the 2020 census.
However, her personal charisma and political acuity are not to be ignored: As another option, she said she would privileged to be chosen as the vice presidential candidate, should the nominee approach her.
According to The Hill, the Georgia Democrat has cited voter suppression as a reason for her defeat, noting the removal of thousands of people who had failed to cast ballots in recent elections from voting rolls and hours-long lines at some precincts.
“I’ve been thinking about this for the last few weeks, an I’ve just come to the decision that my best value add, the strongest contribution I can give to this primary, would be to make sure our nominee is coming into an environment where there’s strong voter protections in place,” she told the Times.
Abrams added that she did not want to wage a campaign “simply because the office is available” and that she’s “been pleased with the direction of the field,” urging all the candidates to also prioritize voter suppression and campaign in Georgia.
Several Democratic presidential candidates already have vowed to (or suggested they might) pick a female running mate if nominated. Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) vowed in April to pick a woman as his vice president, while former Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said in March it would “very difficult not to select a woman” as his running mate.”
Research contact: @thehill
August 14, 2019
President George Washington, known to this day as “the father of our country,” famously said, “The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges ….”
However, now, that welcome mat is being pulled out from under the feet of both legal and illegal immigrants by the Trump administration, which on August 12 rolled out a sweeping rule that targets every newcomer who needs welfare benefits such as food stamps and government-subsidized housing.
According to a report by CBS News, the new regulation from the Department of Homeland Security would block the entry of any immigrants who would rely on a “public charge” or “public benefit” to provide the necessities of life.
Detailed in a more than 800-page document, the new regulation would dramatically expand the government’s definition of the centuries-old term “public charge,” effectively making it more difficult for certain low-income immigrants to secure permanent residency or temporary visas. The final and enforceable version of the rule is scheduled to be officially published on the Federal Register on August 14 and slated to go into effect in October.
The rule affects most aspects of life for immigrants — from medical care and English language proficiency, to food stamps and other welfare programs, according to the network news outlet.
Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the DHS agency that administers benefits for immigrants, touted the change as a way to promote “self-sufficiency” and “success” among immigrant communities.
“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is re-enforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility ensuring immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” Cuccinelli told reporters at the White House on Monday.
Immigration authorities currently ask green card applicants to prove they won’t be a burden on the country, but the new regulation, if enacted, would require caseworkers to consider the use of government housing, food and medical assistance such as the widely used Section 8 housing vouchers and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The rule would subject immigrant households that fall below certain income thresholds to the “public charge” test—which would also consider how well applicants speak, read and write English. Under the proposed rule, any diagnosed medical condition that requires extensive medical treatment would also “weigh heavily” in evaluations by caseworkers.
Asylum seekers and refugees would be exempt from this “public charge” test.
When the 60-day public comment window on the proposed rule closed last December, more than 260,000 comments had been sent to the Trump administration— nearly all of them, critical of the new regulation. However, those comments have not been considered in the creation of the rule.
Although the proposal does not include Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) assistance in its “public charge” considerations, researchers at the Health Policy Center believe immigrant parents, particularly in Latino and Asian American communities, will drop these benefits due to concerns surrounding their immigration status and ability to remain in the U.S. legally with their children.
Their only hope? As soon as the final rule was unveiled, several groups vowed to file lawsuits to try to block it, CBS News reported.
Research contact: @CBSNews
August 13, 2019
The GOP needs a new presidential candidate for 2020, according to former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci—who is, perhaps, best-known for the amount of time he spent in the Trump administration (11 days).
Scaramucci told Axios on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s time in the White House is just about up, comparing it to a cable movie currently streaming on TV. “We are now in the early episodes of ‘Chernobyl’ on HBO, where the reactor is melting down and the apparatchiks are trying to figure out whether to cover it up or start the clean-up process,” Scaramucci told the news outlet.
Scaramucci, a prominent Republican donor, said that if Trump “doesn’t reform his behavior, it will not just be me, but many others will be considering helping to find a replacement in 2020.”
“Right now, it’s an unspeakable thing,” he continued. “But if he keeps it up, it will no longer be unspeakable. The minute they start speaking of it, it will circulate and be socialized. We can’t afford a full nuclear contamination site post 2020.”
Scaramucci’s comments to Axios came after he called Trump’s visit to El Paso following mass shootings last week a “catastrophe.”
Trump fired back soon after, saying that Scaramucci “knows very little about me other than the fact that this Administration has probably done more than any other Administration in its first 2 1/2 years of existence. Anthony, who would do anything to come back in, should remember the only reason he is on TV, and it’s not for being the Mooch!”
According to The Hill Any challenger would likely face long odds in a primary bid. The Republican National Committee already has voted to express its “undivided support” for Trump as its 2020 nominee, and Trump’s reelection campaign has staffed up with party insiders.
Research contact: @axios
August 12, 2019
Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe filed suit [Civil Action No. 19-2399] in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on August 8 against Attorney General Bill Barr, the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for ending his career on March 16, 2018—just before he would have qualified for his retirement benefits following 21 years of public service, Politico reported.
“Defendants responded to Plaintiff’s two decades of unblemished and non-partisan public service with a politically motivated and retaliatory demotion in January 2018 and public firing in March 2018— on the very night of Plaintiff’s long-planned retirement from the FBI,” McCabe said in his complaint.
He added, “Defendants’ actions have harmed Plaintiff’s reputation, professional standing, and dramatically reduced his retirement benefits. Plaintiff asks this Court to find that his demotion was unlawful and his purported termination was either a legal nullity or, in the alternative, unlawful, and to award him any and all relief necessary for him to retire as he had originally planned: as the Deputy Director of the FBI and an agent in good standing, with sufficient time in service to enable him to receive his full earned law enforcement pension, healthcare insurance, and other retirement benefits.”
The ousted FBI official also specifically named President DonaldTrump—acting in an official capacity as President of the United States—as the individual who was “responsible and accountable for Defendants’ actions.”
He alleged that the president, in conspiracy with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, executed the scheme to deprive him of his job and retirement funding.
“It was Trump’s unconstitutional plan and scheme to discredit and remove DOJ and FBI employees who were deemed to be his partisan opponents because they were not politically loyal to him,” McCabe said in his complaint, adding, “Plaintiff’s termination was a critical element of Trump’s plan and scheme. Defendants—as well as then-Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, Defendant Barr’s predecessor—knowingly acted in furtherance of Trump’s plan and scheme, with knowledge that they were implementing Trump’s unconstitutional motivations for removing Plaintiff from the civil service. “
According to the Politico report, the lawsuit comes just two days after former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok filed a similar lawsuit, alleging that Trump’s vendetta against him led to his unceremonious firing, despite a formal disciplinary process that recommended a less severe punishment.
Strzok is seeking his old job back or compensation for his lost pay and benefits.
Although both men made plain their dislike of Trump, they say it never affected their official actions at the FBI. McCabe argues that Trump’s Twitter threats also coerced his subordinates at the Justice Department to do his bidding.
“Trump demanded [McCabe’s] personal allegiance, he sought retaliation when Plaintiff refused to give it, and [former Attorney General Jeff] Sessions, [FBI Director Christopher] Wray, and others served as Trump’s personal enforcers rather than the nation’s highest law enforcement officials, catering to Trump’s unlawful whims instead of honoring their oaths to uphold the Constitution,” McCabe’s suit charges. “Trump’s use of threats and accusations to cause his subordinates to act is memorialized in his tweets and other public documents, including the Special Counsel Report.”
Research contact: @politico
August 9, 2019
More than 200 U.S. mayors—including a half-dozen whose cities have experienced recent high-profile mass shootings—wrote a letter to Senate leaders on Thursday, August 8, urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to reconvene he lawmakers in order to pass legislation strengthening background checks for gun buyers, The Washington Post reported.
“On behalf of The United States Conference of Mayors, we urge you to immediately call the Senate back to Washington to take action on bipartisan gun safety legislation,” they said. The conference is the official non-partisan organization of American cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,408 such cities nationwide—each of them represented by a mayor.
The mayors of several other cities that have experienced mass shootings in recent years were also on-board with the missive, including those of Annapolis, Orlando, Parkland, Florida, and Pittsburgh.
Specifically, the Post reported, the mayors are asking the Senate to return from August recess to pass two bills that were approved earlier this year by the Democratic-led House but that have not been advanced in the Republican-led Senate by McConnell, who has been nicknamed the Grim Reaper.
A spokesperson for McConnell did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the letter from the Post. Earlier this week, McConnell issued a statement saying Senate Republicans were prepared to “do our part” to address mass shootings, but the statement made no mention of the House-passed bills.
In the aftermath of the weekend shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) urged McConnell to call senators back to Washington.
“To @SenateMajLdr McConnell, we say #EnoughIsEnough. Stop blocking gun safety reforms over 90% of Americans support. Gavel the Senate into emergency session to take immediate action on the bipartisan, House-passed universal background checks legislation.”
Trump has threatened to veto the two bills, saying they do not sufficiently protect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners.
Since the weekend shootings, however, the Post reports, Trump has expressed a new openness to considering background checks. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, he said that there “was great appetite for background checks” and that he was “looking to do background checks.” He did not specifically mention the House-passed bills.
Research contact: @washingtonpost
August 8, 2019
Now that their names are in the news, major GOP donors are not quite so confident that gun violence is not the issue. In fact, they say they have been “targeted” in the wake of last weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, The Washington Post reports.
The 44 names (see list)that Representative Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) tweeted out late on Monday, August 6, have at least two things in common, the Post notes: They’re all constituents in his district, and they all donated the maximum amount to President Donald Trump’s campaign this year.
The congressman and brother of presidential hopeful Julián Castro said the people liste — including retirees, business owners and other individuals whose names are public record — were “fueling a campaign of hate.”
“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump—the owner of @BillMillerBarBQ, owner of the @HistoricPearl, realtor Phyllis Browning, etc.,” Castro wrote. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as invaders.”
Castro, who also serves as chairman for his brother’s presidential campaign, spent much of August 7 deflecting intense criticism from GOP lawmakers and others. They contended that Castro was “targeting” the listed donors by tweeting their names to his thousands of followers—a serious accusation in the aftermath of two mass shootings that left 31 people dead and many more wounded.
“This is grossly inappropriate, especially in the wake of recent tragic shootings,” replied Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas). “This win-at-all-costs mentality, publicly targeting an opponent’s supporters, and encouraging retaliation is dangerous and not what Texans have a right to expect from their members of Congress.”
“EVERYONE needs to tone the hateful partisan rhetoric way down,” Cruz tweeted., adding, “This is WRONG & Castro should retract it. In our constitutional Republic, the People rightly hold their representatives accountable; elected representatives should not be vilifying & doxxing their own constituents.”
To that, Castro replied, “No one was targeted or harassed in my post. You know that. All that info is routinely published. You’re trying to distract from the racism that has overtaken the GOP and the fact that President Trump spends donor money on thousands of ads about Hispanics “invading” America. “
He added, “My post was a lament-that so many people in my overwhelmingly Hispanic hometown would give money to a President who is using it to target Hispanics as ‘invaders.’ No one was doxxed-no private address or phone #s were shared.”
Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesperson, said in a Tuesday evening tweet that Castro was “inviting harassment” of the private citizens listed. “At worst, he’s encouraging violence,” Murtaugh wrote. “This is a target list.”
In a separate statement to The Washington Post, Murtaugh said that “this naming of private citizens and their employers is reckless and irresponsible. He is endangering the safety of people he is supposed to be representing. No one should be targeted for exercising their First Amendment rights or for their political beliefs. He should delete the tweet, apologize, and his brother’s campaign should disavow it.”
However, Castro again pushed back, referring to recent reports that the Trump campaign had paid for thousands of ads on Facebook that use the word “invasion” in reference to immigration.
“Donald Trump has put a target on the back of millions,” Castro said in one response. “How about I stop mentioning Trump’s public campaign donors and he stops using their money for ads that fuel hate?”
Research contact: @washingtonpost