Posts tagged with "Vice President Mike Pence"

With Trump oblivious to COVID crisis, GOP begins to break ranks

July 21, 2020

President Donald Trump continues to press for a quick return to life as usual, but Republicans who fear a rampaging disease and angry voters are increasingly going their own way, The New York Times reports.

Indeed, the Times notes, both the president’s “failure to contain the coronavirus outbreak and his refusal to promote clear public-health guidelines have left many senior Republicans despairing that he will ever play a constructive role in addressing the crisis”—with some concluding that they must work around Trump and ignore or even contradict his pronouncements.

In recent days, some of the most prominent figures in the GOP outside the White House have broken with the Denier-in-Chief over issues like the value of wearing a mask in public.

In addition , they have been acknowledging the importance of heeding the advice of health experts, such as  the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Director Anthony Fauci, M.D., whom the president and other hard-right figures within the Administration have subjected to caustic personal criticism.

According to the Times, they appear to be spurred by several overlapping forces— including deteriorating conditions in their own states, the president’s seeming indifference to the problem; and the approach of a presidential election in which Trump is badly lagging his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., in the polls.

Once-reticent Republican governors are now issuing orders on mask-wearing and business restrictions that run counter to the president’s demands. Some of those governors have been holding late-night phone calls among themselves to trade ideas and grievances; they have sought out partners in the administration other than the president, including Vice President Mike Pence, who, despite echoing Trump in public, is seen by governors as far more attentive to the continuing disaster.

 “The president got bored with it,” David Carney, an adviser to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, said of the pandemic. He noted that Abbott, a Republican, directs his requests to Pence, with whom he speaks two to three times a week.

A handful of Republican lawmakers in the Senate have privately pressed the administration to bring back health briefings led by figures like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, who regularly updated the public during the spring until the president  upstaged them with his own briefing-room monologues. And in his home state of Kentucky last week, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, broke with Trump on nearly every major issue related to the virus, the Times reports.

McConnell stressed the importance of mask-wearing, expressed “total” confidence in Dr. Fauci and urged Americans to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that Trump has ignored or dismissed.

“The straight talk here that everyone needs to understand is: This is not going away until we get a vaccine,” McConnell said on Wednesday, July 15, contradicting Trump’s rosy predictions that the virus “will just go away.”

The emerging rifts in Trump’s party have been slow to develop, but they have rapidly deepened since a new surge in coronavirus cases began to sweep the country last month.

In the final days of June, the Governor of Utah, Gary Herbert, a Republican, joined other governors on a conference call with the vice president  and urged the Administration to do more to combat a sense of “complacency” about the virus. Herbert said it would help states like his own if Trump and Pence were to encourage mask-wearing on a national scale, according to a recording of the call.

“As a responsible citizen, if you care about your neighbor, if you love your neighbor, let us show the respect necessary by wearing a mask,” Mr. Herbert said, offering language

Pence said the suggestion was “duly noted” and said that mask-wearing would be a “very consistent message” from the Administration.

But no such appeal was ever forthcoming from Trump, who asserted afterward that he would never advocate a national policy on mask-wearing or shutdowns.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, rejected criticisms of Trump’s lack of a hands-on approach. “Any suggestion that the president is not working around the clock to protect the health and safety of all Americans, lead the whole-of-government response to this pandemic, including expediting vaccine development, and rebuild our economy is utterly false,” Deere said in a statement.

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump calls Michael Flynn ‘a hero’ after DOJ drops charges

May 11, 2020

Thanks to Attorney General Bill Barr, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may now be free and clear of the federal charges to which he pleaded guilty in December 2017—and President Donald Trump is a happy man.

After Barr’s Department of Justice dropped charges on May 7, Trump—who has said that he would be open to bringing Flynn back to the White House—showered praise on his former aide, calling him “an innocent man,” “a great gentleman” and “a hero,” according to a report by Forbes.

Indeed, the president has been a strong supporter of Flynn throughout the three years that the case against him has been on the books : In February 2017, after just weeks on the job, Flynn was (reluctantly) fired from his post at the White House after he gave false statements about his relationship with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, FBI investigators, White House aides, and the media.

Flynn admitted to talks with the ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration, during which he had promised to ease Russian sanctions instituted by the Obama administration, the news outlet noted. In pleading guilty, Flynn said “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right …. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

Nevertheless, after the Justice Department moved to drop charges against Flynn for lying to the FBI (and others in the administration) about Russian contacts, Trump celebrated the news and launched into a rant about the Justice Department under President Barack Obama—saying the department’s investigation into Flynn was treasonous, Forbes reports.

Treason, which carries a penalty of death, has a strict definition: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere.”

However, Forbes said, Trump hurled insults at the former administration, calling them “dishonest crooked people” and “human scum,” while also claiming the media is “very complicit” and that people who won Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting are “not journalists, they’re thieves.”

Indeed, according to Forbes, Trump and Flynn’s team have latched on to newly unsealed documents that they claim showcase corruption in Flynn’s charging. Handwritten notes from the FBI detail how they will conduct an interview with Flynn in 2017. “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired? If we get him to admit to breaking the Logan Act, give facts to DOJ and have them decide. Or, if he initially lies, then we present him [redacted] and he admits it, document for DOJ and let them decide how to address it.”

The notes also say, “If we’re seen as playing games, [White House] will be furious. Protect our institution by not playing games ….We regularly show subjects evidence, with the goal of getting them to admit their wrongdoing. I don’t see how getting someone to admit their wrongdoing is going easy on him.”

What will happen next? Judge Emmet Sullivan, the presiding judge on the case, is no pushover. While the DOJ has dismissed its charges, Sullivan knows that Flynn pleaded guilty—and may be unlikely to let him off so easily. He is also is not likely to introduce the equivocal and inconclusive new documents at this juncture.

Stay tuned.

Research contact: @Forbes

Pelosi: Trump told Russia about ISIS raid before informing leaders of Congress

October  29, 2019

To whom does the U.S. president owe fealty—the U.S. Congress or the Russian Politburo? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) revealed on October 28 that President Donald Trump told Russian leaders before he informed senior members of Congress about the U.S. military raid that ended in the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the commander of ISIS.

“The House must be briefed on this raid—which the Russians but not top Congressional Leadership were notified of in advance—and on the Administration’s overall strategy in the region,” she said in a statement responding to the Saturday night operation. “Our military and allies deserve strong, smart and strategic leadership from

According to a report by the Huffington Post, on Sunday morning, Trump announced in a press conference that Baghdadi died in northern Syria after being chased into a dead-end tunnel with three of his children. The four were killed by a suicide vest he detonated.

But according to Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), Trump never gave him or other members of the “Gang of Eight”―a bipartisan group of lawmakers comprising the most senior members of Congress, including Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York)―a tip-off beforehand.

Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, is prosecuting the impeachment inquiry.

Although Schiff praised the accomplishment, according to the HuffPost, he noted that communicating such developments with lawmakers is key in the event that complications arise.

“Had this escalated, had something gone wrong, had we gotten into a firefight with the Russians, it’s to the administration’s advantage to be able to say ‘we informed Congress,’” he said.

Trump acknowledged to reporters that he notified only “some” congressional leaders because he “wanted to make sure [the raid was] kept secret” because “Washington leaks like I’ve never seen before.”

The president said he contacted Senators Richard Burr (R-North Carolina)—who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee—and his own chief apologist Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) before his announcement.

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Vice President Mike Pence defended Trump’s handling of the matter, and avoided answering host Chris Wallace’s queries about why Pelosi was not given a heads-up, the Huffington Post said.

Presented with the question repeatedly, Pence refused to offer a direct response, focusing only on the military feat.

Research contact: @HuffPost