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Updated: 18 hours 20 min ago

New York AG sues Trump, Foundation over illegal campaign help

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 15:20

Accusing President Donald Trump of using his foundation as to illegally funnel help to his campaign for President before the Iowa Caucus in 2016, the state of New York filed a lawsuit Thursday against Mr. Trump, his children, and the Trump Foundation, charging the group was used to illegally raise money for his bid for the White House.

“Mr. Trump’s wrongful use of the Foundation to benefit his Campaign was willful and knowing,” the lawsuit states.

The suit, by acting New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, said the Trump Foundation acted as nothing “more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality.”

“Despite his knowledge of the prohibition on political activity and on using the Foundation’s assets for his own benefit, Mr. Trump nevertheless used the Foundation to intervene in the election to assist him,” the lawsuit added, focusing on a fundraiser for veterans that the President held, as he boycotted a GOP debate in Des Moines, Iowa, in late January of 2016.

In a defiant response on Twitter, the President denied wrongdoing, and said the lawsuit was nothing but the culmination of long standing political attacks from New York Democrats.

The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!…

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2018

….Schneiderman, who ran the Clinton campaign in New York, never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in disgrace, and his disciples brought it when we would not settle.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2018

As the President noted, the lawsuit was about much more than fundraising before the 2016 Iowa Caucus, as it goes through a series of financial transactions in the years before Mr. Trump became a candidate for President.

For example, the lawsuit raises questions about a $25,000 contribution made in September 2013 to the group, “And Justice for All,” which had been set up to back the re-election bid of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

“Private foundations such as the (Trump) Foundation are prohibited under the Code from making political contributions,” the lawsuit states, adding that the Trump Foundation did not declare any political activity on its 2013 tax return.

“Instead, it listed a $25,000 contribution to a Kansas-based Section 501(c)(3) organization with a similar name, Justice for all,” the lawsuit read. But the New York suit charges no such contribution was made.

Other payments made by the Trump Foundation which were targeted by this lawsuit went back as far as 2007 involving legal claims against Mr. Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago retreat, and a suit against the Trump National Golf Club in 2012.

The Attorney General’s office in New York said it had sent referrals to both the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission in Washington, ‘identifying possible violations of federal law for further investigation and legal action by those federal agencies.’

GOP lawmakers await IG rebuke of FBI, DOJ over Clinton email probe

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 01:13

Republicans in the Congress say they expect a report from the Justice Department’s internal watchdog due to be released on Thursday to clearly show that former FBI Director James Comey and other top officials mishandled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email server from her time as Secretary of State, as both parties were poised to grab favorable evidence from the report, said to be several hundred pages in length.

While it was not listed on his schedule issued by the White House, President Donald Trump was expected to be briefed on the report Thursday morning, with lawmakers getting their first look at the findings soon after from Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

“We believe it will talk about some of the misdeeds within the FBI and DOJ, as it related to the Hillary Clinton investigation,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who told reporters he expected a very public rebuke of Comey’s decision to hold a news conference in July 2016 to announce that Clinton would face no charges related to her emails, and possible violations of how classified information was handled by her and top aides at the State Department.

“Violating protocols at the head of the FBI is a problem, it’s an ethical problem,” Meadows told reporters on Wednesday.

Comey would seem to be the logical target on basic procedural grounds, as he has fully admitted that his news conference about the Clinton email investigation went against Justice Department policies – and that his announcements just before the 2016 elections about possible additional evidence were outside standard procedures as well.

But in testimony before Congress before he was fired by President Trump, Comey defended the moves, saying he felt the Justice Department – and especially Attorney General Loretta Lynch – were seen as too political to announce the findings of the Clinton email investigation.

“Her meeting with President Clinton on that airplane was the capper for me,” Comey said of Attorney General Lynch in testimony before Senators last year, as he said that tarmac meeting made him decide that he had to step forward.

“That offered us the best chance of the American people believing in the system,” Comey argued.

For months, Republicans have charged that Comey and other top-ranking FBI officials ignored evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton and her top aides, as GOP lawmakers looked for more than just procedural errors by Comey to be highlighted by the IG report.

GOP Congressman Pete King: IG report will show devastatingly the improprieties of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, and Lisa Page

— Yaakov M. (@ThePoliticsZone) June 12, 2018

Asked about his confidence in Inspector General Horowitz, Meadows had high praise – but made clear he might not accept every conclusion, especially if it differed with his reading of the investigation.

“Michael is an honest broker,” Meadows told reporters.

“The OIG report will undoubtedly discuss numerous missteps,” said Joyce Alene, a federal prosecutor during the Obama Administration.

“But, it was the Trump campaign that benefited from all of them,” added Alene on Twitter, who is now a law professor at the University of Alabama.

Democrats argue the election year publicity surrounding the Clinton email investigation – when compared to the FBI silence about an existing counterintelligence probe into Russian ties to the Trump Campaign – certainly shows that Comey was not even handed, as Clinton supporters still bridle at the thought that Comey somehow favored their candidate in 2016.

The IG report is due to be released Thursday; that will be followed by two days of hearings on the findings next week – Monday in the Senate, and Tuesday in the House.

Ex-Senate staffer pleads not guilty in leak case

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 19:05

A former director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee, James Wolfe, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to federal charges that he lied to FBI agents about whether he had been in contact with or leaked classified information to four different reporters, with some of that happening during the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Until his retirement in May, Wolfe, 58, had been responsible for managing “all classified material” provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee – Wolfe is not charged with leaking any of those items, but instead with making false statements to investigators, when asked if he had been in contact with specific reporters.

Wolfe’s legal team immediately signaled that they would seek a gag order on the federal government about the case, “including President Trump,” said lawyer Benjamin Klubes.

James Wolfe’s attorney speaking outside court following arraignment pic.twitter.com/HCnLOr3gu3

— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) June 13, 2018

Former Senate Intel Committee security director James Wolfe enters a plea of not guilty in federal court to charges of lying to the FBI. Wolfe’s lawyers say they “will vigorously defend Mr. Wolfe against this unfair & unjustified prosecution.”

— Ryan Lucas (@relucasz) June 13, 2018

In the indictment unsealed last week, Wolfe was told in late October of 2017 that FBI agents were investigating leaks of classified information; in December, Wolfe was asked about certain news reports, and whether he had contact with several unnamed reporters.

“During the December 15, 2017 interview, WOLFE continued to deny any contact with other reporters and denied providing to any of them classified information or information that he learned as Director of Security for the SSCI that was not otherwise publicly available,” the indictment stated.

Also of note in this case is reporter Ali Watkins, who was hired by the New York Times in December; the 26 year old Watkins had been involved in a romantic relationship with Wolfe, and during that time, she was covering high profile stories involving intelligence matters for several other news organizations.

“She has said that Mr. Wolfe did not provide her with information during the course of their relationship,” the newspaper reported, as the New York Times announced it was reviewing her “work history.”

Watkins previously worked at McClatchy, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and Politico.

As part of the Wolfe probe, investigators reportedly seized several years of phone and email records belonging to Watkins, which prompted objections from news organizations.

Then, a new story emerged about Watkins, as the Washington Post reported that an agent in the Department of Homeland Security had met with Watkins in June 2017, revealing that he knew extensive details of her relationship with Wolfe, including trips they had taken together.

The Post reported that has prompted an internal DHS investigation.

Opposed by Trump, GOP Congressman loses in South Carolina

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 04:10

Hours after President Donald Trump tweeted his opposition to Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), voters in his Charleston-based district tossed the former South Carolina Governor out of his seat in the U.S. House, making him the second incumbent to lose a primary in the 2018 mid-term campaign, as supporters of the President flexed their muscles in a series of races on Tuesday.

“Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA,” the President wrote on Twitter, with less than three hours until the polls closed in the Palmetto State, as GOP candidate Katie Arrington had highlighted the times that Sanford had split with the President, or criticized Mr. Trump.

“We’ve all see Mark on TV attacking our President,” Arrington said in a recent television ad, as she reminded voters repeatedly that Sanford had differed with Mr. Trump on funding for a border wall and more.

Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018

My political representatives didn’t want me to get involved in the Mark Sanford primary thinking that Sanford would easily win – but with a few hours left I felt that Katie was such a good candidate, and Sanford was so bad, I had to give it a shot. Congrats to Katie Arrington!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018

Before all the votes were in, Sanford was conceding defeat, telling supporters, “I’m going to lose this race.”

With almost all precincts reporting, Arrington led Sanford by nearly 2,600 votes, about 400 more than needed to avoid a runoff.

Sanford, who at times had been critical of policy decisions and actions of the President, became the second GOP lawmaker to lose a bid for re-election in the Congress in 2018, joining Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC), who lost his primary in May.

As of now, 56 sitting members of the House will not be back for the next session of Congress that begins in January of 2019 – two have been defeated, 32 decided not to run again, and 22 others are seeking a different elected office.

Of those 56 departures, 39 are Republicans, and 17 are Democrats.

Sanford’s defeat came a week after Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) was forced into a runoff, with voters in the Yellowhammer State still unhappy over her criticism of Mr. Trump – from before the 2016 election, when she questioned his fitness for office after the release of a Hollywood Access videotape that featured vulgar remarks by the President when talking about women.

Rep. Mark Sanford (R)'s increasingly probable defeat in #SC01 means vocally Trump-skeptic Rs essentially have two choices: 1) retire or 2) lose your next primary.* *except in Utah

— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) June 13, 2018

While Mr. Trump’s candidate won by defeating Sanford, not everything the President touched in South Carolina worked, as his endorsement of Gov. Henry McMaster (R) could not prevent McMaster from being forced into a runoff in the GOP primary. That next vote will be on June 26.

Meanwhile in Virginia, Republicans selected pro-Trump supporter Corey Stewart to run against Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) in November.

At Stewart’s victory celebration, a chant of “Lock her up!” came from the crowd at one point, a reminder of more conservative direction that the GOP has taken in recent years in Virginia.

Kaine is seen as the strong favorite over Stewart in November.

Congress voices skepticism over Trump-Kim agreement

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 17:56

While praising President Donald Trump for his effort to rein in the nuclear weapons program of North Korea, lawmakers in both parties in the Congress expressed caution on Wednesday about the deal signed by Mr. Trump and Kim Jong Un, worried that it has few specifics on how the Pyongyang regime would be forced to denuclearize.

“While I am glad the President and Kim Jong Un were able to meet, it is difficult to determine what of concrete nature has occurred,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), as Republicans were a bit dubious in their initial reactions about what the Trump-Kim agreement would really achieve.

“I continue to remain skeptical about Kim Jong Un’s commitment to denuclearization,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH).

“Following this summit I remain skeptical but hopeful that this new dialogue can translate into meaningful progress,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

Should be skeptical of any deal with #KJU Limits to future strategic weapons instead of eliminating current program not an acceptable outcome. Hope I’m wrong but still believe they will never give up nukes & ICBM’s unless believe failure to do so triggers regime ending reaction

— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 12, 2018

A little hope and a lot of skepticism here after reading about yesterday’s encounter. Let us not forget Kim is a brutal dictador who has ordered the assasination of his own relatives. Trust but verify is critical in this exercise #TrumpKimMeeting

— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) June 12, 2018

Not much new in the deal Trump and Kim signed. Trump gave Kim a great photo op and agreed to suspend our joint military exercises with South Korea. He got:

•No specifics on denuclearization
•Nothing on human rights
•Nothing on ending North Korea’s cyberattacks

— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) June 12, 2018

“We got hollow promises, the North Koreans got legitimacy on the world stage and a compulsive assurance from President Trump that the U.S. would suspend joint military exercises with South Korea,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). “Very concerning.”

“Maximum pressure is wasted when we settle for minimal results,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who said Kim Jong Un had been given an agreement “without any concrete promises or plans to achieve verifiable denuclearization.”
The major concern was the lack of detail on how North Korea would deal with its nuclear weapons program – here are the four points which were agreed to in the Trump-Kim statement:

But there were lawmakers who – while acknowledging the lack of details – said that it was simply time to try something different.

“The status quo has failed,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA).

“The traditional way hasn’t worked for many, many years, so this is a non-traditional approach,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). “I’m very optimistic about it.”

The Status quo has failed. I support President Trump’s new approach. Full denuclearization remains the goal, only time will tell if these negotiations bear fruit.

— Doug Collins (@Douglas_Collins) June 12, 2018

“North Korea must know they have no option but to change its ways,” said Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX).

“I hope to see continued substantive negotiations with the goal of denuclearization and a path of peace and prosperity moving forward,” said Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA).

But others said the President had given too much respect to the North Korean leader.

“Kim is a brutal dictator,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). “The President views him as a “talented man.” What happened to our values?”

While lawmakers were trying to digest what went on, Mr. Trump was flying home from Singapore; the White House said he would return to the White House on Wednesday morning.  A first refueling stop occurred in Guam early on Tuesday afternoon, Washington time.

Asked by reporters aboard Air Force One how the U.S. and the world would guarantee that Kim follows through on his pledge to denuclearize, the President expressed confidence.

“We’re going to have to check it and we will check it. We’ll check It very strongly,” Mr. Trump said.

“And, do you trust him?” asked a reporter.

“I do,” Mr. Trump said.

Here is the full text of the agreement signed by Mr. Trump, as provided by the White House:

Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit


President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.–DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.  President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.–DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:

  1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.–DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
  2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
  3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
  4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Having acknowledged that the U.S.–DPRK summit—the first in history—was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously.  The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations, led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the U.S.–DPRK summit.

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.–DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.


DETAILS: Joint agreement from the Trump-Kim summit

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 10:11

As President Donald Trump left Singapore and his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the big question from a day of talks was a basic one – what did the two leaders agree to do, and how swiftly will the Pyongyang regime move to rein in its nuclear weapons program?

In a news conference before boarding Air Force One for the lengthy flight back to the United States, Mr. Trump acknowledged that there may need to be another meeting with Kim to further hammer out details.

“I think he’s going to do these things,” the President said of Kim, as Mr. Trump met with reporters for more than an hour.

BREAKING: US, North Korea commit in joint document to 'build a lasting and stable peace regime' on Korean Peninsula.

— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) June 12, 2018

BREAKING: In US-North Korea document, Kim Jong Un commits to 'complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.'

— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) June 12, 2018

Here is the official joint statement, as released by the White House this morning:

Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit


President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.–DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.  President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.–DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:


  1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.–DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
  2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
  3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
  4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Having acknowledged that the U.S.–DPRK summit—the first in history—was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously.  The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations, led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the U.S.–DPRK summit.

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.–DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.


Congress watches and waits on Trump-Kim summit results

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 03:25

As President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shook hands in a historic summit meeting in Singapore on Tuesday, lawmakers in both parties waited back in Washington for word of any concrete agreements to rein in the nuclear weapons program of Pyongyang, as Republicans saluted Mr. Trump’s efforts, while Democrats raised questions about the need for guarantees from Kim.

“We’re going to have a great discussion and, I think, tremendous success,” the President said of his first meeting with Kim. “It will be tremendously successful. And it’s my honor. And we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt,” as lawmakers watched from thousands of miles away.

“The Trump Administration has my full confidence as they move forward in these key talks,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), as he said the President deserves “an enormous amount of credit”

“Regardless of the outcome, everyone has to admit this is a positive step towards peace,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI).

“I’m optimistic and continue to pray for a diplomatic solution to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula,” said Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL).

“May peace prevail,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI).

As for Democrats, they pressed for Mr. Trump to emerge with a concrete agreement on North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

“It’s critical that the President reach an agreement that ends with Kim Jong Un giving up his nuclear weapons,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI).

“A made-for-propaganda moment for North Korea that past US Presidents refused to provide,” scoffed Brian Fallon, a former top aide to Hillary Clinton.

“Regardless of what happens in the hours ahead, the Administration must consult with Congress on North Korea,” House Democratic leaders said in a written statement issued hours before the first handshake.

But GOP lawmakers made clear there was no reason to rush to any conclusions, as they called for both sides to stand with the President.

A historic moment. May @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and his team have the wisdom and foresight to handle the negotiations and conversations throughout this day. https://t.co/Kj3184Ml3c

— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) June 12, 2018

Truly historic moment. @POTUS Trump meets with Kim Jong Un. Time for Americans to stand with POTUS. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s an AMERICAN issue. Give petty partisanship a rest at least for awhile.

— Rep. Pete King (@RepPeteKing) June 12, 2018

Amazing evening watching @realDonaldTrump shake hands with NK leader, Kim as they start this historic summit. Regardless of the outcome, everyone has to admit this is a positive step towards peace.

— Rep. Bill Huizenga (@RepHuizenga) June 12, 2018

“It may not be the first meeting,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), as Republicans echoed the President’s talk that this meeting between the two leaders is just a starting point, not something which must bring about an immediate agreement on North Korean nukes.

What's at stake when @realDonaldTrump meets with Kim Jong Un? @JimInhofe weighs in. pic.twitter.com/brvjLTXAQw

— After the Bell (@AftertheBell) June 11, 2018

With my voice still gone, time for Jamie Dupree 2.0

Mon, 06/11/2018 - 10:30

As I sat in my doctor’s office last Friday morning outside of the nation’s capital, President Donald Trump was holding forth on the South Lawn of the White House. Russia should be back in the G-7. He might issue more pardons. He wasn’t backing off on his fight over trade barriers. It was yet another time over the last two years that while the President was making major news, I was visiting yet another medical professional in the pursuit of answers – what happened to my voice, and will it ever come back?

The answer is – I don’t know. And my many doctors don’t know, either.

My voice is in there. From time to time, words fall out of my mouth that sound normal. But for the most part, I can’t speak more than one or two words at a time before it goes haywire.

And that’s a problem for someone who has been doing news on the radio since 1983.

The medical diagnosis is tongue protrusion dystonia – which basically means my tongue isn’t working correctly, as it pops out of my mouth when I talk, causing problems for my speech.

I can talk a little with a pen in my mouth, getting out words and phrases that are more slurred than anything else.

And the thing that I struggle to explain to people is something more basic – this isn’t just about being on the radio. I can’t really have an extended conversation with my kids, my wife, my father, my sister, my friends and family. I can’t say much to the guys I play golf with, my neighbors, or anyone.

“I heard you string together about four or five words,” my wife told me after my youngest son’s baseball game on Friday evening, as I’ve continued to coach his team, with help from other parents, even as my voice has all but disappeared over the last two years.

“You got a couple words out here and there,” my father said last Thursday, after we had watched our Washington Capitals finally win the Stanley Cup.

What’s it like? Just imagine going through the rest of your day without being able to say much more than ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

No ordering food at the drive through. I can’t call doctors to make an appointment. When I pick up something, I can’t say my phone number or my name. At the local pizza place, I write my name down on a piece of paper when I come in for carry out. I do the same thing when picking up a prescription, or getting gas for the grill.

And when the phone rings, I usually don’t answer it. Because I can’t talk.

When I returned my team’s baseball equipment bag last fall, I handed it over with my name written on a piece of paper, so it would be clear to all that it was mine.

The two women at the desk laughed at me.

“I guess he can’t remember his name,” one of them said, as they giggled.

But I haven’t given up.

A plea for help

For months, some of my co-workers had been helping me search for a company that might have a software program which could take my years of audio archives, and build what would basically be a Jamie Dupree ‘voice app,’ which might allow me to get back on the air.

For months, I had been doing my own detective work on a computer generated voice solution – but we had all run into a brick wall. Major software companies in the U.S. didn’t want to share what they had developed. Other companies around the world needed you to record hours of material in order for the program to work – but I could barely say my name.

By December of 2017, things were bleak on all fronts. There were no medical breakthroughs. My voice was still a mess. And there were questions about my job future.

Then, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) went to the floor of the House.

“Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about Jamie Dupree,” Ros-Lehtinen said, publicizing my voice troubles and the lack of answers.

She had no idea it was just a day after my birthday. She had no idea that she was delivering me a birthday present that I so badly needed. It got me attention, both inside and outside of my company.

That speech on the House floor spurred interest from other news organizations. Ben Strauss wrote an article in Politico which detailed my efforts to keep my job in radio – even without a voice.

A few days later, the Washington Post chipped in with their own version of the story.

Emails and social media messages poured in with all sorts of ideas on what was wrong, and where I should seek treatment.

Other news organizations asked questions as well, led by CNN’s medical unit. Producer Sandee LaMotte – who listened to me on WSB in Atlanta – helped me find a neurological expert at the Emory University Brain Health Center who had actually treated similar cases.

Dr. Hyder Jinnah didn’t promise miracles – and I didn’t expect them.

“Based on what I know so far, you appear to have an uncommon subtype of a rare disorder,” Dr. Jinnah told me when I went to visit him in March.

In other words, there was no magic wand.

In May, I went back to Emory for two shots of Botox to my tongue, with the hope that such a treatment would keep my tongue from popping out of my mouth, and allow me the chance to speak again.

That first Botox treatment hasn’t really worked. I will be going back to Emory in August for another pair of shots to my tongue, this time with a little more Botox.

The search for Jamie Dupree, Version 2.0

In the meantime, my plight had attracted the attention of people inside my company, Cox Media Group, and a new effort was underway at the Atlanta headquarters to see if we could find a high tech solution to get me back on the air.

What they found was a Scottish company named CereProc, which agreed to sift through years of my archived audio, and build a voice – which, when paired with a text-to-speech application – would sound like me, and hopefully get me back on the radio.

The big news today is that it looks like that is going to work, and allow me to “talk” on the radio again.

Here’s the announcement from Scott Slade, who hosts the morning news on WSB AM/FM in Atlanta.

Does the voice sound perfect? No. But it does sound like me.

When I type out some words – the text-to-speech program that I use spits them out in my new Jamie Dupree 2.0 voice.

And starting next week, the plan is for me to again feed stories to our Cox Media Group news-talk radio stations, and be back on the air in our hourly newscasts, reporting the news from Capitol Hill and Washington, D.C.

What does it sound like? Try this:

Yes, it will probably sound robotic to some of my listeners; but for the first time in two years, I will be back on the radio.

Jamie Dupree 2.0 is here – and I couldn’t be more excited about it!

Trump, top aides, join in fierce attack on Canada over trade

Sun, 06/10/2018 - 15:34

After leaving the summit of G-7 nations early in Quebec, President Donald Trump and his aides verbally barbequed the Canadian Prime Minister this weekend, plunging relations between Ottawa and Washington to maybe their lowest point in history.

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump,” said Mr. Trump’s top trade advisor Peter Navarro on Fox News Sunday, as he joined in attacking Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for basically saying that he would stand up to new tariffs levied by President Trump.

Meanwhile on CNN, top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow amplified those tough words, saying President Trump is “not going to let a Canadian prime minister push him around,” amplifying a pair of tough tweets from the President on Saturday that were aimed at Trudeau, as Mr. Trump left the G-7 summit early.

Peter Navarro: "There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door…that’s what bad faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference." pic.twitter.com/KtqKXizBEc

— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) June 10, 2018

President Trump’s chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow accuses Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of undermining the US and its allies with comments he made at the G7 summit: “He really kind of stabbed us in the back” https://t.co/a4EN9qhTZD pic.twitter.com/gUlb3VrOeI

— CNN (@CNN) June 10, 2018

Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018

PM Justin Trudeau of Canada acted so meek and mild during our @G7 meetings only to give a news conference after I left saying that, “US Tariffs were kind of insulting” and he “will not be pushed around.” Very dishonest & weak. Our Tariffs are in response to his of 270% on dairy!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018

While the U.S. and Canada have had their share of trade disputes over the past forty years – in agriculture, softwood lumber, autos, and other areas – the tone and ferocity of the attacks had never reached this point.

“Trump calls Trudeau ‘dishonest and weak,'” boomed the headline on the Globe and Mail.

“Canada-U.S. relations reach new low,” headlined the Toronto Star.

“I don’t understand the obsessions with trade relations with Canada,” said Stephen Harper, the former conservative Prime Minister of Canada who was Trudeau’s predecessor, as Harper told Fox News that Mr. Trump’s complaints were misguided. “This is the wrong target.”

Mr. Trump launched his Twitter salvos after he had left the G-7 summit, accusing the Canadian Prime Minister of making ‘false statements’ about the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S and Canada, as the President recently placed new tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Canada, Mexico and Europe.

The White House has cast the effort as a move by the President to exert leverage on those nations, in an effort to open their markets more to U.S. goods, and to reduce trade barriers.

But Canada, Mexico, and Europe have not given an inch.

“We will not be pushed around,” the Prime Minister Trudeau said on Saturday.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will with "absolute certainty" impose retaliatory measures on July 1 to answer US President Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum: "We will not be pushed around" https://t.co/uKEdMmnvTp pic.twitter.com/UqTrIXCJrw

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 10, 2018

On Sunday, Trudeau ignored questions from reporters about the latest attacks, as the President left the G-7 in turmoil, and raised new questions about a broader trade war erupting with American allies.

Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron had already registered their public displeasure with the tariffs, which were done for “national security” purposes – something the two leaders said should be reserved for enemies of the United States.

From @TondaMacC in Quebec: Trudeau declined to respond to questions on the Trump team insults as he entered G-7 meetings today – thanked residents for hosting world leaders, kept walking past media.

— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) June 10, 2018

In Congress, the President’s refusal to sign a general communique of the G-7 nations rankled lawmakers in both parties.

“It seems to me, not to sign a statement of solidarity which stands for everything that we stand for, is a big mistake,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on CNN. “But to walk away from our allies in this way, I think, is a mistake.”

“With every brash tweet, President Trump concedes the US’s role as leader of the free world,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY).

The thing is, I was at the @JustinTrudeau news conference, and he went out of his way to try to downplay tensions. He didn’t attack @realDonaldTrump in any way, other than restate Canada would retaliate for tariffs. Not sure what @larry_kudlow means re: “stabbed” US in the back

— Michael D. Shear (@shearm) June 10, 2018

“Ever wonder why @realDonaldTrump is so much tougher on Canada and the rest of America’s real allies than he is on Russia,” said Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO).

The President had stirred the G-7 even before he arrived on Friday, by publicly saying that Russia should be readmitted to the group; Moscow was booted after annexing Crimea.

President Trump trades barbs with allies on eve of G-7 Summit

Fri, 06/08/2018 - 04:16

A day before a major summit with fellow Western leaders, President Donald Trump repeatedly lobbed verbal darts at the heads of Canada and France on Thursday, as a growing dispute over tariffs levied this past week by the U.S. President threatened to overshadow the 44th G-7 Summit meeting in Quebec, turning it more into a battle between the President and the other Western leaders.

“Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant,” President Trump wrote on Twitter, accusing Canada of being two-faced on trade – “he doesn’t bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!”

Looking forward to straightening out unfair Trade Deals with the G-7 countries. If it doesn’t happen, we come out even better!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2018

Mr. Trump has made clear that he’s using the weapon of higher tariffs on imports to try to force changes by Canada, Mexico and Europe, in order to lower trade barriers on American exports.

So far, it isn’t working, and is only drawing retaliatory tariffs against U.S. products.

The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force https://t.co/UA86fcjozs

— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) June 7, 2018

“The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, expressing growing frustration with President Trump’s tough line on trade.

On Thursday, Macron joined with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ahead of the G-7 Summit, as both expressed the desire to go around the U.S. – and President Trump – when it comes to trade.

“I look forward to working even more closely with President Macron to grow the middle class and build economies that work for everyone,” Trudeau said.

As Trudeau and Macron linked arms, President Trump only grew more defiant, as the White House announced late Thursday that Mr. Trump would leave the G-7 summit earlier than originally scheduled on Saturday, as he berated fellow leaders on Twitter.

Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018

Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the U.S. and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things…but he doesn’t bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2018

Why isn’t the European Union and Canada informing the public that for years they have used massive Trade Tariffs and non-monetary Trade Barriers against the U.S. Totally unfair to our farmers, workers & companies. Take down your tariffs & barriers or we will more than match you!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2018

The G-7 meeting comes as the President has been focused more on what comes after that summit – his trip to Singapore, to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Mr. Trump made clear that he still expects the North Koreans to make progress on ending their nuclear weapons program, though the President has certainly toned down his earlier demands that the Pyongyang regime agree to that all at once.

“President Trump has been, and continues to be, committed to ridding the United States and the world of threats posed by North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, though that does not seem to be a requirement this summit.

Earlier, in a news conference with the Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Trump floated the idea of inviting Kim Jong Un to the United States – maybe to the President’s Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida.

.@Esaagar: "If the summit does go well, will you be inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the United States?"

President Trump: "Well the answer is yes…certainly if it goes well. I think it would be well-received. I think he would look at it very favorably." pic.twitter.com/Prq1FqX3Cp

— CSPAN (@cspan) June 7, 2018

The President will fly to Singapore for the summit directly from the G-7 Summit in Canada. The meeting with Kim is scheduled to take place at 9 pm EDT on Monday – 9 am on Tuesday in Singapore.

I am heading for Canada and the G-7 for talks that will mostly center on the long time unfair trade practiced against the United States. From there I go to Singapore and talks with North Korea on Denuclearization. Won’t be talking about the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax for a while!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2018

President Trump: I’m ready for summit with Kim Jong Un

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 19:19

Less than a week before he meets with the leader of North Korea, President Donald Trump said he remains committed to an agreemnent with Kim Jong Un that brings about an end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, as Mr. Trump said the Singapore summit “would not just be a photo op.”

“I think I’m very well prepared,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, as he huddled with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“They have to de-nuke,” the President said of the Pyongyang regime, and their nuclear weapons program. “If they don’t denuclearize, that will not be acceptable.”

“I think it’s a process, I’ve told you that many times before,” Mr. Trump added. “I think it’s not a one meeting deal.”

"I think I'm very well prepared," President Trump says of the upcoming North Korea summit. "I don't think I have to prepare very much. It's about attitude. It's about willingness to get things done" https://t.co/LUWVKoyfzG

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 7, 2018

Later at a White House news conference, the President said he is “totally prepared” to walk away from the negotiating table, if Kim Jong Un is not ready to deal on the future of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

“All I can say is I’m totally prepared to walk away – I did it once before,” Mr. Trump said, referring to his move to scrap the June 12 summit, after the North Koreans began making negative noise about their meeting.

Pressed by reporters on what the summit would produce, the President said he was considering the idea of signing a declaration which would officially end the Korean War.

“That could happen, but that’s really the beginning,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden. “Sounds a little bit strange, but that’s probably the easy part. The hard part remains after that.”

.@Esaagar: "If the summit does go well, will you be inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the United States?"

President Trump: "Well the answer is yes…certainly if it goes well. I think it would be well-received. I think he would look at it very favorably." pic.twitter.com/Prq1FqX3Cp

— CSPAN (@cspan) June 7, 2018

“Kim Jong Un wants to do something, I think he wants to see something incredible happen for the people of North Korea,” the President said alongside the Japanese Prime Minister.

“We shouldn’t have waited to this point,” Mr. Trump added, gently chiding previous administrations, “but we have a lot of great opportunities.”

The President’s meeting with Kim Jong Un will begin at 9 pm EDT on Monday, which is 9 am on Tuesday in Singapore.

“I really believe that we have the potential to do something incredible for the world, and it’s my honor to be involved,” Mr. Trump added.

Speaker Ryan says he sees “no evidence” of Trump-Russia collusion

Thu, 06/07/2018 - 16:32

A day after dismissing President Donald Trump’s charge that the FBI had spied on his campaign, House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Thursday that he had seen no evidence that members of the Trump Campaign joined in Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

“Let’s just make that really clear,” the Speaker said at his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol. “There’s no evidence of collusion. This is about Russia and what they did, and making sure they don’t do it again.”

Earlier in the day, President Trump had again gone on Twitter to express his frustration and displeasure with the Russia probe, led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, once more calling it a “Witch Hunt Hoax.”

.@SpeakerRyan: “In all of this, in any of this, there’s been no evidence that there's any collusion between the Trump campaign and President Trump and Russia. Let's just make that really clear. There's no evidence of collusion."

Full video here: https://t.co/DPZx9mthko pic.twitter.com/4TDK55Qto8

— CSPAN (@cspan) June 7, 2018

Democrats scoffed at Ryan’s declaration, arguing the investigation isn’t complete or public.

“There is no Mueller report yet, so he doesn’t know this at all,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI).

.@MarkWarner on Speaker Ryan saying there is “no evidence of collusion” between Trump campaign and Russia: I respectfully disagree with the speaker. #AMR

— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) June 7, 2018

The Speaker on Thursday also chided the Department of Justice and the FBI for making it difficult to see documents about the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, as he faced public complaints from more conservative Republicans in the House, angered by Ryan saying on Wednesday that there was no FBI misconduct in the Trump-Russia probe.

“There is no defense today for Paul Ryan siding with the FBI and the Department of Justice, and against those of us in the Congress who are working for transparency and accountability,” about the Russia probe, said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

“He was defending the FBI, and that’s deeply frustrating to me,” Gaetz said in an interview on the Fox Business network, as he labeled his own party’s Speaker a defender of the “Deep State.”

Justice Department officials have scheduled another briefing on the Russia investigation next week for the Speaker and other top lawmakers, known as the ‘Gang of Eight,’ who are presented with highly confidential intelligence information not given to rank and file members of the House and Senate.

Ryan backs Gowdy, breaks with Trump on FBI conduct in Russia probe

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 17:42

With President Donald Trump continuing to charge that the FBI intentionally spied on his campaign, House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday said he agreed with another top Republican who said key lawmakers had seen no evidence of misconduct by the FBI when it came to the Trump Campaign and the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

“I think Chairman Gowdy’s initial assessment is accurate,” the Speaker said of Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who said last week that a late May briefing provided to a small group of lawmakers showed no evidence that the FBI did anything wrong.

“I have seen no evidence to the contrary of the initial assessment that Chairman Gowdy has made,” the Speaker told reporters, though he said they will continue to review how the FBI dealt with questions of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and any possible ties to the Trump Campaign.

“I want to make sure that we run every lead down, and get the final answers to these questions,” the Speaker added.

Gowdy last week went on Fox News and poured cold water on President Trump’s charge – which Mr. Trump has labeled “SPYGATE” – that the FBI had ‘infiltrated’ his campaign.

Instead, Gowdy – and now Speaker Ryan – say the FBI was simply doing its job, in trying to find out if there were any ties between Russia and people working on the Trump Campaign.

“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do, when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy said last week in a series of television interviews.

That assessment drew criticism from some more conservative lawmakers and others within the Republican Party, who have echoed, and egged on the President’s charge of FBI misconduct.

As recently as last night, Mr. Trump was on Twitter making that case, alleging abuses by the FBI and the U.S. Intelligence Community.

Great interview by @LouDobbs with Chris Farrell of Judicial Watch concerning the governments counter-intelligence operation into the Trump Campaign. SPYGATE at the highest level. Who would believe?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2018

Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch. “They were running an operation to undermine a candidate for President of the U.S. These are all violations of law. This is intelligence tradecraft to steer an election. There’s nothing more grave when it comes to abuse of our intelligence system…

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 6, 2018

Critics of Gowdy have said lawmakers were provided no documents to back up his view that the FBI did nothing wrong – but the Speaker seemed to indicate to reporters that top members in both parties had been presented with some kind of evidence.

“We’re waiting for some more document requests, we’re waiting for more documents to review, we still have some more questions,” the Speaker said.

Another Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), also ridiculed the President’s “SPYGATE” accusations, telling POLITICO, they just aren’t backed up by any evidence.

Political history repeats as lawmakers press to see immigrant children

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 02:36

The story line is familiar. The number of families and unaccompanied children making it across the border and into the United States is rising. There were questions about how the President’s administration was responding, and how the children and families were being treated, where they were being housed, and how they were being released.

Angered by the chain of events, lawmakers went unannounced to a federal facility housing some of those illegal immigrants and asked to go inside.

The feds said no.

“I was barred entry,” the Senator said. “Trying to get inside to get answers,” he tweeted from Texas.

“Any member of Congress should have the legal authority to visit a federal youth detention facility without waiting three weeks,” said a member of the House, who was told he couldn’t go inside a federal facility in his home state of Oklahoma.

Reporters weren’t allowed in, either, and it spurred criticism from both the Political Left and the Political Right.

One incident took place on Sunday, as Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) demanded to get into a facility run by the feds in Texas, which was holding immigrant children.

The other incident took place almost four years earlier, when then-Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) demanded to get into a facility run by the feds at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, which was holding immigrant children.

One was a Democrat highlighting the refusal of a Republican Administration to give out information about immigrant children.

I was barred entry. Asked repeatedly to speak to a supervisor—he finally came out and said he can’t tell us anything. Police were called on us.

Children should never be ripped from their families & held in secretive detention centers. RT if you agree this is WRONG. pic.twitter.com/GVCuXNjR8d

— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) June 4, 2018

One was a Republican highlighting the refusal of a Democratic Administration to give out information about immigrant children.

For both, the answer was the same from federal officials – no dice.

Back in 2014 when Bridenstine was blocked,he claimed there was evidence that child traffickers were sponsoring the immigrant children, and then being awarded custody of them by federal officials.

This time, after Merkley was blocked from a spot check, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) started writing a bill that would guarantee such access for lawmakers.

Two different times. Two very different immigration arguments.  But the same outcome.

Lawmakers show up – and they can’t get in.

It’s just a reminder that in politics, history often repeats itself, with story lines that are usually more dependent on whether or not your party is in control of the White House.


Primaries for Congress go coast-to-coast today

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 12:31

This is the biggest day of Congressional mid-term primaries of the 2018 election year, as eight states – highlighted by California’s 53 U.S. House districts – hold primaries for the 2018 mid-term elections, the key politcal battleground for the control of Congress under President Donald Trump.

“If you want to be safe, you must go out and get the Democrats the hell out of office,” the President said at a campaign rally last week, as he continues to press members of his own party to get out and vote in 2018, knowing that the loss of control of one – or both houses of Congress – could cause him a lot of headaches.

Here are some story lines to look for on Tuesday night:

1. Signs of which party is more enthusiastic. In the first months of the Trump Adminstration, Democrats were clearly more excited about getting out and voting in special elections. The “Blue Wave” is one of their favorite terms, as they talk big about winning back the House. But there are some polling numbers of late which show Republicans rallying around the President, as the generic ballot on which party should control Congress has tightend as well. Also heartening for the GOP is that Mr. Trump is solidifying his support within the Republican Party. That could make more a much more competitive mid-term than maybe the Democrats have been dreaming about in recent months.

President Trump has 2nd highest "own party" job approval rating since World War II at day ~500, only behind Bush43 (after 9/11) (Source: Gallup) pic.twitter.com/cNhEAjMObO

— Bruce Mehlman (@bpmehlman) June 3, 2018

2. All time zones covered tonight. From the Atlantic Ocean, to the Gulf of Mexico, to the Midwest, the Mexican border, the Canadian border and the Pacific Ocean, it’s an eight state parlay of races to watch for the Congress on Tuesday. Going from East to West – New Jersey, Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, and the big one, California. 85 seats in the U.S. House are spread out over those eight states, but 53 of them are in California, making that the late night, Pacific Time focus. I won’t recommend staying up late for the California results, but it might be mandatory in November. The other warning is that mail in ballots in California keep those numbers active for days after the election as well.

Two predictions about #CAPrimary:

1) At least two key races won't be called until next week, thx to sheer number of absentee ballots

2) There will be hot takes about "low Democratic turnout," ignoring that many Dem voters turn in absentees at the last minute/get counted late.

— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) June 4, 2018

3. California’s “Top Two” primary system. It’s important to remember that California is a different animal when it comes to picking candidates for the general election ballot. Instead of separate primaries for each party, everyone is thrown into the same race, and the top two finishers – regardless of party – qualify for the November election. In the House races, that has both parties worried that a divided field might allow one party to grab both slots – that’s become a big concern for Democrats in some southern California districts. Three races seem to be the ones to watch for Democrats worried about not getting into the top two, in the 39th (open GOP seat), 48th (seat of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher R-CA), and 49th districts (Rep. Darrell Issa R-CA) in the U.S. House, where a lot of money is being raised and spent by Democratic challengers – but there may be too many of them, and that has Democratic activist worried.

Democrats' greatest top-two shutout risk in CA might now be #CA39, inching past #CA48 (where Baugh (R) has faded). And Harkey (R) surge in #CA49 gives Dems (Applegate, Levin or Jacobs) a better chance of moving on there.

— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) June 3, 2018

4. Will there be any incumbent surprises? Most of the time, the primaries are simply the battlegrounds to set up key showdowns in Congress for the November elections. So far this year, only one sitting House member has been defeated – Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) has that dubious distinction. In 2016, five incumbents lost, while it was four in 2014. So, one might think that there is someone in the House right now who doesn’t realize that their seat is in limbo. Overall, the “casualty list” stands at 54 sitting members of the House who won’t be back in January, 37 are Republicans and 17 are Democrats. In the Senate, it’s three GOP Senators who won’t be returning. If you’ve been following along with me in recent years, you know that I have been arguing for some time that turnover in Congress is much higher than people realize. To me, it was notable that one Republican said exactly that last week on Twitter (even if our figures differ).

On the first day of the next Congress, the median tenure of the 435 U.S. Representatives will be 6 years. We also know at least 67 current members won’t be returning. These facts seem at odds with public perception. Here is the list of those leaving:https://t.co/NDoQ7GF5tF

— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) May 29, 2018

Trump calls off visit of Philadelphia Eagles over anthem dispute

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 23:32

Escalating his fight with players in the National Football League over whether they should stand for the National Anthem, President Donald Trump late Monday called off a planned visit to the White House on Tuesday by the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, vowing instead to hold a “different type of ceremony” where he will “loudly and proudly play the National Anthem.”

“They disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country,” Mr. Trump said in a written statement issued by the White House.

“I will be there at 3:00 p.m. with the United States Marine Band and the United States Army Chorus to celebrate America,” the President said.

So many lies smh
Here are some facts
1. Not many people were going to go
2. No one refused to go simply because Trump “insists” folks stand for the anthem
3. The President continues to spread the false narrative that players are anti military pic.twitter.com/89GUNhJ4eE

— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) June 4, 2018

While the President has focused on players who kneeled during the anthem, no Eagles did that last year – but a number had made it clear they were not going to show up at the White House, to show their displeasure with the President’s very public stance on the national anthem.

Eagles wide receiver Torrey Smith went on Twitter, and pushed back against conservative critics.

If you are going to tweet…tweet facts…no one on the Eagles took a knee last season………. https://t.co/7aiTuvVKe8

— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) June 5, 2018

Like the New England Patriots a year earlier, a number of Eagles were reportedly going to skip the visit to the White House, like defensive end Chris Long, who had also not gone to see Trump a year earlier.

Long and others have harshly criticized the new NFL policy that requires players to stand for the National Anthem, or have the team face a fine.

On Twitter, Long had made clear last month that the change was unacceptable, arguing it was time to “keep the politics out of football.”


— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) May 23, 2018

For the President, the NFL’s policy on how players deal with the National Anthem has been something he’s pressed on repeatedly, an issue seemingly popular with his base.

“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there,” the President said in May.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem,” he added.

One Democrat in Congress from Pennsylvania, Sen. Bob Casey, said he would boycott Trump’s backup event, and find his own way to honor the Eagles on Capitol Hill.

“I’m skipping this political stunt at the White House and just invited the Eagles to Congress,” Casey said. “How about a tour of the Capitol?”

Hey @realDonaldTrump it’s one thing to be wrong on policy, but to take on my @Eagles is a whole new level.
You even make a championship team visiting the White House all about you. What is wrong with you? Seriously, what condition do you have? https://t.co/QOknsH20Ln

— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) June 4, 2018

“Well, I just became a Philadelphia Eagles fan,” tweeted Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), a frequent critic of the President.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA) said as few as ten Eagles players were going to come to the White House.

Trump says he can pardon himself – but doesn’t need to

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 19:55

The White House on Monday was peppered with questions about President Donald Trump’s assertion that he has the power to pardon himself over any possible criminal wrongdoing related to the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, with the President charging that the probe of Special Counsel Robert Mueller was “UNCONSTITUTIONAL,” as Democrats replied that Mr. Trump was doing his best to undermine the investigation of any ties between the President’s campaign and Moscow.

“Thankfully, the President hasn’t done anything wrong wouldn’t have any need for a pardon,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who repeatedly said that legal scholars have made clear that the Mueller probe may not be legal, and that Mr. Trump’s pardon power can cover his own actions.

“Does he rule out ever issuing a pardon for himself?” one reporter asked.

“Once again, the President hasn’t done anything wrong, and we feel very comfortable on that front,” Sanders added.

.@PressSec: "Thankfully the president hasn't done anything wrong and wouldn't have any need for a pardon."

Full video here: https://t.co/4aQ2OvctaN pic.twitter.com/YpxRVToBt1

— CSPAN (@cspan) June 4, 2018

Asked later if she believed the President was “above the law,” Sanders said no.

“Certainly, no one is above the law.”

The questions and answers came hours after the President had again denounced the investigation into ties between Russia and the Trump Campaign in 2016, as Mr. Trump took to Twitter on Monday to charge that the probe is flatly unconstitutional.

.@PeterAlexander: "Does the president believe that he is above the law?@PressSec: "Certainly not. The president hasn't done anything wrong." She concludes exchange with, "Certainly, no one is above the law."

Full video: https://t.co/4aQ2OvctaN pic.twitter.com/wZHbOy0vnY

— CSPAN (@cspan) June 4, 2018

The appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL! Despite that, we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018

As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong? In the meantime, the never ending Witch Hunt, led by 13 very Angry and Conflicted Democrats (& others) continues into the mid-terms!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 4, 2018

In Congress, Democrats denounced the President’s claim in no uncertain terms, as Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer called the President’s tweets “silly, farcical, and absurd.”

“This is a frightening and false statement. Nobody – not even the president – is above the law,” said Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO).

“All the tweeting in the world will not change the fact that the President is not above the law,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

President Nixon asked the Department of Justice if he could pardon himself. They said no, as no one may be the judge in their own case. He resigned three days later.

In case you want to follow the Nixon model, that would be Thursday. https://t.co/5ntHaySTBJ

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 4, 2018

“These attacks on the Special Counsel and sweeping claims of presidential power are harmful to the rule of law,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE).

“I have one message for the President,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). “Nobody is above the law.”

“No one is above the law. Not even you,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY).

The theory was advanced by President Nixon in the final days of Watergate, and even after he resigned from office.

“Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.” —Richard Nixon to David Frost, 1977 pic.twitter.com/DADT5ccKdW

— Michael Beschloss (@BeschlossDC) June 3, 2018

“No one is above the law,” said Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO). “Richard Nixon learned that hard lesson.”

Supreme Court rules for Colorado baker in same-sex wedding cake case

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 14:51

In a victory for advocates of religious freedom, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, issuing a 7-2 decision that said state authorities were biased against the baker’s religious beliefs, but left open the larger issue of whether businesses could refuse to serve same-sex couples on First Amendment grounds.

“The government, consistent with the Constitution’s guarantee of free exercise, cannot impose regulations that are hostile to the religious beliefs of affected citizens and cannot act in a manner that passes judgment upon or presupposes the illegitimacy of religious beliefs,” the court’s majority wrote, led by Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“In view of these factors, the record here demonstrates that the Commission’s consideration of Phillips’ case was neither tolerant nor respectful of his religious beliefs,” the opinion stated.

“When the Colorado Civil Rights Commission considered this case, it did not do so with the religious neutrality that the Constitution requires,” the majority added, issuing a ruling that was narrow in scope, while leaving other legal fights until later.

“This is a huge victory for religious freedom,” said Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL).

“Never again will some liberal snob force someone to #BakeTheCake,” tweeted conservative political activist Rick Shaftan.

But as for the broader issue of serving same-sex couples, the Court clearly indicated that future legal battles await – law professor Rick Hasen described it as a “punt.”

J Kennedy's majority opinion is essentially a punt, requiring that body adjudicating claim of religious freedom against an anti-discrimination claim cannot have animus toward sincere religious beliefs. It decides nothing else. Battle between Kagan and Gorsuch shows what's coming https://t.co/KGUkuUOwUV

— Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) June 4, 2018

“The Masterpiece Cakeshop opinion is vintage Kennedy—narrow, focused on dignity and animus, and leaving important issues to a later time whenever possible,” Hasen added.

Several times in the majority opinion, the Justices fully acknowledged that future court battles are likely on the underlying question of whether a business could refuse to serve a same-sex couple.

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts, all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market,” the majority opinion concluded.

The majority made clear that a final disposition of the underlying treatment of gays and lesbians presents a major conflict, saying the Constitution makes clear that ‘religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are
protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.’

One interesting part of the Court’s majority decision included this reference to religious freedom questions, one which dominated the debate about the legalizing of same-sex marriage – whether or not a member of the clergy could be subjected to a lawsuit for refusing to marry two men, or two women.

The narrowed scope of the ruling was borne out by the makeup of the seven Justices in the Majority, as only Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor dissented, noting, “There is much in the Court’s opinion with which I agree.”

That line would likely not be included if the Court had tried to solve the much more difficult – and controversial – matter of service for same-sex couples, and that clearly caught the attention of law professors and legal analysts, who readily endorsed the Court’s own words, that this subject awaits “further elaboration in the courts.”

After reading Masterpiece majority opinion, which declines to resolve the major legal questions in the case due to case-speciific finding of religious hostility, here's the first big question:

Will court grant or deny pending cert. petition in Arlene's Flowers?

— Jim Oleske (@JimOleske) June 4, 2018

“On a quick read, Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Masterpiece does a remarkable job of turning this major constitutional controversy into a one-off decision that has no ramifications for anyone going forward,” said civil rights lawyer Sasha Samberg-Champion.

“As Legal precedent, Masterpiece will be cited primarily for its strong reaffirmation of the equal dignity of LGBT people in the commercial marketplace,” said Joshua Block of the ACLU.

“The narrow Masterpiece opinion, and the food fight going on in the concurrences, shows how big a deal the Kennedy retirement/replacement battle will be (whenever it happens),” said Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute.

Seven things to watch for in DC this week

Sun, 06/03/2018 - 21:41

As Congress returns from a ten day legislative break, lawmakers come back to Capitol Hill facing a series of politcally explosive topics, ranging from the President’s diplomatic overtures to North Korea, to his controversial moves to slap tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Europe, Mexico and Canada, and how best to deal with the hot button issue of illegal immigration.

Bubbling underneath all of that as well, continues to be the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, as the White House continues to question the probe being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Here’s some of what we might see this week in the nation’s capital:

1. What can Trump-Kim summit produce? With President Trump declaring on Friday that he will meet the North Korean leader on June 12 in Singapore, the White House now has just over a week to not only get the final prep done for that historic meeting, but also lay the groundwork for some kind of progress to come from it. After a Friday meeting in the Oval Office with a top aide to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Mr. Trump made clear there was no guarantee that the summit would bring about a major agreement, as he floated the idea of maybe signing an offical end to the Korean War. But remember, there doesn’t seem to be any possibility that the U.S. will walk away with what had been the original bottom line for the President – an agreement by Kim Jong Un to end the nuclear weapons program of the Pyongyang regime. Will the summit produce any tangible results? And what if it doesn’t? Those will be some of the questions being aired in coming days.

2. House GOP returns to internal fight over DACA, Dreamers. When Republicans left town for their Memorial Day break, only five more signatures were needed on a special “discharge” petition, to force votes in the full House on a series of four different immigration measures, some supported by the White House, some not. A group of more moderate Republicans have made clear they are tired of waiting to have a vote in the House on plans to allow illegal immigrant “Dreamers” the chance to get on a 10-12 year pathway to citizenship. President Trump has said he wants a litany of changes to immigration law, but as this reporter has repeatedly documented, the votes are not there in either the House or Senate for such a plan. You’ll notice that GOP lawmakers are still talking about making a deal that can be approved. They are now on the clock.

EXCLUSIVE: @SenatorLankford says bipartisan group of senators are "quietly meeting" to find a #DACA solution pic.twitter.com/eheyPDeMTk

— Kasie DC (@KasieDC) May 28, 2018

3. Congress not likely to stop Trump tariffs. Congress has the power over tariffs, but has shifted much of that authority to the Executive Branch and the President – so when you hear lawmakers in both parties complaining about recent moves by the President to raise steel and alumnimum tariffs on imports, don’t be fooled into think that somehow the Congress is going to come back to Capitol Hill, and suddenly stand up and exercise its authority to stop that move. Article I of the Constitution is pretty clear: “The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises.” Most of the reaction from both parties has been entirely negative to new tariffs aimed at Mexico, Canada and the European Union, as GOP lawmakers worry it will harm domestic economic growth. Rep. Karen Handel (R-GA) said the President’s tariffs, “and the inevitable retaliatory moves by these countries — will hurt working Americans, negatively affect our economy, and do not further the goal of fostering more equitable trade.”

Tariffs raise taxes on Americans. Economic protectionism and other forms of central planning harm our economy and erode liberty.

— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 31, 2018

4. Congress takes first steps on next year’s spending bills. Only four times since the big budget process reforms of 1974 has the Congress approved funding bills on time for the federal government, and this week will see the first votes on some of those measures for 2019 (the deadline is September 30). House Republicans have put three of the twelve funding plans into one measure for consideration on the floor of the House, dealing with energy and water programs, military construction and the VA, plus the budget for Congress. The list of amendments that might be made in order is already an interesting one, including an end to any taxpayer funded settlements of sexual harassment claims against members of Congress, an end to the use of plastic drinking straws, and a possible fight over immigration, and whether people in the U.S. illegally could be employed on Capitol Hill.

5. Congress looks to advance local water projects. While most people probably don’t realize it, the Congress has pretty much done away with pork barrel spending. But that doesn’t mean that lawmakers have given up on finding ways to direct money to projects in their states and districts. This week, a major Water Resources Development bill comes to the House floor, filled with designations for what the Army Corps of Engineers should be working on. Two provisions caught my eye – one to require a study as to whether water projects should be moved out of the Pentagon and the Army Corps of Engineers, into a different part of the government, and the desire for more frequent water development bills. “Congress should consider a water resources development bill not less often than once every Congress,” the bill states.

6. The Russia questions will continue. The President was active again on Twitter this weekend, tweeting his familiar frustrations with the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and any possible links to the Trump Campaign. A big story on Saturday in the New York Times included a letter from Mr. Trump’s lawyers to the Special Counsel from back in January, which argued in parts that a President cannot be charged with obstruction of justice. “Is the Special Counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media?” the President tweeted – though there was no evidence to suggest that had happened, as the leaks could have just as easily come from the President’s legal team. Democrats said it was ridiculous to suggest that the President was above the law, in any way.

Asked about shifting explanations for statement on Trump Tower meeting, Rudy Giuliani tells @GStephanopoulos:

"This is the reason you don't let the president testify. Our recollection keeps changing, or we're not even asked a question and somebody makes an assumption." pic.twitter.com/DLQsGbfGhA

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 3, 2018

7. Inspector General report on Clinton email probe. It seems like this internal review of how the FBI and Justice Department dealt with the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server could become public as soon as this week. The Senate Judiciary Committee had scheduled a hearing on it for Tuesday, but that was delayed until June 11. If that is the exact timing, then it’s possible we could see more about what went on behind the scenes about the email probe. The irony is that FBI Director James Comey is likely to be criticized for going public about emails which were discovered – and then discounted – just before the 2016 election, which some Clinton backers believe helped Donald Trump in the last week of the campaign. Back then, Democrats wanted Comey’s scalp. Then, it was Mr. Trump who forced him out.