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On the roster: Omar smashed over sneers at Jewish money in politics – Fairfax defiant, demands ‘due process’ on rape claims – Harris: Legalize it – Budget talks resume on border security – *ahem* Fort night
OMAR SMASHED OVER SNEERS AT JEWISH MONEY IN POLITICS
Fox News: In an unprecedented rebuke under the new Congress, House Democratic leaders on Monday roundly condemned Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., for statements about supporters of Israel that were widely viewed as anti-Semitic and called on her to apologize. The statement issued by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic leadership team followed the latest in a string of controversial comments from the freshman lawmaker — as well as pressure from Republican leaders to speak out. ‘Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception,’ the statement said. ‘We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests. Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share. …’ Omar, in response, ‘unequivocally’ apologized, while reaffirming the ‘problematic role’ of lobbyists.”
Williamson: ‘The defining characteristic of our political discourse in 2019 is not that it is polarized, but that it is illiterate.’ – National Review
An unhappy association for American liberals – The Atlantic: “Her comments, and the backlash they provoked, show how fractured the American debate over Israel has become. Omar is the new face of anti-Israel criticism on the left, and yet her use of anti-Semitic tropes undermines her credibility. Her comments have provoked a cycle of outrage, amplifying the most extreme voices on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and limiting the chances for more nuanced debate over America’s support for Israeli policies. Instead of creating more space for critical debate about Israel, Omar has added credence to a common caricature of the anti-Israel left: that opposition to Israel is partly fueled by conspiratorial anti-Semitism.”
THE RULEBOOK: WELLLLLLL…
“The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 68
TIME OUT: LOOK, A SQUIRREL
The Paris Review: “‘I read books to read myself,’ Sven Birkerts wrote in The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age. Birkerts’s book, which turns twenty-five this year, is composed of fifteen essays on reading, the self, the convergence of the two, and the ways both are threatened by the encroachment of modern technology. … Writing in 1994, Birkerts worried that distractedness and surficiality would win out. The ‘duration state’ we enter through a turned page would be lost in a world of increasing speed and relentless connectivity, and with it our ability to make meaning out of narratives, both fictional and lived. … Birkerts coins his own terms: the deep, devotional practice of ‘vertical’ reading has been supplanted by ‘horizontal’ reading, skimming along the surface. … It’s a way to pass the time, not to live in it. Reading—real reading, the kind Birkerts makes his impassioned case for—draws on our vertical sensibility, however latent, and “where it does not assume depth, it creates it.”
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Trump job performance
Average approval: 39.8 percent
Average disapproval: 56 percent
Net Score: -16.2 points
Change from one week ago: down 2 points
[Average includes: CNN: 42% approve – 54% disapproval; IBD: 39% approve – 57% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 38% approve – 57% disapprove; Monmouth University: 43% approve – 53% disapprove; Gallup: 37% approve – 59% disapprove.]
FAIRFAX DEFIANT, DEMANDS ‘DUE PROCESS’ ON RAPE CLAIMS
WaPo: “Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) said he will not step down and will preside over the Virginia Senate on Monday regardless of any attempts to remove him from office amid allegations that he sexually assaulted two women. In a telephone interview with The Washington Post on Sunday night, as fellow Democrats considered beginning impeachment proceedings against him, Fairfax repeated his claim that he did not sexually assault his two accusers or anyone else. The two women deserve to be heard, but at the same time, he deserves due process, Fairfax said. ‘Even in the most difficult times, including ones like these, that’s when it’s most important to adhere to our highest values as Americans,’ he said.”
Staffers flee – Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Two of the three government staffers to Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and two employees of his political action committee resigned following news Friday of a second sexual assault allegation against him. The PAC employees who left are Dave Mills, who was the executive director of We Rise Together, and Courtney McCargo, a fundraiser for the PAC. Mills is the husband of state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, who is considered a strong contender to replace Fairfax as lieutenant governor should Fairfax resign. On the government side, Adele McClure, the policy director, resigned, as did Julia Billingsly, the scheduling director. Lauren Burke, Fairfax’s communications director, remains employed by his PAC and Larry Roberts, his chief of staff, remains on as a state employee.”
Dems back off impeachment for now – Fox News: “A Virginia delegate who threatened to introduce articles of impeachment against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax amid sexual assault allegations has hit pause, saying in a tweet that ‘additional conversation’ is needed before anything is filed. Patrick Hope, a fellow Democrat and member of the Virginia House of Delegates, announced Friday that he intended to introduce articles of impeachment against Fairfax unless he resigned by Monday. This prompted the two women who have accused Fairfax of assault to say they’d be willing to testify in any impeachment proceedings. But Hope on Monday morning tweeted that he’s decided to wait after receiving ‘sincere and thoughtful feedback’ on a draft he sent to his fellow delegates. … ‘There has been an enormous amount of sincere and thoughtful feedback which has led to additional conversations that need to take place before anything is filed’ [Hope tweeted].”
Northam promises to devote remainder of term to racial issues – CBS News: “Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam says he considered resigning in the wake of the ongoing controversy embroiling his office, but told ‘CBS This Morning’ co-host Gayle King he’s ‘not going anywhere.’ ‘You know, I don’t live in a vacuum. And so yes, I have heard it,” Northam said, referring to calls for his resignation. ‘I have thought about resigning, but I’ve also thought about what Virginia needs right now. And I really think that I’m in a position where I can take Virginia to the next level.’ … The governor said in an interview with The Washington Post published Saturday that he would spend the remainder of his term working toward advancing racial equality. The governor has been speaking with black political and community leaders over the past week, but the Virginia Black Legislative Caucus has called for Northam’s resignation more than once.”
HARRIS: LEGALIZE IT
Politico: “Sen. Kamala Harris called for the legalization of marijuana at a federal level in a Monday morning interview, making her the latest 2020 contender to weigh in on an issue that has become front-and-center as the presidential campaign season begins. ‘Half my family’s from Jamaica,’ the California Democrat said, laughing when asked to respond to those who think she’s opposed to legalizing recreational use of the drug. ‘Are you kidding me?’ Appearing on ‘The Breakfast Club,’ a New York City-based radio show… When asked whether she would smoke again if the federal government were to legalize the recreational use of the drug, Harris laughed and replied: ‘Listen, I think it gives a lot of people joy. And we need more joy.’ The former San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general said legalization would have to come with some caveats, emphasizing a need for research on the effects of marijuana on the developing brain and a means for regulating use of the drug while driving.”
Klobuchar says she’s tough enough – [Minneapolis] Star Tribune: “Against a wintry Minneapolis backdrop, Amy Klobuchar announced her run for President on Sunday with a vow to ‘heal the heart of our democracy’ and an emphasis on her Minnesota roots. ‘As president, I will look you in the eye,’ Klobuchar said, her hair thick with falling snow by the end of her speech at Boom Island Park. ‘I will tell you what I think. I will focus on getting things done. That’s what I’ve done my whole life.’ By officially joining the fray, Klobuchar enters into competition with a growing roster of Democrats who want to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020. Her speech alternated between personal biography and statements of principle. She argued that her own life and political experience put her in the best position to tackle an ambitious agenda from the White House.”
Warren finally announces 2020 bid – NYT: “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts formally announced her 2020 presidential bid Saturday, calling for ‘fundamental change’ on behalf of working people and arguing that President Trump is ‘just the latest and most extreme symptom of what’s gone wrong in America.’ Speaking on a clear, chilly day against a backdrop of old red brick mill buildings at the site of one of the nation’s most famous labor strikes, she said workers now, like workers then, had had enough. She said that replacing Mr. Trump, whose administration she called ‘the most corrupt in living memory,’ was only the first step in fighting back against a system tilted in favor of the wealthy. … The selection of Lawrence was symbolic: In 1912, a historic labor strike was started by a group of women at Everett Mill, where Ms. Warren made her announcement. The senator drew on the strike as a story of women, many of them immigrants, taking on a stacked system and triumphing by gaining raises, overtime and other benefits.”
Bennet may join the fray – WaPo: “Sen. Michael F. Bennet had a message for fellow Democrats this weekend as two more White House contenders formally jumped into the 2020 presidential race: Don’t forget about me. ‘We’ve got a million people that are going to run, which I think is great,’ Bennet (Colo.) said Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press.’ But, he added, ‘I think having one more voice in that conversation that’s focused on America’s future, I don’t think would hurt.’ Bennet, 54, cast himself as a centrist Democrat who would bring business and managerial experience to the crowded field, should he decide to run. Before being appointed to the Senate in 2009, Bennet, an attorney, served as superintendent of Denver Public Schools and worked for a large private company.”
BUDGET TALKS RESUME ON BORDER SECURITY
AP: “Budget negotiators will meet Monday to revive talks over border security issues that are central to legislation to prevent key parts of the government from shutting down on Saturday, but an air of pessimism remains after talks broke down over the weekend. They collapsed over Democratic demands to limit the number of migrants authorities can detain, and the two sides remained separated over how much to spend on President Donald Trump’s promised border wall. A Friday midnight deadline is looming to prevent a second partial government shutdown. Key negotiators plan to meet on Monday, Democratic and GOP aides say, but for now the mood is not hopeful. Rising to the fore on Sunday was a related dispute over curbing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, the federal agency that Republicans see as an emblem of tough immigration policies and Democrats accuse of often going too far. Trump blamed Democrats in the migrant detention dispute…”
Newsom to pull National Guard troops back from border – NBC News: “California Gov. Gavin Newsom will announce plans Monday to pull back all members of the National Guard who have been deployed to the border with Mexico, saying the state would not be part of the Trump administration’s ‘manufactured crisis.’ The 360 National Guard troops in California will be redeployed to fight wildfires, expand the state’s Drug Task Force and collect intelligence on drug cartels, Newsom will announce. Newsom’s decision comes a week after New Mexico Gov. Michelle Grisham ordered most of her state’s National Guard troops back from the border, citing President Donald Trump’s ‘border fear-mongering’ as the only reason for their deployment. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to the deployment of the National Guard troops last year, but said they would not be used to enforce immigration laws. Brown, Newsom and Grisham are Democrats.”
Pergram: ‘Will stalled border security talks lead to the next government shutdown?’ – Fox News: “Here’s the other problem: the president isn’t going to get anywhere near $5.7 billion for a wall or a physical barrier, regardless of what you want to call it. In fact, he may not even score $2 billion. The number is more likely to clock in at $1.6 billion to $1.7 billion in spending for a border barrier – although Fox News has heard figures well below those numbers. ‘It’s not going to be good no matter what they reach and he won’t sign it,’ said one source close to the president. There are limitations as to how much money border security conferees can allocate to the Department of Homeland Security bill. The total cost of the measure would likely hover around $49 billion to $50 billion for Fiscal Year 2019. If conferees were to really explode spending for the wall, they’d have to cut other DHS priorities. That could jeopardize national security.”
Rep. Walter Jones dead at 76 – [Raleigh] News&Observer
AUDIBLE: AND THAT’S THAT
“I’m black, and I’m proud of being black. I was born black. I will die black, and I’m not going to make excuses for anybody because they don’t understand.” – Sen. Kamala Harris said in an interview Monday with a New York City radio show, “The Breakfast Club.”
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“Chris, both my wife and I enjoy vanilla ice cream. But there are various brands, and although a matter of taste, some are decidedly better than others and some are downright terrible. Phony vanilla taste. If all the vanillas and chocolates that are offered to you are terrible, then you are apt to try the rum raisin. So ‘populist nationalism will never succeed in the largest ambitions’? Seems to me we put pistachio in the White House. Was there a bigger ambition?” – Anthony LoRe, Whitestone, N.Y.
[Ed. note: I should hope so! As I understand it, the goals of the movement are to end large-scale illegal immigration, a more narrowly self-interested foreign policy and an end to the trade policies that grew up with postwar globalization. It’s a very ambitious agenda, and one on which the current administration has had some success. But we are a long way from achieving those goals. In all cases, achieving those goals would require cooperation and coalition building. You can win an election by being the least bad flavor on offer, but you can’t alter the trajectory of core components of our nation in the same way. That requires buy-in. Now, as for the more urgent question of brands of vanilla ice cream, I generally ascribe to the view that Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean is the best uniformly available offering. For the absolute best, though, Graeter’s “French Pot Process” vanilla cannot be beat.]
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*AHEM* FORT NIGHT
CTV: “A prank video was the inspiration for two teens that built a fort out of toilet paper in a store and stayed in it overnight. According to Norfolk County OPP, a 13-year-old female and a 16-year-old male built the fort on Monday night in an aisle of a Simcoe store. They returned to the store on Tuesday evening and fell asleep in the fort after the store closed. Both woke up early the next morning to the sounds of employees restocking the shelves and ran to a bathroom in the building. An employee saw the teens, located them hiding in the restroom stall, and contacted the police. The OPP says the two were very remorseful upon their arrival. Both teens were taken home to their parents by the police. No charges were laid at the request of the store.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“There are ideological differences among the various GOP factions, but what’s overlooked is the role that procedure played in producing the deadlock. And procedure can easily be changed.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on March 30, 2017.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.
McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump’s a Russian asset
McCabe has said in the past that the FBI had a good reason to open up a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was working with Russia and a possible national security threat.
The former official was on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” when he was asked if he believes Trump may still be a Russian asset. He said he’s “anxious” to see the conclusion of special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation.
He was also asked if he believes Trump is fit to serve and said it is not up to him to make the determination.
Gowdy challenges McCabe’s claim congressional leaders didn’t object to Russia counterintelligence probe
Former congressman and Fox News contributor Trey Gowdy disputed former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe’s claim Tuesday that congressional leaders didn’t object to the bureau’s counterintelligence investigation over President Trump’s Russia ties.
“The reason he’s doing it this way is that [Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.] and [former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.] are not allowed to discuss anything that’s said in a ‘Gang of Eight’ meeting and McCabe knows that,” Gowdy said on “The Story with Martha MacCallum.” “So he can level the accusation and Devin and Paul cannot refute him.” Nunes chaired the House Intelligence Committee from 2015-19.
McCabe, in an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show Tuesday morning, said no members of the “Gang of Eight,” a bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders, including Nunes and Ryan, objected to the investigation.
“I told Congress what we had done,” McCabe told Savannah Guthrie.
“Did anyone object?” Guthrie asked.
“That’s the important part here, Savannah,” McCabe replied. “No one objected. Not on legal grounds, not on constitutional grounds and not based on the facts.”
Gowdy, formerly a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he believed McCabe wasn’t telling the truth and that Nunes and Ryan did not know about a second investigation.
“There were three investigations into a duly elected president. The Peter Strzok one from July of 2016 and then McCabe started a counterintelligence [probe] and if he’s telling the truth, started a criminal probe into the president of the United States,” Gowdy told Martha MacCallum.
“I listened to Devin and Paul quiz the [Justice Department] and the FBI for hours on multiple occasions about the one counterintelligence investigation, we all knew about it. I find it stunning that they would know about a second one and not say a single solitary word.”
Gowdy also addressed former FBI Director James Comey’s May 2017 firing and McCabe’s belief that the president was trying to shut down the Russia investigation.
“If thinking that Jim Comey is not a good FBI director is tantamount to being an agent of Russia then just list all the people that are agents of Russia. [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein…,” Gowdy said.
Fox News’ Martha MacCallum contributed to this report.
Trump, Giuliani deny president tried obstructing Michael Cohen investigation
President Trump’s attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, denied a New York Times report that Trump asked then-Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker whether U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, a presidential ally, could be put in charge of the investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Trump’s onetime personal attorney Michael Cohen.
“The president said today he had no such conversation with the acting AG, and I believe Mr. Whitaker issued a statement to the same effect,” Giuliani said in a statement late Tuesday. “The rest of the piece is just a regurgitation of previously refuted obstruction theories. They all fail as obstruction because as [Harvard Law] Professor [Alan] Dershowitz’s recent book and many other authorities make clear, all of the alleged actions were within the president’s sole discretion under Article II of the U.S. Constitution.”
The Times report said that Whitaker told Trump that he could not put Berman in charge of the Cohen investigation because he had already recused himself from that matter. The paper claimed that Trump “soured” on Whitaker and “complained about his inability to pull levers at the Justice Department that could make the president’s many legal problems go away.”
Trump denied the story at the White House Tuesday afternoon, referring to the Times report as “more fake news” and saying that he had a “very good” relationship with Whitaker, who was replaced last week by William Barr.
“I have a lot of respect for Mr. Whitaker. I think he’s done a great job,” Trump said. He said Whitaker was “a very fine man, and he should be given a lot of thanks by our nation.”
Justice Department spokesperson Kerri Kupec referred to testimony Whitaker gave to the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month.
“Under oath to the House Judiciary Committee, then-Acting Attorney General Whitaker stated that ‘at no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel’s investigation or any other investigation,'” Kupec said. “Mr. Whitaker stands by his testimony.”
Berman was named acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in January 2018 by the AG at that time, Jeff Sessions. Berman was appointed to the position indefinitely by the panel’s judges three months later.
Prosecutors in the Southern District say Trump directed Cohen to make illegal hush-money payments to two women — adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — in order to keep them quiet about alleged sexual encounters with them dating back more than a decade and coming soon after he’d married his current wife, Melania. Cohen is scheduled to report to prison next month to begin a three-year sentence after pleading guilty this past August to campaign finance and other violations.
Cohen is also scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee on Feb. 28. His attorney, Lanny Davis, has said that Cohen also plans to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight Committee before the end of this month. In November, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying under oath to the Senate Intelligence Committee as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Fox News’ John Roberts and Jake Gibson contributed to this report.
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