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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Senate Intel Committee says Kushner didn't disclose personal email account: report

Senate Intel Committee says Kushner didn't disclose personal email account: report

By Brandon Carter- 09-28-17 16:24 PM EDT

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee said President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner didn't reveal the existence of his personal email account, according to CNN.

The two leaders of the committee, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), sent Kushner a letter via his attorney on Thursday, calling on him to check that the documents he turned over to the committee included those from the personal email address.

"The Committee was concerned to learn of this additional email account from the news media, rather than from you, in your closed staff interview," Burr and Warner wrote.

"Please confirm that the document production that you made to the committee ... included the additional 'personal email account' described to the news media, as well as all other email accounts messaging apps, or similar communications channels you may have used."

CNN says it obtained the letter sent by Burr and Warner from an email prankster who had previously tricked Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, into believing he was Kushner.

The news organization said when Lowell attempted to forward the Senate Intel committee's letter, his email auto-filled the email address of the prankster's fake Kushner account. The prankster then sent the letter to CNN.

Lowell told CNN that the committee was informed about the existence of the account when Kushner spoke with them.

"We did review this account at the time and there were no responsive or relevant documents there. The committee was so informed when documents were produced and there is no issue here," he told CNN.

Politico reported earlier this week that Kushner has used a private email account to communicate with other Trump administration officials about White House business.

He reportedly used the private address to talk about media planning and event coverage with other current and former White House officials, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, former chief strategist Stephen Bannon and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.

Future Colin Kaepernicks, Beware: You Can Get Fired for Political Speech

Future Colin Kaepernicks, Beware: You Can Get Fired for Political Speech

Your First Amendment rights may not extend to the workplace
It doesn’t look like any NFL players will be disciplined for kneeling or locking arms in protest during the playing of the National Anthem. But First Amendment experts say most employees can be fired from many jobs for exercising their freedom of speech.
Federal law does not protect workers in the private sector — only government employees.
“There is no federal law protecting against discrimination or retaliation for political activity” at private companies, Paula Brantner, a senior adviser at Workplace Fairness, told TheWrap. “A lot of people think they have First Amendment rights, but those only apply to government employees.”
The power of employers to dismiss workers was demonstrated in August when Google fired one of its engineers, James Damore, for circulating a memo lashing out at the Silicon Valley giant’s efforts to bring more women into the male-dominated company.
In Berkeley, the Top Dog hot dog chain parted ways with one of its cooks, Cole White, when sleuths on Twitter said he had taken part in the white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. (He denied he is a white nationalist, and Top Dog said he had resigned, not been fired.)
Californians like Damore and White have some protections many other Americans don’t because California law forbids employers from firing workers for off-duty partisan political activity if it is legal. Colorado, Connecticut, Montana, New York, North Dakota, and Washington, D.C. have also enacted some speech protections for workers, but those protections are not absolute.
American workers in the private sector who work in states without those laws have no protection for political speech, University of Dayton law professor Jeannette Cox wrote in a recent American Bar Association article.
But government employees are in a different position, Harvard Law professor Mark Tushnet told TheWrap. He said that under the First Amendment, government workers who speak about public policy can’t be fired unless their speech interferes with their jobs — by provoking fights, for example.
“Typically, though, governments aren’t able to make that showing,” he said.
The nation’s 22 million government workers got a boost last year when the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment forbids government bosses from firing workers for supporting a political candidate the boss doesn’t like.
“The Constitution prohibits a government employer from discharging or demoting an employee because the employee supports a particular political candidate,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote in the decision.
NFL owners, perhaps fearful of a public-relations backlash, have not obeyed President Trump’s Sept. 22 call on them to fire any “son of a bitch” who kneels during the National Anthem. Trump was referring to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other players who started kneeling during the National Anthem last year to protest racism and police brutality.
But NFL owners have broad freedom to fire players perceived to violate the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. According to the policy, posted on the NFL website, “prohibited conduct” includes “conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL personnel.”
Discipline can include a fine, suspension or banishment from the league with an opportunity to reapply, the policy states.
In addition to the policy, players may be required to sign contracts with a “morals clause,” which gives team owners another potential justification for firing them if they say or do anything that might potentially make the team look bad.
A copy of former running back Arian Foster’s contract with the Houston Texans, posted online, provides an example of some morals-clause language. (If you’re wondering why his contract is online, here’s an explanation.)
The language requires him “to give his best efforts and loyalty to the Club, and to conduct himself on and off the field with appropriate recognition of the fact that the success of professional football depends largely on public respect for and approval of those associated with the game.”
Of course, teams don’t have to explicitly state that they are cutting a player for making a political statement, or violating any policy. They can simply unofficially blacklist someone they deem difficult or troublesome.
Since Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers to become a free agent in March, no team has signed him. President Trump has taken partial credit for that fact.
“It was reported that NFL owners don’t want to pick him up because they don’t want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump,” he said in July.

F. Chuck Todd Displays His Ignorance Of the Constitution

F. Chuck Todd Displays His Ignorance of the Constitution

Thursday - September 28, 2017
RUSH: F. Chuck Todd is the host of the NBC show Meet the Depressed. It airs on Sunday morning. There’s a daily version of Meet the Press. Now, I have shared with you in the past that I have now the firm belief that many journalists who say that they’re in the news business or in the media are… I’m trying to find a soft word. I’m not trying to be insulting. I’m trying to be descriptive. I think they’re really uneducated.
I think they don’t know half what they think they know, and this lack of knowledge is accompanied by an arrogance and a condescension to everybody that gives the impression that they think they know everything and you don’t know anything. I don’t think they’ve been well educated. I think their education has been stunted and limited. It’s not been broad-based, and it reaches so far as many of them not even understanding the basics of the foundation of this country. They don’t understand the Constitution.
Every damn one of them needs to take the course “Introduction to the Constitution” authored by Hillsdale College. I offer as evidence for this Chuck Todd at NBC. Now, these people hate Roy Moore. They hate him to begin with because he’s Christian. He used to be a judge in Alabama. He won the Senate Republican primary election over Luther Strange, and Judge Roy Moore is the judge that was involved in the Ten Commandments controversy in the Alabama courthouse. He wanted them displayed — and, of course, the culture war effort by the left to wipe and erase any reference to Christianity was well underway at the time.
So he became a scourge, he became hated — and because he was white and Christian, he became a racist, sexist, bigot, homophobic homophobe. So F. Chuck Todd was describing Roy Moore, who they instinctively don’t like because they think he’s a white zealot and a KKK guy. Chuck Todd led off yesterday’s edition of the daily version of Meet the Press with the assertion that Roy Moore “doesn’t believe in the Constitution as it’s written.” Now, this is a profound insult to anybody who is in government, judge, politics, to say that he doesn’t understand the Constitution.
That just, by itself, is an insult. But wait ’til you hear why F. Chuck Todd thinks that Roy Moore is an idiot. He thinks that Roy Moore is an idiot because Roy Moore said our rights come from God, which is clearly stated in the Declaration of Independence. Chuck Todd thinks rights come from government. Chuck Todd thinks the freedoms you have and the freedoms you don’t have are the result of government telling you what you can and can’t do, and that that is how the country was formed and that is how it shall be.
Chuck Todd started by touting the election as “a purge of the GOP Establishment,” Roy Moore winning and Luther Strange losing. He called it “a crisis of confidence in Mitch McConnell, a weakened president who’s now scrubbing his Twitter feed and the political earthquake in Alabama underneath it all.” Then he started jabbing at Roy Moore as a Christian conservative. He said, “But that doesn’t even begin to describe who the guy really is and he could very well be your next senator. If you don’t understand just how freaked out some folks in the GOP and the White House are about what that means, then you don’t know Roy Moore.
“First off, he doesn’t appear to believe in the Constitution as written,” and then Chuck Todd played a clip from Roy Moore, who was telling a journalist the following: “Our rights don’t come from government. They don’t come from the Bill of Rights. They come from Almighty God.” Chuck Todd thinks the guy’s an idiot. Chuck Todd thinks the guy’s a brain-dead extremist, white Christian, probably a white supremacist, and maybe even pro-KKK and Nazi. And that led Chuck Todd to say…
After the Roy Moore sound bite, Chuck Todd said, “That’s just a taste of what are very fundamentalist views that have gotten him removed from office twice as Alabama chief justice.” What Roy Moore said is absolutely spot on and correct. Our rights don’t come from government. They don’t come from the Bill of Rights. They come from Almighty God. The view of the Founding Fathers — and you would know this if you’d been educated on it. I’m convinced Chuck Todd is uneducated on the Constitution, or maybe ill-educated.
He’s probably been taught the wrong thing about it. The founders of this country saw rights as inalienable — meaning natural, God-given, not something given by man. We are all “endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That’s in the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence that 56 brave people signed, and that began the process of establishing an independent United States. The Declaration sets out the belief that we are all created by God, our creator — and with that creation, we are born with rights. They do indeed come from God.
The Constitution does not “give” anybody rights. What the Constitution does, ladies and gentlemen, is guarantee them. Because rights come from God, they cannot be taken away. They are natural. They are what we are born with. They are how we are born. In our own Preamble! Government rights don’t exist. What government gives you it can be taken away. Government can take away whatever it gives. If that can happen, it’s not a right. A right cannot be taken away. The Constitution doesn’t grant a single person a right.
It guarantees rights that the founders acknowledged we all have. Here’s another way of looking at it. This is Ed Feulner, who was one of the founding members of the Heritage Foundation and the president. He said, “The Constitution doesn’t grant us freedom. It prevents government from taking it,” and that’s exactly why liberals hate it. The Constitution limits government. The Constitution doesn’t empower government to proclaim rights because it can’t. The founders didn’t believe rights came from government.
The founders believed that the only thing government would do would be to try to take them away from you or limit them. So they wrote a Constitution that limited what government could do — and Chuck Todd of NBC doesn’t have the slightest idea! When he hears somebody properly reference the source of human rights, he thinks the guy is a conservative wacko Christian fanatic, “because he doesn’t know that rights come from government!” And I dare say Chuck Todd’s not alone. I’d say virtually every other journalist of his generation probably thinks something similar.
And a lot of average, ordinary Americans probably think the government… I know college students today (snowflakes, what have you) think the government grants rights, and they think the government should be even more powerful to take away certain people’s rights like your right to free speech. But the Constitution doesn’t grant you the right to free speech. It guarantees it. What the First Amendment says is that no law may be written to abridge your freedom of speech, that the state cannot write a law limiting your freedom of speech.
The First Amendment doesn’t say government grants us all the right to say what we want except for these circumstances. That’s what the left wants to be able to do. They want to be able to limit speech. And right now, the speech that many leftists want to eliminate is conservative speech, Republican speech, however you want to look at it. They think it ought not be permitted. They think government ought to have the power to punish people that say things leftists don’t want to hear.
Chuck Todd thinks that’s probably a good idea. Chuck Todd doesn’t know that that’s unconstitutional. Or at least he indicates here he doesn’t know that it is. But he’s not alone, as I say. I saw something the other day again that not even a third of the American people can name the three branches of government. They have no idea. Executive, legislative, judicial, no idea. They think the three branches of government are House, Senate, Supreme Court. If they get even that close.
So why would they understand the source of rights? It’s easy to understand if you’re taught. But because teaching it requires mentioning God, the left will have none of it. Can’t have God in the classroom. Can’t have God in the public square. Can’t have a nativity scene out there, can’t do that. And so anybody who does and wants God in a public square is a Nazi, white supremacist, KKK fantastic as far as the average, ordinary leftist of today thinks. And many of those average, ordinary leftists and their thinking are populating the Drive-By Media.
And that’s why I say they’re dumb or they’re uneducated or they’re ignorant or what have you, but it’s dangerously so in their case. I mean, I can understand not liking Roy Moore. Nothing says they have to. Nothing says they have to respect him. But to not understand something as basic and elementary as government does not grant rights. Government writes laws. But it does not grant rights. But you hear people throw the word “right” around. “I have a right to that chewing gum. I have a right to whatever I want. That is a right, if I want it, I have a right.”
That’s what people think of rights. Rights are what they want. Rights are what they don’t want. I have a right not to hear what you’re saying. No, that’s not the right. Everybody has a right to free speech, but there isn’t a single person that has to listen to you. But the left thinks that the right to free speech means you cannot not listen to them. You must listen to, and you can’t disagree. That’s what the First Amendment means to them.
How many times have you heard a leftist say just recently they think the Constitution prohibits hate speech? Somebody’s teaching this. “Yeah, you can’t just go out and say hateful things to people. Constitution says so.” Their professors are teaching them this. If the almighty government assist you can’t say it, why, there is no other authority you need to cite. The almighty government says you can’t say hate speech. There’s no such proscription.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

GOP health effort on hold indefinitely

GOP health effort on hold indefinitely
The Republican push to repeal ObamaCare is officially on ice.
Now the question is when -- if ever -- the GOP will try again.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisted Tuesday that Republicans "haven't given up on changing the American health care system." Yet he made clear that, for now, they are moving on to other priorities.
"Where we go from here is tax reform," McConnell said.
It's a sobering moment for the GOP.
After seven years of campaign promises, the Senate on Tuesday gave up on a last-gasp ObamaCare repeal bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.).
The decision effectively ended any chance Republicans had of repealing ObamaCare this year, and potentially before the 2018 midterm elections.
Republican senators put on a brave face, with many insisting that they would return to health-care legislation again once their top legislative priority, tax reform, is on the books.
"Patience is a virtue," said Graham.
"Time is actually on our side. The votes we were lacking were more about process than substance. We can fix the process and we can improve the substance, so that's why I'm optimistic."
But the road ahead is daunting.
At the start of the year, the House and Senate passed reconciliation instructions allowing them to pass ObamaCare repeal through the Senate on a simple majority vote.
That budget tool expires on Saturday, putting them back at square one.
Republicans are determined to use their next set of reconciliation instructions on tax reform, even if it requires putting health care on the backburner.
Some Republicans this week floated combining tax reform and ObamaCare repeal into one bill, but that idea was quickly shot down.
"Heavens, no. We're not going to do that," said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. "It would just screw up the whole thing."
Lawmakers warned that combining the two bills could jeopardize a tax overhaul the economy desperately needs.
Theoretically, Republicans could pass tax reform in early 2018 and return immediately to health care. But that timeline seems unlikely.
It would thrust health care into the middle of the midterm election season, a time when it is hard for any major legislation -- let alone something as controversial as ObamaCare repeal -- to pass. Further complicating the schedule, lawmakers will likely spend much of their time in 2018 on the campaign trail.
That means Republicans will likely have to wait until the 2019 budget to use the fast-track process, known as reconciliation, to pass a repeal bill with just a simple majority.
Vice President Pence sought to encourage senators in their lunch meeting Tuesday, urging them not to give up. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said Republicans still want to act on health care before the Congress ends in January 2019.
In the meantime, ObamaCare remains the law of the land -- and with just as much uncertainty.
Senators who helped thwart the latest repeal bill, including Susan Collins (R-Maine) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), are pushing for Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to restart talks with Democrats on a bill to stabilize the ObamaCare markets.
"I believe that offers great promise for stabilizing the insurance markets and helping to lower premiums," Collins told reporters Tuesday.
But the White House and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have made clear that legislation stabilizing ObamaCare is a nonstarter, and conservatives in both chambers of Congress say they aren't ready to give up on repeal.
"I think most of the members would suggest they really don't know that they can stabilize [ObamaCare] at this stage," Rounds said. "And I think there's a number of them that are going to be very hesitant to try to put more money into a system that they are convinced is going south."
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of leadership, said Alexander's Health Committee should continue its work but said he isn't optimistic a deal can be reached.
"There are going to be some things in the near term that may have to be done to stabilize markets, and that kind of thing can be done in a bipartisan way," Thune said.
"If they can produce something, more power to them," he added. "I'm not optimistic about that. It seemed like they really had a hard time getting consensus when they went down this path before."
With repeal on hold, much of the attention will turn to how the Trump administration manages ObamaCare. A new enrollment period is set to begin on Nov. 1.
Major insurance companies are fearful that Trump will cut off subsidies that help them cover the cost of low-income enrollees. The administration, meanwhile, insists the system will soon collapse under its own weight, raising fears on the left of sabotage.
Insurers must make final decisions about rates and participation for the 2018 plan by Wednesday, just one day after the repeal effort's collapse.
Cassidy acknowledged that ObamaCare remains in place, at least for now, but said it comes with a heavy price.
"Yes, it lives. It continues to exert that sort of effect on those families so that they're paying $29,000 a year when they earn $82,000 a year," he said. "In that sense it lives, but that is not a very good life."
Rachel Roubein, Nathaniel Weixel and Jordain Carney contributed.

Sessions: 'Every American' should stand during national anthem

Sessions: 'Every American' should stand during national anthem
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday night condemned NFL players for taking a knee during the national anthem, saying that "every American" should salute the flag.
In an interview on Fox News Channel's "Tucker Carlson Tonight," Sessions accused NFL players kneeling during the anthem of "demeaning" the flag and by extension the U.S.
"They haven't thought it through," Sessions said. "They haven't realized that what they're doing is actually demeaning the country, not some politician [that] they disagree with, not some issue that they feel strongly about.
"How is that the right way to express such a view?" he added.
Sessions said that without respect for the flag, America isn't strong enough to have the kind of "contentious debates" over race that it needs to have.
"They have all kinds of ways to express their own opinions, but I think every American, no matter what their views on the issues, should stand for America, should salute the flag," Sessions said. "I think otherwise, we don't have the kind of nation that's healthy that we need to have to be strong and to be able to have contentious debates within it."
More than 200 NFL players sat or knelt when the national anthem played during games this past Sunday, after President Trump renewed debate on the issue during a rally on Friday, blasting athletes who don't stand and suggesting they be fired.
The president stoked an issue dating back to last year, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked debate by kneeling during the national anthem to draw attention to the treatment of people of color in America.
Sessions on Tuesday defended Trump's call for NFL owners to fire players who protest during the national anthem, saying Trump has a right to free speech the same as the athletes do.
"Absolutely not," Sessions responded when asked if Trump's remarks chill First Amendment rights. "The president of the United States has free speech. He believes and I believe that people should take a moment before a football game and stand [when] the national anthem is played. What's wrong with that?"
Sessions similarly defended Trump's NFL attacks earlier in the day during remarks at Georgetown University Law Center.
Trump doubled down on his remarks targeting NFL players on Tuesday by calling for the NFL to institute a rule banning protests during the anthem.
"The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations," Trump tweeted. "The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can't kneel during our National Anthem!"
The president blasted football players who protest the national anthem before games during a fiery campaign rally Friday in Alabama, calling on NFL coaches to fire players that do so.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. He is fired,'" Trump said.

Could North Korea Actually Shoot Down U.S. Bombers Off Its Coast?

Could North Korea Actually Shoot Down U.S. Bombers Off Its Coast? 

Its new surface-to-air missile system has a range of 90 miles

  • North Korea can better target nearby U.S. aircraft with a new missile system than in years past, military analysts said, raising the stakes of any confrontation after Pyongyang warned it might shoot down American bombers in international airspace. 
    As tensions escalate on the peninsula, North Korea has bolstered defenses on its east coast,...

    Republicans agree to raise bottom tax rate, double standard deduction

    Republicans agree to raise bottom tax rate, double standard deduction

    Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
    Top White House and GOP leaders have agreed to raise the lowest individual tax rate from 10 to 12 percent, paired with doubling the standard deduction, 5 senior Republicans tell us.
    Why this matters: Trump intends to sell the proposal tomorrow as a populist "tax cut." But as recently as yesterday top Republicans on Capitol Hill were nervous as they got word that Trump wasn't entirely thrilled with the product that had been hashed out in immense secrecy for weeks (with two members of his administration, Gary Cohn and Steven Mnuchin, working with GOP leaders.)
    Late last night Republicans close to the process felt more confident that Trump had come around to supporting the framework — despite his misgivings about the corporate rate not being low enough and about the political risks of raising the lowest rate (even though many more people will now pay no tax because of the increased deduction, meaning they can accurately call it a tax cut for the middle class as well as for the wealthy.)

    Big picture details: Republicans plan to collapse the number of brackets from seven to three. The standard deduction would almost double to $12,000 for a single filer and $24,000 for married couples, meaning Trump can accurately argue that many more low income earners would pay no tax under his plan. As we previously reported, the top tax bracket would fall from 39.6% to 35%.
    Yes, but: Trump won't go into great detail when he talks about the tax plan tomorrow in Indiana, leaving plenty of negotiating room for the tax-writing committees in the House and Senate. As of yesterday morning Trump hadn't signed off on the final product, and as with all policy announcements involving Trump, Republican Hill leaders will be holding their breaths to some extent until the president actually utters the words. Speaking with conservative groups at the White House yesterday Trump, reassured them of his commitment when he gushed about the "tax cut" he was planning to unveil.
    Editor's Note: For more breaking news and scoops from Jonathan Swan, sign up here for Axios Sneak Peek.