Democrats are upset by Attorney General William Barr’s comments that members of the FBI were spying on the Trump campaign when they should be more upset that a presidential administration was “intruding” into the 2016 election, Rep. Doug Collins, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, said Friday.
“We’ve seen that political bias,” the Georgia Republican told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” “He is being honest here and moving on to the (special counsel Robert) Mueller report, and we’ll confirm what we already know.”
Collins said he does think that Mueller reset the story when he spoke of spying and it’s a “good thing, (as) we’ve been talking about this from day one, not simply what the reports are.”
Meanwhile, Democrats who wanted to get the Mueller report finished are not happy with it because they don’t like its conclusions, so “they are trying everything else.”
Former FBI Director James Comey said on Thursday he did not know what Barr was talking about with comments about spying, because the FBI and Department of Justice were conducting court-ordered surveillance. Collins said it is “getting old for Comey” to continue to pop up.
“He is getting scrutinized for something he is a part of,” said Collins. “He doesn’t like the term of what was happening. He has to answer those questions again. His light will continue to fade.”
Collins added that he thinks the difference between the words surveillance and spying are “a matter of wording.”
“(Bill Barr) wanted to make sure he said it was spying,” said Collins. “They were looking into a campaign and what was going on here.”
President Trump said Friday that he is strongly considering placing illegal immigrants in sanctuary cities, taking reports that his administration had briefly considered such a move a step further.
“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” the president tweeted.
“The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!”
….The Radical Left always seems to have an Open Borders, Open Arms policy – so this should make them very happy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 12, 2019
White House officials floated the idea of releasing detained immigrants onto the streets of sanctuary cities to target Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, a sanctuary city.
The proposal was met with resistance from a top Immigration and Customs Enforcement official who cited budgetary and liability concerns, as well as “PR risks.”
Stephen Miller, a top Trump adviser who favors limits on immigration, was involved in the proposal.
In a statement, the White House attempted to downplay the proposal, which was met with swift criticism from Democrats. “This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said this week they are both ready to sit down together to try to work out a long-elusive deal on immigration reform in response to a growing humanitarian crisis along the southern border.
Pelosi, D-Calif., speaking to reporters at the Democratic retreat in Leesburg, Va., said she is “pleased to see” news reports that McConnell, R-Ky., “is ready to talk about” about an immigration deal.
McConnell told reporters on Thursday it is “past time” to negotiate with Democrats on immigration and he is willing to talk to Pelosi about it “now.”
While lawmakers normally avoid taking up major policy initiatives when a presidential election is looming, they may have no choice.
A sudden surge in family units attempting to cross into the United States illegally has overwhelmed the nation’s border security system.
So far this year, 240,000 illegal immigrants have been apprehended entering the United States, some at ports of entry, but mostly at points in between along the southwest border.
The increase accelerated after July 2015, when a federal judge ruled that illegal immigrant parents must be released with children soon after they are apprehended.
The court ruling attracted mass family migration from Central America as adults learned bringing children to the U.S. border would prevent them from being detained or immediately sent home.
Even Pelosi acknowledged Friday it has created “a humanitarian crisis.”
The GOP wants to change the nation’s asylum laws and rules governing the treatment of apprehended illegal immigrants in order to discourage the recent wave of mass migration from Central America.
Finding a bipartisan deal with Democrats, however, would likely require a comprehensive plan that addresses illegal immigrants already living in the United States.
While McConnell did not specify what should be included in a deal, Pelosi said “what we need to do is sit down and have comprehensive immigration reform.”
She added, “I’m glad Mitch McConnell has said he’s willing to do that.”
Democrats and Republicans have tried but failed to pass immigration reform legislation numerous times over the past 15 years.
Democrats want a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, while Republicans have sought stronger border security provisions.
Pelosi said none of the current problems along the border can be fixed without tackling comprehensive immigration reform.
“I think the president is beginning to realize that has to happen,” Pelosi said.
A top House Democrat said Friday the White House’s reported plan to get back at Democrats by transporting all released asylum seekers into sanctuary cities is proof the Trump administration’s approach to immigration policy is political and not about national security.
“The fact that this idea was even considered — not once but twice — serves as a reminder that the Trump Administration’s reckless immigration agenda is not about keeping the country safe, but about partisan politics and wantonly inflicting cruelty,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said in a statement.
Thompson said the administration’s various immigration policy reforms “are all terrible.” The White House has introduced a travel ban of citizens from select countries primarily in the Middle East, and a “zero tolerance” initiative that led to families being separated at the border, and others.
“If the Administration wants to send a message to Democrats, let us send this message to the President: if your immigration policies are not fixing the problem but only cause chaos and focus on keeping people out, they will always fail. Playing politics with the country’s homeland security has been a mainstay of the Trump Administration since day one. The American people want it to end,” he said.
A Thursday report said White House officials asked officials at several federal agencies in November to look into turning over families who had illegally entered the country, and were seeking asylum, to be released in small and mid-size cities where local Democratic leaders had refused to cooperate with federal immigration agents.
“Sanctuary cities,” as they referred to, provide safety to immigrants who have committed additional crimes while in the U.S. by not honoring a request by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to detain a person for them after his legal proceedings for that crime have concluded.
The Trump administration has railed over the policy, saying it protects suspected and convicted criminals from being handed over to ICE in a safe environment and forces agents to go into the community to find wanted criminals.
There were “clearly” people in the FBI who were investigating both the Trump campaign and the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election, Sen. John Kennedy said Friday, adding that he believes Attorney General William Barr will get to to the bottom of what was going on.
“When Bill Barr issued his [Robert Mueller report] summary, you would have thought according to some of my Democratic friends it was the second coming of the Apocalypse,” the Louisiana Republican told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” “It is clear to me that there were a handful of people at the FBI and maybe Justice who acted on their political beliefs in 2016. I think some of them put their thumb on the scale against (Donald) Trump. I think some might have put their thumb on the scale against (Hillary) Clinton.”
The FBI is not supposed to act on political beliefs, Kennedy added. “and they don’t need a hug and a cup of hot cocoa and told ‘don’t do it again,'” said Kennedy. “They need to be fired, and if necessary, prosecuted. You had a handful of bubbleheads that decided they were smarter and more virtuous than the American people and they were going to try to influence the election.”
Meanwhile, Kennedy called on Democrats to leave Barr alone and let him do his job and release a redacted version of Mueller’s report, but he warned that if “every third word is redacted and you can’t make any sense out of it, I’ll join them raising fresh hell. But that’s not going to happen.”
President Donald Trump’s approval rating has climbed to 45%, a new Gallup poll reveals.
It is up from the 39% approval rating he received in March.
It marks the third time Trump has achieved a 45% job approval rating in the Gallup trends poll. His other 45 percent ratings were recorded in his first week in office and again after his first meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Fifty-one percent of those polled disapprove of his job performance.
Here is how the poll breaks down:
- 89% of Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing.
- 8% of Democrats approve.
- 39% of independents approve.
Gallup noted it is the pollster’s first measure of Trump’s approval since special counsel Robert Mueller completed his probe.
The poll, conducted April 1-9, surveyed 1,012 adults. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Outrage by liberals and Democrats over Attorney General William Barr noting that “spying did occur” on the 2016 Trump campaign is a sorry example of moving the goal posts. Last year, the active debate was not over whether spying occurred — which it did by a reasonable use of the word — but whether it was justified. Barr was careful not to weigh in on that debate. Yet Democrats, spurred on by their liberal base and supported by the media, have been out to portray Barr’s statement as some sort of shocking betrayal of his role as the nation’s top law enforcement officer.
“Perpetuating conspiracy theories is beneath the office of the Attorney General,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., fumed in calling for Barr to retract his statement. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said Barr’s statement, “strikes another destructive blow to our democratic institutions.”
Yet last year, it wasn’t being disputed that among other things, that the FBI conducted surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign official, that included wiretapping after obtaining a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant. In a 2018 memo by none other than Schiff, minority Democrats on the intelligence committee argued, “DOJ and FBI would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government.”
At the time, Republicans had been arguing that the FBI launched the investigation into Russian interference on the basis of a dossier that was based on research funded by the DNC and Clinton campaign. Democrats were arguing that “Christopher Steele’s raw intelligence reporting did not inform the FBI’s decision to initiate its counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016.” Instead, they argued that it began with information the FBI received that Russians were wooing a different Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos.
Outside Congress, the debate also focused on whether there was “probable cause” for the FISA warrant, which those pushing back against Trump and Republicans argued that there was.
“Commentators like National Review’s Andrew McCarthy try to discredit the Mueller investigation by sliming the process to spy on a former Trump advisor,” argued an op-ed from the liberal Brennan Center for Justice. “Here’s why they’re wrong.”
So, the issue they were taking with conservative McCarthy was that he was attacking “the process” that was used “to spy on a former Trump advisor” — rather than arguing about whether the spying occurred.
Indeed, the article itself is a case that the FISA warrant was totally justified.
“Now that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application for an order to surveil former Trump campaign advisor Carter Page has been released in heavily redacted form, the attacks on the FBI’s application have been predictably loud yet incorrect,” the op-ed read. “They miss the critical question related to such an application: Was there probable cause to believe that Page was an agent of a foreign power?”
So, the “critical question” concerned not whether there was surveillance, but whether there was probable cause, to which the Brennan Center argued, “the unredacted portions easily meet this probable cause standard and support the FISA court’s multiple orders.”
The surveillance and wiretapping was thus indisputable, as was the fact that it allowed investigators to go back to when Page did work on the Trump campaign. It also doesn’t even get into the fact that, according to the New York Times, “Agents involved in the Russia investigation asked [Stefan] Halper, an American academic who teaches in Britain, to gather information on Mr. Page and George Papadopoulos, another Trump campaign foreign policy adviser.”
This is all perfectly consistent with what Barr said.
“I think spying did occur. But the question is whether it was predicated — adequately predicated,” Barr testified before Congress. “I’m not suggesting it wasn’t adequately predicated, but I need to explore that. I think it’s my obligation. Congress is usually very concerned about intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies staying in their proper lane.”
The only part he’s stating unequivocally is that there was spying. He is not making a claim that the FISA warrant was illegally obtained on the basis of a Clinton-funded discredited dossier. He just said it was worthy of looking into to make sure the process was proper.
So then the only real argument is if Barr was wrong to use the word “spying” rather than saying “surveillance did occur” or “wiretapping did occur.”
But, even if people want to litigate this issue, it should be seen as a reasonable use of the word. My colleague Byron York noted several examples of the New York Times describing wiretapping as spying.
After the House voted to reauthorize FISA last year, the Brennan Center issued a press release headlined, “U.S. House Votes to Authorize Warrantless Domestic Spying on Americans.” The bill, it warned, would “endorse warrantless searches of millions of Americans’ online and phone communications.” The release quoted co-director of the Brennan Center, Elizabeth Goitein, as saying, “The House just voted to turn the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act into a tool for domestic spying on Americans.”
This isn’t to say it’s hypocritical, as in this case, the discussion was about allowing warrantless access, whereas in the previous case, the argument was that there was probable cause for a warrant. But again, a debate over whether a warrant is justified on the basis of probable cause is different than whether the underlying government activity can be described as spying. It’s reasonable to argue that yes it can.
President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign hopes to raise $1 billion dollars toward his second-term race, senior campaign adviser Lara Trump said Friday.
“We’re light years ahead of where we were two-and-a-half years ago,” Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” where she participated in an interview along with her husband, Eric Trump. “I would like to say we were very grassroots in the 2016 campaign, meaning none of us had any idea of what we were doing.”
But for the 2020 campaign, “we’re very streamlined,” said Trump. “In reality, we’ll let the Democrats battle it out, see who their candidate is. We’re not worried about [anyone] we’ve seen get in the race.”
She said currently, the campaign directly has raised “about $60 million, but combined with the RNC we’re close to $200 million.”
Meanwhile, the couple discussed comments made earlier by Attorney General William Barr, when he said spying on Trump’s 2016 campaign did occur.
“It did occur, right?” Eric Trump said. “The problem with these guys, they go so deep they found themselves.”
But with Barr, “you have a grown up in the room, who calls out this nonsense because, you know, my father went around during the campaign, talked about the deep state,” he added. “The deep state, guys, does exist. By the way it still exists, but it does exist and did exist.”
He also ridiculed Democratic lawmakers for shifting their focus away from Russia and to healthcare.
“You’ve been talking about Russia for the last three years, all day, every day,” he said. “All of sudden it comes out the whole thing was a hoax…this is why they’re going to lose in 2020.”
Democrats in the New York state Assembly recently voted down a bill that would have allowed hundreds of thousands of dollars in college tuition aid to family members of Gold Star families after passing a measure earlier last week to give $27 million in the same benefits to illegal immigrants.
“We set aside $27 million dollars for college for people that are here illegally … Apparently, $2.7 million is all that the families of soldiers who are killed, get. If you’re a child of a fallen soldier, you do not rank as high and you know that by the money,” said State Sen. Robert Ortt, a Republican from Niagara, on Thursday.
The bill proposed would have expanded a program that currently serves 145 students, who are relatives or dependents of military members served in combat zones. The bill would have expanded the program by allocating more funds for those military families that qualify.
Gov, Andrew Cuomo weighed in Wednesday saying he supported the bill his fellow Democrats blocked in the Assembly in a 15-11 committee vote.
Assemblywoman Debroah Glick, a Democrat from Manhattan, responded to Cuomo’s criticism Friday.
“Wonder of the Gov is aware of the existing program providing up to $24K a year to cover tuition, room & board & ancillary costs for the spouse & children of veterans killed or severely disabled in combat zones,” she said.
Wonder of the Gov is aware of the existing program providing up to $24K a year to cover tuition, room & board & ancillary costs for the spouse & children of veterans killed or severely disabled in combat zones.
— (((Deborah Glick))) (@DeborahJGlick) April 12, 2019
A spokesperson for the Assembly Democrats, Mike Whyland, said the vote led by Republicans was “purely political and it’s unfortunate that they are using children as pawns.”