Category Archives: News

Prof Jonathan Turley on Why Trump Will Win the Wall Fright | Feb 19 2019

Why Trump Will Win The Wall Fight

|| JonathanTurley.org

Turley testifying before Congress in 2015

 

“Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the litigation against the declaration of a national emergency by President Donald Trump in order to build his long-promised wall. Some members of Congress has said that they expect the House of Representatives to sue while private litigants have already filed challenges. Regardless of the litigants (and there are likely to be a mix of parties), they face similar barriers in convincing a federal judge to rescinded a declaration that Congress has not rescinded.

This is a straight statutory interpretation case, not the “constitutional crisis” widely described by critics. There are possible claims against the funding conditions, but Congress gave the President not just the unfettered authority to declare such emergencies but the largely unconditioned appropriations that he may use to build the wall.

Here is the column:

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “If my fellow citizens want to go to hell, I will help them. It is my job.” He was expressing the limited role of courts in challenges to federal law. It is not the task of judges to sit as a super legislature to question the agendas of the political branches. They will gladly send Congress to hell. It only needs to point to the destination.

In the matter of the border wall, Congress could not have been more clear where it was heading. It put itself on the path to institutional irrelevancy, and it has finally arrived. I do not agree there is a national emergency on the southern border, but I do believe President Trump will prevail. This crisis is not the making of Donald Trump. This is the making of Congress.

For decades, Congress frittered away control over its authority, including the power of the purse. I have testified before Congress, warning about the expansion of executive power and the failure of Congress to guard its own authority. The two primary objections have been Congress giving presidents largely unchecked authority and undedicated money. The wall funding controversy today is a grotesque result of both of these failures.

Start with the National Emergencies Act of 1976. Presidents have long declared emergencies based on their inherent executive authority. The use of that authority produced some conflicts with Congress, the most famous seen in the case of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company versus Charles Sawyer, in which the Supreme Court declared that the federal seizure of steel mills during the Korean War was unconstitutional because Congress had never granted President Truman that authority.

However, Congress later gave presidents sweeping authority under the National Emergencies Act of 1976. While this law allows for a legislative override by Congress, the authority to declare national emergencies is basically unfettered. It is one of many such laws where Congress created the thin veneer of a process for presidential power that, in reality, was a virtual blank slate. At the same time, Congress has continued to give the executive branch billions of dollars with few conditions or limitations.

This is why President Obama was able to go to war in Libya without a declaration and fund the entire war with billions of undedicated funds. Neither House Speaker Nancy Pelosi nor most of the current Democratic leadership made a peep of objection at this. But when it comes to the wall, Democrats have indicated they will rely on the ruling in House of Representatives versus Sylvia Burwell, in which the court declared the House of Representatives had standing to sue over executive overreach and that Obama violated the Constitution in ordering the payment of billions to insurance companies without authorization from Congress.

I was lead counsel for the House of Representatives in that case. Ironically, Pelosi vehemently opposed the litigation as a frivolous and unfounded challenge to presidential authority. We won the case. Superficially, it may look like the wall controversy. Obama sought funds from Congress and, when unsuccessful, acted unilaterally. But Obama ordered the money directly from the Treasury as a permanent appropriation, like the money used to pay tax refunds. Congress had never approved such payments.

Conversely, Trump is using appropriated funds. Like the authority under the National Emergencies Act, Congress gave this money to the executive branch without meaningful limitations. Trump now has almost $1.4 billion in newly approved funds to use for border protection. He has identified about $8 billion in loosely dedicated funds for military construction, drug interdiction, and forfeitures. Even if a court disagreed with the use of this money, Trump has the power and funds to start construction of the wall.

Congress has yielded more and more power to the executive branch over decades. In many areas, it has reduced the legislative branch to a mere pedestrian in government, leaving real governing decisions to a kind of “fourth branch” of federal agencies. For their part, presidents have thus become more and more bold in circumventing Congress. When Obama gave a State of the Union proclaiming his intention to bypass Congress after it failed to pass immigration reform, Democrats applauded loudly.

Many of them, like Pelosi, denounce this unilateral action by Trump yet ecstatically supported the unilateral actions by Obama, including his funding of some critical parts of the Affordable Care Act after Congress denied any funds. Democrats insist Trump can be challenged on his use of emergency authority since they do not believe an emergency exists on the southern border. They will fail spectacularly if the case gets to the Supreme Court. While the source of funding can be challenged, there is no compelling basis to challenge the national emergency declaration.

The reason? Congress has never been particularly concerned over past declared emergencies, which have continued with perfunctory annual renewals. Most such emergencies are entirely unknown to the vast majority of Americans. Indeed, the first proclamation of a national emergency occurred under President Wilson in 1917, “arising from the insufficiency of maritime tonnage to carry the products of the farms, forests, mines, and manufacturing industries of the United States.”

Remember that national emergency over the “anchorage and movement of vessels” with respect to Cuba? How about the national emergency over uncut diamonds from Sierra Leone? Then there were the declarations over property owned by certain figures in Zimbabwe, the presidential election in Congo, and issues concerning Yemen, Burundi, Myanmar, Lebanon, Somalia, and South Sudan. All of these were “national emergencies.”

Curiously, Pelosi has called for the declaration of a national emergency to deal with the “epidemic of gun violence in America.” She also said that she wished Trump would add that declaration but that a “Democratic president can do that.” Yes, a Democratic president certainly could, and that is the key point here. Congress gave all presidents the power to make such declarations, and Pelosi is now making the case for Trump today.

While Democrats insist this emergency declaration is simply an effort to use executive power to get what Congress would not give Trump, any litigation would be an effort to use judicial power to do much the same thing. The House of Representatives would try to convince a federal judge of the merits against a wall, after failing to convince enough members of Congress to override the emergency declaration and a presidential veto.

That brings us back to Holmes. Congress has the authority to rescind the national emergency declaration of Trump with a vote of both chambers. The legislative branch should do so. If Congress cannot muster the votes, however, a federal judge is unlikely to do so. Simply put, the courts were not created to protect Congress from itself. Congress has been heading to hell for decades, and it is a bit late to complain about the destination.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. 

 

Senate Committee Finds No Trump Russia Collusion | Feb 14 2019

NBC Ignores Own Exclusive: Senate Probe Found No Evidence of Collusion

|| NewsBusters.com

 

“According to an NBC News exclusive that first aired during the 10 o’clock hour of Tuesday morning’s MSNBC Live, both Republican and Democratic sources on the Senate Intelligence Committee admitted they had not found any direct evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Despite the fact the exclusive was filed by NBC News intelligence and national security reporter Ken Dilanian, NBC Nightly News hid it from viewers. Meanwhile, ABC’s World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News also turned a blind eye.

Instead of reporting on their massive breaking news story that drove a flood of reporting by other outlets, NBC Nightly News and anchor Lester Holt chose to hype DNA tests for dogs. [UPDATE: NBC skipped its own reporting again on Today.]

When the story first broke, a seemingly shocked Hallie Jackson came back from a commercial break to announce their discovery. “NBC News exclusive reporting on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Their investigation into Russian election interference and what they have and have not uncovered,” she said as she introduced Dilanian.

Wasting no time in getting to the heart of what his reporting discovered, Dilanian declared: “Hallie, after two years and after interviewing more than 200 witnesses, the Senate Intelligence Committee has not uncovered any direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Dilanian noted that committee chairman, Senate Richard Burr (R-NC), confirmed that finding to another network the other day, but he wanted to see what Democrats on the committee had to say. “[W]hat I’ve been doing since then is checking with my sources on the Democratic side to understand the full context of his remarks because that was essentially a partisan comment from one side, but this is a bipartisan investigation and what I found is that the Democrats don’t dispute that characterization.

….read more @ NewsBusters

 

Trump Demands Gavin Newsom Return $3.5 Billion for Canceled Bullet Train; Newsom: It’s ‘California’s Money’ Now

|| Breitbart

“President Donald Trump demanded Wednesday evening that the State of California return $3.5 billion in federal funds after Gov. Gavin Newsom canceled most of the state’s high-speed rail project, saying it was too expensive.

“California has been forced to cancel the massive bullet train project after having spent and wasted many billions of dollars,” the president tweeted. “They owe the Federal Government three and a half billion dollars. We want that money back now. Whole project is a “green” disaster!”

Newsom devoted the opening portion of his first “State of the State” address Tuesday to attacking Trump and his policies on the border. Yet he then bowed to conservative criticism — and, arguably, to fiscal reality — by canceling the high-speed rail project championed by his predecessors.

The governor added that while the bullet train would no longer connect San Francisco and Los Angeles, as first envisioned, the state would still continue “phase one” of the project between the rural towns of Bakersfield and Merced. “I know that some critics will say this is a ‘train to nowhere,’” he said. “But that’s wrong and offensive.”

Newsom added that the state had to continue the project if it wanted to keep the federal funds it had taken: “I am not interested in sending $3.5 billion in federal funding that was allocated to this project back to Donald Trump.”

The money was granted to California as part of President Barack Obama’s stimulus, which set aside “$8 billion in federal stimulus money to create 13 high-speed rail corridors,” the New York Times reported at the time.

Obama pressured states to take the cash — which Democrat-governed states eagerly did. But the Republican wave of 2010 brought new governors to office, and several rejected their state’s high-speed rail plans as costly and unnecessary.

California has already spent over $5 billion on the high-speed rail project — roughly the same amount that Trump had requested for the border wall.”

….read more @ Breitbart

 

Russia Investigation

Senate has uncovered no direct evidence of conspiracy between Trump campaign and Russia

|| NBC News

“WASHINGTON — After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee.

But investigators disagree along party lines when it comes to the implications of a pattern of contacts they have documented between Trump associates and Russians — contacts that occurred before, during and after Russian intelligence operatives were seeking to help Donald Trump by leaking hacked Democratic emails and attacking his opponent, Hillary Clinton, on social media.

“If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview with CBS News last week.

Burr was careful to note that more facts may yet be uncovered, but he also made clear that the investigation was nearing an end.

“We know we’re getting to the bottom of the barrel because there’re not new questions that we’re searching for answers to,” Burr said.

On Tuesday, Burr doubled down, telling NBC News, “There is no factual evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D.-Va., ranking member of the committee, told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday that he disagrees with the way Burr characterized the evidence about collusion, but he declined to offer his own assessment.

“I’m not going to get into any conclusions I have,” he said, before adding that “there’s never been a campaign in American history … that people affiliated with the campaign had as many ties with Russia as the Trump campaign did.”

Democratic Senate investigators who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity did not dispute Burr’s characterizations, but said they lacked context.

“We were never going to find a contract signed in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude,'” one Democratic aide said.

The series of contacts between Trump’s associates, his campaign officials, his children and various Russians suggest a campaign willing to accept help from a foreign adversary, the Democrats say.

By many counts, Trump and his associates had more than 100 contacts with Russians before the January 2017 presidential inauguration.

Senate has found no direct evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia

|| NBC News

 

“WASHINGTON — After two years and 200 interviews, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation into the 2016 election, having uncovered no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to both Democrats and Republicans on the committee.

But investigators disagree along party lines when it comes to the implications of a pattern of contacts they have documented between Trump associates and Russians — contacts that occurred before, during and after Russian intelligence operatives were seeking to help Donald Trump by leaking hacked Democratic emails and attacking his opponent, Hillary Clinton, on social media.

“If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don’t have anything that would suggest there was collusion by the Trump campaign and Russia,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in an interview with CBS News last week.

Burr was careful to note that more facts may yet be uncovered, but he also made clear that the investigation was nearing an end.

“We know we’re getting to the bottom of the barrel because there’re not new questions that we’re searching for answers to,” Burr said.

On Tuesday, Burr doubled down, telling NBC News, “There is no factual evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

Sen. Mark Warner, D.-Va., ranking member of the committee, told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday that he disagrees with the way Burr characterized the evidence about collusion, but he declined to offer his own assessment.

“I’m not going to get into any conclusions I have,” he said, before adding that “there’s never been a campaign in American history … that people affiliated with the campaign had as many ties with Russia as the Trump campaign did.”

Democratic Senate investigators who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity did not dispute Burr’s characterizations, but said they lacked context.

“We were never going to find a contract signed in blood saying, ‘Hey Vlad, we’re going to collude,'” one Democratic aide said.

The series of contacts between Trump’s associates, his campaign officials, his children and various Russians suggest a campaign willing to accept help from a foreign adversary, the Democrats say.

By many counts, Trump and his associates had more than 100 contactswith Russians before the January 2017 presidential inauguration.”

….read more @ NBC News

 

Newsome says Goodbye to Moonbeams’ Train to Nowhere | Feb 12 2019

‘Let’s be real.’ Gavin Newsom says he’ll cut back on California’s high-speed rail plan

|| SacBee

“In a change to a project voters first approved with a $10 billion bond during the Schwarzenegger administration, Newsom said there “simply isn’t a path” to build high speed rail to connect the northern and southern parts of the state without more funding. The project as originally designed now is estimated to cost at least $77 billion.

Instead, he called for focus on a section linking the Central Valley cities of Merced and Bakersfield, which he said have long been neglected by lawmakers.

“The Valley may be known around the world for agriculture, but there is another story ready to be told. A story of a region hungry for investment, a workforce eager for more training and good jobs, Californians who deserve a fair share of our state’s prosperity,” he said. “The high speed rail project can be part of that.”

He promised more oversight and transparency for the project, and announced he is appointing his economic development director, Lenny Mendonca, to chair the High Speed Rail Authority. The larger rail project isn’t dead. Newsom said the state will still complete an environmental review for the proposed rail between San Francisco and Los Angeles and will continue work on regional projects in the north and the south of the state.

Newsom acknowledged critics who want the state to abandon the project entirely, but said he doesn’t want to waste the billions already spent on the project, nor does he want to return $3.5 billion the state has received in federal funding.”

….read more @ SacBee

 

Study: Ending All Legal Immigration for 40 Years Maintains U.S. Workforce

|| Breitbart

“The United States could suspend all legal immigration to the country for the next 40 years and maintain a workforce where there are still more than two U.S. workers for every one retiree, a new study finds.

The latest study by the Center for Immigration Studies’ Steven Camarota reveals that despite claims by the big business lobby, Wall St., and corporate executives that mass legal immigration is necessary to maintain a sizeable workforce, current legal immigration trends have little to no impact on the working-age population.

The workforce population is generally measured by the ratio showing the number of U.S. workers per every one retiree. Camerota’s research finds that if the U.S. implemented an immigration moratorium for the next 40 years, it would hardly have an impact on the number of workers per retirees.

For example, at current legal immigration levels where the U.S. imports more than 1.2 million legal immigrants a year — at the detriment of American workers’ job prospects and wages — the working-age population would decrease from 64.3 percent of the total population in 2017 to 59 percent in 2060.

Likewise, under a scenario where the U.S. halted all legal immigration, the working-age population would dip to about 56.7 percent of the total population by 2060 — only a 2.3 percent difference from projections where current mass legal immigration trends continue.

(Center for Immigration Studies)

 

The ratio of U.S. workers per retiree would be little changed if lawmakers halted legal immigration for 40 years. With current legal immigration levels, the U.S. is on track to have about 2.5 workers per retiree by 2060.

Should legal immigration be halted, the U.S. would have about 2.1 workers per retiree by 2060, a subtle difference in the working-age population.

At the same time, continuing current legal immigration levels for the next 40 years would dramatically increase the total U.S. population to an unprecedented 404.5 million by 2060. This would mean that in less than half a century, 80 million residents would be added to America’s population due to current legal immigration levels.

If the U.S. implemented an immigration moratorium for the next four decades, though, the U.S. population would stabilize at a healthy 329.2 million — an increase of only about four million residents.

….read more @ Breitbart

The ‘View’ Obscured? | Feb 08 2019

Whoopi Goldberg Absent From ‘The View’ Since Joy Behar’s Blackface Photo Resurfaced

|| BigLeaguePolitics.com

 

Where is Whoopi?

“Whoopi Goldberg, a regular co-host of ABC’s show “The View,” has been absent from the show since Wednesday morning, just after the resurfacing of co-host Joy Behar’s blackface photos Tuesday.

“Whoopi has a day off,” Behar said at the opening of Wednesday’s show. “I think she has – she’s under the weather a little bit, I think.”

Thursday, she did not appear on the show either.

“So, Whoopi is still under the weather,” Behar said Thursday. “She doesn’t feel well, sorry to say. She’ll be back maybe Monday – maybe, I don’t know.”

Tuesday Big League Politics reported that in 2016, Behar openly copped to wearing blackface to a Halloween party at age 29:”

…read more @ BLP

Historic State of the Union | Feb 05 2019

President Trump’s Full State of the Union Speech | C-SPAN

– This occasion was historic on many levels. Some great moments, especially when the Women’s Caucus acknowledges the tremendous progress women have made in society and the U.S. Congress at this state of the union at 52:00 min into the video.

Ending with the great cheers of “USA, USA, USA!” in the Congress of the United States.

The speech was historic moreover for it’s freshness and authenticity. Most state of the union speeches are boring promises of a future agenda that the audience understands will never be implemented. This was the first in my lifetime that was real. / CJ

 

 

CNN Tries To Explain Away Its Own Viewer Poll’s HUGE Numbers For Trump

“CNN’s David Chalian struggled to explain why President Trump scored 76 percent “somewhat positive” or “very positive” in the cable network’s instant poll. The poll only counted “speech watchers,” Chalian explained, so Trump’s supporters might have been over-represented because they were watching the speech. CNN seems to be having a tough night. Incidentally, the CBS News viewer poll also clocked in at exactly 76 percent approval for President Trump’s State of the Union address.”

…See more here @ BLP

Minus 60 Below in Chicago – What Happened to Global Warming? | Jan 31 2019

Polar Vortex Brings Temps Colder than Antarctica to Midwest, Prompts Flights Cancelations and Even Stops Mail

||  Breitbart

 

“A blast of polar air enveloped much of the Midwest on Wednesday, cracking train rails, breaking water pipes and straining electrical systems with some of the lowest temperatures in a generation.

The deep freeze closed schools and businesses and canceled flights in the nation’s third-largest city, which was as cold as the Arctic. Heavily dressed repair crews hustled to keep utilities from failing.

Chicago dropped to a low of around minus 23, slightly above the city’s lowest-ever reading of minus 27 from January 1985. Milwaukee had similar conditions. Minneapolis recorded minus 27. Sioux Falls, South Dakota, saw minus 25.

Wind chills reportedly made it feel like minus 50 or worse. Downtown Chicago streets were largely deserted after most offices told employees to stay home. Trains and buses operated with few passengers. The hardiest commuters ventured out only after covering nearly every square inch of flesh against the extreme chill, which froze ice crystals on eyelashes and eyebrows in minutes.

The Postal Service took the rare step of suspending mail delivery in many places, and in southeastern Minnesota, even the snowplows were idled by the weather.

The bitter cold was the result of a split in the polar vortex, a mass of cold air that normally stays bottled up in the Arctic. The split allowed the air to spill much farther south than usual. In fact, Chicago was colder than the Canadian village of Alert, one of the world’s most northerly inhabited places. Alert, which is 500 miles from the North Pole, reported a temperature that was a couple of degrees higher.

Officials in dozens of cities focused on protecting vulnerable people such as the homeless, seniors and those living in substandard housing.

At least eight deaths were linked to the system, including an elderly Illinois man who was found several hours after he fell trying to get into his home and a University of Iowa student found behind an academic hall several hours before dawn. Elsewhere, a man was struck by a snowplow in the Chicago area, a young couple’s SUV struck another on a snowy road in northern Indiana and a Milwaukee man froze to death in a garage, authorities said.

Temperatures in Chicago were expected to tumble again into the minus 20s early Thursday. Some isolated areas could see as low as minus 40, according to the National Weather Service. Daytime highs could climb into the single digits before warming up to the comparatively balmy 20s by Friday.

Aside from the safety risks and the physical discomfort, the system’s icy grip also took a heavy toll on infrastructure, halting transportation, knocking out electricity and interrupting water service.

At least 2,700 flights were canceled nationwide, more than half of them at Chicago’s two main airports. Another 1,800 flights scheduled for Thursday were also called off. Fuel lines at O’Hare Airport froze, forcing some planes to refuel elsewhere before continuing to their destination, an airport spokeswoman said.

Amtrak canceled scores of trains to and from Chicago, one of the nation’s busiest rail hubs. Several families who intended to leave for Pennsylvania stood in ticket lines at Chicago’s Union Station only to be told all trains were canceled until Friday.

“Had I known we’d be stranded here, we would have stayed in Mexico longer — where it was warmer,” said Anna Ebersol, who was traveling with her two sons.

Chicago commuter trains that rely on electricity were also shut down after the metal wires that provide their power contracted, throwing off connections.

Ten diesel-train lines in the Metra network kept running, but crews had to heat vital switches with gas flames and watched for rails that were cracked or broken. When steel rails break or even crack, trains are automatically halted until they are diverted or the section of rail is repaired, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis explained.

A track in the Minneapolis light-rail system also cracked, forcing trains to share the remaining track for a few hours.

In Detroit, more than two dozen water mains froze. Customers were connected to other mains to keep water service from being interrupted, Detroit Water and Sewerage spokesman Bryan Peckinpaugh said.

Most mains were installed from the early 1900s to the 1950s. They are 5 to 6 feet underground and beneath the frost line, but that matters little when temperatures drop so dramatically, Peckinpaugh said.

On a typical winter day, the city has five to nine breaks, with each taking about three days to fix. But those repairs will take longer now with the large number of failures to fix, he added.

Detroit is in the second year of a $500 million program to rehab its water and sewer system. Last year, 25 miles of water mains were replaced.

“Water pipes are brittle. The more years they’ve gone through the freeze-thaw cycle,” the greater the stress and strain, said Greg DiLoreto, a volunteer with the American Society of Civil Engineers and chair of its committee on American infrastructure.

Pipes laid a century ago have far exceeded the life span for which they were designed, said DiLoreto, who described the aging process as “living on borrowed time.”

“When we put them in — back in the beginning — we never thought they would last this long,” he said.

The same freeze-thaw cycle beats up concreate and asphalt roads and bridges, resulting in teeth-jarring potholes.

“You won’t see them until it starts warming up and the trucks start rolling over the pavement again,” said DiLoreto who is based in Portland, Oregon.

Thousands of utility customers were without electricity after high winds also caused trees and branches to fall into power lines, especially in the south Chicago suburbs. The ComEd utility in northern Illinois said crews restored power to more than 42,000 customers and were working to restore another 9,400.

About 5,000 Duke Energy customers in central Indiana lost power due to high heating demand that tripped circuits. Another outage affecting 1,000 customers was reported near Kokomo, Indiana, about 40 miles north of Indianapolis.

Low temperatures can cause overhead wires to contract, said Otto Lynch, chief executive of Power Line Systems in Madison, Wisconsin, and a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

“The tension goes way up the wire and gets tighter and causes poles to break,” Lynch said. “The wires are usually not going to break. It’s really dependent on how the line was designed. Fifty years ago, they didn’t do a whole lot of engineering” for the coldest possible temperatures.”

….Read more @ KTLA