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Supreme Court to hear Obamacare case in 2020: Everything you should know

Obamacare is going back to the Supreme Court.

The justices announced on Monday that they would hear the ongoing lawsuit to overturn the health care law. Vox’s Ian Millhiser went deep on the case and the background. This is the third, and presumably last, in a trilogy of cases that have threatened the law’s future since President Obama signed it in 2010.

But if you need a bite-size explanation (or want an easy link to explain the case to friends who are wondering), let’s run through the big questions here.

1) What is this lawsuit about?

In 2017, Republicans in Congress passed their tax bill and President Trump signed it into law. That law, among its many changes to the US tax code, repealed Obamacare’s financial penalty for failing to carry health insurance. But it did not repeal the mandate itself. The requirement that all Americans have health insurance is still technically on the books; there is just no penalty for failing to meet it.

A group of Republican state officials, led by Texas, used this legal limbo to challenge Obamacare’s constitutionality. They have since been joined by the Trump administration. Their argument goes something like this:

  • Chief Justice John Roberts upheld Obamacare in 2012 by ruling that the individual mandate was a permissible use of Congress’s taxation power.
  • After the GOP tax bill became law, there is no longer a “tax” for failing to satisfy the individual mandate, and so that rationale no longer holds up.
  • The individual mandate must therefore be found unconstitutional.
  • And because the mandate is so intrinsically important to Obamacare overall, if the mandate is unconstitutional, then so must be the entire law.

Democratic-led states and many legal experts disagree. First, they don’t think anybody should be able to sue at all. Who is being harmed by … not being fined because they don’t have insurance? Where is the legal standing to bring the lawsuit in the first place?

But they also reason that because Congress chose to repeal the mandate but nothing else, then lawmakers intended for the rest of the law to stand without it. Congress changes our laws all the time, and nobody usually argues that the underlying statute should be overturned.

So on the merits, once we get past the standing issue, this case is about Congress’s ability to amend laws after they’ve taken effect.

2) What do legal experts think about the Republican argument?

Most of them are extremely dubious, for the reasons above. This is how Millhiser summarized the legal consensus of conservatives:

Jonathan Adler, a conservative law professor — and a leading evangelist for an earlier lawsuit seeking to undercut the Affordable Care Act by reading a poorly drafted provision of the law to cut off much of the act’s funding — labeled many of the red states’ arguments “implausible,” “hard to justify,” and “surprisingly weak.” The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board labeled this lawsuit the “Texas Obamacare Blunder.” Yuval Levin, a prominent conservative policy wonk, wrote in National Review that the Texas lawsuit “doesn’t even merit being called silly. It’s ridiculous.”

They aren’t alone, either. Some Republicans in Congress think the lawsuit is ridiculous too. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Republican chair of the Senate health committee, has criticized the Trump Justice Department for pursuing the litigation. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of the key Republican swing votes on the Senate tax bill, says she did not think she was voting to overturn Obamacare entirely (and she had notably voted earlier the same year against the Republican repeal plans).

3) When will the case be heard and decided?

I checked with the University of Michigan’s Nicholas Bagley, a leading health care law expert, and he said he expects this to be the rough schedule:

  1. The case will be heard in the fall of 2020, possibly in the month before the presidential election
  2. The justices will likely issue their decision in the spring or early summer of 2021 — June at the latest, Bagley says.

So this lawsuit will be hanging over the rest of the 2020 campaign. But before we get to the politics, let’s remember there are real stakes here.

4) What would happen if the Supreme Court overturned Obamacare?

It would be, in effect, the same as Congress repealing Obamacare without anything to replace it. Everything would go: protections for preexisting conditions, subsidies that help people purchase insurance, the Medicaid expansion. Even provisions unrelated to insurance, like nutrition requirements for food labels, would be gone.

The Urban Institute reviewed the likely consequences in grim detail:

The number of uninsured people would increase by approximately 20 million, or 65 percent nationally, [and] the increases in uninsurance would be most heavily concentrated among people with the lowest incomes (below 200 percent of the federal poverty level), young adults, families with at least one full-time worker, and residents of the South and West. These subpopulations of the United States have experienced the largest gains in insurance coverage under the ACA and consequently would be hit the hardest if the law were repealed.

States that expanded Medicaid would get the worst of it: Urban projected their uninsured rates would nearly double if the law were overturned. The uninsured rate for black Americans would increase from 11 percent today to 20 percent without Obamacare; there would also be a dramatic spike in uninsurance among Hispanics.

And considering we know health insurance protects people financially and helps them live longer, we would expect that increases in the uninsured rate would mean more people going into debt over medical bills and, yes, people dying because they lack coverage.

One thing to consider: It is possible the Court could choose to overturn the mandate and only a few other select provisions, like the preexisting conditions rules, which were very much linked to the mandate when the law was drafted.

But that’s not what the states or the Trump administration are asking for. They want the whole law tossed out.

5) So is the Supreme Court going to overturn Obamacare?

We should never presume we know how the Supreme Court justices are going to rule. But it does seem unlikely they’ll overturn the law entirely so long as the Court’s composition doesn’t change.

Roberts has rescued Obamacare twice from legal challenges that threatened its very existence. Would he really choose this case, with its validity doubted even by conservative legal scholars, to pull the rug out from under it?

But there is an important caveat above: “so long as the court’s composition doesn’t change.” It’s uncomfortable to mention, but liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has not been in good health.

From Bagley, writing in the JAMA Health Forum:

Oddly enough, the deciding factor may have less to do with law than with medicine. In August 2019, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed that she had undergone treatment for a malignant pancreatic tumor. Although she now says that she is cancer free, pancreatic cancer is a tough diagnosis at any age, much less at 86 years. Can the liberal justices count on Justice Ginsburg to remain on the Supreme Court through the end of this year? If not, agreeing to hear the case now could be especially risky: President Trump might have a chance to replace her with a conservative justice, who could in turn provide the fifth vote for ending the ACA. Maybe it is better to wait and hope that a Democrat prevails in the coming election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear he would fill a Supreme Court vacancy in the months before the presidential election. If the Court’s ideological balance shifted from 5-4 in favor of the conservatives to 6-3 before the case is heard, then all bets are off.

6) Can Congress do anything to stop the lawsuit?

Some liberal scholars think so. Bagley and his Michigan colleague Richard Primus laid out a few options in 2018, shortly before Democrats took control of the House:

  1. Increase the mandate penalty to a nominal amount (even $1)
  2. Pass a bill declaring that the rest of Obamacare should stand even if the mandate falls
  3. Simply repeal the mandate entirely, as it is still technically on the books even though the penalty for not complying is $0

However, Democrats don’t agree at all on whether they should actually take those steps, and, to date, the House has not passed any such bills. They fear, for one, that the Republican Senate would not act.

“We take very seriously the threat we could have a worst of all worlds: A legislative fix does not become law and only serves to undermine the position of the House, which is that the ACA is constitutional as is,” a House aide told me last year.

But Bagley finds that line of reasoning unconvincing.

“There’s no such thing as risk-free litigation,” he told me previously. “You should do anything and everything you can to make this misbegotten lawsuit go away.”

7) How is this going to affect the election?

It’s hard to say! After all, we don’t even know who the Democratic nominee is going to be. But it seems likely the Trump administration’s support for a lawsuit that would lead to 20 million people losing their health insurance is going to be a focus for Democrats’ messaging.

The polling already shows voters trust Democrats over Trump on health care and that health care is a big issue for voters. And now, the Justice Department is likely to be filing briefs over the coming months arguing on Trump’s behalf that Obamacare should be overturned. Then we’ll have the very public drama of oral arguments at the Supreme Court, possibly in the month before voters head to the polls.

It’s going to be a big issue. And remember, Obamacare is more popular today than it ever has been:

Kaiser Family Foundation

Nevertheless, Republicans are still pushing to “repeal” the law by any means necessary. They’ll get their next chance at the Supreme Court.

This story appears in VoxCare, a newsletter from Vox on the latest twists and turns in America’s health care debate. Sign up to get VoxCare in your inbox along with more health care stats and news.

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U.S. Republican seeks first subpoena in Hunter Biden probe

WASHINGTON — Days after Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden scored a major win at his party’s primary in South Carolina, a Republican U.S. senator is seeking the first subpoena in a probe of his son Hunter Biden’s role at Ukraine gas company Burisma.

As Joe Biden’s campaign picked up steam ahead of crucial Super Tuesday primaries on Tuesday, Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson told panel members that he will call a meeting to consider subpoenaing documents related to Hunter Biden’s seat on Burisma’s board, according to a letter from Johnson obtained by Reuters.

The younger Biden’s position with Burisma while his father was the U.S. vice president has been attacked as corrupt by President Donald Trump and his Republican allies in the U.S. Congress. No evidence has been given to back up the accusation.

Trump was impeached on abuse of power and obstruction charges in the Democratic-led House of Representatives after he asked Ukraine to investigate the Bidens last July. Democrats said he was trying to shore up his reelection prospects by targeting a leading candidate in the Democratic race to oppose him on Nov. 3. Trump was later acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate.

On Monday, Democrats warned that the committee investigation could aid disinformation efforts by Russia and other actors.

Intelligence officials have told lawmakers Russia appears to be engaging in disinformation and propaganda campaigns to help both Trump and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is also seeking the Democratic nomination, congressional sources say.

“We need to take every step to ensure the credibility and resources of the U.S. Senate are not used to advance interference efforts by foreign adversaries that seek to undermine our democracy or put our national security at risk,” Senator Gary Peters, the top Democrat on Johnson’s committee, said in a statement.

Johnson and Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, are investigating whether Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma posed a conflict of interest while his father was in the White House. News of their interest surfaced last year as the impeachment probe gained momentum in the House.

Johnson told committee members in the letter that he plans to subpoena documents and an interview from Andrii Telizhenko, a former Ukrainian diplomat and consultant for Blue Star Strategies, a lobbying and consulting firm.

Johnson said Blue Star represented Burisma and sought to leverage Hunter Biden’s position in an effort to make inroads with the U.S. State Department.

Johnson’s letter was dated March 1, a day after Biden’s victory in South Carolina on Saturday.

Blue Star Strategies did not respond to a Reuters query seeking comment. (Reporting by David Morgan Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Biden: ‘All Men And Women Created By… The Thing’

Former Vice President Joe Biden told a group of voters Monday that all men and women are created by “the thing.” It’s one of Biden’s many gaffes as he speaks to voters on the campaign trail ahead of super Tuesday.

In the video posted to Twitter, Biden says, “We hold these truths to be self evident. All men and women created by the, you know, you know, the thing.”

The pool of Democrats vying for the party nomination is shrinking. Earlier Monday, Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-MN, announced she’s ending her campaign, and, over the weekend, billionaire Tom Steyer and South Bend, Indiana’s former Mayor Pete Buttigieg both dropped out of the race.

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Elizabeth Warren Isn’t a “Unity Candidate”

The strategic case for Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy has typically relied on two similar arguments. The first is that she is a “unity candidate” who can bring the left and right flanks of the Democratic Party together. The second, addressed to the Left, is that she can expand a supposed Sanders-Warren coalition without simply eating into the Sanders base by bringing in right-flank voters.

Neither of these arguments were ever particularly credible, but both have become much weaker. Over the past several months, Warren’s right-flank supporters have fled her camp while a disproportionate core of second-choice Sanders supporters have remained. Increasingly, her role in this race is holding on to that base and — as one Warren campaign staffer said Saturday night — “blunting the momentum for Bernie Sanders.”

To get a sense of what is going on with Warren’s coalition, I divided it into two groups: those who support Bernie Sanders as a second choice, and those who do not. Here’s how her second-choice support has changed since July:

Over the past eight months, the percentage of second-choice Sanders supporters in Warren’s coalition has doubled. Instead of pulling in support from some second “lane” and expanding some Sanders-Warren coalition, in other words, she has become increasingly reliant on people who would otherwise back Bernie.

This also means, of course, that she has been doing Sanders more harm than good. In July, 15% of Warren’s voters said they would back Joe Biden, as opposed to 20% who would back Sanders. That 5 percent difference cut directly into Sanders’s margins. Today, the second-choice split is 16% Biden vs. 40% Sanders — which means that 24% of Warren’s base cuts into Sanders’s margins. Here’s what that looks like in the polls:

In July, a Warren dropout would have just given Sanders a 0.6% bump against Biden. Today, it would give him a 2.6% bump against Biden.

It is tempting to look at the growing percentage of Warren’s base who say they would support Sanders and conclude that she has been pulling in new Sanders voters. However, one must bear in mind that even as this percentage has grown, her overall support has fallen. When we do the math, her absolute support looks something like this:

Two trends stand out. First, most of Warren’s drop in the polls has clearly come from right-wing Democrats fleeing her campaign: she’s lost eight points in the past five months from people who back candidates like Biden and Pete Buttigieg as a second choice. Second, however — the base of Warren supporters who say they back Sanders as a second choice has barely budged. The two-point drop we’ve seen since October is well within the margin of error.

In other words, Elizabeth Warren is doing the exact opposite of what those who made the case for her candidacy expected her to do. She cannot claim to be a “unity candidate” — even at the height of her campaign she only won over a small minority of Sanders sympathizers, and since then she has lost most of the right-wing Democrats who were responsible for her surge. Today, her major role in this primary is to hold on to that hard core of people who say they would support Sanders, disproportionately hurting him while doing negligible — and diminishing — damage to the Right.

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Environmental Activism Now Beginning To Look Like Domestic Terrorism

Environmental activists are growing more and more adamant with their demands and radical with their tactics.

In the pursuit of their desired goals, it seems that protesting is no longer enough, and some have moved on to more drastic measures, such as obstructing national transportation systems.

One such instance happened on Wednesday in Canada.

According the Toronto Sun, a group known as the Mohawk Warriors attempted to impede the route of a freight train by throwing rocks and lighting wooden skids on fire and placing them on the tracks.

TRENDING: Schiff Committee’s Leaks on Russian Interference Could Have Been Completely False

The protest was part of a nationwide blockade in opposition to the construction of a natural gas pipeline that would go through the territory of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia.

Gas pipelines have prompted similar responses from environmental groups in the United States.

The Washington Post reported that the blockades have been ongoing and have greatly interfered with the railway system of Canada.

Not only were these unorthodox tactics ill-advised, they were incredibly dangerous. The protesters went so far as to stand on the tracks as the train approached, seemingly oblivious to the fact that trains cannot stop on a dime.

As usual with environmental protests, the damage has far-reaching implications. In addition to the interference with the train itself, local resources had to be used to fight the fires started by the group.

According to Global News, police and firefighters worked to put out the fires, only to have the protesters start more later in the day.

RELATED: ‘Promises Kept’: Trump Signs Trillion-Dollar Trade Deal While Democrats Focus on Impeachment

This protest is disturbing enough as an isolated incident, but it seems to be part of a growing trend. Across the world, environmental protests are happening with greater frequency and vehemence. Environmentalists are looking less like activists and more like belligerent mobs.

We are seeing an increased cultural effort to push environmentalist narratives, and those who push them do so with a particular fervor.

Many have noted that environmentalism has become its own religion.

Its supporters certainly seem to pursue their goals with religious zeal.

However, people who understand the American political left can see environmentalism for what it really is: an ideological stick used to beat people into submission to communism.

But at what point will this extremist activism cross the line into domestic terrorism? Interfering with train travel certainly seems to be taking it up a notch beyond the typical disruption and inconvenience.

Hand-in-hand with the crazy protest tactics has been more extreme rhetoric on climate. Even former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumed moderate in the Democratic presidential field, has made dramatic statements about what he would be willing to sacrifice for the sake of a “greener economy.”

It is possible to be a peaceful environmentalist and take actions that provide actual, tangible benefits for communities.

A great example is Scott Presler, a conservative environmentalist who has had an impact with the simple act of organizing groups to pick up trash and spreading a message of positivity.

However, the overwhelming trend among environmentalists seems to be an agenda of creating chaos to achieve their ends and, in this case, literally derailing commerce.

There is no boundary they will not cross — even if it puts them in the path of a freight train.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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Amy Klobuchar ends bid to challenge Trump

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Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar will abandon her candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Senator Klobuchar came in a distant sixth place in Saturday’s South Carolina primary.

Ms Klobuchar, 59, will join Joe Biden at his Dallas, Texas rally tonight to endorse the former vice-president, US media report.

The news comes on the heels of fellow moderate Pete Buttigieg suspending his campaign on Sunday.

Despite some strong debate performances and a surprise surge in the early primary voting state of New Hampshire, Ms Klobuchar failed to gain broader traction.

On the campaign trail, the Minnesota senator sold herself to moderate voters as the candidate who could win swing states back for the Democrats. However, her profile was largely eclipsed by centrist rivals Mr Biden, 77, and Mr Buttigieg, 38.

The former South Bend, Indiana, mayor Mr Buttigieg will also endorse Mr Biden for the nomination, US media report, in an apparent effort to consolidate moderate voters and block the progressive Bernie Sanders, who currently leads the field.

Ms Klobuchar’s withdrawal comes on the eve of the so-called Super Tuesday primaries. On Tuesday, 14 US states will cast their votes to determine the Democratic presidential nominee.

With Ms Klobuchar’s exit, five Democrats are left in the race to take on Republican President Donald Trump – Mr Biden, Mr Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bloomberg and Tulsi Gabbard. With the exception of Ms Gabbard, a Hawaii congresswoman, all are septuagenarians.

Seven delegates – representatives who will cast nominating votes for a candidate at the Democratic national convention in July – Ms Klobuchar had won from previous primaries are now free to vote for someone else. A candidate must pick up 1,990 delegates, gathered up from primary contests throughout the country, to secure the nomination. Mr Sanders, the leftwing Vermont senator, currently leads the delegate count with 60 delegates, followed by Mr Biden with 54.

All aboard the Biden express

Seats on Joe Biden’s campaign train are starting to fill up. Former presidential rivals Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg are heading to Dallas to share a stage with the former vice-president on Monday night, where they will reportedly announce their endorsements.

The faceoff between Mr Biden, the “establishment” candidate, and Mr Sanders, the outsider, is taking shape – a contrast in styles and sensibilities that gives Democrats a clear choice between two directions to take the party.

It’s not quite that simple, of course, as Elizabeth Warren seems set to stick around as a progressive-left alternative, while Michael Bloomberg continues to money-bomb his way into Super Tuesday.

Still, this represents a remarkable run of good fortune for Mr Biden, who has been landing endorsements from Democratic politicians across the US the past few days.

Meanwhile, it may turn out that Mr Sanders’ big win in Nevada just over a week ago didn’t give the Vermont senator much of a boost. Instead, it woke up moderates and other voters not sold on his calls for a progressive revolution, prompting a rapid consolidation around an alternative.

After more than a year of campaigning, the race for the Democratic nomination is now shifting by the hour.

Announcing her candidacy in the middle of a blizzard last February, Ms Klobuchar, a former prosecutor, pitched herself as a pragmatist who could appeal to voters in America’s geographic and ideological middle.

She opposed the “Medicare for All” universal healthcare schemes touted by her leftwing rivals, Mr Sanders and Ms Warren, making the case for what she called more “practical” healthcare reform.

“I always tell people,” Ms Klobuchar would say on the campaign trail. “If you are tired of the nonsense and the noise in our politics, and you are tired of the extremes in our politics and you are looking for something different, then you have a home with me”.

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Joe Biden’s South Carolina Triumph — The Worm Has Turned in the Democratic Race

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Waterloo, Iowa, February 1, 2020. (Ivan Alvarado/Reuters)

The establishment has consolidated incredibly rapidly around Joe Biden after his South Carolina triumph.

Most importantly, Amy Klobuchar and Peter Buttigieg have both dropped out and are endorsing him. Part of the reason it was difficult to see anyone stopping Bernie was that it was hard to figure how the field could consolidate before Super Tuesday, which on the prior trajectory would have given Bernie an insurmountable delegate lead. Now, the field is at least partly consolidated with the exception of the increasingly pointless Mike Bloomberg campaign and of Elizabeth Warren (who is doing the establishment a favor by staying in and crimping Bernie).

Of course, Klobuchar and Buttigieg don’t have massive support in Super Tuesday states, but any increment of support that goes to Biden is very important, because he needs to get over the threshold in as many places as possible, including Minnesota.

Meanwhile, a new national Morning Consult poll shows Biden (26 percent) now within three points of Bernie (29). This means he’s getting a bounce out of South Carolina and it will likely have some effect in the Super Tuesday states.

Bernie may very well still win the nomination, but the last three days show the party is not going to go down without a fight.

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Rep. Andy Biggs: ‘I Believe The FISA Court Should Be Abolished’

Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus Rep. Andy Biggs warned Monday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court – which grants federal law enforcement officials warrants to spy on Americans – must be ‘abolished’ in order to protect the basic Constitutional right’s of American citizens.

On The Sara Carter Show Monday, Rep. Biggs, R-Arizona, said that with the March 15 deadline is less than two weeks away, Congress must stand firm to protect the rights of American citizens and limit any future abuse of the system for political purposes.

“I believe the FISA Court should be abolished,” said Biggs. “Let’s just face it, my position is real simple- the Constitution protects the United States citizen from unlawful searches and seizures and the FISA Court is a secret court that doesn’t have the same probable cause standard that we have in an Article 3 court that’s established by the Constitution.”

Any reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would need to include major reforms, senior lawmakers told this reporter. At present, three provisions of the U.S.A. Freedom Act are set to expire on on March 15. Those provisions are the metadata collection under section 215, roving wiretaps and the lone wolf provision.

These provisions, however, are not the same abused by bureau officials who sought the warrant from the court to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page. The sections that were responsible for the abuses in the Page FISA warrant come under Title I, and do not expire. For this reason, House Republicans are fighting to use the renewals as leverage to ensure that Title I is changed.

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz, along with numerous congressional investigations, revealed that senior FBI officials altered and omitted critical information in the applications submitted to the court Page. The discovery of the abuse led Attorney General William Barr to appoint prosecutor John Durham to investigate the origin and circumstances surrounding the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign and the now debunked theory that members of the campaign were colluding with Russia.

Barr told Senate Republicans during a closed-door meeting last week that he can use the regulatory process to make reforms to the FISA process. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told reporters that Barr “went over his recommendations and some internal reforms about FISA warrant application and surveillance technology being used. He’s going to do some things that he can do.”

However, with little time left, Biggs said that although Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to find solutions, the only real solution for Americans is to abolish it all-together.

Biggs, like other congressional members who spoke to SaraACarter.com, noted that the failure of the courts to stop the abuse and lack of representation for those American citizens being targeted by the bureau violates the essential rights granted in the Constitution.

Other Republican lawmakers suggested that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court can be reformed if an amicus representative – a citizen advocate- representing Americans is placed inside the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is to oversee the submitted applications.

At the present time, there is no one to advocate on behalf of an American being targeted by the FBI and it is solely at the discretion of the judges of the secret court to ask for a review if they decide it’s warranted, lawmakers told SaraACarter.com.

Rep. Jim Jordan, ranking member of the House Oversight Committee told this reporter Friday that he is advocating “to put in place a citizen advocate at the court that’s what this amicus process is, having an advocate representing the interest of an American citizen that is the target of a FISA warrant.”

Jordan also said there should be penalties for violations made by FBI applicants and that transcripts of the court proceedings should be made available to Congress for review at some point in time for oversight of the court.

He said “we can’t settle for a clean reauthorization, no way.”

Biggs said, however, the FISA Court itself is antithetical to the Fourth Amendment and in its nature violates the essence of the law.

“It’s enormously a powerful secret tool that’s oddly enough has been used to spy on President Trump, Carter Page, President Trump’s associates,” he said. “You just look at it and you say, there’s a huge problem here and how about the business records exception that they want. Three million in appropriate searches were done on business records just in 2017.”

Many civil libertarians and lawmakers have called for the FISA Court to either be dismantled or completely reformed. Horowitz revealed in his 435 page report in December, that the bureau had 17 gross violations in its warrant and three subsequent renewals to spy on Page. Those violations included withholding exculpatory information, altering documents and basically lying to the court to obtain the warrant on Page.

Ranking chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes, R-CA, told SaraACarter.com  last week that FISA should only be reauthorized if there are major reforms because “the FBI abused FISA to spy on a political campaign, and the FISA judges utterly failed to stop it even thought the House Intelligence Committee told them it was happening. We need major reforms to FISA that do not rely on the FBI acting in good faith on the FISA judges’ ability to find and stop malfeasance.”


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Ivanka Trump Completes a Political Evolution: ‘I’m a Proud Trump Republican’

WASHINGTON — She told the Fox News host Sean Hannity that refusing to celebrate President Trump’s America was “unforgivable” and tweeted angrily about the “ill-conceived” Senate impeachment trial.

She recently took the stage for the first time at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a gathering of hard-core conservative activists.

And now she is officially a Republican.

Ivanka Trump’s transformation from a liberal New York socialite who donated to Democratic politicians and vocally supported gay rights to a card-carrying member of her father’s “Make America Great Again” coalition is now complete.

Ms. Trump said on Monday that she had made the decision to officially change her voter registration from Democrat to Republican because she wanted to vote for her father in the New York primary, something she did not do in 2016 when she missed the deadline to register as a Republican.

According to the New York City Board of Elections, Ms. Trump made the change on Oct. 22, 2018, just ahead of the midterm elections.

“I am a proud Trump Republican,” Ms. Trump said in an interview on Monday, discussing her political evolution and the role her father played in it. “I believe he’s broadened the reach of the Republican Party, which is really important to me.”

That the daughter who has never strayed far from her father’s side would officially register as a Republican might seem obvious. But it was a political shift from how Ms. Trump came into her West Wing role, when she was viewed more as a bridge to moderates because of her more progressive positions on issues like climate change, pay equity and parental leave.

Since then, she has become a prominent senior adviser to her father, focused on issues related to women in the workplace. Mr. Trump routinely, and falsely, tells crowds that his daughter alone is responsible for creating 15 million new jobs — more than twice the number of jobs that have been created since he took office in 2017.

As her father becomes increasingly engaged in his re-election campaign, Ms. Trump has made clear where she stands politically.

“I’m not going to speculate on the projections other people have cast upon me,” Ms. Trump said on Monday. “In areas outside of my portfolio, I tend to agree more with the more conservative viewpoint more often than where the Democrats are today,” she said, acknowledging that to be a shift from the beginning of her father’s presidency. She added, “No one person or party has a monopoly on good ideas.”

Ms. Trump, who made few public appearances for her father during his 2016 campaign, is set to embark on a four-city fund-raising swing at the end of March, with stops in Oklahoma; Austin, Texas; Naples, Fla.; and New York City, with the goal of raising millions of dollars for the re-election campaign from first-time donors.

Ms. Trump, according to campaign officials, has long been the most requested surrogate among donors, but until now has limited her appearances, which she has to make in her personal capacity and not as a government official. In the interview on Monday, Ms. Trump said she prided herself on being able to raise more money during a one-hour breakfast meeting than the top-tier Democratic presidential candidates.

“It’s probably more,” Ms. Trump said, comparing her fund-raising abilities to those of Joseph R. Biden Jr., a possible opponent of her father’s. As an example, she pointed to a rare donor event she headlined in Houston last November, where she said she raised $2 million in 45 minutes.

“It was pretty record-shattering,” she said.

Tickets for Ms. Trump’s upcoming fund-raising appearances, according to the invitations, range from $2,800 for one person to $50,000 per couple, which includes a photo op with Ms. Trump.

Her fund-raising trip is scheduled just days after the first lady, Melania Trump, another scarce presence on the campaign trail, is set to host fund-raisers for her husband in Palm Beach, Fla., and Beverly Hills, Calif.

“Whether it’s fund-raising, leadership or speaking directly to voters on the campaign trail, Ivanka Trump is an incredible asset for the Trump campaign,” said Kayleigh McEnany, a Trump campaign spokeswoman.

During her time as a White House adviser, Ms. Trump has rarely commented on the controversies swirling around her father. When pushed by reporters to address subjects she viewed as outside her lane, she has grown frustrated, sometimes calling the questions “inappropriate” and at other times insisting her role was not to air her disagreements in public.

But she is now taking on a political role.

Over the past few months, she has started using her Twitter feed to lash out at Democrats and has appeared at campaign events more clearly devised to appeal to Mr. Trump’s base. Ahead of the New Hampshire primary in February, for instance, Ms. Trump traveled to Portsmouth to participate in a “Cops for Trump” event.

Online, her persona has also become more aggressive and raw, a reflection of her own anger, aides said, over her father’s impeachment.

“This factional fever and incoherent, ill-conceived process has finally ended and the President has rightfully been acquitted,” Ms. Trump tweeted after the Senate impeachment trial ended. “POTUS has accomplished so much and is just getting started. The best is yet to come!”

On the day of her father’s acquittal, the woman who once used her popular Instagram account to show herself off as a not-quite-relatable working mother raising a young family posted a photograph of herself giving the signature Trumpian double thumbs-up in front of an American flag, wearing a USA hat. In a caption, she wrote that the portrait captured her “#Mood.”

In an interview with Mr. Hannity that same day, Ms. Trump further excoriated her father’s critics.

Ticking off a list of the administration’s actions, Ms. Trump asserted that “for us not to come together as a nation and celebrate America’s success is not forgivable.”

“And I think that’s why the viewers were watching today and realizing, and celebrating alongside the president, alongside the rest of this country what is happening,” she continued, “because we have completely changed the trajectory of this country.”

Despite her fund-raising ability, Ms. Trump said she had no plans to run for office in the future. “I really don’t,” she said, insisting that her end goal was to help re-elect her father.

“I was in the private sector and thriving,” she said. “We loved our lives. I knew that my father would empower me to help him accomplish his agenda. The opportunity to create positive impact is what drove me to move to Washington.”

Speculation about how long Ms. Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, would stick around Washington has dogged them since they moved into their mansion in the Kalorama neighborhood. But the couple has outlasted most of Mr. Trump’s senior White House advisers. These days, Mr. Kushner operates as a free-floating senior adviser who is also overseeing Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.

Mr. Kushner has also recently said publicly that he had become a Republican.

“I was not a Republican,” he told reporters at a recent campaign briefing. “Now I’m a Republican. I think the Republican Party is growing now that people like me feel comfortable being part of it.”

Ms. Trump declined to say which Democrat she would like to see face off against Mr. Trump in a general election. “I definitely wouldn’t tell you that,” she said, calling every candidate in the field “very unique.”

But, Ms. Trump said, she felt “good about our chances of beating all of them.”

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Top GOP senator seeks subpoena for witness related to probe into Ukraine and Biden

Senators Attend Foreign Relations Committee Hearing On Ukraine
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 10: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) participates in a Senate Foreign relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, March 10, 2015 in Washington, DC. 

Mark Wilson / Getty Images


The top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee is seeking to subpoena a witness tied to the investigation of Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy firm where Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, sat on its board, according to a letter obtained by CBS News.

Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin sent a letter to committee members Sunday informing them of his intent to schedule a meeting during which they would consider a subpoena to Andrii Telizhenko, a former consultant for the U.S.-based government affairs firm Blue Star, for documents related to his work there. Blue Star “was a U.S. representative” for Burisma, Johnson said.

Telizhenko is a former Ukrainian diplomat at the center of claims Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

According to the letter, Telizhenko “expressed his willingness to ‘cooperate fully'” with the Senate panel’s investigation into the Bidens and Ukraine, but is subject to a nondisclosure agreement.

“As part of the committee’s ongoing investigation, it has received U.S. government records indicating that Blue Star sought to leverage Hunter Biden’s role as a board member of Burisma to gain access to, and potentially influence matters at, the State Department,” Johnson wrote. The committee has not made records it received public.

Johnson said the committee’s ranking member, Democratic Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, disapproves of issuing the subpoena and is “concerned that the United States Senate and this committee could be used to further disinformation efforts by Russians or other actors.”  

According to the letter, the Republican-controlled committee “has been investigating matters related to Burisma for nearly a year.” Congressional records indicate Peters’ office was notified on February 24 of  Johnson’s intent to issue the subpoena, with Peters recently rejecting the request. 

The Wisconsin senator wrote that he shares the concern, and said the FBI “provided a response that directly addressed the stated concerns. ” The subpoena, he added, was “narrowly drafted” for records from Telizhenko’s work for Blue Star as it relates to Burisma.

“The committee recently reviewed relevant State Department documents that corroborate records Mr. Telizhenko already produced to the committee, including correspondence with Blue Star officials not covered by his NDA,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson questioned the apparent resistance to pursuing the matter, saying “[t]he American people have a right to know how their government officials conducted official business, whether certain parties received special treatment, and whether any apparent or actual conflict of interest unduly influenced U.S. policy.”

It’s unclear when the meeting to discuss a possible subpoena will take place, but Johnson said a vote on whether to approve the subpoena will be scheduled “in the near future.”

Johnson, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham have been investigating ties between Democrats and Ukraine, including possible conflicts of interests between Burisma and the Bidens, for the last few months.

In early December, the three Republican senators requested records and transcribed interviews between Telizhenko and Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American Democratic operative. They have also sought information from five former Obama administration officials, including David Wade, former chief of staff to Secretary of State John Kerry, and Anthony Blinken, former U.S. deputy secretary of state.

Peters has dismissed efforts by the Republican chairmen to seek information on the unsubstantiated claim Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election and said members of both parties must focus on strengthening election security to protect from foreign interference. Peters’ office did not immediately return a request for comment.

“Our intelligence community, national security officials and a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report have all confirmed that it was the Russian government – and not Ukraine – that interfered in our 2016 election. This isn’t about rehashing the 2016 election or partisan politics – it is a matter of national security,” Peters said in a December statement after the Republican records request. “Russia, a foreign adversary, struck at the very heart of our democracy, and we know they are already trying to interfere in the 2020 election. Obscuring this key fact only further enables Russian efforts and undermines our ability to safeguard our democracy. Members of both parties must come together to pass legislation strengthening election security and ensure no foreign adversary can meddle in our elections again.”

Here’s the full letter from Johnson: