Posted on

Trump licks his chops as Biden veers left on sanctuary cities, fracking

And that was on the environment alone.

From immigration to social issues to health care, Republicans insist Biden is harming himself in battleground states where his appeal to centrist Democrats has long been viewed as an unmitigated asset.

In a statement following the debate, Trump’s campaign even tried to yoke Biden to Sanders on health care, arguing that both offer “a complete government takeover” of the system.

The warning shots at Biden come as Trump is message-testing ways to drive up excitement among his restive base while struggling with the enormous responsibilities of managing the coronavirus pandemic. Biden aides and allies view charges that he’s making himself vulnerable to Trump as fanciful.

A Biden campaign official rejected the thinking outright, saying Trump will have to defend his record of supporting efforts in the courts to strip essential health coverage from millions. The Biden aide pointed to Trump’s caging of immigrant children and demonization of immigrants as antithetical to America’s values and his ignorance of the climate emergency as costing the U.S. when it should be pursuing green jobs.

“These guys are going to have a tough time turning Joe Biden into an extremist liberal in this environment. In that context, Sanders served as a great foil for Biden,” said Tim Miller, a former adviser to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, who voted for Biden in California’s March 3 primary. “Biden spent 30 minutes waving off Sanders’ claims that a trillion-dollar climate change plan is not enough — this is how you make a bold agenda look pretty centrist.”

Trump’s campaign has signaled in recent days that it will try numerous approaches to confronting Biden — from questioning his mental acuity to focusing on what they view as his out-of-step liberalism. Dan Pfeiffer, the former Barack Obama adviser, dismissed the Republican strategy as reeking of desperation for a Trump campaign that had been planning to run against Sanders. The Vermont senator had appeared ascendant leading into Super Tuesday.

“Trump already has the voters driven primarily by immigration,” Pfeiffer said, “so it’s about base maintenance as opposed to growing his vote share to a number sufficient to win.”

“Several strategies,” he added, “is the same as no strategy.”

For months, Biden has unveiled far-reaching plans that would make him a more progressive nominee than Hillary Clinton or his 2008 running mate, former President Barack Obama. Yet Biden has continued with his move left on past statements and policies relating to immigration, abortion, criminal justice and entitlement programs like Social Security.

Now, poised to wrap up the nomination, he has grasped for even more olive branches as part of a broader effort to unify Democrats. Biden, who leads Trump in several battleground polls, has endorsed former rival Elizabeth Warren’s sweeping bankruptcy plan to strike through portions of a law that they once fought over. Ahead of Sunday’s debate, he gave his blessing to a Sanders-inspired plan to make college tuition free for students whose families earn less than $125,000 annually. The debate offered him yet another chance to appeal to progressives.

Biden pledged that under his administration only felons would be deported in his first 100 days, saying he’d focus on uniting families. “It’s about making sure that we can both be a nation of immigrants as well as a nation that is decent, he said. Biden also said undocumented immigrants arrested by local police should not be turned over to federal immigration authorities, after opposing sanctuary cities as a presidential candidate in 2007.

He again distanced himself from voting for the Hyde Amendment, which banned federal funding for the majority of abortions. Biden also restated his policy on public lands and waters, including prohibiting permitting of oil and gas drilling.

Trump’s campaign has focused intently on Biden’s environmental and immigration remarks.

“Fossil fuel industries employ 10 million Americans and he would yank the jobs out from under all of them. His plan would also drive heating and cooling bills through the roof,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Trump’s reelection campaign.

Murtaugh said Biden’s plan to halt deportations would leave enormous numbers of other criminals in the U.S. who continue to pose a threat to public safety. And Biden’s position on locals not cooperating with federal immigration officials would “effectively turn the entire United States into a sanctuary country and tell the world that our borders are open,” he said.

In a Monday email, America Rising, the Republican opposition outfit, cited a Wall Street Journal infographic that tallied up Biden’s agenda as costing more than twice as much as Clinton’s, with his proposed taxes totaling three times as much as the Democratic nominee four years ago. The message: Biden and Sanders “will be virtually indistinguishable.”

“As we have said over and over, the eventual Democrat candidate will have to adopt the agenda of the extreme left in order to become the nominee in the first place, and Joe Biden proved that last night,” Murtaugh added.

Posted on

Mitch McConnell Nudges Older Republican Judges to Retire During Trump Term

Mitch never sleeps. He has a final purpose in life, and neither rain, snow, nor epidemic disease is going to stop him from ensuring his own political immortality through the federal courts. From The New York Times:

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who has used his position as majority leader to build a judicial confirmation juggernaut for President Trump over the past three years, has been personally reaching out to judges to sound them out on their plans and assure them that they would have a worthy successor if they gave up their seats soon, according to multiple people with knowledge of his actions…One of his Republican colleagues said others had also initiated outreach in an effort to heighten awareness among judges nominated by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush that making the change now would be advantageous.

He’s already made it clear that, if there’s a Supreme Court opening during this election year, he’ll fill it. (Someone pour out another one for Merrick Garland.) Now, he’s telling older Republicans to switch out so that younger Republicans can replace them. During the presidencies of Reagan and the senior Bush, judges who were not certified Grade-A prime Federalist Society wingnut would occasionally slip through. The young judges with whom McConnell proposes to replace them are almost guaranteed to be safely in the bag.

Hurry up, senator!

Bill ClarkGetty Images

And, of course, this enables McConnell to set unpopular conservative policies in stone.

“Senator McConnell knows he can’t achieve any of his extreme goals legislatively, so he continues to attempt to pull America to the far right by packing the courts,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said in a statement. He predicted that his counterpart’s emphasis on the courts “will significantly hurt Republican senators in November.”

“If Mitch McConnell is having direct conversations to pressure sitting federal judges to basically retire so Trump can name more picks, it is court-packing in a different form,” said Brian Fallon, the executive director of the progressive judicial group Demand Justice. “It raises the question of what, if anything, McConnell is offering them to take senior status earlier than planned. This type of hand-in-glove coordination shows how utterly politicized the judicial branch is.”

In a purely academic sense, you have to admire how they’ve done it. Because Democratic voters have been completely oblivious to the importance of the federal courts in casting their ballots, the Republicans had a clear field of which they could take advantage, and McConnell has done it so thoroughly that he will be an important figure in American politics for decades after he’s dead. I hereby apologize, in advance, to my eventual great-grandchildren.

Respond to this post on the Esquire Politics Facebook page here.

Posted on

Joe Biden Is Still Arguing for a Return to the Status Quo

During their first ever one-on-one confrontation in Washington, DC, last night, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders clashed on issues ranging from Social Security to health-care policy to the coronavirus pandemic. In an ideal world, with a more coherent democratic process in place, it’s a debate that would have happened much sooner. But the evening saw Sanders more combative than usual, and Biden frequently on the defensive over his record as a result, inarguably representing the most intense scrutiny he’s had to face since the campaign began.

The details of current plans and past votes notwithstanding, the debate underscored the radically divergent narratives that are at stake right now in the Democratic presidential primaries, and their respective embodiment in two figures who are well liked by liberal voters but nevertheless couldn’t be further apart. In mainstream media lingo, it might be called a clash between moderation and revolution. More accurately, it was a clash between a vision of conservative restoration and one that sees the past as deeply complicit in the present.

At a moment when entire national economies are rapidly shuttering, states are implementing sweeping measures in response to the coronavirus and its ripple effects that are unprecedented in the modern era. The structural failures of the American model could not be more glaringly evident right now, yet Biden’s principal message amounted to a vague plea for a better tomorrow and a return of basic competence to government. Though the former vice president repeatedly invoked the language of urgency and decisive action, any deeper analysis of present social injustice or political dysfunction was entirely absent.

The contrast between him and Sanders was clear. “People want results, not a revolution,” Biden said — an echo of his comments last summer, when he told a room full of wealthy donors that, under a Biden presidency, “No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.”

Yet as New York’s Eric Levitz observed, none of the “results” Biden spoke of are conceivable without sweeping changes to America’s political economy. “[The American people] want to deal with the results they need right now,” Biden declared. “And we can do that by making sure that we make everybody whole who has been so badly hurt,” he said, later elaborating, “We’re going to have to . . . let people know their mortgage is going to be paid. Their rents are going to be paid. They are going to have childcare. They are going to make sure that all their medical bills are cared for related to this.”

This is certainly a break from Biden’s past policy proposals. But absent was any hint as to why so many people find themselves so vulnerable in the first place. A similar logic of erasure characterized the former vice president’s account of his own record, something he repeatedly lied about last night with minimal media backlash. Thus, in a morbid irony, a man who has spent most of his career preaching a message of austerity now confusingly wants “results, not revolution” in the form of sweeping but entirely temporary state action during a crisis.

Sanders’s message, by contrast, repeatedly emphasized the systemic nature of the problems facing Americans and their deep roots, beyond the current crisis and the administration that is so badly mishandling it:

In addition to the coronavirus, it is time to ask how we get to where we are, not only our lack of preparation for the virus, but how we end up with an economy, with so many people hurting at a time of massive income and wealth inequality. It is time to ask the question of where the power is in America. Who owns the media? Who owns the economy? Who owns the legislative process? Why do we give tax breaks to billionaires and not raise the minimum wage? Why do we pump up the oil industry while a half a million people are homeless in America? This is the time to move aggressively . . . but it’s also a time to rethink America, and create a country where we care about each other, rather than a nation of greed and corruption, which is what is taking place among the corporate elite.

It’s a message the Democratic primary electorate urgently and desperately needs to hear. And, given the stakes at the present moment, it’s one Sanders must continue to give aggressively and without hesitation. Despite going in hard on Biden’s record and offering a strong contrast with his message, throughout the night, he at times seemed to be holding back — neglecting to bring up Biden’s recent comments about vetoing Medicare for All or his cavalier attitude toward the truth, even as Sanders grilled the former vice president on his political commitments and record.

In a world where most of the mainstream media took the democratic process seriously or applied equal scrutiny to every candidate, ideological criticisms might be enough. But in the real one, overwhelmingly slanted toward the corporatist center, Sanders must make his message even more direct and confrontational. It’s a two-person race, and there’s nothing to lose.

Posted on

U.S. airlines seek nearly $60B bailout

A source with knowledge of negotiations said airports, themselves facing billions of dollars in losses, are expected to request $10 billion in federal assistance.

Also Monday, some 60 of the world’s air carriers, representing more than half of airline capacity globally, made an unprecedented and urgent plea for government assistance.

Their plea, made through the three biggest international airline alliances, which allow partners to share booking arrangements, urged “governments worldwide to prepare for the broad economic effects from actions taken by states to contain the spread of COVID-19, and to evaluate all possible means to assist the airline industry during this unprecedented period.”

They echoed previous calls to suspend “use-it-or-lose-it” rules that set a minimum level of service at capacity-constrained airports, or else airlines lose those “slots.” The FAA has already done so at several U.S. airports through May, but the alliances hope regulators will consider extending suspensions through the summer.

They also asked other parts of the industry for help — specifically, they want airports to reconsider their landing charges and fees. But airports are experiencing their own financial cliff, with Airports Council International-North America estimating losses at $8.7 billion.

Last week, Bloomberg reported that White House officials were talking about letting airlines keep ticket taxes or fees that are used to fund airport upgrades, among other things. But airports are sure to fight hard against such a move, and it may not have enough support in Congress.

On Monday, the Air Line Pilots Association, the major union for pilots, wrote to President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying the group is “unequivocal that any economic relief package must contain strong labor protections.”

And Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, on Twitter called for direct payroll subsidies to flight attendants, pilots, ground workers and caterers, among others.

“Absent payroll subsidies[,] mass layoffs and furloughs are inevitable,” Nelson wrote. “This will have long-term consequences because nearly all aviation-related workers have to pass background checks and security and safety training requirements.”

Separately, the consultancy the Centre for Aviation has argued that “most airlines in the world” could be bankrupt in less than three months.

“Coordinated government and industry action is needed — now — if catastrophe is to be avoided,” CAPA said, adding that “many airlines have probably already been driven into technical bankruptcy, or are at least substantially in breach of debt covenants.”

Amid the crisis, “the government response has been fragmented — and is being resolved along national lines, with limited consultation,” CAPA said. “As things stand, the likely tepid response to the airline crisis will equally be fragmented and nationally based. It will consist mostly of bailing out selected national airlines. If that is the default position, emerging from the crisis will be like entering a brutal battlefield, littered with casualties.”

Posted on

Coronavirus: Trump finally had a solid press conference

On Monday, President Donald Trump finally held a press conference in which he didn’t contradict the advice of experts and gave solid advice to Americans on the coronavirus pandemic — after weeks of a public response that experts have described as unhelpful and disturbing.

At the top of the conference, Trump talked up new guidelines by the federal government about what individuals should do to slow the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“My administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups more than 10 people, avoid discretionary travel, and avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants, and public food courts,” Trump said.

The guidelines emphasize social distancing — a key part of what experts argue is necessary to slow the illness’s spread and save lives.

This was a noticeable backtrack for Trump, who on Sunday suggested that young people don’t have to worry about Covid-19 and argued that “it’s a very contagious virus, it’s incredible, but it’s something we have tremendous control of.”

Trump walked back those specific comments on Monday, claiming he meant that his administration is doing a good job trying to control the situation. Asked whether he meant if the virus itself is under control, he responded, “That’s not under control for any place in the world.” He also acknowledged that the current outbreak, and the economic impact from it, could continue for months.

He also gave the podium to experts, including respected public health officials like Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, to explain both the guidelines themselves and the evidence behind them. Trump even let them correct his comments — particularly that the guidelines will be reevaluated after 15 days, after Trump suggested they could be necessary until July or later.

This is, in many ways, Trump meeting the lowest of bars possible as a US president serving during a disease outbreak: calmly providing correct information, leaning on the experts, and trying to rally the American public to action.

But it’s still a marked shift from where Trump has been in the past few weeks. He previously tweeted comparisons of the coronavirus to the common flu, which in fact appears to be less deadly and spread less easily than the coronavirus. He called concerns about the virus a “hoax.” He said on national television that, based on nothing more than a self-admitted “hunch,” the death rate of the disease is much lower than public health officials projected. And in February, he said of the coronavirus, “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” (As of March 16, the country has more than 4,200 confirmed cases and 71 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins’s tracker.)

Public health experts were highly critical of this messaging. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, called it “deeply disturbing,” adding that it’s “left the country far less prepared than it needs to be for what is a very substantial challenge ahead.”

Now, there were still Trumpy moments, like when he gave his administration a 10 out of 10 for its response to the crisis, an assertion with which many public health experts would disagree.

Whether Trump’s new tone continues in the days and weeks ahead, especially as the pandemic deepens, remains to be seen. But however long it lasts, it’s a welcome development that could help save lives.

Posted on

Hunter Biden’s Foreign Trips Cost Taxpayers Almost $200K

Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President Joe Biden, racked up a bill of almost $200,000 in Secret Service spending on foreign visits that the taxpayer has had to foot.

$193,696 in Secret Service Expenses

“And as I speak, my son has just boarded—my grown son has just boarded a plane, an aircraft—he’s heading to the Philippines,” former Vice President Joe Biden said in a 2013 address to South Korean students. “His name is Hunter Biden. He’s chairman of the World Food Program USA, and he’s going there out in the field, like so many of you did. I’m so incredibly proud of him and the tens of thousands of young people around the world who either went or wanted to.”

What Daddy Biden forgot to mention is that in all his flights and foreign visits around the globe, his son Hunter cost the American taxpayer $193,696 for the Secret Service entourage that followed him about as the Vice President’s son. This is according to a government database that shows unclassified government expenditures, and publicized by the Washington Free Beacon. Hunter’s trips, supposedly under his role as the chairman of WFP, were to 10 different countries, including South Africa, China and Qatar, with bills being recorded as payable to a “miscellaneous foreign contractor” or “miscellaneous foreign awardee.”

Most of the bills were payments for accommodation for the Secret Service; other bills did not include such details.

RELATED: Republican Senator Announces Plans To Subpoena Consulting Firm Linked To Hunter Biden And Burisma

Sean Moulton, a senior policy analyst with the Project on Government Oversight, said the database is very much incomplete, noting that many details will be withheld by the Secret Service for “security reasons,” and that it is impossible to know exactly why Hunter Biden’s foreign trips cost so much. The classification of the bills as “miscellaneous” showed a “frustrating lack of transparency” from the Secret Service, Moulton said.

“Sometimes there are security concerns for recipients of USA money (either contracts or aid) that require keeping them anonymous to protect them from possible reprisals from those unhappy with our country,” he wrote in an email. “But too often the convention is used for convenience because agencies may not have all of the information required to be reported for each foreign contractor.”

RELATED: Hunter Biden Gets Eviscerated By Judge For ‘Duplicitous’ Bid To Delay Child Support Hearing

How Has Hunter Spent So Much Money??

If you thought this was perhaps the average for being the son of the Vice President, think again. The cost of Hunter’s jet-setting lifestyle is almost four times the entire security bill for President Donald Trump’s four adult children combined, who together only spent around $40,000, with Donald Trump Jr only costing the taxpayer $6,147, around 3% of Hunter’s total expense cost.

Coupled this with his dodgy dealings with Burisma, and it seems there needs to be some serious investigation going on here. Crooked Hunter can’t be allowed to get away with ripping off the taxpayer for so much and so long.

Posted on

How Bernie Beat Polling and a Smear Campaign to Win His First National Office

The pundit class has piled on, too. David Frum, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush,
charged that Sanders “has never fought a race in which he had to face serious personal scrutiny.” Fellow Iraq War supporter Jonathan Chait
writes that Sanders’ “vulnerabilities are enormous and untested,” adding that he “has never faced an electorate where these vulnerabilities could be used against him.”

In truth, however, Sanders has faced “serious personal scrutiny” against an incumbent Republican—and won. His 1990 election to Vermont’s single House seat (29 years and 5 months ago, but who’s counting) marked the first time in 82 years that a GOP congressmember in the historically Republican state had been ousted. Sanders went on to 30 years of electoral success as a self-described democratic socialist.

Sanders’ 1990 opponent, a moderate Republican in the era of President George H.W. Bush, was no Donald Trump, a far-right xenophobe. Yet Sanders faced similar challenges then as now: a vastly better funded opponent with the advantage of incumbency; a media landscape and Democratic Party establishment that ranged from skeptical to actively hostile; a reluctance from major unions to back him; accusations that his plans didn’t add up; and attacks that cast him as a hypocrite, complete with redbaiting and character assassination.

How Sanders won that House seat in 1990 is telling—and may offer a glimpse of how Sanders, the campaigner, would fare in November 2020.


Vermont Rep.-elect Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane O’Meara Sanders, stand outside the Capitol building during an orientation session for freshman congress members on Capitol Hill, Nov. 28, 1990. (Photo by Michele McDonald / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The House Divided

In 1990, Sanders was an eight-year mayor of Burlington who had suffered two defeats for higher office. He lost his bid for governor, to Democrat Madeleine Kunin, in 1986, and his first House race, to Republican Peter Plympton Smith, in 1988. Labelled a “spoiler” candidate (“a disgusting word,” Sanders later said) for much of 1988, he was projected to win on election night—before being overtaken by Smith. (Sanders would quip to Rachel Maddow decades later, “The Democrat was the spoiler, not me.”)

“[Sanders] was emotionally crushed by that [loss],” John Franco, a Sanders staffer in Burlington, told the Rutland Daily Herald.

After Sanders’ fourth term as Burlington mayor ended in April 1989, he took a sabbatical from politics, traveling to Cuba and Nicaragua and taking up a visiting professorship at Hamilton College. 

But members of the Burlington-based Progressive Coalition, a group of Sanders supporters working to become a third force in Vermont politics, urged him to run for governor again in 1990. A nervous Kunin reportedly directed allies to push Sanders toward the House race instead, and Vermont’s Democratic speaker of the House, Ralph G. Wright, warned he would oppose Sanders’ gubernatorial bid. Sanders weighed his options. In March 1990, with internal polls reportedly showing Sanders within striking distance of incumbent Smith, he announced his House campaign. 

“The stakes were high,” says Steven Rosenfeld, Sanders’ press secretary for that campaign and now a national political reporter at the
Independent Media Institute’s Voting Rights Project. “He felt if he didn’t win that race, he wasn’t sure what his political future might be.”

A nationwide right turn had just seen President Ronald Reagan pull off two historic landslides, and Vermont was still largely GOP territory. Between 1854 and 1988, it had voted for a Democratic presidential candidate just once, for President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. 

With a
 98% re-election rate in the House, incumbents, as always, had the advantage. An incumbent congressmember hadn’t been beaten in Vermont since 1960. A GOP congressmember hadn’t been booted from office in the state since 1908.

Sanders didn’t do himself any additional favors by running as an Independent. An Independent hadn’t sat in Congress since Virginia Sen. Harry Byrd left office in 1983.

Characteristically, Sanders swore off funding from corporate political action committees (PACs), choosing small-dollar donations from supporters instead. He acknowledged Smith would “be very difficult to beat” with access not only to his personal wealth but “to all the corporate money in America.” 

Sure enough, Smith rejected a proposal from both Sanders and the Free Press for a campaign spending limit and raised tens of thousands of dollars from corporate PACs, including those of Philip Morris, Amoco and United Technologies. Sanders, who in 10 election campaigns over 18 years had only taken one PAC contribution (worth $300), called Smith’s PAC money “an outrage” and “an insult to democracy.” Without a campaign spending limit in place, Sanders ultimately vowed only to take PAC money from organizations like unions and groups agitating for peace, healthcare reform and the environment. 

As a GOP House member, Smith had spent two years positioning himself as a “Vermont moderate,”
racking up progressive votes on gun control, the environment and other issues, which earned him the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters before Sanders even announced. Later, the Sierra Club and abortion rights group NARAL backed Smith.

Most of Vermont’s prominent Democrats swung their support behind Sanders, but some powerful Democrats (just as today) saw him as dangerous and out of step. Sanders’ years of railing against the Democratic Party, along with Smith’s voting record, prompted a string of defections. Former Gov. Thomas Salmon asked Democrats to join in a “one-time exodus from the Democratic Party” to vote for the Republican, in order to send Sanders “a message from Democrats that he will not soon forget.” Others urged support for neither, such as 1988 Democratic Senate candidate Bill Gray, who feared Sanders’ victory would help ignite a third party to challenge Democrats. 

Further complicating the race was the decision of Dolores Sandoval, a professor at the University of Vermont, to enter as a Democrat, much to Sanders’ chagrin. Sandoval quickly began attacking Sanders, claiming his “Independent” label would be a liability in Washington and calling him a hypocrite for seeking Democratic Party support. 


Independent Bernie Sanders campaigns in Burlington for Vermont’s lone House seat alongside his wife, Jane, in October 1990. Meanwhile, Rep. Peter Smith, the Republican incumbent, campaigns in St. Johnsbury, holding his own sign. (Photo courtesy of The Rutland Herald)

From All Sides

For much of 1990, the Sanders campaign faced a series of negative stories. 

“Bernie never had a friendly relationship with the biggest media outlets at the time,” Rosenfeld says. “He had a very testy relationship with the Associated Press, because he felt they were biased against him.”

But true to style, Sanders frequently
hit back at critics. When newspapers and opponents accused him of hypocrisy for soliciting money from progressive PACs— “It’s getting hard to distinguish between Sanders and the bad guys,” wrote the Brattleboro Reformer—Sanders continued to contrast his donations from “people whom I philosophically agree with” against Smith’s funding from corporations who “have wrought havoc on the environment, [dodge taxes] … and have treated their workers with contempt.”

When a Reformer op-ed hit Sanders for not voting in the September Democratic primary, he countered that, had he voted, “I would have been called a hypocrite for voting in a party primary in which I don’t belong.”

When the AP calculated Sanders had overestimated how much money a 10% tax hike on the wealthiest Americans would raise, Sanders acknowledged the error and complained they were missing the larger imperative, the need to raise taxes on the rich.

When newspapers reported on Sanders’ tax returns, which showed he and his wife, Jane, had made more than $85,000 in 1989 (around $180,000 today), Smith suggested Sanders was among the wealthiest 10% and not serious about his tax plan. Sanders complained about Smith’s lack of similar transparency and responded, “We own one house. My wife and I took out a loan to send our children to college.”

One kerfuffle concerned how the Sanders campaign classified some staff members as independent consultants rather than employees, in an alleged attempt to avoid state and federal taxes. The staffers insisted they had sought the status themselves and paid their own taxes, and it soon emerged that everyone—even then Lt. Gov. Howard Dean and longtime Sen. Patrick Leahy—had engaged in the practice. That included Smith, who had paid a single employee under this arrangement almost as much as Sanders had paid his entire 1988 staff. Even so, Smith and his campaign wasted no time in painting Sanders as a tax-the-rich hypocrite who wanted to avoid taxes himself. In response, Sanders accused Smith of “gutter politics” and called on him to “come back to the high road of Vermont politics that you and I have shared for many years.”

After Sanders won the June 1990
endorsement of Vermont’s largest union, the 7,800-strong chapter of the National Education Association (NEA), news coverage instead focused on its top-down endorsement process. Rather than polling its members, the union’s board of directors chose Sanders through the same (undemocratic) method it had always used.

This time, however, the media extensively covered the disgruntlement of the rank-and-file teachers. The Reformer quoted one Smith-supporting teacher saying that, “even if they endorsed Peter Smith, I really, honestly, would tell you that it was unfair.” Sandoval decried it as “sneaky, power play politics” and likened it to “a coup attempt.” 

As in 2020, Sanders got more traction in 1990 with local unions than with wary national labor organizations. The national NEA rejected the Vermont chapter’s endorsement, electing to stay neutral because of Smith’s decent voting record. In response, over 10 days, teachers around the country raised $3,001 for the Sanders campaign, helping to offset the $5,000 Sanders lost out on through the reversal, handing the money over in a stack of bills and checks held together with a rubber band. 

Sanders suffered another national union-related setback after a labor PAC funding competitive House races declined to endorse him. Even so, Sanders won the support of many Vermont unions. As his campaign gained momentum, the AFL-CIO came on board.

Perhaps the campaign’s biggest obstacle, however, was the
outbreak of the Gulf War in August 1990, with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq invading neighboring Kuwait. The conflict scrambled the Vermont House race, shifting the discussion away from Sanders’ favored terrain of economic inequality and toward foreign policy.

Sanders, who had spent months calling for a five-year 50% cut to military spending (“We don’t need to spend $140 billion a year to defend Western Europe”), triangulated a
response to the war, applauding Bush’s decision to send troops and jet fighters to the Gulf as “quite rational, quite intelligent” and “very reasonable.” Stressing he was “not a pacifist,” Sanders held to a carefully calibrated position for the rest of the campaign: He urged a “defensive” buildup of troops and economic and diplomatic pressure on Iraq, preferably with UN backing and international cooperation, but argued an invasion or “fighting a ground war in the Middle East would be a disaster.” Progressive activists were dismayed and Sandoval attacked Sanders as a “hawk” whose “political ambition has overcome his common sense.” When Sanders later called Bush’s troop build-up “overkill,” Smith accused him of flip-flopping.

With June’s poll numbers showing Sanders 10 points behind Smith and the late-summer situation in the Middle East, a Sanders victory was far from assured. 

Coming Up Bernie

While Sanders didn’t have the poll numbers, he did have his relentless, issues-focused rhetoric, his opponent’s miscalculations and his vast door-to-door campaign operation.

With the Bush administration’s regressive policies coming on the heels of the greed of the Reagan era, the Sanders campaign channeled a populist backlash against the finance industry. Much as the 2008 crash and bank bailout would later become grist for his 2016 campaign, Sanders centered his 1990 campaign on the previous year’s
bailout of the savings and loan industry. The S&L crisis marked the worst bank collapse since the Great Depression, borne of waves of deregulation and startling corruption. The bailout cost taxpayers nearly $500 billion and Smith had voted for it, giving Sanders an opening.

Sanders hammered Smith on a “dead wrong” vote for the bailout, calling it “the greatest financial rip-off in the history of the United States.” Sanders instead proposed making the richest 5% foot the bill. He pointed to an “epidemic of criminality” in U.S. institutions and promised to “stand up against the sharks and swindlers.” Between March and July 1990, Sanders called four press conferences on the topic.

After the Iraq debacle that August, Sanders’ campaign was gifted an October surprise of its own: an unpopular deficit-cutting
package pushed by Bush and supported by Smith, which pulled back Medicare and hiked regressive sales taxes on cigarettes, beer and gas. Sanders spent the month leading up to election day savaging the “fraudulent” bipartisan package and its equally unsuccessful sequel, demanding Smith apologize for backing it. In a televised debate, Sanders held up the infamous October 22 cover of the conservative U.S. News and World Report magazine that labelled the plan a “fraud.” The headline screamed, “Throw the Bums Out.”

Smith was forced onto the defensive, belatedly calling for a “more progressive plan,” criticizing Bush and calling for tax increases on high earners. After initially telling Sanders his only regret about voting for the plan was “it didn’t win,” he reversed course under Sanders’ constant criticism and suddenly developed “severe reservations.” Sanders benefitted from a reputation for consistency that Smith lacked. As Election Day approached, Smith had to face the wrath of Vermont’s gun owners, who were
incensed that he had pledged to oppose new gun restrictions only to co-sponsor a ban on 11 semiautomatic weapons once in office. The NRA—which had helped put Smith over the top in 1988—launched a negative ad campaign against Smith and distributed “Dump Peter Smith” bumper stickers throughout Vermont, with a young Wayne LaPierre (who has headed the NRA since 1991) urging the state’s 12,000 NRA members to cast a “protest vote for Bernie Sanders.”

Though Sanders repeatedly and publicly disavowed the NRA’s support—and made clear, sometimes to gun owners’ faces, he supported the same gun control measures as Smith—the matter became a question of trust and credibility.

“Smith was hurt by that notion of him as waffler,” says Dennis Gilbert, who met Sanders at Hamilton College and worked as a pollster and issue researcher on the campaign. Vermonters polled, Gilbert says, thought Smith was “inconsistent,” “broke promises” and was “a typical Washington politician.” It worked in Sanders’ favor. “At least he’s consistent and tells the truth,” one gun store owner said about Sanders.

A delegate to the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, who switched allegiances to Sanders, explained:“We vote for people because we don’t want to worry what they’ll do after we elect them. If you can’t count on their word, by golly, they’re not even worth the spit.”

Meanwhile, Sanders transplanted the door-to-door, boots-on-the-ground campaigning of his mayoral days. While Smith relied primarily on mailings, media coverage and press releases, hundreds of Sanders volunteers traveled across Vermont to register thousands of voters, a volunteer army of which the NEA and its teachers formed a crucial part.

“They worked like crazy in the 1990 election,” recalls Jim Schumacher, who directed the campaign’s field organization. “They were one of the most reliable sets of volunteers I ever worked with.”

While Smith opened only one campaign office, Sanders opened five—three of them in southern Vermont, where Smith had won 92% of his winning margin in 1988 and where Sanders now spent days campaigning. With his mayoral days behind him, and with Smith holed up in Washington, Sanders matched his volunteers’ intensity, crisscrossing the state.

“He wanted to shake as many hands, meet as many Vermonters, as humanly possible,” Gilbert says. “And he went out and did it.”

“What Bernie would do, he would get in a car with [current senior advisor Jeff] Weaver driving, and they would go from one end of the state to another over the course of the day,” Rosenfeld says. “They’d make sure he would get interviewed on a handful of media markets.”

And despite Sanders’ initial difficulties with disgruntled local Democrats and national unions, the majority of the state’s prominent party members (including, crucially, those from the south) swung their support behind Sanders.

By October 1990, Sanders and Smith were tied in the polls.

But the fatal mistake that finally put Sanders over the top was Smith’s
decision to launch a negative campaign. Like Sanders’ opponents today, Smith cherrypicked quotes to make him seem anti-Democrat and sympathetic to authoritarian, Communist regimes. An attack ad Smith ran on Vermont TV misleadingly quoted Sanders saying he had been “nauseated” by President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration speech—though the comment had actually been about Kennedy and Richard Nixon’s Cold War one-upmanship. The ad also hit Sanders for praising Cuba, leaving out his criticism of the authoritarian government.

In interviews, Smith demanded Sanders reveal the identity of his small donors and began assailing “Swedish-style socialism” for its high taxes and cost of bread.

The people of Vermont, however, were not surprised to hear that Sanders was a socialist. “At first, we were wary of Bernie Sanders,” one conservative police officer told the press. “The socialism stuff. … But after eight years with him, I can tell you that he’s played fair.”

The Sanders campaign
debated how to respond and, according to accounts by Gilbert and Rosenfeld, split along gender lines. The men argued for Sanders to hit back with his own attack ad. The women, including Jane Sanders and campaign manager Rachel Levin, staunchly urged Sanders to keep the high ground. Ultimately, Sanders refused to launch a negative campaign (“It’s something I never have done, never will do”) but did hit back with a new ad: It featured him speaking directly to the camera, regretting “that my opponent, finding himself behind in the polls, is now resorting to the most negative and dishonest advertising this state has ever seen.”

The backlash was swift. Vermonters across the political spectrum made their disgust known. “I can’t believe that Smith is redbaiting,” one voter told the Bennington Banner. “It’s McCarthyism. Redbaiting is a thing of the past.”

Even Smith backers like the Burlington Free Press and former Gov. Thomas Salmon criticized the ads. Furious Smith supporters told him he had lost their vote. His neighbor of 20 years refused to shake his hand.

Without a word, Smith abruptly cancelled a five minute attack ad meant to run three times in a week.

Though Sanders remained uneasy, with memories of the 1988 campaign’s final hours haunting him, Smith’s miscalculation spelled the end. According to the Sanders campaign’s internal polling, Smith’s numbers plummeted after the negative ads.

When the polls closed, Sanders had beaten Smith 56% to 40%, winning every single county but one—even Republican strongholds. The southern strategy paid off, providing Sanders with Vermont’s two biggest cities in a complete reversal, while the anger of gun owners had delivered the overwhelmingly red western part of Rutland county.

Long-time Sanders ally Terry Bouricius says the 1988 and 1990 House races followed a familiar pattern, one he sees in Sanders’ decision to run again after 2016: “You run, you do better than people expect, you position yourself to be the serious candidate next time, and then you win.”

“This is the third time the same logical sequence occurred,” Bouricius says of 2020.

Posted on

Sports events around the world hit by coronavirus pandemic

(Reuters) – Major sports events around the world that have been hit by the coronavirus outbreak:

FILE PHOTO: Olympics – Olympic Flame – Panathenaic Stadium, Athens, Greece – March 14, 2020 The Japanese national flag waves next to an altar with the Olympic flame of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, following the cancellation of the torch relay as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis

OLYMPICS

* The Tokyo 2020 Olympics torch lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia was held without spectators.

* The Olympic Games flame handover in Athens will be done in an empty stadium on March 19.

* The Hellenic Olympic Committee suspended the remainder of the torch relay through Greece to avoid attracting crowds.

OLYMPIC TRIALS

* U.S. trials for wrestling (April 4-5) were postponed.

* U.S. Rowing postponed its team trials.

* U.S. diving trials (April 3-5) were postponed. All USA Diving events postponed for next 30 days.

NORTH AMERICA

* The NBA suspended its season.

* The NHL suspended its season.

* The MLB will delay its 2020 season’s opening day of March 26 by at least two weeks.

* Boston Marathon organisers postpone the race from April 20 to September 14.

* The National Hockey League has told players, including those from outside North America, they can return home and should self-quarantine through March 27, lengthening the period the NHL had said it was pausing its season.

* After postponing the Olympic trials, USA Wrestling discontinued all sanctioned events through April 6 and postponed national events through April 20.

SOCCER

* All elite soccer matches in England, including the Premier League, Football League and Women’s Super League, were suspended until April 4.

* Germany’s Bundesliga and second division will pause at least until April 2.

* The Bolivian Football Federation on Monday suspended all play until at least March 31.

* UEFA postponed all Champions League and Europa League matches due to take place between March 17-19.

* The Confederation of African Football postponed two rounds of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers (March 25-31).

* CONCACAF suspended all competitions, including the Champions League and men’s Olympic qualifiers.

* The top two tiers of French football — Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 — were suspended.

* All matches in Spain’s top two divisions were postponed for two weeks.

* England’s friendly internationals against Italy and Denmark at Wembley (March 27 and 31) will not take place.

* U.S. Major League Soccer suspended its season.

* All soccer in the Netherlands was suspended until the end of March.

* FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation agreed to postpone Asian World Cup qualifying matches in March and June.

* FIFA postponed South American qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup between March 23-31.

* Spain’s Copa del Rey final between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad (April 18) was postponed.

* New seasons in the Chinese, Japanese and South Korean leagues were postponed.

* Australia’s A-League banned fans from matches for the rest of the season.

* A four-team event in Doha featuring Croatia, Portugal, Belgium and Switzerland (March 26-30) was cancelled.

* Tickets are not being sold for the Euro 2020 qualifying playoff semi-finals between Bulgaria and Hungary, and Bosnia and Northern Ireland.

* Asian Champions League: Matches involving Chinese clubs Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG were postponed. The start of the knockout rounds was moved back to September.

* The Mexican soccer league said all matches in the top-flight, second tier and women’s league were suspended until further notice.

* The Brazilian football Confederation suspended all national competitions until further notice.

ARCHERY

* International archery has been suspended until April 30, which will affect qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Pan American Championships (March 23-29), Oceania Championships (April 5-9) and European Para Championships (April 18-26) were quota tournaments for the Olympics.

ATHLETICS

* The World Athletics Indoor Championships (Nanjing, March 13-15) were postponed. They will be held in the same city from March 19-21, 2021.

* The Paris and Barcelona marathons were postponed.

* The London marathon (April 26), was postponed to Oct. 4.

* The Penn Relays, set to be held from April 23-25, are cancelled for the first time in the track event’s 125-year history. The Mt. SAC Relays and Florida Relays, also scheduled for April, and the March Texas Relays, are all cancelled.

BASEBALL

* The final qualification tournament in Taiwan for the Olympics was put back from April to June 17-21, while the March 22-26 qualification event in Arizona was postponed.

* Japan’s professional league postponed the start of the season.

BASKETBALL

* Euroleague Basketball suspended all 2019-20 EuroLeague, EuroCup and Euroleague Next Generation Tournament games.

BOXING

* The European, American and final world qualifying boxing tournaments for the Tokyo Olympic Games were suspended on March 16. The IOC said the European qualifier in London that was already underway and due to run to March 24 would end after the evening session on March 17.

CRICKET

* The last two games of Australia’s three-match one-day international series against New Zealand in Sydney and Hobart were cancelled.

* Australia and New Zealand’s limited overs tours were postponed.

* The start of the Indian Premier League T20 tournament (March 29) was postponed until April 15.

* The boards of India and South Africa agreed to reschedule a three-match ODI series to a later date. The first match on March 12 was washed out.

* England’s two-match test series in Sri Lanka scheduled to start on March 19 was postponed.

* The final leg of Bangladesh’s tour of Pakistan, which involved a test match and an ODI in April, was postponed.

* Zimbabwe and Ireland agreed to postpone a six-match men’s series scheduled for Zimbabwe in April.

CYCLING

* Cycling’s governing body plans to retroactively use March 3 as the cut-off point for Olympic qualification in mountain bike, BMX Racing and BMX Freestyle.

* The final two stages of the UAE Tour were cancelled after two Italian participants tested positive.

* The Paris-Nice cycling race ended a day early after the eighth stage into Nice was cancelled.

* The Giro d’Italia, scheduled to start in Budapest, Hungary on May 9, was postponed.

GOLF

* The year’s first major, the Masters, was postponed from April 9-12 to “some later date”.

* The Players Championship in Florida was cancelled after the first round. The next three PGA events were also scrapped.

* The Honda LPGA Thailand event and the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore were cancelled.

* The next three LPGA Tour events scheduled for Arizona and California were postponed.

* The Indian Open, the Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur and the China Open were postponed.

GYMNASTICS

* The All-Around World Cup (Stuttgart; March 20-22) was cancelled.

ICE HOCKEY

* The Swedish Ice Hockey Association ended the 2019-20 season with no playoffs, no champions, no promotion and no relegation.

* Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) and Jokerit Helsinki (Finland) have both withdrawn from the Kontinental Hockey League playoffs.

JUDO

* The International Judo Federation cancelled all Olympic qualification events until the end of April.

MOTORSPORT

* Formula One cancelled the Australian Grand Prix and postponed the next three races in Bahrain, Vietnam and China.

They hope to start the season in Europe at the end of May, putting the Dutch and Spanish races currently scheduled for May 3 and 10 in Zandvoort and Barcelona in doubt.

* Four rounds of the MotoGP season in Qatar, Thailand, Texas and Argentina will not go ahead as scheduled.

* NASCAR races at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 15) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (March 22) were postponed.

* Round four of the World Rally Championship in Argentina (April 23-26) was postponed.

* The World Rallycross Championship opener in Catalunya-Barcelona (April 18-19) was postponed.

* Rally Mexico was cut short after the second leg.

* The seventh round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, scheduled for April 23-25 in Spa, Belgium, has been postponed.

ROWING

* Two World Rowing Cups and the European Olympic Qualification Regatta, all scheduled for Italy, were cancelled.

RUGBY

* Four Six Nations matches were postponed.

* The Singapore and Hong Kong legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series were postponed from April to October.

* Rugby Europe announced a suspension of all its matches and tournaments from March 13-April 15.

* France’s rugby federation suspended all its competitions.

* The Premiership Rugby Cup final on Sunday (March 15) was postponed.

* Super Rugby has suspended its season.

* Rugby Australia locked down its headquarters to be disinfected after two members of the national rugby sevens programme were tested for the virus.

* South Africa Rugby suspended all national team training camps until April 14.

SAILING

* SailGP cancelled its San Francisco event (May 2-3).

TENNIS

* The ATP suspended its professional men’s tennis tour for six weeks after the Miami Open (March 23-April 5) was cancelled.

* The Fed Cup finals (Budapest; April 14-19) were postponed.

* The BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells was cancelled.

* The WTA Tour was suspended until May 2 and tournaments in Stuttgart, Istanbul and Prague will not be held as scheduled.

TRIATHLON

* The International Triathlon Union suspended all activity until April 30.

PENTATHLON

* The rest of the modern pentathlon World Cup season was postponed until May.

WINTER SPORTS

* The International Ski Federation cancelled the final races of the men’s Alpine skiing World Cup.

* The World Cup finals in Cortina were cancelled along with the last three women’s races in Are.

* The women’s world ice hockey championships in Canada were cancelled.

* The speed skating world championships in Seoul were postponed until at least October.

* The March 16-22 world figure skating championships in Montreal were cancelled.

VOLLEYBALL

* The African Volleyball confederation will postpone beach volleyball Olympic qualifiers due to international travel restrictions preventing athletes taking part.

Compiled by Shrivathsa Sridhar, Rohith Nair, Hardik Vyas and Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, Frank Pingue in Toronto, Amy Tennery in New York, Robert Muller in Prague and Gene Cherry in Raleigh; Editing by Ken Ferris, Ed Osmond, Toby Davis, Kevin Liffey

Posted on

U.S. tells older people to stay home, all ages to avoid crowds – The Denver Post

WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday urged all older Americans to stay home and everyone to avoid crowds and eating out at restaurants as part of sweeping guidelines meant to combat an expected surge of coronavirus cases.

President Donald Trump and the coronavirus task force released the guidelines as the U.S. government moved to try to blunt the impact of the virus, racing to bolster testing and aid even as financial markets fell and Americans scrambled to reorder their lives.

Among the new recommendations: Over the next 15 days, Americans should not gather in groups of more than 10 people, schooling should be at home and discretionary travel and social visits should be avoided. If anyone in a household tests positive for the virus, everyone who lives there should stay home.

The president, in an appearance in the White House briefing room, when asked when the pandemic would subside, said that “if we do a really good job” the crisis could pass by July or August, a far less optimistic take than in his earlier predictions that it could be over within weeks.

“We will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus,” Trump said. “We can turn the corner and turn it quickly.”

The president also, for the first time, acknowledged that the virus, which has battered the global markets, may send the nation’s economy into a recession, a potentially brutal blow for an incumbent in an election year. He also, without providing details, said of the administration, “we’re going to back the airlines 100%,” a note of reassurance for an industry crippled by travel bans and fears of spreading the virus.

Trump, who adopted his most somber tone yet when discussing the crisis, acknowledged that it was “not under control” in the United States or globally but said he did not yet plan to call for domestic travel restrictions. He said the U.S. will probably be dealing with this pandemic until July or August.

The administration did not immediately define what an an older American was in terms of the recommendation to stay home.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

The U.S. government moved Monday to try to blunt the impact of an expected surge of coronavirus cases, racing to bolster testing and aid even as the financial markets fell and Americans scrambled to reorder their lives.

In a capital resplendent in cherry blossoms but awash in anxiety, Congress convened to try to finish an aid package and consider another one behind it. The Supreme Court postponed oral arguments for the first time in over a century. Many people in the capital, as around the country, sought safe distance from each other.

Posted on

Rand Paul and Mike Lee trying to ‘hoodwink’ Trump into killing anti-terrorism FISA powers

Former U.S. Attorney Andrew McCarthy argued Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee are trying to “hoodwink” President Trump into killing three Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act powers unrelated to the Trump-Russia FISA abuses of 2016.

“Senators Paul and Lee may be wrong about counterterrorism, but they’re not dumb. They realized that if they could persuade the president that ‘FISA reform’ was really about holding the FBI accountable for the Trump–Russia collusion shenanigans, they could achieve a major roll-back of post-9/11 counterterrorism policy,” McCarthy wrote in a National Review column over the weekend. “Senators Paul and Lee, their progressive allies, and the Trump supporters they’ve hoodwinked would make us vulnerable to terrorists without fixing FISA.”

Three FISA authorities lapsed Sunday: “roving wiretap” power which lets agents continue tracking a suspect even when they switch cellphones, the “lone wolf” amendment allowing officials to monitor suspected terrorists with possible links to foreign groups, and the “business records” provision giving investigators the ability to collect records and follow the money. The House voted to renew the powers last week, but the Senate has yet to vote.

The legislation includes changes to the FISA process to strengthen congressional oversight and discourage politicized investigations, and the leaders of both parties, along with Attorney General William Barr, support renewal. Some of the GOP’s biggest FBI critics, such as Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Devin Nunes of California, also supported the FISA reauthorization.

But Trump hinted he may veto it, and Lee and Paul threw Senate roadblocks up, using the FISA expiration to push for fundamental changes.

FISA’s “lone wolf” amendment, part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, as well the “roving wiretaps” and “business records” provisions, which as aspects of the USA Patriot Act of 2001, are considered by national security experts to be key tools for thwarting attacks and catching spies. McCarthy wrote that “FISA surveillance (the kind to which the Trump campaign was subjected) will not die if the three provisions lapse” and “the only things that will die are investigative tools that help our government monitor actual clandestine operatives.”

McCarthy, who wrote a book titled, Ball of Collusion: The Plot to Rig an Election and Destroy a Presidency, argued the three powers at stake “have very little to do with FISA — and nothing to do with the Russia-related malfeasance that comes to mind when Paul, Lee, and Trump supporters rail about ‘FISA reform.'”

Lee took to the floor of the Senate to make his case.

“They used the apparatus of the U.S. government’s superb intelligence gathering agencies to spy on then-candidate Donald Trump, now President of the United States,” the Republican Utah senator said. “They did so in a way that was entirely predictable, entirely foreseeable, and in some ways avoidable if we had the right laws on the books.”

Trump’s allies have demanded FISA reform after DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz released a report criticizing the Justice Department and FBI for at least 17 “significant errors and omissions” related to the FISA surveillance of Trump campaign associate Carter Page and the reliance on British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s salacious and unverified dossier.

Lee focused his ire on the business records provision and said he’d be “fine” with the other two provisions being reauthorized. He suggested a 45-day extension on the current law to give more time for debate.

“If the president of the United States has reason to be concerned about FISA, what about the rest of Americans?” Lee said. “What we’re seeking here are a few modest reforms to make sure it’s a little bit harder to abuse this law.”

Lee called the FISA power expirations a “unique opportunity” to make changes.

Paul released a statement saying, “we should not reauthorize these expiring surveillance powers without real reform.” The Republican Kentucky senator tweeted that “the ‘Deal’ on FISA is weak sauce diluted & made impotent by A.G. Barr.”

Trump tweeted last week that “many Republican Senators want me to Veto the FISA Bill until we find out what led to, and happened with, the illegal attempted ‘coup’ of the duly elected President of the United States, and others!”

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that “we have to continue equipping our national security professionals and the intelligence community to anticipate, confront, and eliminate the threats facing our country — and we also have to respond to the failures of 2016 with real reforms.”

Jordan, who calls the FBI’s 2016 actions a “coup” attempt, helped the FISA legislation pass the House, saying it “begins to address the problems that we saw with the FBI’s illegal surveillance.”

Nunes, who warned about FISA abuse since 2017, also helped usher it through.

“FISA is a critical tool for thwarting terrorist plots and collecting vital intelligence on actors who are hostile to U.S. interests,” the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee said. “This is the first step in imposing reforms to address these gross abuses and restore accountability.”

The FISA reforms in the bill include requiring attorney general approval to obtain surveillance against federal candidates, stronger penalties for FISA abuse, and congressional access to FISA materials. The legislation expands the role of the court-appointed amicus curiae, increases the power of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and creates an Office of Compliance at the FBI. And it ends the government’s ability to collect phone call metadata.