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Roger Stone’s Motion for New Trial Denied, Must Report to Prison in 14 Days

United States District Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied a motion requesting a new trial for Roger Stone, the convicted former adviser to President Donald Trump, in a Thursday ruling. Court documents show that Stone must appear in person “at the instution designated by the Bureau of Prisons” within 14 days to serve out his sentence. Stone is currently on bond.

Stone was found guilty in 2019 of obstructing an investigation conducted by Congress, witness tampering and making false statements to the U.S. Government in relation to alleged meddling in the 2016 election by Russia.

Legal counsel for Stone requested a new trial after the foreperson of the jury, Tomeka Hart, was revealed to have posted anti-Trump sentiments on her social media pages. Allegations were also made that Hart lied on her jury application to appear as if she were not biased against Republicans.

Roger Stone, former adviser and confidante to U.S. President Donald Trump, was denied a retrial by a federal judge on Thursday.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Prosecutors originally recommended a sentence of up to nine years for Stone. However, after indications from the Department of Justice that Stone’s sentence could be lightened, the prosecution team resigned. Stone was eventually sentenced to 40 months in prison.

Hart, who had remained anonymous, came forward in defense of the prosecutors in February.

“It pains me to see the DOJ now interfere with the hard work of the prosecutors,” Hart wrote. “They acted with the utmost intelligence, integrity, and respect for our system.”

Judge Jackson’s decision concluded that Hart had done no wrong and “did not engage in misconduct during the trial.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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June 2017 US Intel Report Indicated 2 People Associated with Russian Intel Knew About Dossier Research

Rod Rosenstein

CBS News reporter Catherine Herridge obtained newly declassified footnotes in IG Horowitz’s report showing multiple warnings to the FBI about Hillary’s phony Russia dossier but they used it anyway to spy on Trump’s campaign and to sabotage his presidency.

As TGP previously reported, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee Ron Johnson and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Chuck Grassley Tuesday sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr asking him to declassify four footnotes in Horowitz’s report on FISA abuse.

The Senators stated that the classified footnotes contradict what is publicly available in Horowitz’s report related to Crossfire Hurricane, the CI investigation opened into Trump’s campaign in July of 2016.

One of the declassified footnotes revealed in early June of 2017, US intel was aware 2 individuals associated with Russian intel were knew of Christopher Steele’s “election investigation” in July of 2016, 3 months before the FBI used the dossier to obtain FISA warrants on Carter Page.

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“..[A]n early June 2017 USIC (US Intelligence Community) report indicated that two persons affiliated with RIS (Russian Intelligence Services) were aware of Steele’s election investigation in early July 2016,” the footnote said. “The Supervisory Intel Analyst told us he was aware of these reports, but that he had no information as of June 2017 that Steele’s election reporting source network had been penetrated or compromised.”

The timing of this intel report is significant because then-DAG Rosenstein used the dossier as a pretext to spy on President Trump that same month!

In June of 2017, Rod Rosenstein, along with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, signed the fourth and final FISA application on Carter Page.

The exact date of the FISA application along with 20 additional pages are still redacted.

Screenshot of Rosenstein’s signature on June 2017 FISA renewal app:

The timing of this US intel report is also significant because Rod Rosenstein had just appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate “Trump-Russia collusion.”

So US intel agencies and the FBI both knew the dossier was Russian disinformation yet they allowed Mueller to rove around for 2 years unchecked probing Trump and harassing/arresting his associates for non-crimes.

There’s more…

Rod Rosenstein relied on the phony dossier to expand Mueller’s probe in his August 2017 scope memo.

Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) previously told Sean Hannity that he “finally” saw Rosenstein’s ‘scope memo’ which authorized Mueller to go on a fishing expedition.

Nunes suggested that the August 2 2017 ‘scope memo’ written by then-DAG Rod Rosenstein shows Hillary’s phony dossier permeated the special counsel’s investigation.

“Because ultimately that Steele dossier permeated all the way through, ultimately to the Special Counsel,” said Nunes. “…I was finally able to see the scope memo and remember, I had these concerns that it was based upon the Steele dossier.”

Despite all of this information, there still has been no indictments of the Deep State coup plotters.

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Trump Set to Lay Out Plan for ‘Reopening’ America

President Donald Trump intends to announce guidelines Thursday for states to “reopen” as the nation makes progress against the coronavirus pandemic.

“The data suggests that nationwide we have passed the peak on new [COVID-19] cases. Hopefully, that will continue,” Trump said Wednesday evening in the Rose Garden at the White House. “These encouraging developments have put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines for states on reopening the country, which we’ll be announcing tomorrow.” 

Trump also threatened to use his “constitutional authority” to adjourn both houses of Congress so that he could make recess appointments because Senate Democrats continue to block dozens of his nominations, some of which he said are important in the fight against COVID-19. 

Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution grants the president the power, “on extraordinary occasions,” to “convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper.”

Trump said he and the White House coronavirus task force will brief governors Thursday on the guidelines to reopen the country, then announce them to the public. 

The president said the change won’t happen all at once, since each state is different. 

“We’ll be opening up states, some much sooner than others,” Trump said.  “We think some of the states can actually open up before the deadline of May 1, and I think that will be a very exciting time indeed. Governors are looking forward, they are chomping at the bit to get going.”

Trump spoke to industry leaders and CEOs earlier Wednesday in a conference call to get feedback on reopening the nation’s economy, among them Heritage Foundation President Kay C. James.

Trump announced Tuesday that James is among influential leaders named to 17 “Great American Economic Revival” groups that he would consult on getting the country back to work.

“I am grateful to work with President Trump alongside economists, scholars, and industry leaders on the Great American Economic Revival,” James said in a prepared statement. “We are committed to developing plans to get Americans back to work as soon as it’s safe to do so and helping the nation recover from COVID-19.”

James, named by the president to the “thought leaders” group, continued:

“Heritage recently formed the National Coronavirus Recovery Commission, bringing together experts in medicine, economics, business, government, disaster relief, and education to develop recommendations to save both the lives and livelihoods of Americans from this pandemic and provide our nation’s leaders with a road map to reopen America when the time comes to do so safely. I am excited to bring those recommendations to the president’s Great American Economic Revival team.”

The Daily Signal is the multimedia news organization of The Heritage Foundation.

Trump administration officials note that while there are coronavirus hot spots in the Northeast and former hot spots on the West Coast, 25 states have fewer than 2,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nine states have fewer than 1,000. 

The U.S. has seen 605,390 cases of COVID-19 and 24,582 related deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although Vice President Mike Pence put the death toll at over 27,000 Wednesday evening.

Responding to reporters’ questions, Trump again said that the federal government has the authority to require individual states to reopen. But, he said, he prefers not to take that route. 

“If we’re not happy, we’ll take very strong action against a state or a governor,” Trump said. “If we’re not happy with the job a governor is doing, we’ll let them know about it. As you know, we have very strong action we can take, including a close-down. But we don’t want to do that. We’re working with the governors.”

Pence, a former Indiana governor as well as congressman, has been the president’s point man in communicating with governors.

The vice president, who also chairs the White House’s coronavirus task force, noted that 3.3 million tests for COVID-19 have been administered, yielding 619,000 positive results.

Still, Pence noted, 24% of all counties in the United States have zero confirmed cases of the contagious disease caused by the new coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China.

“Sadly, we mourn the loss of more than 27,000 of our countrymen,” Pence said. “Despite the heartbreaking losses, we are getting there, America.” 

Rhode Island is getting hard hit by COVID-19 cases that originate in New York City and Boston, even as those cities are seeing a decline, said Dr. Deborah Birx, response coordinator for the task force.

Birx said things are looking up, but offered a sober warning. 

“I will just remind the American people again, this is a highly contagious virus. Social gatherings, coming together, there is always a chance that an asymptomatic person can spread the virus unknowingly,” Birx said, adding:

No one is intending to spread the virus. We know if you are sick you will stay home. But to all of you out there that would like to join together and just have that dinner party for 20, don’t do it yet. Continue to follow the presidential guidelines. We really appreciate the work of the American people.

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David Sirota: The Democratic Party’s Tyranny of Decorum Helped Sink Bernie

Sanders could have gone harder against Biden, but ultimately it was the establishment that stood in his way.

The establishment may be weaker than ever—but it is still enormously powerful, especially because so much of the media often echoes its objectives.

Note: I’ve known Bernie Sanders for 21 years. He’s been a hero for me. I deeply respect his life’s work and he remains an inspiration to me—and no amount of post-election gossip, punditry or backbiting will change that. Working on his campaign was a great honor, and I’ve thanked him and so many others for that experience. What follows are some frank takeaways from the campaign. We did not run a perfect race—and having worked on both winning and losing campaigns, I accept my share of responsibility for that. Lord knows I was hardly perfect—and from the very beginning until the very end, I’ve taken my share of criticism. But I believe that we have an obligation to look back on the painful past because we must always try to learn lessons for the future. – D


If you’ve read the autopsies of the Bernie 2020 campaign in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Politico, Buzzfeed or CNN, you’ve probably read a version of a story that goes something like this: pollster Ben Tulchin, co-chair Nina Turner and I were fire-breathing monsters aggressively pushing Bernie to “attack” Joe Biden, Bernie refused to do it, and that’s why Bernie lost. 

There are some nuggets of truth in here, but there’s also some fiction — and so it is worth separating the facts from the fantasy, in order to understand a huge-but-little-discussed problem plaguing the Democratic Party that I call the tyranny of decorum. 

A Thing That Is True: We Pushed, With Some But Not Enough Success

Yes, it is true — a small group of us with many years of campaign experience pushed Bernie to sharply contrast his own progressive record with Biden’s record of working with Republicans against the Democratic agenda. I’ve been on seven underdog challenger campaigns in my life, and won a few of them — this is campaigning 101: you contrast, or you lose. And with Biden, the contrast was particularly stark.

While Bernie was fighting to stop the Iraq War, Biden helped the GOP pass the Iraq War resolution and vote down Democratic amendments to that resolution. While Bernie was fighting to stop the bankruptcy bill, Biden helped the GOP pass the legislation that could now crush hundreds of thousands of Americans during the coronavirus recession. While Bernie and Paul Wellstone were pushing a bill to lower the price of prescription drugs and prevent profiteering off vaccines developed at taxpayer expense, Biden was helping Republicans kill the initiative. And as I told MSNBC, while Bernie was fighting to protect and expand Social Security, Biden was helping echo the Republican argument for cutting Social Security. 

Even though Biden at times pathologically lied about some of these facts (at one point he actually insisted he didn’t help write his own bankruptcy bill!), this record is verifiable, it is not in dispute. A group of us believed it was important for this record to be spotlighted — because it was good strategy and good for democracy.

We didn’t push Bernie to “attack” Biden in some sort of vicious way. We pushed him to instead simply and very explicitly cast the primary as a choice between a vision of progressive change, and Biden’s promise to his donors that “nothing will fundamentally change.”

To his credit, Bernie at times worked with us and embraced the strategy — and when he did, it was successful (see his Social Security contrast with Biden in Iowa, and see his contrast with Wine Cave Pete in New Hampshire). 

At other times, though, the campaign backed off and did not seize opportunities to explicitly and continually spell out big differences between the candidates. 

Ultimately, Biden was able to avoid having to constantly try to explain his offensive record. Instead, he was allowed to depict himself as a safe, electable “unity” candidate. 

Was it fun to always be one of the people pushing the campaign to be more aggressive, and also eating shit on Twitter for supposedly being “toxic” for simply tweeting a few videos of Biden pushing some grotesquely retrograde policy? No, it was not fun. I have more gray hair and less stomach lining because I pushed. I’m no hero or a martyr, but I can tell you it was awful, excruciating and heartbreaking.

But it was necessary.

A Thing That May Or May Not Be True: Winning

Would we have won had we consistently contrasted with Biden? If we’re gonna play shoulda-coulda-woulda, I’d love to say yes. However, I can’t say that with total confidence, because there are so many variables and because Biden was an extremely powerful primary candidate, even if he may not have seemed like it to the average onlooker.

Let’s remember: in the last 65+ years, no current or immediate past vice president has ever mounted a serious run for president and not successfully secured his party’s nomination at least once. That obscure stat evinces a core truth: if given the choice, voters of both parties almost always opt to nominate people who were a heartbeat away from the presidency (and incredibly, with all the talk about “electability,” they have done this even though vice presidents don’t have a great record in general elections).

As a former vice president who once bragged about being one of the most conservative lawmakers in the Senate, Biden had the support of much of the corporate-aligned party establishment, as well as the billionaire class that correctly saw Bernie as an unprecedented existential threat to their economic interests. 

That establishment may be weaker than ever — but it is still enormously powerful, especially because so much of the media often echoes its objectives. Some examples: CNN likened Bernie to coronavirus. MSNBC ran an all-out campaign against us. Self-described “fact-checkers” insidiously obscured the facts and deflect criticism of Biden’s very clear record. And as Politico reported, “Biden enjoyed nearly $72 million in almost completely positive earned media” in the pivotal days leading up to Super Tuesday.

Maybe a sharper contrast coulda overcome this, maybe not. I’m not sure. 

I am confident, however, that a stronger contrast would have at least put us in a better position to survive when Beto, Klobuchar, and Wine Cave Pete all fell in behind Biden to help him seal Super Tuesday. 

In absence of a tough critique early on and with no day-to-day focus on his record, Biden was able to solidify an “electability” argument he didn’t deserve or earn.

According to exit polls, Biden was able to win the largest share of Democratic voters in 15 states who said health care was their top priority, even though a majority of Democratic voters in those states said they support replacing private insurance with a government run plan — a position Biden opposes.

Biden won Midwest states that have been ravaged by the trade deals that he himself supported.

Biden even won the most Democratic voters in 11 states who said climate was their top issue, despite his far weaker climate plan.

By the time our campaign was finally comfortable consistently making a strong case against him, it was after Super Tuesday and it was too late.

A Thing That Is Dangerously Untrue: Contrasts Are Bad

If you’ve read this far, I know what you are wondering: what explains Bernie’s resistance to more sharply contrasting with Biden? 

IMO, three things, with the third being the most problematic for the future: 

1) Bernie is a deeply principled lawmaker, but he is not a scorched earth politician, and never has been. Since he was first elected to a public office, his approach is one that seems defined by a belief that to make real change from the outside, you must push hard, but always maintain one foot inside the power structure and not try to burn it all the way down. The calculation is that if you are too adversarial against the establishment, you will be instantly marginalized, depicted as irrelevant and disempowered (Side note: as the primary results show, the problem with this theory is that even if you are nice and don’t go scorched earth, the power structure has other ways to defeat progressives).

2) As he himself said, Bernie likes and respects Biden. I personally don’t believe that affinity is justified, considering Biden’s legislative record, but I’m not going to litigate that point. It is what it is.

3) The Democratic Party has manufactured a culture that creates the conventional wisdom and perception that any efforts to contrast opponents’ records from the left in a primary is “negative,” and therefore destructive. 

That culture, of course, is the structural factor that lasts beyond the Bernie campaign, and it is a huge problem. It is a new tyranny of decorum that aims to convince voters to value etiquette, pleasantries and party unity over everything else — even their own economic interests.

Let’s remember: we have just experienced modern history’s first contested Democratic presidential primary in which the candidates declined to seriously criticize each other in any kind of sustained way.

There were certainly momentary flashpoint, but compared to past primaries, this was a muted affair — and if you somehow think this primary was uniquely “negative” because Bernie once in a while gently mentioned Joe Biden’s vote for the Iraq War, you are apparently Rip Van Winkle waking up from a 50-year slumber. You somehow never saw Democratic ads against Howard Dean in 2004, you never saw Hillary Clinton ads depicting Barack Obama as corrupt, and you never heard Obama’s ads and speech portraying Hillary Clinton as a puppet of corporate lobbyists.

The opposite dynamic defined the 2020 primary. As the health care industry ran ads vilifying Bernie’s signature Medicare for All plan, and as a super PAC aired ads suggesting Bernie couldn’t win a general election, the tyranny of decorum dominated the candidate discourse.

Anytime Bernie so much as made a passing mention of one of Biden’s bad votes, there were overwrought accusations that Bernie was “going negative,” hand-wringing warnings about the “perils of going negative,” with Team Biden shedding crocodile tears about “negative attacks.” This transparent bullshit soon became attacks on staffers who dared to point out flaws in Biden’s record — Turner and press secretary Briahna Gray were routinely demonized on social media, and I myself was labeled a toxic “attack dog” for the high crime of periodically tweeting links to Biden speeches in the Congressional Record.

This attempt to scandalize policy criticism supposedly reflected heightened concerns about “electability” — the idea promoted by Democratic politicians and pundits being that sharp contrasts might weaken the eventual Democratic nominee against the existential threat of Trump. 

And yet, history argues exactly the opposite — tough, brutal primaries often end up battle-testing nominees and making them stronger (see President Barack Obama). In the same way the minor leagues can prepare players for the major leagues, brutal intraparty contests subject the eventual standard-bearers to training, and they also suss out potential weaknesses at an early point when a party can still make a different nomination choice. 

By contrast, primaries dominated by demands for “good decorum,” “unity” and “decency” create coronations – and coronations run the risk of creating nominees who are not adequately road-tested, and who are only publicly vetted in the high-stakes general election, well after the party could have made a different choice. 

That is where we are now — a tyranny of decorum has given us a presumptive nominee whose record hasn’t been well scrutinized or challenged. 

One Last Thing That’s True: Contested Primaries Are Good

Now it’s true: Democrats’ cries of “you’re being too negative!” — and all the overdramatic fainting spells about tweets to C-Span videos — did work in the primary. The tactics successfully scandalized any legitimate scrutiny of Biden’s record to the point where mild criticism of specific votes was instantly depicted as a substance-free “controversy” about tone. 

But those same cheap tactics — the screaming about negativity, the whining, the fainting spells — are not going to work when Donald Trump spends a billion dollars on negative ads hammering Biden’s votes for NAFTA and the bankruptcy bill, votes that Biden could have been better prepared to deal with had they been litigated in the primary. He may still be able to defeat Trump (and I’ve said I hope he does), but the comparatively soft primary did not strengthen him for the general election.

Looking ahead beyond 2020, we can’t allow this stifling worship of decorum to define Democrats’ political culture. We must remember that intraparty contrast is good in primaries. 

Hillary bashing Obama was good.

Obama bashing Hillary was good. 

The same goes for down ballot races: Ned Lamont running a tough primary against Joe Lieberman was good. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ending Joe Crowley’s political career was good. 

The 2020 primary was pleasant, civil and polite — and that’s bad.

We’re in the midst of unpleasant, uncivil and impolite emergencies that threaten our country and our planet. A global pandemic won’t be stopped by niceties. The corporations profiting off the health care crisis won’t be thwarted with good manners. The fossil fuel giants intensifying the climate cataclysm won’t be deterred by gentility. And elections will not be won by prioritizing good decorum over everything else.

In short: preventing a real contrast and a real conflict over ideas only serves the establishment and its politicians who know that scrutiny will weaken their power to decide nomination contests and control the future. 

But winning nomination contests without real vetting not only serves corporate power, it also jeopardizes that much-vaunted quality that parties claim to care so much about: general election “electability.” 


P.S. If you are interested in more insights about the campaign, click here to watch this interview I did this week with Cenk Uygur of the The Young Turks.

This piece was first published at Too Much Information.

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, In These Times does not support or oppose candidates for political office.

David Sirota, an In These Times senior editor, served as speech writer for Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign. Follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.

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Copyright ©2020 by the INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, reader-funded publication, IN THESE TIMES does not oppose or endorse candidates for political office. (EIN: 94-2889692)

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Mitt Romney Only Republican Not Included on President Trump’s Congressional Coronavirus Group

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) is the only one of 53 Republican senators who was not invited to be on President Trump’s Congressional coronavirus group on reopening the U.S. economy. Romney was the only Republican senator who voted to convict and remove Trump from office in his impeachment trial earlier this year. Nearly two dozen House and Senate Democrats were named to the group, all of whom voted to impeach or convict Trump.

File screen image from impeachment trial, January 27.

Text of the White House statement with the list of Congressmen and Senators:

President Donald J. Trump Convenes Members of Congress
to Serve on the Opening Up America Again Congressional Group

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Today, President Donald J. Trump and members of his Administration hosted phone calls with Republican and Democrat Members of the House of Representatives and Senate serving on the Opening Up America Again Congressional Group. The President announced that he will soon provide guidance to America’s Governors to determine their ability to reignite the economies in their respective States. The dialogue between the President, senior Administration officials, and the bipartisan group of Members of Congress also included a range of topics, namely the need for additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, the international and domestic supply chains, ways to energize the economy, surprise medical billing, clarifying the difference between essential and non-essential workers, mental health, and relief for small businesses.

Additionally, the Opening Up America Again Congressional Group discussed the rapidly expanding access to COVID-19 diagnostic and anti-body tests, ventilators, face masks, and other PPE. President Trump was pleased to hear such positive feedback from the Members about the work that the Administration is doing to keep America healthy and prosperous, and thanked them for their participation.

The following Members of Congress will serve on the Opening Up America Again Congressional Group:

Members of the United States House of Representatives
Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA
Representative Andy Biggs, R-AZ
Representative Kevin Brady, R-TX
Representative Susan Brooks, R-IN
Representative Steve Chabot, R-OH
Representative Liz Cheney, R-WY
Representative Henry Cuellar, D-TX
Representative Warren Davidson, R-OH
Representative Rodney Davis, R-IL
Representative Ted Deutch, D-FL
Representative Marcia Fudge, D-OH
Representative Matt Gaetz, R-FL
Representative Anthony Gonzalez, R-OH
Representative Josh Gottheimer, D-NJ
Representative Kay Granger, R-TX
Representative French Hill, R-AR
Representative Mike Johnson, R-LA
Representative Jim Jordan, R-OH
Representative John Katko, R-NY
Representative Ro Khanna, D-CA
Representative Derek Kilmer, D-WA
Representative John Larson, D-CT
Representative Billy Long, R-MO
Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-MO
Representative Patrick McHenry, R-NC
Representative Stephanie Murphy, D-FL
Representative Jimmy Panetta, D-CA
Representative Steve Scalise, R-LA
Representative Elise Stefanik, R-NY
Representative Tom Suozzi, D-NY
Representative Greg Walden, R-OR
Representative Lee Zeldin, R-NY

Members of the United States Senate
Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY
Senator Lamar Alexander, R-TN
Senator John Barrasso, R-WY
Senator Marsha Blackburn, R-TN
Senator Roy Blunt, R-MO
Senator John Boozman, R-AR
Senator Mike Braun, R-IN
Senator Richard Burr, R-NC
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV
Senator Tom Carper, D-DE
Senator Bill Cassidy, R-LA
Senator Susan Collins, R-ME
Senator John Cornyn, R-TX
Senator Tom Cotton, R-AR
Senator Kevin Cramer, R-ND
Senator Mike Crapo, R-ID
Senator Ted Cruz, R-TX
Senator Steve Daines, R-MT
Senator Tammy Duckworth, D-IL
Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL
Senator Michael Enzi, R-WY
Senator Joni Ernst, R-IA
Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-CA
Senator Deb Fischer, R-NE
Senator Cory Gardner, R-CO
Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-IA
Senator Maggie Hassan, D-NH
Senator Josh Hawley, R-MO
Senator Martin Heinrich, D-NM
Senator John Hoeven, R-ND
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-MS
Senator James Inhofe, R-OK
Senator Ron Johnson, R-WI
Senator John Kennedy, R-LA
Senator Angus King, Jr., I-ME
Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-MN
Senator James Lankford, R-OK
Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT
Senator Mike Lee, R-UT
Senator Kelly Loeffler, R-GA
Senator Martha McSally, R-AZ
Senator Jerry Moran, R-KS
Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-AK
Senator Rand Paul, R-KY
Senator David Perdue, R-GA
Senator Rob Portman, R-OH
Senator James Risch, R-ID
Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS
Senator Jacky Rosen, D-NV
Senator Mike Rounds, R-SD
Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL
Senator Ben Sasse, R-NE
Senator Rick Scott, R-FL
Senator Tim Scott, R-SC
Senator Richard Shelby, R-AL
Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ
Senator Dan Sullivan, R-AK
Senator John Thune, R-SD
Senator Thom Tillis, R-NC
Senator Pat Toomey, R-PA
Senator Mark Warner, D-VA
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI
Senator Roger Wicker, R-MS
Senator Todd Young, R-IN

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Peter Navarro: President Trump’s Wartime Consigliere

Peter Navarro had an uneven portfolio in Donald Trump’s White House—until Coronavirus.

White House National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro is interviewed by Fox Business Network outside the White House October 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON– “Peter Navarro goes to the White House to be a trade adviser—which is evidence of the thin line that exists ideologically between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in terms of isolationism and protectionism,’’ Golden State strategist Rob Stutzman snipes in Politico

“On immigration and trade, the Trump administration has been radically non-traditional Republican—and Navarro is evidence for that,” says Stultzman of the White House director of the office of trade and manufacturing policy and President Trump’s wartime consigliere. He’s just been tapped as the administration’s point man on the Defense Production Act, an extreme measure invoked in response to a nation ravaged by the fallout to Coronavrius. 

Of course, Stultzman’s right. Just not in the way he thinks. 

Nature is value-neutral and Mr. Stultzman represents a California Republican Party, like in-person dining at family-owned restaurants, he will be remembered as a historical curiosity. Evolution has swept away a perspective that’s both rococo and coo-coo for cocoa puffs. 

Heretofore Republican establishmentarianism is dissolving into a fine mist. The anxious, Nineties platform of the Cali Right—and populist Left—is on the ascent.

Concerns that fully unchecked immigration leads to Balkanization, un-interrogated “free” trade is no trade at all, that America is counterproductively extended abroad, and its cities embarrassingly stretched out at home, look more prescient than preposterous. 

Such anxieties served as the ideological foundation of a motley crew of reformers that dominated but were defeated in a nation-state that joined the union one-hundred and seventy years ago this year. Before waging a one-man, now one-nation war on China, Navarro was a failed Democratic politician complaining about zoning in San Diego. Largesse at home and on the high seas would not be salvation, but sarcophagus. Maybe Navarro was right. Navarro backed Hillary Clinton for First Lady, but rejected her for president. The United States made the same calculation.

As has been noted, from Steve Bannon to Steven Miller, from Michael Anton to Matt Drudge, the gold coast has given America kosher cannabis, sanctioned same-sex marriage, but also, Reagan, Nixon, and now, national populism. What was batted down on Long Beach won power in Washington. And to stare too long at San Francisco’s South of Market district on a bad night, or a good one, is to wonder if the ideas won’t one day rebound back across the continent.

Peter Navarro is a Blue Dog Democrat of the old school, those who know him say. Like the president himself, he’s in the Republican Party because Donald Trump’s on top of it. It’s feature, not bug. 

At one point, Navarro’s fortunes were on the fritz. Forget about all that. He’s joined this phoenix of a president. Like his boss, the two are in their seventies, but have been improbably reborn. Like Milton in Office Space, I’m told Navarro’s office was humiliatingly moved around, especially in the early days, after losing internal patrons like Bannon, the once-White House chief strategist. 

Navarro won’t have to burn the building down now, though. He’s running it.

He gelded Gary Cohn, formerly Trump’s economic point man, in an early 2018 confrontation over tariffs. The ex-Goldman executive resigned in a huff upon discovering, after a year of service, that the populist president was a populist.

Navarro didn’t capture Cohn’s job, but he wasn’t jonesing for it. True, Navarro and Trump aren’t poker buddies. He talks almost like a surfer —among other flourishes, the economist calls people “brother”—and Trump’s cadence is more circus promoter than wave catcher.

But for a politician whose ideas have found ruinously few adherents in Washington proper, Navarro’s nationalist naggings, for Trump, have been a hand on the brain. 

All this came to a head with the onset of the Coronavirus, when Navarro was again prescient. It was going to be a big deal. 

A superbug sent courtesy of Beijing was both menace and manna from heaven, a cathartic vindication of decades of complaints about collapsing regional supply chains, cratering native industry and craven economic decision-making. 

Navarro should work to be remembered as icon, not Icarus. Feuding openly with Anthony Fauci, the District of Columbia’s man behind the curtain, and second-guessing the scientists, is, fair or not, a mug’s game. 

But what’s next? Who knows, brother (or sister). 

But it’s clear now that Peter Navarro’s sojourn in Washington was no shot in the dark. 

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Sen. Joe Manchin will back Biden for president

Sen. Joe Manchin will endorse Joe Biden for president, putting to bed any thought that he might not support the Democratic presidential nominee this time around.

The conservative West Virginia Democrat said in an interview on Thursday that he’s working with Biden, the presumptive nominee, on an endorsement that will come in tandem with a plan to help shield his state from job loss. It’s not a given that Manchin would support Democrats’ presidential platform: He nearly pulled his endorsement from Hillary Clinton in 2016 after she suggested she’d put coal miners out of work, did not support President Barack Obama in 2012 and was recoiling at the thought of Bernie Sanders as Democrats’ nominee this year.

But Manchin has been talking to the Biden campaign since the former vice president won South Carolina’s primary, and said he feels comfortable with Biden and his outreach to Appalachia, where energy jobs are a key part of the economy and politics. Asked on Thursday whether he’d endorse Biden, Manchin replied: “I will, absolutely.”

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Restructuring ODNI Is Not Political Rep. Adam Schiff, It Should’ve Happened Years Ago

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell last week of ‘undermining critical intelligence functions’ but nothing could be further from the truth. Why? Because Grenell is restructuring an agency that should have been overhauled years ago.

In the four page letter Schiff sent to Grenell, which by the way was just 14 minutes before Schiff gave it to the press, he charged the acting DNI with politicizing the intelligence community. The organizational changes being made by Grenell are far from political.

In fact, they are absolutely necessary and he has every authority under the purview of the executive branch to do so. Grenell is working vigorously, according to sources, to consolidate the agency, reduce unnecessary complexity and eliminate redundant work.

These implementations should have happened years ago. Moreover, during the past 24 months the ODNI has conducted four internal studies that have identified opportunities to eliminate duplicate work already being done by other intelligence agencies. Further, the restructuring will allow the ODNI to combine offices within the intelligence agencies to make missions more coherent. More importantly, dozens of positions that have gone unfilled for years may be eliminated.

Intelligence officials and analysts, who spoke to, have said that for years employees of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies have complained that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has become bureaucratically bloated. These officials stressed that the office, which was established in 2004 under the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, has strayed from its original mandate to ensure that all intelligence agencies coordinating, verifying critical intelligence and sharing that intelligence.

Instead, the office has become more of a competitor to the agencies they are supposed to oversee. The ODNI is competing for resources, employees and budgetary allocations that in fact, are repeating much of the same work being conducted by the CIA, FBI, and so forth, say sources.

Currently the ODNI has some 1800 staff employees, plus nearly as many contractors, a number that is far larger than intended when it was first established, intelligence officials added.

“America’s intelligence agencies need leadership and coordination, which is the purpose of ODNI,” said a U.S. Intelligence official, directly familiar with the restructuring. “By implementing carefully considered reforms recommended by prior studies, ODNI can refocus on doing what it needs to do while rolling back duplication of effort and freeing up personnel to fill critical gaps inside the intelligence agencies.  This will make American intelligence stronger.”

Daniel Hoffman, who spent more than three-decades in the CIA clandestine service and a three-time station chief abroad, told this reporter that although many people in the CIA “recognized the value of having a partner that could collaborate with the agencies, there was concern that the DNI itself, was a bureaucracy and was going to grow and become bloated.”

This is what happened over the years with the ODNI, added Hoffman, who was at the CIA when the ODNI was established.

He said that the decision to reorganize the ODNI by Grenell is far from the political accusations raised by Schiff.

“You’ll find the majority of intelligence officers and pundits would agree with the fact that the DNI needs to be reduced in size and that goes far beyond whether you think Rick Grenell is the right guy for the job,” said Hoffman, who is known for his nonpartisan stance in issues related to national security. “I don’t think you can find an intelligence agency director that would be against the restructuring. We don’t have an unlimited number of people to do the jobs and our foreign counterparts see this bloated bureaucracy and wonder who they should go to? Who do they talk to and who they need to deal with directly.”

“The reality is the ODNI is taking people from other agencies to fill the slots and you risk that the mission will suffer when this happens,” said Hoffman, who added that the reforms that are being implemented are necessary.

Hoffman compared what Grenell is doing at the ODNI to what is being done at the National Security Council by National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien. Last year, in October, O’Brien announced plans to reduce the staff, which had ballooned to over 200 people by the end of the Obama administration. Concerns regarding internal leaks of classified information and politicization of the agency may have instigated O’Brien’s actions but regardless it was a necessary measure just based on the history of the NSC. For example, during President Eisenhower’s administration the staff was at a maximum of 50 people. Later, President John F. Kennedy reduced the staff to 20 people, which stayed the same during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency.

Those numbers roughly stayed the same during Nixon’s presidency and then went up to 50 during the first Bush administration, then to 100 during President Bill Clinton and then to 136 during the second Bush administration. Those numbers then jumped to over 200 during the Obama administration.

“Grenell is doing what should’ve been done long ago,” said a former CIA clandestine officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the nature of their ongoing work. “The ODNI isn’t going to be negatively effected by these changes, in fact, just the opposite – the restructuring of the ODNI will set our intelligence agencies back on track and back where they should be.”

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Return to normal not happening anytime soon in the St. Louis region

WASHINGTON – New White House guidelines outline a phased approach to restoring normal commerce and services, but only for places with strong testing and seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases.

President Donald Trump unveiled his administration’s plans to ease social distancing requirements on a call Thursday with the nation’s governors. The new guidelines are aimed at clearing the way for an easing of restrictions in areas with low transmission of the coronavirus, while keeping them in place in harder-hit locations.

Places with declining infections and strong testing would begin a three-phased gradual reopening of businesses and schools, with each phase lasting at least 14 days, meant to ensure that the virus outbreak doesn’t accelerate again.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the guidelines before their public release.

The recommendations make clear that the return to normalcy will be a far longer process than Trump initially envisioned, with federal officials warning that some social distancing measures may need to remain in place through the end of the year to prevent a new outbreak.

At earliest, the guidelines suggest that some parts of the country could see a resumption in normal commerce and social gatherings after a month of evaluating whether the easing of restrictions leads to a resurgence in virus cases. In other parts of the country, or if virus cases resume an up-tick, it could be substantially longer.

Trump briefed the nation’s governors on the plan Thursday afternoon, saying they were going to be responsible for deciding when it is safe to lift restrictions in their states.

“You’re going to call your own shots,” Trump told governors, according to an audio recording obtained by The Associated Press. “We’re going to be standing along side of you.”

Meanwhile, under the federal guidelines, those most susceptible to the respiratory disease would be advised to remain sheltered in place until their area enters the final phase – and even then are advised to take precautions to avoid close contact with other people.

The federal guidelines come after seven governors in the Midwest announced Thursday they will coordinate on reopening the economy, after similar pacts were announced earlier this week in the West and Northeast.

Trump held conference calls earlier Thursday with lawmakers he named to a new congressional advisory task force. The economic costs were clear in new federal data showing that at least 22 million Americans have been thrown out of work in the last month. But the legislators repeatedly urged the president not to sacrifice public health in an effort to reopen the economy.

“My highest priority on this task force will be to ensure the federal government’s efforts to reopen our economy are bipartisan, data-driven, and based on the expertise of public health professionals,” said Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia.

Business leaders, too, raised concerns to the president in a round of calls Wednesday, warning that a dramatic increase in testing and wider availability of protective equipment will be necessary before they can safely revive operations.

The federal government envisions a gradual recovery from the virus, in which disruptive mitigation measures may be needed in some places at least until a vaccine is available – a milestone unlikely to be reached until sometime next year.

“It’s not going to immediately be a situation where we have stadiums full of people,” said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Thursday. “We’re Americans. We will adapt,” he added.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said at a news conference before the call with the White House that he planned to ask the president for “direct cash assistance,” citing the state’s troubled tax revenues. He also said he would press for “robust health care infrastructure” and mass testing with quick turnaround times before reopening the economy.

Trump said Wednesday that data indicates the U.S. is “past the peak” of the COVID-19 epidemic. He said the numbers have “put us in a very strong position to finalize guidelines for states on reopening the country.”

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, added that data from across the country showed the nation “improving,” but that Americans had to recommit to social distancing to keep up the positive momentum.

She said nine states have fewer than 1,000 cases and just a few dozen new cases per day. She said those would likely be the first to see a lifting in social distancing restrictions at the direction of their governors under the guidelines set to be released Thursday.

But participants in a Wednesday call with Trump that included executives of dozens of leading American companies raised concerns about the testing issue, according to one participant who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private discussion.

Another participant said it was stressed to Trump that expansion of testing and contact tracing was crucial, as well as guidelines for best practices on reopening businesses in phases or in one fell swoop.

The participant said those on the call noted to the administration that there was about to be a rush on personal protective equipment. Many businesses that are now shuttered will need the protective equipment to keep their employees and customers safe.

Trump was told “the economy will look very different and operations will look very different,” one participant said.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican close to Trump, said the lack of widespread testing was an impediment to lifting the social distancing guidelines. “We are struggling with testing at a large scale.,” he told ABC’s “The View.” “You really can’t go back to work until we have more tests.”

But some of Trump’s conservative allies, like economist Stephen Moore, have encouraged him to act swiftly, warning of “a mini Great Depression if we keep the economy shut down.”

“That is a catastrophic outcome for our country. Period,” Moore said he advised the president. “We can’t have 30 million people in this country unemployed or you’re going to have social chaos.”

The panel, which Trump dubbed the new Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups, also could help give him a measure of cover. If cases surge once restrictions are lifted, as many experts have warned, Trump will be able to tell the public he didn’t act alone and the nation’s top minds – from manufacturing to defense to technology – helped shape the plan.

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Small-Business Fund to Remain Empty Until Next Week as Congress Fights Over Terms, Hospital Funding

A newly established program designed to bring relief to small-business owners for payroll and operating costs will remain out of money until next week, as lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement over replenishing the diminished funds.

The Paycheck Protection Program that gives forgivable loans to small businesses ran dry Thursday after the Small Business Administration (SBA) said it exhausted its $349 billion by approving more than 1.66 million loans, an equivalent of “more than 14 years’ worth of loans in less than 14 days.”

Congress remains deadlocked over how to appropriate more money, an impasse that comes as roughly 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past four weeks. And with the next opportunity to pass legislation not until Monday and Tuesday in the Senate and House, respectively, relief for small businesses will remain stalled.

“Here’s where we are, a week later, with absolutely no progress,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the floor. “But even now, Senate Democrats are still blocking funding.”

Bipartisan talks between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration to come to an agreement over dueling funding proposals have so far proved unsuccessful. Staffers of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have had several discussions with Treasury Department officials over the past two days—including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

(L-R) U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) looks on as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks during a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on January 15 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty

Of the $251 billion additional money the administration wants, Democrats want a portion—$125 billion—to reach a wider range of recipients by going toward small, community banks and businesses owned by minorities, veterans and farmers. They’re also demanding $100 billion for hospitals and local medical facilities, $150 billion for state and local governments, and for food stamp benefits to be increased by 15 percent.

Republicans and the administration simply want the $251 billion—no strings attached.

“It is absolutely surreal to see Democratic leaders treat support for workers and small businesses as something they need to be goaded into supporting,” McConnell said. He later told reporters “the money for the other programs are not yet out the door. Doesn’t mean we won’t be dealing with it later.”

Some Democrats appear to be warming to the idea of ending the stalemate and allowing the emergency funding to pass, as efforts to reach a deal since last week have yet to bear results. Democrats blocked an effort by McConnell April 9 to pass a clean version shortly before McConnell blocked Democrats’ version.

Democratic Senators Tina Smith of Minnesota and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona wrote in tweets Thursday that the small-business loan money should be approved by the chamber “ASAP.”

But Pelosi and Schumer have yet to say there’s a compromise they can support. Pelosi told reporters on a conference call Thursday there’s no “disagreement about wanting to help small businesses.”

“Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. That’s what we do as legislators,” she said. “We hope that the administration will recognize those needs and not deprive state and local, as well as hospitals, as well as small businesses, of every opportunity to meet the needs of the people we serve.”

Democrats have pointed to the call for more funding from local and state leaders across the country as justification for the additional funds to be included.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors have endorsed the Pelosi-Schumer proposal, and the governors of Maryland, Pennsylvania Michigan and Wisconsin have been among state leaders who’ve requested more resources.

Mnuchin and Democrats are continuing their talks as Republicans are standing by for a deal all sides can support.

“I hope our colleagues will come around soon,” McConnell said of Democrats.