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Fauci, White House COVID-19 task force officials say pandemic will continue for ‘some time’

Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top health officials told a House panel on Friday that novel coronavirus would “likely continue for some time” although they were optimistic the U.S. vaccine effort was on track.

The hearing comes as the number of new COVID-19 cases keep appearing at a worrisome pace. Cases rose above 60,000 on Wednesday — the highest daily tally in more than two months — when more than 1,400 Americans died from the virus.

President Donald Trump has said previously that the virus will suddenly disappear. Fauci disputed that notion in his testimony, as well as suggestions that masks could contribute to infections.

“I do not believe it would disappear because it is such a highly transmissible virus. It’s unlikely it is going to disappear,” Fauci said.

Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, was put on the defensive early in the hearing as Republican Jim Jordan mounted an aggressive campaign to try to discredit his recommendation that Americans avoid crowds.

Jordan accused Fauci of playing politics with the guideline, which Jordan insisted has shut down churches but let protests grow unchecked.

“I don’t judge one crowd versus another crowd,” Fauci told Jordan. “When you’re in a crowd, particularly if you are not wearing a mask, that increases the spread.”

MORE: Tracking Trump and Fauci’s tense relationship

“No limit to protests?” Jordan asked at one point.

“I’m not going to opine on limiting anything,” Fauci said, noting his job was only to look at health recommendations. “I’m telling you what is the danger. You should stay away from crowds.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, arrives for a House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on a national plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic on Capitol Hill, July 31, 2020. (Pool/Getty Images)

The exchange took place amid the first congressional hearing since the Trump administration released revamped guidelines on schools that heavily favored returning students to the classroom — a suggestion that several of the nation’s school district ignored as they opted for virtual learning until states were able to get the virus under control.

Fauci, who last testified before Congress on June 30, is joined during a hybrid in-person/remote hearing by two other leading officials from the White House Coronavirus Task Force: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield, and the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, Adm. Brett Giroir.

“As a grandfather of 11 grandkids and I want these kids back in school,” said the CDC’s Redfield.

MORE: White House blocks CDC director from testifying on schools reopening

But in a joint statement, the government witnesses agreed the virus was here to stay for the time being.

“While it remains unclear how long the pandemic will last, COVID-19 activity will likely continue for some time,” they wrote.

PHOTO: Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, testifies during a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on a national plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 31, 2020. (Erin Scott/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, testifies during a House Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis hearing on a national plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 31, 2020. (Erin Scott/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

On the vaccine, Fauci said he’s been assured personally by FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn that politics won’t corrupt the process and that officials will stick to the science when evaluating and approving potential vaccine candidates.

Fauci said he remains “cautiously optimistic” a vaccine will be available by the end of the year or early 2021, and noted it will be distributed in phases. Fauci said there would be no “reckless rushing.”

MORE: What if MIS-C is just COVID-19 for children?

“I know to some people this seems like it is so fast that they might be compromising safety and scientific integrity, and I can tell you that is absolutely not the case,” Fauci said.

Federal agencies will use committees of bioethicists screened for conflicts of interests and other issues to decide which groups, such as health care workers or the elderly, should be prioritized to recieve the vaccine first.

“I don’t think that will have everybody getting it immediately in the beginning. Probably will be phased in, and that’s the reason why we have the committee is to do that prioritization of who should get it first,” he said.

Fauci, White House COVID-19 task force officials say pandemic will continue for ‘some time’ originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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Five takeaways from a combative Barr hearing

Here are the top takeaways from Barr’s first appearance before the Judiciary panel in his 17-month tenure as attorney general.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York and the panel’s Democrats did not offer Barr any niceties congressional witnesses typically receive. Democrats repeatedly cut off Barr’s responses, accused him of being wrong or lying and made clear they weren’t interested in the explanations he was offering. Barr wasn’t allowed extra time at the end of each lawmaker’s five minutes to respond to questions that witnesses typically receive — forcing Republicans to use their time to let Barr push back on the Democratic accusations.

The effort was clearly part of a strategy from Democrats to show they had already rendered their verdict on Barr’s tenure as attorney general — and nothing he could say would sway that. Democrats charged that Barr was putting President Donald Trump’s interests ahead of the country, and they attacked the attorney general on his involvement in the prosecution of cases involving Trump associates, his response to police protests, his response to coronavirus, his removal of a US attorney and many more topics.

The final Democratic questioner, Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas, accused Barr of refusing to uphold his oath and defend the Constitution, prompting ranking Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio to vocally protest the accusation while Nadler gaveled the hearing to a close.

Black lawmakers call out Barr

Some of the most powerful moments of Tuesday’s hearing came from Black Democrats on the panel, who questioned Barr’s assessments of systemic racism in policing and the response to nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, urged Barr to recognize institutional racism in policing when he said he disagreed that it exists in police departments.

“I would hope that the DOJ would focus on systemic institutional racism,” Jackson Lee responded. “That’s what we need you to join us on, Mr. Attorney General, and to recognize that institutional racism does exist and until we accept that we will not finish our job and reach the goals and aspirations of our late iconic John Lewis.”

Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond called out Barr for invoking Lewis, the Georgia Democratic congressman who died earlier this month, in his opening statement while failing to have any Black people among his senior staff.

“That, sir, is systemic racism. That is what John Lewis spent his life fighting and so I would just suggest that actions speak louder than words and keep the name of the honorable John Lewis out of the Department of Justice’s mouth,” Richmond said.

The Louisiana Democrat also poked holes in Barr’s talking point that 11 White people and eight Black people were killed by police this year — noting that was actually a “glaring disparity” when 85% of the population in the US was White and 15% was Black.

GOP highlights attacks on police

Republicans had their own strategy going into Tuesday’s hearing: to show the attacks that have occurred against police officers.

Jordan ended his opening statement with a lengthy video splicing together descriptions of “peaceful protestors” with scenes of violence and rioting that have occurred in recent weeks, including attacks on police officers.

In questions, Jordan asked Barr at one point if St. John’s Church outside the White House would still be standing if not for the police response, and at another if the courthouse in Portland would be if federal officers weren’t protecting it. Republicans also questioned Barr on his comments that Antifa is a domestic terror threat while criticizing Democrats’ descriptions of Antifa and the protests.

Barr joined in on the criticism, questioning why Democrats weren’t condemning the violence.

“This intolerance in attacking people. I was very worried about that. And now we’ve seen it sweeping through the country like this. And I hope the Democratic Party takes a stand against the violence,” Barr said.

Barr says he’s independent but shows his political stripes

In his opening statement, Barr declared he was independent of Trump, but he also showed some political tendencies throughout the hearing.

Barr was pressed repeatedly on the government’s response to coronavirus, sidestepping questions on Trump’s action and inaction to combat the pandemic. When Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida asked whether Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis was doing an “incredible” job as Trump had said in March, Barr deflected by going after a Democratic governor instead.

“Did Cuomo do an incredible job?” Barr said of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Barr also blamed the Obama administration on Tuesday for the problems with Covid-19 testing, saying it was “a function of President Obama’s mishandling at the CDC.” It’s a false claim that’s been made by Trump and other Republicans — the initial faulty coronavirus test was developed this year.

And Barr’s explanation of his awareness of what the President wanted seemed to wax and wane during the hearing.

Asked about Trump’s tweets about Roger Stone — in which Trump attacked the Stone sentencing recommendation hours before Barr pushed for a lower recommendation — Barr said he did not read the President’s tweets.

“At that point I learned about the President’s tweet because I don’t monitor the President’s tweets,” Barr said.

Later, Barr said of the President’s tweets, “I don’t pay attention to that. Unless they’re brought to my attention.”

Of course, Barr previously said Trump’s tweets feed a much bigger role in his day-to-day responsibilities, saying in a February interview after the Stone decision that the President’s tweets “make it impossible for me to do my job.”
Trump commutes Roger Stone's sentence
Barr defended his actions with Stone and in the decision to drop charges against Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. And Barr defiantly challenged his critics to show him one instance where one of Trump’s political enemies had been indicted.
Of course, while the Justice Department has not indicted Trump’s enemies, prosecutors are investigating Trump’s opponents and critics from the Obama administration, including the probe of the FBI’s Russia investigation led by US Attorney John Durham that’s scrutinizing former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan.

The Justice Department has guidelines against taking actions that could influence an election. Barr on Tuesday declined to commit to refraining from issuing Durham’s findings before November 2020.

Barr’s dubious voting claims

Another key instance where Barr has backed up Trump is on voter fraud tied to mail-in voting, which Trump has falsely claimed will lead to massive fraud and a rigged election. Barr said at the Tuesday hearing that a full vote-by-mail election has a “high risk” of significant voter fraud.

But those claims wilted under closer scrutiny. When Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, a Pennsylvania Democrat, asked Barr to provide evidence that mail-in voting risked of foreign countries producing counterfeit ballots, one of the key allegations Barr has made about fraud, Barr could not do so.

“No I don’t, but I have common sense,” Barr said.

Barr struggled with other election-related questions, too, saying he hadn’t looked into whether Trump could move the date of the election and initially answering it “depends” when asked if it was appropriate for presidents to accept foreign election assistance. After a second attempt, he said it was never appropriate.

Asked what he would do if Trump lost the election but refused to leave office — a scenario Democrats have raised and Trump has stoked by refusing to say he will accept the election results — Barr caveated his answer: “If the results are clear, I would leave office.”

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Trump spins political victory out of Supreme Court defeat

It’s the way Trump has gotten by his whole life, in business and politics. Nothing is a loss, just an opportunity to delay and attack. Trump the businessman countersued when facing loan collectors or allegations of wrongdoing. Trump the politician counterattacks when faced with any staffer who disagrees with him, any opponent who questions his behavior, or any judge who rules against him.

“He’ll weaponize it,” said Bryan Lanza, a lobbyist who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign and transition and remains close to the 2020 campaign. “He’s a counterpuncher.”

Indeed, Trump has already spun Thursday’s Supreme Court rulings — one that rejected the president’s claim of “absolute” immunity in a New York state criminal investigation, another that concluded lower courts did not do enough to scrutinize congressional subpoenas for Trump’s financial records. Within minutes, Trump was on Twitter, excoriating the decisions as the latest data point in the bureaucratic plot to topple his presidency.

“This is all a political prosecution,” he tweeted. “I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration!” Later, he simply wrote in all caps: “POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”

As Trump heads into his battle with presumptive 2020 rival Joe Biden, Trump won’t avoid talking about the investigations into him and his vast real estate empire. Instead, he will characterize them as partisan attacks by Democrats, the media and his critics — the same way he has cast the investigation into Russia’s election interference, his impeachment inquiry and more than a dozen other probes into every entity he has run.

“It’s a political witch hunt, the likes of which nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “It’s a pure witch hunt, it’s a hoax, just like the Mueller investigation was a hoax that I won, and this is another hoax. This is purely political.”

The decisions may fire up Trump’s base. But as Trump continues to struggle in the polls against Biden, Thursday’s Supreme Court decisions may not help much, especially since the base-goosing strategy likely won’t win over the suburban and independent voters he needs.

“The audience Trump speaks to is not the broad audience he needs,” said Republican strategist Doug Heye. Moderate voters are likely “numb” to Trump’s tough talk, Heye said, meaning the president’s predictable response on Thursday won’t hurt him — but it also won’t be a boon to his reelection.

The Trump campaign on Thursday didn’t immediately follow the president’s lead — but it did counterattack. It used the rulings to resurface a claim that Biden is hiding his own records by failing to authorize the University of Delaware to open the archives of his personal files after former staffer Tara Reade accused him of sexual assault.

Trump’s team made the claim even though Biden has said the university does not hold any relevant files, and has instead asked the Senate and the National Archives to open up their files, which he said is where any related documents would be held.

“Democrats want to talk about records?” the campaign tweeted. “They should be taking it up with Joe Biden and the University of Delaware.”

Despite the campaign’s effort to push attention to Biden, Trump continued to talk and tweet about his own records all day.

The Supreme Court’s decisions on the subpoenas postpones the release of any records for the foreseeable future. In the New York case, the court said the prosecutor can ask a grand jury for the documents but left open the possibility that Trump could challenge the request on other grounds. In the congressional case, the court sent the case back to a lower court to examine whether the House should narrow its reason for seeking Trump’s records. Trump signaled he will continue to fight both cases.

But even though Trump may not have his financial ledgers publicly exposed before the election, the decisions put Trump one step closer to possibly facing criminal charges after he leaves office — a two-decades old Justice Department policy protects sitting presidents from being indicted.

Investigators have been trying to access Trump’s records for years to determine whether he inflated his net worth, cheated on his taxes, owed money to foreign entities or paid hush money to women alleging affairs with Trump in violation of campaign finance laws.

The president’s decision to maintain ownership of his sprawling company — despite a pledge to put his business aside while in the White House — has created a vast web of potential conflicts of interest, allegations of illegality and accusations that Trump’s policies are driven by his financial interests.

Trump also created suspicion when he became the first president in recent decades not to release his tax records. Trump has claimed that an ongoing audit is preventing him from opening up the documents. He repeated the claim on Thursday.

Despite Trump’s flurry of angry tweets and statements, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany declared the court decisions “a win for the president” and said House Democrats “were very much called out for their partisan games.”

“So leave it to House Democrats who did a partisan impeachment, a political witch hunt against the president,” she said. “And this was yet another part, only to be rebuked by the Supreme Court.”

For more than three years, Trump has lumped all the investigations he faces into one line of attack at campaign rallies, on Twitter and in impromptu exchanges with reporters. His aides at the White House and campaign send them out in emails and texts, sometimes printing them on campaign merchandise.

Trump supporters quickly followed his lead Thursday.

“For almost four years, Democrats have been singularly focused on attacking President Trump for political gain,” said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. “Today’s decisions by the Supreme Court sadly will not end the Democrats’ partisan obsession. Americans around the country deserve better than the Democrats’ never-ending political games.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to put a positive spin on the rulings, but other Democrats acknowledged that Trump had won, at least for now.

“While defeated on his claim that he is above the law, Trump is now beyond the law until after the November election,” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas). “He may not be able to outrun the law, but he is outrunning the clock — whining all the way.”

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Trump ‘Horrified’ by Violence in Chicago, Demands Lightfoot ‘Restore Law and Order’

President Donald Trump pulled no punches Friday, demanding immediate action from Illinois Democratic leadership following weeks of violence on the streets of Chicago.

Counting himself “horrified” in an open letter to Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the president highlighted from a recent Sun-Times article just a few of the myriad tragedies which befell Chicago on May 31 — the Windy City’s bloodiest day in roughly 60 years.

“I write to you today to call your attention to and urge action on the devastating violence in Chicago,” Trump wrote. “While I have been heartened to see crime reductions nationally the last few years, I have been horrified by the continued violence in this great American city.”

“Violence and death, which are disproportionately harming young African Americans, are tragic and unacceptable, particularly on such a shocking scale,” the president wrote.

“More Americans have been killed in Chicago than in combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq combined since September 11, 2001, a deadly trend that has continued under your tenure.”

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According to the Sun-Times, the last weekend in May saw 25 people killed and more than 85 wounded in gun-related incidents across the Chicago metropolitan area — more than were hospitalized statewide with COVID-19 in the same 48-hour span.

Among the dead were a young father of three, two adolescent students and a three-year-old toddler.

Do you agree with President Trump about Chicago’s crime problem?

Though largely unrelated, the shootings also coincided with protests, looting and rioting brought on by the widely publicized death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police Department custody just one week prior. Those demonstrations had left Chicago police spread thin.

Following two years of decreasing homicide totals, the events were deemed by some city leaders to be anomalous.

However, with no end in sight to roughly three weeks of at-times violent nationwide unrest, the city seems poised to close out 2020 with a double-digit increase in homicides over the previous year, according to The Chicago Tribune.

As of yet, no major criminal justice policy solutions have been forwarded by Democratic state leadership to slow the bleeding in America’s third-largest city.

Pritzker has not personally responded to calls for cooperation with Trump administration in handling Chicago’s recent crime wave, however, the governor’s press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh did attack the president for using the violence as a “press stunt” in an email statement to The Western Journal.

RELATED: Chicago Mayor Calls ‘Scooby-Doo’ Parody Criticizing Her ‘Racist,’ Then the Artist Fires Back

“President Trump is a failure who has once again resorted to a press stunt in an attempt to distract from his long list of failures, especially his response to the deadly coronavirus and nationwide calls for racial justice,” Abudayyeh wrote. “The people of this state and this nation have unfortunately come to expect his unhinged attempts to politicize tragedy with his predictable and worn-out strategy to distract, distract, distract.”

Lightfoot, for her part, was also unreserved in lashing out at the Trump on Twitter, suggesting the letter was an opportunist attempt to score political points with the president’s law-and-order base.

“I don’t need leadership lessons from Donald Trump,” Lightfoot wrote. “As our police officers, street outreach workers and residents continue to work tirelessly to keep our communities safe, he’s using the victims of gun violence in our city to score cheap political points, spew racist rhetoric, and ignore the impact of COVID across this country.”

“It is despicable, disgusting and all too typical. Same old tired playbook. How about some leadership not steeped in the divide and conquer tactics?” the mayor added.

“I stand with @GovPritzker in providing for the safety and well-being of our residents.”

A longtime critic of Chicago’s crime prevention and fiscal policy, Trump throughout his letter said both were to blame for the uptick in violence, lambasting local leaders for their inability to stem the tide despite bloated budgets.

According to the president, cabinet-level figures in the Trump administration stood ready to meet with state and local leaders to seek bipartisan criminal justice and policing reform for a safer Chicago.

His letter did not express confidence, however, that Illinois Democrats would meet the administration halfway, alleging ulterior “political interests” were likely at play across the aisle.

“Unlike previous Administrations of both parties, I am willing to tackle unsolved challenges,” Trump wrote. “If you are willing to put partisanship aside, we can revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Chicago, together. But to succeed, you must establish law and order.”

“Unfortunately, you continue to put your own political interests ahead of the lives, safety, and fortunes of your own citizens. The people of Chicago deserve better,” he added.

The Western Journal has reached out to Lightfoot for further comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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

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GOP lawmakers tear into John Roberts over DACA ruling

“John Roberts again postures as a Solomon who will save our institutions from political controversy and accountability,” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas said in a blistering statement following the ruling.

“If the Chief Justice believes his political judgment is so exquisite, I invite him to resign, travel to Iowa, and get elected. I suspect voters will find his strange views no more compelling than do the principled justices on the Court.”

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, similarly attacked Roberts, criticizing him for once again siding with the liberal justices.

“First, Obamacare. Now, DACA. What’s next? Our second amendment gun rights?” Jordan wrote in a tweet, referring to Roberts’ decision to side with the court’s liberal members in 2012 to uphold the Affordable Care Act in a decision he also penned.

Jordan said in a statement later Thursday that Roberts was “convoluting the law to appease the DC establishment.”

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called Roberts’ decision “lawless” and “contrary to the judicial oath that each of the nine justices has taken.”

The three Republican lawmakers are among the more conservative members of Congress who often follow President Donald Trump’s lead, and the comments suggest a deep displeasure among members of the party with the decision, which comes as a blow to Trump just months before the November election. Though Trump did not publicly criticize Roberts or any other justices by name following the ruling, he blasted the majority opinion in a series of tweets Thursday morning as “politically charged” and said that it “tell(s) you only one thing, we need NEW JUSTICES of the Supreme Court.”

But the decision from the court wasn’t met with harsh criticism from all Republican members of Congress — some simply called for a “legislative solution” to immigration in the wake of the opinion.

“I believe the Supreme Court has thrust upon us a unique moment and opportunity,” Sen. John Cornyn said. “We need to take action and pass legislation that will unequivocally allow these young men and women to stay in the only home, in the only country, they’ve known,” the Texas Republican said.
Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, echoed the sentiment, calling on Congress to “achieve a permanent result both for DACA recipients and border security” that both Congress and the President will agree on.
Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona, who faces a tough reelection fight in November against astronaut Mark Kelly, also called the ruling an “opportunity to do what is right and solve this issue with thoughtful legislation.”

And Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska avoided criticizing Roberts directly, instead telling reporters that she’s “not going to say that Judge Roberts is less of a conservative because of his opinion on this.”

CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.

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House Republican leaders condemn GOP candidate who made racist videos

Republicans had just felt relief after they finally ousted Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a controversial member with a long history of making racially charged remarks, in a primary earlier this month.

Now GOP lawmakers, aides and operatives fear Greene — a wealthy businesswoman who already drew national attention because of her belief in a trove of “QAnon” conspiracy theories — could create an even bigger black eye for the party if she wins the nomination. Greene will face neurosurgeon John Cowan in the Aug. 11 primary runoff.

“These comments are appalling, and Leader McCarthy has no tolerance for them,” said Drew Florio, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) went further, throwing his weight behind Greene’s opponent.

“The comments made by Ms. Greene are disgusting and don’t reflect the values of equality and decency that make our country great,” Scalise said in a statement. “I will be supporting Dr. Cowan.”

In recordings obtained by POLITICO, Greene described Islamic nations under Sharia law as places where men have sex with “little boys, little girls, multiple women” and “marry their sisters” and “their cousins.” She suggested the 2018 midterms — which ushered in the most diverse class of House freshmen — was part of “an Islamic invasion of our government” and that “anyone that is a Muslim that believes in Sharia law does not belong in our government.”

In other videos, she directly compared Black Lives Matter activists to the Neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members who marched at a white nationalist rally three years ago in Charlottesville, Va., denouncing them all as “idiots.” And Greene forcefully rejected the notion there are racial disparities in the U.S. or that skin color impacts the “quality” of one’s life: “Guess what? Slavery is over,” she said. “Black people have equal rights.”

When asked for comment on quotes from the videos, Greene campaign manager Isaiah Wartman did not deny their veracity but declined to elaborate.

“Thank[s] for the reminder about Soros. We forgot to put him in our newest ad. We’re fixing that now,” he wrote in an email to POLITICO. “Would you like me to send you a copy?”

Sitting cross-legged on the floor and sporting an American flag baseball cap, Greene said in one video that unemployment — which affects people of color at disproportionately higher rates — is simply the product of “bad choices” and being “lazy.”

Minorities, Greene added, are being held back in society by gangs, drugs, a lack of education, Planned Parenthood and abortions — “not white people.”

“I know a ton of white people that are as lazy and sorry and probably worse than black people,” she said. “And that has everything to do with their bad choices and their personal responsibility. That is not a skin-color issue.”

Greene later implied that black women have it easier because of affirmative action, complaining they are more likely to get into a college than a white male if they have the same G.P.A.

“The most mistreated group of people in the United States today are white males,” Greene said as she wrapped up one of the videos.

The recordings, in which Greene spends hours ranting to her social media followers, were taped direct-to-camera. The date of the videos is not clear, but they appear to have been recorded between late 2017 and early 2019. She initially launched a campaign in June of last year for Rep. Lucy McBath’s (D-Ga.) seat in Atlanta’s northern suburbs, but switched to the staunchly conservative 14th District when Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) announced his plans to retire.

The top three House GOP leaders, as well as the head of the party’s campaign arm, denounced Greene’s rhetoric upon learning from POLITICO of her derogatory comments about blacks, Muslims and Jews.

While the National Republican Congressional Committee does not get involved in primaries, NRCC spokesman Chris Pack said Chairman Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) is “personally disgusted by this rhetoric and condemns it in the strongest possible terms.”

And a spokesman for GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — who forcefully rebuked King and called on him to step down — said, “obviously, Rep. Cheney opposes these offensive and bigoted comments.”

McCarthy already pulled his support for another controversial GOP candidate in California, Ted Howze, after POLITICO uncovered dozens of social media posts that demeaned Muslims and immigrants.

Despite Greene’s penchant for controversy — she has already faced public criticism for taking a photo with a white supremacist, floating a conspiracy theory that the Las Vegas shooting massacre was a plot to abolish the Second Amendment and calling one of the student activists from Parkland high school “little Hitler”— Greene has earned some congressional support.

She nabbed endorsements from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus; Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill; Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), a Freedom Caucus member and former pastor; and the House Freedom Fund, the political arm for the Freedom Caucus. Jordan and Hice both said they disagree with her statements but have not yet pulled their endorsements; Biggs did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

There is now a growing effort in the GOP to rally around Greene’s opponent. Reps. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) and Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) both backed Cowan on Wednesday morning, as did Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.). Ferguson called her comments “abhorrent” and said in a statement that she “shouldn’t have a place in Congress.”

Scott echoed a similar sentiment, saying “her statements would render her incapable of being an effective member of Congress.”

“This isn’t something that happened 10 years ago, when she said something out of context,” Scott said in an interview.

House Democrats have also pounced on Greene, even before the publication of the videos. Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), the chair of the House Democratic campaign arm, called her a “next-generation Steve King” in a statement.

And Greene’s opponent, Cowan, is making a similar argument ahead of the runoff.

“These comments do not reflect the views of the people of the 14th District,” he said in an interview. “I think she would embarrass our state, and I’m going to do everything I can to keep her from representing northwest Georgia in Congress.”

In one of the videos, Greene offered a full-throated defense of Confederate statues, saying that if she were a black person she would be “proud” to see a Confederate monument “because I’d say, ‘Look how far I have come in this country.’”

Her comments are surfacing amid a heated national debate over whether Confederate statues should be removed and whether military bases named after Confederate leaders should be renamed — a debate that is also unfolding in Congress.

Greene blamed the country’s racial wounds on “identity politics” and President Barack Obama, whom she said only won black voters because of “the color of his skin.” She also suggested that’s why Obama identifies as black, even though he is “half-white” and “American,” Greene noted.

And during another offensive diatribe, Greene accused Democrats of “trying to keep the black people in a modern-day form of slavery” and said black Republicans get called “coon” and “Uncle Toms” by liberal black voters.

“It’s a slavery system to keep their vote,” she said.

In her videos, Greene is particularly preoccupied with the increase in Muslim members of Congress. She referred to freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as “that woman out of Minnesota” who “has got to wear a head covering.” She said members should not be able to take the oath of office on a Koran: “No! You have to be sworn in on the Bible.”

In 2018, Omar and freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) became the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. They have become top targets of the right, along with freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), who are also women of color.

“There is an Islamic invasion into our government offices right now,” Greene said. “You saw after midterm elections what we saw so many Muslims elected. I don’t know the exact number but there were quite a few.”

She said that Muslims “are not being held back in any way” because the Constitution guarantees equality. “But what you people want,” she said, “is special treatment. You want to rise above us, and that’s what we’re against.”

And in another rant, she urged adherents of Sharia law to stay in their own countries and leave the U.S. alone.

“If you want Islam and Sharia law, you stay over there in the Middle East,” she said. “You stay there, and you go to Mecca and do all your thing. And, you know what, you can have a whole bunch of wives, or goats, or sheep, or whatever you want. You stay over there. But in America, see, we’ve made it this great, great country. We don’t want it messed up.”

She also spends several minutes attacking Imtiaz Ahmad Mohammad, a man who was running for the Florida state House, because he is Muslim and an immigrant.

“So let me tell you something. This man is not born in America. He’s from Pakistan. Ok?,” she said, warning he was the only candidate who had filed for the seat, and that “his last name is Mohammad.”

She then attempted to recruit a challenger: “Anyone that lives in that district, you better sign your butt up and run against this guy,” she said. “Because we cannot let him win.”

In a video and on social media, Greene has also touted an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Soros, a Holocaust survivor, collaborated with the Nazis.

“George Soros says dark forces have been awakened by Trump’s win. I don’t think so,” she said in one video. “George Soros is the piece of crap that turned in — he’s a Jew — he turned in his own people over to the Nazis.”

In February 2019, Greene replied to a tweet that included several memes accusing Soros of being part of a secret totalitarian world government. One picture showed Soros as a vampire who controls “every single Democrat politician.” In her reply, Greene called Soros “the Nazi himself trying to continue what was not finished.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition was one of the first GOP groups to denounce her publicly after the primary.

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GOP: Sending COVID19 Patients To Nursing Homes ‘Ended Up Being A Death Sentence’

A group of Republican members of the House subcommittee on the novel coronavirus crisis sent letters to five Democratic governors requesting answers regarding their directives requiring nursing homes to take in recovering COVID-19 patients that led to thousands of deaths. The group to co-sign onto the letter includes House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, LA, Rep. Jim Jordan, OH, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, MO, Rep. Jackie Walorski, IN, and Rep. Mark Green, TN.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the elderly, especially those living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities,” the members wrote in the letters.

“We write seeking information, at a granular level, about the science and information used to inform your decision to mandate nursing homes and long-term care facilities admit untested and contagious COVID-19 patients from hospitals,” the GOP members said. “This decision likely contributed to the thousands of elderly deaths in California. Thank you for your attention and prompt response to this important inquiry.”

In their letter, the members noted that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) March, 13 guidance “for Infection Control and Prevention of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Nursing Homes, adding that CMS Administrator Seema Verma earlier stated that “[u]nder no circumstances should a hospital discharge a patient to a nursing home that is not prepared to take care of those patient’s needs.”

“This guidance is a blueprint for individual states to follow when determining how to best control outbreaks of COVID-19 in nursing homes and long term care facilities. This guidance does not direct any nursing home to accept a COVID-19 positive patient, if they are unable to do so safely,” they wrote.

The GOP members noted that the CMS directive says “’nursing homes should admit any individual that they would normally admit to their facility, including individuals from hospitals where a case of COVID-19 was/is present’ only if the nursing home can follow Centers for Disease Control (CDC) quarantining guidance.”

“The decision of several governors to ignore federal protocols and instead mandate COVID positive patients be forced back to their nursing homes ended up being a death sentence for tens of thousands of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. We owe it to those who died and their grieving families to get to the bottom of why these deadly decisions were made by these governors, ensure we stop this from still taking place, and prevent tragedies like these from happening again as we continue to battle this deadly virus,” Rep. Scalise said in a statement to SaraACarter.com.

Individual letters were sent to California’s Governor Gavin Newsom, New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf for each dismissing the directive and mandating that nursing homes take the patients.

“The vast majority of those dying in nursing homes are located in the states that blew off the President’s direction and the CDC’s guidance. The governors of these states must provide details about their decisions to send contagious COVID19 patients into nursing homes. The American people, and their loved ones, deserve answers,” Rep. Green said in a statement to SaraACarter.com.

The Republican subcommittee members asked that the Governors provide the following information “to help us better understand what science or guidance you used to make this lethal decision”:

1. All State issued guidance, directives, advisories, or executive orders regarding hospital discharges to nursing homes or any and all other types of assisted living facilities, including those previously superseded, in chronological order.

2. The total number of COVID-19 related nursing home deaths, including deaths that occurred at the nursing home and deaths of a registered nursing home patient at a hospital, by day between January 1, 2020 and present.

3. The total number of COVID-19 related nursing home positive cases, including individuals who tested positive at a nursing home and individuals that tested positive at a hospital, by day between January 1, 2020 and present.

4. The total number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 positive patients returned to a nursing home or other long-term care facility between March 25, 2020 and present.

5. All information, documents, and communications between the Office of the Governor and the Pennsylvania Department of Health regarding COVID-19 mitigation in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

6. All information, documents, and communications between the Pennsylvania Department of Health and any and all of the State’s Nursing Home Administrators.

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QAnon marches toward the halls of Congress

Depending on where one looks, Q-adherent beliefs range from untrue theories that spring from actual events — DNC staffer Seth Rich was murdered by gang members hired by Democratic leaders, the Rothschild family was behind Princess Diana’s death, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is Adolf Hitler’s grandchild — to the arcane and metaphysical. One more nebulous belief: that the most prominent members of this cabal harvest adrenal glands from childrens’ brains and sacrifice them to the Satanic ancient god Moloch. Another alleges that Trump has arrested these evildoers — not physically here on earth, but spiritually, on an interdimensional plane.

The vast majority of Republicans, right-leaning voters, and MAGA-ites — even former proponents of Pizzagate, an early QAnon conspiracy about D.C. sex trafficking — have rejected QAnon. But what was once a group of internet-only evangelists that was more focused on spreading the word of Q by posting videos and memes, is now transitioning offline and onto the ballot — and, perhaps, Congress.

Jack Posobiec, a correspondent for the pro-Trump One America News Network who first came onto the MAGA scene for his Pizzagate promotion, has been sparring with QAnon adherents for years. But prior to this primary season, Posobiec said that they mostly kept their activities to the internet — posting memes, hosting livestreams with QAnon celebrities, and so forth. But Q boosters are now aiming for elected office.

“I can’t tell you what they are thinking personally, I don’t know any of these candidates,” he said in a text message. “But there’s clearly a high degree of self-motivation.

“Maybe they feel they are part of the Plan,” he added, referring to the oft-repeated QAnon mantra to “Trust the Plan.”

QAnon followers have not lost faith in Trump or Q even when the cult figure’s elaborate predictions have not come true — like one that theorized Trump was working with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and special counsel Robert Mueller to purge the deep state. And to this point, Trump has yet to disavow the group, even as the FBI has labeled it a potential source of domestic terrorism. Across the country, people radicalized by QAnon have been charged with crimes, ranging from attempted kidnapping to murder, inspired by the conspiracy theory.

View, the QAnon tracker, argued that Trump has always gravitated toward groups, like QAnon, that consider him a “Jesus-like figure.” And the belief among QAnon that it has Trump’s covert approval — divined by Q supporters from his tweets and random hand gestures — has turned into political energy.

With Greene, the woman running for Georgia’s soon-to-be vacant 14th Congressional District seat, the political aspirations will likely succeed. Greene is heading into a runoff for the Republican nomination as the clear favorite. And if she claims the nomination, her district is considered a safe seat for Republicans, meaning she would likely be headed to Washington.

Having a Q supporter in Congress will inevitably fan the flames of the conspiracy, even if Greene decides to remain silent about Q or even disavow her previous beliefs, which involve her calling Q a “patriot” back in 2018.

“if you think about it, it’s a whole new pipeline for information that can feed into the Q movement,” said Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters, who himself has been the target of QAnon conspiracies. “Because now they have a person in office that has the imprimatur of that congressional pin, who is going to have access to information either that others can’t get access to, or that’s a lot harder for them to get access to.”

So far, the Republican Party apparatus has yet to acknowledge Greene’s promotion of Q theories, and Greene did not respond to a request for comment. But she is not a pariah within the party. She claims endorsements from prominent figures like Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and received financial backing from the House Freedom Fund PAC, a campaign vehicle connected to Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows.

“I don’t think the party quite understands the Q meme,” Posobiec observed. “They still regard it as ‘some internet thing,’ and in an election year I can understand they have their hands full.”

“Some internet thing” or not, the energy behind Q is unlikely to go away whether or not Trump loses the 2020 election, Carusone said.

While he predicted that QAnon would begin pressuring Trump to carry out “The Plan” and begin his mass purge of the power elite if he won, Carusone worried particularly about what would happen if Trump lost.

“You’ll start to see an increase in questions about the legitimacy of the election, of the outcome,” he predicted. “Increased attacks on the system of voting, a total lack of acknowledgement about the election result unnecessarily. And that’s assuming Trump says nothing.”

If Trump decides to contest the results, Carusone added, he has a captive audience “that have been stockpiling weapons, ammunition and freeze dried food rights to basically fight the battle of their lives against the deep state. Either way, they’re going to say that it’s proof of their argument and the externalities that come from that are not good.”

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Dems locking down votes on police reform

“What we saw in Minnesota — the slow, torturous murder of George Floyd by a uniformed officer — was an outrage and a tragedy. What we have seen since then — millions of Americans marching in the streets to demand justice and call for reforms — it has been an inspiration,” Bass said.

The House will return to Washington to vote on the bill June 25, a week earlier than initially planned, Democratic leaders informed their members Tuesday. It’s a speedy timeline, by Congress’ standards, for Democrats to coalesce so fully behind sweeping legislation that would crack down on excessive force, enforce strict transparency standards and demand accountability for officer misconduct.

Much of the package had been drafted by the Congressional Black Caucus, by members who have sought changes to policing for decades. Those senior black leaders — led by former CBC chairman and chief deputy whip G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) — have now taken the lead on the Democrats’ whipping operation, going delegation by delegation and locking down supporters at a rapid clip.

That includes intense outreach by the CBC to certain House Republicans, specifically,retiring Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, the sole black GOP lawmaker in the House. Hurd has been open to some of the Democrats’ proposals and joined a demonstration in Houston to honor Floyd.

“Let us at least try to be bipartisan or nonpartisan as we deal with this,” Pelosi told CNN on Wednesday. “But if we cannot, reaching across the aisle, trying to find a common ground, if we cannot, we must go forward with the strongest possible legislation to make the biggest possible difference because we must make change.”

House Republicans have criticized Democrats for moving ahead on a bill without their input. Democrats, however, counter that Republicans will have plenty of chances to offer changes during a committee markup next week.

Senate Republicans have mostly ignored the bill, choosing instead to draft their own proposal and criticizing the more controversial provisions in Democrats’ bill, like ending a policy known as “qualified immunity” that shields police officers from civil lawsuits.

“I don’t see how any of those things get to the finish line,” Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the lone African American Republican senator, who is taking the lead on the GOP bill, said Thursday when asked about Democrats’ bill.

The White House is tentatively planning to endorse Scott’s measure and is drafting an executive order that offers a framework for the White House’s police reform goals, including language that could bar or limit chokeholds.

But Democrats say they have been encouraged by some potential signs of bipartisan dealmaking, including contact between Bass and senior officials in the White House.

In addition, the nation’s largest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, released a statement Tuesday night saying they were “heartened” at some aspects of the bill — short of a ringing endorsement, but a signal that they’re willing to engage in the process.

The Democrats’ package has run into remarkably little resistance from its own party, which has historically faced some internal divisions between the caucus’ liberal left flank and more centrist moderates over how to approach law enforcement issues.

The bill, while expansive, doesn’t go nearly as far as some activists have demanded and steers clear of the national fight over “defund the police.” Senior Democrats this week tamped down talk of the idea, lest it gain steam and overshadow their reform bill. President Donald Trump and Republican campaign operatives have also used the slogan to paint Democrats as anti-police.

Few, if any Democrats, are expected to oppose the bill, and most will declare their support by early next week, according to multiple sources. That includes dozens of vulnerable lawmakers who represent districts Trump won in 2016 — and will again be on the ballot with him in just six months.

Democratic leaders have been keeping close tabs on the caucus’ most moderate members, several of whom were initially hesitant to support the bill for fear of blowback from powerful police unions. Bass held calls with the New Democrat Coalition and Problem Solvers Caucus last week before the bill’s introduction. And House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer also talked to the Problem Solvers on Wednesday.

The legislative push comes as Democrats held their first hearing on police brutality on Wednesday. In a cavernous room in the Capitol, Philonise Floyd delivered forceful testimony about his brother’s killing at the hands of a white officer in Minneapolis more than two weeks ago, which drove millions into the streets to demand changes at the highest levels. Before his testimony, Pelosi — who personally escorted him to his seat — assured him the police reforms bill would pass her chamber, when he asked.

“The real question is, do we care? And I believe this legislation is a good piece of legislation that moves the ball forward,” Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), a top adviser for presidential nominee Joe Biden and a previous CBC chairman, said at the hearing on Wednesday. “It is very easy to sit on the other side and let perfection be the enemy of good. Or just sit back with inertia, and we never move the ball forward.”

Some swing district Democrats have privately worried about some parts of the bill — like abolishing the “qualified immunity” doctrine — and the blowback from influential police unions that would likely follow. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany again called ending qualified immunity a “nonstarter” on Wednesday although some libertarian-leaning Republicans have expressed openness to the idea this week.

Other Democrats still fear the package could be weaponized by the GOP as anti-police, at a time when Republicans are seizing on activists’ chants to “defund” or “abolish” the police. The GOP’s tactics were on display at Wednesday’s hearing, though Democrats have almost universally dismissed those efforts.

“It will put their lives at risk, won’t it?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said of the “defund the police” efforts as he questioned a GOP witness at the hearing. “Just as importantly, because life is precious, it will put people’s life at risk in the communities those law enforcement officers serve.”

Still, some moderate Democrats have privately prioritized supporting the bill over local politics, calling it, instead, a vote of conscience, according to multiple sources familiar with their decisions. For one member, it was the first time they hadn’t first run their position by local police unions — a rarity for an endangered Democrat.

Several vulnerable members like Rep. Abby Finkenauer, who represents eastern Iowa, and Antonio Delgado, who represents upstate New York, signed onto the bill this week. Many more of the Democrats’ so-called “frontline” members are expected to announce their support before next week’s markup — with a clear message that Democrats are not defunding or abolishing the police.

“There is nothing in the bill that zeroes out police budgets. Nothing. When you’re hearing folks talk about this piece of the conversation, it’s a strong one. But let’s focus on exactly what the bill does,” Delgado, the first black member to represent upstate New York, told MSNBC on Wednesday. “Let’s not focus on the noise.”

Bass said it was actually a good sign Republicans were focusing so heavily on the “defund the police” chatter and not the actual substance of Democrats’ bill.

“They’re talking about defunding the police. The bill has nothing to do with that,” Bass said Wednesday. “That doesn’t have anything to do with what we’re doing. So to me, that means [I’m] hopeful that, you know, we might be able to get some support.”

Jake Sherman and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.

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Today on Fox News: May 12, 2020

STAY TUNED

On Fox News: 

Fox & Friends, 6 a.m. ET: U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio; Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary; U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.; Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther reflects on the support she has received since being released from jail.

On Fox News Radio:

The Fox News Rundown podcast: “America vs. China”: Maria Bartiromo on The Growing Tensions – Globally, the coronavirus outbreak has had the worst impact in the United States, which has nearly a third of the world’s four million cases. Maria Bartiromo, host of “Mornings with Maria” and “Sunday Morning Futures,” discusses her new special, “Fox Nation Presents America vs. China,” our country’s relationship with the nation, and the current economic crisis.

Also on the Rundown: Tech giants Google and Apple have teamed up to launch a COVID-19 tracking app to help prevent any further spread of the virus. The purpose of the contact tracing tool is to help identify users if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. FOX News Headlines 24/7 anchor Brett Larson tells us more about the app and its benefits and Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News’ senior judicial analyst, explains the privacy concerns surrounding the use of the app.

Plus, commentary Fox Business producer Jaimie La Bella.

Want the Fox News Rundown sent straight to your mobile device? Subscribe through Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher.

The Brian Kilmeade Show, 9 a.m. ET: Hogan Gidley, White House principal deputy press secretary; U.S. Sen. John N. Kennedy, R-La.; House Minority Whip Steve Scalise; Chris Stirewalt, Fox News politics editor and more.

Fox Across America with Jimmy Failla, Noon ET: Jimmy discusses the Michael Flynn case with Trump 2020 Campaign Senior Adviser Lara Trump and  U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., and discusses life under lockdown with comedian Dave Landau and Fox News contributor Professor Brian Brenberg.

The Guy Benson Show, 3 p.m. ET: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-In.; Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; Josh Kraushaar, politics editor at National Journal.