Category: Politics

Pelosi Rides Rough Road To Speaker As More Democrats Threaten To Withhold Support

More Democrats threaten to withhold support for Pelosi’s House Speaker role

WASHINGTON – A group of nine Democrats threatened Friday to withhold support for Nancy Pelosi’s House Speaker bid, creating a potential roadblock for the California Democrat who has been lobbying for weeks to get her old role back.

Pelosi was already fighting for support from a group of 16 Democrats who penned a letter, declaring they wouldn’t support the minority speaker and instead called for new leadership.

The new group of nine Democrats from the Problem Solvers Caucus threatened to withhold support for Pelosi until she agrees to a list of demands that includes House rule changes that could potentially allow for more bipartisan legislation to pass.

The group, in a statement, said it would “only vote for a Speaker candidate who supports ‘Break the Gridlock’ rules changes.”

The group met with Pelosi last week after sending her a letter about calls to change House rules that would allow all members to push bills in the House, which currently is only done by the leadership, according to CNN.

“While we appreciate Leader Pelosi’s broad commitment to our effort, we have yet to receive specific commitments to our proposed rules changes that would help ‘Break the Gridlock’ and allow for true bipartisan governing in this new era of divided government,” a statement from the group reads. “Without specific changes, we will face more of the same — small pockets of extreme ideologues will continue to block the will of the commonsense majority.”

While Pelosi is widely expected to win the House Speaker nomination next week in her caucus, she faces a tougher battle when the full House votes on her nomination in January. She will need a majority, 218 votes, to win the position.

The caucus’ threat to withhold nine votes along with the 16 members who signed a letter last week could be a potential roadblock for Pelosi. Democrats will hold at least 234 seats in the House when new members are sworn in, meaning she can only afford to lose 16 votes.

Pelosi still has weeks to lobby those on the fence before the final January vote.

Already some of those who voiced opposition have caved and now are supporting Pelosi for the role. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., who was one of 16 to sign the opposition letter last week, reversed his position after Pelosi said she was open to Medicare for people over 50 and an infrastructure bill, something many Democrats have said would likely receive bipartisan support.

The Problem Solvers Caucus has pushed for ‘Break the Gridlock’ rule changes, which Politico notes include proposals that would allow individual House members to propose bipartisan bills, which over the years have been overlooked.

The caucus said in its statement that this month’s midterms showed that “the American people have had enough of obstructionism and pure partisanship” and instead want Congress to govern and pass meaningful legislation.

“Although we are at a stalemate in our discussions, and therefore cannot support Leader Pelosi for Speaker at this time, we will keep working with the Leader and others in hope of reaching consensus on specific rules changes for more bipartisan, common sense governing,” the group said.

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Republicans and Democrats Find Common Ground: Sessions Resigns

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III has resigned as attorney general effective immediately after being asked to do so by President Trump, ABC News has reported.

“At your request, I am submitting my resignation,” Sessions wrote in an undated letter to the president.

“Since the day I was honored to be sworn in as Attorney General of the United States, I came to work at the Department of Jusitce every day determined to do my duty and serve my country,” Sessions wrote. “I have done so to the best of my ability, working to support the fundamental legal processes that are the foundation of justice.”

Trump tweeted that Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, will serve as acting attorney general.

On Twitter, Trump thanked Sessions for his service and announced that Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, will serve as acting attorney general and that a permanent replacement will take place at a later date.

Previously, Trump would not say whether Sessions — who he has repeatedly criticized throughout his tenure — would be safe in his job after the midterm elections.

“I just would love to have him do a great job,” Trump told Bloomberg News on Aug. 30.

“I’d love to have him look at the other side,” Trump added, underscoring his demand for Sessions to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton and the origins of the Russia investigation.

Earlier in August, in an interview with Fox News, Trump lashed out at Sessions, saying he failed to take control of the Department of Justice.

In his most forceful public rebuke to date, Sessions hit back shortly after, saying he “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close Trump confidante, predicted Sessions would be out of his job in the near future, but insisted Trump should wait until after November’s midterm elections.

“The president’s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that’s qualified for the job, and I think there will come a time, sooner rather than later, where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice,” Graham said at the time. “Clearly, Attorney General Sessions doesn’t have the confidence of the president.”

Tensions developed between Trump and Sessions in March 2017, when Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation and Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein took over.

Rosenstein soon appointed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the Russia probe, angering the president.

Trump repeatedly called on Sessions to end the probe on Twitter and TV interviews.

“…This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!” Trump tweeted on August 1st.

Sessions was the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse then-candidate Trump.

Sessions parlayed that support to become attorney general, a role he held at the state level in Alabama.

The president’s priorities and Sessions’ mirrored each other. Both tough on immigration, the opioid crisis, and crime, both men have a pro-law enforcement perspective.

Aside from the president lashing out at him, Sessions’ tenure as attorney general has largely been focused on carrying out the policies of the administration and most notably, the zero-tolerance immigration policy which lead to the separation of families on the U.S.-Mexico border.

When Attorney General Sessions announced the policy in May, he warned those coming to the country illegally that the administration would prosecute them.

“I have put in place a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border. If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple. If you smuggle illegal aliens across our border, then we will prosecute you. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law,” he said at an event in San Diego.

The policy was criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Sessions also sent more judges and prosecutors to the southern border to help with processing illegal border crossers.

The attorney general also focused on pro-law enforcement priorities and often echoed the president in touting law enforcement’s objectives.

“Let me say this loud and clear: as long as I am the Attorney General of the United States, the Department of Justice will have the back of all honest and honorable law enforcement officers,” Sessions said at the 25th Annual Top Cops Awards in May.

Sessions was also a regular steward for rigorous opioid prosecution. Just recently, in Cleveland, Sessions announced four opioid cases, each targeting the selling and distribution of opioids, something that he stressed was important to the president.

It has been commented upon by many that Sessions’ actions as attorney general in regards to treatment of federal sentence reform legislation and his draconian approach to treatment of immigrants already within America’s borders may have cost the Republican party control of the House in yesterday’s elections.

Election Results: Democrats Gain Control of House But Republicans Cling to Senate

After two years of Republicans being in complete control, Congress is once again split in the Capitol.

After two years of Republicans being in complete control, Congress is once again split in the Capitol.

Democrats will take back control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years, but Republicans held their Senate majority as voters rendered a mixed verdict in the first nationwide election of Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency.

Poll results are still coming in but the Democrats picked up more than the 27 seats they would need to take control of the House of Representatives.

It was a historic night for women in the House of Representatives, as more than 100 won their races. The previous record was 84.

It was also a historic night for first-time female candidates, with several political newbies flipping GOP-held congressional seats, according to ABC News’ analysis.

Perhaps the biggest new political star among them is New York’s 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a liberal firebrand from the Bronx. Also among them are the first two Native American women elected to the House – Democrats Sharice Davids of Kansas and Deb Haaland of New Mexico – and the first two Muslim-American women, Rhasida Tlaib of Michigan and Minnesota’s Ilhan Oman.

Despite major victories in the House, other results allowed room for the GOP to also call the night a success. The results highlighted an extraordinary realignment of U.S. voters by race, sex, and education. Republicans maintained their strength in conservative, rural states, while Democrats made inroads across America’s suburbs.

President Slams Democratic Party For Casting Stones In Glass House

President Trump turned the tables on Democrat credibility amid the Supreme Court showdown.

At last week’s fiery hearing probing sexual assault allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal lectured the Supreme Court nominee on the implications of telling even a single lie.

“Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus,” Blumenthal, D-Conn., told Kavanaugh, reciting a Latin phrase. “It means ‘False in one thing, false in everything.’”

But Blumenthal’s own difficult history with the truth is coming back to haunt him amid the Kavanaugh fight, with President Trump and Republican senators slamming him for inflating his military service during the Vietnam War.

In the 2000s, when Blumenthal served as Connecticut’s attorney general, he began to claim that he served in the Vietnam War. Blumenthal, repeatedly, has touted his experience during the war.

“When we returned [from Vietnam], we saw nothing like this,” Blumenthal reportedly said in 2003.

“We have learned something important since the days I served in Vietnam,” The New York Times quoted Blumenthal as saying in 2008.

“I served during the Vietnam era,” Blumenthal reportedly said at a Vietnam War memorial in 2008. “I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even the physical abuse.”

But Blumenthal didn’t serve in Vietnam. He reportedly obtained at least five military deferments between 1965 and 1970. He eventually served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, but did not deploy to Vietnam.

In the wake of Blumenthal questioning Kavanaugh — who faces multiple sexual assault or misconduct allegations, which he denies — Trump and fellow Republicans have not let him forget his own past statements.

“You have the great Vietnam War hero—who didn’t go to Vietnam—[Sen. Richard] Blumenthal,” Trump said at a rally Monday evening. “How about Blumenthal? We call him ‘Da Nang Blumenthal.”

Blumenthal, last week, said Trump’s initial reluctance to demand a FBI supplemental background probe of Kavanaugh was “tantamount to a cover-up.” Blumenthal hit Kavanaugh during the hearing on questions related to his high school yearbook entries, calendar entries and drinking habits.

“For 15 years as the attorney general of Connecticut, he went around telling war stories,” Trump said. “’People dying left and right—but my platoon marched forward!’ He was never in Vietnam. It was a lie. And then he’s up there saying, ‘We want the truth from Judge Kavanaugh.’ And you’re getting the truth from Judge Kavanaugh.”

During the Kavanaugh hearing, Blumenthal said “the core of why we are here today really is credibility.”

Kavanaugh is accused of sexually assaulting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford while at a high school party 36 years ago. Ford, who also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, alleged Kavanaugh pinned her down and tried to remove her clothes. Her attorney says Ford believes this to have been an “attempted rape.”

Kavanaugh also faces allegations from Deborah Ramirez, who claims that while freshmen at Yale University, the Supreme Court nominee exposed himself to her at a dorm party in the 1980s; and Julie Swetnick, who is represented by Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti and claims that Kavanaugh  was involved in or present at “gang” and “train” rapes in the 1980s.

Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegations.

Amid the hearing, though, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, hit Blumenthal for his credibility.

“.@SenBlumenthal lied for years about serving in Vietnam, which is all you need to know about his courage & honesty. Maybe he should reconsider before questioning Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility,” Cotton tweeted.

Blumenthal’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

In 2010, Blumenthal admitted to giving misleading statements about his service.

“On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service,” Blumenthal, as quoted by The New York Times, said, adding that he served in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. “And I regret that and I take full responsibility. But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

President Trump Presides Over United Nations Meeting

President Donald Trump on Wednesday accused Iran of spreading chaos and China of meddling in US elections at a UN Security Council meeting that laid bare divisions between the United States and other world powers.

Presiding for the first time a meeting of the United Nations’ most powerful body, Trump denounced the “horrible, one-sided” nuclear deal with Iran that he ditched in May, to the dismay of European allies.

A gavel-wielding Trump took a swipe at China, accusing Beijing of working against his Republican Party in upcoming midterm elections as payback for their growing trade war, a charge China’s foreign minister said was “unwarranted.”

Wednesday’s meeting highlighted a rift between the United States and its European allies over the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump vowed that re-imposed sanctions will be “in full force” and urged world powers to work with the United States to “ensure the Iranian regime changes its behavior and never acquires a nuclear bomb.”

Addressing the council after Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron hit back, declaring that concerns about Iran cannot be tackled with “a policy of sanctions and containment.”

Also defending the deal that was endorsed in a Security Council resolution, British Prime Minister Teresa May said it “remains the best means of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”

The United States has moved to reimpose sanctions that had been lifted under the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program and has vowed to punish foreign firms that do business with Iran.

Trump argued that since the deal was signed in 2015, “Iran’s aggression only increased” and that funds released from the lifting of sanctions had been used “to support terrorism, build nuclear capable missiles and foment chaos.”

Iran did not request to speak at the council meeting, but Iranian President Hassan Rohani told a news conference that the United States would eventually rejoin the nuclear deal and pledged Tehran’s continued commitment to the accord.

“The United States of America one day, sooner or later, will come back. This cannot be continued,” Rouhani said.

Turning to Syria, Trump assailed Russia and Iran for backing President Bashar la-Assad in his brutal war in Syria, saying: “The Syrian regime’s butchery is enabled by Russia and Iran.”

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed that the “rights of all countries to trade with Iran should be respected” after the European Union said a special payment system would be set up to keep alive business ties with Iran.

-In a blunt attack on China, Trump told the council that China wanted to see him suffer an elections setback because of his hard line on trade.

“Regrettably we found that China has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election coming up in November against my administration,” he said.

“They do not want me or us to win because I am the first president ever to challenge China on trade.”

It remains possible that the Republicans could lose control of the Senate and/or House of Representatives in November’s elections, impacting President Trump’s chances of chalking up legislative achievements.

The Chinese foreign minister responded flatly that Beijing strictly adhered to a policy of non-interference.

“We did not and will not interfere in any country’s domestic affairs. We refuse to accept any unwarranted accusations against China,” said Wang.

Tensions have soared between Beijing and Washington after Trump this week slapped new tariffs covering $200 billion in Chinese goods exported to the United States.

On North Korea, Trump called for sanctions to be strictly enforced against Pyongyang — a message directed at Russia and China which are pushing for an easing of punitive measures to reward North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Without naming countries, the President noted that “some nations are already violating UN sanctions” including illegal ship-to-ship transfers of oil and said compliance was “very important.”

His comments came shortly before his top diplomat, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, signaled Wednesday that he would return to North Korea next month to push forward denuclearization talks.

It was only the third time in UN history that a US president chaired a Security Council meeting. Barack Obama presided over two meetings in 2009 and 2014.