Trump's replacement of Sessions sparks a media wildfire
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Howard Kurtz weighs in on the uproar fueled by President Trump naming a loyalist as acting Attorney General.
And met by equally predictable waves of media outrage.
Was there anyone in America, paying the slightest bit of attention, who didn't know that President Trump was going to fire Jeff Sessions after the midterms?
I mean, the president has practically been announcing it with a bullhorn.
Sure, we didn't know it was going to happen the day after the Democrats won control of the House (although George W. Bush ousted Don Rumsfeld the day after an even more disastrous election).
But come on. Trump didn't even bother to hide the motive.
He has been angry at his attorney general for a year and a half for recusing himself from the Russia investigation.
In truth, Sessions had no choice. As a senator, he was a campaign surrogate for Trump and wound up being questioned on the Hill over his own contacts with Russian officials.
But Trump viewed this as a personal betrayal, and said so, repeatedly. He said it on Twitter. He said it in an interview with The New York Times. He said it in encounters with reporters.
He called Sessions weak and beleaguered. He insisted the Justice Department should be investigating Democrats. Someone even leaked word that Trump privately called his own appointee Mr. Magoo.
It was humiliating, but Sessions hung in there, doing his job, although he knew his days were numbered. He said right there in his resignation letter that he was quitting at the president's request.
But what really fueled the media’s "crisis" coverage was Trump's choice for acting attorney general. It wasn't Sessions' deputy, Rod Rosenstein, the man who appointed Robert Mueller. It was Sessions' chief of staff, Matt Whitaker.
Whitaker is a former prosecutor, as well as a conservative activist, but he is obscure. He is a Trump loyalist, once described as the president's "eyes and ears" at DOJ.
What's more, as a CNN contributor and at other times, he has trashed the Mueller investigation that he will now be overseeing. He's suggesting that Justice could curtail the special counsel's probe by cutting his funding.
"The truth is there was no collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign," Whitaker once said. As for the left, "the last thing they want right now is for the truth to come out, and for the fact that there's not a single piece of evidence that demonstrates that the Trump campaign had any illegal or any improper relationships with the Russians. It's that simple."
So Whitaker has, to put it mildly, a rather dim view of the investigation. And his associates are telling reporters he has no intention of recusing himself. Of course not — that's why Trump wants him.
So it's a big deal that oversight of the Russia probe is moving from Rosenstein, who likes the job Mueller is doing, to a man who's been so critical of the investigation. And criticism from House Democrats who'll soon be in a position to scrutinize these matters is fueling the story.
But a couple of cautionary notes. Whitaker hasn't done anything to impede the investigation since his appointment was announced. And it's possible, if only as a matter of political strategy, that he may not.
It's also possible, amid reports that Mueller is writing his report, that his prosecutors haven't found any evidence of collusion, or obstruction, and he'll be wrapping up soon.
Sessions has been toast for a long time. Whitaker could do something to cause a crisis, at least until a permanent AG (Chris Christie?) is named.
But unless and until there's an effort to rein in Mueller, the media might avoid keeping this cranked up to an 11.
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November 09, 2018
Sources: Fox News
ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin issued a preliminary injunction against the Texas Health and Human Services Commission in February 2017 imposing the ban sought by five Planned Parenthood affiliates and seven individuals.</p><p>However, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled Sparks did not follow proper standards in issuing the order and returned the case to him to determine if the state had cause to end Planned Parenthood's Medicaid participation under the program's rules or if its actions were "arbitrary and capricious."</p><p>Texas health officials had accused Planned Parenthood officials of making a misrepresentation to investigators after the release of secretly recorded videos by an anti-abortion group in 2015. An inspector general said the video appeared to show Planned Parenthood had changed how abortions were performed so better specimens could be preserved for medical research.</p><p>Sparks ruled that Texas officials had provided no evidence of wrongdoing and that the videos that launched Republican efforts across the U.S. to defund the nation's largest abortion provider were insufficient as evidence. Investigations by 13 states into those videos have concluded without criminal charges, and Planned Parenthood officials have denied any wrongdoing.</p><p>The appeals court ruled, however, that Sparks should give greater weight to state findings on whether Planned Parenthood clinic staff members were "qualified" under Medicaid's medical and ethical standards. The ruling noted that the inspector general "concluded, based on the videos, that [Planned Parenthood] at a minimum violated federal standards regarding fetal tissue research and standards of medical ethics by allowing doctors to alter abortion procedures to retrieve tissue for research purposes or allowing the researchers themselves to perform the procedures.</p><p>"[Planned Parenthood's] briefing with regard to the substance of the discussions contained in the videos ... is curiously silent," the ruling added.</p><p>Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton hailed the ruling.</p><p>"Planned Parenthood's reprehensible conduct, captured in undercover videos, proves that it is not a 'qualified' provider under the Medicaid Act, so we are confident we will ultimately prevail," the Republican attorney general said in a statement.</p><p>A Planned Parenthood spokeswoman had no immediate comment.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>"Either way, it was an aspersion on a Hispanic, that he ought to go back to Puerto Rico," Hoyer told Fox News, when asked about the possibility that Smith did not intend racial animus. Hoyer added that he was sure the comment was directed at Democratic California Rep. Tony Cárdenas, who was born in Los Angeles and has Mexican heritage.</p><p>Smith, R-Mo., quickly apologized to Cárdenas for his remark, which came after the parties sparred on the House floor over a bill to reopen the government. Cárdenas said initially that he was "shocked" by the comment, although he later suggested in a statement that he was ready to move on.</p><p>"I often heard those kinds of comments when I was a kid growing up in Pacoima, California, where I was born and raised,” he said.</p><p>"There is a saying that I was taught by my parents, 'De todo lo malo, siempre sale algo bueno,' which in English means, 'From everything bad, something good will come of it,'" Cárdenas added. "I look forward to working with and getting to know Congressman Smith in the months ahead."</p><p>But, Smith reiterated that he was referring to a well-publicized trip by approximately 30 Democratic members of Congress to Puerto Rico --- with their families and lobbyists in tow -- for a winter retreat last week, where some reportedly took in a special performance of the hit Broadway show “Hamilton.”</p><p>Those attending the Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC gathering in San Juan also met with Puerto Rican officials to discuss ongoing cleanup efforts from Hurricane Maria. The trip attracted scrutiny because, back in Washington, Democrats and Republicans remained at an impasse over how to resolve the partial shutdown over border-wall funding.</p><p>Smith was “speaking to all the Democrats who were down vacationing in Puerto Rico last weekend during the shutdown, not any individual," his communications director said.</p><p>Approximately 800,000 federal workers are affected by the shutdown, with many working without pay for nearly a month.</p><p>"We have just been through a very difficult week. ... I would hope that we could refrain from any implications which have any undertones of prejudice or racism or any kind of -ism that would diminish the character or integrity of one of our fellow members.”</p><p>Hoyer moved on Wednesday to refer Democrats' motions to censure King to the Ethics Committee. The House approved Hoyer’s motion by voice vote, effectively sidelining the resolutions and precluding a floor vote for now.</p><p>House Democratic leaders reportedly were intent on tabling the censure motion because they were concerned about potentially opening the door to similar censure motions against their own members. Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, for example, called President Trump a "motherf---er" and was photographed with Linda Sarsour, a proponent of the controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has compared Jewish people to termites and praised Hitler.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>“That definitely got everyone’s attention,” one House Democrat who asked not to be identified told Fox News after the meeting.</p><p>Another lawmaker told Fox News that canceling the Super Bowl -- a possibility that officials have not suggested -- “would definitely lead to the end of the government shutdown." The game is set for Feb. 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.</p><p>Super Bowls, including last year's game in Minneapolis, typically are designated at Special Event Assessment Rating level 1 and involve tight coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rates SEARs 1 through 5, with level 1 indicating the most risk.</p><p>A DHS rating of SEAR 1 is just below that of a National Special Security Event, a designation for major national or international events that face the highest potential terr risks. At last year's Super Bowl, roughly 30 federal agencies -- including the FBI, Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) -- were on hand, as well as cybersecurity officials.</p><p>Hours later, Trump also canceled the White House delegation's planned trip to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.</p><p>"Out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay and to ensure his team can assist as needed, President Trump has canceled his Delegation’s trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland," a White House statement read.</p><p>“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government reopens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on Jan. 29,” Pelosi wrote in her letter to Trump.</p><p>"No, I don’t think it’s officially off," Hoyer said. "We -- I had not seen the speaker’s letter. What she suggests is a real security problem unless we’ve opened up the government. So -- and we haven’t gotten a reply from the president and his thoughts.  So it’s -- it’s not officially off.  No."</p><p>As of Wednesday, the Change.org petition had garnered more than 85,000 signatures.</p><p>“Show the hundreds of millions of people watching that you stand in solidarity with Kaepernick and all players who protest police brutality,” the petition read. “Use this opportunity to force the NFL to change their policy.”</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>As of Thursday night, the video of Ocasio-Cortez's speech had around 12,000 retweets and more than 40,000 likes. Mortman said it received 1.16 million views in just over 12 hours.</p><p>Ocasio-Cortez, who was sworn into Congress on Jan. 3, said on Thursday that the current shutdown "is actually not about a wall, it is not about the border, and it is certainly not about the well-being of everyday Americans."</p><p>"The truth is, this shutdown is about the erosion of American democracy, and the subversion of our most basic governmental norms," she said.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>It remained unclear whether Chol will bring with him a suggested date and place for a potential summit between the two world leaders, but Fox News has confirmed that Chol and Pompeo will meet on Friday.</p><p>A motorcade that included the North Korean ambassador's car and a Chinese car with a sign reading "state guest" could be seen departing from a VIP area at the airport.</p><p>Trump has spoken several times of having a second summit with Kim early this year and has exchanged multiple letters with the North Korean despite little tangible progress on a vague denuclearization agreement reached at their first meeting in Singapore last June. Since then, several private analysts have published reports detailing continuing North Korean development of nuclear and missile technology.</p><p>At a conference of U.S. diplomats at the State Department on Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged the lack of progress. He called the Trump-Kim dialogue "promising" but stressed that "we still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region."</p><p>A planned meeting between Pompeo and Kim Yong Chol in New York last November was called off abruptly. U.S. officials said at the time that North Korea had canceled the session.</p><p>Kim Jong Un expressed frustration in an annual New Year's address over the lack of progress in negotiations. However, on a visit to Beijing last week, he said North Korea would pursue a second summit "to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community," according to China's official Xinhua News Agency.</p><p>The president laid out his administration’s Missile Defense Review — the first compiled since 2010 – during a speech at the Pentagon, where he highlighted the threat the U.S. faces from new missile technologies being developed by foreign nations and the growing importance of weaponizing space.</p><p>“The world is changing,” Trump said. “The United States cannot simply make incremental changes…It is not enough to just keep pace with our adversaries.”</p><p>Separately this week, in a defiant gesture aimed at the North Korean regime, New York City Councilman Joe Borelli, R-Staten Island, called for the street outside the North Korean Mission to the United Nations to be renamed "Otto Warmbier Way."</p><p>Warmbier went on a foreign-study trip to North Korea and returned home "with severe brain damage and in a non-responsive state" on June 13, 2017. He died six days later.</p><p>U.S. officials and his family said he was beaten and tortured while in the regime's custody for 17 months after he was charged with tearing down a propaganda poster in his hotel.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>Gillibrand's new stand on the issue is in contrast from the position she took during her days in the House, when she opposed then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s controversial 2007 plan to allow illegal immigrants living in New York to obtain driver licenses.</p><p>"I do not support giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants," Gillibrand said back then, the Washington Free Beacon reported. At the time, Gillibrand said she supported legislation that required anyone seeking a drivers' license to show proof of citizenship first.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>'MediaBuzz' host Howard Kurtz weighs in on Kirsten Gillibrand using Stephen Colbert's CBS show to announce her run for president. But will the high profile venue help her chances in a crowded field?</p><p>It's not just that Colbert's nightly Trump-bashing, which has propelled his CBS show to the top of the ratings heap, appeals to Democratic viewers looking for someone to topple the president.</p><p>It's that Gillibrand was hoping to break through the static of a soon-to-be-crowded 2020 field in the midst of a government shutdown.</p><p>Even with the comedian's help, the New York senator's exploratory committee didn't make the front page of her home-state Times.</p><p>Now anyone can emerge in such a wide-open field. But how does she hope to distinguish herself?</p><p>Gillibrand's opening bit of self-branding took place when she said on the "Late Show" that "as a young mom I am going to fight for other people's kids as hard as I would fight for my own." (Of course, with Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, she won't be the only woman in the race.)</p><p>As "a former corporate lawyer," she has "been criticized by opponents as a politician without a firm ideological bearing of her own, having transformed from a pro-gun, conservative upstate congresswoman with deep ties to Wall Street financiers to a crusading liberal who rails against guns and refuses corporate political action committee money."</p><p>In my view, this isn't likely to hurt her much. Gillibrand once had to reflect the more moderate views of her upstate New York congressional district. When she was appointed to the Senate to replace Hillary Clinton, she became more liberal to match that blue state and has moved further left in preparing for a White House run. Donald Trump, after all, used to be a Democrat.</p><p>There are questions about her political agility. In a late October interview, she said she would serve her full six-year term. The press gives pols a pass for these outright lies, but she could have left herself a little wiggle room as she cruised to reelection.</p><p>The Clintons, and Hillary in particular, did a great deal for Gillibrand. But she ticked off their loyalists by saying, as she embraced the #Me-Too movement, that in retrospect Bill Clinton should have resigned over the Monica Lewinsky mess.</p><p>Gillibrand alienated some liberal donors when she became the first prominent Democrat to call for Al Franken to resign over those groping incidents. But that seems like a bum rap, and the pressure for Franken to quit would have built regardless.</p><p>At this early stage, every new entrant triggers debate over what kind of Democrat could beat Trump. Does it need to be someone who's bombastic or measured? Experienced or newcomer? Hyperpartisan or healing? Does it need to be a woman?</p><p>For now, at least, Gillibrand isn't getting much attention for a newly minted candidate. Whether she can change that in the coming months will determine whether she can lift herself out of the second tier.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
ritten, or redistributed. ©2019 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>As the ongoing political battle over funding for a border wall carries on, both sides are bringing “stupidity” to the table, National Review senior editor Jonah Goldberg argued Wednesday.</p><p>During the "Special Report" All-Star panel, Goldberg -- along with Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway and Washington Post opinion writer Charles Lane -- weighed on the latest developments of this showdown over border security.</p><p>“There’s so much stupidity in the way we talk about the wall stuff. They’re inanimate objects -- they’re literally tools, sometimes they’re useful, sometimes they’re bad, sometimes they’re good ... ,” Goldberg said.  “And both sides have turned the wall into what in Hollywood they call a ‘MacGuffin,’ which is what the hero wants -- or according to the Democrats, what the villain wants.”</p><p>“There are enormous, easy, low-hanging-fruit, public-policy solutions here. There are lots of serious immigration restrictionists who would take visa reform and e-verify and all of these kinds of things in exchange for some of the wall,” Goldberg continued. “The Democrats are in favor of border security where it exists, they just don’t want it anywhere else. The problem is that it’s just so symbolic that it’s become zero-sum. If they win, we lose.”</p><p>Lane insisted that the Democrats are “loving” this battle, saying it’s “pure energy for the base” and pointing to how most Americans blame President Trump and Republicans for the shutdown.</p><p>Hemingway, however, disagreed, arguing that it “isn’t particularly good” for Democrats to take over the House of Representatives and then have a government shutdown where they don’t appear to be “serious” in making a deal.</p><p>“At some point, I think people are going to have to stop thinking about who gets credit or blame, who does this help or hurt and just remember: There’s a government that shut down,” Hemingway told the panel. “There’s a fairly modest proposal at the table for border security and other issues that will help with the inflow of drugs and other problems that happen over the border and at some point, the adults are going to have to actually take it up and move forward.”</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>
osion while the group was conducting a local engagement, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command. </p><p> In claiming responsibility for the blast, which occurred in the northern city of Manbij, ISIS said one of its members carried out a suicide attack and detonated a vest with explosives, according to The Associated Press. </p><p> Since U.S. troops entered Manbij nearly two years ago, vehicle patrols have included "dismounted" patrols with American forces in the city on foot, which is what it appears the Americans who were killed were doing at the time of the explosion. </p><p> The U.S. military does not release the names of those killed until 24 hours after next of kin notification. </p><p> “The President has been fully briefed and we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Syria," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. She later put out a separate White House statement saying, "Our deepest sympathies and love go out to the families of the brave American heroes who were killed today in Syria. We also pray for the soldiers who were wounded in the attack. Our service members and their families have all sacrificed so much for our country." </p><p> Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a vocal critic of Trump's decision to withdraw American troops, interrupted an unrelated hearing Wednesday to make an unusual high-profile plea to the president, saying: "My concern by the statements made by President Trump is that you have set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we are fighting." </p><p> Graham, who said he believed the Americans were killed at a restaurant he had visited during his visit to Manbij last July, said he hoped the president would reexamine U.S. policy in Syria. </p><p> "The only reason the Kurds and the Arabs and the Christians were in that restaurant is cause we gave them the space to be in that restaurant," Graham said. "Think what you want to about 'those people' over there -- they have had enough of killing. They would love to have the opportunity that we have to fix their problems without the force of violence. So I would hope the president would look long and hard of where he is headed in Syria." </p><p> Four other American service members have been killed in Syria since the U.S. entered the country under the Obama administration in October 2015. Those Americans were: Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Cooper Dayton, Air Force Staff Sgt. Leo Austin Bieren, Army Spc. Etienne Jules Murphy, and Army Master Sgt. Jonathan Jay Dunbar. </p><p> Trump cited the hardship of speaking with families who had lost loved ones in a video produced on the White House lawn the day he announced the withdrawal, saying, "I get very saddened when I have to write letters or call parents or wives or husbands of soldiers who have been killed fighting for our country. It’s a great honor. We cherish them but it’s heartbreaking." </p><p> The president's surprise announcement last month led to an outcry from U.S. partners and allies and a series of high-level resignations, namely that of former Defense Secretary James Mattis who felt the U.S. was abandoning its allies and partners in the region. </p><p> One of the chief concerns has been how to protect the Kurds, a group that's been a critical U.S. partner in the fight against ISIS but which Turkey views as terrorists. </p><p> In the past week, the U.S. moved some equipment out of Syria, but no troops, two U.S. officials told ABC News. American service members will remain in Iraq, and Trump has suggested as recently as Sunday that they could "attack again from existing nearby base" if ISIS or another terrorist group emerged. </p><p> Despite Trump's declaration of victory over ISIS, State Department and Pentagon officials had cautioned as recently as the week before his announcement that the fight was not over -- with the U.S. recently estimating that about 2,000 ISIS fighters remain in Syria. </p><p> According to statistics released by U.S. Air Forces Central Command last week, the U.S. and coalition aircraft dropped the highest number of bombs over Syria in the month before the president made his withdrawal announcement: 1,424 weapons released in November, up from 876 in October and 758 in September. </p><p> In a statement on Friday, the U.S. military said that its partners had only "recently liberated" a town from the terror group, calling ISIS a "determined ... force who employed complex attacks, improvised-explosive devices and booby-trapped buildings."</p>
w looks at the development of new space-based sensors that could detect long-range missile before they are launched and calls for the study of whether lasers could be used to counter ballistic missiles that are launched by rogue states. </p><p> The first review of its kind to be undertaken since 2010, the Missile Defense Review provides a road ahead for how the United States could continue to counter the ballistic-missile threat to the United States and its regional allies and partners. </p><p> “This is really a comprehensive look at our missile defense capabilities and programs and posture,” a senior administration official told reporters ahead of the review’s release. “Both what we have today, what we’d like to make improvements to and then what are the next generation programs we’d like to invest in to get ahead and stay ahead of the threat.” </p><p> “Space is key to the next step of missile defense,” said the official. </p><p> The current U.S. missile defense system consists of a layered approach of interceptor missile aboard Navy ships and long-range, ground-based interceptors based in Alaska and California. </p><p> The Defense Department will looking at a space-based layer of sensors that could enhance early warning systems to track missiles before they are launched. </p><p> The Missile Defense Review also calls for the study of whether to use “directed energy” against incoming missiles, possibly through laser technology, according to the official. </p><p> The official described it as an advanced capability “we think is worth looking into” and whether it makes sense to be able to deploy such a technology. </p><p> The United States has 44 ground-based missile interceptors stationed at Fort Greeley in Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California designed to intercept North Korean missiles that might be headed towards the United States. The number of ground-based interceptors is already slated to increase to 64 in 2023. </p><p> The official said the Missile Defense Review will continue studying the feasibility of creating a third such site elsewhere in the continental United States to counter a threat from Iranian long range missiles. </p>