Congress

Supreme Court blocks House Dems’ efforts to get Mueller grand-jury info released

The Supreme Court temporarily denied a motion Wednesday from House Democrats to obtain grand-jury testimony and other documents from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as they conduct what they’ve referred to as an “ongoing presidential impeachment investigation” into President Trump. The court’s order kept undisclosed details from the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election out of the Democrats’ hands until at least early summer. Democrats have until June 1 to brief the court about whether the full case should be heard. The Democrats had told the court Monday they were in an “ongoing presidential impeachment investigation” while arguing that Mueller’s now-completed Russia probe needed to be turned over as a result. “The [House Judiciary] Committee’s investigation did not cease with the conclusion of the impeachment trial,” the Democrats told the nine justices. “If this material reveals new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the articles adopted by the House, the committee will proceed accordingly — including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment.” They were seeking testimony, transcripts and exhibits to look into the possible influence over decisions made in the prosecutions of longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Stone was sentenced to three years in prison for obstructing Congress and other charges. The Justice Department moved to drop its case against Flynn after serious questions were raised about the nature of the investigation that led to his guilty plea of lying to the FBI. The Trump administration has been reluctant to turn over further documents related to Mueller’s probe to House Democrats. DOJ officials said they turned over all relevant information, citing grand-jury rules for not providing unredacted material. The agency argued that federal guidelines protected the secrecy of grand-jury materials and that the exception allowing the disclosure “preliminarily to or in connection with a judicial proceeding” didn’t apply, especially given Trump’s acquittal by the Senate in an impeachment trial earlier this year. Democrats said the preliminary impeachment hearings in the House constituted a pending judicial proceeding. The DOJ has been conducting a separate internal review of the Russia investigation origins, which is expected to be completed sometime during the summer. John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, was appointed last year by Attorney General Bill Barr to review the events leading up to the 2016 presidential election and through President Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Durham has since expanded his investigation to cover a post-election timeline spanning the spring of 2017 — when Robert Mueller was appointed as special counsel. On Monday, Barr said he didn’t expect the probe to lead to any criminal charges against either former President Barack Obama or former Vice President Joe Biden. “As for President Obama and Vice President Biden, whatever their level of involvement based on what I know, I don’t expect Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Barr said. “Our concern of potential criminality is focused on others.”

Kudos to the Supremes for this decision, albeit a temporary one.  The Dems are wanting confidential grand jury testimony, they know they can’t have, so they can do Impeachment 2.0..in a never-ending witch hunt to undo the 2016 election, or in hopes of having another hoax read should President Trump get re-elected in November.  This is a win not just for team Trump, but for the rule of law…which affects all of us.

Rep. Jim Jordan demands DOJ IG Michael Horowitz to testify in wake of second damning FISA report

The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday demanded the panel hold a hearing with Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz after his latest missive finding the FBI bungled scores of warrant applications to surveil Americans. Rep. Jim Jordan sent a letter to Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat, saying lawmakers need to hear from Mr. Horowitz as the debate rages in Washington about whether to limit the FBI’s surveillance powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). “The committee must not allow the FBI’s extraordinary power to electronically surveil Americans to be so haphazardly rubber-stamped with incorrect, unsubstantiated or erroneous supporting information,” wrote Mr. Jordan, Ohio Republican. On Tuesday, Mr. Horowitz released the preliminary results of his team’s review of 29 FISA applications the FBI had submitted to obtain surveillance warrants on U.S. citizens. Every one of the 29 applications reviewed did not include supporting materials to back up the FBI’s allegations against their surveillance targets. And in some cases, the FBI couldn’t find the backup files at all or was unsure if they ever existed. In all 25 cases in which the files were available for review, Mr.Horowitz found “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts.” Mr. Jordan said the latest findings highlight the need to question the inspector general. “Because of the pervasiveness and seriousness of the FISA application deficiencies — and the pending reauthorization of FISA — we renew our request that you invite Inspector General Michael Horowitz to testify at a public hearing promptly when the House returns to session,” he wrote. House Republicans have been calling for a hearing with Mr. Horowitz since last December when he released a scathing report about the FBI’s bungling of a surveillance warrant to spy on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. So far, Mr. Nadler has resisted calls to hear from the inspector general. Mr. Horowitz has testified before two Senate committees about the Page report.

Of COURSE Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) doesn’t want to call the IG before his committee.  He doesn’t want any of this to come to light which very likely could make his side look bad in an election year.

Census: California to Lose Congressional Seat for First Time in History

New figures from the U.S. Census ahead of the 2020 decennial count suggest that California could lose a seat in Congress for the first time in its history. While other “Sun Belt” states stand to gain congressional representation, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing U.S. Census Bureau figures on state population changes through July 1, California — once a symbol of the nation’s westward growth — will likely lose a congressional seat. The Journal reported that California will join the cold states of the Northeast and Midwest in losing political clout: Based on Monday’s figures, Texas is poised to gain two congressional seats, and Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon are expected to gain one. Eight states are expected to lose one seat: California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. The actual reapportionment calculation will take place by December 2020, with its details worked out in 2021. Each state will redraw its legislative maps, and those that have more than one congressional seat will redraw districts as well. The shift of political power away from the Northeast and Midwest toward the Southeast and Southwest is the result of residents flocking to states with warm weather, strong job growth, cheaper housing and, in some cases, lower taxes. The likely loss in representation would come despite California helping to lead the “resistance” to President Donald Trump’s proposal to add a question to the Census asking respondents if they are U.S. citizens. California and other states feared that they could lose congressional seats if they were subsequently apportioned based on the number of citizens rather than the number of residents; California is a prime destination for immigrations, including illegal ones. The Court ruled against the administration — one of the few times it has done so. California may lose a seat anyway. Losing one of its 53 seats “would also mean the loss of one vote in the electoral college” to determine the presidency, Capitol Weekly noted earlier this year.

US Congress members: A look at perks and pay

Lawmakers Opens a New Window. this week decided to put an initiative to raise their pay on hold – amidst opposition in both parties Opens a New Window. – but they still enjoy six-figure pay and a host of other perks and benefits. The measure would have raised their salaries by $4,500. Lawmakers have not been given a pay raise since 2009. New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez supports the measure, as she says it would prevent some lawmakers from wanting to keep “dark money loopholes open.” She also said everyone should get cost of living increases to account for changes in the U.S. economy. The current salary for most lawmakers is $174,000. It would be closer to $210,900 had Congress received pay raises annually since 2009, according to data from the Congressional Research Service. Some lawmakers, however, receive more. Click here to see who does, and what other perks and benefits members of Congress receive.

..courtesy of our tax dollars.

Jason Chaffetz: Congress doubles down on incentivizing illegal immigration

Responding to rewards that incentivize illegal immigration, migrants have flowed into the United States at record rates. In each of the last three months, more than 100,000 migrants have been detained for illegally crossing our borders. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told senators this week that many are renting babies to cross the border. Of the 144,000 apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) during the month of May, 11,507 were unaccompanied minors. And these were just the ones that were caught. Congress is upset about tariffs but where is the outrage about human trafficking? These are more than statistics, they are children, but Congress seems unmoved. DHS estimates that just since September 2018, 1 percent of the entire populations of Honduras and Guatemala have migrated, many dragging vulnerable women and children with them. Rather than working to solve the problem as President Trump has been trying to do, Congress continues to ignore and incentivize more illegal immigration. Congressional Democrats’ latest solution, found in the House Appropriations draft funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security, creates new incentives that only exacerbate the problem. The bill calls for: “. . .Policy documents that define categories of vulnerable individuals who should not be so returned, including: (A) pregnant women; (B) individuals identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender; and (C) mentally or physically disabled individuals.” So in addition to incentivizing migrants to bring children (not necessarily their own) on the dangerous trek, now Democrats also want to reward migrants to bring with them pregnant women or physically disabled people, not to mention the mentally disabled who are more likely to end up becoming part of our massive homeless population. And there’s that special carve out for anyone who claims to be LGBT. How exactly does the government document those claims? For those willing to lie about whose child they just dragged across the desert, no doubt lying about their sexual orientation or mental health status will be far less trouble. These are not serious solutions. They make the problem worse. With border apprehensions up 99 percent over the same time last year, more and more vulnerable people are at risk. It’s time to get rid of the rewards and incentives, not offer more. I respect that many are not fans of using tariffs as trade policy. In this case, tariffs provide the leverage Congress refuses to wield in this critical national security battle. Mexico must be part of the solution, but thus far they too have lacked the political will to deter this human trafficking. There should be a consequence and tariffs certainly get Mexico’s attention. Every Republican House and Senate member should back the president on this issue. Democrats leave us no choice but to wield tariffs, not as trade policy, but as leverage for national security and humanitarian purposes. Anyone who fails to do so, after failing to make the legislative changes necessary to prevent this tragedy, is complicit in the crimes and exploitation our policies incentivize. Voters understand this problem. They want solutions. And they won’t forget who took the problem seriously and offered solutions rather than incentives.

Let’s hope, Jason.  This op/ed by former Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is a little dated, but illuminating.  As we all know, President Trump DID threaten Mexico with tariffs if they didn’t start addressing the illegal immigration from their side of the border.  And, it seems that such threats may be working.  We’ll, of course, keep an eye on it.   Jason Chaffetz was the chairman of the U.S. House Oversight Committee when he served as a representative from Utah. He is the author of “The Deep State: How an Army of Bureaucrats Protected Barack Obama and is Working to Destroy the Trump Agenda.”

Alan Dershowitz: Congress is not above the law when it comes to impeachment – Don’t weaponize the Constitution

The mantra invoked by those Democrats who are seeking to impeach President Trump is that “no one is above the law.” That, of course, is true, but it is as applicable to Congress as it is to the president. Those members of Congress who are seeking to impeach the president, even though he has not committed any of the specified impeachable offenses set out in the Constitution, are themselves seeking to go above the law. All branches of government are bound by the law. Members of Congress, presidents, justices and judges must all operate within the law. All take an oath to support the Constitution, not to rewrite it for partisan advantage. It is the law that exempts presidents from being prosecuted or impeached for carrying out their constitutional authority under Article 2. The same Constitution precludes members of Congress from being prosecuted for most actions taken while on the floor of the House and Senate or on the way to performing their functions. The same Constitution, as interpreted by the courts, bestows immunity on judges for actions that would be criminal or tortious if engaged in by non-judicial individuals. None of this means that these government officials are above the law. It means that their immunized actions are within the law. The Constitution, which is the governing law, precludes Congress from impeaching a president for mere “dereliction” of duty or even alleged “corruption.” Under the text of the Constitution, a president’s actions to be impeachable must consist of treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The framers of the Constitution considered broadening the criteria for impeachment to include maladministration in office. But this proposal was soundly rejected, on the ground that it would give Congress too much power to control the president. Yet Democrats who are now seeking to impeach the president, despite the absence of impeachable offenses, are trying to do precisely what the framers of the Constitution forbade them from doing: exercising control over a president that is not authorized in the Constitution itself. Consider, for example, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who has said the following: “Impeachment is about whatever the Congress says it is. There is no law that dictates impeachment.” It is she, and other like-minded members of Congress, who are claiming the right to be above the law. That is a dangerous claim whether made by a president or by a member of Congress. The framers of the Constitution did not want a weak president subject to the political control of Congress. Members of the Constitutional Convention explicitly expressed that view in rejecting criteria for impeachment short of criminal conduct. In the absence of the specified criminal conduct, the remedy for a non-impeachable president lies with the voters, not Congress. There are other constitutionally authorized remedies as well. These include reasonable congressional hearings conducted under the oversight powers of Congress. These hearings, too, must not be conducted for partisan purposes, but rather for legitimate legislative purposes, such as enacting new laws that evidence of the hearings show are necessary. The current hearings do not meet these standards. They are obviously calculated to obtain partisan advantage in the run-up to the 2020 election. Another option would be for Congress to appoint a nonpartisan expert commission, such as the one appointed following the 9/11 attacks. This commission could look deeply and objectively at all the issues growing out of the 2016 election, particularly Russian efforts to interfere in the American political process. The commission’s goal would not be criminal prosecutions, but rather preventive measures to assure no repetition in the 2020 and subsequent elections. Unfortunately, we live in a time of extreme partisanship, and no one seems interested in nonpartisan truth or in measures that help all Americans rather than only one party. The time has come to stop weaponizing the Constitution and our legal system for partisan advantage. Impeachment would be a lawless response to undertake, as is the use of partisan committees to obtain an electoral advantage. No one is above the law, but no one is beneath the legal protection of the law as well. Both parties should operate within the law for the benefit of the American people.

Agreed!!  And well said, Sir.  Dr. Alan M. Dershowitz, the author of that outstanding legal op/ed, is Felix Frankfurter professor of law, emeritus, at Harvard Law School. What you may find surprising is that Dr. Dershowitz is a proud liberal who makes a point to let folks know he proudly voted for Hillary.  He is one of the few intellectually honest liberals out there, who was recently DISinvited from appearing on CNN.  So, we’re happy to post his article here.  His latest book is “The Case Against Impeaching Trump.” Follow him on Twitter: @AlanDersh Facebook: @AlanMDershowitz.  Please consider this your Read of the Day.  If you read only one thing today here at The Daily Buzz, then READ THIS!!…and then forward it to all of your friends and family members, especially those who are Democrats or who watch MSNBC or CNN…and watch their heads explode.    🙂

GOP’s Fred Keller Wins Pennsylvania 12th District Special Election

Pennsylvania State Rep. Fred Keller won the Pennsylvania House 12th district special election, according to the New York Times. Keller defeated Democrat and professor at Penn State University Marc Friedenberg in a special election Tuesday. The congressional seat became vacant after former Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA), who easily beat Friedenberg in the 2018 midterm elections, resigned less than one month into this term. The Pennsylvania Republican’s victory serves President Donald Trump as well. Trump held a rally in Pennsylvania on Monday. Ahead of the election, Trump said he endorsed Keller and contended that the election would serve as a referendum on his presidential administration. “Go get em, Fred,” Trump told Keller on Monday. “It’s a little bit of a referendum.” President Trump then said that if Keller wins the special election, the media will not widely report the story; however, if Keller loses the election, Trump said that they will play it up as one of the biggest political events in recent memory. Keller’s victory could also serve as a referendum on Trump’s vs former Vice President Joe Biden’s popularity in Pennsylvania. During the rally on Monday, Trump reminded Pennsylvanians that Biden abandoned them to become a senator in Delaware. “Don’t forget, Biden deserted you, he’s not from Pennsylvania, I guess he was born here, but he left you, folks, he left you for another state,” Trump said. “He left you for another state, and he didn’t take care of you because he didn’t take care of your jobs,” Trump added. “He let other countries come in and rip off America.”

Congrats to Congressman Elect Fred Keller (R-PA)!