What A Week! U.S. Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital and Franken Sort of Resigns; Fourth 100 Days (Trump Briefs:  Dec. 2-8/Day 324-330) Week 46

By Michael Hernandez

 

Saturday, December 2  (Day 324):

Nation’s Gross Domestic Product hits highest point ever—economy booms

The New York Federal Reserve’s tool—Nowcasting Report—for forecasting gross domestic product (GDP) hit its highest point ever on Friday, pointing to a fourth-quarter GDP growth of 3.93 percent.  Prior to the most recent quarter, the Nowcast has never before predicted GDP above 3.2 percent and rarely ever above 3 percent.

The Nowcast uses the most recent economic figures to try to get a real-time reading of economic output. It is updated weekly. Last week’s number was pushed up by good news about employment, inventories, and new home sales. Low inflation was a drag on the number.

The economy has grown at greater than 3 percent for every full quarter that Donald Trump has been president. It grew at just 1.24 percent in the first quarter of the year as the country transitioned from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.

A 3.9 percent growth rate is far higher than economists forecasted when surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE). The economy has been regularly outperforming forecasts since Trump took office.  The New York Fed Nowcast is considered to be more optimistic than the older GDPNOW tool run out of the Atlanta Fed. But even the GDPNOW forecast looks very strong, turning in a 3.5 percent growth forecast on Friday.

 President Trump:  “Rigged system” or “double standard” for Michael Flynn

President Trump on Saturday questioned whether his former national security adviser Michael Flynn was the victim of a “rigged system” or “double standard” after he was charged with lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia.

“So General Flynn lies to the FBI and his life is destroyed, while crooked Hillary Clinton, on that now famous FBI holiday “interrogation” with no swearing in and no recording, lies many times…and nothing happens to her? Rigged system, or just a double standard?” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president’s tweets came a day after Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the month before Trump took office. 

Michael Flynn

Behind the Scenes of the Senate’s Tax Reform Bill Passage

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) played key roles in helping Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) salvage the $1.4 trillion tax bill, according to lawmakers and aides familiar with the process with only one GOP defection. So did two other Senate Finance Committee members — Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), two of McConnell’s advisers on tax issues.

Cornyn negotiated the deal that secured the votes of Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who gave leaders the 50 votes they needed to pass the legislation.  Cornyn agreed to increase the deduction for pass-through businesses to 23 percent and pay for it by raising the tax rate on repatriated foreign earnings, according to an aide familiar with the conversation.  That settled the concerns of Senator Ron Johnson and Senator Steve Daines (Mont), who were worried that large C corporations were getting a better deal than small- and medium-sized businesses that file as pass-through entities.

Thune, the third-ranking member of the GOP leadership, served as a liaison between McConnell’s team, the Finance Committee and rank-and-file members throughout the tax debate.

Another important tactical victory was securing the support of moderate Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), one of three Republicans who voted to defeat legislation repealing ObamaCare earlier in July.  Portman played a leading role in coaxing Collins to support the legislation and ease her concerns over language repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate, which the Congressional Budget Office warned could raise insurance premiums by 10 percent.  McConnell and Portman assured Collins that the effect on premiums would be offset by moving legislation to authorize cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies, according to sources familiar with the talks.  They also promised to add a bill Collins sponsored with Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) to set up reinsurance pools for high-risk patients.  McConnell also pledged that he would not allow a $25 billion cut to Medicare mandated by “pay-as-you-go” rules in 2018.

Portman’s biggest contribution was to handle the technically difficult task of transforming the U.S. tax system for corporate profits earned overseas into a territorial one as they decided to increase the tax rate on corporate profits held overseas.

GOP senators say Toomey played an essential role throughout the process by pushing back on efforts to raise the tax rate for large companies known as C corporations above the 20 percent favored by Trump. He also hammered out an agreement with Senator Bob Corker earlier in the debate to limit the overall size of the package to $1.5 trillion Senate bill.

Senator Tim Scott played an instrumental role in keeping the threshold for the popular mortgage interest deduction at $1 million in the Senate bill — a break with House Republicans, who capped it at $500,000. Scott was also a consistent advocate for providing more tax relief to individuals, something GOP leaders were able to achieve after including language to repeal the individual mandate, which raises an estimated $338 billion over the next decade.

McConnell locked up the vote of another important moderate, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), by promising to include language allowing oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Sensing the shift in momentum, Senator Jeff Flake split from Corker in exchange for a pledge from GOP leaders that they would work with him to “enact fair and permanent protections” for immigrants who came to the country illegally as children. Trump rescinded the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which granted work permits and temporary protection from deportation to recipients, in September.  Flake said he also got GOP leaders to eliminate what he called an “$85 billion expensing budget gimmick” from the bill.

 

Sunday, December 3 (Day 325):

Laura Ingraham:  Democrats seek a “new electorate” with open borders

Democrats “want to replace the current electorate in the United States with a new electorate” said Fox News Channel host and conservative radio talker Laura Ingraham. “And that new electorate, if the demographic changes bear out that we’ve seen develop in Virginia, that will create a California, a Florida, a Texas that looks like Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.

“So, I think the Democrats want the replace, you know, the old, white yaahoo conservatives with a new group of people who might be more amenable to big government and don’t necessarily have a big affection for the Second Amendment or the Constitution.

“And a lot of Republicans don’t want to secure the border because they want the cheap labor. And so, there is an unholy alliance between the left and the right for years until Trump came along and basically called them on their you-know-what and said, ‘Uh uh uh, this is what the people want.

“They want a real border. They want a real government and they want safety and security. He ran on protecting Americans and illegal immigrants from this kind of carnage.”

President Trump:  Sue “ABC for the damages this bad reporting caused”

President Donald Trump continued to ridicule ABC News and their reporter Brian Ross for a false report about Mike Flynn’s cooperation with the Russia investigation.

“People who lost money when the Stock Market went down 350 points based on the false and dishonest reporting of Brian Ross of ABC News (he has been suspended), should consider hiring a lawyer and suing ABC for the damages this bad reporting has caused – many millions of dollars!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Ross was suspended by ABC News for four weeks without pay, after he tried to clarify a report about the investigation.  Ross reported on Friday that Flynn would testify that as a candidate Trump ordered him to contact the Russians, which would be illegal.  The stock market fell more than 350 points on the news. But hours later, Ross “clarified” his story, saying that Flynn would testify that Trump asked him to contact the Russians after winning the election, which is not against the law.

“Congratulations to ABC News for suspending Brian Ross for his horrendously inaccurate and dishonest report on the Russia witch hunt,” Trump said. “More networks and ‘papers’ should do the same with their fake news!”

#BoycottSanFranisco goes viral after non-guilty verdict in Steinle trial

#BoycottSanFrancisco is going viral as San Francisco defends its sanctuary policies in the wake of the not-guilty verdict in the Kate Steinle murder trial on Nov. 30th in which a California jury found seven-time felon and five-time deported illegal alien Jose Garcia Zarate not guilty of murdering 32-year-old Kate Steinle in 2015.

Mayor Ed Lee’s (D) spokeswoman said, “San Francisco is and always will be a sanctuary city.” Twitter users throughout the nation and the world reacted to the defense of sanctuary policies by taking #BoycottSanFrancisco viral.

President Trump:   “FBI—its reputation is in Tatters”

President Donald Trump disparaged the FBI after reports uncovered investigator Peter Strzok’s bias against the president and for Hillary Clinton.

“After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters – worst in History!” he wrote on Twitter. “But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.”

Trump made his comments after Fox News reported that the Justice Department was reviewing the role that former deputy director for counterintelligence Peter Strzok played in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller dismissed Strzok from the Russia investigation after discovering that he sent anti-Trump texts with a colleague. “Tainted (no, very dishonest?) FBI ‘agent’s role in Clinton probe under review,’” Trump wrote. “Led Clinton email probe. Clinton money going to wife of another FBI agent in charge.”

Strzok also participated in the the Russia investigation which included the anti-Trump phony dossier funded by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. An outraged House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes is preparing to cite FBI officials for contempt of Congress, after the agency appeared to be stalling the investigation.

 

Monday, December 4 (Day 326):

President Trump offers full support to Roy Moore in Alabama Senate race

President Donald Trump called besieged Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore on Monday, to offer him his full support in Alabama. “Donald Trump called Roy Moore this morning,” revealed Moore’s campaign consultant Drew Messer on Twitter. “Great conversation. His parting words were ‘Go get them Roy.’ Thank you, POTUS, for supporting the Judge.”

Moore’s wife Kayla also revealed that Trump had called Moore on Monday. “Judge Moore just got off the phone with President Trump – we have his full support!” she wrote. “Thank you Mr. President! Let’s MAGA!”

The president announced his unvarnished support for Moore on Twitter earlier in the day.  “Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama. We need his vote on stopping crime, illegal immigration, border wall, military, pro life, Veterans Administration, judges, 2nd Amendment and more. No to Jones, a Pelosi/Schumer puppet!”— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump

Judge Roy Moore

Soros-financed group seeking to register convicted Alabama felons

An organization partnered with a George Soros-financed group and led by the half-brother of Rev. Al Sharpton has been diligently working over the past few weeks to register convicted felons across Alabama.

The aim of the effort has been to get as many felons as possible to register in order to vote in Alabama’s Dec. 12 senate special election that pits Republican Roy Moore against Democratic challenger Doug Jones.  The man spearheading the campaign has stated outright that his effort is meant to ensure a Democratic victory in Alabama.

The thousands of felons reportedly newly registered over the past few weeks were most likely not included in any recent polling on the Alabama senate race put out by major firms.

Jones himself is tied to some of the specific organizations associated with the drive to register felons here. Jones spearheaded a project for a massively Soros-financed legal activist group demanding full voting rights be given to felons released from prison, including those convicted of murder, rape and other violent crimes.

AL.com reported that Pastor Kenneth Glasgow has been at the forefront of the statewide effort, which has successfully registered thousands of felons across Alabama in recent weeks. Glasgow has been aided in his efforts here by other Soros-financed groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Glasgow is currently president of a group he founded in 1999 calling itself The Ordinary People Society (TOPS). And he is a former leader of another organization, the radical Free Alabama Movement (FAM), which has for years been making inroads into Alabama’s prison population.  Glasgow told AL.com that in the last month alone “I think we registered at least five- to ten-thousand people all over the state” – referring to his efforts here in Alabama.

According to Pastor Glasgow,  “swarming the polls” with newly registered convicts could swing the vote, pointing as a template to the Virginia governor’s race. In that state, Gov. Terry McAuliffe used his executive power in April to restore voting rights for over 200,000 felons. “We have the chance to do the same thing they did in Virginia,” Glasgow stated. “We can turn it blue. Well not blue, but we can add some color. Make it pink or purple.”The Video

Glasgow has been taking advantage of a change made last May, when Alabama’s Gov. Kay Ivey signed a law that defined a clause in the State constitution denying the right to vote to anyone who has committed a crime that demonstrates “moral turpitude.”  The new law generated a list of about 50 crimes that fit under the “moral turpitude” banner, including murder, kidnapping and sexual abuse. Glasgow was involved in the activism promoting the law.

A Soros-funded group called the Campaign Legal Center filed the lawsuit against Alabama last year calling for a public educational campaign to inform felons of their regained right to vote. The litigation is still ongoing.

Besides funding from Soros, the Campaign Legal Center documents that it receives financing from the Soros-funded Tides Foundation and from the Soros-funded Brennan Center for Justice.

Doug Jones himself has spearheaded numerous Brennan projects, including one seeking full voting rights nationwide be given to all felons released from prison regardless of their crimes.  The Brennan Center has been the recipient of numerous grants from Soros’s Open Society Foundations totaling over $7,466,000 from 2000 to 2010 alone.

The Soros-funded ACLU of Alabama also filed a lawsuit seeking to force the state of Alabama to inform convicted felons that they can vote. The ACLU has also worked with Glasgow’s TOPS to register felons. The groups co-hosted a Voter Rights Restoration training session in Selma, Alabama in July, after the law was first changed. The ACLU dedicated a special section of its website to getting supporters to register for the Alabama senate race. The organization has used its Twitter account in recent days to promote the voter registration drive in Alabama.

The Soros-funded Campaign Legal Center has released an Alabama Voting Rights Restoration Toolkit aiding felons in registering to vote. Soros’s Open Society is listed as a donor to the group.

The League of Women Voters of Alabama has also been advocating for voter turnout. Soros’s Open Society has donated to the League of Women Voters Education Fund.

The Soros-financed MoveOn.org, which advocates for voting restoration to felons, has been heavily active in Alabama, where they claim they have 43,000 members.

Earlier this week, Think Progress, a project of the Soros-funded Center for American Progress, suggested that “tens of thousands of newly registered felons could swing (the) Alabama Senate election.”

Glasgow’s TOPS, which has been registering the Alabama felons, is financed by the Open Philanthropy Project, a non-profit financed by Cari Tuna and her husband, Dustin Moskovitz, co-founders of Facebook and Asana. TOPS is openly partnered with the Soros-financed Drug Policy Alliance, which seeks to decriminalize drug offenses. The Alliance’s main aim, according to its website, is to create a world in which people “are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies but only for crimes committed against others.” Soros’s Open Society Foundations gave $50 million to the Alliance to aid its decriminalization efforts. 

Former FBI Director: ‘Bob Mueller should never been special counsel’

The former assistant director of the FBI wonders who investigates the investigators in the wake of former Trump administration national security advisor Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI and agreeing to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

“Bob Mueller should have never been offered nor accepted the job as special counsel as he has a huge conflict of interest,” said Jim Kallstrom. “He should have recused himself.”

Not only do observers describe Mueller and the man he recommended to replace him as FBI director, James Comey, as close or even best friends, but the special counsel pursues an investigation heavily involving the bureau he once led. How one maintains detachment in leading a team that includes numerous anti-Trump partisans in a probe involving one’s close friend and the former bureau for which Mueller served as director goes unexplained.

Other problems Kallstrom sees include the means by which investigators obtained information and what constituted probable cause to obtain it. “The Obama administration apparently, had the advantage of using electronic surveillance, collecting information on the Trump campaign,” Kallstrom explains. “That collection, in my view, may be found to be unlawful.”

“If they used the phony dossier as the predicate for the FISA order they obtained, that could be a huge problem,” said Kallstrom. “If they knew the information was phony, that is a felony. If they did not know it was phony, they were incompetent.”

The “dossier,” which Americans belatedly discovered as an opposition research investigation funded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other partisan sources, served as a justification in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court to obtain a wiretap on Trump campaign advisor Carter Page. Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer who compiled the opposition research dubbed an intelligence dossier in the media, admits that he neither traveled to Russia nor spoke to many of the sources for the anti-Trump document that the Clinton campaign funded and the FBI used in its investigation.

“This whole matter with the dossier and the investigations that ensued, including FISA surveillance and the unmasking of hundreds of names, in my view, will prove to be violations of the rules set down by the Congress for unmasking, or worse, will be found to be violations of federal law,” Kallstrom concludes. “The Justice Department should find out if the FBI paid for this phony dossier and should inspect the affidavit that was given to the FISA court to determine the accuracy of their probable cause.”

BLM agent promoted, after gun stolen, used to kill Kate Steinle

Bureau of Land Management agent John Woychowski was promoted five months after his gun was stolen and used to kill Kate Steinle.

Woychowski’s “unsecured” Sig Sauer .40 caliber was stolen and ended up in the hands of Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, also known as Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez, who had the gun when Kate Steinle was killed. CNN reports Zarate was acquitted in the death of Steinle on Thursday yet found guilty of “possession of a firearm.”

The gun was stolen from Woychowski’s car, but the person who actually stole the gun has not been named.

In October, KQED reported that Woychowski was promoted five months after Steinle was shot. Attorneys stated Woychowski’s gun was stolen on a day when he had driven “over 600 miles” up the coast of California. He told investigators he drove that great distance “before stopping near the Embarcadero in San Francisco for dinner at almost 10 p.m.”

He was in a personal car and, upon returning to it, he noticed it had been burglarized. “The backpack containing Woychowski’s duty weapon and ammunition [were] missing.”

The gun was stolen June 27 and Steinle was killed with it four days later. Woychowski was not disciplined nor did he face charges in Steinle’s death.

Supreme Court rules in favor of President Trump’s travel ban

The Supreme Court on Monday granted President Trump’s administration’s request to fully reinstate the third version of his travel ban.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and a federal district court in Maryland had said Trump could only block the entry of nationals from the six majority-Muslim countries in the ban — Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad —  if they lacked a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. The high court’s decision now puts those rulings on hold.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Sonia Sotomayor said they would have denied the government’s request.

The state of Hawaii and the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) challenged Trump’s latest ban, arguing the Supreme Court carved out the same bona fide relationship exemption in June when it partially reinstated Trump’s 90-day ban on nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.

When that order expired on Sept. 24, Trump issued new restrictions that eliminated Sudan from the ban but added Chad, North Korea and individuals affiliated with certain government agencies in Venezuela. The lower court bans did not block the restrictions on Venezuelan officials or immigrants from North Korea.

Monday marked the second time the Supreme Court has been asked to intervene on the president’s travel restrictions. The Supreme Court cancelled oral arguments and ultimately tossed out two cases challenging Trump’s previous ban in October. The move was largely seen as a victory for the administration even though the court did not rule on the merits of the case.

The travel ban, issued in September, was intended to start enhanced vetting procedures of foreign nationals from eight countries (Chad, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, North Korea, Venezuela, and Yemen) until those countries comply with our security criteria. Those countries are deficient in their identity-management and information-sharing efforts regarding their nationals, and we have continuing concerns with terrorism in many of those countries.

The two Supreme Court orders can be viewed here and here. With these orders, the Proclamation goes into full effect as do the enhanced vetting procedures.

 

Tuesday, December 5 (Day 327):

Lewandowksi and Bossie’s book  “Let Trump Be Trump” details victory

Two Trump loyalists, former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowksi and deputy campaign manager David Bossie have released a new book “Let Trump Be Trump” that explains how a team of outsiders — and political novices — launched a campaign that would achieve one of the biggest upsets in U.S. election history.

Lewandowski, who had guided Trump through most of his primary election victories, was ousted as campaign manager ahead of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio in July 2016.

Mueller fires FBI investigator from his Russian collusion team

Peter Stzrok

Former FBI investigator Peter Strzok, who was pulled from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team after it was revealed he exchanged text messages mocking President Trump, was reportedly behind the decision to change then-FBI Director James Comey’s description of Hillary Clinton’s email use from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.”

CNN reported Monday that Peter Strzok not only led the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state but was also partly behind the change in Comey’s draft language to the “extremely careless” phrase which was seen as a damning indictment of Clinton’s behavior—even though Comey decided not to recommend charges when he made the announcement in July 2016.

CNN notes that federal law has criminal penalties for “gross negligence” in the handling of classified material.

Many opponents of Clinton, including President Trump, have implied or stated outright that they believe Clinton got away without being charged due to her status as a high-profile Democratic politician.

CNN also reports that Strzok was the official who, as one of the FBI’s top experts on Russia, was the man who signed the document opening a probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Also on Monday, the Sean Hannity Radio Show published an exclusive report by Circa’s Sara Carter on the bureau’s interviews of former national security advisor Michael Flynn—who last week pled guilty to lying to the FBI during those interviews. According to Carter, Strzok was one of two agents who interviewed Flynn in January at the White House.

President Trump has seized on the revelations about Strzok’s texting as evidence of allegedly biased behavior, tweeting on Monday morning: “Now it all starts to make sense!”

Accused representative resigns from Congress

Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said on Tuesday that he’s retiring “today” and thanked those who have supported him in the wake of allegations by several women who claimed he made unwelcome sexual advances.

Conyers has denied any wrongdoing, despite reports that one former staffer was paid a $27,000 settlement for charges of sexual harassment in 2015.

“I am retiring today,” Conyers said. “And I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the support that…incredible, undiminished support I’ve received across the years of my supporters, not only in my district but across the country as well.”

Congressman John Conyers (D-Mi) 88-years-old, the longest serving congressman, serving since 1965 (President Lyndon Johnson), resigned after allegations of sexual abuse were given by several women. He has been hospitalized in recent days for what his staff has said is stress-related health issues.

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” Conyers said. “This too shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”

Conyers endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to replace him, CNN reported. Conyers’ great-nephew, 29-year old Michigan state Senator Ian Conyers, told CBS News’ Jonathan Blakely he would also be running for the elder Conyers’ seat in a special election that will be ordered by the Michigan governor.

Last month Conyers announced he was stepping down from his ranking member seat on the House Judiciary Committee. “After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside as ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee during the investigation of these matters,” Conyers said.

U.S. Senate confirms Trump’s new Homeland Security agency head

The U.S. Senate voted 62-37 on Kirstjen Nielsen’s nomination to be Department of Homeland Security secretary, with 10 Democratic senators and Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine) siding with Republicans to support her.   She replaced John Kelly who left the agency for his White House post as Chief of Staff earlier this year. The DHS employs 240,000 employees.

Nielsen, who was nominated in October, was expected to secure confirmation after clearing a procedural hurdle in a 59-33 vote on Monday evening. She’ll be the department’s first Senate-confirmed secretary in months. Kelly left to become the Trump’s chief of staff in July, and Elaine Duke has led the agency in an acting capacity.

Republicans have praised Nielsen, a cybersecurity expert and former Homeland Security official.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged senators to back her nomination ahead of Tuesday’s vote. “It’s time for us to vote to confirm her so she can get to work for the American people. By confirming Ms. Nielsen’s nomination to lead DHS, the Senate will take a serious step to strengthen our nation’s security. [She] will be charged with leading the department at a critical time,” he said from the Senate floor.

Nielsen previously served on George W. Bush’s homeland security council. She also worked with Kelly at DHS when he served as secretary earlier this year, and followed him to the White House to become his chief of staff.

As DHS secretary, Nielsen will head an agency charged with protecting America’s borders, squashing cybersecurity threats and leading the response to natural disasters.

Nielsen will need to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Trump administration announced in September it would end the program, which allows undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children to live and work.

In addition to DACA, DHS is at the center of battles over a U.S.-Mexico border wall and the Trump’s administration travel ban. The Supreme Court handed Trump a win on Monday by granting his administration’s request to fully reinstate the third version of his travel ban.

 

Wednesday, December 6 (Day 328):

President Trump recognizes Jerusalem as capital of Israel

“I have determined that it is time to official recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” President Trump said in a televised address from the White House. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.

“Today, we finally acknowledge the obvious: that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”

President Trump said that the U.S. would finally move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in accordance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, and would make it a monument to peace.

“I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Trump said, acknowledging that Israel has the right to determine the location of its own capital was a “necessary condition for achieving peace.”  On a practical level, Trump said, it was apparent to all that every major institution of the Israeli government is located in Jerusalem, and that is where foreign dignitaries met with the Israeli heads of state and government.

“Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli People have built a country where Jews, Muslims, Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and beliefs.”

Trump said that Jerusalem is today, and must remain, a place “where Jews pray at the Western wall, where Christians walk the Stations of the Cross, and where Muslims worship at Al-Aqsa mosque.

“The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides,” he said. “I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement. Above all, our greatest hope is for peace, the universal yearning in every human soul.”

“There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement,” President Trump said. “But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace, and a place, of greater understanding and cooperation,” he said.

“This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity, lifting our sights to what is possible — not pulling us back, and down, to the old fights that have become so totally predictable,” he said. “Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach it. … Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts.”

Reaction:  Trump Jerusalem recognition

President Trump’s critics responded to his announcement which recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and which also directed the State Department to begin moving the U.S. embassy there.

Former Breitbart News editor Ben Shapiro, whose website had all but called Trump anti-Israel during the 2016 campaign, declared that Trump’s decision on Jerusalem was an act of “political bravery” and “moral courage” in an appearance on Fox News.

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg paused from his customary recitations of Trump’s failures in office to tweet: “Good for Trump moving the embassy to Jerusalem.”

Bethany Shondark Mandel, declared the #NeverTrump movement dead last month and tweeted proudly Wednesday: “Americans voted for Donald Trump precisely because he won’t deny basic geopolitical facts because terrorists tell him not to.”

Erick Erickson expressed similar sentiments in an op-ed for Fox News titled: “Jerusalem is why Trump’s in the White House.” In it, Erickson said: “President Trump is committing the most grievance “sin” any politician in Washington can commit. He is walking the walk instead of just talking the talk. This is the behavior that is responsible for his election.

“The American people have become deeply cynical about American politics and deeply skeptical of political promises. They took a radical chance by voting for Donald Trump and, where he can, they are seeing him keep promises other politicians made and never kept.

“The reaction of Washington’s elite will only prove to Americans that the voters were right all along about the liars inside the Beltway. That, in turn, will probably help re-elect the president in 2020.

Commentary‘s John Podhoretz, who has attacked not only Trump but anyone supporting him, praised the president in a column at the New York Post: “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,” President Trump said in announcing America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Never have truer words been spoken, and they were delivered in the best speech Trump has ever given.

“What Trump did was stunning. He could just have signed the waiver of the law passed in 1995 compelling the executive branch to move America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He did it six months ago, just like his three immediate predecessors did every six months since 1996. Or he could have not signed the waiver and simply said he was going to start the process of building the new embassy.

“Instead, he called the international community’s seven-decade bluff and ended a delusion about the future that has prevented Palestinians from seeing the world and their own geopolitical situation clearly. It is a bold shift.”

David French of National Review — a publication so determined to stop Trump that it published an entire issue devoted to the cause — called Trump’s decision “a blow against international anti-Semitism.” French, who had actually contemplated running against Trump as a third-party spoiler candidate in 2016, declared Wednesday:  “President Trump’s decision to formally recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and to announce plans to move America’s embassy to the seat of Israel’s government is one of the best, most moral, and important decisions of his young administration. On this issue, he is demonstrating greater resolve than Republican and Democratic presidents before him, and he is defying some of the worst people in the world. The shift within #NeverTrump might charitably be described as a form of intellectual integrity, in that its members can concede when Trump does something right.

“However, few have accounted for the fact that had Hillary Clinton won the election — as many expected, and some even hoped — there is no way the U.S. would have recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Quite the opposite: Clinton would have continued Obama’s lame-duck, absurd policy of attacking the very Jewish presence in the Old City of Jerusalem as a flagrant violation of international law.”

 

Thursday, December 7 (Day 329):

House of Representatives reject effort to impeach President Trump

The attempt by Democratic Rep. Al Green (D-TX) to introduce two articles of impeachment against President Trump was rejected with 364 Congressman voting to table the issue and 58 Democrats voting to move ahead.

Congressman Green called President Trump “unfit” for office and accused him of “high misdemeanors.”  Green has discussed his intention to impeach Trump since last spring.  In October, Green filed impeachment articles that nearly forced a vote—until House Democratic leaders persuaded him to abandon the effort.

Green didn’t allege “obstruction of justice” or reference the ongoing investigation into the 2016 presidential campaign’s connection with Russia.  Instead, he highlighted Trump’s supposed association with “White Nationalism, Neo-Naism, and Hate,” as well as “inciting hatred and hostility.”

Lawmakers did not actually vote on the actual articles of impeachment but on

a procedural measure that would have led to a vote on them.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has insisted that any impeachment effort should be put on hold until there is evidence of an impeachable offense.

Senator Al Franken announced his resignation after sexual accusations

“Today I am announcing that in the coming weeks I am resigning as a member of the U.S. Senate,” said Senator Al Franken (D-MN) on the Senate floor after multiple accusations of sexual assault and repeated calls from over 30 of his Democratic colleagues to step down.

“I consider Senator Franken a dear friend and greatly respect his accomplishments, but he has a higher obligation to his constituents and the Senate, and he should step down immediately,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Wednesday.

Female senators calling for Schumer’s ouster included Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

 

Friday, Dec. 8 (Day 330):

President Trump declares federal disaster in California

President Donald Trump approved a declaration of a state of emergency in California on Friday, ordering federal assistance in response to multiple wildfires that broke out since December 4 and continue to cause massive damage in the state.

This declaration allows the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “to coordinate all disaster relief efforts,” according to a White House statement on the declaration.

“This action will help alleviate the hardship and suffering that the emergency may inflict on the local population, and provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.”

FEMA now has the authority to “identify, mobilize, and provide, at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency. Emergency protective measures, limited to direct Federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent Federal funding,” according to the statement.

“I applaud the Trump Administration’s swift approval of the state’s emergency declaration request,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). “As our fellow citizens and first responders continue to fight these tragic fires and take the first steps to recover and rebuild I will work with federal, state, and local officials to ensure federal resources are available and provided for our neighbors in need.

Mark Armstrong has been named federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations for the fire-ravaged areas.  At least 10 fires are specifically identified on a CalFire map of Southern California. Some of those have been partially contained, while most have not. Updates, including evacuations, can be found on the CalFire incident information webpage.

 President Trump shares Christmas Story during tree lighting

“The Christmas Story begins 2,000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son and the most extraordinary gift of all—the gift of God’s love for all of humanity,” said President Donald Trump at the lighting of the national Christmas tree.

“Whatever our beliefs, we know that the birth of Jesus Christ and the story of his life…Melania and I are full of joy at the start of this very blessed season, the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Americans have known Christmas as a time for prayer and worship, for gratitude and goodwill, for peace and renewal,” said Trump. “We’re thrilled to think of the people, across the nation and all across the continents, whose spirits are lifted by the miracle of Christmas. The birth of Jesus Christ forever changed the course of human history.

“There is hardly an aspect of our lives today that His life has not touched: art, music, culture, law, and our respect for the sacred dignity of every person everywhere in the world,” the president said.

Photo Credit: Dana Rene, file

Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service, founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 23 years as a middle school teacher.  Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email: hernandez.mike@aol.com

 Mr. Hernandez is dedicating himself to advance the 13 spheres –as a “City Upon A Hill”; developing an interactive California citizens news platform as an alternative to mainstream media; while building local school-community partnerships and supporting constitutional awareness and active citizenship.

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