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Member since: Tue Nov 9, 2004, 05:15 PM
Number of posts: 30,394

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Trump orchestrates final loyalty test in dying bid to subvert election

Source: Politico

President Donald Trump is plotting a final stand in Congress on Jan. 6, casting it as the ultimate loyalty test in his quest to remain in power and shutting out anyone who won’t get in line.

Trump has been strategizing in recent days with a band of his fiercest congressional supporters about the effort, which will involve lodging objections during the typically pro forma congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

It’s a gambit that even Republican leaders and those around Trump concede is doomed to fail, given the makeup of Congress. But that’s not the only point, according to GOP lawmakers, Trump advisers and Republican operatives.

The objections will also force Republicans in Congress to go on record voting to affirm Biden’s victory — acknowledging the outcome and likely inflaming Trump’s diehard supporters, a crucial GOP faction that has joined the president in denying the election results. Republican strategists and Trump allies inside and outside Washington said Trump’s core supporters will remember how their lawmakers vote on Jan. 6.

Read more: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/22/trump-final-loyalty-test-election-450183

Trump Pardons Two Russia Inquiry Figures and Blackwater Guards

Source: NYTimes

In an audacious pre-Christmas round of pardons, President Trump granted clemency on Tuesday to two people convicted in the special counsel's Russia inquiry, four Blackwater guards convicted in connection with the killing of Iraqi civilians and three corrupt former Republican members of Congress.

Among those pardoned was George Papadopoulos, who was a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump's 2016 campaign and pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to federal officials as part of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

Also pardoned was Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who pleaded guilty to the same charge in 2018 in connection of the special counsel's inquiry. Both men served short prison sentences.

The Mueller-related pardons are a signal of more to come of people caught up in the investigation, according to people close to the president.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/22/us/politics/trump-pardons.html


Senior Trump advisers prepare to launch policy group

Source: Politico

Senior advisers to President Donald Trump are preparing to launch a nonprofit group to promote the president’s policies once he leaves office, creating a landing spot for former Trump officials after the White House changes hands.

White House domestic policy adviser Brooke Rollins and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow have been putting the organization together and are expected to be heavily involved once it gets off the ground. National Security adviser Robert O’Brien and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry are also among those likely to play roles.

Word of the yet-to-be-named outfit comes as top White House officials plot their futures and Trump’s post-presidential political apparatus gradually comes into focus, featuring a new PAC and potentially other entities as well. The new nonprofit group is expected to become a destination for many of the administration’s top policy advisers and Cabinet officials.

Kudlow has spoken about the nascent organization with the president, and senior White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has also been involved in the discussions.

Read more: https://www.politico.com/news/2020/12/22/trump-advisers-launch-policy-group-449886

Texas AG Ken Paxton urged White House to revoke Harris County COVID relief

Source: Houston Chronicle

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Ken Paxton tried to get the Trump administration to revoke millions in federal COVID relief funding that Harris County budgeted for expanding mail-in voting earlier this year, newly revealed records show.

Paxton wrote in a May 21 letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that Harris County’s plan was an “abuse” of the county’s authority and an “egregious” violation of state law. The letter was obtained and published by the Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

“We respectfully ask the department to scrutinize its award of CARES Act funding to Harris County in light of the county’s stated intent to use federal funding in violation of state law, and to the extent possible, seek return of any amounts improperly spent on efforts to promote illegal mail-in voting,” Paxton wrote. “Without implementing adequate protections against unlawful abuse of mail-in ballots, the department could be cast in a position of involuntarily facilitating election fraud.”

Paxton and other state leaders alleged that mail-in voting is more susceptible to fraud, though there is no evidence to support those claims. Paxton’s office resolved 16 prosecutions for voter fraud in 2020, all minor cases from Harris County in which residents gave false addresses on their voter registration forms.

Read more: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/texas/article/Texas-AG-Ken-Paxton-urged-White-House-to-revoke-15821993.php?utm_campaign=CMS%20Sharing%20Tools%20(Premium)&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral

Trump co has refused to transfer the @POTUS & @WhiteHouse Twitter accounts with followers to Biden


Growing number of lawmakers decline early access to COVID-19 vaccine

Source: The Hill

A small but growing number of lawmakers are declining early access to a COVID-19 vaccine that’s being offered to them under continuity of government policies.

A handful of lawmakers in both parties, including Reps. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Jefferson Van Drew (R-N.J.), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and incoming Rep.-elect Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), all made a point of announcing they would refuse a vaccine before all front-line health care workers and seniors get inoculated.

Most other lawmakers are getting their first of two doses of the vaccine and urging others to follow suit, arguing it's necessary to ensure continuity of government in the pandemic.

But some are wary of the optics of representatives getting priority access to a vaccine and would rather wait until it’s widely available to the public.

Read more: https://thehill.com/homenews/house/531198-growing-number-of-lawmakers-decline-early-access-to-covid-19-vaccine

White House task force kept airport Covid screeners in place despite known risk of infection, source

Source: CNBC

In a nearly 17-year career with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Officer Omar E. Palmer had encountered plenty of precarious situations, from suitcases filled with weapons and drugs to disorderly passengers in John F. Kennedy Airport’s international terminal.


Palmer was among hundreds of federal personnel whose responsibilities were adjusted to include evaluating the health of passengers arriving from overseas. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Omar Palmer performed many assigned tasks with professionalism and integrity, his passing was tragic and we kindly ask that you respect his family’s privacy during this difficult time,” an agency spokesman at JFK said.


In interviews with dozens of federal employees and task force officials over four months, CNBC learned that the program proved not only ineffective but dangerous from its earliest days. One former official on the White House coronavirus task force estimated that that three- to four-dozen personnel were infected by the end of May. To compare, nine travelers out of thousands screened in the program were detected to have been infected by the end of September.

Yet the White House chose not to dismantle it, in a bid to avoid worrying the public.

Read more: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/21/white-house-covid-task-force-kept-airport-health-screeners-in-place-despite-risk.html

Barr Says He Sees No Reason to Appoint Special Counsel to Investigate Hunter Biden

Source: Bloomberg

AP NewsAlert: Barr Says He Sees No Reason to Appoint Special Counsel to Investigate Hunter Biden; Says He Won't Appoint One

Washington (AP) -- Barr says he sees no reason to appoint special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden; says he won't appoint one.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-21/ap-newsalert-barr-says-he-sees-no-reason-to-appoint-special-counsel-to-investigate-hunter-biden-says-he-won-t-appoint-one?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_source=twitter&utm_content=business&cmpid=socialflow-twitter-business

House Panel Subpoenas HHS, CDC Heads in Coronavirus Probe

Source: WSJ

WASHINGTON—A House oversight subcommittee subpoenaed two top Trump administration health officials on Monday for documents that could shed light on alleged political interference at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

The subpoenas, issued by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, were served to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Director Robert Redfield. They require both officials to hand over documents the committee had previously requested, which House officials had said the Trump administration was attempting to conceal.

“The subpoenas were necessary because the Select Subcommittee’s investigation has revealed that efforts to interfere with scientific work at CDC were far more extensive and dangerous than previously known,” Rep. James Clyburn (D., S.C.), the committee’s chairman, wrote in a letter accompanying the subpoenas.

Representatives for HHS and the CDC didn’t return requests for comment.

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-panel-subpoenas-hhs-cdc-heads-in-coronavirus-probe-11608562819

Trump Signs Order Mandating 'Beautiful' New Federal Architecture

Source: Bloomberg

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday making classical architecture the preferred style for federal buildings in Washington, a White House official said Monday.

The presidential action stops short of mandating that all new federal buildings are built in a classical style, saying merely that they must be “beautiful.”

Under the order, a “Council for Improving Federal Civic Architecture” will be formed to recommenced updates to the General Services Administration’s architectural guidelines.

The administration has been writing the executive order for months, and an early draft that would have banned modernist design prompted condemnation from the American Institute of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-21/trump-signs-order-mandating-beautiful-new-federal-architecture

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