by Stephen B. Presser, American Spectator June 9, 2017
Can Comey’s account be trusted?
Perhaps the most interesting moment of the hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday occurred when former FBI Director James Comey was being questioned on his interactions with President Donald Trump by Senator Angus King (I-Maine). The precise matter being addressed was whether the President had ordered Comey to stop investigating former Presidential advisor General Michael Flynn. Comey testified that Mr. Trump and he had both agreed that Flynn was “a good guy,” and Comey suggested that Trump expressed his hope that the investigation of Flynn could be ended. Comey testified that Mr. Trump had said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” Comey is now taking the position that he understood Mr. Trump to be suggesting that Comey end his investigation of Flynn, and the clear implication (as it is now being trumpeted in various organs of the media) is that Trump was engaged in an attempt to obstruct justice, a criminal offense which quite possibly could be grounds for impeachment.
He and Senator King, examining Mr. Trump’s suggestion about Flynn likened it to the purported comment of the English monarch, Henry II, who was mired in controversy with the famous Archbishop Thomas a Beckett. Henry asked several of his courtiers, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” and, almost immediately thereafter, some of the King’s henchmen assassinated the churchman.
Most striking here is the implied assertion that President Trump (again, by implication acting illegally), was asserting kingly prerogatives (like Henry II), and expecting other governmental officials (here Comey) to carry them out. An equally plausible interpretation of Mr. Trump’s comments about Flynn, of course, now being brought forward by Mr. Trump’s defenders, is that this was not an order to Comey, but, simply the expression of a desire that someone (Flynn) whom the President believed to be a good man, and one who, in his opinion, had done nothing wrong, would not be further tormented.
Mr. Trump’s son, Donald Jr., has indicated that his father doesn’t work by indirection, and that if he was giving a direct order to Mr. Comey it would have been much clearer. Given Mr. Trump’s penchant for pithy tweets, and for his directness on the stump, it does seem quite plausible that when he wants to make something plain, he does. How then can one explain Mr. Comey’s interpretation, and, further, Mr. Comey’s repeated assertion during his Senate testimony that the President is a liar, and cannot be trusted?
One thought, floated by another Senator, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), is that Trump is speaking the language of a businessman, and Comey was not. This was in the context of Mr. Trump’s query to Mr. Comey whether he, the President, could depend on his loyalty. This is apparently an assertion sought by Mr. Trump from all of his cabinet members, and one that any sensible Chief Executive would want from those working under him or her. As Lankford explained, “I think Comey sees this differently than the president did. The president sees him [Comey] as another part of the team. Comey seems to see it as hey, we’re very independent, which the FBI has historically been, very independent.” READ it HERE
Press Release Washington, June 7, 2017 | Bernadette Green (202-225-2476)
Congressman Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah) today criticized the Obama administration’s response to Operation Fast and Furious in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing focused on what is still not known about the scandal six years later.
Witnesses at the hearing included Josephine Terry and Robert Heyer, mother and cousin of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry who was killed as a result of the operation, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent John Dodson.
Excerpts of Grothman’s remarks
“We really haven’t gotten into how this happened in the first place, or what the motive would be for the U.S. government to try to get United States automatic weapons in the hands of Mexican drug cartels.
“It’s very horrible what happened to Bryan Terry. And I would suppose, given the zeal with which they were pursuing this, there were an unknown amount of Mexican individuals who wound up being killed as a result of the actions of the U.S. government. Do you think that’s accurate?
“Has the Obama administration, or anyone connected with that administration, apologized to the Mexican government for trying to get automatic weapons down to the Mexican drug cartels as far as you’re aware?
“Well, someone ought to apologize.
“What would be the motivation to try to get American automatic weapons in the hands of drug cartels? Why did some people in the American government think it was in our interest to make sure the Mexican drug cartels were armed to the teeth?
“Eric Holder was certainly not very helpful. We held him in contempt of Congress. Can you, in general, give us your opinion on the degree to which Eric Holder tried to help this investigation, and the degree to which he tried to stand in the way of finding out what’s really going on here?
“It appears he really didn’t want to get to the bottom of it. He was willing to cover it up.
“Did you see the Obama administration step up and do anything about this? READ it HERE
By Bill Osmulski, MacIverNews June 9, 2017
The Joint Committee on Finance is considering almost a dozen different tax and fee increases to boost transportation funding, according to Fiscal Bureau memos released Thursday.
The Fiscal Bureau laid out 11 options for transportation fund revenue raisers "that have been the subject of frequent legislative inquiry" over the past year.
The first option would increase the state sales tax from 5 to 5.5 percent. That extra .5 percent would go into the transportation fund. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that would bring in $960 million over the biennium.
The second option would be to apply the current 5 percent sales tax to gas purchases. LFB estimates that would bring in $660 million.
Option three raises the gas tax by 1 cent per gallon, and would bring in $64.4 million over the biennium. JFC is also considering indexing the gas tax. That would tie it to inflation, and bring in $29.5 million over the biennium.
Indexing the gas tax ended in 2006. Another option would raise the gas tax by 7 cents a gallon, because LFB says that's how much it would have risen if indexing never went away. That would raise $450.9 million. JFC could also start applying the gas tax to vehicles used for farming. That would bring in $71.4 million.
Lawmakers are also considering raising vehicle registration fees. Right now annual registration costs $75 in Wisconsin. The JFC proposal would change that to a mileage-based system, where drivers are charged 1.02 cents for every mile they travel throughout the year. That would mean a $102 registration fee for motorists who drive 10,000 miles in a year.
By Chris Rochester, MacIver News Service | June 8, 2017
[Madison, Wis...] A longtime leader in welfare reform, Wisconsin has become the first state in the nation to request a federal waiver to drug test able-bodied, childless adults who seek Medicaid benefits.
The Department of Health Services submitted a broad request to the federal Centers for Medicaid Services Wednesday, asking the Trump administration for permission to implement a variety of reforms to the state's Medicaid program - also known BadgerCare - including the drug screening requirement.
If granted, the waiver would allow Wisconsin to screen those who apply for BadgerCare for drugs and, if necessary, require participants to submit to a drug test. If a recipient fails, he or she would have to enter a state-funded treatment program. If they refuse, they would be ineligible for BadgerCare benefits until they agree to enter treatment.
The DHS is also requesting to establish a two-tier requirement for monthly premiums and copayments for emergency room visits. Childless adults with household incomes from 51 to 100 percent of the federal poverty level would have to pay $8 per month for their benefits and an additional $8 for each emergency department visit. READ it HERE
by Eddie Scarry |The Washington Examiner Jun 8, 2017
Liberal MSNBC host Chris Matthews said Thursday the accusation that President Trump directly colluded with Russia to interfere in the U.S. election "came apart" following former FBI Director James Comey's testimony in front of Congress.
In his written and spoken testimony on Thursday, Comey said that he never felt that Trump had tried to impede the FBI's investigation into Russia, even that the president had encouraged it and he suggested that former national security adviser Mike Flynn wasn't at the heart of the investigation.
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"The assumption of the critics of the president, of his pursuers, you might say, is that somewhere along the line in the last year is the president had something to do with colluding with the Russians … to affect the election in some way," Matthews said on MSNBC, following the testimony.
"And yet what came apart this morning was that theory," Matthews said, listing two reasons why. First, he said Comey revealed that "Flynn wasn't central to the Russian investigation," and secondly, he said that kills the idea that Flynn might have been in a position to testify against Trump.
"And if that's not the case, where's the there-there?" Matthews said.
READ it HERE
by David French June 8, 2017 National Review Online
The narrative that the Trump team colluded with Russia took a hit, but the claim that Trump abused his power in firing Comey got a boost.
There is much to unpack in former FBI director James Comey’s almost three hours of live testimony today, but my summary is rather simple. The “big” conspiracy theory that’s circulating online — that Trump and his team colluded with the Russians, and Trump fired Comey because he was getting close to the truth — took some serious body blows. The smaller scandal (compared to active collusion with the Russians) — that Trump either abused his power or potentially obstructed justice when he fired James Comey — got a modest boost.
At the same time, there’s still an enormous amount of information that we simply don’t have. Let’s break this down. First, and this is critically important given the concerns about Russian collusion, Comey emphatically disputed a New York Times story that has served as the foundation for an enormous amount of public speculation of improper conduct.
That story began: Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials. Obviously, if true, the report is deeply alarming. But today Comey said, under oath, that the story was “almost entirely wrong.” We still don’t know the nature and extent of Trump team communications with Russia, but the Times report was an important part of the worst conspiracy narratives, and now it’s relegated to the ash heap. READ it HERE
By M.D. Kittle and Ola Lisowski MacIver News Service | June 2, 2017
Statewide property taxes would go down - $10 - but lower-spending districts would be allowed to raise property taxes by $92 million
June 5, 2017: This story has been updated with reactions from Gov. Walker and legislators.
[Madison, Wis...] Assembly Republicans are pushing a K-12 funding plan that cuts Gov. Scott Walker's state education spending proposal by more than $100 million, raising property taxes slightly compared to the governor's budget and cutting spending to private school choice to get there, according to legislative documents obtained by MacIver News Service.
At a press conference in Fitchburg, Walker said Monday he was concerned that the proposal could raise property taxes.
"Bottom line is, I don't want to see property taxes go up."
Walker's education spending plan proposes a $648 million increase over the next biennium, which delighted the public education establishment.
The GOP Assembly plan still significantly increases K-12 spending, just not as much as Walker's generous proposal. Some fiscal hawks in the Legislature have voiced concerns about the governor's generosity to a public education system marked by widespread failure in Milwaukee and other areas of the state. More so, the Assembly proposal frees up $100 million that could - and most likely will - find its way into other priorities, particularly the state's troubled Department of Transportation.
The Madison Lawyers Chapter presents:
The Future of Judicial Nominations under President Trump
featuring Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute
Wednesday, June 21 Lunch Begins at 11:30
Program begins at noon.
5 East Wilson Street
$15 Federalist Society Member
$20 Non-Federalist Society Member Please Complete the RSVP Form
About our special guest:
Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Before joining Cato, he was a special assistant/adviser to the Multi-National Force in Iraq on rule-of-law issues and practiced at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb. Shapiro is the co-author of Religious Liberties for Corporations? Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the Constitution (2014). He holds an AB from Princeton University, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School (where he became a Tony Patiño Fellow).
If we want to deal seriously with terrorism, we must confront the factors that allow it to operate.
By Lamont Colucci | U.S. News & World Report June 5, 2017
Lamont Colucci is associate professor of politics at Ripon College
Another attack in London; Europe descends into continuous chaos caused by Islamic terrorism. The media wrings their hands with declarations of deplorability, as the mayor of London assures his citizens that London is "one of the safest global cities in the world." Counterterrorism experts obsess over whether the terrorists were "lone wolves" or "known wolves," part of a cell, part of a terror franchise, had links to this or that website, traveled to (fill-in-the-blank country in the Middle East or South Asia) and whether they were "homegrown" or imported.
One would think that after 45 years (assuming we use the Black September attack in Munich as a beginning point), that the West would, unlike the mayor of London, take terrorism seriously. This seriousness has nothing to do with what the counterterrorism experts obsess over. They are too invested in the building that is on fire now and not about the entire city structure, let alone the strategic, historic or future implications.
This is no condemnation of their efforts; it is merely an understanding that our preoccupation with counterterror tactics, legal interrogation frameworks, radicalization monitoring and even grief counseling do not address the fundamental problem. Like so much that has been missing in western and American foreign policy, it is an underlying lack of understanding of geopolitics and grand strategy.
Terrorism, like any movement, requires oxygen: ammunition, training, inspiration, technique and experience. Where does terrorism get this from? There are two answers, and these two answers have been the same since that Munich attack: rogue states and failed states. From the late 1970s, the list has been semi-permanent: Iran, Syria, Libya (from rogue to failed state) are the old guard. The withered members were the North Koreans (down to attacking its own), Iraq (regime changed by the U.S.) and the Soviets. The newest additions are primarily failed or failing states: Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. According to the Global Terrorism Index, four terrorist groups were responsible for 74 percent of all deaths in 2015: the Islamic State group, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and the Taliban. All of these are proponents of an extremist Sunni ideology and emanate out of failed or failing states. Further, terrorist groups receive haven, logistics, training and supplies from rogue states. South Asia, Africa and the Middle East account for 84 percent of terrorist attacks and 95 percent of terrorism deaths. READ the REST HERE
Lamont Colucci Opinion Contributor
Lamont Colucci is associate professor of politics at Ripon College, a former Fulbright scholar to the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna and author of "The National Security Doctrines of the American Presidency: How they Shape our Present and Future," among other books. You can find out more at lamontcolucci.com