Day: February 15, 2017

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Melania Trump, Sara Netanyahu visit African-American museum


While President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, first lady Melania and Sara Netanyahu toured the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Melania Trump and Sara Netanyahu left the White House at about 2:30 p.m. Trump was wearing a white one-piece peplum dress with her hair down, while Netanyahu sported a pink knee-length coat over a pink dress.

Upon arrival at the museum, the duo met Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton and Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum directors escorted the first ladies around the facility and gave them a verbal tour of the 19th Smithsonian institution. They stopped by the Greensboro Lunch Counter, where four black residents of Greensboro, N.C., launched a sit-in at a restaurant inside the Woolworth department store on South Elm Street.

Trump and Netanyahu’s tour stopped at the statue of Thomas Jefferson to see the exhibit called “The Paradox of Liberty,” a reference to the founding father’s owning slaves.

Trump had been expected to visit the latest Smithsonian museum on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16, but did not end up visiting. In a report on Jan. 14, the museum said the White House and Secret Service had not reached out to them to plan the visit at that point. The trip was scheduled days after civil rights leader-turned-lawmaker, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., announced he would not attend Trump’s inauguration.

The museum was first commissioned by Congress in 2003 and opened in September. Since then, more than 1 million people have passed through the building and seen the 36,000 artifacts on display.

McConnell: Gorsuch will be confirmed for Supreme Court

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McConnell said he planned to file cloture on the Gorsuch nomination.

02/15/17 4:36 PM



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DNC will vote on resolution to condemn ABC drama 'Designated Survivor'


The Democratic National Committee is expected to vote next week on a resolution that condemns the ABC drama “Designated Survivor” in an apparent effort to mock and criticize FBI Director James Comey.

The party’s resolution committee will consider the motion during its annual gathering in Atlanta next week.

“Whereas, the ABC TV show ‘Designated Survivor’ portrays a fictional FBI Director as being blackmailed into confessing to a crime he did not commit, and … Whereas, the portrayal of this situation is unbelievable and could result in the undermining of faith in the FBI…” the resolution states.

“Whereas, Director Comey demonstrated in the recent 2016 election that he does not need to be blackmailed to engage in illegal partisan actions, and … Whereas Director Comey’s infamous, partisan, and illegal letters resulted in the election of the man some refer to as ‘not my president,” the resolution continues.

Democrats have claimed Comey’s late October announcement — that his agency had reason to continue an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state — cost the Democratic presidential nominee the election. Comey issued a follow-up statement a week and a half later saying they were no longer looking into the issue, but Democrats have said the initial press conference damaged her chances.

The DNC resolution adds: “Therefore, be it resolved, that all US citizens are encouraged to have the same respect for the FBI as Director Comey demonstrated with his illegal actions.”

“Designated Survivor” — starring Kiefer Sutherland, whose character takes over as president after terrorists blow up the Capitol during the State of the Union address — involves a plotline where a top FBI official is blackmailed into confessing a crime he did not commit.

Surgeon general stresses prevention

Also from the Washington Examiner

Vivek Murthy said healthcare spending has focused too much on treatment.

02/15/17 5:21 PM

McConnell: Gorsuch will be confirmed for Supreme Court

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McConnell said he planned to file cloture on the Gorsuch nomination.

02/15/17 4:36 PM



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Darrell Issa on NRCC list of 10 most vulnerable members


The National Republican Congressional Committee has identified the ten House GOP incumbents it thinks are the most vulnerable in 2018.

Three of the members are from California, including former House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, who narrowly won re-election in November.

“Our Patriots are a group of battle-tested members who won hard-fought races in 2016 and are ready to win once again,” NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers stated in identifying them. “Each of those announced is not only an effective member in Congress, but an integral advocate for the communities they serve.

“The NRCC stands squarely behind each of them and will work tirelessly on their behalf to ensure their important voices continue to represent their constituents,” the Ohioan concluded.

Members in the NRCC’s “patriot program,” get additional financial and strategic support for their campaigns from the NRCC.

The other nine members are: Steve Knight and David Valadao, both from California; Brian Mast of Florida; Jason Lewis of Minnesota; New York’s John Faso and Claudia Tenney; Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania; Will Hurd of Texas; and Barbara Comstock of Virginia.

Labor nominee Puzder drops out

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Fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder officially withdrew his nomination after issues with his bid.

02/15/17 2:39 PM

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Puzder critics exult over withdrawal


Andrew Puzder had not even officially withdrawn his nomination to be President Trump’s labor secretary Wednesday when critics of the bid exulted in the news that he was pulling out.

Puzder, the chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. franchises and is an outspoken conservative, had long been a controversial pick for the Cabinet post. He was opposed by many Democrats and liberal groups, particularly organized labor. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the White House Wednesday afternoon that Puzder did not have enough Republican votes for confirmation, according to the Washington Post. His first Senate confirmation hearing, which had been delayed four times, was scheduled for Thursday morning.

“Reports on @AndyPuzder withdrawing shows the power of collective action by workers. An indictment of everything he stands for,” tweeted Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest labor federation.

“Today was another day of chaos of the Trump presidency. The withdrawal of Andy Puzder is another failure by this Trump presidency,” said Tom Perez, former President Barack Obama’s labor secretary who is running to become chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “We stood up, we fought back and we told Trump that he does not represent working people.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was one of the first to react to media reports about the lack of Republican support. “I’m encouraged my Republican colleagues are starting to agree.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said he was “not surprised” by the news. “His policies and positions were so antithetical to the agency he was picked to lead. Why would he want this job. … His record suggests he has no regard for worker safety and and fairness.”

Washington Examiner reporter Al Weaver contributed to this report.

Labor nominee Puzder drops out

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Fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder officially withdrew his nomination after issues with his bid.

02/15/17 2:39 PM



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Labor nominee Puzder to call it quits


Andrew Puzder, President Trump’s nominee to be secretary of labor, will withdraw from consideration Wednesday, according to multiple reports following a tumultuous day in which video of his ex-wife’s appearance on a 1990 episode of the “Oprah Winfrey Show” dedicated to domestic violence surfaced. His first confirmation hearing was scheduled for Thursday morning.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has told the White House that Puzder does not have the votes to win confirmation, according to the Washinton Post.

Puzder, chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. franchises, had been a controversial pick from the start. An outspoken conservative and critic of the Obama administration’s efforts to expand workplace regulations, he was staunchly opposed by many liberal groups, especially organized labor. Senate Democrats appeared united against him, while several Republicans expressed doubts about the pick.

While it was known previously that his ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein, had appeared on the Oprah show at the time, the actual footage had not surfaced until Wednesday. Speaking under an assumed named and wearing a wig, Fierstein said, “Most men who are in positions like that don’t leave marks. The damage that I sustained you can’t see. It’s permanent damage but there are no marks. And there never was. They don’t hit you in the face. They’re too smart. They don’t hit you in front of everyone,” said Fierstein, who appeared on the program in a wig and under an alias.

That apparently caused several Republican senators who were previously wavering on Puzder to oppose his nomination. He apparently lacked enough Republican support to advance out of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

His nomination had appeared rocky for weeks. He admitted that he had hired an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper for several years but said he fired her and offered to help her legal status as soon as he found out. And the first hearing before the HELP Committee had been postponed at least four times due to committee Democrats raising questions about how he had divested his personal investments. That sparked rumors that he was considering dropping out. Nevertheless, sources close to the nominee insisted that he was all-in.

That changed Wednesday after Politico posted a 1990 clip of Fierstein appearing on Winfrey’s show along with other women had been recipients of domestic violence.

Fierstein has since repudiated the Oprah appearance, telling the committee in a January letter, “First, let me be clear. Andy is not and was not abusive or violent. He is a good, loving, kind man and a deeply committed and loving father,” she said in a letter dated Jan. 18 that was sent to HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, the committee’s top Democrat.

The Oprah appearance, she said, was the result of becoming “caught up in the notion of a free trip to Chicago and being a champion of women’s issues.”

CNN reporter: 'The fix is in' on White House press conferences

Also from the Washington Examiner

CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta said, at least, for the time being, the national media can expect President Trump to avoid aggressive questioning during press conferences.

On Wednesday, Trump hosted a joint press conference at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During the Q&A portion, Trump called on two American reporters, both of whom represent right-leaning news outlets.

In a segment on CNN with host Wolf Blitzer afterward, Acosta expressed disappointment that Trump was not pressed harder on the resignation of now-former national security adviser Mike Flynn.

“And so in the last three news conferences, Wolf, all of the questions to the American news media have been handled by

02/15/17 3:10 PM

Reports: Trump asks Harward to be national security adviser

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He’s mulling the offer, according to reports.

02/15/17 1:19 PM



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Beware the CRA: How Obama's midnight rules are backfiring


On Wednesday, the Senate voted to repeal a late Obama administration directive to the Social Security Administration, to flag and block certain people receiving disability insurance benefits from purchasing guns. On the same day, the House voted to repeal a rule created by the Department of Labor in August, barring states from requiring drug tests as a condition for receiving unemployment benefits.

The House and Senate have been occupied lately with repealing late Obama-era regulations on coal mining, fracking, land management and teacher training. Expect more of this in the coming days. Believe it or not, this is one of the most productive and lasting things Congress can do without 60 Democratic votes in the Senate.

Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Congressional Review Act in 1996. It gave Congress the power, with a simple majority vote and a president’s signature, to repeal new executive branch regulations that lawmakers oppose or feel are not true to the spirit of the laws they or previous Congresses have passed.

It’s been 20 years since CRA became law, so you would think lawmakers would have become accustomed by now to its presence and power on the legislative chess board. But we’re seeing now, in Democrats’ frustrations during these debates, that they failed to appreciate the threats in the position and were unprepared for what’s happening now. By making midnight rules both shortly before and after Trump’s victory, the Obama administration actually only helped Congress prevent those very rules, or anything like them from ever being issued at all.

Prior to this year, the CRA had only been used once — in 2001, to repeal a late Clinton administration Labor Department regulation on ergonomics. The obscurity and rare use of the CRA may be why no one saw this coming. CRA doesn’t just let Congress repeal regulations issued in the last 60 legislative days, so that some future president can reissue them, it pulls rules and regulations up by their roots so they cannot be reissued at all. As the CRA puts it, a rule or regulation disapproved by Congress in this fashion …

“…may not be reissued in substantially the same form, and a new rule that is substantially the same as such a rule may not be issued, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the joint resolution disapproving the original rule.”

So if Elizabeth Warren becomes president in 2020, she cannot issue anything similar to the regulations that Congress is striking down right now. A CRA disapproval doesn’t require the same supermajority process as a law, yet it is just as permanent and binding in limiting the rules and regulations that future presidential administrations can issue. This is why you can find Democrats complaining on the House floor, complaining fruitlessly that the Trump administration should be rewriting these rules, instead of repealing them through the CRA.

The CRA’s new prominence will surely cast the perennial problem of “midnight regulation” in a whole new light. It could change the way regulators behave in the future near the end of presidential terms.

Under normal circumstances, presidents have massive power to regulate. The courts typically (although not always) defer to the agencies’ regulators by default. Also, a sitting president, at any point in his term, can always veto attempts by Congress to override his own new rules. President Obama did this twice when he vetoed two Republican CRA resolutions in 2015 and 2016.

Schumer: Flynn, others must testify in public, under oath

Also from the Washington Examiner

Senate minority leader wants public airing of explanations of contacts with the Russians.

02/15/17 2:03 PM

But this month, it has become clear that whenever an administration creates new rules and regulations on its way out the door, they will be not only moot, but possibly counterproductive. Everyone now has fair notice that each midnight rule potentially becomes their own death sentence.

Labor nominee Puzder to call it quits

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Andrew Puzder will withdraw his nomination after multiple issues with his bid.

02/15/17 2:39 PM



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Puzder's view: Immigrant labor is preferable because they're more grateful for a job


Andrew Puzder, President Trump's nominee for labor secretary, he laid out a view of immigrant labor in 2013: Immigrant labor is preferable because they're more grateful for a job. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Andrew Puzder, CEO of the company that owns fast-food chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardees, is President Trump’s nominee for labor secretary. At an event on immigration and labor at the American Enterprise Institute (where I am a visiting fellow), in 2013, he laid out a view of immigrant labor that showed one reason corporate America is always pushing for more entrants — and why American workers might not be pleased by this.

Below is the video. The relevant part is here.

Puzder said that his managers around the country see “the labor force in California, as an example of what they’d like their labor force to be.”

Why? It’s about immigration.

“They’re very hard-working, dedicated, creative people that really appreciate the fact that they have a job,” Puzder explained. “Whereas in other parts of the country, you often get people that are saying, ‘I can’t believe I have to work this job,’ with the immigrant population, you have the ‘thank God I have this job’ kind of attitude.”

He grants that this is a “gross generalization,” but concludes that it is “probably accurate.”

Timothy P. Carney, the Washington Examiner’s commentary editor, can be contacted at tcarney@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears Tuesday nights on washingtonexaminer.com.

Labor nominee Puzder to call it quits

Also from the Washington Examiner

Fast-food businessman Andrew Puzder will withdraw his nomination after multiple issues with his nomination.

02/15/17 2:39 PM

Trump won't push for two-state solution, 'would love' US embassy in Jerusalem

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“So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

02/15/17 12:40 PM

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Netanyahu: Time to 'put to rest' anti-Semitic notions about Trump White House


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advised reporters on Wednesday to “put to rest” suggestions that President Trump or anyone in his administration is anti-Semitic or that he stoked anti-Semitic fires on his way to the White House.

“If I can respond to something that I know from personal experience, I have known President Trump for many years, and to allude to him, or to his people, his team, some of whom I have known for many years, too,” Netanyahu said during a joint news conference with Trump. “There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump.”

“I think we should put that to rest,” he said emphatically.

Wednesday marked the two leaders’ second sit-down since Trump was elected last fall, though the president and Netanyahu have known each other for several years.

The Israeli prime minister also highlighted his close relationship with Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, during the press conference, asking the president if he could reveal “how long I’ve known Jared.” Kushner is expected to play an integral role in working with the Israelis to broker a peace deal in the Middle East.

Trump thanked Netanyahu for defending him Wednesday before the two men left for a private meeting with their aides.

“Very nice. I appreciate that very much,” the president said while shaking the prime minister’s hand.

Puzder's ex-wife on 'Oprah': 'Most men who are in positions like that don't leave marks'

Also from the Washington Examiner

“He said, ‘I will see you in the gutter. … You will pay for this,'” Lisa Fierstein said in 1990 appearance.

02/15/17 1:36 PM

Trump won't push for two-state solution, 'would love' US embassy in Jerusalem

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“So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

02/15/17 12:40 PM



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Justice Kennedy wants more 'inspiring' public discourse


"We have a duty to show that democracy works through a discourse that's exciting and admirable." (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wants a more “inspiring” public discourse that he thinks has taken a turn toward “insulting” and “divisive” rhetoric.

In remarks in California Tuesday, Kennedy said his urging for society to become more polite was not commentary on “recent political events or even to political dialogue,” according to the Sacramento Bee.

“In recent years, our civic discourse has all too often become intemperate, irrational, hostile, divisive, insulting, unprincipled,” Kennedy said, according to the newspaper. “I’m talking about our whole culture of dialogue — reviews of movies, comments on books, advice for young people… We have a duty to show that democracy works through a discourse that’s exciting and admirable, that’s inspiring.”

Speculation abounds that Kennedy, appointed by president Ronald Reagan, may be considering retirement. When he was running for president, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz publicly called for Kennedy to quit the high court, and President Trump’s administration is reportedly considering its options about how to replace him. Regardless of whether Kennedy is the next justice to leave the bench, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said he believes another seat on the Supreme Court will open before 2020.

Trump won't push for two-state solution, 'would love' US embassy in Jerusalem

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“So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

02/15/17 12:40 PM

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Anti-DeVos protesters want segregation of thought


When newly-confirmed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos arrived at Jefferson Academy in Washington last week, her access was briefly blocked by group of protesters. DeVos, a controversial figure because of her support for programs like school choice, took the incident in stride.

While it was only a speed bump compared to the Senate hearing she endured, the protest conjured up memories of a past many have worked to forget. It wasn’t too long ago that Alabama Gov. George Wallace secured his place in history when he, like the DeVos protesters, sought to block access to a public school in 1963.

While some may cringe at the comparison, cringing doesn’t make it any less real. This is not to say the experiences of African-American youth in the 1950s are similar to those of very wealthy, white DeVos in 2017. However, the motivations of Wallace and the anti-DeVos protesters who blocked her way are the same.

When Wallace positioned himself to deny access to African American students he wasn’t just blocking people, he was blocking ideas. To Wallace, segregation was a way-of-life and rooted in a twisted theology. To allow the “mixing” of the races was not a political policy he opposed, it was a heresy brought about by outsiders clueless about his culture.

Is the opposition to DeVos not the same? Those who worked to oppose her, progressives and teachers unions, claim DeVos is unqualified to oversee the nation’s public schools.

Why is she supposedly unqualified? She is not a professional educrat who has spent a lifetime in a system that continues to fail the most vulnerable children: inner-city African-American youth. She is an outsider who does not understand the education culture.

DeVos presents a chance to think outside-the-box and upset an educational apple cart that, after decades of dollars and opportunities, has failed to equally distribute the apples. Inner-city students of all races remain trapped in a public school system that uses their residence and their parent’s income level to trap them in failing public schools. Because students are compelled by law to attend the school in their district, administrators and teachers are guaranteed students (their income stream) no matter how poorly their perform.

DeVos is not just a Michigan billionaire, she represents a school of thought that counters the status quo. If she is successful in implementing new education models, what need would there be for the old guard? In this sense, the education bureaucracy that recoils at competition and idles on mediocre has the most to lose. That’s why protesters want to block her access, both literally and figuratively, to the public school system.

Look at the ideas DeVos embodies. School choice, vouchers, and charter schools all challenge what education “professionals” believe will fix the public school system. While there are no guarantees such policies will work, DeVos has now presented the possibility that such policies may be tested more broadly. The possibility that they may work is where the fears of DeVos opponents lie.

GOP holds listening session with foes of Dakota Access pipeline

Also from the Washington Examiner

House Energy subcommittees hold hearing on updating the nation’s energy infrastructure.

02/15/17 12:12 PM

Under DeVos, power would be gradually transferred from school officials back to the home. Families of all types would be responsible for holding schools accountable rather than vice versa. If such a power transfer occurs, families would lose the ability to blame the schools for their child’s educational struggles. In a society accustomed to passing blame, DeVos’ policies would prevent both parents and school officials from doing so. Everyone would reap what they sow.

Just like integration threatened Wallace’s way of life, DeVos threatens the stability of the education bureaucracy that thinks accountability stops at the schoolhouse doors. It is why Wallace attempted to block the changing policies of integration and it is why DeVos opponents attempted to block the changing force of educational thought.

But maybe it is time we stop using the schoolhouse as a political petri dish and return the focus to the students who merely want an education.

There is plenty of time for them to learn about grandstanding. Isn’t that why we have colleges?

Joseph Murray (@realJoeMurray) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. Previously, he was a campaign official for Pat Buchanan. He is the author of “Odd Man Out” and is administrator of the LGBTrump Facebook page.

Insurer CEO: Obamacare in a death spiral

Also from the Washington Examiner

Aetna chief said he expects more insurers to pull out of the federal insurance marketplace next year.

02/15/17 12:09 PM

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Trump won't push for two-state solution, 'would love' US embassy in Jerusalem

Top Story

“So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.”

02/15/17 12:40 PM



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