Posted tagged ‘U.S. Senate’

Dems Fuming as Trump Remakes Federal Judiciary

November 11, 2017

Dems Fuming as Trump Remakes Federal Judiciary, PJ MediaMichael Walsh, November 11, 2017

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Mr. Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon, and on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send a ninth appellate nominee — Mr. Trump’s deputy White House counsel, Gregory Katsas — to the floor.

Republicans are systematically filling appellate seats they held open during President Barack Obama’s final two years in office with a particularly conservative group of judges with life tenure. Democrats — who in late 2013 abolished the ability of 41 lawmakers to block such nominees with a filibuster, then quickly lost control of the Senate — have scant power to stop them.

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Meanwhile, back at the Swamp:

In the weeks before Donald J. Trump took office, lawyers joining his administration gathered at a law firm near the Capitol, where Donald F. McGahn II, the soon-to-be White House counsel, filled a white board with a secret battle plan to fill the federal appeals courts with young and deeply conservative judges.

Mr. McGahn, instructed by Mr. Trump to maximize the opportunity to reshape the judiciary, mapped out potential nominees and a strategy, according to two people familiar with the effort: Start by filling vacancies on appeals courts with multiple openings and where Democratic senators up for re-election next year in states won by Mr. Trump — like Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania — could be pressured not to block his nominees. And to speed them through confirmation, avoid clogging the Senate with too many nominees for the district courts, where legal philosophy is less crucial.

Nearly a year later, that plan is coming to fruition. Mr. Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon, and on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send a ninth appellate nominee — Mr. Trump’s deputy White House counsel, Gregory Katsas — to the floor.

Republicans are systematically filling appellate seats they held open during President Barack Obama’s final two years in office with a particularly conservative group of judges with life tenure. Democrats — who in late 2013 abolished the ability of 41 lawmakers to block such nominees with a filibuster, then quickly lost control of the Senate — have scant power to stop them.

Gee, that’s too damn bad. As I wrote at the time, the Harry Reid Democrats were acting like a party that thought the fix was in, and that they would never lose another election for a long, long time. Oops.

Most have strong academic credentials and clerked for well-known conservative judges, like Justice Antonin Scalia. Confirmation votes for five of the eight new judges fell short of the former 60-vote threshold to clear filibusters, including John K. Bush, a chapter president of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal network, who wrote politically charged blog posts, such as comparing abortion to slavery; and Stephanos Bibas, a University of Pennsylvania law professor who once proposed using electric shocks to punish people convicted of certain crimes, although he later disavowed the idea. Of Mr. Trump’s 18 appellate nominees so far, 14 are men and 16 are white.

“It’s such a depressing idea, that we don’t get appointments unless we have unified government, and that the appointments we ultimately get are as polarized as the rest of the country,” said Lee Epstein, a law professor and political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis. “What does that mean for the legitimacy of the courts in the United States? It’s not a pretty world.”

Wouldn’t be a New York Times story without the cultural-Marxist sex-and-race bean counting. Meanwhile, the Left has nobody to blame but itself. Serves them right.

Senator who Protected Iran’s Nukes Wants Hearing on Trump’s Nukes

November 9, 2017

Senator who Protected Iran’s Nukes Wants Hearing on Trump’s Nukes, The Point (FrontPage Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, November 9, 2017

 

Senator Bob Corker (R-Boeing) is at it again. This time he’s using the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to troll Trump.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced Wednesday that he would convene a hearing to examine the president’s authority to use nuclear weapons.

The announcement of the Nov.14 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Corker chairs, amounts to a significant escalation of what has so far been a war of merely words between the powerful Republican and his party’s standard-bearer.

“A number of members both on and off our committee have raised questions about the authorities of the legislative and executive branches with respect to war making, the use of nuclear weapons, and conducting foreign policy overall,” Corker said in a statement Wednesday.

Sure. Let’s undermine North Korea’s perception of the first strike authority of the President of the United States.

That’s the only conceivable thing these hearings can accomplish. That and annoying Trump. And that seems to motivate Corker as much as any Democrat. 

But can the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have a hearing on the role that domestic financial and political interests played in creating an echo chamber that allowed Iran to continue developing its nuclear program? I’m sure Senator Corker would have something to say about that.

The Constitution’s treaty procedures would have required Obama to win the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, which would have been impossible. The Corker legislation flipped this, allowing Obama to prevail unless there was two-thirds’ opposition in both houses of Congress – meaning blocking Obama would be impossible.

I suggested one reason: top GOP donors like Boeing stood to cash in big-time if the Iran deal was consummated. Boeing had ingratiated itself with Tehran when Obama granted some sanctions relief for Iran’s crippled aviation sector in order to keep the mullahs at the negotiation table. Boeing leapt in to provide Iran Air, the regime’s national carrier, with all manner of assistance – notwithstanding that Iran Air, basically an arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, was best known for providing material support to Hezbollah and the Assad regime. Indeed, in 2011, the Treasury Department designated Iran Air as a proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.

By helping Iran at a key point in the negotiations, I pointed out, Boeing stood to win huge Iranian contracts once the Iran deal was approved and sanctions were lifted. Well I know you’ll be shocked to hear this, but Iran has just announced a huge deal to buy aircraft from Boeing!

Yes, let’s have that hearing. Please.

Goodbye Blue Slips!?

October 11, 2017

Goodbye Blue Slips!? Power Line,  Scott Johnson, October 11, 2017

In news of interest to those of us who have been following the judicial confirmation wars in the Senate in general and in the matter of the nomination of Justice David Stras to the Eighth Circuit in particular, Fred Barnes reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken the reins, whipped the horse and expedited matters. Fred supplies this bill of particulars (the first of which I have slightly rewritten):

* McConnell has elevated the confirmation of judicial nominees to a top priority in the Senate. “I decide the priority,” McConnell said in an interview. “Priority between an assistant secretary of State and a conservative court judge—it’s not a hard choice to make.”

And when nominees “come out of committee, I guarantee they will be dealt with,” McConnell said. “Regardless of what tactics are used by Democrats, the judges are going to be confirmed.”

* No longer will “blue slips” be allowed to deny a nominee a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing and vote on confirmation. In the past, senators have sometimes barred a nominee from their state by refusing to return their slip to the committee, thus preventing a hearing and confirmation.

“The majority”—that is, Republicans—will treat a blue slip “as simply notification of how you’re going to vote, not as an opportunity to blackball,” McConnell told me. The use of blue slips, he noted, is not a Senate rule and has “been honored in the breach over the years.” Now it won’t be honored at all.

* The so-called “30 hours rule”—which provides for 30 hours of debate on a nominee—won’t be overturned. But McConnell vowed to set aside time for these debates. And he can make this happen because he sets the Senate schedule.

We await the hearing on Justice Stras’s nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Let’s get the hearing scheduled and get the vote on his confirmation to the Senate floor. Give us “the ocular proof.” Let’s get it on.

In Minnesota we have to recognize the perverse role Al Franken has played to inspire Senator McConnell to ditch the use of a blue slip to block a highly qualified nominee from the Senator’s home state. For the blue slips it’s Frankenheit 9/11.

 

Two Fighters Come Together in Alabama

September 27, 2017

Two Fighters Come Together in Alabama, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, September 27, 2017

(Please see also, Roy Moore and the Triumph of Hope Over Money. — DM)

“I’m going to be here campaigning like hell for him,” Trump vowed if Moore won. And, in one of his final ads, Moore declared, “I can’t wait.” By winning, Moore earned that campaigning.

When the race begins in earnest, two fighters will come together to campaign in Alabama.

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Early this century, the Southern Poverty Law Center sued to remove the Ten Commandments from an Alabama courthouse. The case ended with Judge Roy Moore, the democratically elected Alabama Chief Justice, being removed from the bench for refusing to take down the Ten Commandments.

“Justice was served today,” the president of the leftist hate group cheered. “A public official who defied the law was removed from office.”

But the Southern Poverty Law Center couldn’t keep Roy Moore down no matter how hard it tried.

Last September, the SPLC was still fighting to remove Moore from the bench after his return. Now it will have to fight to remove him from the Senate because Roy Moore does not give up.

Roy Moore didn’t give up when a Federal judge and the Alabama Supreme Court ordered him to take down the Ten Commandments. He didn’t give up when he was removed from the bench. He didn’t give up in the face of a ruling by the United States Supreme Court and another suspension. He didn’t give up when he was massively outspent in every election. Including this one. Because he doesn’t give up.

There’s something to be said for a man who fights for what he believes in. And who won’t give up.

Agree or disagree with Roy Moore, no one can deny that he’s a fighter who overcomes long odds. He won his first election as a longshot candidate despite being outspent ten to one. He won his second election after being outspent six to one. He won the GOP Senate runoff last night after, once again, being outspent six to one. Including five to one on television advertising. And he won it by a landslide.

And by fighting for it, Judge Roy Moore earned his shot at the Senate.

It’s no secret that Republicans have lost winnable Senate seats when candidates with impeccable convictions, but poor electability, went to the front of the line. There’s nothing wrong with making electability a priority. A candidate who can’t win is just opening the door for a Democrat.

When Republicans replaced Jack Ryan with Alan Keyes, the outcome was the Obama nightmare. Keyes was a good man. But he wasn’t the right man to run against Barack Hussein Obama.

President Trump went down to Alabama to campaign for the candidate who could win. The presumption was that the most electable candidate was Luther Strange. By winning, Roy Moore proved he could win even when the big odds and the big money were against him. He proved that he deserved Trump’s support. Just the way that Trump proved that he deserved the support of his voters.

Principles and conviction are vital. But the acid test of politics is victory.

“I’m going to be here campaigning like hell for him,” Trump vowed if Moore won. And, in one of his final ads, Moore declared, “I can’t wait.” By winning, Moore earned that campaigning.

Trump is a businessman. He doesn’t reflexively support establishment or populist candidates. He needs to expand the Senate deck enough to be able to get things done without Democrat interference. And, at the very least, he needs a Senate firewall for his agenda and against the inevitable impeachment push.

These days, politics looks like war. And elections are tests by fire.

After Trump’s win, Democrats poured all their resources into winning special elections. And those were House races. There’s no doubt whatsoever that they will throw money into Alabama.

The Dems burned $40 million on four special elections. They are going to throw more than that into the pot for a Senate seat. Sessions won an uncontested election in 2014 with 97% of the vote after winning his seat by growing margins in every election.

But you can bet that this time around, it will be contested. Because while there might be seats that are statistically safe, there are no safe seats. The Democrat ethos is “total war” on every battlefield. And while the left is eager to stage campus riots and post selfies of themselves taking a knee, they are not about to neglect the old fashioned conflict of the election with its smears and provocations.

Some Republicans aren’t ready for “total war”, but Judge Roy Moore has been swimming in it for decades. He understands what it’s like to be the face of a culture war in a way few Republicans do.

And the election will just be a preview of the pitched battles in the Senate over ObamaCare, illegal alien amnesty and dozens of other conflicted issues that have left that body so fundamentally ineffectual.

It will take strength, courage and determination to face all that. And that is what the runoff was about.

Like Trump, Roy Moore persevered despite being outspent. He relied on populism instead of big ad spending. And, like Trump, he won because he is the face of a cultural counterrevolution.

Moore didn’t have the race handed to him on a silver platter. He had to fight for it. He was never the inevitable and untested candidate. Instead he, once again, had to overcome big odds to win.

And he did it. That is what President Trump respects.

There are plenty of electable candidates who can win when the odds are on their side. But, as we saw in the presidential election, the odds aren’t fixed. The polls are often wrong. Manufactured scandals shift the tide. And no Republican is so noble that the media can’t make him look lower than mud in a week.

The truly remarkable political creature is the “unelectable” candidate who wins anyway, who wins even though he isn’t supposed to, who wins even though the big money is against him and who wins even though the media spends all day shouting that he is the worst man that ever lived. That’s a true fighter.

Trump is such a candidate. So is Roy Moore.

The runoff wasn’t about populists and the establishment. It was a test of whether Roy Moore could do in a Senate election what he was able to do in his judicial contests. And the verdict is in.

Roy Moore and Donald Trump are certainly not the same man. Their beliefs differ in some areas. But they’re both fighters. And the GOP is looking for fighters more than for ideological conformity.

It needs men and women who are ready to fight for what they believe in. And who are good at it. Roy Moore proved once again in Alabama that he can fight. And that he can win.

When the race begins in earnest, two fighters will come together to campaign in Alabama.

Senate confirms 65 Trump nominees on last day before August break

August 3, 2017

Senate confirms 65 Trump nominees on last day before August break, Washington Examiner, Susan Ferrechio, August 3, 2017

The U.S. Senate confirmed more than five dozen Trump administration nominees Thursday, reflecting a deal between Republicans and Democrats that will let lawmakers in both parties return home for the summer.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved the nominations in a large package agreed to by voice vote, meaning no senators objected.

Among those confirmed were former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican of Texas, who will be Trump’s ambassador to NATO, and Robert Wood Johnson, who was confirmed as ambassador to Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Democrats agreed to move the nominees forward quickly, ending months of delays and obstructions to nearly every single Trump nominee. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had been dragging out the process of confirming the nominees to protest the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare by using a procedural move that would have thwarted the ability of Democrats to filibuster.

With the effort to move that bill stalled indefinitely and bipartisan hearings on the embattled healthcare law underway, Schumer agreed to move what became known as “the package” of nominees.

“The Senate has confirmed more executive branch nominees this week than all of the executive branch nominees confirmed this year combined,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “I hope this agreement represents a way forward on confirming nominees so our government can be fully staffed and working for the American people.”

Among others, the Senate confirmed Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr to two vacant positions on the Federal Communications Commission. “Looking forward to working with them to promote the public interest,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tweeted after the voice vote.

The list also included top and lower tier positions in many different departments and agencies ranging from Health and Human Services to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, where Christopher Giancarlo was approved to serve as chairman and Brian Quintens was confirmed a its commissioner.

The longest list of nominees confirmed were under the State Department and included Mark Andrew Green to serve as administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, and eight ambassadors.

In addition to Bailey Hutchinson and Johnson, Sharon Day was confirmed as the ambassador to Costa Rica, John P. Desrocher of New York was confirmed as ambassador to the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, and George Edward Glass of Oregon was confirmed as Ambassador to Portugal.

The list included U.S. attorneys and deputy attorneys general and assistant secretaries for the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Commerce and Homeland Security.

The confirmations come after months of frustration for Republicans and President Trump. While Democrats and Republicans in the past have generally sped through many executive branch nominees under a new president, Democrats slowed Trump’s picks to a crawl, requiring the GOP to use all required debate time which meant single nominations took days rather than minutes or hours.

McConnell said earlier this week he has determined that under the hurdles set by Democrats, it would take 12 years to confirm all of Trump’s nominees.

Schumer told Republicans he was slowing the process because he was opposed to their effort to repeal Obamacare, which is now on hold after the Senate failed last week to move a bill.

Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas called the passage of the confirmation package “a big day,” and should have happened much sooner “but for the obstruction and foot-dragging of our colleagues across the aisle.”

Senate announces probe of Loretta Lynch behavior in 2016 election

June 23, 2017

Senate announces probe of Loretta Lynch behavior in 2016 election, Washington Times, Stephen Dinan, June 23, 2017

Letters also went to Clinton campaign staffer Amanda Renteria and Leonard Benardo and Gail Scovell at the Open Society Foundations. Mr. Benardo was reportedly on an email chain from the then-head of the Democratic National Committee suggesting Ms. Lynch had given assurances to Ms. Renteria, the campaign staffer, that the Clinton probe wouldn’t “go too far.”

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The Senate Judiciary Committee has opened a probe into former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s efforts to shape the FBI’s investigation into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, the committee’s chairman announced Friday.

In a letter to Ms. Lynch, the committee asks her to detail the depths of her involvement in the FBI’s investigation, including whether she ever assured Clinton confidantes that the probe wouldn’t “push too deeply into the matter.”

Fired FBI Director James B. Comey has said publicly that Ms. Lynch tried to shape the way he talked about the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s emails, and he also hinted at other behavior “which I cannot talk about yet” that made him worried about Ms. Lynch’s ability to make impartial decisions.

Mr. Comey said that was one reason why he took it upon himself to buck Justice Department tradition and reveal his findings about Mrs. Clinton last year.

The probe into Ms. Lynch comes as the Judiciary Committee is already looking at President Trump’s firing of Mr. Comey.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, chairman of the committee, said the investigation is bipartisan. The letter to Ms. Lynch is signed by ranking Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and also by Sens. Lindsey Graham and Sheldon Whitehouse, the chairman and ranking member of the key investigative subcommittee.

Letters also went to Clinton campaign staffer Amanda Renteria and Leonard Benardo and Gail Scovell at the Open Society Foundations. Mr. Benardo was reportedly on an email chain from the then-head of the Democratic National Committee suggesting Ms. Lynch had given assurances to Ms. Renteria, the campaign staffer, that the Clinton probe wouldn’t “go too far.”

At a Senate hearing earlier this month, Mr. Comey told lawmakers that Ms. Lynch had attempted to change the way the FBI described its probe of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email server. The change appeared to dovetail with how Mrs. Clinton’s supporters were characterizing the probe.

“At one point, [Ms. Lynch] directed me not to call it an ‘investigation’ but instead to call it a ‘matter,’ which confused me and concerned me,” Mr. Comey said during his June 8 testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “That was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we are to close this case credibly.”

Acknowledging that he didn’t know whether it was intentional, Mr. Comey said Ms. Lynch’s request “gave the impression the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our investigation with the way a political campaign was describing the same activity.”

Mr. Comey said the language suggested by Ms. Lynch was troublesome because it closely mirrored what the Clinton campaign was using. Despite his discomfort, Mr. Comey said, he agreed to Ms. Lynch’s language.

Senate defeats effort to derail Trump’s Saudi arms deal

June 13, 2017

Senate defeats effort to derail Trump’s Saudi arms deal, Washington ExaminerSusan Ferrechio, June 13, 2017

A group of Republican and Democrat senators teamed up on Tuesday to block the United States from completing part of a major arms deal with Saudi Arabia, but fell short of the votes they needed on the Senate floor.

Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., introduced a resolution disapproving of President Trump’s plan to sell Saudi Arabia $510 million of precision-guided munitions, which make up a portion of the $110 billion deal Trump announced during his visit there.

The Senate failed to advance the resolution in a 47-53 vote, although supporters of the measure picked up new support since they last tried to block a similar deal last year. Last September, the Senate voted 26-71 to defeat similar language that opposed a $1.15 billion deal Saudi Arabia reached with the Obama administration.

This time around, however, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., joined Paul and Murphy to vote for the measure, along with many other Democrats.

Tuesday’s vote followed a string of floor speeches from lawmakers criticizing Saudi Arabia over a broad range of human rights issues, in particular the nation’s treatment of Yemen, where a humanitarian crisis is raging and where its weapons are likely to be aimed.

Paul displayed a large poster depicting a starving Yemeni child while he called on fellow lawmakers to back his resolution.

“We will force this vote for these children in Yemen because we have a chance today to stop the carnage,” Paul said. “We have a chance to tell Saudi Arabia, we’ve had enough.”

Paul also cited evidence of Saudi involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and called it “the number one exporter of jihadist philosophy the number one exporter of ‘let’s hate America.”’

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was among the few supporting the sale publicly on the floor. He argued the United States should provide weapons support to the Saudis because they are a key U.S. ally and are fighting against Iranian expansion.

“It is absolutely essential that the Saudi air force get these weapons to win the fight against the aggressive nature of Iran and Yemen and other places,” Graham said.

Graham chastised Democrats who supported the resolution, and noted that many of them backed a different arms deal when it was proposed in September by Obama.

“What’s changed between Sept. 21 and today?” Graham asked in his floor speech. “Nothing other than the election of Donald Trump. Everything Trump you seem to be against. That is disappointing and frankly despicable.”

Murphy denied the motives were political and said the weapons deal proposed by Obama was different.

Murphy said there is evidence that the Saudis have been targeting water treatment facilities in their bombing campaign of Yemen. He said the attacks on Yemen are “not going well” and are also “hurting the United States,” which is being blamed for the bombing campaign.

Murphy said the Senate should hold off on the sale, “until we get clear assurances from the Saudis that they are going to use the weapons only for military purposes,” and will begin to address the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.