Senate Republicans on Friday slammed Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) after the House’s lead prosecutor repeated reporting that the White House had threatened to put senators’ “head[s]” on a “pike” if they did not vote to acquit President Donald Trump.
Schiff’s use of the anonymously sourced CBS News report of the threat went over like a “lead balloon” with its intended audience, Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) told Fox News.
“It wasn’t just me who reacted that way,” he said. “I think every member of the Senate Republican conference, all 53 of us, simultaneously, audibly groaned. We were very upset, and many of the same senators who they were trying to communicate to were really upset by this and didn’t take kindly to it … I don’t know why Schiff would want to do that, but he lost big time tonight.”
Schiff, widely praised in the media for his presentation of the case for removing Trump, appeared uncomfortable after the remark, quickly adding that he was not sure if the report was true and hoped it was not. Politico reported that some in the chamber said Schiff’s claim was “not true,” including Sen. Susan Collins (R., Maine), one of the Republicans that Democrats hope to sway into voting to subpoena more witnesses and documents in Trump’s trial.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), another moderate target of persuasion for House Democrats, said Schiff’s comment was “where he lost me.” Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) said no member had been issued such a threat, and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.) called it a “really dumb moment,” according to Politico.
“The whole room was visibly upset on our side,” Sen. James Lankford (R., Okla.) told the New York Times. “And it’s sad, it’s insulting and demeaning to everyone to say that we somehow live in fear and that the president has threatened all of us to put our head on the pike.”
It was not just Republicans who disapproved. Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), one of a few Democrats who could potentially vote to acquit Trump, said Schiff’s comment “could have been left out, that’s for sure.”
White House lawyers on Saturday will make their case that Trump should not be convicted of charges of abuse of power and obstructing Congress. In only the third impeachment trial in American history, Democrats are calling for Trump’s removal from office for what they call an illicit scheme to pressure Ukraine into investigating potential 2020 opponent Joe Biden.
A watchdog group has requested records from the Illinois State Board of Elections after 574 noncitizens were added to its voter rolls, allowing some of them to vote illegally in the 2018 midterm elections.
The Public Interest Legal Foundation, an election integrity law firm, made the request on Thursday after the board admitted the error. The individuals in question were improperly invited onto the rolls through a glitch in the state’s automatic voter registration system while applying for a driver’s license or state identification.
The watchdog says Democratic politicians are pushing automatic voter registration at the expense of election integrity. The issues in Illinois with automatic voter registration, which has been implemented in 18 states and the District of Columbia, contribute to an already widespread trend of noncitizens making their way onto voter rolls nationwide.
“States have no business experimenting with automatic voter registration until they can zero out the risk of ineligible noncitizens passing through traditional Motor Voter,” said Logan Churchwell, communications director at PILF.
PILF is attempting to find out if all of the self-reported noncitizens were registered through DMV transactions and if the state is undertaking any efforts to identify remaining registered noncitizens. The 574 noncitizens were self-identified and more could potentially remain on the voter rolls. The state found 19 who cast ballots in 2018, but the total number of illegal votes remains unknown. The group is also seeking information on whether any noncitizens self-reported prior to the new cases or if any noncitizens voted in elections that could have been decided by their participation.
PILF previously uncovered 232 cases of noncitizens who registered to vote in Chicago. The individuals later self-reported their illegal registrations in hopes of becoming naturalized U.S. citizens.
“The Foundation fully expects there are more foreign nationals still registered to vote in Illinois—and some of them voted in 2018,” Churchwell said. “We just don’t know who they are yet since they haven’t felt the need to self-report—but their time will come.”
Illinois’s State Board of Elections did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
LIFE UNDER CHIEF WARREN NOT FAIR … “Warren Confronted By Man At Campaign Event Over Tuition Reimbursement,” via THE HILL: A man confronted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) after a campaign event in Grimes, Iowa, earlier this week to vent frustration that her promise to wipe out student loan debt would not reimburse him for the tuition that he’d already paid …
“My daughter is in school,” the man said. “I saved all my money just to pay my student loans. Can I have my money back?”
“Of course not,” Warren responded.
“So you want to help those who don’t save any money and the ones that do the right thing get screwed?” he responded.
Monica Kurth, a state representative from Davenport who endorsed Booker in August, said she was “speechless” when she picked up the phone and heard from Buttigieg about four hours after the campaign ended.
SHE’S NOT SWITCHING, CHUCK … “Jerry Nadler ‘stunned’ Susan Collins into writing a note to John Roberts,” via POLITICO: Sen. Susan Collins was “stunned” by Rep. Jerry Nadler’s late-night diatribe this week against what he deemed a “cover-up” by Senate Republicans for President Donald Trump—so much so that she wrote a note to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts …
Collins said she believed the back and forth between House Judiciary Chairman Nadler (D., N.Y.) and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone violated Senate rules and felt compelled to point that out, even though senators are required to stay at their desks and not speak during the trial.
NOT PEACHY … “Two Months Ahead Of Primary, Georgia Democrats Worry About Division,” via AJC: Two months before Georgia holds its presidential primary, top state Democrats still have no clear favorite in the race for the White House—and are increasingly worried the bitter race could further strain tensions between moderates and liberals dueling for the nomination.
Many of the party’s grassroots leaders are wrestling over whom to back in the field of presidential hopefuls and mindful that the internal fissures could deal lasting damage to the party’s chances of flipping Georgia for the first time since 1992, dozens of activists told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
NOW BERNIE REALLY WON’T SHAKE YOUR HAND … “Tom Steyer Exaggerates Fossil Fuel Divestment,” via NYT: Most directly, Mr. Steyer has assets worth between $1,001 and $15,000 in Direct Petroleum Exploration Inc., a Colorado company that “operates oil and gas field properties,” according to Bloomberg …
He also has a stake of between $1.25 million and $5.5 million in funds managed by M.H. Carnegie & Co., an Australian firm that is the second largest shareholder of the oil and gas exploration company Strike Energy Limited. And HMI Capital Partners, where Mr. Steyer has invested between $5 million and $25 million, owned stocks in Texas-based Summit Midstream Partners, which focuses primarily on shale infrastructure, according to a 2018 form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
OY VEY … “Once Pushed Out of Washington, Valerie Plame Is Asking Voters to Send Her Back,” via NYT: One of the biggest issues in the campaign got its start in 2017, when Ms. Plame raised an uproar for a tweet linking to an article, “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars,” in a publication that has been criticized for publishing anti-Semitic material. Ms. Plame continues to get questions about her shifting response to the controversy …
In an interview, Ms. Plame said her grandfather was from a Ukrainian Jewish family “right out of ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’” an ancestral connection she only began exploring as an adult. She said that she began attending events at the synagogue in the “aftermath” of the outcry over her tweet, but disputed that this decision involved political expediency.
THE STRUGGLE TO STAY AWAKE IS REAL … “In Marathon Impeachment Trial, Senators Walk To Stay Focused Or Pass The Time With A Fidget Spinner,” via WAPO: On either side of the chamber, [Pat] Toomey and [Cory] Booker stood at their desks, with Booker occasionally pacing back and forth. Rather than serving as centurion guards, Toomey and Booker were just trying to stay loose and focused, as the House managers crossed the five-hour mark in that phase of opening arguments in President Trump’s impeachment trial.
“I think that it’s just healthy. On an airplane I stand up for a six-hour flight. It’s just healthy to stand and let the blood flow,” Booker explained Thursday afternoon …
Age is definitely a cause of concern for [Pat] Roberts and Senate leaders trying to manage the trial load. [Dianne] Feinstein, who turns 87 in June, is the oldest senator, but there are four others in their 80s and nine more who are older than 75.
SEND THE BOMBERS … “Iran-Backed Militias Continue Attacks on U.S. Outposts in Iraq,” by WFB’s Adam Kredo: James Jeffrey, the Trump administration’s special representative for Syria engagement and special envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS, said the United States continues to experience targeted strikes by Iran-backed militia groups seeking to foment unrest in Iraq.
In the weeks since U.S. forces killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, Iran-backed militants have scaled down their attacks but continue to launch strikes at U.S. positions in the war-torn country, Jeffrey told reporters in a briefing.
Thunberg and numerous European leaders spent the week saying the world is in a state of emergency and urgent action is required. The European Union has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050.
THEY’RE ALL IN, BABY … “Adam Schiff Dazzles the Press,” by WFB’s David Rutz: Mainstream media and liberal commentators said Rep. Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) would be remembered for “generations to come” and was “dazzling,” “masterful,” “very very good,” “very very powerful,” “awfully impressive,” “expert,” “brilliant,” “absolutely brilliant,” and “virtuoso” in his opening statement for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
FAKE NEWS, SCHMAKE NEWS … “CNN Silent on Contributor’s False Viral Tweet,” by WFB’s Alex Griswold: Former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart received more than 9,000 retweets and 36,000 likes for a tweet claiming to report an overheard conversation between two Fox News-watching GOP senators …
Replies to the tweet indicate that many people took Lockhart’s scoop seriously. When reached for comment about the episode, a CNN spokesman redirected the Washington Free Beacon to a communications director for the network who ignored multiple requests for comment.
DEATH OF TERRORIST BOTHERS LAWYER … “EX-CIA Lawyer: The Soleimani Hit Was a Homicide Under U.S. Criminal Law,” via DAILY BEAST: Unchastened by impeachment, and emboldened by the Justice Department’s dusty old opinion that he cannot be indicted while in office, Trump nonetheless ordered the killing of [Qassem] Soleimani, a senior Iranian official, in Iraq, in violation of Section 1116. The Department of Justice has jurisdiction to prosecute a violation of that statute …
If proven, that fact pattern would violate 18 USC Section 1116—our criminal code does not discriminate among victims (Iranian/German) and places (Iraq/France). Perhaps the president is wrong this time, and voters will care that he is bragging about committing cold-blooded murder.
ACQUITTAL IN A NEW YORK MINUTE … “Nadler’s Folly,” by WFB’s Matthew Continetti: The House Democrat made a critical error early in the trial of President Trump. He didn’t just say that Republican senators, who voted to begin the proceedings without calling witnesses, were part of a cover up. He said they had committed treason …
The contemptuous attitude of Democrats toward Republicans, and the pass-the-buck mentality that drove the House to impeach Trump before the evidence was in and inter-branch disputes settled by the courts, give GOP senators every reason to vote on the charges sooner rather than later. No one doubts that it’s a vote Trump will win.
DAYS SINCE JOE BIDEN DID A SUNDAY SHOW: 1,139. Come back, Joe!
The Missouri state legislature announced on Thursday that it would investigate Democratic state auditor Nicole Galloway’s alleged misconduct during her audit of Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R., Mo.) time as the state’s attorney general, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Robert Ross, a Republican state representative and chairman of the state House Special Committee on Government Oversight, said in a letter to Galloway that the committee would be looking into the allegations that her office allowed politics to influence its investigation of Hawley, who publicly made the allegations through his counsel last Tuesday.
“As a member who relies heavily on the findings of fact-based, unbiased audits that are meant to be performed by your office, I am concerned by the recent claim that political ramifications were considered in altering the conclusion of one of your recent audits,” Ross wrote.
Hawley’s accusation, first reported by the WashingtonFree Beacon, was that Galloway filled her office with partisan actors who were openly hostile to Hawley.
The accusations from Hawley center on the political nature of the audit carried out by Galloway, who announced in August that she was running for governor. Barnes argues that Galloway filled the auditor’s office with partisan actors openly hostile to Hawley as the investigation into his office was underway, raising serious questions about the impartiality of the audit.
The chief piece of evidence presented is an email by Galloway’s lead investigator on the case, Pamela Allison, in which she admits to altering the audit’s conclusions. The email was inadvertently sent by Allison to a member of the attorney general’s office, the letter states, and reveals that a section was removed from the audit after Allison learned Hawley was not guilty of any wrongdoing.
“Such alteration of a state audit is deeply inappropriate, unethical, and potentially a violation of state law,” the letter says. “That this misconduct was committed while the auditor was herself conducting a political campaign for governor only underscores the impropriety.”
“This allegation would constitute an extreme breach in the confidence the people of Missouri place in the role of your office,” Ross said in his letter to Galloway. “Therefore, in holding to our mission to ensure the good people of our state can trust their government, the House of Representatives Special Committee on Government oversight will hold a hearing on January 29th to look into these claims.”
Galloway’s audit investigated the accusation that Hawley was using his official office to boost his 2018 campaign for U.S. Senate. The accusation came from the liberal nonprofit American Democracy Legal Fund and was used extensively by former senator Claire McCaskill during her campaign against Hawley. Galloway went on to hire McCaskill’s former campaign manager David Kirby as a senior employee in the state auditor’s office and accepted a $2,600 campaign contribution from McCaskill while the investigation was being carried out.
Galloway is currently running for governor of Missouri.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D., Mass.) campaign warned the candidate’s supporters Friday about potential “breathless media narratives” following the first caucus votes in Iowa, moving to dampen expectations about her electoral performance.
In a fundraising memo to supporters, campaign manager Roger Lau highlighted the Warren team’s “robust staff footprint” in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, while noting in a graphic that the states’ combined 155 delegates represented just 3.9 percent of the total.
“For the last 13 months we have built and executed our plan to win,” Lau wrote. “We expect this to be a long nomination fight and have built our campaign to sustain well past Super Tuesday and stay resilient no matter what breathless media narratives come when voting begins.”
“The four early states contests are just the beginning,” he added.
Lau stressed the importance of the “Super Tuesday” states and beyond, saying the campaign apparatus was also focused on winning the general election and boosting Democrats nationally.
Warren’s campaign—once soaring thanks to progressive enthusiasm and positive media attention for the candidate’s policy proposals—is struggling in the polls, both nationally and in the early states.
She led the FiveThirtyEight polling average in Iowa as recently as Nov. 11 but has since sunk to fourth place, behind former vice president Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg.
The Democratic winner in Iowa in the past four open nominating contests (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2016) went on to clinch the nomination.
A new New Hampshire poll showed Sanders (29 percent) well ahead of Warren, who was in fourth place at 13 percent behind Buttigieg (17 percent) and Biden (14 percent). Given that the state borders Massachusetts, a poor finish there would be particularly disappointing for Warren.
Nationally, Warren has gone from leading the field at 26.6 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average on Oct. 8 to third place at 14.6 percent as of Friday.
Her standing began to suffer following the November release of her health care plan, which calls for the eventual elimination of private health insurance in favor of a single-payer Medicare for All system. Experts said her estimated price tag of $20.5 trillion was unrealistically low.
Democratic voters consistently rate beating President Donald Trump as their top priority in choosing a candidate. A recent Reuters-Ipsos survey found 35 percent of respondents choosing Biden as the best candidate to do that, well ahead of Sanders (15 percent) and Warren (12 percent).
Fars, which has close ties to the ruling regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-sanctioned entity, claimed in a post on Twitter that its English-language website was shut down due to new regulations in American sanctions.
“From an hour ago, audience access to the Fars News Agency site has encountered a problem due to being placed on America’s sanctions list, and the technical part of [this] News Agency is working to create access for the audience on the farsnews.ir domain,” the news agency said on Twitter, according to an independent translation of the Farsi language tweet.
The Fars News website was not accessible at its U.S. domain and other international domains at the time of writing. However, a Fars domain registered in Iran remains active and includes reports claiming the United States booted the news agency from the web.
Fars said on its Iranian-controlled site that its international Internet provider notified the outlet Friday that the site is being shuttered due to its addition to the Treasury Department’s sanctions list.
The State and Treasury Departments did not immediately respond to Washington Free Beacon requests for comment on whether the claims made by Fars are accurate. The Free Beacon will update this developing report as more information becomes available.
Billionaire presidential candidate Tom Steyer said Friday he “of course” overheard the squabble between Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) after last week’s debate, contradicting his previous denials.
“I was asked over and over and over what they were saying to each other, which of course I could hear, but I also felt like it was a private conversation they were having,” Steyer told Fox News. “My oldest son texted me…. He said, ‘Dad, whatever you do, don’t be a snitch.'”
He didn’t let down his son, repeatedly saying after the Jan. 14 debate that he did not know what Sanders and Warren were arguing about. The dispute was over Sanders’s denial of Warren’s claim Sanders told her a woman could not be elected president.
Steyer found himself awkwardly between the two during the tense exchange.
“I didn’t really hear,” Steyer told CBS News in the spin room afterward. “I think they were trying to figure out something between the two of them, but I didn’t really hear what it was.”
“I really wasn’t listening,” Steyer told a CNN panel after the debate. “The last thing I wanted to do was get in between the two of them and try and listen in. That was not my goal and I didn’t do it.”
“I didn’t really hear it, Alisyn,” he told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota the following morning. “I was going over to say good night.”
CNN later released audio from a hot mic which recorded Warren accusing Sanders of calling her a liar.
President Donald Trump urged pro-life activists to keep up the fight while criticizing Democrats for their “extreme” abortion positions, as he became the first sitting president in American history to attend the annual March for Life.
“We are fighting for those who have no voice,” Trump said. “As president, I’m truly proud to stand with you…. Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House.”
He spoke at length about the administration’s record on the issue, pointing to preserving religious liberty in the adoption process, regulatory enforcement to restrict taxpayer funding for abortionists abroad and through the Title X program, as well as the judges he has appointed to the bench. He praised rallygoers for their commitment to defending “the dignity and sanctity of every human life.”
“You embrace mothers with care and compassion. You are powered by prayer and motivated by pure, unselfish love. We are so grateful,” Trump told tens of thousands of attendees gathered on the National Mall.
Trump’s appearance required additional security measures for tens of thousands of rallygoers, which left thousands more waiting. Julie Hansberry of Asheville, N.C., has been attending the march since 2000. The president’s appearance, she said, would rank as the second most memorable rally of her life—she met her husband at the 2005 rally. She said she hoped the president’s address would bolster attention to the threat abortion poses to the unborn.
“I think that that’s going to affect the pro-life movement because it gives us a lot of coverage that we’ve been lacking in the past,” she said. Hansberry said the speech could also solidify support among activists who are “getting the vote out too because Trump has done so much for the pro-life movement in his presidency.”
Dozens of Trump campaign staff and volunteers were on hand distributing materials that touted the White House’s accomplishments on that front. Trump took direct aim at Democrats for holding “the most radical and extreme” positions on the issue. He pointed to state laws overturning limits on late-term abortion and parental notification rules, as well as Senate Democrats, including 2020 hopefuls Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), and Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), who blocked protections for infants who survive abortions. He focused much of his criticism on taxpayer funding for abortion, which has become a major theme of the Democratic primary. Former vice president Joe Biden abandoned his longstanding opposition to taxpayer funding at the outset of the 2020 campaign, joining other leading contenders who want to repeal the Hyde Amendment.
“Together we are the voice for the voiceless…. They are coming after me because I am fighting for you,” Trump said. “When it comes to abortion … Democrats have embraced the most radical and extreme positions taken in this country for years and decades…. Nearly every top Democrat in Congress now supports taxpayer funding for abortion all the way up until the point of birth.”
Trump identified as “pro-choice” before the 2016 campaign. Some rallygoers said his record as president has proven his commitment to the issue. Ohio resident Joel Patrick told the Washington Free Beacon that he “firmly” supports Trump in light of his positions on taxpayer funding.
“I don’t know what the president’s religious views are necessarily, but I think for him to say, ‘I’m pro-life and I’m going to come and speak at a pro-life event,’ shows how passionate he is about this,” Patrick said. “I think this is the perfect place for him to show up [with] the steps he’s taken to defund Planned Parenthood, how he’s come out in strong support of life from the beginning [of conception].”
Pro-life activists praised Trump for his willingness to make abortion a major campaign theme in 2020. Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project, said the White House successfully “set a standard for all future pro-life presidents.”
“President Trump’s attendance at the March for Life prevented the media from continuing to ignore the hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists who show up every year,” Schilling said. “It gives him an opportunity to make his case to millions of pro-life Americans across the country.”
Kari Beckman, a Catholic educator, traveled from Georgia to support the movement. She said that abortion should be a unifying issue for lawmakers. That has not been the case in her home state where a Republican majority passed legislation largely restricting abortion beyond the first six weeks of pregnancy. State Democrats vowed to mount a primary challenge against the lone Democratic lawmaker who supported the bill. Beckman called on lawmakers to reject the “extreme position” that there is a “right to kill children.”
“The one issue that should unite this country is the issue of life. We should all want to defend life from conception to natural death,” she said.
Schumer accused acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney of leading the alleged scheme despite the House Democrats’ claim that Trump was solely responsible for directing communications with Ukraine, per witness testimony.
Schumer’s push comes as Democrats pressure Republican Senate leadership to request witnesses, like Mulvaney, to appear before the Senate trial.
Former vice president Joe Biden’s presidential campaign ordered its Iowa staffers to be “adaptable, flexible, and willing” while suspending the campaign’s inclement weather policy in the finals weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
“Hey guys, all weather policy is dissolved throughout the entire state because we have five weeks left until the election,” Kay Glad, Biden’s regional organizing director for Iowa, texted staffers on Dec. 30, when much of the state was blanketed in snow. “If it feels like unsafe driving conditions, then talk to me separately but quite frankly I don’t want to hear any complaints because you know how important this is and how much time we have left.”
Glad’s texts were leaked by an anonymous Biden campaign staffer to the Nation, which published them on Friday. The staffer described an atmosphere of fear, noting there had been at least five separate car accidents involving Iowa campaign staff between Christmas and New Year’s Day. The campaign’s existing policy had recommended that staffers avoid driving in potentially dangerous conditions.
Glad in the texts went on to suggest that staff performance over the coming weeks, including with respect to the suspended driving policy, would be considered “an audition” for the “post-Iowa” portion of the campaign.
“By showing an ability to be adaptable, flexible, and willing to what [sic] you’ve been hired to do, then that is the most basic threshold of demonstrating your ability of leading others,” she wrote. “Every single day is an audition for post-Iowa.”
The Biden campaign acknowledged to the Nation that Glad had suspended the weather policy but had done so without authorization and had since been reprimanded for insubordination. One day after the Nation reached out for comment, the Biden campaign emailed staff to reiterate that the existing weather policy remained in place.