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Most Americans would rather go on vacation in the Dominican Republic than give Members of Congress a pay raise.

It’s doubtful that Jon Stewart thinks lawmakers should get a pay hike.

The former Daily Show host erupted at Members of Congress at a Capitol Hill hearing the other day. Stewart excoriated lawmakers for what he perceived as legislative foot-dragging over a bill to help 9/11 first responders. The legislation would fund the catastrophic medical costs of firefighters, police officers and many others who worked and lived near Ground Zero.

“They responded in five seconds,” thundered Stewart at the hearing about the first responders. “They responded in five seconds. They did their jobs with courage. Grace. Tenacity. Humility. Eighteen years later, do yours!”

9/11 VICTIMS FUND BILL PASSES HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, A DAY AFTER STEWART’S FIERY TESTIMONY

The 9/11 hearing came just as lawmakers mulled a proposal to grant themselves a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). The 27th Amendment to the Constitution bars Congress from “varying the compensation” lawmakers unless “an election of Representatives shall have intervened.” In other words, if you vote to raise your pay, be ready to face the wrath of voters. If you survive the election, congratulations.

But the pay plan is a little different from a straight salary increase. Under a 1989 federal law, all federal workers, including Members of Congress, automatically score a COLA. The base salary for rank-and-file members (not serving in leadership positions) is $174,000 per year. The COLA would boost pay by $4,500. This isn’t the equivalent of lawmakers “voting themselves a raise.” In 2009, Congress indefinitely suspended the Congressional COLA. Meantime, executive branch workers continued to receive the COLA. The bipartisan proposal simply would have restored the COLA for members after a decade in abeyance.

Not surprisingly, lawmakers faced a firestorm about the proposal. Democratic freshman representing swing districts were particularly alarmed about the perception of the wage hike. Even though there was a bipartisan agreement to reinstate the COLA, Democrats accused Republicans of turning the issue against them.

The COLA plan was part of the annual spending bill to fund the legislative branch. But Democrats had to extract the entire Congressional appropriations measure from a combination appropriations bill designed to fund other parts of the government. Otherwise, the pay/COLA issue would have gone supernova.

Killing the pay increase may sound good. But Capitol Hill has suffered from a brain drain for years. $174,000 is certainly good money compared to the average of $57,000 for most American workers. But lawmakers need to maintain two residences. Washington, DC is an exceedingly expensive place to live. Many lawmakers sleep on cots in their offices while on Capitol Hill. Some ethics groups take issue with that practice. Those watchdogs believe lawmakers are using a federal resource for personal use. So, many lawmakers leave and “cash in” on K Street or elsewhere.

This creates problems for Congressional staff, too. They can’t earn more than the member. So in a Congressional office, the legislative director must earn less than the chief staff. The legislative assistant must make less than the legislative director. And so on. The system craters Congressional salaries at the staff level. That’s why many aides flee for better money elsewhere.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., defended the COLA.

“This is about the institution of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate and our ability to be competitive as an employer and to get the best and brightest,” said Hoyer. “We don’t want to have only rich people here. We want this to be the people’s House and representative of the people.”

It takes a lot to rattle Steny Hoyer. Members of the Capitol Hill press corps seemingly exasperated Hoyer at his weekly session with reporters. The scribes repeatedly pressed the Maryland Democrat on the COLA issue.

“This really frustrates me,” seethed Hoyer. “Four questions in a row on COLA.”

One reporter observed reporters were inquiring about the COLA because “you’ve got millions of Americans working two jobs.”

“You guys had to pull a bill when it got to the Rules Committee,” Lindsey McPherson of Roll Call said to Hoyer at the press conference. “Would it be as significant an issue if it had been addressed prior to that? You wouldn’t be getting all of these press questions.”

Members are skittish about any perception of a pay increase. They know how much contempt the public harbors for Congress. There’s a reason why Jon Stewart then castigated lawmakers at the 9/11 hearing.

“Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders. And in front of me, a nearly empty Congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country and it is a stain on this institution. You should be ashamed of yourselves for those that aren’t here,” said Stewart. “I can’t help but think what an incredible metaphor this room is to the entire process.”

This all comports with a convenient yarn about Washington. Lawmakers are overpaid. They don’t get anything done. They don’t show up for work. They don’t care about 9/11 responders suffering from atrocious forms of cancer. And they sure as hell don’t deserve a pay raise.

DEMS HALT EFFORT TO SECURE PAY INCREASE FOR LAWMAKERS, AS CONTEMPT VOTES, FUNDING DRAMA LOOMS

Congress deserves much of the scorn the public heaps on it. Partisanship, politics and gerrymandering paralyze legislation for years. Congress frequently accomplishes very little.

But is some of this a lazy, expedient narrative?

Stewart may have torched lawmakers for their absence. But Stewart testified before a subcommittee. Not the full Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers just held the forum in a full committee room. Fewer lawmakers serve on subcommittees compared to a full committee. Thus, the dais appeared empty. Most of the members who were supposed to be there were. Only Reps. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., and Guy Reschenthaler, R-Pa., never showed.

“I would not interpret some of the empty chairs as indifference,” said Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., the top Republican on the subcommittee. “We’re a subcommittee. Sometimes the scheduling gets crossed.”

“I’m going to defend an institution that is sometimes not easy to defend,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., who leads the subcommittee. “We have other committees (meeting) at the same time.”

Anyone who has ever worked on Capitol Hill knows that the schedule for lawmakers is beyond comprehension. Members are often quadruple booked at multiple, simultaneous hearings and caucus meetings. That’s to say nothing of meeting with constituents or running to the House floor for votes. The scheduling demands of each member, each of whom represents at least 700,000 people, are nearly intractable.

So, members weren’t loafing somewhere, ignoring the needs of the 9/11 heroes.

Stewart’s excoriations about the work habits and productivity of Congress came the same week as many lawmakers pulled all-nighters. Wednesday’s House session ran until 4:01 am Thursday as lawmakers debated the appropriations package. Meantime, the Armed Services Committee session to preps the annual defense bill started on Wednesday morning – and gaveled out at 6:53 am on Thursday. Members were back on the House floor just a few hours later Thursday morning, casting 32 roll call votes on amendments to the spending measure.

Stewart and others complained about the pace of the 9/11 bill as it wound its way through Congress. To be clear, the House hasn’t yet scheduled a vote on the plan. That could be weeks off. But the package will undoubtedly pass. More than 300 House members support the bill. Furthermore, the Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee held the hearing with Stewart on Tuesday. The full Judiciary Committee voted to approve the entire 9/11 bill on Wednesday. It’s rare for any panel to hold a hearing on a bill one day and vote it out of the full committee the next day.

Most Americans didn’t track what was playing out on the House floor all night or in the Armed Services Committee. They don’t have time to follow the intricacies of Congress. They work their own, manual labor, graveyard shift jobs. They rush to pick up toddlers from child care. They do yardwork for neighbors on the side. They work retail. They barber on the weekends. All to make ends meet. They expect their representatives to toil until 4 in the morning. But when they catch a clip on the news that shows a half-full dais, it’s no wonder the public resorts to the easy narrative about Congress. Moreover, a story about a pay/COLA increase for Congress only amplifies that storyline.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said “it’s hard at any time” to discuss increasing Congressional pay. But the Speaker notes that the membership shouldn’t just comprise “people who can afford to go to Congress.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, says it makes lawmakers “look good in the short term” to oppose pay raises on Capitol Hill. She says Members of Congress fear their their opponents could “exploit” such a vote for political gain.

“It may not be politically popular to say, but honestly this is why there’s so much pressure to turn to lobbying firms and cash in on member service after people leave,” said Ocasio-Cortez.

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Steny Hoyer promised the House would soon vote on the pay raise/COLA issue. Note that Hoyer didn’t say the House would pass a Congressional pay increase/COLA. In fact, the entire debate over Congressional wages may have engineered a great optic for freshman Democrats from swing districts – as well as most other lawmakers.

Members of Congress can now deride the “inside the Beltway” mentality about Congressional pay, argue against an increase and even be documented on the record as opposing such a hike. Voting “against Washington” is precisely the type of script lawmakers love to have. It reinforces the view that lawmakers need to work harder to earn the public trust and change public opinion.

Hardly any lawmakers touted the fact that the House and Armed Services Committee toiled all night and to the crack of dawn the other day. That was the Congressional reality. But after the 9/11 hearing, the public is stuck with the same perception: lawmakers don’t show up to hearings. They don’t care about firefighters and police officers suffering from cancer. And all Members of Congress want is more money. That’s the prevailing narrative. And it’s nearly impossible to change.

Source: Fox News Politics

Former Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tom Homan indicated on Saturday that President Trump’s Friday announcement was “kind of premature” and that while he was open to working with President Trump’s administration, he initially declined to take the “border czar” role because it wasn’t “structured” properly.

“I think yesterday’s announcement — I think the White House has made it clear that it was kind of premature,’ he said while appearing on “Cavuto Live” on Saturday.

“I was first approached by [former Homeland Security] Secretary [Kirstjen] Nielsen about this job and I declined it because I didn’t think the job was structured right,” Homan said before adding he didn’t want to “fail the president.”

TOM HOMAN: TRUMP DESERVES OUR THANKS FOR MIGRANT AGREEMENT WITH MEXICO

“I didn’t think it had the proper authority,” he added. “And look, I think a border czar needs to be structured in a way that they can coordinate activities from [Department of Homeland Security], [Department of Justice], [Department of Defense], [Health and Human Services] —  they all have a piece of this border issue so I think any sort of border czar needs to be a person who can coordinate an all-in government response to the border.”

His comments came after the president told “Fox and Friends” that the former ICE chief would serve as his new adviser on the border. “Tom Homan’s coming back, I would say that would be announced next week except I’d rather announce it now,” Trump said on Friday.

FLORIDA’S DESANTIS SIGNS CONTROVERSIAL SANCTUARY CITIES BAN INTO LAW

Homan told Cavuto that while he hadn’t accepted an official position, he respected the president “greatly” and was open to working with him. Noting how people questioned why he would work for Trump or take “such a big pay cut” if he returned to the administration, Homan said he would serve as border czar because he loved his country.

“Again, I haven’t accepted any position but why would I even have these discussions? Because I love my country and because I see what’s going on in the southwest border and after 34 years of serving my nation, you just don’t turn it off,” he said.

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Homan’s potential appointment would come as the United States wrestles with a migrant crisis and attempted to pressure Mexico into cooperating with its efforts at the border. Trump eventually reached a deal after threatening to impose tariffs, although some critics downplayed its effectiveness.

But for Homan, Trump’s deal was “great.”

“This is a great deal and this is a game changer if it’s implemented correctly,” he said.

Source: Fox News Politics

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, accused President Trump’s administration of pursuing war with Iran as tensions mounted in the Middle East and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the rogue nation for an assault on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

“What I believe is that this is an administration that is gunning for war in Iran,” O’Rourke, a 2020 presidential candidate, told PBS host Judy Woodruff on Thursday.

REP. DAN CRENSHAW DINGS EX-OBAMA AIDE BEN RHODES FOR DOUBTING US LINK OF IRAN TO TANKER ATTACK

O’Rourke, while appearing on PBS’ “Newshour,” went on to call for peace and diplomacy in the region. “What I believe is that we can resolve our differences with that country, which are significant, peacefully without invading yet another country in the Middle East. I want to make sure that we get to the bottom of the facts and find the evidence that the secretary of state is talking about,” he said.

During a news conference on Thursday, Pompeo accused Iran of engaging in a “blatant assault,” citing as corroboration “intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”

RICK PERRY: IRAN CONTINUES TO BE A BAD NEIGHBOR

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan piled onto the criticism of Iran but the nation denied responsibility.

That was followed up by President Trump on Friday, who told Fox & Friends that the attack had “Iran written all over it.”

O’Rourke, on Thursday, seemed to take a shot at the president, indicating that he wanted to rejoin allies in the region that Trump allegedly alienated.

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“I want to make sure that we convene the stakeholders in the region to address the instability that we see there,” he said. “And I want to make sure that we rejoin our partner, our friends, and alliances that this president has turned his back on so that we can achieve our foreign policy goals in the Middle East with Iran and throughout the rest of the world.”

Source: Fox News Politics

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she’s “very concerned about a slide towards war with Iran” and highlighted that President Donald Trump “has to come to Congress” for authorization before taking military action against Iran.

Pointing to this week’s attacks on tankers in the Gulf of Oman, the President told Fox News on Friday that “Iran did do it.”

THE LATEST FROM FOX NEWS ON RISING US-IRAN TENSIONS

But Warren, the two-term progressive senator from Massachusetts who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is skeptical.

“I want to see whatever evidence the administration says that it has,” she said Friday evening while campaigning in New Hampshire, the state that holds the first primary in the White House race.

“I’m very concerned about a slide towards war with Iran.”

And Warren emphasized: “I want to remind this administration that the administration cannot declare war on its own. It has to come to Congress and make that case and ask for an authorization for a use of military force. That’s not politics, that’s a point of the Constitution of the United States of America.”

TANKER CREW DETAINED BY IRAN AFTER FIRST BEING RESCUED BY ANOTHER VESSEL: US OFFICIALS

The president, in a wide-ranging interview on Fox and Friends, pointed towards the attacks on the tanks and said, “we don’t take it lightly.”

“Iran did do it and you know they did it because you saw the boat,” he said, before pointing to video that showed an Iranian vessel removing an unexploded mine attached to a Japanese-owned oil tanker.

Trump said the mine had “Iran written all over it.” But he said that Iran had been damaged since he took office, but was still a threat.

“They’re a nation of terror and they’ve changed a lot since I’ve been president, I can tell you,” Trump added.

Warren, a vocal Trump critic, pointed to the president’s removal of the U.S. from a nuclear treaty it and European allies signed with Tehran under President Barack Obama.

“Part of the problem we’ve got right now is that the president backed out of a deal that the United States had committed to and he does it with no coherent alternative strategy,” she noted.

And Warren argued that Trump’s been inconsistent when it comes to his positions towards Iran.

GULF TANKER ATTACK: IRAN HAS FORM FOR USING CLINGY, COVERT ‘LIMPET MINES’ WHICH INSTANTLY DISABLE VESSELS

“He’s continued to poke at Iran but then back off. At one point we hear an announcement there’s going to a huge troop buildup, then no troop buildup,” she explained. “It’s not possible to tell where the president is headed and if we can’t tell that here in the United States, it means our Congress can’t fulfill its Constitutional function. But it also means it’s hard for the Iranians to read and the rest of the world to read.”

Warren was campaigning in New Hampshire on the same day that the lineup was announced for the upcoming first round of Democratic presidential primary debates, which are coming up later this month.

Twenty of the record two-dozen candidates will make the stage for the debates – with 10 appearing on two consecutive nights, on June 26-27.

Warren is the only one of the top five polling candidates who will appear on the first night, with former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris all taking part in the second night’s showdown.

Warren said she wasn’t concerned, saying “there will be other opportunities” to share the debate stage with the other top polling contenders for the nomination.

“This is going to be fun,” she added.

And Warren, who’s risen in the polls the past two months, touted her retail politics metrics in New Hampshire and the other early voting primary and caucus states.

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“I’ve done more than 90 town halls, taken more than 2,000 questions, we’re crowding in on about 30,000 selfies now,” she highlighted.

Source: Fox News Politics

Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel speculated that the investigation into then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign gained so much steam because former FBI Director James Comey had “Trump derangement syndrome.”

She made those comments while speaking to Fox News host Bill Hemmer on his podcast “Hemmer Time.” Hemmer, in the podcast published on Thursday, asked Strassel what she thought the broader story will be as the dust settles on the Russia investigation.

Strassel said that while she didn’t think the FBI had partisan motivations, she did think that Comey had a vendetta against Trump. “I think that Jim Comey came down with one of the first undiagnosed cases of Trump Derangement Syndrome,” she said, referring to a common criticism employed by conservatives.

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“He felt himself to be above a lot of the normal rules and procedures and he got it in his head that he was going to protect the country from some sort of menace,” she told Hemmer.

According to Strassel, the investigation was unusual in that the FBI conducted from its headquarters rather than a field office. “There was nobody offering supervision and we had a lot of FBI agents and senior leadership in the end who exceeded their authority,” she said.

COMEY DENOUNCES BARR AFTER CBS INTERVIEW: ‘AN AG SHOULD NOT BE ECHOING CONSPIRACY THEORIES’

She also criticized Comey for withholding information about the dossier during a meeting he had with President Trump.

“I don’t think people have absorbed just how inappropriate that meeting was handled,” she said referring to a meeting the two had before Trump’s inauguration. Strassel asserted that Comey exceeded his authority by only disclosing parts of the dossier while withholding the fact that his FBI was using the dossier to investigate members of the president’s campaign.

“To withhold that from an incoming administration is really — it’s another example of Comey very much exceeding his authority,” Strassel said. She also questioned whether that meeting occurred for the purpose of getting the media to report on the dossier.

Her comments came as House Democrats voted to effectively hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress and bolster their powers in enforcing subpoenas.

JAMES COMEY DEFENDS STRZOK, DISPUTES ‘TREASON’ ACCUSATIONS IN FIERY OP-ED: ‘DUMB LIES’

That vote, Strassel claimed, was part of an “all-out attempt” to discredit the attorney general and cover for the fact that Democrats funded the dossier that served as a basis for the investigation.

“There is an all-out attempt by Democrats to discredit him because remember their central role in this entire 2016 investigation. Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee paid for the dossier that the FBI ended up using as … part of the justification to go after the Trump campaign.”

“That’s scandalous!” she added. “What we’ve seen for the past two years are intense efforts to keep that information from coming out. And there is a great fear — an enormous fear — among some quarters in Washington that Bill Barr is going to produce the truth here.”

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Many in the FBI, Strassel pointed out, didn’t think Trump would win in 2016 and therefore, likely didn’t think their investigatory efforts would come to light. “The FBI was operating under the assumption that nobody would know what it had done,” she said.

Strassel also suspected that the contempt actions stemmed from a “personal vendetta” that some House Democrats had against Barr. Barr, she also said, was restoring faith in the Justice Department with his efforts in investigating the Russia probe’s origins.

Listen to the full interview on the latest episode of “Hemmer Time” here, and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Source: Fox News Politics

Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas slammed former top Obama adviser Ben Rhodes for questioning U.S. claims that Iran attacked oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz and downplayed the threat from the regime.

Rhodes, a leading figure within the Obama administration who pushed for the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, suggested the U.S. official assessment of the tanker attacks shouldn’t be taken for granted, saying only an international investigation can get to the bottom of the incident.

“This definitely feels like the kind of incident where you’d want an international investigation to establish what happened. Huge risk of escalation,” Rhodes said in a tweet.

EUROPEANS SKEPTICAL OF TRUMP’S CLAIM THAT IRAN TO BLAME IN TANKER ATTACK

This prompted a stark rebuttal from Crenshaw, the freshman congressman and former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, who blasted Rhodes for downplaying the danger posed by the Iranian regime and doubting the intelligence community.

“So, do or don’t believe the Intel community? And you’re not really a trusted source to weigh in on Iran,” Crenshaw wrote in a tweet. “You sold the public the falsehood of a moderating Iranian regime – using your media ‘echo chamber’ (your words)- & ignoring the true danger Iran presents in the region.”

“I’ve been watching for years as Iran moves weapons to proxies around the region, looking for opportunities to destabilize & wreak havoc, and then claim innocence. This is not new. And the Administration is right to strengthen our regional presence as a deterrence,” Crenshaw added.

Crenshaw refers to Rhodes’ now-infamous comments that the administration’s foreign policy team built an “echo chamber” of experts to help sell the controversial Iran nuclear deal.

“We created an echo chamber,” Rhodes told the New York Times Magazine in 2016 when asked about arms-control experts that appeared at think tanks and were then used as sources for hundreds of reporters – whom the article described as “clueless.”

Of those experts, Rhodes said: “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

TANKER CREW DETAINED BY IRAN AFTER FIRST BEING RESCUED BY ANOTHER VESSEL: US OFFICIALS

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran for the “blatant assault” on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier Thursday.

In a news conference, Pompeo said: “This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.”

He charged that Iran was working to disrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz and this is a deliberate part of a campaign to escalate tension, adding that the U.S. would defend its forces and interests in the region, although he did not elaborate.

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U.S. officials released a video Friday supposedly showing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the vessels.

The black-and-white footage, as well as still photos released by the U.S. military’s Central Command on Friday, appeared to show the limpet mine on the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, before a Revolutionary Guard patrol boat pulled alongside the ship and removed the mine, Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said.

Source: Fox News Politics

President Trump was pressed by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on whether he sought the removal of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and why he didn’t answer questions from Mueller about obstruction.

At one point during the testy exchange, Trump accused Stephanopoulos of “being a little wise guy” with the line of questioning.

“Wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing,” Trump said, after being asked by Stephanopoulos why he would not answer questions in person from Mueller’s investigators.

Stephanopoulos answered, “Not on obstruction.”

OCASIO-CORTEZ SAYS MEMBERS OF CONGRESS NEED A RAISE, JUST LIKE MINIMUM WAGE EARNERS, TO AVOID TEMPTATIONS OF CORRUPTION

“George, you’re being a little wise guy, OK, which is, you know, typical for you,” Trump said.

“Just so you understand. Very simple. It’s very simple. There was no crime. There was no collusion. The big thing’s collusion. Now, there’s no collusion. That means they set, it was a setup, in my opinion, and I think it’s going to come out.”

GOP REPS UNLOAD ON DEMS’ STAR WITNESS JOHN DEAN, ACCUSE HIM OF WATERGATE ‘COTTAGE INDUSTRY,’ OBSTRUCTION OF CONGRESS

Earlier in the interview, Trump said it “doesn’t matter” that his former White House counsel Don McGahn told Mueller that Trump wanted Mueller removed over an alleged conflict of interest.

“The story on that very simply, No. 1, I was never going to fire Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller,” Trump said, adding McGahn “may have been confused” when he testified to Mueller.

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“I don’t care what he says, it doesn’t matter,” Trump said, prompting Stephanopoulos to ask why McGahn would “lie under oath.”

“Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer,” Trump said, insisting he never said Mueller should be removed.

Source: Fox News Politics

A House hearing on reparations for slavery is set for next Wednesday, which marks the first time in more than a decade that a panel will consider slavery’s “continuing impact” on the country and the next steps to “restorative justice.”

The scheduled hearing held before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties will feature testimonies from writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover.

The purpose of the panel is said to “examine, through open and constructive discourse, the legacy of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.”

OCASIO-CORTEZ CALLS FOR ‘AGENDA OF REPARATIONS’ AS 2020 DEMS GET ON BOARD

Former Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan first proposed that Congress study reparations in 1989 after he sponsored a bill, House Resolution 40, that he reintroduced every session until he resigned in 2017.

Democratic Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, the bill’s new sponsor, introduced it earlier this year and pushed for next week’s hearing. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she supports a reparations study, which has not been the subject of a hearing since 2007.

The topic of reparations reemerged to national prominence as several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates signaled their support for some form of compensation for the descendants of slaves. None, however, seemed to support compensation in the traditional sense of direct payouts to black Americans.

Instead, candidates have proposed somewhat vague ideas such as using funds to create policies addressing economic inequalities that could disproportionately benefit African-Americans.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics

Why did President Trump do it?

Why would he create this firestorm over accepting dirt from a foreign government?

Why did he respond — at length — to a hypothetical question from George Stephanopoulos?

Why would he send a message that this was perfectly acceptable after spending two years battling the Mueller investigation, which found that Russia blatantly interfered with the 2016 election but no improper cooperation by Trump or his associates?

MSNBC’S STEPHANIE RUHLE ASKS IF TRUMP COULD BE REPORTED AS ‘SECURITY THREAT’

Why would dig himself a hole with comments that even some of his strongest media supporters and close allies, like Lindsey Graham, aren’t defending?

In the Oval Office, Stephanopoulos asked Trump whether his campaign, if approached by a foreign government such as Russia or China with information on opponents, should call the FBI.

“I think maybe you do both,” Trump said. “I think you might want to — listen, there’s nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country [like] Norway [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent,’ oh, I think I want to hear it.”

At another point, Trump said that if he was approached, “‘Oh let me call the FBI.’ Give me a break, life doesn’t work that way.”

And: “When you go talk honestly to congressmen they also do it, they always have. That’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.”

By the way, lots of campaigns take oppo research — which can be perfectly legitimate — but not from foreign regimes.

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Sometimes Trump just commits candor, in ways that hurt him politically. In 2017, after the administration argued that he fired Jim Comey based on a Rod Rosenstein memo, he told NBC’s Lester Holt that he would have dumped the FBI director “regardless of recommendation” and was thinking about his role in the Russia probe.

There was a mixture of defiance and exasperation in Trump’s voice as he parried Stephanopoulos, as if he knew perfectly well that the politically acceptable response was “call the FBI,” but refused to play along.

DONALD TRUMP JR. STANDS BY ORIGINAL TESTIMONY AS HE RETURNS FOR SENATE COMMITTEE INTERVIEW

The context is important. The two men started talking about Donald Trump Jr. returning to the Hill for closed-door testimony, which involves the 2016 Trump Tower meeting at which a Russian lawyer claimed to be offering negative info on Hillary Clinton.

So Trump may have been thinking that if he said he’d rush to call the FBI these days, that might have been thrown back at him in his son’s case.

Among those who were puzzled was Fox’s Laura Ingraham, who said that “setting aside the question of why you would have George Stephanopoulos standing over the President in the Oval Office —  I don’t know who approved that —  but what about this notion of accepting foreign intel about an opponent? Is that a risk for President Trump…? Why he was put in that situation is beyond me.”

But who’s going to tell the president not to do the interview? He doesn’t even have a communications director these days.

Nancy Pelosi had a field day saying “everyone should be appalled” and that Trump “does not know right from wrong,” while Kevin McCarthy looked uncomfortable trying to deflect the questions but admitting he’d call the authorities in such a situation.

Trump tried to clean things up on Twitter yesterday, saying he’s recently met with the Queen of England and leaders of the U.K., Ireland, France and Poland: “Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings?” He’s obviously conflating everyday diplomacy with the conveyance of dirt.

TRUMP FLIPS SCRIPT ON DEM OUTRAGE OVER COMMENTS ON FOREIGN DIRT

The president also said “my full answer is rarely played by the Fake News Media. They purposely leave out the part that matters.” I’ve actually seen many news programs play long versions of the Stephanopoulos exchange.

I know some Trump supporters are saying, “Hey, didn’t Hillary pay for the dossier?” and so on. But whataboutism is not going to change what the president said.

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I’m not a Trump-basher. On one level, the media uproar may be an overreaction to what was, after all, a hypothetical back and forth with a journalist. There’s no new evidence, incriminating documents or embarrassing emails about any actual contact with foreign operatives.

In any honest assessment, Trump’s words really can’t be defended. At least, in this case, they are just words.

Source: Fox News Politics

Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, addressed a New York Times op-ed writer who accused him of not supporting the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund on Wednesday, calling the writer’s initial accusation “inexcusable.”

“That is a pretty inexcusable thing to say, you’re going to stand on the graves of 9/11 victims and claim that I am not a patriot and I have not defended this country against the perpetrators of 9/11, that I have not defended this country to prevent another 9/11 from happening. It’s an inexcusable accusation from the get-go,” Crenshaw said on “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream.”

WATCH: JON STEWART CALLS OUT LAWMAKERS OVER 9/11 VICTIMS’ COMPENSATION FUND IN EMOTIONAL HOUSE TESTIMONY

New York Times contributing op-ed writer Wajahat Ali claimed on Twitter that Crenshaw hadn’t sponsored the fund’s renewal while praising the involvement of Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

“Anytime a Republican says they are ‘patriots’ ask them if they voted to fund the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund. You know who’s for it? Ilhan Omar. You know who hasn’t sponsored it? Dan Crenshaw,” Ali wrote in the now-deleted tweet.

“Hey ‘journalist,’ maybe you should check your facts. I am a co-sponsor. Nice try though,” Crenshaw tweeted in response.

“It’s actually really sad because they have succeeded in politicizing 9/11, they politicized this bill for the victim compensation fund and its shameful, it’s absolutely shameful.”

— Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas

Crenshaw dismissed the tactic, calling it “dishonest” and “cynical.” He also blamed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., for starting the trend.

“They know it’s dishonest and we cannot get to this place in politics where you are seeking out something somebody hasn’t cosponsored yet and claiming you are against it. They know the public doesn’t understand that, they think you’re voting against it,” Crenshaw told Bream.

Earlier Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed a reauthorization bill for the 9/11 Victims’ Compensation Fund, a day after comedian Jon Stewart lambasted lawmakers for failing to attend a hearing on the bill.

Crenshaw also addressed another tweet from Ali where he called on Crenshaw to address his condemnation of  Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and her comments about 9/11.

“Thanks for letting me know. I’m glad you did and I have no problem correcting and updating the record with facts. Now try it with your comments about Ilhan Omar. You’ll feel better. Sincerely, a fellow patriot,” Ali tweeted.

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In April, Crenshaw criticized Omar for describing 9/11 as “some people did something.” The congressman called Ali’s comments “shameful.”

“Defending the indefensible comments by Ilhan Omar regarding 9/11 — which is where all of this materialized. It’s actually really sad because they have succeeded in politicizing 9/11, they politicized this bill for the victim compensation fund and it’s shameful, it’s absolutely shameful,” Crenshaw said.

Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.

Source: Fox News Politics


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