Mid-Day Digest

May 20, 2020

THE FOUNDATION

“If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.” —Alexander Hamilton (1788)

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IN TODAY’S DIGEST

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Declassified Rice Memo Adds Fuel to Obamagate Scandal

Thomas Gallatin

On the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, outgoing National Security Advisor Susan Rice wrote an email to herself noting a White House meeting that had occurred 15 days earlier. She wrote of Barack Obama’s instructing those present to ensure that intelligence and law-enforcement agencies proceed normally through the transition “by the book,” curiously repeating that three times. She also mentioned that Obama asked if there was any reason not to share Russia-related information with the incoming administration. In February 2018, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley (IA) and Lindsey Graham (SC), as part of their oversight of the FBI and DOJ, discovered Rice’s email, which had been partially classified as “top secret.” On Tuesday, Rice’s email was declassified.

A previously redacted paragraph showed former FBI Director James Comey’s response to a question from Obama:

Director Comey affirmed that he is proceeding “by the book” as it relates to law enforcement. From a national security perspective, Comey said he does have some concerns that incoming NSA Flynn is speaking frequently with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. Comey said that could be an issue as it relates to sharing sensitive information. President Obama asked if Comey was saying that the NSC should not pass sensitive information related to Russia to Flynn. Comey replied “potentially.” He added that he has no indication thus far that Flynn has passed classified information to Kislyak, but he noted that “the level of communication is unusual.”

This declassified portion of the email confirms that Trump’s then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was being monitored by the FBI. It confirms that Obama was aware of it, which further explains why he was so keen to raise concerns over sharing Russia-related information with Trump’s incoming team. Furthermore, it confirms that Rice lied when asked during an April 2017 PBS news interview whether the Obama administration had caught up any members of Trump’s team in foreign surveillance. “I know nothing about this,” Rice insisted. “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today.”

Rice is no stranger to lying, of course. It’s reminiscent of her behavior after the Benghazi terrorist attack, which killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. She knew the truth, yet she repeatedly and blatantly lied by claiming the coordinated attack was a spontaneous protest of a YouTube video.

What this latest revelation shows is that the FBI had no legitimate reason for spying on Flynn. Comey admitted as much and yet sought to defend the targeting of Flynn based upon his level of unusual communication. Talk about grasping at straws. And then, based on this rationale, Comey advised “potentially” withholding from Team Trump any Russia-related information — i.e., the existence of the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

Responding to the revelation, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, stated, “We didn’t witness what America has become so famous for — a peaceful, cooperative, well-wishing, transition of power. Instead we saw corruption of … a transition really designed to sabotage and really upend the new administration. It’s shameful, is what it is. … This needs to be dug into further.” Let the digging commence.

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Trump’s First Round of Reckoning for China COVID Cover-Up

Louis DeBroux

For the last three years, President Donald Trump has engaged in a solo good cop/bad cop routine, at times praising Chinese dictator Xi Jinping (as when discussing the U.S.-China trade agreement) and other times scolding China for its unfair trade practices and human-rights abuses. This is all part of what national-security expert James Carafano describes as Trump’s strategy of “making across-the-board military, diplomatic, economic challenges to Beijing where they are impinging on vital U.S. interests.”

However, with clear evidence of China’s willfully negligent role in allowing COVID-19 to become a global pandemic, resulting in 1.5 million infections and nearly 90,000 deaths in the U.S. alone, President Trump’s demeanor toward China has become decidedly hostile. Vowing to hold the Communist Chinese Party (CCP) accountable for the public-health crisis and the ensuing economic devastation, President Trump has begun putting some bite into those criticisms.

First, he directed the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) oversight board to halt all investments in Chinese companies. The TSP is a retirement savings plan for federal civil-service employees and military members. Trump’s directive blocks more than $40 billion from being invested in China.

Far more damaging to China, however, is President Trump’s decision last Friday to cut off Chinese tech company Huawei from access to global chip suppliers by amending a rule to require foreign companies using U.S. chip-making equipment to obtain a special license before selling certain chips to Huawei or any affiliates. Ostensibly “employee owned,” Huawei is effectively controlled by the CCP.

As a direct result of the rule change, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), the world’s largest manufacturer of advanced microchips, announced it is no longer accepting new orders from Huawei. This is a significant blow to Huawei, the world’s second-largest smartphone manufacturer and the company vying for global domination of the emerging 5G market. Were China to control 5G networks, it could engage in widespread electronic espionage and disruption of other nations’ IT infrastructure. Huawei has already been accused of such espionage, which it denies.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Bill Barr warned of the threat posed by Huawei. “If the Industrial Internet becomes dependent on Chinese technology, China would have the ability to shut countries off from technology and equipment upon which their consumers and industry depend,” he argued. “The power the United States has today to use economic sanctions would pale by comparison to the unprecedented economic leverage we would be surrendering into the hands of China.”

Barr continued, “Within the next five years, 5G global territory and application dominance will be determined. The question is whether, within this window, the United States and our allies can mount sufficient competition to Huawei to retain and capture enough market share to sustain the kind of long-term and robust competitive position necessary to avoid surrendering dominance to the Chinese.”

This sentiment was bluntly seconded by Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), who stated, “The United States needs to strangle Huawei. … Modern wars are fought with semiconductors, and we were letting Huawei use our American designs. This is pretty simple: Chip companies that depend on American technology can’t jump into bed with the Chinese Communist Party.” Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley asserted, “China will lose their bucket over this move. It is hands down the right move for us in terms of national security.”

Last month, the FCC began shutting down U.S.-based operations of three Chinese state-owned telecommunications companies due to pervasive risks to national security.

President Trump also signed an executive order last week facilitating domestic production of “strategic supplies” needed to deal with current and future pandemics, a wise move after China hoarded such supplies as the Wuhan pandemic spread — and after China threatened to cut off U.S. access to life-saving drugs. The U.S. is heavily dependent on China for such supplies.

For its part, China is not taking these actions lying down. In response to President Trump’s moves, China threatened to stop purchasing planes from aerospace giant Boeing. The CCP also threatened to place American companies like Apple, Qualcomm, and Cisco on an “unreliable entities” list, imposing restrictions on them and launching an “endless series” of investigations meant to cripple operations and shake investor confidence.

China has also threatened to issue new regulations designed to debilitate small U.S. firms that are heavily dependent on Chinese companies, serving as a “‘first-level’ warning” to the U.S. against imposing trade restrictions.

The Trump administration has openly discussed other possible punitive and retaliatory measures, including additional tariffs, but the reality is that, due to the sheer volume of U.S. debt held by China and the heavy intertwining of the U.S. and Chinese economies, this is of necessity a long-term, strategic battle, requiring careful maneuvering to punish China while doing minimal harm to U.S. interests.

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Cutting More Red Tape Will Aid Recovery

Nate Jackson

President Donald Trump’s biggest accomplishments, in our view, are two stellar Supreme Court nominations, major tax cuts across the board, and a commitment to deregulation. Of the latter, the Wall Street Journal editorial board remarks, “The Trump Administration’s long parade of deregulation — on everything from Title IX, to net neutrality, to environmental-impact statements, to joint employers — is among its biggest achievements.”

Throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, the Trump administration has worked to eliminate or waive regulations that hinder mitigation efforts. On Tuesday, the president made a significant move to continue this record. The Washington Times reports, “Mr. Trump signed an executive order, in his first Cabinet meeting since the crisis hit, that directs federal agencies to rapidly use all emergency and ‘good cause’ authorities to find red tape that can be rescinded or temporarily waived to promote job creation and economic growth. In addition to cutting regulations, the president’s order instructs Cabinet agencies to ‘consider exercising appropriate temporary enforcement discretion’ for the good of the recovery.”

Moreover, federal agencies should “determine which, if any,” of the 600 deregulatory actions taken during the pandemic “would promote economic recovery if made permanent.”

“Typically when our country has faced a crisis, Washington responds by grabbing more power,” said Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget. “President Trump understands that to get the economy moving, the power needs to be given back to the people and entrepreneurs. If a bureaucratic rule needs to be suspended during a time of crisis to help the American people, we should ask ourselves if it makes sense to keep at all.”

Trump’s rationale is surely influenced by his own career as a businessman. “I want you to go to town and do it right,” he told members of his Cabinet. “It gives you tremendous power to cut regulation. We’re fighting for the livelihoods of American workers, and we must continue to cut through every piece of red tape that stands in our way.”

Many of the deregulation efforts are small in isolation. According to the Journal, they include: “Truck drivers hauling emergency supplies have more flexibility about hours on the road. Seniors on Medicare can consult doctors by iPhone. Colleges can ramp up distance learning without the usual red tape.”

But regulations are also a sort of “death by a thousand paper cuts.” Most regulations don’t result directly in job losses, but the accumulation of them means business owners are busier obeying government fiat than they are serving customers, making widgets, or hiring new workers. Regarding the reopening, as long as businesses “have attempted in reasonable good faith” to meet guidelines of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for example, the bureaucracy has been instructed to lay off. Small moves like that will also accumulate and make it easier for businesses to recover from the pandemic shutdown.

Trump concluded, “With millions of Americans forced out of work by the virus, it’s more important than ever to remove burdens that destroy American jobs.” Can we get an “amen”?

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NAS Pensacola Murders Ordered by al-Qaida

Thomas Gallatin

Attorney General William Barr announced on Monday that Mohammed Alshamrani, the Royal Saudi Air Force 2nd lieutenant studying at Naval Air Station Pensacola who shot and kill three U.S. Navy sailors last December, was not a “lone wolf” but was in fact acting in direct coordination with al-Qaida. Barr explained that the FBI was able to make this determination via data retrieved from his Apple cellphones.

“The phones contained information previously unknown to us that definitively establishes Alshamrani’s significant ties to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP], not only before the attack, but before he even arrived in the United States,” Barr stated. “We now have a clearer understanding of Alshamrani’s associations and activities in the years, months and days leading up to the attack.”

Barr further noted, “It was clear at the time that the phones were likely to contain very important information. Indeed, Alshamrani attempted to destroy both of the phones, even going so far as to disengage from the gunfight long enough to fire a bullet into one of the phones.”

Alshamrani had become radicalized by the time he first made contact with an al-Qaida operative in 2015. His objective for entering the U.S. was to carry out a terrorist attack, which was planned with the help of al-Qaida. As noted by FBI Director Christopher Wray, “The evidence we have been able to develop from the killer’s devices shows that the Pensacola attack was actually the brutal culmination of years of planning and preparation by a longtime AQAP associate.”

Other than confirming that the Navy Air Station attack was indeed an act of jihadi terrorism, the Justice Department’s announcement also highlighted an important development — that the FBI was able to access the encrypted data on Alshamrani’s cellphones without Apple’s help. Barr pointedly noted, “Unfortunately, Apple would not help us unlock the phones.” Indeed, the FBI has been in an ongoing legal dispute with Apple to break into encrypted iPhones ever since the San Bernardino terrorist attack. It now appears this case may be moot if the FBI has developed its own abilities to break into encrypted iPhones.

“Now that the FBI has this knowledge, where else might they apply it?” asks Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey. “Apple had resisted cooperating on this case in part to preserve its customers’ privacy, and probably in part because of the FBI’s declining reputation for respecting the boundaries of law. The recent revelations on Operation Crossfire Hurricane and FISA warrant practices won’t boost confidence in the FBI’s ability to get past that encryption now either, even if in this case they unlocked critical information that reminds us of the threat al-Qaeda still poses.”

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White Vigilante vs. Black Victim

Grassroots perspective by Willie Richardson

Have you ever noticed the difference in media messaging when certain crimes happen in America? One group of people is portrayed as the victim and the other as the vigilante. The usual media headline goes like this: “Unarmed [black] male fatally shot by white police officers.” Sometimes it includes words like “lyching,” “racial terror,” “slaying,” or “killing.” I mentioned the name Ahmaud Arbery in a previous article and many of you had heard about the case ad nauseum. However, have you heard the name Angela Summers?

She was unarmed. She was minding her own business. She was a 45-year-old mother. However, she was “white.” Yep, that’s the only difference in why her name isn’t being plastered across your 50-inch television screens. The ferocious media manipulation and bias that occurs daily in this nation is sickening.

Angela Summers was a mail carrier walking her Monday route when suddenly she met her demise. She bypassed a home due to the dangers of the residents’ dog. The U.S. Postal Service office had warned this family with three letters in the mail about their aggressive dog. They never took mitigating measures. So, Angela was instructed to not deliver the mail there until the family followed through on the warnings. The mail delivery had been suspended according to the criminal complaint, and the family had been instructed to pick up their mail from the local post office.

Enter Tony Cushingberry-Mays. He is a 21-year-old black male who allegedly confronted Summers on this fatal day. He harassed Summers at the neighbor’s front porch about the mail. Summers grabbed her mace and sprayed Cushingberry-Mays. He pulled out a gun and shot her in the chest.

If we reversed the roles and “color” of the individuals, this would have made international news. The headlines would read: “Unarmed black male carrier, father of 4, shot by vigilante white male.” Instead, in the headline, there was no mention of Ms. Summers’s skin color. No mention of her being unarmed. No mention about her daughter being left behind. The headlines read, “Postal Worker Angela Summers Killed, Allegedly Over Dispute Involving Coronavirus Stimulus Check.”

The saddest part about this whole tragedy is that the shooter’s family was upset about not receiving their relief checks from the Trump administration. Go figure. Talk about “don’t shoot the messenger.” Angela Summers was just the unarmed messenger doing her job. Who’s really the victim? Who’s really the vigilante? Where’s the media outrage?

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NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Jordan Candler

Above the Fold

  • Further proof that Democrats are bridled to a perpetual witch hunt came straight from the source Monday, when “House Democrats asked the Supreme Court to release the redacted grand jury testimony from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s completed Russia probe because their investigation into whether President Trump committed impeachable offenses is still underway,” the New York Post reports. In a court filing, Democrat members of the House Judiciary Committee intimated: “If this material reveals new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the articles adopted by the House, the committee will proceed accordingly — including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment.” Not only does this reek of political posturing, but furnishing this information would be extremely detrimental to national security.

  • All government mitigation measures backfire in some capacity, and in the case of the millions of people furloughed due to the COVID-19 shutdown, there are numerous accounts of workers exploiting their unemployment benefits. Thanks to the CARES Act, many furloughed workers are receiving government checks that dwarf what they typically earn from their employers, effectively serving as a disincentive to return to work. The Trump administration is now instituting a redress. According to Fox News, “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned on Tuesday that individuals who reject an offer from their company to return to work after being laid off due to coronavirus are no longer considered eligible to receive federal unemployment benefits.” The economy has already been turned upside-down, and the difficulties of rebounding will be compounded by individuals who aren’t motivated to work. Mnuchin’s announcement is merely common sense, which our statist lawmakers clearly lack.

Government & Politics

  • Susan Rice’s deflective and discreet memo declassified (Power Line)

  • Barack Obama’s Treasury Department spied on Trump associates (Power Line)

  • Senators “dramatically expanding” probe into Obama-era scandal, think surveillance may have started “even earlier” than 2016 (The Daily Wire)

  • Michael Flynn attorney files emergency appeal to shut down Judge Sullivan’s orders and boot him from case (Fox News)

  • Deregulator-in-chief: Trump signs broad order to speed deregulation and relax red tape for economic recovery (The Washington Times)

Business & Economy

  • Joe Biden’s pledge to dump Keystone XL pipeline would kill thousands of jobs and prevent millions in local tax revenue (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Nasdaq to tighten listing rules, restricting ChiCom IPOs (Reuters)

Culture & Heartland

  • Federal judge rules that all Texans must have access to absentee ballots (Washington Examiner)

  • Georgia apologizes over “processing error” after accusations officials were manipulating coronavirus case counts (Fox News)

  • “There is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights”: DOJ warns California governor over discriminatory church closings (Reuters)

  • Planned Parenthood affiliates improperly applied for and received $80 million in coronavirus stimulus funds (Fox News)

  • “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade said she was paid to lie about being pro-life in “deathbed confession,” new documentary claims. Pro-lifers who knew her push back. (The Daily Wire)

  • “Now with Jesus”: Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias dies of cancer at 74 (The Christian Post)

Other Notables

  • Wearing a face mask can reduce coronavirus transmission by up to 75%, study says (Fox News)

  • Anti-China sentiment is on the rise — 31% says the ChiComs are enemies, up 11% since January (Politico)

  • For the fifth consecutive year, U.S. birth rates decline, now at lowest level in 35 years (Today)

Closing Arguments

For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.

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VIDEOS

Video: Cuomo’s Nursing-Home Disaster May Have Cost Thousands of Lives — So the Left’s just ignoring it.

John Stossel Video: A Taste of Homeschooling — The coronavirus pandemic is giving millions of parents a taste of homeschooling.

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “I am absolutely convinced that meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain; meaninglessness comes from being weary of pleasure. And that is why we find ourselves emptied of meaning with our pantries still full.” ―Ravi Zacharias

Observations: “We’re often lectured that killing an unborn baby is a decision made solely by a woman in conjunction with her doctor. Yet taking hydroxychloroquine is apparently a joint decision between a man, his doctor, every Democrat in Congress, all the anchors on CNN, and an entire slate of New York Times op-ed columnists.” —David Harsanyi

Inquiring minds want to know: “Why did Susan Rice need to send herself an email telling herself that Obama said the Flynn issue was being handled ‘by the book’ three different times? Is that something someone doing everything ‘by the book’ would really need to do?” —Charlie Kirk

Schoolyard insults: “Pelosi is a sick woman, she’s got a lot of problems, a lot of mental problems.” —Donald Trump responding to her calling him “morbidly obese”

Schoolyard insults II: “I didn’t know that he would be so sensitive. He’s always talking about other people’s … weight, their pounds.” —Nancy Pelosi

For the record: “Pelosi called Trump fat. Trump said Pelosi has mental problems. Pelosi responded that Trump is too sensitive. We’re being governed by 6th graders.” —Matt Walsh

Upright: “Words have meaning, and if you don’t intend the meaning, don’t use the word.” —David French

Grand delusions: “The pandemic has unleashed familiar forces of hate, fear and xenophobia that he always flames … that have always existed in this society. But this president … has brought with [him] a new rash of racial messages, verbal and physical attacks and other acts of hate.” —Joe Biden

Reality is often disappointing: “I have known Bob Mueller for a long time. I have tremendous respect for him. I think he is just an amazing human being and public servant. He was not the man that I knew just in terms of his strength of presence [in congressional testimony], and so it was quite surprising.” —Rep. Adam Schiff

This. Changes. Everything Nothing. “I will be reaching out to head of twitter about their policies being violated every day by President Tump. Hope my call is taken. Please retweet if you agree.” —MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski

And last… “Susan Rice knew exactly what she was doing. That’s why she wrote herself emails in a desperate attempt to cover her tracks.” —Sen. Marsha Blackburn

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TODAY’S MEME

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For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

TODAY’S CARTOON

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For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.


Join us in prayer for our Patriots in uniform and their families — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way, and for our nation’s First Responders. We also ask prayer for your Patriot team, that our mission would seed and encourage the Spirit of Liberty in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

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