Hill Puts a Bow on Military Funding
When Congress sets records, they aren’t always good ones! But Monday, the parties kept a good streak alive — announcing their agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 58th consecutive year. In a Capitol where consensus is rarer than a solar eclipse, the military’s spending bill is one of the few things Congress manages to approve on time. It hasn’t missed since West Side Story was in the theaters, and gas cost 27 cents a gallon.
As both Armed Services Committees said in a statement, “This conference report is the product of months of hard-fought, but always civil and ultimately productive, negotiations.” Congress — “civil?” Negotiations — “productive?” When was the last time you heard that from D.C.? Not lately.
But, as most leaders would tell you, 2019’s debate wasn’t without its share of drama. From throwing open the door to military transgenderism to making the Defense Department an office of “family planning,” Democrats had their share of absurd demands. In Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) chamber, Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) even considered holding up the bill until conservatives agreed to turn “special operations” into taxpayer-funded gender reassignments!
Fortunately, courageous leaders like Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.), and others never flinched. Led by Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and the rest of the NDAA conferees, Republicans held the line behind closed doors until both parties agreed to strip out almost every poison pill and give our military the Christmas present it deserves: funding.
“If all goes to plan,” (a big “if” wherever Congress is concerned), “the House should vote on a final bill Wednesday, followed ‘shortly thereafter’ by a Senate vote,” Politico predicts.
So the next time someone says it’s impossible for the two parties to work together, don’t buy it. If Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) chose to, she could kickoff meaningful conversations on almost anything — immigration reform, national security, the budget, affordable health care, you name it. Of course, the House majority is too busy impeaching Donald Trump to care about even talking constructively — let alone getting down to the business of actual governing.
Fortunately for the military, even Democrats understand the optics of ignoring our service members while they pursue their political agenda. The rest of the country, apparently, isn’t so lucky.
Originally published here.
The FBI Report: More than Meets the Spy
At 476 pages, the inspector general’s report isn’t exactly light reading. And that’s just fine with Democrats, who are hoping most Americans will simply take the media’s word on it. As usual, most people’s opinion “greatly depends,” Jonathan Turley points out, “on which cable news channel you watch.” The Left wants everyone to believe that the Justice Department’s investigation of the Trump campaign was above board. But there’s a lot more to the story of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) summed it up this way: “Let’s assume for a moment that it started out okay,” he said of the probe. “It sure didn’t end that way.” Maybe everyone in the Justice Department wasn’t abusing power, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) agreed, but enough were to taint the entire process. Regardless of the good intentions some may have had, “This is what the investigation was about,” Congressman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) insisted, “pg. 361: [the inspector general] found ‘serious factual errors and omissions in the FISA applications … that undercut certain allegations in the applications.’ That, alone,” he argues, “is indefensible.”
The media, meanwhile, is only focused on a tiny part of the report, which suggested that the investigation met the low threshold it needed to be launched. (A claim both the attorney general and key Justice officials dispute.) “This is akin to reviewing the Titanic and saying that the captain was not unreasonable in starting the voyage,” Turley explains. But the real question, he argues, “is what occurred when icebergs began appearing. [Inspector General Michael] Horowitz says that investigative icebergs appeared very early on, and the Justice Department not only failed to report that to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court but removed evidence that its investigation was on a collision course with the facts.”
The reality is, there were “serious performance failures,” as Horowitz puts it, with how the FBI got the warrants to spy on the Trump campaign. “We identified multiple instances in which factual assertions relied upon in the first FISA application were inaccurate, incomplete, or unsupported by appropriate documentation…” In other words, Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) insisted, “[c]ertain higher ups at the FBI and DOJ did not want Donald Trump to be president — and manipulated the facts to fit their coup.”
And here’s the irony, Davidson told listeners on “Washington Watch.” “When Donald Trump said that he believed the Obama administration had been spying on his campaign, people laughed at him and said, ‘You know, you just don’t really understand how this works and all that.’ [But] he understood what was going on. And frankly, the question [becomes]: Is that the kind of work we want our FBI engaged in?
Just think about all the resources at the FBI’s disposal, the Ohio congressman pointed out. They used taxpayers dollars, tools, and agency privileges "to target a political rival. And it still didn’t work. It didn’t stop him from getting elected, and it hasn’t worked [in removing] him from office… [I]s that really the kind of framework we want to start using for our political campaigns?” he asked. Can you imagine the reaction if President Trump used the full force of government to snoop around a Democratic candidate?
“It’s called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for a reason. We’re focusing on foreigners trying to protect the United States of America from enemies of our country. And that system was used and abused to target an American citizen — and not just an American citizen, but an American candidate for president. And then, later, the actual president of the United States… It really is hard to imagine that this would have carried on in a normal course of events for actual security concerns. It was carried on because of personal animus of key actors towards the president, United States.”
That’s not what reasonable people expect from the FBI. No government office — least of all the intelligence community — should be working to undermine a candidate or president. If the American people take anything away from this report, let it be this: a politicized government agency is a danger to democracy. A danger we can’t afford to ignore.
Originally published here.
Swing Sets of Polling on Impeachment
Democrats were supposed to be impeaching the president for political gain! But now, pollsters say, they can’t even claim that. New numbers warn that the bottom’s falling out of the Left’s support — and the battleground states are the first to go.
What a difference an impeachment makes! Nine months ago, Donald Trump was trailing Joe Biden in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Today, Firehouse Strategies says, “he beats every Democrat.” What changed? Nothing, and that’s exactly the problem. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and company gear up for a vote to boot the president from office, most Americans want to know when they’ll get back to the country’s real business.
Months into the Democrats’ charade, voters in purple states have had enough. In a trend that spells disaster for the 2020 candidates, clear majorities of people in these must-win states (from 50.8 percent to 57.9 percent) oppose the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump. The numbers are a frightening sign for Pelosi, who’s betting her party’s chances on the serious misconception that Americans hate the president as much as they do. Or at least support the idea of taking him out before he can win another term.
In an interview with Axios, Firehouse partner Alex Conant warned, “Democrats racing towards impeachment are at serious risk of leaving behind the voters they need to retake the White House next year.” Although they differ on what Congress’s priority should be (immigration for Republicans, health care for Democrats), the consensus is that it’s time to “focus on policy issues” (59.4 percent of Michigan agrees, followed by 63 percent of Pennsylvania, and 67.2 percent of Wisconsin).
Making matters worse for liberals, Firehouse is just one of the organizations tracking this trend. A slew of polls in the last week all point to the same conclusion: Democrats are in for a 2016 sequel where moderate states are concerned if they don’t change course — and fast. According to the Hill, Arizona and Florida can be added to that list, along with North Carolina. People there may have been receptive to an investigation of Trump, but this all-out crusade to unseat him on the slimmest of evidence is extreme by anyone’s measure.
“We’ve known for a long time that everybody in California and New York want Trump to be impeached,” said one of the president’s campaign officials. “They’ve wanted that since the day he came into office. But in these states where the election is really going to be fought, we’re seeing that voters oppose impeachment, and there’s an intensity to that opposition.”
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.