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The Rushmore Report – The Border Wall: Dems Were for It Before They Were Against It

According to the media, the government shutdown is President Trump’s fault because he won’t give the Democrats what they want. Of course, if the Democrats would give Trump what he wants, the government would open tomorrow. And while Trump is back in Washington waiting to negotiate, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is vacationing in Hawaii. But the crazy thing is that these same Democrats were actually for the border wall – until they were against it.

The President’s new acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was clear in an interview Friday. He blasted Democrats, including Senate leader Chuck Schumer, for supporting border security measures – including a wall – in 2006 and 2011, before abandoning the position when Trump took office.

Mulvaney said, “This is a crazy discussion to be having. It seems like Democrats really like border security when there’s a Democrat in office, and don’t like it when Donald Trump is in office.”

Still serving as White House budget director, Mulvaney said he believes Schumer is willing to come to an agreement on border security funds, but Pelosi is holding up a deal. He said Pelosi will soon face a vote on becoming Speaker of the House and she does not want to be seen as caving to Trump’s demands.

“Nancy Pelosi cannot be seen by her party as being weak on negotiating with Donald Trump. So we fully expect that until she’s elected Speaker and has locked that vote up, we won’t hear from the Democrats again. They told us last night that they were not countering our last offer,” he explained.

Mulvaney called on Democrats to come back to the negotiating table to see if a deal can be reached at a number between their $1.3 billion offer and Trump’s $5 billion demand.

So we have two issues here, both lost – as usual – on the mainstream media.

First, as Mulvaney points out, Democratic leaders are balking at the very thing they voted for twice already.

Second, although the Executive Branch (president), House of Representatives, and Senate are all in agreement on the border wall, it takes 60 Senate votes to pass legislation. That means eight Democratic senators must vote with the Republican majority in order for the bill to pass. So, essentially, eight Democrats are holding up a bill that has the support of the White House, House of Representatives, and the majority of the Senate. Still, according to the media, the president alone is responsible for the shutdown.

Until the majority caves to the minority, the majority will be seen as obstructionists. Only in Washington.

The Rushmore Report – GOP Senator Loses It

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is a team player. Now the longest serving senator in Congress is retiring. You may have heard of the fellow who is replacing him – Mitt Romney. But before he exits the stage, Hatch fulfilled a long Senate tradition by giving a going away speech before his 99 colleagues. And the dapper, always under control Mormon did not hold back. In fact, he lost it on the Senate floor.

Hatch has rarely caused any kind of heartburn or division among the Republican caucus. He has never been the kind of senator to stray from the fold, like Jeff Flake of Arizona.

But Orrin Hatch has had enough, and he is sticking up for the President, whose policies he faithfully supports.

Hatch has had enough of the Democratic Party’s anti-Trump antics. He blasted Democrats for displaying a level of hatred never even demonstrated toward President George W. Bush. He called this a “new kind of crazy.” He said, “The Left will do anything and everything to hurt this president.”

Here’s more of his speech . . .

“I don’t care, all I can say is he’s doing a good job as president. The Democrats will do anything to hurt this president. What happened before he was elected president is one thing, but since he’s been elected the economy has done well, our country is moving ahead. We’re in better shape than we were before he became president. And I think we ought to judge him on that basis.”

What Sen. Hatch did was simply vocalize what most Republicans feel about all of the investigations into the Trump Administration, including the DOJ’s Russia investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. While general practice is to identify a crime in search of a person, they seem to have found their person – President Trump – and are now in search of a crime, Hatch said.

After a long and distinguished career, Orrin Hatch is going away. But make no mistake; he isn’t going away quietly.

The Rushmore Report – Will House Democrats Move to Impeach President Trump?

We heard it for months. “Give us control of the House and we will impeach the President!” From Maxine Waters on down, both elected Democrats and those seeking election said it with one voice. “Trump must go, and we will make that happen!” So now the Democrats have won back control of the House – which is where all impeachment votes take place. They have all the votes they need to send the Trump presidency into total, absolute turmoil. But what will they do? Is impeachment now on the horizon?

The short answer is no.

The long answer is no.

It’s really not too complicated. Democrats threatened impeachment in order to hold their far-left base. But they will now run from impeachment to hold onto their power.

There is really just one reason you won’t hear much about impeachment from the Democrats – Mike Pence.

If Trump were removed from office, Vice President Mike Pence would become president. And he would be a formidable opponent in 2020. Pence would hang onto almost all Trump voters, and would pick up millions more.

Besides, it’s not like the Republican-controlled Senate would vote to remove Trump from office anyway.

Nancy Pelosi – the once and future Speaker – recently told the Associated Press, “We shouldn’t impeach the president for political reasons and we shouldn’t not impeach the president for political reasons.” She further stated that impeachment is a “divisive activity.” (And we all know how non-divisive Nancy Pelosi is.)

Republicans are privately hoping the Democrats lose their collective minds and push for impeachment. That would tilt public opinion their way.

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said, “We know the Democrats have a plan. They want to disrupt, they want to impeach.”

That is wishful thinking on the part of Mr. McCarthy.

Of course Democrats want to impeach – and embarrass – the president. The trick is to not embarrass themselves in the process.

The Rushmore Report – Trump’s Problem Is Republicans

President Trump has hundreds of unfilled presidentially-appointed positions because Democrats have stalled the nominations process out as much as their diminished power in the post-nuclear Senate has allowed. But it is the Republican majority that has placed a total blockade on the usual safety valve for temporary appointments – the recess appointment power – by refusing to go on recess for the last two years.

And with Democrats set to take the House and be in position to deny the Senate consent to recess starting January 3, there is a real possibility that President Trump will go an entire presidential term without being able to make recess appointments.

It has been nearly eight years since the United States Senate officially recessed – a streak aided by the practice of holding so-called pro forma sessions every three days throughout every adjournment. Those sessions – which consist of nothing but gaveling in and out and where, by unanimous consent, no business is conducted – serve a single purpose: to deny the president of the United States the recess appointment power, which is a constitutionally authorized power to temporarily install nominees to executive and judicial posts without Senate advice and consent.

President Bill Clinton used the recess appointment power 139 times, including 96 full-time positions. President George W. Bush used it 171 times, including 99 full-time positions. But recess appointments under Bush screeched to a halt in his final two years in office, after Democrats took control of the Senate and, for the first time, implemented pro forma sessions to avoid an official recess.

In Obama’s first two years, with Democrats in control of Congress, recesses were back and he made 28 recess appointments, all to full-time positions, in his first two years. Then Republicans won the House of Representatives and withheld consent from the Senate to recess, forcing the pro forma sessions to come back. They continued through the last six years of Obama’s presidency, though he attempted to disregard them and make recess appointments anyway in 2012, which were struck down unanimously by the Supreme Court in NLRB v. Noel Canning.

The pro forma gambit is legally valid, and therefore the president cannot make recess appointments unless the Congress decides to officially recess, which hadn’t happened since 2010.

You might reasonably expect no president will ever get recess appointments again except when the same party controls the House, Senate, and president. But for the last two years, the same party – the Republican Party – has in fact controlled the House, Senate, and president. And yet, the Senate has never recessed.

This curious fact has received surprisingly little attention.

Is McConnell blocking Trump for his own strategic reasons? Perhaps to establish that no recesses will ever be taken again, forcing all appointments to go through the Senate confirmation process?

If so, that seems to be somewhat at odds with constant Republican complaints about Democratic stalling and obstruction of Trump nominees.

Is McConnell concerned that, given the free hand of a recess, Trump would make some truly terrible appointments? If so, perhaps negotiating a list before agreeing to recess could allay that concern.

Or does McConnell simply lack a Senate majority that would vote to adjourn without pro forma sessions? If so, perhaps holding a clean adjournment vote would at least serve the clarifying purpose of showing the American people which Republican senators are intent on blocking Trump recess appointments.

If President Trump wants to lift the legal cloud from his acting Attorney General and temporarily fill vacancies across the federal government, the administration needs to press hard for the Senate to adjourn for the year with an official recess.

But if we’re simply in a new era in which the Senate protects its institutional power by never officially recessing, it would be nice for somebody to inform the American people.

About the Author

Phil Kerpen writes for Townhall.

The Rushmore Report – Barna: The Christians Who Vote for Trump Don’t Pray for Him

The Christians that the Barna Group believes were key to President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory, due to their movement away from Democrats, do not largely pray for the commander-in-chief, according to the evangelical research organization. Earlier this month, Barna released a report that included a compilation of recent research that they conducted on various politics-related issues.

Among their findings, Barna reported that as of early 2017, around the time Trump was sworn in as president, 37 percent of American adults said they pray for the president.

“Evangelicals were the group most active in their prayer, along with majorities of groups with an active Christian faith,” noted Barna earlier this month.

“These prayers were just as common among black Americans as among white Americans, but less common among those who profess a non-Christian faith or fall into the category of notional Christians.”

Barna defines “notional Christians” as people who identify as Christian and likely attend church, but do not consider themselves to be “born-again.”

Barna found that while their research indicated that “Notional Christians” were a key factor in Trump being elected, only 35 percent report praying for the president.

According to Barna’s post-election report, “perhaps the most significant faith group in relation to the Trump triumph was notional Christians. These individuals … have supported the Democratic candidate in every election since 1996. On average, notionals have given the Democratic candidate 58 percent of their votes. That trend was broken this year as Hillary Clinton took just 47 percent of the group’s votes while Trump was awarded 49 percent. Given that notionals are by far the largest of the five faith segments, that transition was a game changer for the Republicans.”

Among evangelical Christians, a group that strongly supported Trump, 88 percent reported praying for Trump. By contrast, 18 percent of non-Christian religious believers reported praying for the president.

Unlike most polling on evangelicals, Barna defines evangelicals based upon beliefs, a set of nine questions, rather than self-identification.

Barna drew from a 2017 survey of 1,109 American adults with a sampling error of plus or minus 2.9 percent.

The survey was one of multiple recent findings that Barna highlighted in response to the midterm elections, with the organization explaining that they believed this and other findings “may help provide context—or prompt more questions—about our present political moment.”

Last year, it was reported that some theologically liberal churches, All Saints Episcopal Church of Pasadena, California among them, were going to refuse to state Trump’s name in their prayers for him.

“We are in a unique situation in my lifetime where we have a president elect whose name is literally a trauma trigger to some people,” said All Saints Church Rector Mike Kinman, as reported by local media outlet Pasadena NOW in 2017.

“Whereas before we prayed for ‘Barack, our president,’ we are now praying for ‘our president, our president elect, and all others in authority.’ This practice will continue for at least the near future.”

The Rev. Alice Rose Tewell, associate pastor at The New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., told The Christian Post in an interview last year that her congregation will “pray for our political leaders from all backgrounds during our worship service.”

“We have and we will continue to pray that our next president would act on with justice and mercy for each person throughout our nation and the world,” said Tewell.

“We pray that our next president will turn from the rhetoric of his campaign and instead stand up for the rights of the immigrant and refugee, the rights of women and children, the rights of people of color, the rights of those who live with disabilities, the rights of the LGBTQ community, for the rights of those living without homes or in unstable conditions, and for all who are lack enough opportunity, chances at a good education, and healthcare.”

About the Author

Michael Gryboski writes for the Christian Post. Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

The Rushmore Report – Was Trump Right to Fire Jeff Sessions?

We knew it was coming. And less than one day following the midterm elections, the inevitable came to pass. President Donald Trump fired the Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions. The first senator to endorse Trump’s presidential campaign and the fourth person the president credited with his victory during his inaugural address had become a liability. He simply had to go. But the question lingers – was Trump right to fire Jeff Sessions?

Yes.

I loved Jeff Sessions as a senator from Alabama. I appreciate his faith, his principles, and the way he has handled diversity from Day 1. He has endured more verbal attacks from his boss than any man should ever have to experience. He has served every day with the class of a southern gentleman. So, let’s rethink it. Was the president really right to fire Jeff Sessions?

Yes.

First, the president has every right to fire anyone in his cabinet without explanation. This is something Democrats don’t understand. Clearly, they did not take the same high school civics classes as the rest of us. They think that they – not the president – should name his cabinet. Shortly after Sessions was hired, the likes of Schumer and Pelosi cried foul. “Sessions must go!” they screamed. Now that he is gone, they cry foul again. This is their circular argument. “President Trump is corrupt for firing the man we demanded that he fire.”

Despite protestations from the Democrats – Sessions’ unexpected supporters – Trump did it. He fired his Attorney General. Was this the right thing to do?

Yes.

Here’s why. Sessions had failed to win the confidence of the president. That was the only reason Trump needed. There are 340 million people living in this country (legally). But only one vote counts when it comes to the longevity of members of the president’s cabinet. The fact that President Trump fired Jeff Sessions is all we really need to know. But still, many ask, was Trump right to fire Jeff Sessions?

Yes.

Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation. He failed to prosecute the Hillary Clinton email crimes. Sessions did not impanel a grand jury to examine the conduct of fired FBI Director James Comey. And he failed to do anything about the illegal surveillance activity of the FBI.

Was President Trump right to fire Jeff Sessions?

Yes.

 

The Rushmore Report – Is Trump to Blame for Mail Bombings and Pittsburgh?

Last week, Americans were terrorized by mad men yet again. Across the nation, about 15 leading Trump critics received bombs by mail – none that reached their intended target nor detonated – at the hands of Cesar Sayoc of Florida. Then, just days later, Robert D. Bowers opened fire at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, taking the lives of 11 worshipers and injuring six others. Immediately, such liberal outlets as MSNBC came out against President Trump, laying the blame for the recent acts firmly at his feet, in light of his “heated rhetoric.” Are they right?

MSNBC host Katy Tur said, “It’s pretty clear when you’re talking about this toxic political environment that it did start with Donald Trump.” She then noted the repeated “lock her up” charges at his rallies, targeting Hillary Clinton.

Tur seems to suffer from acute amnesia.

When James Hodgkinson, a far-left supporter of Bernie Sanders, opened fire on congressional Republicans on a softball field in 2017, was that motivated by President Trump? Was it Trump’s fault that Minnesota Democrat leaders said Republicans should “go to the guillotine”? Was it Trump who harassed Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell while eating dinner with their wives? And was it the President who inspired Democrat Maxine Waters to call for Democrats to keep Republicans out of their places of business or Hillary Clinton to call for an end to civility until Democrats win office or Eric Holder to call for Democrats to “kick Republicans” at every chance?

Writing for Townhall, Matt Vespa said it well. “Don’t lecture me about turning down the rhetoric when you people have become unspooled because Hillary didn’t win an election. Also, Left Wing America, you fired first – with an actual gun – and people were injured, nearly killed. So, spare us your ‘thank God for me’ attitude. It’s nauseating. As for the media, no one trusts you, so quit telling us Trump is to blame for everything.”

The media has a selective memory when it comes to reporting high-pitched political rhetoric.

Should President Trump tone it down a bit? Sure, he should. And recently, he has. But as long as crazy conservatives attack with rhetoric and crazy liberals attack with bullets, let’s not act as though the vitriol that has contaminated the modern political landscape can be laid at the feet of just one man – or one party.

The Rushmore Report – President Trump’s Hilarious Line from ’60 Minutes’ Interview

Sunday night, CBS aired Lesley Stahl’s interview with President Trump on 60 Minutes. As expected, they sparred on issues ranging from immigration to fake media. It was their discussion on the media that led to Trump’s funniest line. He stated, “The thing I’ve really learned is I never knew how dishonest the media was and I really mean it. I’m not saying that as a soundbite. I never knew how dishonest the media was.” When Stahl tried to change the subject, Trump landed his zinger.

Stahl jumped in: “I’m going to change the subject.”

Trump responded, “No. You asked me a question, I’m not finished yet.”

Stahl: “I’m going to run your answer, but I want to move on.”

Trump: “I’m just saying you treat me differently than Obama.”

Stahl: “I disagree, but I don’t want to have that fight with you.”

And then it came . . .

Trump: “Hey, it’s okay, Leslie. It’s okay. In the meantime, I’m president, and you’re not.”

Certainly, one can argue that Trump’s response was not “presidential,” whatever that means these days. But for those who believe that the media has mistreated conservatives for years, Trump’s quip put a smile on their collective faces. For those who believe the media has treated Trump the same as they treated President Obama – it’s unclear what planet they are living on.

Trump deserves credit for going on 60 Minutes. Rarely did President Obama venture far beyond media outlets that praised his administration 24/7. And for those who wish Trump would be less boastful and more presidential (there’s that word again), they will be waiting for awhile.

You might argue that Trump was elected despite the way he treats the press. I disagree. Trump was elected because of the way he treats the press. And that is not likely to change any time soon.

The Rushmore Report – What Happens If Trump Fires Rosenstein?

On Friday, the New York Times reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the man who oversees Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, brought up the idea of “secretly recording” President Donald Trump last year and discussed invoking the 25th Amendment process for removing the president from office. Rosenstein denied the Times story, calling it “inaccurate and factually incorrect.” Another source or sources have been telling reporters that Rosenstein was joking when he talked about wearing a wire. (The Times has stood by its reporting.)

Trump supporters and right-wing media personalities quickly reacted to the report by calling for Rosenstein’s firing. As with James Comey’s firing last year, the aftermath of Trump removing Rosenstein would be chaotic. The reports Friday raised questions about what would happen at the Department of Justice and with the Mueller investigation if Trump were to make the move.

Who would replace Rosenstein overseeing the Mueller investigation?

Normally, the associate attorney general would step in. But Rachel Brand stepped down from the role in February, leaving the office with a temporary replacement. The most likely answer is that the chain of command would leap over her vacant position and Solicitor General Noel Francisco would take Rosenstein’s place.

What do we know about Francisco?

Like many prominent members of the Trump administration, he has had his share of controversy. Most notably, Francisco has been accused of making misleading arguments  before the Supreme Court about Trump’s travel ban.

But before joining the administration, he was more controversial for his legal work on behalf of conservative causes. He often represented corporations in their fights against regulations, including a coal company involved in a deadly mining disaster. And he argued two prominent cases before the Supreme Court, including a defense of religious organizations’ right to deny employees access to birth control.

He also had worked on George W. Bush’s 2000 Florida recount, and then for Bush’s administration as associate counsel to the president and deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel.

As Jed Shugerman wrote for Slate, Francisco’s background is more political than other career DOJ officials. Mark Joseph Stern called Francisco “competent and qualified” in his assessment of Slate but warned that Francisco displayed some worrying beliefs, including a strong stance on the scope of executive privilege. There’s good reason to believe that if Francisco were to take over Rosenstein’s position, he would be less kind to the Mueller investigation.

Are there any other possible replacements?

Yes. While Francisco would be the natural person to step in per the chain of command, it’s possible Trump could choose instead to replace him with an administration official already confirmed by the Senate under the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. Louis Seidman, a constitutional law professor at Georgetown University, told the Washington Post that hypothetically Trump could choose someone like Energy Secretary Rick Perry to fill the role. But, Seidman cautioned, it’s not clear whether the act applies to people who have been fired, rather than someone who resigns or dies in office.

The danger for Trump in choosing this route, Shugerman wrote, is that it would be “such a transparent effort to subvert the rule of law as to be a political liability even within the Republican Party.”

How do we then get a new, permanent deputy attorney general?

Trump will eventually nominate a replacement, and that nominee will have to go through the normal Senate confirmation process.

What exactly is Rosenstein’s role with the Russia investigation anyway?

Rosenstein is, effectively, Robert Mueller’s boss. The task of overseeing the investigation would normally have gone to Jeff Sessions, but in March 2017, after it was revealed the attorney general had failed to disclose conversations with the Russian ambassador, Sessions chose to recuse himself from the investigation, infuriating Trump, who saw the decision as a betrayal.

While Mueller does not have to report to Rosenstein for all regular decisions, he does on occasion have to check in with Rosenstein on the status of the investigation. Rosenstein, then, can make Mueller provide explanations for any of his actions and prevent any steps he considers “inappropriate or unwarranted,” as Yale lecturer and former FBI agent Asha Rangappa wrote in Slate last year.

Rosenstein is also responsible for representing the investigation before Congress. Rosenstein has largely acted as a champion of the investigation and has not challenged Mueller’s approach or tactics in any significant ways.

What would his firing mean for the investigation?

There’s room for debate as to how much damage this could actually do. If the person who steps into Rosenstein’s position feels less charitable toward the investigation, that person can throw up significant roadblocks and even, possibly, shut it down.

As Rangappa noted, the investigation by this point is broad, complex, and to a certain degree decentralized. It will almost certainly carry on regardless of who oversees it, as the FBI is compelled to pursue the leads it has and would have to defend any decision to drop specific lines of investigation. The Russia investigation, therefore, could not simply be killed.

So the investigation is safe?

Mostly, but a particularly hostile overseer of the investigation could hobble it by forcing Mueller to justify every step. Rosenstein’s replacement could override one of Mueller’s decisions—but then the replacement, in turn, would have to justify the override to Congress, with reports for both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. An unethical acting attorney general working against the investigation could also potentially leak Mueller’s plans to the White House in advance.

Possibly the worst threat to the investigation could come from the acting attorney general’s role speaking for the investigation. An acting attorney general keen on discrediting the investigation could, in testifying before Congress, convey a lack of faith in Mueller. That could turn Mueller’s remaining Republican allies in Congress.

About the Author

Molly Olmstead writes for Slate.

The Rushmore Report – Guess Who They Want to Impeach Now? (Other than Trump)

Most Democrats calling for impeachment proceedings have their eyes on President Trump. One lawmaker in Massachusetts has someone else in mind. State Senator Barbara L’Italien, who is running to replace retiring Rep. Niki Tsongas, wants to send Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas packing because of his past “lies” about the sexual assault allegations against him. During his 1991 confirmation hearings, Thomas was accused of making sexual advances against Anita Hill, a woman who had worked for him at two federal agencies. He denied the claims, but L’Italien doesn’t buy it. She is prepared to file the impeachment resolution against Thomas for perjury.

“There is an elephant in the room for Congress in the #MeToo era. Our leaders have to start talking about it. Two of the most powerful men in the country have been credibly accused of sexual crimes and gotten away with it,” L’Italien said. “Laws cracking down on sexual assault have to be signed by a president who multiple women say assaulted them. Regulations to stop sexual harassment can be struck down by a Supreme Court justice who lied under oath to counter allegations of sexual harassment. Why would victims think a government like that is looking out for them?” (Politico)

L’Italien may be the first politician to advocate for Thomas’s impeachment, but she’s not the first person. The Daily Intelligencer’s Jill Abramson wrote a piece entitled, Do You Believe Her Now?, laying out the case for impeaching Thomas based on new evidence.

And given the evidence that’s come out in the years since, it’s also time to raise the possibility of impeachment. Not because he watched porn on his own time, of course. Not because he talked about it with a female colleague — although our understanding of the real workplace harm that kind of sexual harassment does to women has evolved dramatically in the years since, thanks in no small part to those very hearings. Nor is it even because he routinely violated the norms of good workplace behavior, in a way that seemed especially at odds with the elevated office he was seeking. It’s because of the lies he told, repeatedly and under oath, saying he had never talked to Hill about porn or to other women who worked with him about risqué subject matter.

Although L’Italien is focused on Thomas’s supposed indiscretions, she hasn’t completely let Trump off the hook. She has asked for congressional hearings into his alleged sexual misconduct.

About the Author
Cortney O’Brien writes for TownHall.