By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
On March 22, Rep. Devin Nunes made his ham-fisted disclosure that the Obama administration had conducted incidental surveillance collection and unmasking of Trump administration officials. It was a revelation that ignited widespread criticism from nearly every corner of Washington.
“I have seen intelligence reports that clearly show that the president-elect and his team were, I guess, at least monitored,” the House intelligence chairman said at the time. “It looks to me like it was all legally collected, but it was essentially a lot of information on the president-elect and his transition team and what they were doing.” Nunes went on to claim that the information was spread across a number of agencies and had “little or no apparent intelligence value.”
Perhaps Nunes’ reasons were partisan. Perhaps his framing was exaggerated. We’ll see. But if CNN’s reporting is correct, everything Nunes claimed that day was basically true. Which is a lot more than we can say for others. Continue reading
by Andrew C McCarthy • National Review
On Tuesday, in a National Review Online column, I contended that the reported involvement of former national-security adviser Susan Rice in the unmasking of Trump officials appears to be a major scandal — it suggests that the Obama White House, of which she was a high-ranking staffer, abused the power to collect intelligence on foreign targets, by using it to spy on the opposition party and its presidential candidate.
It should come as no surprise that the defense Ms. Rice and Obama apologists are mounting is heavily reliant on a fact that is not in dispute: viz., that the intelligence collection at issue was legal.
I anticipated that line of argument a week ago. The issue is not technical legality, it is monumental abuse of power. Continue reading
By Cristina Laila • The Gateway Pundit
Former National Security Advisor to Obama, Susan Rice has recently pivoted from saying she knew nothing about the unmasking of Trump and his associates to saying it’s all part of her job and normal routine.
Ex-officials who have experience in Intelligence operations at this level are saying quite the opposite. A National Security Advisor is in a managerial position and should not have time to be unmasking individuals having conversations. ‘It’s insane. It’s never done.’ Continue reading
By Andrew C McCarthy • National Review
The thing to bear in mind is that the White House does not do investigations. Not criminal investigations, not intelligence investigations.
Why is that so important in the context of explosive revelations that Susan Rice, President Obama’s national-security adviser, confidant, and chief dissembler, called for the “unmasking” of Trump campaign and transition officials whose identities and communications were captured in the collection of U.S. intelligence on foreign targets? Continue reading
By David French • New York Post
Lost in most of the coverage of President Trump’s decision to rescind the Obama administration’s transgender mandates is a fundamental legal reality: The Trump administration just relinquished authority over gender-identity policy in the nation’s federally funded schools and colleges.
In other words, Trump was less authoritarian than Obama. And that’s not the only case.
Dear Vice President-Elect Pence:
It has come to our attention that a number of Departments and independent agencies are working furiously behind closed doors to bring significant, legally tenuous litigation against American business interests before January 20, 2017. Doing so will saddle the Trump Administration with having to litigate cases based on job crushing liberal legal theories. Such “midnight litigation,” particularly litigation that does not concern imminent threats to health or safety, must receive the strictest of scrutiny from the transition, and we urge the new Administration in the strongest possible terms not to treat such litigation with deference.
We have long been concerned about “midnight regulation” – regulations promulgated in the waning days of a lame duck administration. Because of this concern, Congress enacted the Congressional Review Act, which provides Congress procedural tools to disapprove expeditiously these last ditch midnight regulations. Congress, however, has no authority over litigation brought by the Executive Branch, and it will be incumbent upon the Trump Administration to decide whether to continue to pursue such cases.
President-elect Trump promised to “make American great again” and successfully argued that a rigged system has stymied growth, competitiveness and opportunity. This is due in no small measure to the Obama Administration’s war on business, which was again made apparent only days ago with the President’s executive action to ban offshore oil drilling in areas of the Artic and Atlantic Oceans. The mountains of regulations promulgated by the current Administration are a key reason economic growth has been dismally low. Litigation is another form of executive action that can have similar devastating impacts on American jobs and competitiveness and should be reviewed in the same manner that the Transition is reviewing regulations.
Should the Obama Administration bring non-routine, last minute, legally unorthodox midnight litigation, your Administration should not hesitate to withdraw immediately from that litigation. In such circumstances, the new Administration should not be constrained by notions of deference and should not support suspect legal theories that could have devastating economic effects for decades to come.
We appreciate the difficult work ahead of you and wish you the best as you continue to prepare to undo the damage of the last eight years.
Frontiers of Freedom
Americans for Tax Reform
The Honorable J. Kenneth Blackwell
Constitutional Congress, Inc.
Richard A. Viguerie
The Weyrich Lunch
National Tax Limitation Committee
Tea Party Patriots
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
C. Preston Noell III
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.
The Last Best Hope on Earth Institute
Maryland Taxpayers Association
Chief Government Affairs Officer
Americans for Prosperity
Willes K. Lee
National Federation of Republican Assemblies
Freedom & Prosperity Caucus
Defending America Foundation
Strengthening America for All
William A. Estrada, Esq.,
Director of Federal Relations
Home School Legal Defense Association
Mat Staver, Esq.
Founder & Chairman
Property Rights Alliance
Americans for Liberty & Security
Michael J. Bowen
Coalition for a Strong America
Clyde Wayne Crews
Vice President for Policy
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Campaign for Liberty
Progressives may preach the joys of localism, but the trend in government is all the other way in everything from climate change to the economic complexion of your neighborhood.
by Joel Kotkin • The Daily Beast
This could be how our experiment with grassroots democracy finally ends. World leaders—the super-rich, their pet nonprofits, their media boosters, and their allies in the global apparat—gather in Paris to hammer out a deal to transform the planet, and our lives. No one asks much about what the states and the communities, the electorate, or even Congress, thinks of the arrangement. The executive now presumes to rule on these issues.
For many of the world’s leading countries—China, Russia, Saudi Arabia—such top-down edicts are fine and dandy, particularly since their supreme leaders won’t have to adhere to them if inconvenienced. But the desire for centralized control is also spreading among the shrinking remnant of actual democracies, where political give and take is baked into the system.
The will to power is unmistakable. California Gov. Jerry Brown, now posturing as the aged philosopher-prince fresh from Paris, hails the “coercive power of the state” to make people live properly by his lights. California’s high electricity prices, regulation-driven spikes in home values, and the highest energy prices in the continental United States, may be a bane for middle- and working-class families, but are sold as a wonderful achievement among our presumptive masters. Continue reading
by Ilya Shapiro • National Review
As we approach the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency, there isn’t much that the president can do to change people’s opinion of him, for better or worse. His legacy, barring some extraordinary occurrence — including an extraterrestrial one, as the holiday advertising blitz for the new Independence Day movie reminds us — is baked into history.
Setting aside legislation and executive action (on which more imminently), we note that one of President Obama’s chief accomplishments has been to return the Constitution to a central place in our public discourse.
Unfortunately, the president fomented this upswing in civic interest not by talking up federalism or the separation of powers but by blatantly violating the strictures of our founding document. With his pen and his phone, and hearkening to Woodrow Wilson’s progressive view of government, he’s been taking out his frustrations with the checks and balances that inhibit his ability to “fundamentally transform” the country. Continue reading
Reason.com, the website I edit, was recently commanded by the feds to provide information on a few commenters and not discuss it. Here’s why we’re speaking out.
by Nick Gillespie • The Daily Beast
Well, yes, there is: getting a gag order that prohibits you from speaking publicly about that subpoena and even the gag order itself. Talk about feeling isolated and cast adrift in the home of the free. You can’t even respond honestly when someone asks, “Are you under a court order not to speak?”
Far more important: talk about realizing that open expression and press freedom are far more tenuous than even the most cynical of us can imagine! Even when you have done nothing wrong and aren’t the target of an investigation, you can be commanded, at serious financial cost and disruption of your business, to dance to a tune called by the long arm of the law. Continue reading
by Gerri Willis • Fox Business News
The Internal Revenue Service may have found 6,400 emails from Lois Lerner, who oversaw the tax agency’s Exempt Organizations Unit, but the government agency has no plans to share.
Attorneys from the Department of Justice representing the IRS say the emails won’t be shared because the service is making sure that none of them are duplicates. Lerner is at the center of a scandal in which the tax agency denied special tax status to conservative groups. Her emails have been sought by members of Congress and conservative groups alike.
One of those groups, Judicial Watch, has been seeking emails as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed two years ago. Originally, the IRS said the email trail was permanently lost because the computer drive that contained it crashed. However, the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration or TIGTA, was able to retrieve 6,400 emails which it has subsequently sent to the agency. It is these emails that the IRS wants to check for duplicates. Continue reading
Abuse of executive powers threatens democracy
by Adam Kredo • Washington Free Beacon
President Barack Obama’s abuse of executive power privileges has essentially frozen Congress out of the government for the past six years, leading to foreign policy disasters across the globe and systemic domestic problems, according to Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.), who blasted the White House’s abuse of power during a speech on the Senate floor Monday evening.
Perdue, in his first wide-ranging speech from the Senate floor, blasted what he said is the Obama administration’s unprecedented abuse of the presidency and failure to set America on stable path.
“Unbridled use of executive orders and regulatory mandates has basically allowed this president to run the country without Congress for the past six years,” Perdue said, according to text of his speech. Continue reading
by Jonathan S. Tobin • Commentary
When conservatives protested President Obama’s attempt to go around the Constitution and rule by executive orders rather than with the consent of Congress, his defenders had a ready answer. While they insisted that Obama’s fiat granting amnesty to five million illegal immigrants did not exceed his authority, they also countered by saying that the president had actually issued far fewer such executive orders than that of President Bush. But, as USA Today noted last week, focusing only on executive orders while ignoring the far more numerous executive memoranda issued by this administration that have the same effect as law, the press and the public have vastly underestimated the extent of how far he has stretched the boundaries of executive power. If anything, this president’s effort to create a one-man government may have gone farther than we thought. Continue reading
By Joseph Curl • The Washington Times
In the weeks after voters cast a vote of no confidence on President Obama and his fellow Democrats, the president has gone on a scorched-earth campaign, unilaterally declaring amnesty for some 5 million illegal aliens, firing the only Republican in his Cabinet and rolling out a new federal rule dubbed “the most expensive regulation ever.”
Yes, this is the real Barack Obama, the one Americans cast their votes against Nov. 4 in an election in which the president had declared his agenda most definitely “on the ballot.” Continue reading
The Obama administration has tarnished nearly every major federal agency.
by Victor Davis Hanson • National Review
Many have described the Obama departure from the 70-year-old bipartisan postwar foreign policy of the United States as reminiscent of Jimmy Carter’s failed 1977–81 tenure. There is certainly the same messianic sense of self, the same naïveté, and the same boasts of changing the nature of America, as each of these presidents was defining himself as against supposedly unpopular predecessors. But the proper Obama comparison is not Carter, but rather Warren G. Harding. By that I mean not that Obama’s scandals have matched Harding’s, but rather that by any fair standard they have now far exceeded them and done far more lasting damage — and without Obama’s offering achievements commensurate with those that occasionally characterized Harding’s brief, failed presidency.
The lasting legacy of Obama will be that he has largely discredited the idea of big government, of which he was so passionate an advocate. Almost every major agency of the federal government, many of them with a hallowed tradition of bipartisan competence, have now been rendered either dysfunctional or politicized — or both — largely because of politically driven appointments of unqualified people, or ideological agendas that were incompatible with the agency’s mission.
The list of scandals is quite staggering. In aggregate, it makes Harding’s Teapot Dome mess seem minor in comparison. Continue reading
by Editorial Board • Investor’s Business Daily
An aide to the attorney general accidentally calls the office of the House Oversight Committee chairman, asking for help in spinning the defense of the agency whose head just said they obey the law when they can.
We have commented many times of the all-too-cozy relationship between the IRS and Democratic members of the House and Senate, with members writing to the agency demanding that specific conservative groups and political action committees they find particularly irritating be subject to the “special scrutiny” that the Tea Party and other conservative and religious groups were subjected to in the ongoing scandal.
Of particular interest to us has been Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., ranking member on Rep. Darrell Issa’s House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, who has made every effort to keep the committee from finding out the true extent of IRS corruption and abuse of power in its targeting of conservatives.
As we’ve noted, emails released by Issa, a California Republican, show that Cummings’ Democratic staff had requested information from the IRS’ tax-exempt division, the one headed by Lois Lerner, on True the Vote, a conservative group that monitors polling places for voter fraud and supports the use of voter IDs, something that Cummings opposes. Continue reading