Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor whose father and brother have both occupied the White House, announced Tuesday he is considering running for president in 2016.
Bush said on his Facebook page that after talking it over with his family during Thanksgiving, he has decided to formally explore a run.
“As a result of these conversations and thoughtful consideration of the kind of strong leadership I think America needs, I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States,” he wrote. “In January, I also plan to establish a Leadership PAC that will help me facilitate conversations with citizens across America to discuss the most critical challenges facing our exceptional nation.”
Bush said the purpose of his political action committee would be to “support leaders, ideas and policies that will expand opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.”
“In the coming months, I hope to visit with many of you and have a conversation about restoring the promise of America,” he added.
Bush’s decision will likely please some Republicans who are looking for some sort of established leader to win the White House from presumed Democratic frontrunner, former first lady, senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But it will also likely lead to grumbling among conservative Republicans who say Bush is too moderate. The former governor has been outspoken in his defense of the Common Core State Standards, a major conservative sticking point.
On Monday, the Christian Science Monitor reported that radio host Mark Levin called Bush a “very good moderate Democrat,” and that former GOP presidential candidate Pat Buchanan said Bush is “too moderate for the Republican base.”
Clinton has not officially announced that she is exploring a run or that she will run. Bush is the first GOP candidate to explore a run, and former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) is the only Democrat to take the same step.
Conservatives who had wanted to see language to block President Obama’s executive actions inserted into the massive, must-pass government funding bill are expressing frustration and anger at House Republican leadership’s lack of an appetite to fight amnesty now.
“The fix is in, which I’ve been saying all along,” Rep. Matt Salmon said after leaving the GOP’s conference meeting Wednesday morning.
Tuesday night the House Appropriations Committee posted its $1.1 trillion spending package. The measure is expected to receive a vote Thursday. If no funding bill is passed by that night, the government would shut down.
“Promises around here – regardless of who they are made by – don’t seem to mean anything,” Salmon told reporters.
He explained that lawmakers’ phones have been “lighting up” with constituents asking them “do what [they] were elected to do.”
The Arizona lawmaker is spearheading an amendment with other conservative lawmakers to attach an amendment to the funding bill that would prohibit funding for Obama’s executive amnesty. His spokesman estimated to Breitbart News that the amendment currently has 55 co-sponsors. The amendment is, however, unlikely to receive a vote.
Leadership’s spending package instead is designed to fund most of the government through September, but only fund the Department of Homeland Security into February, when Republicans will have more reinforcements in the Senate to pursue a fight against Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
“Without a threat of a government shutdown, this sets up a direct challenge to the president’s unilateral actions on immigration when we have new majorities in both chambers of Congress,” House Speaker John Boehner explained to reporters.
Conservative lawmakers Wednesday not only expressed frustration with the short amount of time given to consider the 1,603 page bill and the fact that it does not defund executive amnesty immediately, but they also questioned whether leadership would actually give a full-fledged fight next year.
“What is there to suggest that a few months from now you will oppose the amnesty that you have today funded?” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), also a co-sponsor of the defund amendment, asked.
“My biggest concern is that there are a significant number of Republicans who support amnesty, they just don’t support the way in which the president did it. That is a big distinction,” the Alabama conservative said.
Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), another of the defund amendment’s co-sponsors, told Breitbart News that his constituents have been calling him to support of defunding executive amnesty.
According to Fleming “an avalanche” of calls from constituents could move the needle to get more members to push for defunding amnesty now.
“That’s what it takes. Otherwise I think Republicans are at serious risk of going out there and supporting something the American people do not support,” Fleming said.
He anticipated that many of the co-sponsors of the defund amendment will vote no on the package.
“For every one of us they’re going to have to find one [Democrat],” Fleming said.
Some of the ability to fight Obama on executive amnesty will be lost if House Republicans go along with allowing it to be funded, if only for a short time, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) argues.
“My point is you either defend the Constitution when the president violates it or you lose some of your ability and traction to do so later,” King said. “I think its better to fight now than it is later. So therefore I have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, that’s for this Congress and I expect to be standing on the floor January 6th taking another one. I don’t want to have voted to fund the lawless, unconstitutional act by the president and then I could take an oath and mean it.”
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), another defund amendment co-sponsor, said stopping amnesty is “the issue of the day,” saying the executive actions will already be implemented come next year when leadership hopes to have the fight against them.
“That’s probably impossible to undo it in late February. This idea we’re going to take it up next year, it’s too late if you’re going to wait until after the DACA has been implemented,” he argued.
The defund amendment will be presented to the House Rules Committee by another leader in the effort, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), later Wednesday according to Salmon’s spokesman.
While Salmon told reporters he “is sure [Rules] won’t” accept the amendment, he stressed that conservatives still have to try. He added that he still expected the overall funding measure to pass despite the opposition from conservatives frustrated over funding amnesty.
King told Breitbart News that he is not co-sponsoring the Salmon and Mulvaney effort but will instead try to get the House Rules Committee to take up an effort that that goes even further, to target not only Obama’s most recent executive amnesty but also DACA and the Morton Memos.
“Somebody’s got to preserve our constitutional argument and if I don’t bring my amendment there is a concession,” he explained.
New documents obtained through a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show former IRS head of tax exempt groups Lois Lerner met with the Department of Justice Election Crimes Division as early as October 2010, just one month before the historic 2010-midterm elections when Republicans regained control of the House and at the peak of the tea party movement.
From Judicial Watch:
As result of a court order, the DOJ last month produced only two pages of heavily redacted emails (832 pages were withheld in entirety) that show the Obama Justice Department initiated an October 8, 2010, meeting between the IRS and top criminal prosecutors at the DOJ Public Integrity Section and Election Crimes Division “concerning 501(c)(4) issues.” On September 29, 2010, a DOJ official (whose name is blacked out) emailed a staff assistant at the IRS (whose name is also redacted):
“As we discussed this afternoon, we would like to invite Ms. Ingram [apparent reference to Sarah Hall Ingram former commissioner, IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities] to meet with us concerning 501(c)(4) issues, and propose next Friday at 10:00 a.m. We are located in the Bond Building, 12th Floor, New York Avenue, NW, Thank you for your assistance.”
The document shows that the unknown DOJ official setting up the meeting is with the Election Crimes Division of the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ’s Criminal Division. (Judicial Watch believes the redacted name of the DOJ official is Richard Pilger, Director of the Election Crimes Division.) The DOJ email setting up the IRS meeting is cc’d to the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section Chief, Jack Smith, and Principal Deputy Chief Raymond Hulser. The documents show that Ingram was not available but arranged for her deputy, Lois Lerner, then-Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations branch, to meet with the DOJ senior officials.
On September 30, 2010, the Election Crimes prosecutor emails Lerner:
“Hi Lois-It’s been a long time, and you might not remember me, I’ve taken on [REDACTED] duties. I’m looking forward to meeting you, Can we chat in advance? I’m a [REDACTED]”
Lerner responded on October 2, 2010:
“Sure-that’s a good Idea [sic]. I have a meeting out of the office Monday morning, but will try you when I get back sometime early afternoon. You can try me at 202 283-8848.”
The Justice Department has withheld in full at least 832 additional pages of documents, citing various “taxpayer privacy,” “deliberative privilege,” and other exemptions to keep the records secret.
“These new documents dramatically show how the Justice Department is up to its neck in the IRS scandal and can’t be trusted to investigate crimes associated with the IRS abuses that targeted Obama’s critics. And it is of particular concern that the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, which would ordinarily investigate the IRS abuses, is now implicated in the IRS crimes. No wonder the Department of Justice under Eric Holder has done no serious investigation of the Obama IRS scandal,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “It is shameful how Establishment Washington has let slide by Obama’s abuse of the IRS and the Justice Department. Only as a result of Judicial Watch’s independent investigations did the American people learn about the IRS-DOJ prosecution discussions of Obama’s political enemies and how the IRS sent, in violation of law, confidential taxpayer information to the FBI and DOJ in 2010. Richard Nixon was impeached for less.”
As a reminder, previously reported emails show Lerner was in contact with DOJ officials about criminally prosecuting members of tea party groups for “lying” about political activity, with an end goal of getting at least one person thrown in prison to prove a point.
It wasn’t just the IRS targeting conservative groups, DOJ was heavily involved too.