The problem isn’t so much the inter-state and international policies that seem so contentious with Congress. Rather, all the social engineering nonsense brought in by the Progressives.
Go read the rest
The problem isn’t so much the inter-state and international policies that seem so contentious with Congress. Rather, all the social engineering nonsense brought in by the Progressives.
Go read the rest
Wednesday on Newsmax TV’s “The Steve Malzberg Show,” former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson said the Obama administration is refusing to tell Congress where the ten of thousands of unaccompanied minors who crossed the U.S.-Mexican Border this summer were sent after they were processed though holding centers along the border.
Attkisson said the Obama administration seems to be intentionally stonewalling by not answering letters from members of Congress or reporters questions.
She added the only recourse is a FOIA lawsuit that will take years to go though the system.
A working group of lawmakers appointed by Speaker John Boehner is poised to recommend deploying the National Guard, amending a 2008 law requiring a lengthy deportation process, bringing in temporary judges to reduce a legal backlog and new border security measures to the GOP version of an emergency spending bill planned for floor consideration before the August recess.
Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), the leader of the working group, briefed Republicans at a closed-door meeting Tuesday, reporting on their trip to Guatemala and Honduras over the weekend where they met with each country’s president and from which tens of thousands of unaccompanied children are streaming across the southern U.S. border.
“The presidents of both countries, I met with them, our group met with them, they want their children back,” he said. “They’re saying, ‘please, send our children back!’” said Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), a member of the working group and a key conservative lawmaker.
On the trip, the group was briefed by U.S. general John Kellly on the Mexico-Guatamala border. While witnessing individuals openly swim across the river border there, Kelly told lawmakers that drug cartels – some involved in financing terrorism operations – were directing and reaping the profits from sophisticated smuggling operations that had advertised the leniency of U.S. laws.
“There’s no doubt that the message went out, go cross the border now, the United States won’t do anything about it,” Granger told reporters after briefing colleagues. “That came, primarily, from the coyotes who were transporting these kids. These coyotes, it’s really something we weren’t prepared from, they sort of advertised – they actually advertise – as social workers. We’re going to help you take your kids out of the poverty and the danger they have in these countries and put ‘em in the United States where they will receive an education and be taken care of.”
Granger said she was surprised to learn that in Guatemala coyotes are charging between $6,000-$9,000 per person. Salmon said the group was told one coyote was making $50,000 a week smuggling children into the United States.
Since October more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained illegally crossing the southern border into the U.S. The vast majority of the illegal minors are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Last week President Obama requested $3.7 billion in emergency appropriations to deal with the crisis, but Republicans have rejected the figure and set about crafting their own response.
“In terms of priorities, we’re on different planets,” Salmon said about the president’s border ask.
At a press conference following the meeting, Boehner himself was circumspect about his views on how to address the issue. Asked about his ideas for addressing the crisis, Boehner said “I’ve got lots of them.”
Rep. Hal Rogers, the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee who is in charge of crafting the actual legislation to be considered on the House floor, declined to say how much the GOP bill would spend, but said it would be less than the $3.7 billion the president has asked for.
“Well, we’re trying to put together a bill, first off, that makes sense and we can afford and does the right thing – humanitarian-wise and regarding the border,” Rogers said. “I am hopeful as we go along that this will become a bipartisan effort – and bicameral.”
He noted that the goal is to pass the bill before the August recess.
In the hours before the working group makes its final policy recommendations, the key issue still under discussion are proposals to help secure the border. One option under discussion is language from a bill sponsored by working group member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The bill has drawn fire from key immigration hawks, including the Heritage Foundation and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
McCaul said the bill was under discussion for inclusion in the proposal.
“Border security is part of this – a big part of this. The McCaul bill is going to be a big factor, that’s all I can tell you,” said Rep. John Carter (R-TX), another member of the working group.
“I think border security issues are going to be part of it,” Salmon said. “Whether it’s going to be that language or some other language remains to be seen.”
On the general approach of the group’s policy recommendations, McCaul said “We want to swiftly and humanely return them to their home. Only until we do that will we stop the flow. So we need a message of deterrence. We need to look at more border security measures. We’re going to need a surge of judges, whether it be retired judges or special masters to process these cases more expeditiously, because it takes four or five years now. We’re looking at all of those components and working with the countries of origin in terms of their capacity to take these kids back, and also with Mexico and Guatemala to help secure their southern border so they can’t make that journey through Mexico.”
He added, that as Boehner and others have pushed, the group will “certainly” be including the deployment of the National Guard in its proposal. Granger said that the National Guard proposal will be an important factor.
“We’ve got border patrol people trying to do a good job but they’re so overwhelmed by the number of people coming across that they’re taking care of children and filling out forms, and so we need National Guard to add more bodies to what’s happening at the border” Grander said, adding that immigration cases need to be adjudicated much more quickly.
“An average case with someone coming across the border illegally, going through the process we have will take between a year and half to as long as five years. Well with 57,000 unaccompanied children, that’s just unacceptable,” she continued. “So we’ve got to change that. Which means, changing not the process so much but adding the people that help with that process – more judges to hear those cases, there’s some – not adding permanent, but often time retired judges. There are different categories that can do that to make sure that that goes faster.”
Salmon reiterated the need to “plug the holes” with the National Guard, where Border Patrol has been moved to deal with children.
“It’s not that you have to have more people to catch them. But the cartels are playing bait and switch,” he said. “Make no mistake, it is the cartels that are basically overseeing these coyotes that are smuggling in the people and they are making a ton of money off of this.”
After the House GOP Conference meeting, members of the working group said they were on their way to meet with Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson.
The working groups’ recommendations will come as Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) works with Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) on a separate bill to deal with the crisis by, in part, change a 2008 human trafficking law that has made removing unaccompanied minors from Central America very difficult.
The pair’s legislation would, according to Cornyn, “improve the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008, treating all unaccompanied minors equally and ensuring Due Process under the law in a timely, fair manner.”
According to Brady, the bipartisan bill has been “well-received” and many Republicans have pointed to the 2008 law as ripe for tweaks. Indeed, Salmon, one of the most conservative members on the working group, introduced a bill to alter the law last week.
However, the bill is drawing scrutiny from conservative outside groups who are anxious about the details of legislation drafted and enacted in a crisis environment.
Just as the IRS tea party targeting scandal was erupting, Lois G. Lerner warned colleagues to “be cautious” about what information they put in emails because it could end up being turned over to Congress, according to an email message released Wednesday.
The 2013 email exchange between Ms. Lerner and fellow employees at the Internal Revenue Service also says that instant message conversations were probably never stored and weren’t checked during open-records requests – even though they also fell under the law requiring electronic records to be stored.
“I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails — so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” Ms. Lerner wrote in an April 9, 2013, message.
She went on to ask whether the instant message communications were stored automatically. When a tech staffer said no but the records could be stored if employees copied them, she replied, “Perfect.”
“Why did it take us this long to get these emails? We’ve been after this for six months,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, the Ohio Republican who raised the emails with IRS Commissioner John Koskinen at a hearing Wednesday.
Mr. Jordan said the emails were part of a pattern of Ms. Lerner trying to hide her activities, following on the crash of her computer hard drive two years earlier, which erased thousands of messages.
Mr. Koskinen said he hadn’t seen the email before but questioned the connections Mr. Jordan was drawing.
“I don’t see anything in here where Lois Lerner says, ‘Wow, I got rid of my earlier emails and now I’ve got to check on it,’” the commissioner said.
Ms. Lerner’s email warning to colleagues to be careful about what they said in electronic communications issued less than two weeks after the IRS internal auditor shared a draft report with the agency accusing it of targeting tea party and other conservative groups.
A month after the email, Ms. Lerner would plant a question at a conference to reveal the scandal, just before the inspector general’s report was made public.
Ms. Lerner’s email was turned over to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, more than a year after lawmakers sought it as part of their investigation into the IRS targeting.
Republicans said the email shows Ms. Lerner was aware that Congress was investigating the agency and that she was preparing to intentionally hide agency discussions from lawmakers.
Ms. Lerner’s email record has become a major scandal in and of itself after the IRS revealed that her computer hard drive crashed in 2011, causing the agency to lose thousands of her messages.
The IRS tried to recover some of the messages by asking others on the email chain to dig through their mailboxes, but the agency acknowledged that some messages may be permanently lost.
Some Republicans have questioned whether the IRS took enough steps to try to recover the emails from the hard drive in 2011.
The head of the National Archives testified to Congress that the IRS likely broke federal records laws by not storing Ms. Lerner’s emails properly.
IRS policy was to print out emails that constituted official records, but it’s unclear whether that ever happened.
Mr. Koskinen testified to Congress that he believed Ms. Lerner had printed out some emails. But Ms. Lerner’s attorney, William W. Taylor III, told the Politico online magazine that she didn’t know she was required print out emails and therefore did not do so.
On Wednesday, Mr. Taylor released a statement saying that “is not entirely accurate” and blamed a “misunderstanding.”
“During her tenure as director of Exempt Organizations, she did print out some emails, although not every one of the thousands she sent and received,” Mr. Taylor said.
“The facts are that Ms. Lerner did not destroy any records subject to the Federal Records Act, she did not cause the computer assigned to her to fail, and she made every effort to recover the files on the computer,” the lawyer said.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is refusing to answer Congress’ questions about the existence of a secret terrorist “hands off” list that is said to have permitted individuals with terrorist ties easy entrance into the United States.
The existence of the hands-off list was first publicized earlier this month by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), who released a cache of internal DHS emails detailing the list’s existence and a discussion about permitting an alleged member of the Muslim Brotherhood to enter the United States.
The revelation that individuals tied to terrorists were given special treatment drew outrage among lawmakers and led U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), one of the agencies involved with the list, to hold a closed-door briefing with Grassley’s staff last week, according to a senior Senate source with knowledge of the meeting.
The Washington Free Beacon has further reported that the documents are part of a larger campaign by DHS and its former head Janet Napolitano to purge the internal security records of potentially hundreds of terror suspects, allowing them to more easily travel in and out of the United States.
When questioned by Grassley’s staff last week during the closed-door briefing, CBP officials refused to answer multiple questions about the purported “hands off” list, according to Grassley spokeswoman Beth Pellett Levine.
“The briefing on Tuesday yielded next to nothing,” Levine told the Free Beacon.
CBP officials would not address the specific emails detailing the “hands-off” list and maintained that no such record existed.
CBP’s attempts to explain “the discrepancy” between the internal emails released by Grassley – which specifically mentioned the existence of such a list – and the official denials by CBP leaders were “unpersuasive,” according to Levine.
CBP officials further refused to get “into details of the case,” making it virtually impossible for the senator’s staff to get concrete answers about the controversial list.
Grassley’s staff is currently working to organize “a more detailed briefing” during which specific details of the list can be revealed, according to Levine.
When asked about the briefing Wednesday, a CBP spokesman directed the Free Beacon to DHS for comment. DHS did not respond to multiple requests seeking comment on the issue.
The release of the heavily redacted communications – which were sent between CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – have sparked a debate about the Obama administration’s oversight of the nation’s borders.
Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon and had reviewed unredacted versions of the emails indicated that many files pertaining to foreign terror suspects might have been purged by DHS. Congressional investigators are said to be currently looking into the matter.
The specific emails released by Grassley detail an argument over the admittance to the United States of one alleged Muslim Brotherhood official who has been tied to Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terror groups.
While the individual in question had his name blacked out in the redacted emails, the Free Beacon reported that the person referenced is Jamal Badawi, a Canadian Islamist leader who has praised suicide bombing and is close to Hamas and Hezbollah.
“I’m puzzled how someone could be a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation trial, be an associate of [redacted], say that the U.S. is staging car bombings in Iraq and that [it] is ok for men to beat their wives, question who was behind the 9/11 attacks, and be afforded the luxury of a visitor visa and de-watchlisted,” one official wrote in the May 2012 emails released by Grassley.
“It doesn’t appear that we’ll be successful with denying him entry tomorrow but maybe we could re-evaluate the matter in the future since the decision to de-watchlist him was made 17 months ago,” the email said.
One of the unnamed officials later said: “Based on a review of the statements of the subject, I think it is clear that he [Badawi] meets the definition of endorsing and inciting.”
Grassley has been seeking to determine “how many people are on the ‘hands off’ list mentioned in the email” and “what qualifies someone to receive the ‘hands off’ designation?” according to a letter he sent to DHS officials.
Citizen journalist James O’Keefe from Project Veritas was on The Kelly File last night to discuss his latest undercover video released Tuesday. James was reporting from the Cannes Film Festival in France where he held a press conference today.
O’Keefe told Megyn Kelly he was contacted by members of Congress regarding his latest anti-fracking report.
James O’Keefe: I think the nefarious thing about this film we did was they’re trying to stop our energy independence. And those Hollywood figures Ed Begley Jr., Mariel Hemmingway are OK with that and what’s worse is they’re using non-profit groups and (C)(3) groups to cover up from where the funding is coming from. Is that illegal? I know the senate has been investigating that very issue. So there are some serious issues here about the coverup of the funding and about how many movies in Hollywood are funded by these mystery groups.
Megyn Kelly: You tweeted out today that a senate committee has reached out to you over possible non-profit participation and coverup of this video. Is that true have you been reached out to by lawmakers?
James O’Keefe: I have been reached out to by lawmakers. I’m not allowed to give too much information at this point.
The powerful House Ways and Means Committee will get everything from disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner’s email account since a few weeks before Barack Obama became president.
And Republican committee members are hoping they’ll find a smoking gun tying the Obama administration to the years-long scheme to play political favorites with nonprofit groups’ tax-exemption applications.
After eight months of back-and-forth stonewalling, the IRS has agreed to turn over the complete contents of Lerner’s email account, along with other documents that two congressional committees have been demanding.
‘If there’s not a Holy Grail email in this round of documents,’ a senior staffer to a Ways and Means committee member told MailOnline, ‘then we’re not going to find it.’
‘Whether that’s because Lerner covered her tracks or because the IRS is shredding documents, we’re probably never going to know.’
The committee’s chairman, Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp, seems eager to put his staff to work sifting through thousands of messages in search of an explanation for the program that has been a major embarrassment to the White House.
‘This is a significant step forward and will help us complete our investigation into the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups,’ Camp said Friday.
‘From the few Lerner documents we have received, we know that Washington, DC orchestrated the targeting of groups applying for tax-exempt status, surveillance of existing tax-exempt groups and formed the proposed 501(c)(4) rules designed to push conservative groups out of the public forum.’
Camp warned the IRS in a February 24 letter that he would start issuing subpoenas if the agency didn’t turn over the documents he wanted.
The IRS has proposed a rewrite of its regulations governing communications restrictions on ‘public benefit’ organizations that are exempt from paying federal income taxes.
That redesign of the rules began long before Lerner herself exposed the IRS’s pattern of holding up right-wing groups’ applications, often with dozens of intrusive questions over several years.
The effects of the agency’s desired rule change would be substantial: Organizations would be prohibited from emailing information, or publishing anything online, about candidates’ voting records during the last 60 days before an election.
Tea party groups, which began their rise to prominence five years ago, comprised most of the organizations that the IRS targeted beginning in 2010. Their political free-speech concerns have driven more than 146,000 public comments to the IRS, demanding that the regulatory revisions be scrapped.
Cleta Mitchell, a board member of the American Conservative Union Foundation, said Friday during that organization’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference that the new rules would affect the event where she was speaking.
‘It would mean that in even-numbered years, CPAC could have no speakers who are candidates for office,’ she said, dumbfounded.
Mitchell, an attorney, is representing some of the tea party groups in lawsuits related to the IRS targeting scheme.
The House Oversight Committee, chaired by California Rep. Darrell Issa, has cast a larger public shadow than Ways and Means has on the IRS targeting scandal.
Lerner has appeared before Issa-led hearings twice, both times invoking her Fifth Amendment rights and refusing to testify, despite President Obama’s insistence in a February interview that the IRS displayed ‘not a smidgen of corruption’ in the damaging episode.
Becca Glover Watkins, the Oversight Committee’s communications director, told MailOnline that Issa’s and Camp’s committee staffers are working hand-in-hand.
‘The Oversight Committee and the Ways and Means Committee have worked in partnership during the course of this investigation,’ Watkins said.
‘We expect the IRS will also be delivering a copy [of the complete Lerner files] to the Oversight Committee.’
A spokesperson for the Ways and Means Committee told MailOnline that it was the new IRS Commissioner, John Koskinen, who broke the inertia after months of requests.
‘We have been asking for the materials for months, and after many discussions the new IRS Commissioner has said the IRS will comply with the request,’ said the committee’s Sarah Swinehart.
Lerner ‘was clearly at the center of the IRS targeting and was running it out of the Washington, D.C. office,’ she added. ‘We expect her documents to provide a fuller picture of this.’
Koskinen took over the tax agency on December 23, ending a 13-month period during which two interim commissioners served as caretakers.
The IRS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.