Trump Administration Launches ‘Operation Legend’ to Stem Surge in Violent Crime

The Trump administration is deploying federal law-enforcement agents to Kansas City, Missouri, to help stem a recent surge in violent crime across the country as part of a program dubbed “Operation Legend,” Attorney General William Barr announced Wednesday.
The program is named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro who was killed while he slept when someone shot into his home on June 29 in Kansas City.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday that the new program is aimed at reducing violence, pointing to the current violence plaguing Kansas City. In a statement, the justice department said it was created as a result of President Donald Trump’s promise to assist cities that have hit by a recent string of violence.
McEnany said the program is also a response to a letter sent by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas to Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, which said that the city is “at a crisis point.”

Attorney General William P. Barr Announces Launch of Operation Legend https://t.co/Ml2cua5yks
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) July 8, 2020

Kansas City was reporting 99 homicides as of Wednesday. With nearly half a year left, that puts the city on track to far exceed last year’s total of 150.
Under the program, Barr will, in the coming weeks, direct over 100 federal agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshal Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to the region to assist and work alongside state and local officials and law enforcement agencies to combat the surge of violent crime.
McEnany said they will be on the ground in the next 10 days.
Barr in a statement described the fatal shooting of LeGend last month as “a horrifying reminder that violent crime left unchecked is a threat to us all and cannot be allowed to continue.”
The 4-year-old was shot around 2:30 a.m. as he slept, and he died shortly later.

LeGend Taliferro, a four-year-old boy who was shot and killed on June 29th in Kansas City, Mo. (DOJ/Supplied)
McEnany noted that LeGend survived heart surgery as an infant before he “tragically lost his life.”
“We at the federal government want to make sure that never happens and use our resources to the fullest extent of the law to ensure individuals and young children like LeGend are able to live their lives and live so peacefully,” she said.
“President Trump has made clear: the federal government stands ready and willing to assist any of our state and local law enforcement partners across the nation responding to violent crime,” Barr said, noting that Kansas City is currently experiencing its worst homicide rate in its history.
Responding to news of the new initiative, Kansas City mayor Lucas said the effort “can be only one tool out of many” needed in addressing the problem of violent crime.
“As I said in my letter sent last week to Governor Parson that was cited by the White House this afternoon, ‘[W]e will continue to pursue a broad set of social services and other tools to address violent crime now and in the future,’” he said in a statement. “As mayor, I remain committed to working on all solutions to making our city safer and finding peace for all those impacted by violent crime.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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UK Court Rules Against Steele Dossier Author Over ‘Inaccurate or Misleading’ Claims

A British court on July 8 ordered Christopher Steele to pay damages to Russian businessmen who sued him over claims in one of the memos in Steele’s infamous dossier.
In a lengthy opinion, High Court of England and Wales Justice Mark Warby ruled that Steele and his company, Orbis Business Intelligence, failed to properly verify one of the claims in the memo before disseminating it and ordered Steele to pay more than $22,000 each to two of the three claimants.
Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan filed a lawsuit against Steele in May 2018, challenging a series of claims he made in Memorandum 112 of his dossier. The judge determined that all of the challenged claims “are inaccurate or misleading as a matter of fact.”
The judge’s ruling against Steele was limited to one of the five claims challenged by the Russian businessmen. Steele took due care to verify the other four claims, the court found. 
“We are delighted with the outcome of this case and that Mr. Justice Warby has determined what we have always known to be the case – that the contents of Memorandum 112 are inaccurate and misleading,” Fridman said in a statement. 
“Ever since these odious allegations were first made public in January 2017, my partners and I have been resolute and unwavering in our determination to prove that they are untrue, and through this case, we have finally succeeded in doing so.”
The judge determined that Steele accurately recorded what he had been told by his source. Warby’s decision is the first legal defeat for Steele, who has faced a battery of legal challenges since the release of the dossier in early 2017.
“Orbis BI are grateful for Justice Warby’s clear and detailed ruling in this case and will ensure that our company’s data handling data handling procedures incorporate his various findings going forward,” Steele’s company said in a statement.
Steele’s dossier contained a series of memos claiming that then-candidate Donald Trump colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee ultimately paid for Steele’s work. The FBI used the dossier in late October 2016 to obtain a warrant to spy on a former Trump campaign associate.
In Memorandum 112, Steele claimed that Fridman, Aven, and Khan—all associates of Alfa Bank—had shadowy links to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Steele was directed to research and write the memo by Fusion GPS, the company that hired him for the dossier work. 
The three men’s potential connections to Putin were of interest to Fusion GPS, the firm came into possession of information on an alleged link between Alfa Bank and Trump Tower. Linking Alfa Bank to Putin would thus bolster the overall thesis of collusion between Trump and Russia. 
The FBI investigated the alleged Alfa Bank–Trump Tower link and found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Last month, Fridman, Aven, and Khan lost an appeal of a dismissal of a defamation lawsuit against Steele in a U.S. court.
The British court proceedings yielded new details about Steele’s meetings with senior U.S. government officials during the 2016 election. The former British intelligence officer told the court that he became convinced that the FBI and the U.S. State Department worked closely together on the bureau’s investigation of the Trump campaign.
A growing body of circumstantial evidence now suggests that Steele’s dossier played a role in the opening of the investigation against the Trump campaign, codenamed Crossfire Hurricane. The probe morphed into the special counsel investigation headed by Robert Mueller, who, after a 22-month inquiry, concluded there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

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Trump Meets Mexican Leader to Celebrate USMCA

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump hosted Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the White House for the first time on July 8 to celebrate the launch of the new North American trade agreement known as USMCA.
The two leaders met to discuss the strategic cooperation between the two countries on both trade and immigration.
“The relationship between the United States and Mexico has never been closer than it is right now,” Trump said at the Rose Garden before signing a Joint Declaration with his counterpart. The Declaration aims to bolster economic and security cooperation.
He noted that “people were betting against” a good relationship between both leaders.
“Each of us was elected on the pledge to fight corruption, return power to the people, and put the interests of our countries first,” Trump said.
TheU.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) took effect on July 1, opening a new chapter in North American free trade. Known as T-MEC in Mexico, USMCA has strong labor provisions and promotes investment in the North American supply chain.
Trump called the agreement “the largest, fairest, and most advanced” and said that it would “bring countless jobs from overseas, back to North America.”
“Our countries will be very big beneficiaries. We are already seeing the fruits because it started,” he said.
The USMCA comes at a crucial time since it may encourage businesses to bring their production closer to home and advance economic decoupling from China. The pandemic has further accelerated the need to reshore to the United States, or nearshore to Mexico and Canada, supply lines, according to experts.
“This agreement is a great option to produce, create jobs, and foster trade without having to go so far away from our homes, cities, states, and nations,” Lopez Obrador said.
He pitched Mexico, saying his country has an “extremely valuable” asset, which is its “very young, creative, and responsible labor force.”
USMCA replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which entered into force under President Bill Clinton in 1994.
The agreement contains new “rules of origin” on cars, which incentivize production in North America. It also promotes the use of high-wage labor, which is expected to make U.S. and Canadian workers more competitive vis-a-vis Mexican workers.
This is the Mexican president’s first foreign visit since he took office in late 2018. The 66-year-old leftist president traveled to Washington on a packed commercial plane, according to a Twitter post, showing him sitting in coach and wearing a facemask.
Lopez Obrador published a book titled “Listen, Trump” before his election in 2018 and labeled Trump as “erratic and arrogant” in his book. After he took office, however, both leaders publicly praised one another.
Trump touted Lopez Obrador for his cooperation in stopping the illicit cross border flow of drugs, guns, cash, and contraband, as well as human trafficking.
“We’re forging critical partnerships across the western hemisphere to combat the cartels and the smugglers, and to ensure safe, humane, and lawful migration. And we’ve been helped greatly by Mexico,” he said.
Lopez Obrador came under criticism in his country for traveling to Washington before the U.S. election, as some feared that he would appear to be supporting Trump in his reelection campaign.
Lopez said Trump had been “increasingly respectful” to Mexicans despite “ideological differences” and “insults” that had happened in the past.
He touted Trump’s support during the pandemic and for providing the critical medical equipment needed.
“You have not tried to treat us as a colony; on the contrary, you have honored our condition as an independent nation. That’s why I’m here to express to the people of the United States that their President has behaved with us with kindness and respect,” he said towards the end of his speech.
Before his meeting with Trump, Lopez Obrador laid wreaths at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial and Benito Juárez Statue, “historical figures who symbolize the best of politics and the struggle for liberty in both nations,” according to the Mexican Embassy in Washington.

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5 States, DC Sue Education Secretary Over CARES Funding for Private Schools

Several states are suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department in order to block a rule over the amount of federal relief funding set to be transferred from public schools to private schools.
Attorneys general of California and Michigan announced the lawsuit on Tuesday. They were joined by Maine, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia. The plaintiff alleged that the Education Department’s rule siphons resources away from economically disadvantaged public school students and improperly diverted it to private school students, including those from affluent families.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul argued that DeVos’s guidance (pdf) in April goes against the intent of Congress in disbursing federal funds in the CARES Act, which made available over $13 billion to help K-12 students continue their education disrupted by the public health emergency.
“The funds allocated to schools in the CARES Act provide vital support at a time when schools have had to make significant changes to the way they teach students,” said Kaul, reported Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Instead of ignoring congressional intent and diverting funds away from public schools, Secretary DeVos should follow the law.”
Most of the CARES Act money is being distributed to school districts using the Title I formula, meaning that districts with more students from low-income families are getting more relief money. In the June 25 rule, however, DeVos instructed districts to set aside a portion of the CARES money to support private school students based on total enrollments, rather than just the number of low-income students.
“Services under the CARES Act programs can be available for all all students—public and non-public—without regard to poverty,” the rule reads.
“It’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic affected all schools. Likewise … it’s appropriate and reasonable for private schools to receive this funding,” she said. “The DeVos argument is that public schools can portion the funds any way they want within their schools, so private schools should be able to access those funds to serve all of their students, just like the public schools.”
The Education Department on July 1 published an interim final rule, providing school districts two options about how to spend the CARES money. In one scenario, they can distribute funds from CARES Act to all schools regardless of their low-income Title I status, but must also pay for “equitable services,” such as tutoring or transportation, for all private school students. In the other, they can fund only low-income private school students, while also restricting CARES Act funding to low-income Title I-designated public schools, rather than all schools.
Opponents to the idea that public schools have to share emergency funding with private schools remain unsatisfied. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who leads the lawsuit, said Tuesday the new rule represents a “false choice,” arguing that the Congress never intended to make school districts choose between those options in the first place.
“Some of those private schools have already been able to access hundreds of billions of dollars from the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program, unlike California public schools that can’t,” he said.

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US Will Act to Deny China Access to Americans’ Data, Says Pompeo

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration will take steps to ensure the Chinese communist regime does not gain any access to the private information of American citizens through telecommunications and social media, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday when asked if the United States was planning to ban Chinese-owned app Tiktok.
Pompeo also praised U.S. technology giants Google, Twitter Inc., and Facebook Inc. for ‘refusing to surrender’ user data to the Hong Kong government and urged other companies to follow suit, after China’s establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.
Speaking two days after he said Washington was “certainly looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, Pompeo said the U.S. evaluation was not focused on a particular company but that it was a matter of national security.
“The comments that I made about a particular company earlier this week fall in the context of us evaluating the threat from the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo said. He added that Washington was working to ensure that Beijing does not gain access to any private data or health records of Americans.
“So what you’ll see the administration do is take actions that preserve and protect that information and deny the Chinese Communist Party access to private information that belongs to Americans,” he said.

The logo of the Tiktok app. (Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. lawmakers have raised national security concerns over TikTok’s handling of user data, saying they were worried about Chinese laws requiring domestic companies “to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”
On Monday, Tiktok told Reuters it has never provided user data to China. The app, which is not available in China, has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience.
Pompeo’s remarks also come amid increasing U.S.-China tensions over the communist regime’s handling of the CCP virus outbreak, which started in Wuhan, its actions in the former British colony of Hong Kong, and a nearly two-year trade dispute between the United States and China.
Pompeo reiterated the need for allies and the international community to help shape a global telecoms infrastructure free of the Chinese government’s influence.
“The infrastructure of this next hundred years must be a communications infrastructure that is based on a Western ideal,” he said.
By Humeyra Pamuk
Epoch Times Staff contributed to this report.

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Biden Says Some Funding Should Be Redirected From Police Departments

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden said Wednesday that some funding should be redirected from police departments as some activists and Democrats have called to “defund the police” in the wake of protests and riots across the United States in recent weeks.
Biden, 77, was asked by an activist about whether some police funding needs to be redirected.
“But do we agree that we can redirect some of the [police] funding?” Ady Barkan, the activist, asked Biden.
“Yes, absolutely,” Biden responded in a video published by NowThis. “One of the things that we also need to be doing is fundamentally changing way we deal with our prison system,” the former senator from Delaware added. “It should be a rehabilitation system, not a punishment system. We’re going to make sure you’re qualified for every single right you had before you went to prison if you served your time.”
Adding further, Biden said police departments do not need surplus military equipment, claiming that it leads them to “become the enemy” in a community.
Specifically, he also called for the ending of no-knock warrants and improving transparency in departments.
“This whole idea of no-knock warrants in drug cases is bizarre, it just invites trouble,” Biden said. “There’s a fundamental need for transparency and access to police records when they have misconduct charges against them.
Following calls to abolish or defund the police last month, Biden’s campaign and other top Democrats in Congress said departments shouldn’t be defunded. Numerous Black Lives Matter protesters have chanted the slogan or spray-painted it on buildings and monuments.

People paint the exterior of the Seattle Police Department’s abandoned East Precinct in Seattle, Wash., on June 19, 2020. (David Ryder/Getty Images)
“As his criminal justice proposal made clear months ago, Vice President Biden does not believe that police should be defunded,” Biden campaign Rapid Response Director Andrew Bates said several weeks ago. “He hears and shares the deep grief and frustration of those calling out for change, and is driven to ensure that justice is done and that we put a stop to this terrible pain.”
He said that Biden supports the “urgent need for reform,” including more redirecting policing funds to public schools, mental health and drug abuse treatment programs, and summer programs.
Trump 2020 campaign rapid response director Andrew Clark wrote—following Biden’s comments in the video on Wednesday—that it appears as if “Biden has changed his position on defunding the police.”
A staffer for Biden’s campaign, Andrew Bates, appeared to deny that the candidate has changed his position. “Biden is running on *more* COPS funding for community policing,” he wrote.
“I’d like to thank Donald Trump – for hiring an illiterate comms staff. Biden is running on *more* COPS funding for community policing,” Bates, Biden’s director of rapid response, shot back. “The same sentiment you’re taking out of context RE: local budgets is *in* the articles about him opposing defunding.”
Last month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that encourages police departments to improve training, more certification and credential requirements for officers, information sharing on officials who have been subject to excessive use of force complaints, and co-responder programs that will send health professionals alongside officers during certain situations.
“I strongly oppose” the “radical” effort to dismantle and disband police forces, Trump said at the time, while noting that crime levels are at historic lows across the United States.

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Not All GOP Senators Will Attend the 2020 Republican National Convention

Several Republican Senators have said they will not attend next month’s Republican National Convention in Jacksonville Florida, owing to a variety of reasons.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have all said that they will not attend the GOP convention, as reported by The Hill.
Collins said she will not attend the National Convention because she is up for reelection. This year, Collins is in a race that could determine which party takes control of the Senate majority in the next term.
Romney, Grassley, and Murkowski’s office did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times to confirm their reasons for not attending.
Sens. Romney and Murkowski have had clashes with President Trump; Sen. Murkowski was against Obamacare’s repeal and the nomination of Supreme Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Sen. Romney voted to impeach Trump.
The three GOP senators are the latest Republican lawmakers to say that they do not plan to attend the convention in August.
“I’m not going to go. And I’m not going to go because of the virus situation,” Grassley told The Des Moines Register and others.
A Republican who is retiring this year, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), also said Tuesday that he would not attend the National Convention.
“Senator Alexander is an honorary chair of the Tennessee Trump campaign, but he will not be attending the convention because he believes the delegate spots should be reserved for those who have not had that privilege before as he has had,” the statement said.
Republicans changed the venue of their convention due to concerns from the North Carolina Governor about social distancing during the pandemic.
The convention’s new location, Florida has been seeing an increase in its number of CCP virus cases over the last couple of months. According to the Florida Department of Health, “On July 6, 16.27 percent of new cases tested positive and there are a total of 213,794 Florida cases, with 3,841 total deaths related to the CCP virus.
Many other GOP senators have indicated that they plan on attending the event, barring any changes to the guidelines set by the CDC.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told reporters in early July that he hadn’t yet made a decision on whether he was attending the convention.
“Yeah current state of affairs and exactly what my role would be and whether I’d really have any use or not, and what kind of social distancing, what kind of precautions are being taken,” Johnson told the TV station.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told Ohio reporters last month that he wanted to decide closer to the date of the convention. “We’ll see where we are in late August,” Portman said. “If I go, I’m going to go taking precautions.”
Meanwhile, some spokespeople have confirmed their senator is attending, including Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mitch McConnell (R-Ala.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.).
Braun wrote in a tweet on July 7, “I campaigned with President Trump in 2018, where he helped expand our Senate majority- and touted his policies to Make America Great Again. I’ll be at the  @GOPcovention in Jacksonville with @realDonaldTrump where we will kick off the 2020 campaign to  #KeepAmericaGreat!”

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Trump Threatens to Withhold Money From Schools That Don’t Reopen

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he may cut off funding to schools that don’t reopen from lockdowns imposed by governors across the nation.
Most schools in the United States remain closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Democrats believe it would be “bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but [it] is important for the children & families,” Trump, a Republican, wrote on Twitter.
“May cut off funding if not open!” he added.
The president noted that schools in a number of countries, including Germany, Denmark, and Sweden have reopened, and asserted those countries are not experiencing problems linked to the reopenings. A Dutch research institute said this week that children play a minor role in the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
Trump said a day prior that he would pressure governors to reopen schools.
Secretary of Health Alex Azar said at a White House roundtable on Tuesday featuring students, administrators, teachers, and health officials that schools can reopen safely.

An aerial view of the empty schoolyard at Tenderloin Elementary School in San Francisco, Calif., on March 18, 2020. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
“It’s really simple practices of common sense. It’s social distancing. It’s wearing face coverings when you’re in a setting that you can’t social distance. And it’s practicing good, personal hygiene. The tools are there to bring our kids back safely, to protect our teachers and our staff, and it’s time to do it now,” he said.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield said all schools are encouraged to do what they need to reopen.
“CDC never recommended general school closure, throughout this pandemic. We see schools as a vital part of this society, and we think as you measure the different risk, we would see the great risk to our society is to have these schools closed,” he told people at the roundtable.
The CCP virus primarily spreads respiratory droplets released when infected people talk, cough, or sneeze, the health agency says on its website. It’s also believed to spread when someone touches a contaminated surface and then touches their nose and mouth.
Recommendations for schools include having students wear face coverings, teaching proper handwashing techniques, and urging students and staff members who feel sick to stay home.
Trump said in another social media statement that he disagrees with the CDC on their reopening guidelines for schools.
“While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!” he added.
A number of health experts are recommending schools reopen to in-person instruction, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.
The group said in a policy statement that it “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

Two children wait near their parents for the beginning of fireworks near the Washington Monument on July 4, 2020. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)
“The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020,” the group said.
School administrators told Trump during the roundtable that they’re ready to open.
“We’re ready to go,” said Jeff Beardon, superintendent at Forsyth County Schools in Georgia. “We’ve been planning and preparing all summer [and] we will have guidelines in place. Our students need to be back at school.”
Others aren’t sure if schools should reopen in the fall.
“How do I keep my 55-year-old teacher from getting sick, who has diabetes and maybe some underlying health problems and they’re not discussing that and that’s what they need to discuss now,” Pat Gardner, president of the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association, told WUSF.
Florida’s Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said this week that schools must reopen in August.
Gardner said that teachers “are scared to death” and want to know whether there will be government funds to buy masks and face shields.

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Trump Impeachment Witness Alexander Vindman to Retire From Army

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified in the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, is retiring from the Army.
“Today I officially requested retirement from the US Army, an organization I love. My family and I look forward to the next chapter of our lives,” he wrote in a statement.
As a former White House national security official with a specialty in Ukrainian affairs, he was escorted from the White House premises earlier in the year, coming months after he provided testimony about Trump’s July 25, 2019, phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksy. Some of Vindman’s testimony was disputed by his superior, Tim Morrison, in the inquiry.
Trump was eventually acquitted by the GOP-controlled Senate after the House voted to impeach him along partisan lines.
Vindman’s lawyer, David Pressman, said that Vindman is leaving “after it has been made clear that his future within the institution he has dutifully served will forever be limited.”
“The President of the United States attempted to force LTC Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a President. Between honoring his oath or protecting his career. Between protecting his promotion or the promotion of his fellow soldiers. These are choices that no one in the United States should confront, especially one who has dedicated his life to serving it,” Pressman said, according to The Hill.
The Department of Defense and White House haven’t responded to requests for comment.
Earlier this month, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) confirmed she will block every single military promotion unless Secretary of Defense Mark Esper promises not to block the promotion of Vindman.
“Our military is supposed to be the ultimate meritocracy. It is simply unprecedented and wrong for any Commander in Chief to meddle in routine military matters at all, whether or not he has a personal vendetta against a Soldier who did his patriotic duty and told the truth—a Soldier who has been recommended for promotion by his superiors because of his performance,” she said in a statement.

Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) participates in a mock swearing-in with then-Vice President Joe Biden during the opening day of the 115th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 3, 2017. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Earlier this year, Trump said the military might “take a look at” whether Vindman should face punitive measures after he was dismissed from his position. But Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in February there are no plans to investigate him.
“We brought him back. So he’s got basically a bridging assignment for a couple of months within an [headquarters of the Department of the Army] assignment, and then he will be heading to a senior service college this summer. There’s no investigations into him,” he told reporters at the time.
Vindman testified in November 2019 that he raised concerns about the Trump-Zelensky call. Morrison, his boss at the National Security Council, later told the House Intelligence Committee that other staffers viewed Vindman as unreliable and prone to leaking information. Meanwhile, he confirmed Vindman didn’t keep him “in the loop at all times” when he asked by the Republican counsel. Vindman also did not immediately speak to Morrison about his concerns about the July 25 phone call, Morrison asserted.

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Mexican President to Hold First Meeting With Trump as US Election Looms

WASHINGTON—Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador will meet with his U.S. counterpart, President Donald Trump, for the first time on Wednesday.
The meeting is ostensibly meant to celebrate a new North American trade deal, but friction over illegal immigration and energy investment in Mexico could surface as the two men get together on Wednesday afternoon.
Lopez Obrador is being joined by a delegation of business officials, including Mexico’s richest man, telecoms magnate Carlos Slim. They will dine on Wednesday evening with Trump and American business executives at the White House.

President Donald Trump speaks with Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott (R) as they participates in a ceremony commemorating the 200th mile of border wall at the international border with Mexico in San Luis, Ariz., on June 23, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Ongoing Mexican support for Trump’s immigration policies is likely to feature prominently on the agenda, as well as how to mitigate coronavirus disruptions and keep goods flowing between the neighbors, whose economies are deeply entwined.
It is unclear if Trump will address disputes between U.S. companies and Lopez Obrador’s government, which is rolling back a 2013-14 opening of the energy industry in favor of a state-led model, and has called a number of major contracts into question.
A senior Trump administration official said Mexico’s government had pledged to uphold those contracts.
“So, we are certainly hoping that they will keep their word,” the official said in a briefing with reporters.
The trip, Lopez Obrador’s first foreign visit since taking office in late 2018, saw him travel commercially to Washington. One video posted on Twitter on Tuesday showed him wearing a face mask and flying coach on a packed plane.
The summit was pitched to mark the July start of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump has called a “nightmare” that cost American jobs.

Mexico’s Treasury Secretary Arturo Herrera (L) Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland (2L) Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (C) Mexico’s top trade negotiator Jesus Seade (2R) and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, hold the documents after signing an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement, at the national palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Dec. 10. 2019. (Marco Ugarte/AP Photo)
But the two-day gathering was scaled back to a single day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to join, amid new U.S. threats of tariffs on Canadian goods.
Lopez Obrador’s critics and some U.S. Democrats say Trump wants to use the meeting to drum up support among Hispanic voters ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election. Opinion polls show Hispanic voters favor Trump’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.
Lopez Obrador will not meet Biden during the trip.
By Arshad Mohammed

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State Department: International Students Welcome on Campus if Classes Aren’t All Online

The U.S. State Department on July 7 said that foreign students are welcome on campus in the United States this fall semester provided that colleges do not hold all classes online.
It follows the release of guidelines by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday that said international students will be required to leave the country or transfer to another college if their schools offer classes entirely online come fall 2020.
In a press release published Tuesday, a spokesperson for the department said Homeland Security plans to make “temporary modifications” to F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant visa requirements for the fall 2020 semester. The visas are for academic and vocational students.
“This will allow a mixture of both in-person and some online coursework to meet the requirements for nonimmigrant student status,” the release states.
This “temporary accommodation,” the spokesperson said, will provide greater flexibility for nonimmigrant students to continue their education in the United States, while allowing for “proper social distancing” on open and operating campuses across the country.
“The United States has long been the destination of choice for international students, and we are pleased that many international students who had planned to study this fall in the United States may still have the opportunity to do so.”
The department noted that foreign students will still have to obtain the appropriate visa and may be subject to other visa processing or travel restrictions due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
“Students should check with the local U.S. embassy or consulate for information specific to their country,” the spokesperson added.
News that foreign students could be forced to leave the United States if classes are held entirely online caused many U.S. colleges to scramble Tuesday to modify plans for the fall semester.
The announcement blindsided academic institutions grappling with the logistical challenges of safely resuming classes, particularly after the federal government had granted exceptions to the rules limiting online learning for foreign students when colleges and universities in March rushed to shutter campuses and move to online classes as the pandemic prompted lockdowns.
There are more than a million foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities, and many schools depend on revenue from foreign students, who often pay full tuition. The State Department issued 388,839 F visas and 9,518 M visas in fiscal 2019, according to the agency’s data.
According to NAFSA: Association of International Educators, during the 2018-2019 academic year, foreign students in the United States contributed nearly $41 billion to the national economy.
ICE said institutions moving entirely to online learning must submit plans to the agency by July 15. Schools that will use only in-person learning, shortened or delayed classes, or a blend of in-person and online learning must submit plans by Aug. 1.
In a statement, Lawrence Bacow, president of Harvard University—which recently announced that all classes would be taught online—said the university is “deeply concerned” by the ICE guidance for international students issued Monday.
“This guidance undermines the thoughtful approach taken on behalf of students by so many institutions, including Harvard, to plan for continuing academic programs while balancing the health and safety challenges of the global pandemic,” Bacow said.
The guidance, he said, imposed “a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach.”
“We must do all that we can to ensure that our students can continue their studies without fear of being forced to leave the country mid-way through the year, disrupting their academic progress and undermining the commitments—and sacrifices—that many of them have made to advance their education.”
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, described the decision by Harvard University to conduct courses online in the coming academic year as “ridiculous.”
“I think it’s ridiculous, I think it’s an easy way out,” Trump said during a roundtable in Washington on reopening schools. “I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves.”
Reuters contributed to this report.

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Trump Rebukes Fauci’s COVID-19 Assessment, Says US in ‘Good Place’

President Donald Trump on July 7 rebuked Dr. Anthony Fauci‘s assessment of the national response to the CCP virus pandemic, saying the United States is in a “good place” in its fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The president said he disagrees with remarks from Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), who said Monday that the status of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic in the country is “really not good” as cases continue to surge nationwide.
“We are still knee deep in the first wave of COVID-19 infections,” Fauci said in a Facebook and Twitter livestream interview with National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins on Monday.
“I think we are in a good place,” Trump said during an interview on the “Full Court Press” news show on Monday. “I disagree with him. Dr. Fauci said don’t wear masks, and now he says wear them.”
He added that the nation’s top immunologist has “said numerous things” including disagreeing with Trump’s ban on travel from China, which was enforced at the end of January.
“I didn’t listen to my experts, and I banned China,” the president said. “We would have been in much worse shape.”
“So we’ve done a good job,” he added. “In two, three, four weeks, by the time we next speak, I think we’re going to be in very good shape.”
Trump, however, acknowledged a recent surge of recorded CCP virus cases in states such California and Florida, but said “many other states are in very fine shape.”
On Sunday, Florida surpassed 200,000 cases, recording its highest number in a single day on July 4 with 11,458 cases—surpassing New York’s highest daily surge of 11,434 in mid-April.
In California, 10,000 positive cases were reported on Tuesday—a record rise for a single day that also surpassed the number of contact tracers recently trained by the state to detect and prevent potential outbreaks. Last month, CCP virus infections in the state more than doubled with over 117,000 new cases.
Cases of infection were overall on the rise in 34 states over the past week, with 12 recording an increase of more than 50 percent, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Three states—Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Vermont—are reporting a decline in cases.
Trump last week encouraged Americans to wear masks in public amid the rise in cases across the United States.
“I’m all for masks. I think masks are good,” Trump told Fox News Business, adding that he doesn’t necessarily support a nationwide mandate for Americans to wear masks. There are “many places in the country where people stay very long distance,” Trump said.
“If I were in a group of people and I was close, I would. I have. People have seen me wearing one, if I’m in a group of people where we’re not 10 feet away,” the president said. “Usually I’m not in that position and everyone’s tested because I’m the president and they get tested before they see me, [but] if I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely,” he added.
Trump said people “should” wear the masks if they “feel good about” doing so.
Venus Upadhayaya, Jack Phillips and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Kanye West Confirms He’s Running for President, Asks Biden and Trump to Drop Out

Rapper Kanye West insisted in a new interview that he is running for president and asked President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to drop out of the race.
West created a stir on July 4 when he announced he’s running for president in 2020. He had previously said he was targeting 2024 for a presidential bid.
The 43-year-old told Forbes in a new interview that he is running, and he’s looking to win.
West is running under a new banner called the Birthday Party. His running mate is Michelle Tidball, a preacher in Wyoming, where West bought a ranch.
West is being advised by his wife, Kim Kardashian-West, and the mogul Elon Musk. West said he offered Musk the position of heading NASA.
He acknowledged that most filing deadlines have passed but said he’s consulting experts to see whether the COVID-19 pandemic would let him file after some of the deadlines.

Kim Kardashian arrives at the Serena Williams fashion show during Fashion Week in New York. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo)
The rapper has been an open supporter of Trump in the past but said he no longer supports him.
The Trump administration “looks like one big mess to me,” West said. “I don’t like that I caught wind that he hid in the bunker.”
Still, West is refraining from running as a Republican, instead joining the race as an independent. And he had some praise for the Republican. “Trump is the closest president we’ve had in years to allowing God to still be part of the conversation,” West, a Christian, said.
Both Trump and Biden should bow out of the race, West said.
Neither campaign responded to a request for comment.

President Donald Trump meets with rapper Kanye West in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Oct. 11, 2018. (Sebastian Smith/AFP/Getty Images)
West harshly criticized Biden, pointing to the former vice president’s claim that black people who support Trump aren’t black. Biden later apologized for what he said.
“A lot of times just like political parties they feel all Blacks have to be Democrat. This man, Joe Biden, said if you don’t vote for me, then you are not Black. Well, act like we didn’t hear that? We act like we didn’t hear that man say that? That man said that,” West said.
Assumptions that West is running to draw black votes from Biden is a form of racism and white supremacy, West said.
“That’s what the Democrats are doing, emotionally, to my people. Threatening them to the point where this white man can tell a Black man if you don’t vote for me, you’re not Black,” he said.
West says he’s pro-life, against the death penalty, supports innovation, and wants to reinstate “the fear and love of God” in schools.
He would also like to end what he described as police brutality.

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Sen. Kelly Loeffler, WNBA Co-Owner, Opposes League’s Plan to Promote ‘Black Lives Matter’

A U.S. senator who co-owns a women’s basketball team says she opposes the WNBA’s plan to promote “Black Lives Matter.”
“I was incredibly disappointed to read about efforts to insert a political platform into the league,” Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) wrote in a letter to Cathy Engelbert, the commissioner of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
“The lives of each and every African American matter, and there’s no debating the fact that there is no place for racism in our country. However, I adamantly oppose the Black Lives Matter political movement, which has advocated for the defunding of police, called for the removal of Jesus from churches and the disruption of the nuclear family structure, harbored anti-Semitic views, and promoted violence and destruction across the country,” she added.
The political movement isn’t aligned with the values and goals of the league and the Atlanta Dream, the team she co-owns, Loeffler asserted.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) walks through Statuary Hall with other senators to the House Chamber for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 4, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
The letter was obtained and published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Loeffler shared the media outlet’s story about the letter on social media.
Loeffler told supporters that the league should stand for and unite around the American flag, “not divisive political movements like BLM that unapologetically seek to defund the police.”
Black Lives Matter, which started in 2013, is pushing for defunding police departments across the United States.
The group also says on its website: “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another.” Supporters of the movement have called for toppling Jesus statues and removing his likeness from churches. Houses of worship have been damaged during protests and riots in recent weeks, some of which are linked to Black Lives Matter.

Layshia Clarendon attends the premiere of ‘Battle of the Sexes’ in Los Angeles, Calif. on Sept. 16, 2017. (Jean-Baptiste Lacroix/AFP via Getty Images)
WNBA Reaction
Reaction around the women’s league was harsh, with many condemning Loeffler.
Layshia Clarendon, who played for the Dream from 2016 to 2018, said she can’t believe she ever visited Loeffler’s house and shared a meal with her.
“It’s actually really hurtful to see her true colors. I had no idea while I played for ATL she felt this way. Happy to own us as long as we stay quiet and perform,” Clarendon wrote in a social media post.
Renee Montgomery, a WNBA player who isn’t playing this year so she can dedicate time to so-called social justice reform, told Loeffler: “I’m pretty sad to see that my team ownership is not supportive of the movement & all that it stands for.”
“I was already sitting out this season & this is an example of why. I would love to have a conversation with you about the matter if you’re down?” she wrote on Twitter.
The Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBPA) said Loeffler should be removed from the league.
Engelbert, the league’s commissioner, said in a statement late Tuesday that the league is based on the principle of equal and fair treatment of all people.
Loeffler, she said, hasn’t served as a governor of the Dream since last year and isn’t involved in the team’s daily business.
Loeffler didn’t respond to a request for comment on the situation.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert speaks at a news conference in Washington on Sept. 29, 2019. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)
WNBA Plan
Loeffler’s letter came a day after WNBA and its players’ association announced the season would begin in late July with a weekend of games centered around the Black Lives Matter movement.
Teams will wear special uniforms featuring the names of people killed in instances of confirmed or alleged police brutality, including Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor.
Throughout the season, players will wear warm-up shirts that say “Black Lives Matter” on the front. The back of the shirts will state: “Say Her Name.”
“Black Lives Matter” will also be prominently displayed on courts during games.
“We are incredibly proud of WNBA players who continue to lead with their inspiring voices and effective actions in the league’s dedicated fight against systemic racism and violence,” Englebert said in a statement.
The league also announced the creation of a social justice council and a new platform, called The Justice Movement.
“The mission of the Social Justice Council is to be a driving force of necessary and continuing conversations about race, voting rights, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and gun control amongst other important societal issues,” the WNBA and WNBPA said in a joint statement.

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Jeff Van Drew Wins GOP Primary in New Jersey, Will Face Amy Kennedy

The U.S. representative who switched parties last year won the Republican primary for his seat on July 7.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) said he switched from the Democrat Party because of its leftward shift.
“I believe that this is just a better fit for me. This is who I am. It’s who I always was, but there was more tolerance of moderate Democrats, of blue-dog Democrats, of conservative Democrats. And I think that’s going away,” he said in the Oval Office after meeting with President Donald Trump.
Van Drew received nearly 81 percent of the vote, with over 50 percent of precincts reporting, cementing a win in his bid for re-election.
Van Drew, 67, faced only one challenger after another switched the district he was running in.
The congressman thanked Trump “for his unwavering support and Republicans throughout South Jersey for the confidence they have placed in me to be their nominee.”

(L-R) Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who has announced he is switching from the Democratic to Republican Party, shakes hands with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on Dec. 19, 2019 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
“Our Republican Party in South Jersey came together and is united as we head into November,” he added in a statement late Tuesday.
Amy Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), won the Democrat primary for New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District.
Kennedy, in her 40s, had just under 60 percent of the vote with about half the precincts reporting.
She launched her bid in January, calling Trump and Van Drew “symptoms of a bigger sickness infecting our country and our politics.”
“Doing what’s right shouldn’t be complicated. Treat one another with respect, show some compassion, and look out for others,” she said in a campaign video.

Amy Kennedy, Education Director of the Kennedy Forum, and wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), speaks during an event in New York City in 2016. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
In a statement after her win was announced, Kennedy thanked her family, community, and other South Jersey residents.
“I am ready to fight with you. I am ready to fight for you. I am ready to take on Jeff Van Drew,” she said.
The district went for Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.
It sits on the southern edge of New Jersey and includes Ocean City and Cape May.
According to election handicapping websites, the district leans Republican.

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US Hits CCP Officials With Visa Bans Over Tibet Access

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration fired a new shot at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on Tuesday by imposing travel bans on party officials it says are restricting foreigners’ access to Tibet.
While waging concurrent battles over Beijing’s policies in Hong Kong, western Xinjiang province, global trade practices, and aggressiveness in the South China Sea, the administration hit an unspecified number of CCP officials with visa restrictions, limiting or entirely eliminating their ability to travel to the United States.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the restrictions in a statement that accused the CCP of systematically obstructing the travel of foreign diplomats, journalists, and tourists to Tibet, an autonomous region of China.
“The United States seeks fair, transparent, and reciprocal treatment from the People’s Republic of China for our citizens,” Pompeo said. “We have taken several steps to further this goal. Unfortunately, Beijing has continued systematically to obstruct travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas by U.S. diplomats and other officials, journalists, and tourists, while PRC officials and other citizens enjoy far greater access to the United States.”
The statement did not identify the officials that have been targeted or give a number of those affected but said the ban would be applied to Chinese government and communist party officials who are found to be “substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas.”
“Access to Tibetan areas is increasingly vital to regional stability, given the PRC’s human rights abuses there, as well as Beijing’s failure to prevent environmental degradation near the headwaters of Asia’s major rivers,” he said.
President of the International Campaign for Tibet, Matteo Mecacci, said in a statement following the announcement: “Through this decision about sanctioning Chinese officials responsible for denying access to Tibet to Americans, the U.S. is sending Beijing a clear message that it will face consequences for its human rights abuses and continued isolation of Tibet from the outside world.
“At the same time, the U.S. government is letting the American people know it will stand up for their rights against China’s discrimination, including the rights of thousands of Tibetan American citizens who simply want the freedom to visit their family members and their ancestral land,” he added.
Congress and the Trump administration passed the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act in 2018.
The action comes after many years of U.S. administrations condemning China for its restrictions on foreigners’ travel to Tibet, where human rights activists say Beijing has engaged in a decades-long campaign to suppress local culture, the Buddhist religion and minorities. Permission to travel to the region is rarely granted, and visitors are subject to strict regulations when it is.
The CCP crushed a Tibetan uprising in 1959, forcing the spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and over 80,000 Tibetans into exile in India and other countries.
By Matthew Lee. The Epoch Times contributed to this report.

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LA City Councilman Jose Huizar Arrested by FBI for Corruption

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Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, 51, was arrested on June 23 at his Boyle Heights home by the FBI for allegedly conspiring to accept roughly $1.5 million in bribes from a Chinese real estate developer trying to curry his favor. Huizar faces 20 years in federal prison.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office revealed on June 23 that the FBI raided Huizar’s Boyle Heights home in 2018, during which time agents seized approximately $129,000 in cash that was stashed in his closet. Some of the money was concealed in red envelopes with Chinese characters. The charges include bribery, honest services fraud, extortion, and money laundering. 
Last month, Huizar’s former special assistant, George Esparza, agreed to plead guilty to a racketeering charge. Court documents filed in connection with Esparza’s plea agreement contend that Esparza helped facilitate more than $1 million in bribes from a Chinese real estate developer who was looking to build a skyscraper in Huizar’s district, The Los Angeles Times reported. In addition to the bribes, the tycoon provided nearly $600,000 to settle a 2013 sexual harassment lawsuit against an unnamed councilmember. In 2014, Huizar settled a sexual harassment lawsuit against him by a former employee, but the terms were never disclosed.

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Republican National Convention Participants Will Be Tested Daily for New Virus

People attending the Republican National Convention will be tested for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus on a daily basis, a Republican familiar with the matter told The Epoch Times.
“The plan for administering testing and other health protocols will be rolled out in the coming weeks. We are committed to holding a safe event, and will be closely coordinating with state and local officials in the months ahead,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Mandi Merritt said in a statement.
The convention is scheduled for Aug. 24 to Aug. 27. Portions of the convention will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina while the other parts will happen in Jacksonville, Florida.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to give a speech accepting the party’s nomination on the last day of the convention in Jacksonville.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said last week that all attendees would be tested.

Attendees are body temperature screened prior to a political rally for President Donald Trump in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20, 2020. (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
“We’re going to test everybody,” McDaniel told Fox News. “We’re going to have temperature checks, we’re going to sanitize.”
Results for some tests can be returned in as rapidly as 15 minutes while other results take hours to process.
A rising case count in Florida has prompted renewed criticism of the event, which is expected to draw thousands to various Jacksonville venues.
Florida reported 7,347 new cases of COVID-19, the disease the CCP virus causes, on Tuesday.
The positivity rate for tests has also climbed in recent days, as has the number of people in hospitals, with the average of daily hospitalizations hitting 380 on Monday. Hospital capacity remains strong.
Duval County, which includes Jacksonville, has seen 9,711 positive cases out of approximately 957,755 residents, and just 70 deaths with COVID-19 so far.
Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters on Tuesday, “As we’ve seen more traffic in hospitals in the past few weeks, we’re seeing a smaller number of residents of long-term care facilities admitted.”

Florida Gov, Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in Miami, Fla., on June 8, 2020. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Getty Images)
“Those residents of the long-term care facilities, when they’re admitted, they have a much, much higher rate of mortality. So to see that decline, that is something very, very positive.”
DeSantis was at a hospital in Miami that the state converted to a 150-bed nursing home dedicated to COVID-19, the 12th such facility in the state. The governor has focused on the older population, which is more vulnerable to the new disease.
Two older GOP lawmakers—Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), 86, and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), 80—aren’t attending the RNC.
Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, was asked on Sunday whether it was safe to hold Trump’s speech in Florida.
“I think it’s too early to tell. We will have to see how this unfolds in Florida and elsewhere around the country,” Hahn said during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican, issued an order on June 29 for people to wear masks both inside and outside when social distancing isn’t possible.
Curry’s order came after hundreds of doctors said in a letter that the Republican National Convention would be “unequivocally provocative of disease, predictably harmful, and medically disrespectful to the citizens of this city, much less the rest of the country.”
They said they want the event postponed. If not, they said, it should be “significantly reduced” in terms of crowd size.

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White House Silent on Signing of Veto-Proof Hong Kong Sanctions Bill

The White House remained silent as of July 7 about whether President Donald Trump would sign the veto-proof bill authorizing the U.S. government to sanction a broad range of people and entities tied to the Chinese Communist Party’s de facto takeover of Hong Kong.
The House and Senate passed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act on July 1 and 2 respectively in response to the Chinese Communist Party’s implementation of a draconian national security law in Hong Kong. 
Five days later, amid an intensifying crackdown in Hong Kong which included the banning of books, the White House was yet to respond to requests to clarify if and when the bill would be signed.
A senior administration official, without addressing the singing of the bill, told The Epoch Times that the “administration continues to implement the President’s directive to end Hong Kong’s special status and take strong and meaningful action against CCP officials involved in smothering Hong Kong’s freedom.”
As an example, the official pointed to the visa restrictions on Chinese officials and their families issued by the State Department on June 26 and the ban on defense equipments and dual-use technology exports to Hong Kong announced on June 31.
“The United States will continue to take strong action against CCP officials complicit in the evisceration of Hong Kong’s freedom,” the official said.
The bill directs the U.S. government to issue mandatory punitive sanctions on foreign persons and financial institutions involved in degrading Hong Kong autonomy. Once enacted, it would be a “death sentence” for financial institutions, according to Gordon Chang, a China expert and author.
“This bill authorizes the government to cut off the sanctioned banks from their dollar accounts. That’s a death sentence to an international bank. This is extremely severe,” Chang told The Epoch Times.
According to a former senior Department of Defense official, bills of similar significance to the one before the president undergo close vetting before the president’s signature. The White House could be going back to the bill’s sponsors in Congress to clarify certain points and fix non-substantive errors. 
No lawmaker in the Senate or House opposed the measure.
“I don’t know,” Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, told The Epoch Times when asked about the delay from the White House. 
“I personally think we ought to be pushing back hard on China in terms of what they’re doing. Going back on agreement they had with the British, when the British turned over Hong Kong with China, the violation of the civil and I would say human rights of the citizens of Hong Kong,” Johnson added. “I hope the president signs that soon.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Monday that the president is considering an executive order on China. Peter Navarro, the White House director of trade and manufacturing policy, on Tuesday declined to share details about the order. 
The Department of State, in response to a question about its June 26 visa restrictions tied to the developments in Hong Kong, declined to provide specifics, including if any CCP officials or family members have been denied entry to the United States.
“We have already identified a number of officials under this new policy, and will continue to consider others,” a State Department spokesperson told The Epoch Times. “Visa records are confidential under U.S. law, therefore, we will not discuss or disclose individual applications of this visa policy.”
The CCP issued a threat to retaliate with visa restrictions of its own, prompting a harsh response from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s threats to retaliate by restricting visas for U.S. citizens exposes once again how Beijing refuses to take responsibility for its own choices,” Pompeo said. “If China wants to regain the trust of Hong Kongers and the international community, it should honor the promises it made to the Hong Kong people and to the United Kingdom in the U.N.-registered 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration.”
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.t

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North Korea Rejects Talks as US Envoy Arrives in Seoul

SEOUL, South Korea—North Korea on Tuesday said it has no immediate intent to resume a dialogue with the United States as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun arrived in South Korea for discussions on stalled nuclear diplomacy.
In a statement released through the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, senior North Korean foreign ministry official Kwon Jong Gun also ridiculed “nonsensical” calls by South Korea for revived negotiations between the United States and North Korea, saying it has lost its relevance as a mediator.
The State Department said Biegun, who is also President Donald Trump’s special representative for North Korea, will discuss cooperation on a range of issues in meetings this week with officials in South Korea and Japan, including the “final, fully verified denuclearization” of North Korea.
Kwon’s statement came hours before Biegun arrived at a U.S. air base near Seoul. The U.S. Embassy said Biegun, members of his delegation, and the military air crew were being tested for COVID-19 at the base and would proceed to Seoul after confirmation that all had negative test results.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun (C) arrives at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, on Dec. 15, 2019. (Lee Jin-man/AP Photo)
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have met three times since embarking on high-stakes nuclear diplomacy in 2018. But negotiations have faltered since their second summit in February last year in Vietnam, where the Americans rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capability.
Amid the stalemate in talks, North Korea has repeatedly said in recent months that it would no longer give Trump the gift of high-profile meetings he could boast of as foreign policy achievements unless it gets something substantial in return.
North Korea has also been dialing up pressure on the South, cutting off virtually all cooperation and blowing up an inter-Korean liaison office in its territory last month, following months of frustration over Seoul’s unwillingness to defy U.S.-led sanctions and restart joint economic projects that would help the North’s broken economy.
“Explicitly speaking once again, we have no intention to sit face-to-face with U.S.,” Kwon said in the statement.

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands before their one-on-one chat during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam on Feb. 27, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)
Some analysts believe North Korea will avoid serious talks with the Americans for now and instead focus on pressuring the South in a bid to increase its bargaining power before an eventual return to negotiations after the U.S. presidential election in November.

North Korean vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui (C) arrives for a press conference at Melia hotel, following the U.S.-North Korea summit, in Hanoi, Vietnam, early on March 1, 2019. (Huy Phong /AFP via Getty Images)
Kwon’s statement came days after North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Sun Hui, whom Biegun has described as his potential counterpart when talks resume, insisted the North won’t resume negotiations unless Washington discards what it describes as “hostile” policies. She criticized the Trump administration for considering diplomacy with the North as “nothing more than a tool for grappling its political crisis.”
Without naming him outright, Kwon also took a jab at Moon, who in a video conference with European leaders last week expressed hope that Trump and Kim would meet again before the U.S. elections.
“(Choe’s) statement also mentioned the meddlesome man who had again indicated his intention to arbitrate between the DPRK and the U.S.,” Kwon said, referring to North Korea by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“We feel sorry to see (the South) trying so hard to become the ‘mediator’ but it may try as much as it wants if it cherishes so strong wish to try it to the end. Time will show whether its efforts will succeed or it will only suffer a loss and ridicule.”
Biegun is to meet with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha and other South Korean officials on Wednesday before leaving for Japan on Thursday, Kang’s ministry said.
By Kim Tong-Hyung

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Inside the ‘Mischaracterized’ Proposal to Swap Columbus Day for Juneteenth

A proposal to trade the Columbus Day federal holiday for one on Juneteenth was spurred by fears that the latter would be approved by the Senate as a federal holiday with no debate, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told The Epoch Times. “I didn’t want an 11th day for government workers to get paid and the […]

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McConnell Opens Door to More Pandemic Stimulus Checks for Low-Income Americans

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that the next round of pandemic legislation may include more stimulus payments to help, namely, low-income Americans.
When he was asked about whether more direct payments would be included, the Kentucky Republican said it “could well” have them. He then said that certain people who make less than a certain amount per year have been hit the hardest by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
“I think the people who have been hit the hardest are people who make about $40,000 a year or less. Many of them work in the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry, as all of you know, just got rim-racked—hotels, restaurants—and so that could well be a part of it,” McConnell told reporters.
It’s not clear if McConnell was suggesting whether the $40,000 income would be the cut-off point for the stimulus payments.
McConnell’s suggestion of a more targeted approach to sending out direct payments may find bipartisan support.
“I think the next round we’ve got to be more targeted to those who are really in need. So I hope we can target this a little bit better to those who have been hit hard because of COVID-19,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told reporters of a second stimulus payment.
Elaborating further on the timeline, McConnell said he would put forward his own legislation after the Senate returns on July 20.

President Donald Trump’s name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, in San Antonio, Texas, on April 23, 2020. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)
“I’ll be unveiling something which will be a starting point in a few weeks and we’ll be dealing with the administration and the Democrats,” McConnell said.
“I can’t comfortably predict we’re going to come together and pass it unanimously like we did a few months ago,” he added. “The atmosphere has become more political than it was in March, but I think we will do something. The country needs one last boost.”
He reiterated that the next stimulus legislation will likely be the last.
“This will have to be the last rescue package, because we now have a debt the size of our economy for the first time since World War II. We cannot keep doing this,” McConnell said.
The new comments came several days after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nearly 5 million new jobs were added in June. But during the pandemic, more than 40 million people have filed for unemployment as governors implemented statewide stay-at-home orders, leading to the closure of numerous “non-essential” businesses.
The House and Senate left for a nearly three-week recess starting last week. They will return on July 20, coming just days before expanded unemployment insurance payments of $600 per week are set to end

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Removal of Confederate Statues Inserted Into Funding Bill

A House panel on Monday released a funding bill that includes a directive to remove all Confederate statues and busts from public areas in the U.S. Capitol.
The House Appropriations Committee included language directing the architect of the building “to remove statues or busts in the U.S. Capitol that represent figures who participated in the Confederate Army or government, as well as the statues of individuals with unambiguous records of racial intolerance,” a summary released by the panel said.
Statues of three men—Charles Aycock, John C. Calhoun, and James Paul Clarke—were specifically mentioned, while the bust of a fourth, Roger B. Taney, was also singled out in the draft (pdf).
The statues and bust should be kept in storage until arrangements are made to return them to the states that sent them to the capitol, according to the bill.
Aycock, a Democrat, served as the governor of North Carolina from 1901 to 1905. The statue was given by the state in 1932.

House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) speaks in Washington on May 28, 2020. (Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Calhoun, a Democrat, of South Carolina was vice president from 1825 to 1832. His statue arrived in Washington in 1910.
Clarke, a Democrat, was a U.S. senator representing Arkansas for 13 years. His statue arrived in 1921.
Taney, who switched from the Federalist Party to the Democratic-Republican Party, was the chief justice of the Supreme Court for nearly three decades. A statue of Taney was removed from outside the Maryland State House in Annapolis in 2017 by order of Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican.
Each state sends two statues to be presented in the U.S. Capitol and the law at present forbids removal of the statues without the state’s approval.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) started pushing to remove Confederate statues last month, saying they “pay homage to hate.”

Two women take pictures in front of the statue of US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney in a photograph before it was removed, in Annapolis, Md., on Aug. 16, 2017. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), chairman of the Joint Committee on the Library, argued that states have already started replacing some of the statues in question. He later blocked a bill that would remove all Confederate statues from the capitol.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in March introduced legislation with Rep. David Trone (D-Md.) to remove the bust of Taney and replace it with a bust of Thurgood Marshall, former associate justice of the Supreme Court.
The representatives noted that Taney wrote the majority opinion in the Dred Scott v. Sanford case, which said African Americans couldn’t be citizens of the United States.
“In Maryland we made the decision to remove a statue of Taney from the State House grounds, reflecting his shameful contribution to the evil system of slavery and its defense, and we ought to do the same here,” Hoyer said in a statement.
Hoyer said a vote on the legislation will take place later this month.

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Congress Looking at Narrowed Perimeters for Distributing Remaining PPP Funding

Lawmakers are considering stricter perimeters for small businesses to qualify for the second round of PPP funding. Lawmakers will iron out the specifics of these restrictions upon returning from recess on July 20.
Congress extended the deadline for small businesses to apply for the potentially forgivable loans from June 30 to Aug. 8. Approximately $130 billion in allocated funding has not been used.
The $670 billion PPP fund was created by Congress in March to provide pandemic relief to small businesses with 500 or fewer employees. These loans are forgivable if the businesses use funds for payroll costs and expenses such as interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) chairman of the Small Business Committee was recently asked by reporters about including a method to measure which businesses qualify for additional PPP funds.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) talks to reporters after the Senate voted on the budget agreement at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Aug. 1, 2019. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
“I think everyone understands that’ll have to be a part of it in the second round … So I think that’ll most definitely, in my view, be a part of it,” said Rubio.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told The Hill she also agrees that additional restrictions would be included in the second round of PPP aid.
“It would have a revenue-loss test … and it would probably also have a lower number of employees” as a ceiling to qualify, Collins told The Hill about the next coronavirus bill.
Collins indicated that it was their goal to have a draft by the time lawmakers return to Washington on July 20.
Since implementing the pandemic relief for small businesses, lawmakers have been looking at ways to improve the program to ensure those businesses that most need the funds actually get them.
Lawmakers recently changed the loan application date, since the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt and businesses are still not fully reopened. Congress also changed the allocation that the Treasury had established using 75 percent of the funds for payroll to 60 percent after businesses’ needs were taken into account.
The PPP has gotten bipartisan praise as being successful, but it has also come under fire because, during the program’s initial stage, some large corporations disclosed that they were able to use loopholes to qualify for funds.
“We have all heard the stories — stories of big businesses with thousands of employees that found loopholes to qualify for these loans, universities with massive endowments accepting these loans, and even small businesses taking these loans when they haven’t seen a downturn in their revenue,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.).
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he supports using the remainder of the money in the PPP to create a new round of the program but wants a more targeted approach.
“Let’s try and direct future financial aid to those workers those businesses that truly need it, and particularly those businesses that really are viable, can reopen, might need more capital, we just need to be smarter about how we approach it moving in the future,” Johnson said on CNBC.
The pandemic required, “we had to do something massive I think, by and large, that worked, but now we need to focus and really direct what we’re going to do in the future, based on what we’re dealing with right now,” added Johnson.
Lawmakers are currently negotiating ways to repurpose the leftover funds that would help smaller, hardest-hit businesses to tap into a more targeted second round of assistance. Senate Democrats have introduced a bill to permit small businesses to take out a second loan if they have 100 employees or fewer, including sole proprietorships and self-employed individuals, and have used up an initial PPP loan, or be on pace to exhaust the loan.
“The first round was to get money out quickly to save small businesses. The second round needs to be targeted to those small businesses that really need the help. That’s why our legislation targets it to small businesses under 100 workers, those that have economic needs that can be demonstrated,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the Small Business Committee.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Jan. 16, 2019. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Cardin and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) are working with Rubio and Collins on what the second round of PPP should look like.
Similarly, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, told reporters on June 30 that he’s working on a more targeted approach for the $130 billion.
“My preference is that we hold on to the $130 billion that was in use and rather than having a revert, using that to fund the second round of assistance to small businesses. Obviously we’ll have to be more targeted at truly small businesses,” Rubio told reporters.
“I’m very concerned that a lot of minority businesses, particularly black-owned businesses already struggling to begin with, have access to capital.”

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CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google to Testify Before Congressional Panel

The CEOs of four of the largest technology companies in the world have agreed to appear before a congressional panel later this month.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Sundar Pichai of Google, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook will face questioning from lawmakers in Washington on July 27 at noon.
“Since last June, the Subcommittee has been investigating the dominance of a small number of digital platforms and the adequacy of existing antitrust laws and enforcement,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said in a joint statement.
“Given the central role these corporations play in the lives of the American people, it is critical that their CEOs are forthcoming. As we have said from the start, their testimony is essential for us to complete this investigation.”
The hearing is part of the Judiciary Committee’s probe of competition in the digital marketplace.
Lawmakers have been looking into the issue since last year.

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) speaks in Washington on June 25, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Nadler, Cicilline, and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the ranking member of the Antitrust Subcommittee, in September 2019 sent document requests to the four tech companies as part of the probe.
“The documents requested will provide the Committee with a better understanding of the degree to which these intermediaries enjoy market power, how they are using that market power, whether they are using their market power in ways that have harmed consumers and competition, and how Congress should respond,” Nadler said at the time.
The investigation is focusing on documenting competition problems in digital markets, examining whether dominant firms are engaging in anti-competitive conduct, and assessing whether existing antitrust laws, competition policies, and current enforcement levels are adequate to address these issues.
The investigation isn’t linked to the Trump administration’s efforts to curb the power of social media platforms, which are shielded from most liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Those efforts are opposed by Nadler, who said in May that Trump was wasting taxpayer dollars dealing with “internet companies who are finally trying to address misinformation on their platforms.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies before the House Judiciary Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington on Dec. 11, 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Twitter in particular has increasingly become involved in politics, hiding and placing warnings on some content that President Donald Trump has posted in recent months while taking no action against his presumed challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.
The Department of Justice in mid-June unveiled a series of legislative proposals that are meant to update what the agency said was “outdated immunity for online platforms.”
Attorney General William Barr called the censorship of some content by tech companies “very disturbing,” adding: “These companies held themselves out as open to all comers. That’s how they built up all their membership and their networks, saying, you know, we have a wide variety of views. People can come in and post their views and their positions and their statements.”
“Then they have switched. Now they’re being more selective, and they’re starting to censor different viewpoints,” he said.
The Department of Justice is also conducting an antitrust review into the platforms, which started last year.
Janita Kan contributed to this report.

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US Calls Out Chinese Regime’s ‘Orwellian Censorship’ on Hong Kong

The U.S. Department of State late Monday issued a statement strongly condemning the Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown on free speech in Hong Kong, following reports that pro-democracy books have been pulled from libraries in the city.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s destruction of free Hong Kong continues,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement. “With the ink barely dry on the repressive National Security Law, local authorities—in an Orwellian move—have now established a central government national security office, started removing books critical of the CCP from library shelves, banned political slogans, and are now requiring schools to enforce censorship.”
“Until now, Hong Kong flourished because it allowed free thinking and free speech, under an independent rule of law.  No more.
“The United States condemns Beijing’s repeated failure to live up to its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and these latest assaults on the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department, in Washington, on July 1, 2020. (Manuel Balce/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Hong Kong was handed back from British colonial rule to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 with the express guarantee under the Sino-British Joint Declaration that the city’s high degree of autonomy and essential freedoms would be preserved under the principle of “one country, two systems” until 2047.
However, after a national security law on Hong Kong became effective late on June 30, a growing number of Hongkongers are considering fleeing the city due to fears that the freedoms that had distinguished Hong Kong from China—including freedom of speech—are now no more.

The draconian national security law became effective late on June 30 after ceremonial votes by China’s rubber-stamp legislature. The legislation was written and passed behind closed doors without the consultation of Hong Kong’s legislature or local government.
The law gives Beijing sweeping power to target individuals for any acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with maximum penalties of life imprisonment.
Under the new law, expressed political views that advocate for Hong Kong’s independence or liberation are illegal.
On July 1, the morning after the law was enacted, Hong Kong police arrested 10 people under provisions of the new law. In some cases, they were arrested for holding flags, banners, and flyers that had slogans supportive of Hong Kong independence.

Protesters chant slogans during a rally against a new national security law in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, on the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China. (Dale de la Rey/AFP via Getty Images)
On July 2, the Hong Kong government declared that the popular protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong! Revolution of our times” is illegal because it “connotes” a pro-independent, separatist, and subversive message.
Public libraries have started to review books written by pro-democracy activists to see whether they violate the new law, and according to multiple reports, pro-democracy books have begun to disappear from libraries in Hong Kong.
The national security law also mandates that a new security bureau be established in the city. On July 3, Beijing appointed Zheng Yanxiong, known for his role in suppressing on 2011 anti-corruption protests in the southern village of Wukan, to head the new security bureau—which directly answers to the central government.
“We used to think of ‘secret police’ as something abstract. Now, it is a very real fear,” activist Nathan Law had said at a U.S. congressional hearing on July 1. Law fled Hong Kong to an unidentified location, saying that if he stayed, his “speech and appearance would put my own safety in serious jeopardy, given the circumstances.”
On July 4, Hong Kong police confiscated an American flag from a protester during a local demonstration celebrating July Fourth, citing breach of the new law.

Police remove a woman holding a US flag from outside the US consulate during a march to celebrate US Independence Day in Hong Kong on July 4, 2020. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images)
Hongkongers have been getting creative in voicing dissent in the wake of the new law. Examples include using CCP slogans in a satirical manner, relying on wordplay to communicate messages against the CCP, using Mao quotes for new Lennon walls, or simply holding blank pieces of paper.
The U.S. Congress on July 2 unanimously approved legislation that would impose sanctions on Chinese officials who violate Hong Kong’s autonomy, as well as banks that do business with those officials.
Eva Fu and Reuters contributed to this report

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Grassley Won’t Attend GOP Convention, Citing ‘Virus Situation’

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on Monday that he will not attend the Republican National Convention this year due to the CCP virus pandemic, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. “I’m not going to go. And I’m not going to go because of the virus situation,” Grassley said on Monday morning in a conference call […]

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‘Regain Control of Your Own Streets’: Maryland Governor to Baltimore City Leaders

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Sunday urged Baltimore city leaders to regain control of their own streets after rioters toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus in the city over the weekend.
“While we welcome peaceful protests and constructive dialogue on whether and how to put certain monuments in context or move them to museums or storage through a legal process, lawlessness, vandalism, and destruction of public property and completely unacceptable,” Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement.
“This is the antithesis of democracy and should be condemned by everyone, regardless of their politics,” he added. “Baltimore City leaders need to regain control of their own streets and immediately start making them safer.”

Today I issued the following statement on events in Baltimore City. City leaders need to regain control of their own streets and immediately start making them safer. pic.twitter.com/lnCAxjKvAG
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) July 5, 2020

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.
Lester Davis, a spokesperson for Young, pushed aside Hogan’s criticism, saying it is “not productive and not helpful” in a statement obtained by The Baltimore Sun.
Violent demonstrators used ropes to topple the Christopher Columbus monument on Saturday night near the Little Italy neighborhood before throwing it in the city’s Inner Harbor. The statue was owned by the city and dedicated in 1984 by former Mayor William Donald Schaefer and former President Ronald Reagan.
Davis told The Sun the toppling of the statue is a part of a national and global reexamination over monuments “that may represent different things to different people.”
“We understand the dynamics that are playing out in Baltimore are part of a national narrative,” he said.

A statue of Christopher Columbus is lifted onto the back of a truck as people sing and celebrate at the Minnesota state Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., on June 10, 2020. (Evan Frost/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)
Rioters have taken advantage of protests triggered by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day, and have called for the removal of statues of Columbus, Confederate figures, and others.
Statues of Columbus have also been toppled or vandalized in cities across the country, including in Miami, Florida; Richmond, Virginia; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Boston, Massachusetts, where rioters removed the statue’s head.
And in Rochester, New York, a statue of black abolitionist Frederick Douglass was torn down over the weekend.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order to protect monuments, memorials, and statues on June 26. And in another executive order on July 3, he announced that his administration will build and rebuild monuments to honor American heroes, including Douglass.
Willful destruction of federal property can be penalized up to 10 years in jail, he said in the June 26 executive order.
The Associated Press contributed to the report.

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US Can Continue Workplace Reopenings Safely Despite Rise in CCP Virus Cases: Labor Secretary

Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said on Sunday that the United States can move forward in workplaces reopening despite more new COVID-19 cases being reported.
“Yes, we have new cases, we have to keep an eye on that,” he said during an interview with Fox News. “I believe that we can continue to reopen our workplaces safely. Our workplaces can be very safe places to be.”
“We can reopen while the virus is still there,” he added.
Scalia said he’s optimistic about the reopenings because of the job report.
U.S. unemployment rate fell to 11.1 percent as the economy added a record 4.8 million jobs in June, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Meanwhile, more stimulus measures are needed to keep the economy on track.
More discussion will happen toward the end of July about a phase four stimulus package that is supported by the president.
The president also wants a payroll tax cut, he said.

A customer walks out of a U.S. Post Office branch and under a banner advertising a job opening, in Seattle, Wash., on June 4, 2020. (Elaine Thompson/AP Photo)
According to governmental data collected by Our World in Data, the new deaths from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus in America have passed the peak and show a clear downtrend, though new cases have grown slowly in recent weeks.
The Trump administration attributed the increase in new cases to increased testing.
“New China Virus Cases up (because of massive testing), deaths are down, ‘low and steady,’” Trump wrote in a Twitter post on Monday.

New China Virus Cases up (because of massive testing), deaths are down, “low and steady”. The Fake News Media should report this and also, that new job numbers are setting records!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 5, 2020

The labor secretary suggested that the rise in new cases could also partly caused by reopenings, but that the administration is in better shape to handle it now than a few months ago.
“We knew that as people came out of their homes, emerged from their basements and alike, we knew that cases would go up,” he said. “[but] we are far, far better prepared to deal with those cases now … We have the equipment, the hospital beds now to deal with the situation. So this is something that we can manage.”
However, he emphasized individual responsibility and precautions underscored by President Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Pence.
“It will get more challenging if people don’t take that seriously,” he said.

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Trump Considering Executive Orders on China, Immigration, Manufacturing

President Donald Trump is considering a number of executive orders, including one that would help reset the balance between the United States and China, chief of staff Mark Meadows said Monday. “We’re going to be looking at how we make sure China is addressed, how we bring manufacturing back from overseas to make sure the […]

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Transcripts: President Trump’s Speeches During Fourth of July Weekend

President Donald Trump spoke twice during the July 4th weekend, once at Mount Rushmore and once in Washington.
Trump trumpeted American exceptionalism and the legacies of the likes of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln while promising to expose so-called cancel culture and protect monuments against agitators who are trying to tear them down.
See the transcripts below, courtesy of the White House.
Trump Speaks at Rushmore
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  And Governor Noem, Secretary Bernhardt — very much appreciate it — members of Congress, distinguished guests, and a very special hello to South Dakota.  (Applause.)
As we begin this Fourth of July weekend, the First Lady and I wish each and every one of you a very, very Happy Independence Day.  Thank you.  (Applause.)
Let us show our appreciation to the South Dakota Army and Air National Guard, and the U.S. Air Force for inspiring us with that magnificent display of American air power — (applause) –and of course, our gratitude, as always, to the legendary and very talented Blue Angels.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)
Let us also send our deepest thanks to our wonderful veterans, law enforcement, first responders, and the doctors, nurses, and scientists working tirelessly to kill the virus.  They’re working hard.  (Applause.)  I want to thank them very, very much.
We’re grateful as well to your state’s Congressional delegation: Senators John Thune — John, thank you very much — (applause) — Senator Mike Rounds — (applause) — thank you, Mike — and Dusty Johnson, Congressman.  Hi, Dusty.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  And all others with us tonight from Congress, thank you very much for coming.  We appreciate it.
There could be no better place to celebrate America’s independence than beneath this magnificent, incredible, majestic mountain and monument to the greatest Americans who have ever lived.
Today, we pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt.  (Applause.)  I am here as your President to proclaim before the country and before the world: This monument will never be desecrated — (applause) — these heroes will never be defaced, their legacy will never, ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom.  (Applause.)
AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!
THE PRESIDENT:  We gather tonight to herald the most important day in the history of nations: July 4th, 1776.  At those words, every American heart should swell with pride.  Every American family should cheer with delight.  And every American patriot should be filled with joy, because each of you lives in the most magnificent country in the history of the world, and it will soon be greater than ever before.  (Applause.)
Our Founders launched not only a revolution in government, but a revolution in the pursuit of justice, equality, liberty, and prosperity.  No nation has done more to advance the human condition than the United States of America.  And no people have done more to promote human progress than the citizens of our great nation.  (Applause.)
It was all made possible by the courage of 56 patriots who gathered in Philadelphia 244 years ago and signed the Declaration of Independence.  (Applause.)  They enshrined a divine truth that changed the world forever when they said: “…all men are created equal.”
These immortal words set in motion the unstoppable march of freedom.  Our Founders boldly declared that we are all endowed with the same divine rights — given [to] us by our Creator in Heaven.  And that which God has given us, we will allow no one, ever, to take away — ever.  (Applause.)
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Seventeen seventy-six represented the culmination of thousands of years of western civilization and the triumph not only of spirit, but of wisdom, philosophy, and reason.
And yet, as we meet here tonight, there is a growing danger that threatens every blessing our ancestors fought so hard for, struggled, they bled to secure.
Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.
AUDIENCE:  Booo —
THE PRESIDENT:  Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our Founders, deface our most sacred memorials, and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.  Many of these people have no idea why they are doing this, but some know exactly what they are doing.  They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive.  But no, the American people are strong and proud, and they will not allow our country, and all of its values, history, and culture, to be taken from them.  (Applause.)
AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!
THE PRESIDENT:   One of their political weapons is “Cancel Culture” — driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters, and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees.  This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.  (Applause.)  This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty, must be stopped, and it will be stopped very quickly.  We will expose this dangerous movement, protect our nation’s children, end this radical assault, and preserve our beloved American way of life.  (Applause.)
In our schools, our newsrooms, even our corporate boardrooms, there is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance.  If you do not speak its language, perform its rituals, recite its mantras, and follow its commandments, then you will be censored, banished, blacklisted, persecuted, and punished.  It’s not going to happen to us.  (Applause.)
Make no mistake: this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.  In so doing, they would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence, and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery, and progress.
To make this possible, they are determined to tear down every statue, symbol, and memory of our national heritage.
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Not on my watch!  (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT:  True.  That’s very true, actually.  (Laughter.)  That is why I am deploying federal law enforcement to protect our monuments, arrest the rioters, and prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law.  (Applause.)
AUDIENCE:  Four more years!  Four more years!  Four more years!
THE PRESIDENT:  I am pleased to report that yesterday, federal agents arrested the suspected ringleader of the attack on the statue of Andrew Jackson in Washington, D.C. — (applause) — and, in addition, hundreds more have been arrested.  (Applause.)
Under the executive order I signed last week — pertaining to the Veterans’ Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act and other laws — people who damage or deface federal statues or monuments will get a minimum of 10 years in prison.  (Applause.)  And obviously, that includes our beautiful Mount Rushmore.  (Applause.)
Our people have a great memory.  They will never forget the destruction of statues and monuments to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, abolitionists, and many others.
The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets of cities that are run by liberal Democrats, in every case, is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions.
Against every law of society and nature, our children are taught in school to hate their own country, and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes, but that were villains.  The radical view of American history is a web of lies — all perspective is removed, every virtue is obscured, every motive is twisted, every fact is distorted, and every flaw is magnified until the history is purged and the record is disfigured beyond all recognition.
This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore.  They defile the memory of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.  Today, we will set history and history’s record straight.  (Applause.)
Before these figures were immortalized in stone, they were American giants in full flesh and blood, gallant men whose intrepid deeds unleashed the greatest leap of human advancement the world has ever known.  Tonight, I will tell you and, most importantly, the youth of our nation, the true stories of these great, great men.
From head to toe, George Washington represented the strength, grace, and dignity of the American people.  From a small volunteer force of citizen farmers, he created the Continental Army out of nothing and rallied them to stand against the most powerful military on Earth.
Through eight long years, through the brutal winter at Valley Forge, through setback after setback on the field of battle, he led those patriots to ultimate triumph.  When the Army had dwindled to a few thousand men at Christmas of 1776, when defeat seemed absolutely certain, he took what remained of his forces on a daring nighttime crossing of the Delaware River.
They marched through nine miles of frigid darkness, many without boots on their feet, leaving a trail of blood in the snow.  In the morning, they seized victory at Trenton.  After forcing the surrender of the most powerful empire on the planet at Yorktown, General Washington did not claim power, but simply returned to Mount Vernon as a private citizen.
When called upon again, he presided over the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, and was unanimously elected our first President.  (Applause.)  When he stepped down after two terms, his former adversary King George called him “the greatest man of the age.”  He remains first in our hearts to this day.  For as long as Americans love this land, we will honor and cherish the father of our country, George Washington.  (Applause.)  He will never be removed, abolished, and most of all, he will never be forgotten.  (Applause.)
Thomas Jefferson — the great Thomas Jefferson — was 33 years old when he traveled north to Pennsylvania and brilliantly authored one of the greatest treasures of human history, the Declaration of Independence.  He also drafted Virginia’s constitution, and conceived and wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, a model for our cherished First Amendment.
After serving as the first Secretary of State, and then Vice President, he was elected to the Presidency.  He ordered American warriors to crush the Barbary pirates, he doubled the size of our nation with the Louisiana Purchase, and he sent the famous explorers Lewis and Clark into the west on a daring expedition to the Pacific Ocean.
He was an architect, an inventor, a diplomat, a scholar, the founder of one of the world’s great universities, and an ardent defender of liberty.  Americans will forever admire the author of American freedom, Thomas Jefferson.  (Applause.)  And he, too, will never, ever be abandoned by us.  (Applause.)
Abraham Lincoln, the savior of our union, was a self-taught country lawyer who grew up in a log cabin on the American frontier.
The first Republican President, he rose to high office from obscurity, based on a force and clarity of his anti-slavery convictions.  Very, very strong convictions.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive for the Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
He signed the law that built the Transcontinental Railroad; he signed the Homestead Act, given to some incredible scholars — as simply defined, ordinary citizens free land to settle anywhere in the American West; and he led the country through the darkest hours of American history, giving every ounce of strength that he had to ensure that government of the people, by the people, and for the people did not perish from this Earth.  (Applause.)
He served as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces during our bloodiest war, the struggle that saved our union and extinguished the evil of slavery.  Over 600,000 died in that war; more than 20,000 were killed or wounded in a single day at Antietam.  At Gettysburg, 157 years ago, the Union bravely withstood an assault of nearly 15,000 men and threw back Pickett’s charge.
Lincoln won the Civil War; he issued the Emancipation Proclamation; he led the passage of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery for all time — (applause) — and ultimately, his determination to preserve our nation and our union cost him his life.  For as long as we live, Americans will uphold and revere the immortal memory of President Abraham Lincoln.  (Applause.)
Theodore Roosevelt exemplified the unbridled confidence of our national culture and identity.  He saw the towering grandeur of America’s mission in the world and he pursued it with overwhelming energy and zeal.
As a Lieutenant Colonel during the Spanish-American War, he led the famous Rough Riders to defeat the enemy at San Juan Hill.  He cleaned up corruption as Police Commissioner of New York City, then served as the Governor of New York, Vice President, and at 42 years old, became the youngest-ever President of the United States.  (Applause.)
He sent our great new naval fleet around the globe to announce America’s arrival as a world power.  He gave us many of our national parks, including the Grand Canyon; he oversaw the construction of the awe-inspiring Panama Canal; and he is the only person ever awarded both the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He was — (applause) — American freedom personified in full.  The American people will never relinquish the bold, beautiful, and untamed spirit of Theodore Roosevelt.  (Applause.)
No movement that seeks to dismantle these treasured American legacies can possibly have a love of America at its heart.  Can’t have it.  No person who remains quiet at the destruction of this resplendent heritage can possibly lead us to a better future.
The radical ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of social justice.  But in truth, it would demolish both justice and society.  It would transform justice into an instrument of division and vengeance, and it would turn our free and inclusive society into a place of repression, domination, and exclusion.
They want to silence us, but we will not be silenced.  (Applause.)
AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you very much.
We will state the truth in full, without apology:  We declare that the United States of America is the most just and exceptional nation ever to exist on Earth.
We are proud of the fact — (applause) — that our country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and we understand — (applause) — that these values have dramatically advanced the cause of peace and justice throughout the world.
We know that the American family is the bedrock of American life.  (Applause.)
We recognize the solemn right and moral duty of every nation to secure its borders.  (Applause.)  And we are building the wall.  (Applause.)
We remember that governments exist to protect the safety and happiness of their own people.  A nation must care for its own citizens first.  We must take care of America first.  It’s time.  (Applause.)
We believe in equal opportunity, equal justice, and equal treatment for citizens of every race, background, religion, and creed.  Every child, of every color — born and unborn — is made in the holy image of God.  (Applause.)
We want free and open debate, not speech codes and cancel culture.
We embrace tolerance, not prejudice.
We support the courageous men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)  We will never abolish our police or our great Second Amendment, which gives us the right to keep and bear arms.  (Applause.)
We believe that our children should be taught to love their country, honor our history, and respect our great American flag.  (Applause.)
We stand tall, we stand proud, and we only kneel to Almighty God.  (Applause.)
This is who we are.  This is what we believe.  And these are the values that will guide us as we strive to build an even better and greater future.
Those who seek to erase our heritage want Americans to forget our pride and our great dignity, so that we can no longer understand ourselves or America’s destiny.  In toppling the heroes of 1776, they seek to dissolve the bonds of love and loyalty that we feel for our country, and that we feel for each other.  Their goal is not a better America, their goal is the end of America.
AUDIENCE:  Booo —
THE PRESIDENT:  In its place, they want power for themselves.  But just as patriots did in centuries past, the American people will stand in their way — and we will win, and win quickly and with great dignity.  (Applause.)
We will never let them rip America’s heroes from our monuments, or from our hearts.  By tearing down Washington and Jefferson, these radicals would tear down the very heritage for which men gave their lives to win the Civil War; they would erase the memory that inspired those soldiers to go to their deaths, singing these words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic: “As He died to make men Holy, let us die to make men free, while God is marching on.”  (Applause.)
They would tear down the principles that propelled the abolition of slavery in America and, ultimately, around the world, ending an evil institution that had plagued humanity for thousands and thousands of years.  Our opponents would tear apart the very documents that Martin Luther King used to express his dream, and the ideas that were the foundation of the righteous movement for Civil Rights.  They would tear down the beliefs, culture, and identity that have made America the most vibrant and tolerant society in the history of the Earth.
My fellow Americans, it is time to speak up loudly and strongly and powerfully and defend the integrity of our country.  (Applause.)
AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!
THE PRESIDENT:  It is time for our politicians to summon the bravery and determination of our American ancestors.  It is time.  (Applause.)  It is time to plant our flag and protect the greatest of this nation, for citizens of every race, in every city, and every part of this glorious land.  For the sake of our honor, for the sake of our children, for the sake of our union, we must protect and preserve our history, our heritage, and our great heroes.  (Applause.)
Here tonight, before the eyes of our forefathers, Americans declare again, as we did 244 years ago: that we will not be tyrannized, we will not be demeaned, and we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people.  It will not happen.  (Applause.)
AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!
THE PRESIDENT:  We will proclaim the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, and we will never surrender the spirit and the courage and the cause of July 4th, 1776.
Upon this ground, we will stand firm and unwavering.  In the face of lies meant to divide us, demoralize us, and diminish us, we will show that the story of America unites us, inspires us, includes us all, and makes everyone free.
We must demand that our children are taught once again to see America as did Reverend Martin Luther King, when he said that the Founders had signed “a promissory note” to every future generation.  Dr. King saw that the mission of justice required us to fully embrace our founding ideals.  Those ideals are so important to us — the founding ideals.  He called on his fellow citizens not to rip down their heritage, but to live up to their heritage.  (Applause.)
Above all, our children, from every community, must be taught that to be American is to inherit the spirit of the most adventurous and confident people ever to walk the face of the Earth.
Americans are the people who pursued our Manifest Destiny across the ocean, into the uncharted wilderness, over the tallest mountains, and then into the skies and even into the stars.
We are the country of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Frederick Douglass.  We are the land of Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill Cody.  (Applause.)  We are the nation that gave rise to the Wright Brothers, the Tuskegee Airmen — (applause) — Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Jesse Owens, George Patton — General George Patton — the great Louie Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Elvis Presley, and Mohammad Ali.  (Applause.)  And only America could have produced them all.  (Applause.)  No other place.
We are the culture that put up the Hoover Dam, laid down the highways, and sculpted the skyline of Manhattan.  We are the people who dreamed a spectacular dream — it was called: Las Vegas, in the Nevada desert; who built up Miami from the Florida marsh; and who carved our heroes into the face of Mount Rushmore.  (Applause.)
Americans harnessed electricity, split the atom, and gave the world the telephone and the Internet.  We settled the Wild West, won two World Wars, landed American astronauts on the Moon — and one day very soon, we will plant our flag on Mars.
We gave the world the poetry of Walt Whitman, the stories of Mark Twain, the songs of Irving Berlin, the voice of Ella Fitzgerald, the style of Frank Sinatra — (applause) — the comedy of Bob Hope, the power of the Saturn V rocket, the toughness of the Ford F-150 — (applause) — and the awesome might of the American aircraft carriers.
Americans must never lose sight of this miraculous story.  You should never lose sight of it, because nobody has ever done it like we have done it.  So today, under the authority vested in me as President of the United States — (applause) — I am announcing the creation of a new monument to the giants of our past.  I am signing an executive order to establish the National Garden of American Heroes, a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live.  (Applause.)
From this night and from this magnificent place, let us go forward united in our purpose and re-dedicated in our resolve.  We will raise the next generation of American patriots.  We will write the next thrilling chapter of the American adventure.  And we will teach our children to know that they live in a land of legends, that nothing can stop them, and that no one can hold them down.  (Applause.)  They will know that in America, you can do anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything.  (Applause.)
Uplifted by the titans of Mount Rushmore, we will find unity that no one expected; we will make strides that no one thought possible.  This country will be everything that our citizens have hoped for, for so many years, and that our enemies fear — because we will never forget that American freedom exists for American greatness.  And that’s what we have:  American greatness.  (Applause.)
Centuries from now, our legacy will be the cities we built, the champions we forged, the good we did, and the monuments we created to inspire us all.
My fellow citizens: America’s destiny is in our sights.  America’s heroes are embedded in our hearts.  America’s future is in our hands.  And ladies and gentlemen: the best is yet to come.  (Applause.)
AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!
THE PRESIDENT:  This has been a great honor for the First Lady and myself to be with you.  I love your state.  I love this country.  I’d like to wish everybody a very happy Fourth of July.  To all, God bless you, God bless your families, God bless our great military, and God bless America.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)
[embedded content]
Trump Speaks in District of Columbia
THE PRESIDENT:  Wow.  Are you having a good time?  (Applause.)  Members of Congress, members of my cabinet, and my fellow Americans: The First Lady and I are delighted to welcome you to the second annual Salute to America.  (Applause.)
On this wonderful day, we celebrate our history, our heroes, our heritage, our great American flag, and our freedom.  Happy Fourth of July to everyone.  (Applause.)
I want to thank the U.S. Army Golden Knights for that truly awe-inspiring display.  Tremendous talent.  The Golden Knights, and every member of the Armed Forces here this evening, we just want to say that you have earned the eternal gratitude of our entire nation.
Two hundred and forty-four years ago in Philadelphia, the 56 signers of our Declaration of Independence pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to boldly proclaim this eternal truth: that we are all made equal by God.  (Applause.)
Thanks to the courage of those patriots of July 4th, 1776, the American Republic stands today as the greatest, most exceptional, and most virtuous nation in the history of the world.
Our workers, our factories have revolutionized industries and lifted millions into prosperity.  Our artists, architects, and engineers have inspired the globe with transcendent works of beauty.  American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles, and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the Earth.  We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing.  (Applause.)
Our inventors, scientists, doctors, and researchers have improved the lives of billions and billions all around the world.  Our brave astronauts planted the American flag on the Moon, and America will be the first nation to land on Mars.  (Applause.)
All Americans living today are the heirs of this magnificent legacy.  We are the descendants of the most daring and courageous people ever to walk on the face of the Earth.  We inherit their towering confidence, unwavering enthusiasm, their unbridled ambition, and their unrelenting optimism.  This is the untamed spirit that built this glorious nation, and this is the spirit that burns brightly within the soul of every American patriot.
That is why we pay tribute to generations of American heroes whose names are etched on our monuments and memorials, and in the pages of history, and in the hearts of a very grateful people.
We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children, or trample on our freedoms.  (Applause.)  We will safeguard our values, traditions, customs, and beliefs.  We will teach our children to cherish and adore their country so that they can build its future.  Together, we will fight for the American Dream, and we will defend, protect, and preserve American way of life, which began in 1492 when Columbus discovered America.  (Applause.)
Jobs and companies are coming back to our country like never before.  The power of tariffs being imposed on foreign lands that took advantage of the United States for decades and decades have enabled us to make great trade deals where there were none.  Tens of billions of dollars are now paid to the United States Treasury by the same countries.
But there and then we got hit by the virus that came from China.  And we’ve made a lot of progress; our strategy is moving along well.  It goes out in one area, and rears back its ugly face in another area.  But we’ve learned a lot.  We’ve learned how to put out the flame.  We’ve made ventilators where there were none by the tens of thousands, to the point that we have far more than we need, and we are now distributing them to many foreign countries, as a gesture of goodwill.
Likewise, testing — there were no tests for a new virus, but now we have tested over 40 million people.  But by so doing, we show cases, 99 percent of which are totally harmless.  Results that no other country will show, because no other country has testing that we have — not in terms of the numbers or in terms of the quality.
And now, just like everything else, we have become the manufacturer on record for ventilators, we have the most and finest testing anywhere in the world, and are producing gowns and masks and surgical equipment in our country where heretofore it was almost exclusively made in foreign lands, in particular, China, where, ironically, this virus and others came from.  China’s secrecy, deceptions, and cover-up allowed it to spread all over the world — 189 countries — and China must be held fully accountable.  (Applause.)
With respect to remedies, we are now doing unbelievably well, and are in deep testing on vaccines, treatments, and therapeutics.  I want to send our thanks to the scientists and researchers around the country and even around the world who are at the forefront of our historic effort to rapidly develop and deliver life-saving treatments and, ultimately, a vaccine.
We are unleashing our nation’s scientific brilliance.  And we’ll likely have a therapeutic and/or vaccine solution long before the end of the year.  (Applause.)
We’re grateful to be joined this evening by Americans battling on the frontlines to kill the virus.  I just want to say that America thanks you.  Please stand.  Please.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Great, brilliant people.  These are great and brilliant people.  Thank you.  And brave people.  (Applause.)
Our movement is based on lifting all citizens to reach their fullest, God-given potential.

President Donald Trump greets visitors as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House during a “Salute to America” event, in Washington on July 4, 2020. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)
Never forget: We are one family and one nation.  This rich heritage belongs to every citizen, young and old, first-generation American and tenth-generation American.  This heritage belongs to every citizen, young and old — first-generation American — we want to go from first generation to tenth generation; it matters not.  We are American.  We are from the USA.  (Applause.)
This great heritage belongs to citizens of every background and of every walk of life.  No matter our race, color, religion, or creed, we are one America, and we put America first.  (Applause.)  We will not allow anyone to divide our citizens by race or background.  We will not allow them to foment hate, discord, and distrust.  We will hold fast and true to the sacred loyalties that link us all as neighbors, as Americans, and as patriots.
In every age, there have always been those who seek to lie about the past in order to gain power in the present.  Those that are lying about our history, those who want us to be ashamed of who we are, are not interested in justice or in healing.  Their goal is demolition.  Our goal is not to destroy the greatest structure on Earth, what we have built: The United States of America.  (Applause.)  To build a future — (applause) — where every family is safe, where every child is surrounded by love, where every community has equal opportunity, and every citizen enjoys great and everlasting dignity.
Our past is not a burden to be cast away, it is not a miraculous foundation that will lift us to the next great summit of human endeavor.  The incredible story of American progress is the story of each generation picking up where the last finished — linked by time, by fate, and the eternal bonds of our national affection.
Those who would sever those bonds would cut us off from the wisdom, the courage, the love, and the devotion that gave us everything we are today and everything we strive for tomorrow.  We cannot let that happen.  We will not throw away our heroes.  We will honor them, and we will prove worthy of their sacrifice.  (Applause.)  These are great heroes.
Let me also say a word to those in the media who falsely and consistently label their opponents as racists, who condemn patriotic citizens who offer a clear and truthful defense of American unity.  That’s what our people are doing.  We want a clear and faithful defense of American history and we want unity.
When you level these false charges, you not only slander me, you not only slander the American people, but you slander generations of heroes who gave their lives for America.  (Applause.)  You slander people much braver and much more principled than you.  You are slandering the young men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, and those who perished fighting for freedom in the Civil War.  You slander them.  You are dishonoring their great legacy and their memory by insisting that they fought for racism and they fought for oppression.  They didn’t fight for those things; they fought for the exact opposite.  We will not let the legacy of these heroes be tarnished by you.
The more you lie, the more you slander, the more you try to demean and divide, the more we will work hard to tell the truth.  And we will win.  (Applause.)  The more you lie and demean and collude, the more credibility you lose.  We want to bring the country together, and a free and open media will make this task a very easy one.  Our country will be united.  After all, what do we want?  We want a strong military, great education, housing, low taxes, law and order.  We want safety, we want equal justice, we want religious liberty, we want faith and family, and living in a great communities and happy communities and safe communities.  And we want great jobs and we want to be respected by the rest of the world; not taken advantage of by the rest of the world, which has gone on for decade after decade.  We should all want the same thing.  How can it be any different than those things?
The more bitter you become, the more we will appeal to love and patriotism, and the more we will rise above your hate to build a better future for every child in our great country.
To celebrate America’s majestic inheritance, yesterday I signed an executive order to create a brand-new monument to our most beloved icons.  The National Garden of American Heroes will be a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans who have ever lived.  We will honor extraordinary citizens from every community and from every place and from every part of our nation.  Great men and great women, people that we can look up to forever.
Families will be able to walk among the statues of titans, and we have already selected the first 30 legacies and 30 legends.  And why don’t we start with a man who has been very unfairly treated, who, two years ago, three years ago — especially five or six years ago — people would have said it’s impossible to even attempt to try and disturb his incredible legacy and success: George Washington.  (Applause.)  Thomas Jefferson — (applause) — Betsy Ross — (applause) — Alexander Hamilton — (applause) — Benjamin Franklin — (applause) —  John Adams — (applause) —  James Madison — (applause) —  Dolly Madison — (applause) — the great Frederick Douglass — (applause) — Abraham Lincoln — (applause) — Harriet Tubman — (applause) — Harriet Beecher Stowe — (applause) — Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain — (applause) — Clara Barton — (applause) — Daniel Boone — (applause) —  Davy Crockett — (applause) — Henry Clay — (applause) — Susan B. Anthony — (applause) — Booker T. Washington — (applause) —  Orville and Wilbur Wright, who are looking down.
And you’re going to see some planes like you have never seen before, because we build them better than anybody in the world.  The greatest Air Force, the greatest fighters, the greatest everything.  You’re going to be seeing something — I just wonder what Orville and Wilbur would have been thinking if they ever got to see that.  But they’re looking.  They’re checking it out right now along with us.  Amelia Earhart.  (Applause).
A great, great athlete no matter where he went; he was the best athlete: Jackie Robinson.  (Applause.)  George S. Patton — General Patton.  He didn’t know how to lose.  (Applause.)  He didn’t don’t how to lose.  General Douglas MacArthur — (applause) — Audie Murphy — (applause) — the great Billy Graham — (applause) — and an incredible man, respected by everybody: Martin Luther King.  (Applause.)  President Ronald Reagan.  (Applause.)  Christa McAuliffe, and Antonin Scalia.  (Applause.)
So those are just a few of the people we’ll be naming, and things are subject to change, but once we make that decision, those great names are going to be up there and they’re never coming down.  They have just been an incredible group.  And we are going to do this in a very democratic way, frankly.  We’re going to take names and suggestions.  We’re going to have committees and we’re going to pick the greatest people that this country has ever known.  The most respected people.  The people that helped us the most.  And the people that we can look up to and that our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren can look up to into the future and they can say, “Isn’t America just a tremendous place?”  So, thank you.  That will be very exciting.  (Applause.)
The patriots who built our country were not villains, they were heroes whose courageous deeds improved the Earth beyond measure.
The beauty and the glory of our constitutional system is that it gives us the tools to fight injustice, to heal division, and to continue the work of our Founding Fathers by expanding and growing the blessings of America.  If you believe in justice, if you believe in freedom, if you believe in peace, then you must cherish the principles of our founding and the text of our Constitution.  It is our founding and our Constitution.  It is a firm foundation upon which all progress is achieved.  That’s why our country is so strong, even despite terrible things that happen over the generations.
Here this evening are a number of heroes who risk their own lives to uphold these values and keep our communities and our country safe.  We are joined by the outstanding law enforcement officers who have been able to fight on the front lines, protecting our cities — many of them facing down violent assaults from very bad people.  We are especially moved to be joined by the family of a great man: Fallen Officer David Dorn, a 38-year veteran of the St. Louis Police Department who was killed last month in the city he devoted his life to defending.  (Applause.)  And to David’s great family, I want to thank you very much.  The American people will always support the courageous men and women of law enforcement.  And nobody — nobody — embodies that better than David.  Thank you very much.  Please.  (Applause.)  And David is looking down right now, and he is so proud of you and he loves you so much.  And thank you for being here.  He’s a great man.  He’s a great man.
Finally tonight, we will salute the greatness and loyalty and valor of the men and women who have defended our independence for 244 years.  We will honor the amazing men and women of the United States Military.  (Applause.)
Never in history has a nation used so much power to advance so much good.  Battlefields across the world, and here at home, are marked with the gravestones of young patriots who spent their final valiant moments on this Earth to secure liberty and peace.  Every child should be taught the military heroes who fought and died to make us free.  These are great, great people.  These are great, great heroes, indeed.  (Applause.)  And our greatest leaders and heroes should be recognized and even immortalized for coming generations to see.  You know that.  This will make our country even stronger long into the future.
In a few moments, we will bear witness to awesome aircraft representing every major military conflict over the last 75 years.  These planes once launched off massive aircraft carriers in the fiercest battles of World War II.  They raced through the skies of Korea’s MiG Alley.  They carried American warriors into the dense fields and jungles of Vietnam.  They delivered a swift and swip- — and you know that sweeping — it was swift and it was sweeping like nobody has ever seen anything happen — a victory in Operation Desert Storm.  A lot of you were involved in that.  (Applause.)  A lot of you were involved.  That was a quick one.  And they have gone on to dangerous missions around the world to take out enemy terrorists and bring our soldiers home safely.
As you know, we’ve killed, this last year, the two leading terrorists of the last 10 years: al-Baghdadi and Soleimani.  Killed.  Gone.  Over.  (Applause.)  We have worked to fully rebuild the Armed Forces of the United States.  No enemy on Earth stands a chance — $2.5 trillion, we’ve invested — all made in the USA.  We’ve never had anything near the power and the equipment that we have right now.  We did that over the last three years.
Everywhere these aircraft have flown, they’ve rained down American thunder, delivered American justice, and they have fiercely defended every square inch of American sovereignty.In their steel frames, broad wings, and roaring engines, we see the story of America’s daring defiance, its soaring spirit, and undying resolve.
Throughout our history, our country has been tested and tried – but we have always fought to victory.  Whenever our way of life has been threatened, our ancestors have responded with the same resounding answer as those first patriots who fought for independence: We are Americans, and we never back down, we never give in, and we never give up, and we will never yield [in] defense of our nation.  We love our nation.  We will only fight to win.
Today, we thank God for the gift of life and for the blessing of liberty.
We honor the legends of our history, the glories of our Founding Fathers, and the giants of the past, and the heroes of today who keep us safe, who keep us strong and proud, and who keep us free.
Once again, Happy July Fourth to all.  Our country is in great shape.  Our military has never been stronger.  And many, many good things are going to happen.  Next year will be one of the greatest years we’ve ever had.
I want to thank our men and women — they are so good — of the National Park Service, Air Traffic Control, and the United States Military.
God Bless you, God Bless our heroes, God bless America.  And now, let the flyovers begin.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

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Potential Biden VP Candidate Doesn’t Oppose Removal of George Washington Statues

A possible running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden declined on Sunday to condemn the removal of George Washington statues, instead saying lawmakers should listen to arguments in favor of removal.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) was asked twice about the issue during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Anchor Dana Bash noted that Duckworth supports renaming military bases that are named after Confederate leaders but pointed to people demanding that statues of former presidents such as Washington and Thomas Jefferson come down.
Duckworth was asked if statues of Washington should come down.
“Well, let me just say that we should start off by having a national dialogue on it at some point,” Duckworth responded. “But, right now, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 6, 2020. (Greg Nash/Pool/Reuters)
Duckworth also accused President Donald Trump, a Republican, of spending time during his speech Mount Rushmore on July 3 “honoring dead Confederates.” A review of Trump’s speech shows no mention of the Confederacy or Confederates.
Duckworth later said Trump “spent all his time talking about dead traitors.”
Bash pressed the senator, saying no one would call Washington a traitor and asking her if it would be a good idea to remove statues of him.
“I think we should listen to everybody. I think we should listen to the argument there,” Duckworth responded.
“But remember that the president at Mount Rushmore was standing on ground that was stolen from Native Americans who had actually been given that land during a treaty.”
Duckworth’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment, nor did Biden’s campaign.
Ben Williamson, a deputy assistant to Trump, said in a statement after the appearance: “In one weekend we have now seen prominent Democrats come out against Mount Rushmore, statues of George Washington, and the Fourth of July.”

President Donald Trump salutes as he listens to the National Anthem during the Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, S.D., July 3, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
At least one statue of Washington has been toppled in recent weeks as vandals and rioters take down a number of carvings across the nation. Another was defaced.
Mount Rushmore, a national monument in South Dakota, features Washington and three other former presidents carved into a rock face.
Trump said in his speech there that he wanted to “pay tribute to the exceptional lives and extraordinary legacies of” Washington, Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt.
“I am here as your president to proclaim before the country and before the world: This monument will never be desecrated. These heroes will never be defaced, their legacy will never, ever be destroyed, their achievements will never be forgotten, and Mount Rushmore will stand forever as an eternal tribute to our forefathers and to our freedom,” he added.
Duckworth’s remarks appear to contrast with Biden’s position.
Biden told reporters in late June that he supports the removal of Confederate monuments but said the government should protect non-Confederate statues.
“For example, taking down or toppling a Christopher Columbus statue or a George Washington statue, or, etc., I think that is something that the government has an opportunity and a responsibility to protect from happening,” the former vice president said.

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President Trump to Hold Outdoor Rally in New Hampshire

President Donald Trump will have a rally in New Hampshire on July 11, his campaign announced.
The Republican will speak at the Portsmouth International Airport.
“President Trump’s record-setting accomplishments in record-setting time have improved the lives of all Americans. He rebuilt, restored and renewed our great nation once, and he’ll do it again,” Hogan Gidley, the campaign’s national press secretary, said in a statement.
“We look forward to so many freedom-loving patriots coming to the rally and celebrating America, the greatest country in the history of the world.”
Attendees are strongly encouraged to wear masks, which will be provided by the campaign.
There will also be ample access to hand sanitizer.
The New Hampshire Democratic Party said in a statement that the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t been adequate.
“Instead of helping our state safely recover, Trump is flying in for a political rally that will only further highlight the chaos he has caused,” Ray Buckley, the party’s chairman, said in a statement.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Del., on June 30, 2020. (Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)
Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive challenger, held small rallies last month that included circles on the floor meant to keep people six feet away from each other.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said last week that she showed Trump pictures from an outdoor rally the campaign held in 2019.
“You could do something like that—I actually showed them the pictures before Tulsa, but I’m not in charge of those things—where it’s beautiful summer weather, outdoors,” she told reporters.
Trump held his first rally in months in Oklahoma on June 20 inside an arena, drawing some 6,200, according to local officials. The Trump campaign said 12,000 people entered the arena.
Several people at the rally later tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, including former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Trump’s son.
Health experts have warned against holding large events inside, saying the risks for transmission of the virus increase when groups of people gather closely together.
Critics of the recommendations note that many governors have allowed large protests and riots in recent weeks. Some health officials say those gatherings are leading to an increase in new COVID-19 cases.

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Mark Cuban, Elon Musk Post Support for Kanye West After ‘Running for President’ Claim

Following Kanye West’s announcement that he is running for president, several well-known billionaires said they support his bid.
“If there was Rank Choice voting available and Kanye West was on the ballot with Joe Biden and Donald Trump, I would have Kanye West ahead of Donald Trump,” wrote Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on Twitter.
“If you think Biden is a joke compared to Trump you aren’t paying attention,” he added, saying that it is “time to step away from all the memes and look at reality. The Pandemic Response could not be botched any worse and he refuses to take any responsibility or try to improve it. That’s disqualifying.”
Meanwhile, Telsa and SpaceX owner Elon Musk wrote to West: “You have my full support!”
On July 4, West wrote that “we must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future.”
“I am running for president of the United States,” he added, with the hashtag “2020vision.”
It’s not clear if West has a campaign staff or if he’s filed the needed paperwork to get on state ballots. Also unclear is if West will run as an independent.

We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States 🇺🇸! #2020VISION
— ye (@kanyewest) July 5, 2020

His wife, Kim Kardashian West also re-tweeted his message and added an American flag emoji.
Some have noted that it is too late for him to get on the ballot as an independent in some states, while others said that should he mount a successful bid, it would take away voters from 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden and help President Donald Trump’s reelection chances.
The rapper, however, has teased a potential 2024 presidential bid, and both he and his wife have met with President Trump at the White House. West, in one instance, was seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.
“Trump is on his hero’s journey right now. And he might not have expected to have a crazy [expletive] like Kanye West run up and support, but best believe we are going to make America great,” West said in the Oval Office in late 2018.
About running for president in 2024, the rapper said that “when I run for president in 2024, we’re going to definitely … yo, whatchu [sic] all laughing at?”
“When I run for president in 2024, we would’ve created so many jobs that, in fact, I’m going to walk,” he said in 2019. West added: “What I’m saying is, when y’all read the headlines, ‘Kanye’s crazy,’ this and that, this and that, it’s like one in three African-Americans are in jail and all of the celebrities are in jail also because they can’t say nothing [sic]! They’ve got no opinion! They’re so scared!”

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‘We Want Unity’: Trump Says in Salute to America Speech

President Donald Trump declared on July 4 that the America he is working for “wants unity,” and that “no matter our race, color, religion, or creed, we are one America, and we put America first.”
The president was speaking on Saturday evening from the White House South Lawn in Washington following a performance from the military band, flyovers by B-52 bombers, F-35 fighter jets and more, as well as parachute jumps.
Trump started by thanking the scientists and researchers “around the country and even around the world” for their courageous efforts in battling the virus, and welcomed some who were attending the event.
“These are great and brilliant people. And brave people,” he said.

U.S. Army parachuters carrying a U.S. National flag descend on the Ellipse during the 2020 “Salute to America” event in honor of Independence Day on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on July 4, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)
As “the land of the free” continued with celebrating its 244th birthday, the president again emphasized his vision for unity, echoing his earlier speech at Mount Rushmore on the eve of the Fourth of July weekend celebrations during which he talked to the great spirit of the Declaration of Independence that he said enshrines that “all men are created equal.” He also said that his administration was bringing Americans together in the face of a “left-wing cultural revolution” designed to “overthrow the American revolution.”
On Saturday, Trump revisited similar themes in his “Salute to America” speech.
“Our movement is based on lifting all citizens to reach their fullest God-given potential,” the president declared.
“Never forget, we are one family and one nation. This rich heritage belongs to every citizen, young and old, first generation American. We want to go from first generation to 10th generation. It matters not. We are American. We are from the USA. This great heritage belongs to citizens of every background and of every walk of life.”
Trump again referenced the counter-culture narrative from people who “foment hate, discord, and distrust” and, according to Trump, want to demolish America.
“In every age, there have always been those who seek to lie about the past in order to gain power in the present,” he said, after referring to the radical left, Marxists, anarchists, agitators, looters, and people who “have absolutely no clue what they are doing” earlier in his speech.
“Those that are lying about our history, those who want us to be ashamed of who we are are not interested in justice or in healing. Their goal is demolition.”
Trump said that under his administration, “Our goal is not to destroy the greatest structure on earth, what we have built, the United States of America.” He added that his administration wants to work together with the people to defend America and “build a future where every family is safe, where every child is surrounded by love, where every community has equal opportunity and every citizen enjoys great and everlasting dignity.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump host the 2020 “Salute to America” event in honor of Independence Day on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington on July 4, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Addressing the riots and wave of statue destruction sweeping the nation, the president said: “Our past is not a burden to be cast away.
“Let me also say a word to those in the media who falsely and consistently label their opponents as racists, who condemn patriotic citizens who offer a clear and truthful defense of American unity,” he said.
“We want a clear and faithful defense of American history, and we want unity,” he stated. “When you level these false charges, you not only slander me, you not only slander the American people, but you slander generations of heroes who gave their lives for America. You slander people much braver and more principled than you.
“You’re slandering the young men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima and those who perished fighting for freedom in the Civil War. You slander them. You are dishonoring their great legacy and their memory by insisting that they fought for racism and they fought for oppression.
“They didn’t fight for those things. They fought for the exact opposite. We will not let the legacy of these heroes be tarnished by you,” he said. “The more you lie, the more you slander, the more you try to demean and divide, the more we will work hard to tell the truth, and we will win.
“We want to bring the country together, and a free and open media will make this task a very easy one. Our country will be united after all.”

The president stated, “244 years ago in Philadelphia, the 56 signers of our Declaration of Independence pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to boldly proclaim this eternal truth that we are all made equal by God.
“Thanks to the courage of those patriots on July 4th, 1776, the American Republic stands today as the greatest, most exceptional, and most virtuous nation in the history of the world. Our workers, our factories have revolutionized industries and lifted millions into prosperity. Our artists, architects, and engineers have inspired the globe with transcendent works of beauty.
“American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles, and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the earth.
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“The Patriots who built our country were not villains, they were heroes whose courageous deeds improved the earth beyond measure. The beauty and the glory of our constitutional system is that it gives us the tools to fight injustice, to heal division and to continue the work of our founding fathers by expanding and growing the blessings of America.
“If you believe in justice, if you believe in freedom, if you believe in peace, then you must cherish the principles of our founding and the text of our constitution. It’s our founding and our constitution. It is a firm foundation upon which all progress is achieved. That’s why our country is so strong, even despite terrible things that happen over the generations,” Trump said.
Following Trump’s comments about his vision for a united America, numerous legacy media reports focused on what they called “divisive messaging” and the president’s “attacks” on far-left political ideology, without mentioning more positive aspects of “the story of American progress” mentioned by the president.
A massive fireworks display was held later Saturday night lighting up the National Mall in honor of the nation’s birthday.

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President Trump Hosting July 4th Event in District of Columbia

President Donald Trump is hosting an event that will include thousands of fireworks on the National Mall on July 4, a day after he traveled to South Dakota for an Independence Day celebration.
July 4 marks when America declared its independence from Great Britain.
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are hosting an event dubbed the “2020 Salute to America.” The White House said the president will give a speech before Americans are treated to a fireworks display from the mall.
According to the Department of the Interior, more than 10,000 fireworks will be launched from an area more than a mile in length, from Inlet Bridge at the south end of West Potomac Park to north of the Lincoln Memorial, as well as on the grounds of the Washington Monument.
The 35-minute fireworks show will be visible up to three miles away from the launch site, from throughout the District of Columbia and northern Virginia. People who want to watch were told of a number of viewing locations, including the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, East Potomac Park, Gravelly Point Park, and a portion of the Mount Vernon Trail.

Fireworks light the sky near the Lincoln Memorial, in Washington on July 4, 2019. (Alex Brandon/AP Photo)
The celebration will include flyovers from aircraft dating back to the World War II time period—including P-51s—to the present day, including the Blue Angels.
The event “will be a patriotic tribute to our men and women in uniform, and the Department of Defense will be providing a one-of-a-kind air show,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement. “An incredible fireworks display will follow that promises to be the largest in recent memory.”
Flyovers are scheduled to take place from 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. The start time for fireworks is pegged at 9:07 p.m.
Trump’s speech is slated between the flyovers and fireworks.
The Trumps will be joined by members of the military, first responders, doctors, nurses, and “other American heroes who fought the Coronavirus pandemic on the front lines,” according to the White House.

President Donald Trump speaks during the “Salute to America” Fourth of July event at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington on July 4, 2019. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
Opposition, Recommendations
Local officials recommended against traveling to the National Mall for the event, citing the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We think that we’re following the health department’s advice to be very careful about large gatherings, even large gatherings that are outside,” Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, said at a press conference this week when asked about the Salute to America event.
“We know that this is a special event for the Department of the Interior. We’ve communicated to them that we do not think that this is in keeping with the best CDC and Department of Health guidance. But this event will take place entirely on the federal property.”
People should not stray too far from their abodes on July 4, Bowser said, as officials showed a slide that said “Celebrate the Fourth of July at home.”
If people do leave home, they should consider whether they can maintain six feet of distance from non-household members, according to Bowser.
The Department of the Interior also said members of the public are encouraged to follow guidance from the CDC, a federal health agency.
CDC officials recommend maintaining distance from others and, if that cannot be accomplished, wearing a mask or face covering.
People should avoid attending public gatherings if they show symptoms of any transmissible infectious disease, such as cough, fever, or runny nose, or have a confirmed case of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a new disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Organizers said they’ll have a supply of more than 300,000 cloth face coverings that will be available for people attending the July 4 celebration at the National Mall. Attendees are also encouraged to bring and wear their own masks.
Public access was opening at 1 p.m. via four access points:—Constitution Avenue NW at 20th Street NW—Constitution Avenue NW between 23rd Street NW and Henry Bacon Drive NW—17th Street NW between Constitution Avenue NW and Independence Avenue SW (near the World War II Memorial)—East Basin Drive just south of the Jefferson Memorial (visitors will not be able to access the National Mall from here)
In the hours leading up to the event, multiple protests are planned for the area. One event is slated to start in the morning at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

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Kimberly Guilfoyle, Girlfriend of Trump’s Son, Tests Positive for CCP Virus

Kimberly Guilfoyle tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, an official with a joint fundraising group with President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign said.
Guilfoyle, 51, is a fundraiser for Trump’s campaign. She is also the girlfriend of Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr..
Guilfoyle was “immediately isolated to limit any exposure,” Sergio Gor, finance chief of staff for Trump Victory Finance Committee 2020, said in a statement to news outlets.
“She’s doing well, and will be retested to ensure the diagnosis is correct since she’s asymptomatic,” he added. Asymptomatic means patients are showing no symptoms.
A significant portion of CCP virus patients show few or no symptoms, according to U.S. health officials. The virus causes COVID-19, a disease that primarily requires hospital care in the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.
Guilfoyle took to social media Saturday to thank her supporters.
“I feel good thanks be to God and look forward to a speedy recovery so I can resume working to re-elect” the president, she wrote.

Donald Trump Jr. speaks during an event in Phoenix, Ariz., on June 23, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
All events featuring Guilfoyle, the national chair of Trump Victory, were being canceled, Gor said. Trump Jr., 42, was tested and results came back negative. As a precaution, he was entering self-isolation and canceling all public events.
The couple was scheduled to attend the fireworks event at Mount Rushmore on July 3 with the president.
Guilfoyle was at BOK Arena in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month when Trump held his first rally in months. Herman Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate, was hospitalized this week after attending the event.
Anyone who is expected to come into contact with Trump has for months been tested for the virus.
Katie Miller, the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, tested positive in May. She’s married to Stephen Miller, a top Trump aide. A military member who works on the White House campus, at times coming into contact with Trump, also tested positive earlier that month.
That diagnosis prompted officials to start testing people who come into contact with either Trump or Pence.
The test would “evaluate for pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic carriers status to limit inadvertent transmission,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said.

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Texas Republican Party to Hold In-Person Convention This Month

The Texas Republican Party is moving forward with plans to hold an in-person convention in Houston this month.
The convention is scheduled to take place from July 13 to July 18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Members of the party’s executive committee voted late Thursday to move forward with plans to hold the event.
“After extensive debate Thursday evening, the State Republican Executive Committee reinforced its support for proceeding with our State Convention in person in Houston,” James Dickey, chairman of the state GOP, said in a statement.
The convention will be taking a number of precautions and have safety measures in place aimed at preventing transmission of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Temperature scanners will be present at entryways and meeting areas will be deep-cleaned after each gathering while hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the convention center.
Expanded seating will be in place to allow for social distancing.
And sponsors donated masks, which will be handed out so attendees are in compliance with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order.
No other events are scheduled to be held at the center, which can hold thousands of people, this month.

A sign is posted on a bank entrance in El Paso, Texas, on July 1, 2020. (Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)
Abbott, a Republican, issued an order earlier Thursday requiring all Texans to wear a face-covering over the nose and mouth when inside a business or another building open to the public in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the CCP virus.
Violators face a warning; a second violation can land a $250 fine.
“Texans should wear a face covering for the health of their families, friends, and for all fellow Texans,” the governor said in a video message.
He said he issued the order due to “substantial increases” in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Along with the number of cases, the percent of people being tested has risen. The number of hospitalizations has also increased, hitting 7,382 on Thursday.
According to the Texas Health and Human Services, there are an estimated 82,732 active cases of the new disease. Daily new reported cases reached over 8,000 on Wednesday.
The Texas Medical Association, an advertiser at the Texas GOP event, sent a letter to party officials urging them to reconsider its decision to hold an in-person event.
The group announced Friday it was withdrawing from the convention.
“With or without masks, an indoor gathering of thousands of people from all around the state in a city with tens of thousands of active COVID-19 cases poses a significant health risk to conventiongoers, convention workers, health care workers, and the residents of Houston,” Dr. Diana Fite, president of the association, said in a statement.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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Senator to Block All Military Promotions Over Impeachment Witness Vindman

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) said she’s planning to block every single military promotion unless Secretary of Defense Mark Esper promises that he didn’t or will not block the promotion of Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who testified against President Donald Trump in the impeachment inquiry.
Vindman, who at the time sat on the National Security Council, told lawmakers that Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president was “inappropriate.”
Duckworth, citing anonymously-sourced reports, said she’s requiring Esper to confirm in writing that he did not or will not block Vindman’s promotion, which she described as expected and deserved.
“Our military is supposed to be the ultimate meritocracy. It is simply unprecedented and wrong for any Commander in Chief to meddle in routine military matters at all, whether or not he has a personal vendetta against a Soldier who did his patriotic duty and told the truth—a Soldier who has been recommended for promotion by his superiors because of his performance,” she said in a statement.
“I won’t just sit by and let it happen, and neither should any of my colleagues. This goes far beyond any single military officer, it is about protecting a merit-based system from political corruption and unlawful retaliation.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) participates in a march with Gov. J.B. Pritzker, third from right, in Chicago on June 19, 2020. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The Department of Defense didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Duckworth said she’ll block the Senate confirmation of 1,123 senior U.S. Armed Forces promotions until her demands are met.
She’s insisting Esper provide written confirmation of whether the Army Competitive Category promotion board included Vindman among its selections for promotion to Colonel.
If so, she is demanding to know whether the Army included Vindman on its list of promotions that it sent to the Pentagon and, if so, whether Esper or his designee will or has submitted the list of Army promotions to the White House that includes or included Vindman.
Esper told reporters earlier this year that the Pentagon protects all of its people “from retribution or anything like that.”
Trump, a Republican, was impeached in December 2019 but acquitted by the Senate. He repeatedly railed against Vindman, describing the military officer as a “Never Trumper.”
Vindman, who drew attention for refusing to name the person he gave details of Trump’s call to, was removed from the council in February, ahead of his scheduled departure. The move came because Vindman was insubordinate, according to the president.

President Donald Trump walks to the White House residence after exiting Marine One on the South Lawn in Washington on June 25, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Trump later suggested the military would look into disciplining Vindman but an Army spokesman said there were no plans to investigate him.
Duckworth accused Trump of threatening to use active-duty service members to quell peaceful protests. The president mulled ordering the military to quell riots that took place at or near protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. The senator also described Trump’s resistance to taking down or renaming Confederate statues and bases as a desire to honor “traitors who raised arms against our union to maintain their ability to enslave and kill Black Americans.”
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), another member of the Armed Services Committee, earlier in June also cited the anonymously-sourced reports about alleged interference in Vindman’s expected promotion.
“To keep our democracy healthy, the U.S. military has avoided partisanship, and to keep our military strong, elected officials should avoid partisan interference with the military’s merit-based promotion system,” he said in a statement, adding later: “Civilian control of the military is a bedrock principle of our government. Civilian defense leaders, including the Secretary of Defense, have a duty to shield uniformed military personnel from undue partisan pressures.”
Ivan Pentchoukov and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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Supreme Court Denies Fast-Track Request by Texas Democrats to Expand Mail-In Voting Ahead of July Primary

The U.S. Supreme Court on July 2 denied a request by Texas Democrats to fast-track (pdf) a review of the party’s efforts to expand mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic and ahead of the July primary.
It marks another loss for Texas Democrats in their ongoing battle with state Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, who has argued that only a physical illness or disability that prevents voters from going to the polls should qualify an individual to vote by mail.
Election law established by the Texas legislature generally requires in-person voting, and allows mail balloting only for certain limited groups, including those who are 65 or older, have a disability or illness that renders them unable to vote in-person, those who will be out of the county on election day, and those who are confined in jail but otherwise eligible.
The Texas election code defines disability as a “sickness or physical condition” that prevents a voter from appearing in person without the risk of “needing personal assistance or injuring the voter’s health.”
Texas Democrats and voting rights groups have argued that voters who are susceptible to contracting the new coronavirus should be able to vote by mail amid the pandemic and have been seeking to expand the definition of “disabled” to include those who fear coronavirus exposure during in-person voting.

Election workers sort vote-by-mail ballots for the presidential primary at King County Elections in Renton, Wash., on March 10, 2020. (Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)
In May, the Supreme Court ruled that a that “a voter’s lack of immunity to COVID-19” is not a physical disability that qualifies people to vote by mail. The decision by the Supreme Court this week means the state’s current regulations for the upcoming July 14 primary runoff election will remain in place.
The ruling comes just a week after the Supreme Court also declined to immediately reinstate a federal judge’s order that would immediately expand voting by mail to all Texas voters during the coronavirus pandemic.
A spokesperson for the Texas Democratic Party, Abhi Rahman, said the party will “continue to fight tooth and nail for everybody’s right to vote,” and that “all Texans should have clarity on how they can cast their ballot in the November elections.”
While the Supreme Court may still decide to hear the case, this is unlikely to happen before fall.

Disinfecting wipes stand at the ready at the Lancaster County Election Committee offices in Lincoln, Neb., on April 14, 2020. (Nati Harnik/AP Photo)
“We still expect the case to be heard in mid-August,” Rahman said. “Texas Democrats will never stop fighting for the right for everybody to vote. Every Texan should be able to vote safely and without the fear of contracting a deadly disease.”
A number of other states will allow all voters to mail in their ballots during the pandemic in an effort to prevent large crowds from gathering at polling places.
Paxton has remained steadfast that expanding access to vote-by-mail could lead to voter fraud, and in a statement issued on June 26, he applauded the Supreme Court for “following the law and refusing to order mail-in balloting that the Texas Legislature has forbidden.”
“Universal mail-in ballots, which are notoriously vulnerable to fraud, would only lead to greater election fraud and disenfranchise lawful voters,” he said, adding that “State election officials have many options available to safely and securely hold elections without risking widespread fraud.”
President Donald Trump has also previously said mail-in voting is particularly susceptible to fraud.

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The Senate Gets a Step Closer to Rooting Out Child Sexual Exploitation from Internet

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill Thursday that holds tech companies accountable for not eliminating content that sexually exploits children, by taking away their legal protections from lawsuits.
The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act of 2020 passed by a vote of 22-0. The bipartisan legislation introduced by Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)  pushes the tech industry to take online child sexual exploitation seriously.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed the EARN IT Act, which is designed to incentivize service providers, including social media companies, to protect their products from sexual exploitation of minors by predators and to deal with the scourge of child sexual abuse material on the internet,” said Graham in a statement Thursday.
Child Advocacy groups working against the exploitation of minors received information of close to 70 million photos, videos, and files depicting the sexual exploitation of children that were circulating on the internet in 2019.
“There are tens of millions of photos and videos circulating throughout the internet, showing the most heinous acts of sexual abuse and torture of children. The EARN IT Act removes Section 230 blanket liability protection from service providers in the area of child sexual abuse and child sexual abuse material on their sites,” said Graham.
Sen. Graham thanked colleagues Blumenthal and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for offering the amendments that made the bill more effective in stopping child exploitation.
“I want to thank Senator Blumenthal for all of his hard work and making this possible. Without his leadership and input, the bill would not have gone forward. Senator Leahy’s amendment addressed many legitimate concerns, and I appreciate his willingness to work to a solution. Senator Lee was very helpful and we will continue to work with him,” said Graham.
“I have never been more proud of the Committee, as a body, than I am right now. Everybody took this problem seriously and we came together. And, if Congress accepts the Committee’s recommendation, the children of America will be better off for it,” he added.
The bill encourages the tech industry to help end online child sexual exploitation by amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to remove all-encompassing immunity from Federal civil, State criminal, and State civil child sexual abuse material laws entirely.
The Legislation will treat Tech companies “like everyone else” and strips them of their legal protection against lawsuits if they do not root out child exploitation materials from their digital space.
Prior to the legislation, and having limited liability, companies did not do much to go after online child sexual exploitation.
“The EARN IT Act’s goal is to create voluntary best business practices to protect children from exploitation and to better police these sites when it comes to child predators. If the companies in question are employing the best business practices, that would be a defense in any civil suit,” continued Graham.
The legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
In order to become law, the legislation must now be considered by the full Senate and the House, before being signed by President Donald Trump.
“I will urge the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders to take this legislation up as soon as possible. We have many differences in Congress on a variety of issues, and a level of dysfunction that I regret. However, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s unanimous vote to pass to EARN IT Act gives me hope,” Graham said.
“I am hopeful and expect that President Trump will enthusiastically support this measure,” added Graham.

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House Reparations Bill Backer Says ‘No Better Time’ Than Now, but Little Interest on Hill

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) thinks the time is right for her proposal, H.R. 40, that would establish a commission to study whether black Americans should receive reparations for slavery.
“We now have an opportunity, through H.R. 40, to have the highest level of discussion about systemic racism and race. And we are able to do it in a manner that is bringing people together; that acknowledges that black lives matter; and acknowledges that there has to be a response,” Jackson Lee, the chief sponsor of the measure, told The Hill on June 27.
“There is no better time for H.R. 40 to be part of the national dialogue, and part of the national legislative response,” she said about the “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act.”
Jackson Lee told reporters during a Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) meeting the next day that House Democratic leaders have promised her the bill will be marked up and brought to the House floor for a vote this year.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wouldn’t give a firm date, however, for either a markup or floor vote when pressed by reporters, according to the Washington Examiner.
Jackson Lee claims the tragic May 25 death of George Floyd while being arrested by the Minneapolis police and the Black Lives Matter-led protests and violence in cities across the country are prompting increased support for her proposal among congressional Democrats.
“She’s hoping to tap that energy to bring her bill to the floor for a historic vote before year’s end,” according to The Hill.
But there’s little evidence of a recent upswing of support for the reparations proposal in Congress.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, endorsed the proposal earlier this year, and it received a flurry of interest in April, when Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced a companion bill in the upper chamber.
Jackson Lee introduced her proposal in 2019, but the bill has for the most part languished since then. There are 135 House co-sponsors, all of whom are Democrats.
Only eight of the House co-sponsors signed up since Floyd’s death, according to Congress.gov. On the Senate side, Booker’s version has 18 co-sponsors, also all Democrats, and only two of them signed on in 2020.
The proposal’s only legislative action was a hearing in July 2019 by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. That hearing was the only congressional proceeding ever convened during the 18 years that some version of the proposal has been introduced in Congress.
The Jackson Lee bill, as with much else in Congress, was subsequently overshadowed by House Democratic leaders’ drive to impeach Trump and by efforts to deal with the CCP virus, also known as novel coronavirus.
Another measure of the slight interest in the reparations proposal is seen in the lack of congressional media activity since Floyd’s death.
Only six of the thousands of congressional news releases issued since June 1 mentioned the word “reparations.” None of the six were primarily focused on the Jackson Lee bill, according to a search on Legistorm, a widely used database of congressional information.
Only 49 congressional tweets posted during the same period mentioned “reparations,” according to Legistorm. Of those, 44 were tweets by congressional staff members, only five were by members of Congress.
Jackson Lee’s proposal doesn’t actually mandate reparations, it only establishes a 13-member commission, with members appointed by the president and congressional leaders in both houses of Congress. The commission’s charter would be “to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery,” according to the text.
Republican strategist Brian Darling views congressional commissions as a means of evading concrete actions.
“Congress should never set up commissions to study issues,” Darling told The Epoch Times. “It is an easy way to set up a scenario where you load up a commission with people who will come up with a pre-determined outcome, thereby providing momentum for an idea.”
Darling added that “commissions are an abrogation of the core purpose of Congress, because that is why Congress has committees to study issues themselves.”
Democratic campaign strategists interviewed by The Epoch Times, however, don’t see a problem with the commission approach.
“A commission to study the issue is a good first step. Because there are such serious gaps in our knowledge of our own history, we need to start by filling those gaps,” California-based Spencer Critchley said.
“Then we might be able to have a more useful debate about how to respond to the terrible legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, beyond the all-too-typical Us vs. Them,” he said.
Jimmy Williams, former senior economic adviser to Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), told The Epoch Times that “first and foremost, Congress should apologize for slavery. Setting up a commission to make recommendations is a perfectly fine idea if it’s purpose is to make concrete proposals and persuade Americans to support it, who, as of 2019, were 60/40 against the idea.”
A June 19 ABC/Ipsos Survey found that 73 percent of respondents oppose reparations.

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Senator Blocks Resolution Condemning ‘Mob Violence’

Citing how protesters surrounded a vehicle in Utah this week before one shot the driver, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) called for his colleagues to unanimously pass a resolution that condemns “mob violence.”
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) blocked the measure, arguing that elements of the resolution weren’t straightforward enough.
Lee took to the Senate floor in Washington Thursday to announce his belief that it was important for the Senate to go on record “condemning the rising tide of mob violence we see across the country and the increasingly prevalent mob mentality that’s fueling it.”
Lee cited several recent instances, including the shooting by a protester in Utah, the assault of a Wisconsin state senator by a group that tore down two statues, and the berating of law enforcement officers for standing at their posts.
While some Americans have organized peaceful protests, other events have devolved into rioting, looting, and violence, Lee noted.

Rioters set fire to a Wells Fargo bank across the street from the Minneapolis Police 5th Precinct during the fourth night of protests and violence following the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 29, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
The resolution (pdf) would be “the tiniest first step of a response” but would show the nation that both Republicans and Democrats oppose the violence, Lee said, asking for unanimous consent.
After a senator asks for such consent, a single colleague can block the measure.
Menendez said he objected, arguing that the resolution made no mention “of America’s original sin, which is slavery.”
Many New Jersey residents don’t believe the United States is morally committed to justice, he argued, which would clash with the third paragraph of the resolution. That paragraph states: “The United States is a diverse nation committed to cultivating respect, friendship, and justice across all such differences, and protecting the God-given equal rights of all Americans under the law.”
“I would consider not objecting to the senator’s request if he also recognized and added to his resolution the fact that we have a president of the United States who ultimately provokes—provokes insightful language and violence,” Menendez added, noting that President Donald Trump recently shared a video that included a man saying “white power.”
Lee was willing to accept the proposed revisions except for the part about Trump, saying lawmakers shouldn’t point to one specific individual.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) speaks in Washington on June 2, 2020. (Tom Williams/Pool/Getty Images)
Menendez said he couldn’t accept the compromise, and objected.
“Just so everyone is clear about the inspired insanity we just witnessed, I just proposed a nonbinding resolution condemning mob violence and Senate Democrats objected,” Lee rejoined. “I don’t know whether to be outraged or embarrassed for them.”
Lee said, in his view, lawmakers couldn’t oppose his resolution without “being on the side of the mob violence,” prompting Menendez to appeal to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who was presiding over the hearing.
Menendez claimed that Lee’s suggestion was in direct violation of a rule that says senators shall not directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.
Cruz disagreed.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks to media in the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 28, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
“The chair concludes that pointing that mob violence is dangerous to our nation is not contrary to rule 19 or any other rule of the Senate,” Cruz said.
Menendez responded by saying that the rule was violated. Cruz laughed and said senators are free to express views in the course of debate.
Menendez later said, “We have learned that my colleagues are unwilling to call out the president of the United States when the president of the United States uses language that incites violence.”
Lee pointed out that the resolution would have said all elected officials shouldn’t engage in certain acts and that the president is an elected official.
“It’s long past time to expose the shiftless idiocy of the anti-american, anti-science, anti-establishment mob and remove their snouts from the federal trough,” he said, calling for cutting federal money from colleges that punish free speech, states that force doctors to support transgenderism, and city councils that defund police departments.
“This debate is not ending today,” he said.

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Biden, Trump Campaigns Set Fundraising Records in June

The 2020 presidential campaigns and fundraising committees of Joe Biden and President Donald Trump each raised the most money in a single month since their inceptions.
The Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and their joint fundraising committees raised $141 million in June, according to a press release. The Trump campaign and its committees raised $131 million during the same month.
While the Biden campaign raised more than Trump’s for a second straight month, the president’s reelection campaign still holds a significant lead in total fundraising, spending, and cash on hand.
“The Trump campaign’s monumental June fundraising haul proves that people are voting with their wallets and that enthusiasm behind President Trump’s re-election is only growing,” Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement.
Biden for President campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement, “It’s clear that voters are looking for steady leadership, experience, empathy, compassion, and character—and they’ll find all of these qualities in Vice President Joe Biden.”
The Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign have raised a total of more than $985 million since early 2017, consistently outpacing the totals for the DNC and President Barack Obama during the 2012 election cycle.
During the same point in time in the 2016 election, the Trump campaign had raised $68 million and the Hillary Clinton campaign had raised $250 million. 
Biden led Trump by 9.3 points on July 2 in an average of polls maintained by Real Clear Politics. On the same date during the 2016 presidential election, Clinton led Trump by 4.5 points.
The Trump campaign recorded a single-day fundraising record of $14 million on the president’s birthday, June 14. The Biden campaign raised $7.6 million during a virtual fundraiser with Obama on June 23.
Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee. He is expected to be formally nominated during the Democratic National Convention scheduled for Aug. 17 to 20. 
The 2020 campaigns for both Trump and Biden were on a virtual pause for roughly three months due to the outbreak of the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. Trump held the first campaign rally since the beginning of the outbreak, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 20. Biden has held a series of virtual events and given speeches to small audiences.
Biden has agreed to three debates with Trump before the presidential election on Nov. 3.
In recent weeks, Biden has focused on criticizing Trump’s response to the CCP virus pandemic. Trump has focused his criticism on Biden’s record with China and Russia as well as his position on illegal aliens, among other issues.

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2nd Stimulus: White House Will ‘Seriously Consider’ More Payments

White House officials are mulling whether to authorize another round of direct payments to Americans.
More than 160 million Americans received payments authorized by the CARES Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March.
Lawmakers are debating another virus relief package this month. The package could include another round of direct payments.
“We’re very focused on, as part of the next CARES Act, we’re going to seriously consider whether we need to put more payments and direct payments,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters at the White House on July 2.
The first payments, he said, “worked very well.”
Payments of up to $1,200 were available to most taxpayers. Parents were eligible for an additional $500 for each child.
Trump said July 1 that he supports another round of direct payments.
“I want the money getting to people to be larger, so they can spend it. I want the money to get there quickly and in a non-complicated fashion,” he said in an interview with Fox Business.

President Donald Trump’s name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of lockdowns imposed to try to curb the spread of the CCP virus, in San Antonio, Texas, on April 23, 2020. (Eric Gay/AP Photo)
Illegal Immigrants
The Trump administration doesn’t want stimulus payments going to illegal immigrants, Mnuchin emphasized.
“Our position is that legal Americans, American citizens, should get the payments. That’s our focus,” he told reporters.
“If people are here illegally, they’re not going to get economic payments.”
Mnuchin was responding to a question about a lawsuit (pdf) that claims that only sending payments to children with parents who have valid Social Security numbers is a form of discrimination.
The lawsuit states that the virus relief package authorizing the stimulus checks, known as CARES, “discriminates against and excludes from this expansive aid program one of the country’s most vulnerable groups: U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents.”
Undocumented is a term used by some groups to describe people in the country illegally.
Plaintiffs, seven U.S. citizen children and their parents, allege the decision violated the equal protection principles embodied in the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

Border Patrol agents apprehend seven illegal immigrants from China, one from Mexico, and one from El Salvador after they tried to evade capture after crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico into the United States near McAllen, Texas, on April 18, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
The Trump administration sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing, the court lacked jurisdiction, and the plaintiffs failed to state a claim.
U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm, appointed by then-President Barack Obama, ruled in June (pdf) that the case would proceed, asking the administration for a new filing.
Plaintiffs, he said, sufficiently outlined the connection between not receiving the money and harm they allegedly suffered from not getting the payments.
California in May gave each illegal immigrant adult $500, with a cap of $1,000 per household. Applicants had to show proof they were in the country illegally.
In a related matter, the Department of Education restricted federal grants meant to ease financial hardship for college students during the COVID-19 pandemic, not providing them to illegal immigrants and international students.

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Senators Want to Trade Columbus Day for Juneteenth

Two Republican senators want to trade the Columbus Day federal holiday for one on Juneteenth.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) recently introduced legislation that would make Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery, a federal holiday. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) said they don’t want an additional federal day off, citing concerns about the rising national debt.
“We support celebrating emancipation with a federal holiday, but believe we should eliminate a current holiday in exchange. We chose Columbus Day as a holiday that is lightly celebrated,” Johnson said in a statement announcing an amendment (pdf) to Cornyn’s bill.
The senator said his motivation centers around not giving federal workers another paid holiday. He stressed he does not want to deprecate Christopher Columbus’s achievements.
Lankford said people should be aware of the impact the 10 existing federal holidays have on federal services and local businesses.
“We can reduce these impacts by replacing Columbus Day as a federal holiday with Juneteenth, America’s second independence day. I’m hopeful the Senate will support this amendment to celebrate this significant day in our nation’s history,” he said in a statement.

Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) speaks at the start of a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on the government’s response to the CCP virus outbreak in Washington on March 5, 2020. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 25, 2020. (Tom Williams/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
According to the senators’ offices, only 21 states recognize Columbus Day as a paid holiday.
They pointed to Franklin County, Ohio, announcing last month that the Columbus Day holiday would be replaced with Juneteenth.
“On this Juneteenth, we recognize the struggle that so many have endured and are still enduring to help us realize the dream of a more perfect union, and we stand with our residents in the ongoing fight for racial equity,” the county’s commissioners said at the time.
Juneteenth is on June 19. Columbus Day is on Oct. 12. It celebrates the day Columbus arrived in the Americas.
Tucker Carlson, the most popular cable news host in America and a known ally of President Donald Trump, late Wednesday criticized the proposal, alleging Lankford and Johnson “want to delete” Columbus Day “from the national calendar.”
“They’re hoping to quietly eliminate Columbus Day and then move on to the next item on the rioters’ list of demands,” he added.
Cornyn told The Hill that the proposed swap “dilutes the message we’re trying to send, which is one of being respectful and honoring and remembering our history.”

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Trump Says ‘Masks Are Good,’ Calls on Americans to Wear Them

President Donald Trump urged Americans to wear masks in public as CCP virus cases continue to rise across the United States.
“I’m all for masks. I think masks are good,” Trump told Fox News Business, adding that he doesn’t necessarily support a nationwide mandate for Americans to wear masks. There are “many places in the country where people stay very long distance,” Trump said.
It comes after senior Republicans have called on Americans to start wearing masks as infections rise and as some health experts warned that the pandemic would persist for months.
“If I were in a group of people and I was close, I would. I have. People have seen me wearing one, if I’m in a group of people where we’re not 10 feet away,” the president said. “Usually I’m not in that position and everyone’s tested because I’m the president and they get tested before they see me, [but] if I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely,” he added.
Trump said people “should” wear the masks if they “feel good about” doing so.
The president was also asked if he would wear a mask in public. Trump said he wouldn’t commit to it but wouldn’t rule it out.
“I’d have no problem. Actually I had a mask on and I said I liked the way I looked. I thought it was OK,” Trump said. “It was a dark black mask and I thought it looked OK. It looked like the Lone Ranger, but I have no problem with that,” he continued.

A member of aircrew is seen wearing a protective mask at Heathrow Airport, as Britain launches its 14-day quarantine for international arrivals, in London on June 8, 2020. (Toby Melville/Reuters)
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called on people to wear masks after cases reached record highs.
“We must have no stigma, none, about wearing masks when we leave our homes and come near other people,” McConnell said on the floor of the Senate. “Wearing simple face coverings is not about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting everyone we encounter.”
“In fact, the more we dislike the pain and suffering caused by the strict stay-home guidelines a few months ago, the happier we should be to take reasonable small steps every day to ensure our country can stay on offense against the virus,” McConnell added.
Texas, Arizona, California, and Florida have been singled out by Vice President Mike Pence for the surge in new CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases, saying in remarks this week that they account for about 50 percent of new patients.
“Roughly 50 percent of all the new cases are taking place in four states,” Pence said. He added that the White House pandemic task force is “particularly focusing on the four states that are generating the majority of the cases which, of course, are California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida.”
The COVID Tracking Project said that states have reported more than 50,000 new cases of the CCP virus, which emerged in China last year, on Wednesday. However, it noted that the seven-day average for deaths was “almost unchanged” at 520. In early May, there were around 1,500 to 2,500 deaths each day across the United States.

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Senate Passes Bill to Stop Virus Relief Payments From Going to Dead People

The Senate passed a package this week meant to stop taxpayer dollars from going to people who are deceased.
Federal authorities sent checks totaling $1.4 billion from the virus relief package to more than 1 million dead people, a government watchdog said.
The new package—containing two separate bills, S.4104 and S.1333—requires the U.S. Treasury to use Social Security data to reclaim stimulus money sent to dead people.
It also requires federal agencies to use a database of those reported to have died that the Social Security Administration maintains.
“Congress owes it to the American people to be fiscally responsible with their resources, and I am pleased my legislation passed without objection to implement an easy fix to let Treasury reclaim $1.4 billion in money that was improperly sent out in the first place,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who introduced one of the bills, which passed by unanimous consent after no lawmakers blocked it.
“As elected officials, one of our most important responsibilities is to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars and the passage of the Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act represents a good victory in what has been a long, seven-year fight,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said in a statement.

Internal Revenue Service Headquarters Building in Washington on Sept. 19, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Carper and Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) re-introduced the other bill in 2019; it was originally introduced in 2013.
Support for the bills grew after the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an agency that reports to Congress, said last week that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department “moved quickly” to disburse more than 160 million economic impact payments but sent nearly 1.1 million payments totaling some $1.4 billion to dead people.
The IRS and Treasury Department didn’t use the database because of a legal interpretation, the watchdog said, urging Congress to consider legislation that would let the Social Security Administration share its full death data with the Treasury Department.
Gene Dodaro, comptroller general of the GAO, told a House panel after the report was released that family members of dead people are supposed to return the money.
Dodaro also recommended that the IRS contact people who received the payments.
“What happened was: IRS initially determined that deceased people, or anybody who filed a return in 2018 or 2019 should be paid, so they knew they were paying people who were deceased,” he said. “Then it became known publicly, Treasury then reevaluated that position and stopped it.”
Tom Ozimek and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

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McEnany: CHOP Area in Seattle Was ‘Liberated From the Anarchists’

The so-called CHOP area in Seattle was “liberated” in a victory for “law and order,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said after police officers cleared the autonomous zone.
Activists and agitators took over an area of multiple city blocks that was alternately known as CHOP and CHAZ, blocking police officers from entering as response times soared.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, a Democrat, declared the occupation an unlawful assembly after two teenagers were shot, one fatally. Police officers arrived early Wednesday and forced occupiers out before standing watch as city workers dismantled the area.
“I am pleased to inform everyone that Seattle has been liberated. The capital hill autonomous zone, CHAZ, was a failed four-week Democrat experiment by the radical left and the results are in. Anarchy is anti-American. Law and order is essential. Peace in our streets will be secured,” McEnany told reporters in Washington later Wednesday.
She brought up comments Durkan made shortly after the occupation started, which the mayor made in response to President Donald Trump’s vow to step in and take care of the situation if local and state officials did not.
Durkan said the occupation could lead to a “summer of love.”

City crews dismantle the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) area outside of the Seattle Police Department’s vacated East Precinct in Seattle on July 1, 2020. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

A worker cleans off the word “people” graffitied over the word “police” at the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct as they retake the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) area in Seattle on July 1, 2020. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)
“Lawfully gathering and expressing First Amendment rights, demanding we do better as a society, and providing true equity for communities of color is not terrorism—it is patriotism,” she told reporters.
CHAZ was not the summer of love, McEnany asserted.
Trump was ready to act in the face of failed leadership, she said, though he appeared to take no action in the three-plus weeks that the occupation took place. McEnany claimed that he “compelled action.”
“He has said take back your city now. If you don’t do it, I will. He said this is not a game,” she said.
Durkan’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“President Trump has stood on the side of law and order and we’re pleased to report that law and order has prevailed in Seattle. In President Trump’s America, autonomous zones have no place,” McEnany added.
Trump promised in late June not to allow a similar zone in Washington, D.C., as long as he’s president.

A worker paints over graffiti after police cleared the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) area in Seattle on July 1, 2020. (Jason Redmond/AFP via Getty Images)

Seattle Department of Transportation workers remove a large fist sign in front of the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct as police retake the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) area in Seattle on July 1, 2020. (Lindsey Wasson/Reuters)
“If they try they will be met with serious force!” he said.
Protesters attempted to seal off an area near the White House on June 22, using fencing and other materials to create barriers.
Police officers removed the barriers, tents, and other items.
Seattle police officials, meanwhile, said 44 arrests were made on Wednesday as the zone was being cleared for failure to disperse, assault, obstruction, pedestrian interference, and malicious mischief.
In one case, officers used pepper spray while arresting a person who was armed with a metal pole. In another incident, an officer used a “less lethal” 40 mm sponge round on a man who appeared to be brandishing a metal pipe.
Officers were remaining in the area to ensure safety and might be making more arrests, the Seattle Police Department said in a statement.

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US House Passes Bill to Sanction Chinese Banks over Hong Kong National Security Law

The U.S. House of Representatives on July 1 unanimously passed a bill imposing sanctions on banks doing business with Chinese officials involved in the implementation of the Chinese communist regime’s national security law in Hong Kong. Passage of the legislation came in response to Beijing’s draconian new law, which came into effect in Hong Kong […]

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Judge Lifts Injunction on Publisher of Tell-All Book by Trump’s Niece

A judge ruled on Wednesday that the publisher of Trump’s niece’s memoir is not bound by a confidentiality agreement that she signed.
As such, publisher Simon & Schuster can print and distribute the 240-page book by Mary Trump, Judge Alan D. Scheinkman of the New York Supreme Court’s appellate division said in a ruling on Wednesday (pdf).
The book, titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” was scheduled to be published on June 28. The book reportedly offers an unflattering portrait of her relationship with her uncle and other family members.
The book was promoted to contain an “insider’s perspective” of “countless holiday meals,” “family interactions” and “family events.”
However, its publication was held back on June 30 when a judge issued a temporary restraining order against Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster.

Robert Trump and Donald Trump at an event in New York on Nov. 3, 1999. (Diane Bonadreff, File/AP Photo)
The restraining order was requested by President Donald Trump’s brother, Robert Trump, who said that the book would violate a nondisclosure agreement that was part of the estate of President Trump’s father, Fred Trump, after his death in 1999. Mary Trump is Fred Trump’s granddaughter.
Their settlement nearly two decades ago included a confidentiality clause that explicitly states they would not “publish any account concerning the litigation or their relationship,” unless all of them agreed, according to court papers.
Both Mary Trump and her publisher appealed the order less than three hours after it was issued.
Scheinkman’s ruling leaves in place restraints against Mary Trump and any of her agents, blocking them from publishing, printing, or distributing the book, pending the hearing of lawyers for Robert Trump’s motion for a preliminary injunction. A July 10 hearing is scheduled.
“This court is of the view that it is appropriate, in view of the confidentiality provision of the settlement agreement and the showing made in the plaintiff’s papers, for a temporary restraining order to issue as against Ms. Trump to temporarily enforce its terms pending a hearing on the preliminary injunction. The Supreme Court may revisit the restraining order upon its timely review of the defendants’ submissions and its conduct of further proceedings,” Scheinkman wrote.
Judge Says Publisher is Not Mary Trump’s ‘Agent’
But while Mary Trump has entered into a settlement, “S&S is not a party to the settlement agreement,” Scheinkman noted.
“The only basis offered by the plaintiff to extend the temporary restraining order to S&S are the allegations that S&S ‘intends to act’ on Ms. Trump’s behalf in causing the publication of the book and that S&S is acting at Ms. Trump’s direction and in concert with her,” he wrote.
“However, these allegations are conclusory and not supported by any specific factual averments,” Scheinkman contended. “Unlike Ms. Trump, S&S has not agreed to surrender or relinquish any of its First Amendment rights.”
He later added: “While the plaintiff has alleged, in effect, that S&S is Ms. Trump’s agent, the evidence submitted is insufficient for this court to determine whether the plaintiff is likely to succeed in establishing that claim. So, while the plaintiff is entitled to have the temporary restraining order bind any agent of the plaintiff, this court will not name S&S as being such an agent.”
Scheinkman noted that he is ruling after hearing oral arguments from lawyers for Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster, but before lawyers for Robert Trump have submitted opposition papers.
Theodore Boutrous Jr., Mary Trump’s lawyer, said in a statement on Wednesday that the latest ruling is “very good news.”
“We look forward to filing our brief tomorrow in the trial court explaining why the same result is required as to Ms. Trump, based on the First Amendment and basic contract law,” Boutrous said, according to The Hill.
Simon & Schuster said in a statement it was happy with the ruling, which it said would let Mary Trump tell her story. It also said that the book was of “great interest and importance to the national discourse that fully deserves to be published for the benefit of the American public.”
Robert Trump’s lawyer did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Jack Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump Campaign Says It Raised $266 Million in Second Quarter

NEW YORK—President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee raised $266 million during the second quarter, including $131 million in June, a joint committee said on Wednesday.
The committee’s fundraising numbers suggest the Trump campaign is still increasing its re-election war chest despite the health and economic damage done by the novel coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests against racism that have deeply disrupted American life and hurt the president in opinion polls.
The committee said the figures underscore Trump’s ability to raise money online and through grassroots fundraising because he was only able to hold two in-person fundraisers in the quarter because of the pandemic.
“The Trump campaign’s monumental June fundraising haul proves that people are voting with their wallets and that enthusiasm behind President Trump’s re-election is only growing,” said Trump 2020 Campaign Manager Brad Parscale.
The June figure is the largest monthly haul of 2020 for Trump.
His Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, has yet to release June numbers, but he and the Democratic Party outraised Trump for the first time in May.
Biden’s June numbers will include the more than $11 million Biden raised through a virtual fundraiser with former President Barack Obama.
Trump, who has been campaigning for a second term since 2017, still has far more cash on hand ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
Trump and the Republican Party ended the quarter with over $295 million cash on hand, the committee said.
By Jarrett Renshaw

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House Dems Push Through $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Republicans Blast as a Green New Deal Giveaway

House Democrats approved on July 1 a massive $1.5 trillion, 2,300-page “Moving Forward Act” that Republicans blasted as little more than a Green New Deal boondoggle disguised as a roads and highways measure.
“The more than $1.5 trillion proposal rebuilds U.S. communities with infrastructure and innovation that is smarter, safer, and made to last,” House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said in a statement prior to the final vote.
The measure was approved decisively by the House on a 233-188 vote. Three Republicans joined the majority Democrats in supporting the measure, while two Democrats voted with Republicans against the measure.
The measure includes $494 billion for surface transportation projects to fix “our crumbling roads and bridges,” as well as $130 billion to rebuild public schools in impoverished districts, $100 billion to “create or preserve 1.8 million affordable homes,” $100 billion for creating broadband access in areas that don’t now have it, $70 billion to encourage renewable energy development and use, and $25 billion for safe water.
The bill also includes $30 billion for hospitals “to increase capacity and strengthen care,” and $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to “modernize postal infrastructure and operations, including a zero-emissions postal vehicle fleet, processing equipment, and other goods.”
Overall, the bill is intended, according to DeFazio, to encourage “the development of wind and solar on public lands and building a workforce for offshore wind.”
But Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the ranking minority member of the Transportation Committee, called the measure “the my-way-or-the-highway” bill from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) because Democrats excluded Republicans from the bill’s creation.
As the House began debate on the measure earlier this week, Graves claimed that “$2 out of every $5 surface transportation dollars—that’s $200 billion—is spent on heavy-handed Green New Deal requirements,” and he predicted the measure “is going nowhere” in the Republican-led Senate.
“There’s been so much uncertainty and unpredictability created by the COVID-19 pandemic across our nation,” he added. “What our transportation businesses and workers need right now is stability, but this partisan process and seismic upheaval of our federal transportation programs robs them of that. This bill does nothing to move us forward and that is truly a shame.”
Republicans did manage to win adoption of an amendment offered in Rep. Rick Crawford’s (R-Ark.) impassioned appeal to the House to revise the measure to bar state-owned Chinese firms from competing for U.S. renewable-energy projects.
DeFazio opposed the Crawford motion because the measure already has “the strictest Buy American provisions,” he said. He also suggested Republicans were being hypocritical in offering the amendment because President Donald Trump is “cozying up to China.”
But more than three dozen House Democrats joined Republicans to support the amendment, which was adopted on a 224-193 vote tally.
“Democrats were fine with handing out taxpayer money to Chinese state-owned companies in their massive $1.5 trillion spending bill. Republicans just put a stop to that bypassing this commonsense amendment,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted after the amendment vote.
During the House debate, Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) told The Epoch Times that because they know “it will never become law, House Democrats buried a handful of good ideas under a mountain of bad ones, turning what should have been a vital, bipartisan bill into little more than a political football.”
Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) echoed Gohmert’s point of view.
“House Democrats didn’t bother to get any Republican input on this trillion-dollar wish list, and it shows, he told The Epoch Times. “This bloated package contains increased taxpayer funding for key parts of the socialist Green New Deal, like unproven and unprofitable green technology, while increasing regulations on basic needs like the building of new roads.”
The Democratic proposal was opposed by a number of groups that normally support infrastructure measures.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials opposed the bill because they said, “it unnecessarily turns back the clock on so many bipartisan surface transportation reforms previously agreed to by Congress.”
Also opposing the measure was the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents thousands of small long-distance commercial truck companies.
The truckers group said the bill will “destroy small trucking businesses in every corner of the country. Increasing the minimum insurance requirements … in the midst of a major economic downturn would be nothing short of disastrous.”
The Consumer Technology Association claims the measure “leaves the U.S. standing still on transportation innovation, while the rest of the world moves forward.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

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As House Votes, Republicans Say No to Democrats’ Infrastructure Legislation

As House members debate Democrats’ $1.5 trillion infrastructure spending package, Republicans have voiced opposition, saying it is not a true bipartisan infrastructure bill that addresses the needs of their districts but rather a socialist wish-list largely taken from the Green New Deal.
“The Speaker has chosen to spend the House’s time this week on a cousin of the Green New Deal masquerading as a highway bill,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Twitter. “You don’t have to take my word for it. The Chair of the @TranportDems said, ‘This is the application of the principles of the Green New Deal.’”
The Democrats’ package, The Way Forward Act, includes more than $300 billion of investment in renewing roads and bridges and $100 billion in transit to zero-emission buses. It triples the funding for Amtrak to $29 billion, allowing for upgrades and expansion of the rail network. It also plans to modernize U.S. postal service infrastructure, which includes a zero-emission postal vehicle fleet.
The package also prioritizes climate change-related and clean energy projects, with an investment of more than 70 billion-dollars on renewable energy, including extensions to tax credits for onshore and offshore wind, solar, and carbon capture.
Democrats are not hiding the fact that the infrastructure package is focused on what they call a “climate crisis”; instead they criticize President Donald Trump and Republicans for not heeding the warning of climate scientists.
Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in a tweet Wednesday, “The Moving Forward infrastructure package is necessary investment in green infrastructure and clean economy envisioned in the @ClimateCrisis report. We must continue to enact bold, science-based legislation to address this crisis.”
One reason Republicans are critical of the infrastructure package is because they say Democrats did not seek to work with the GOP and make it a truly bipartisan piece of legislation that could reach the President’s desk.
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) said, “Surface transportation is a #bipartisan issue. But to craft their ‘My Way or the Highway’ bill, @HouseDemcrats ignored @HouseGOP input.” He said the Democrats are trying to implement the Green New Deal. “Americans want a Real highway bill, NOT #socialism,” he added.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said the democrats do not have a viable way to pay for this legislation.
“I spoke on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 2 – a $1.5 trillion partisan infrastructure bill. It’s time for the games to stop, and to work on a bipartisan bill that invests in our American infrastructure – which is beyond desperately needed,” said Perry (R-Pa.)
“1400 pages unrelated to the repair and build out of our nation’s infrastructure two thirds of this spending $1 trillion created out of thin air in the two weeks since we had the discussion in the transportation committee, just dropped on it we didn’t even discuss it, after we left and marked up the bill,” he added.
And while the Democrats see the package as bold and necessary, Republicans like Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ariz.) say it falls far short in addressing his district’s basic infrastructure needs.
“I’ll be voting NO on House Dems #MyWayOrTheHighway bill: Green New Deal provisions, Prioritizes urban areas at the expense of rural America, Mandates that hinder road development, Adds 1.5 trillion to nation’s debt., Fails to tackle unnecessary permitting delays,” said Rep. Womack in a tweet.
Republicans said it had no hope of passing in the Senate.
“The Dem ‘highway bill’ is nothing more than a messaging bill, crafted by @SpeakerPelosi to appease the hard-core left. It will go no further than the House, and it will not do a single thing to help modernize our infrastructure or make roads and highways safer,” said Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.)

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As House Votes, Republicans Say No to Democrats’ Infrastructure Legislation

As House members debate Democrats’ $1.5 trillion infrastructure spending package, Republicans have voiced opposition, saying it is not a true bipartisan infrastructure bill that addresses the needs of their districts but rather a socialist wish-list largely taken from the Green New Deal.
“The Speaker has chosen to spend the House’s time this week on a cousin of the Green New Deal masquerading as a highway bill,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Twitter. “You don’t have to take my word for it. The Chair of the @TranportDems said, ‘This is the application of the principles of the Green New Deal.’”
The Democrats’ package, The Way Forward Act, includes more than $300 billion of investment in renewing roads and bridges and $100 billion in transit to zero-emission buses. It triples the funding for Amtrak to $29 billion, allowing for upgrades and expansion of the rail network. It also plans to modernize U.S. postal service infrastructure, which includes a zero-emission postal vehicle fleet.
The package also prioritizes climate change-related and clean energy projects, with an investment of more than 70 billion-dollars on renewable energy, including extensions to tax credits for onshore and offshore wind, solar, and carbon capture.
Democrats are not hiding the fact that the infrastructure package is focused on what they call a “climate crisis”; instead they criticize President Donald Trump and Republicans for not heeding the warning of climate scientists.
Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said in a tweet Wednesday, “The Moving Forward infrastructure package is necessary investment in green infrastructure and clean economy envisioned in the @ClimateCrisis report. We must continue to enact bold, science-based legislation to address this crisis.”
One reason Republicans are critical of the infrastructure package is because they say Democrats did not seek to work with the GOP and make it a truly bipartisan piece of legislation that could reach the President’s desk.
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) said, “Surface transportation is a #bipartisan issue. But to craft their ‘My Way or the Highway’ bill, @HouseDemcrats ignored @HouseGOP input.” He said the Democrats are trying to implement the Green New Deal. “Americans want a Real highway bill, NOT #socialism,” he added.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said the democrats do not have a viable way to pay for this legislation.
“I spoke on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 2 – a $1.5 trillion partisan infrastructure bill. It’s time for the games to stop, and to work on a bipartisan bill that invests in our American infrastructure – which is beyond desperately needed,” said Perry (R-Pa.)
“1400 pages unrelated to the repair and build out of our nation’s infrastructure two thirds of this spending $1 trillion created out of thin air in the two weeks since we had the discussion in the transportation committee, just dropped on it we didn’t even discuss it, after we left and marked up the bill,” he added.
And while the Democrats see the package as bold and necessary, Republicans like Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ariz.) say it falls far short in addressing his district’s basic infrastructure needs.
“I’ll be voting NO on House Dems #MyWayOrTheHighway bill: Green New Deal provisions, Prioritizes urban areas at the expense of rural America, Mandates that hinder road development, Adds 1.5 trillion to nation’s debt., Fails to tackle unnecessary permitting delays,” said Rep. Womack in a tweet.
Republicans said it had no hope of passing in the Senate.
“The Dem ‘highway bill’ is nothing more than a messaging bill, crafted by @SpeakerPelosi to appease the hard-core left. It will go no further than the House, and it will not do a single thing to help modernize our infrastructure or make roads and highways safer,” said Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.)

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MoveOn Endorses Biden, Says He’s Running on Progressive Platform

The political action committee MoveOn said members voted to endorse Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, for president.
Biden, 77, won 82.4 percent of votes case by MoveOn members, the group announced Wednesday.
MoveOn endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in 2016. Sanders lost to former First Lady Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.
“MoveOn’s millions of members are ready to mobilize together in support of Joe Biden, working to turn out voters in key states and ensure that Donald Trump is a one-term president,” Rahna Epting, the group’s political action executive director, said in a statement.
“Donald Trump is racist, corrupt, immoral, and incompetent. He must be voted out. Joe Biden is a leader who listens, who is running on the most progressive platform in Democratic Party history, and whose election would create an opportunity for the big, structural changes this country needs.”
MoveOn was launched in 1998. Its initial focus was to convince lawmakers and voters to move on from then-President Bill Clinton’s affair with an intern.
Clinton, a Democrat, was impeached by the House of Representatives but acquitted by the Senate.
Biden in a statement to NBC said he was grateful for the support of MoveOn.
“The stakes in this election couldn’t be higher and MoveOn members will be critical to mobilizing voters in communities across the country to go to the polls,” he said.

President Donald Trump arrives for a meeting at the White House in Washington on June 26, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
The campaign director for President Donald Trump said MoveOn’s endorsement of Biden “confirms his sprint leftward in an attempt to appease the radical extremists in his party.”
“The left-wing activists who endorsed socialist Bernie Sanders in 2016 have officially taken the wheel of Biden’s campaign. In their endorsement, MoveOn praised Biden for running on the ‘most progressive platform’ ever, which includes tax increases, the job-killing regulations of the Green New Deal, free healthcare for illegal aliens, liberal judges, and abortion-on-demand,” Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.
“It’s no wonder he can’t unify Democrats behind his candidacy. Over and over again Biden has proven that he is too weak to stand up to fanatic leftists who are now calling the shots and will expect him to continue to fall in line.”
MoveOn said earlier this year it would spend $20 million to mobilize members, inspire turnout, and “protect the right to vote from voter suppression attempts.”
The group said it’s zeroing in on key battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

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Trump Supports Direct Stimulus Payments Larger Than $1,200 in Next Bill

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he supports direct payments to Americans larger than $1,200 in the next piece of legislation, which lawmakers will debate in July.
“I support actually larger numbers than the Democrats, but it’s got to be done properly,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business. “I want the money getting to people to be larger so they can spend it. I want the money to get there quickly and in a non-complicated fashion,” he added.
House Democrats in their HEROES Act have said they want to distribute $1,200 payments to eligible Americans and children, although GOP leaders have said the bill contains too many unnecessary measures that are unrelated to economic recovery. The CARES Act, passed in March, included $1,200 payments and checks as well as $500 payments to children.
The $2.2 trillion CARES Act was passed to offset economic losses suffered during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic, which prompted numerous states to issue stay-at-home orders.
Trump said in the interview that the last bill—and the HEROES Act—creates a “disincentive to work.” He’s most likely referring to the extra $600 per week in unemployment insurance that is slated to expire at the end of July.
“You’d make more money if you don’t go to work,” he said of the measure, “that’s not what [this] country is all about.”
Trump said that Americans “want to work,” adding that he wants to “create a tremendous incentive” to return to the workplace.

People wearing facemasks walk past a health and safety guideline board and an open restaurant on Santa Monica Pier which re-opened on June 25 after closure for over three months due to the coronavirus pandemic in Santa Monica, California, on June 26, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that a potential stimulus bill will be approved later in July. The Senate will go on recess between July 4 and July 20.
“As you’ve heard suggested, I said back in March we would take another look at this… probably in July… take a snapshot of where we are, both on the healthy front and the economic recovery front, and decide at that point what needs to be done further,” McConnell told reporters in a news conference on Tuesday.
“Any bill that passes the Senate will have liability protections in it,” the Kentucky Republican said. “This is liability protections for everyone… everybody who interacted with this pandemic. Unless you’re grossly negligent or intentionally engaged in misconduct, we’re going to see to it that you don’t get sued on top of everything else you’ve had to deal with in trying to get through this.”
Other Republican leaders have become more willing to pass stimulus legislation that includes direct payments to Americans, while Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers in June that it’s likely more stimulus checks and payments will be needed.
“I think we’re going to seriously look at whether we want to do more direct money to stimulate the economy,” Mnuchin said of direct payments. “But I think this is all going to be about getting people back to work, and we look forward to working with the entire Senate on this.”
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the extra $600 in unemployment insurance is per month, but it is actually per week. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

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Federal Judge Sets Aside Trump Administration’s Third-Country Asylum Rule

A federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s rule that requires asylum seekers to first seek protection in countries they had passed through on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The rule, known as the “third-country asylum rule,” aims to reduce the number of meritless asylum claims that placed an overwhelming strain on the U.S. immigration system. It operates under the premise that the asylum seekers who are fleeing their countries of origin because of fear persecution or torture on the basis of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion should first seek protection in the first safe country they reach.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly in Washington ruled late Tuesday that the Trump administration had not followed federal law known as the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) when the rule was issued in July 2019. Kelly said the rule was “unlawfully promulgated” because the federal government failed to abide by the APA’s notice-and-comment requirements, and had provided insufficient justification for not meeting those requirements.
The Justice Department (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security, who jointly published the rule, argued that notice-and-comment procedure would have been impracticable and might cause smugglers to communicate the impending effects of the rule to potential asylum seekers, thus creating a risk of a surge of asylum seekers at the southern border. The departments also argue that the rule has a foreign affairs function and is connected to ongoing international negotiations.
“The Departments rely on a single newspaper article that does not even directly address the key predictive judgment in question: the likelihood of a surge in asylum seekers so great and so rapid as to threaten human life or defeat the purpose of the Rule if notice-and-comment procedures were followed,” Kelly wrote addressing the departments’ reasoning that the notice-and-comment procedure would lead to a surge in asylum seekers (pdf).
The judge also noted that he did not address claims regarding the validity of the rule brought by the plaintiffs, several asylum seekers, and immigrant-services organizations.
The ruling on Tuesday represents a setback for the Trump administration and President Donald Trump, who has taken a hard-line against illegal immigration at the southern border. The ruling also follows a Supreme Court decision on June 18 that aimed to end an Obama-era program that provided legal protections and work authorizations to illegal immigrants who were brought into the United States as children, known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
The United States has faced an influx of asylum claims in recent years as smuggling groups and economic migrants have taken advantage of legal loopholes and a strained system.
The administration says the number of cases referred to the DOJ for proceedings before an immigration judge had more than tripled between 2013 and 2018 but only a small minority of these individuals is ultimately granted asylum.
The Department said the third-country asylum rule seeks to curb the influx of asylum seekers by “more efficiently identifying aliens who are misusing the asylum system to enter and remain in the United States rather than legitimately seeking urgent protection from persecution or torture.” The rule aims to deter aliens whose claims lack merit and allow the United States to prioritize claims of others who have no other options or have experienced extreme forms of human trafficking. It also contains three limited exceptions, including for individuals who can show they are a “victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons.”
Meanwhile, experts say the rule was “long overdue” and could strengthen the U.S. asylum system.
“We can’t let people that make up the majority of asylum-seekers, who are not qualified, bring down the system and prevent truly qualified asylum-seekers from accessing protection,” Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, told The Epoch Times last year when the rule was promulgated.
The rule had faced a number of court challenges soon after it was issued. The Supreme Court last year lifted a nationwide injunction blocking the third-country asylum rule from being enforced, which was granted by a district court judge in a separate case.
Claudia Cubas, Litigation Director at CAIR Coalition, one of the groups that sued over the rule, welcomed the decision.
“By striking down this rule, Judge Kelly reaffirmed two fundamental principles. The protection of asylum seekers fleeing for safety is intertwined with our national values and that the United States is a country where the rule of law cannot be tossed aside for political whims. For many of the individual asylum seekers we fight alongside, this ruling removes an unjust barrier to security,” Claudia Cubas, Litigation Director at CAIR Coalition, said in a statement.
The DOJ did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.
Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.

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Trump Says Black Lives Matter Mural in NYC Would Denigrate Fifth Ave

He says he hopes ‘symbol of hate’ won’t be painted on New York’s ‘greatest street’
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is wrong for painting “Black Lives Matter” along Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, describing the slogan is a “symbol of hate.”
“NYC is cutting Police $’s by ONE BILLION DOLLARS, and yet the @NYCMayor is going to paint a big, expensive yellow Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury avenue,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
The president was responding to the City Council’s decision to pass a measure that would cut $1 billion from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) amid a spike in violent crime in the city, including random attacks on elderly people.
Trump said the budget cuts, which were enacted after protesters and activists called to defund the police, will “further antagonize New York’s Finest,” referring to NYPD police officers.
“Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won’t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street. Spend this money fighting crime instead!” he wrote.
Over the past several weeks, Trump has defended law enforcement and has sought to highlight acts of vandalism and decried the removal of statues of various figures, including former President Woodrow Wilson and actor John Wayne. He also called out far-left agitators, arsonists, and rioters on Twitter.

Thousands of people participate in a march in Manhattan, New York City, on June 19, 2020. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
On Wednesday, de Blasio said that the “Black Lives Matter” slogan will be painted on Fifth Avenue, adding that the location will be near the Trump Tower.
“Obviously we want the president to hear it because he’s never shown respect for those three words,” de Blasio told MSNBC. “When he hears Black Lives Matter, he presents a horrible negative reality of something that doesn’t exist, and he misses the underlying meaning that we’re saying we have to honor the role of African Americans in our history and our society.”
But after the budget was passed, New York City-based activists said that the $1 billion cuts don’t go far enough.
It comes as homicides across New York City have risen more than 21 percent over the first six months of 2020, and shootings are also up about 46 percent over 2019’s figures, according to NYPD data on crime, as reported by NBC4. Meanwhile, over the past several weeks, viral videos have shown men randomly attacking elderly people while walking in the street.
Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, allowed “Black Lives Matter” to be painted near the White House during protests and riots following the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody in Minneapolis. Organizers for the group in D.C. called it a “performative” gesture.

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Police Groups Say They Don’t Back Braun’s Qualified Immunity Bill

Several police groups said they do not support Sen. Mike Braun’s (R-Ind.) bill, which would make it easier to file civil lawsuits against police officers.
“Despite assertions to the contrary, the Indiana State Police Alliance as well as the Indiana State Police Department, did not aid in the development of this legislation and did not give our support for the bills language prior to its release,” the Indiana State Police Alliance said in a statement.
The National Fraternal Order of Police also said it does not support the bill.
“As a matter of fact, we do not support this bill and have never made any statement or other public comment which would indicate that we had done so,” Patrick Yoes, the order’s national president, said in a June 30 letter to Braun.
Braun, who couldn’t be reached Wednesday, last week introduced the Reforming Qualified Immunity Act (pdf), which he said would make it harder for government employees, including law enforcement officers, to claim qualified immunity.
The statements from police groups came after Braun appeared on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and suggested some law enforcement officials in the state he represents support his bill.
“I checked with the Indiana State Police, the Indiana Sheriff’s Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, spent over an hour with them last week, to make sure I’m not off-base,” he said.

Rayshard Brooks (C) struggling with Officers Garrett Rolfe (L) and Devin Brosnan in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant, in Atlanta, Ga., on June 13, 2020. (Atlanta Police Department via AP)
Braun said some officials feel that their own officers aren’t held accountable.
“Even law enforcement in Indiana thinks that in some of these cases, it’s giving them a bad name, and bad apples ought to be, there ought to be due process there for a victim,” he alleged.
Braun said in a statement announcing the bill that it’s up to Congress “to establish a qualified immunity law that defends law enforcement, while protecting the rights of the people.”
The bill would implement “a meaningful change that will help law enforcement and the citizens they protect,” he added.
Carlson before the segment played audio from a recent podcast in which Braun said the bill was a template “that protects law enforcement from frivolous lawsuits but holds the egregious departments and individuals accountable in these egregious instances of George Floyd or Rayshard Brooks or Breonna Taylor.”
Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes. Taylor was killed when Louisville police officers executed a no-knock search warrant on her apartment in March and shot her dead.
Brooks was fatally shot after he resisted arrest and stole a police officer’s stun gun before firing it at least twice at police officers. Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe, who was later fired and charged with murder, fired several shots, striking Brooks twice, as Brooks moved away from him. Brooks had just fired the stun gun at Rolfe.
Carlson pressed Braun on Brooks’s case, wondering what he thought Rolfe should have done.
Braun said Rolfe should not have shot Brooks. “They were going to find him,” Braun alleged.
Braun also said on the podcast that he supports Black Lives Matter.
“I support that movement because it’s addressing an inequity that has not been solved from a grassroots level,” he said.

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Trump’s Reelection Campaign Reshuffles, Manager Brad Parscale Stays Put

Days after President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his campaign announced changes in staffing. Michael Glassner, who is the organizer of Trump’s rallies, was reassigned. Jeff DeWit, who served as Trump’s 2016 campaign operation in Arizona, will become his chief operating officer, according to reports. Campaign manager Brad Parscale will remain on board […]

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Former NFL Player Burgess Owens Wins GOP Primary for US House Seat

A former professional football player won the Republican primary for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, setting up a closely-watched race in November. Burgess Owens, 68, earned 43.5 percent of the vote, according to preliminary official results. The Associated Press called the race late Tuesday. Owens beat a field that included state Republican Rep. Kim Coleman. She […]

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Gun Rights Activist Lauren Boebert Upsets Congressman in Colorado Primary

Political newcomer Lauren Boebert, who gained fame after confronting Beto O’Rourke over his stance on guns last year, beat U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) in a primary on Tuesday.
Boebert had a lead of nearly 10,000 votes with most precincts reporting.
“Our freedom and our constitutional rights are on the ballot this November and Republicans just sent a loud and clear message that they want me there to fight for them,” Boebert said in a statement after the win.
“I joined this race because thousands of ordinary Americans just like me are fed up with politics as usual. Colorado deserves a fighter who will stand up for freedom, who believes in America and who is willing to take on all the left-wing lunatics who are trying so hard to ruin our country,” she added.
Tipton, who has been in office for five terms, said Republicans chose who they wanted to run against Democrats in November.
“I want to congratulate Lauren Boebert and wish her and her supporters well,” he added in a statement.

(L-R) U.S. Reps. Doug Lanborn and Scott Tipton follow Todd Ricketts, finance chairman of the Republican National Committee, off the stage as President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Feb. 20, 2020. (David Zalubowski/AP Photo)
Republican President Donald Trump, who had endorsed Tipton, said in a message to Boebert early July 1, “Congratulations on a really great win!”
Tipton is the fourth House incumbent to lose this cycle, following Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Steve King (R-Iowa), and Denver Riggleman (R-Va.). Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) are awaiting final results in their races but at least one appears to have lost.
Boebert, 34, owns a restaurant called Shooters Grill in the town of Rifle. The restaurant features waitresses who open-carry guns.
Boebert attended a town hall that O’Rourke was holding in Aurora in September 2019 as he vied for the Democratic presidential nomination.
O’Rourke, 46, made waves when he said, “Hell yes,” when asked during a primary debate if he would force Americans to give up guns they purchased.
“I am here to say: Hell, no, you’re not,” Boebert said.

Lauren Boebert waits for returns during a watch party in Grand Junction, Colo., on June 30, 2020. (McKenzie Lange/The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel via AP)
“I have four children, I am 5 foot 0, 100 pounds, I cannot really defend myself with a fist. … I want to know how you’re going to legislate that because a criminal breaks the law, so all you’re going to do is restrict law-abiding citizens, like myself,” she added.
Boebert announced her bid for Congress three months later.
“There is a battle for the heart and soul of our country that I intend on helping win,” Boebert said in a statement at the time. “I’m running for Congress to stand up for our conservative values, address our current representatives’ failed promises, and put far-left Democrats back in their place.”
Boebert says on her campaign website that she is an avid supporter of Trump and his policies. She said her campaign is pro-freedom, pro-guns, pro-life, and pro-America.
Coloardo’s 3rd Congressional District went for Trump by 12 percentage points in 2016 and Boebert is favored against Diane Mitsch Bush, a former state lawmaker who secured the Democratic nomination.

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US Condemns Beijing’s Move to Impose National Security Law on Hong Kong

Pompeo said the United States ‘will continue to stand with the freedom-loving people of Hong Kong’
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a stern warning against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after it decided to impose a draconian national security law on Hong Kong, saying that the United States “will not stand idly by while China swallows Hong Kong.”
“Today marks a sad day for Hong Kong, and for freedom-loving people across China,” Pompeo stated in a press release from the State Department on June 30.
“Hong Kong demonstrated to the world what a free Chinese people could achieve—one of the most successful economies and vibrant societies in the world,” he observed. “But Beijing’s paranoia and fear of its own people’s aspirations have led it to eviscerate the very foundation of the territory’s success, turning ‘One Country, Two Systems’ into ‘One Country, One System.’”
“One Country, Two Systems” is a framework by which Beijing promised to preserve Hong Kong’s autonomy upon the city’s transfer of sovereignty from Britain to China in 1997.
The national security law went into effect at 11 p.m. local time on June 30 after ceremonial votes by China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC) on the same day.
The law criminalizes individuals for any acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces, with maximum penalties of life imprisonment.

Police officers ask people to leave during a protest after China’s parliament passes a national security law for Hong Kong, in Hong Kong, on June 30, 2020. (Reuters/Tyrone Siu)
Among the different provisions under the law, the Chinese regime has ultimate jurisdiction over security cases and will establish a security bureau that would instruct and supervise the Hong Kong government over the law’s implementation.
The passage of the law immediately drew criticism from the pro-democracy camp in Hong Kong, with lawmaker Tanya Chan equating the law to a “death certificate” for “one country, two systems.”
There has been an international outcry, with criticisms coming from more than 27 countries, as well as Taiwan and the European Union. Many U.S. lawmakers also voiced their opposition, with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saying the law’s passage “signals the death of ‘one country, two systems.”
Pompeo said in his statement that the CCP’s move to enact the national security law “demonstrates once again that Beijing’s commitments—in this case, the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law—are empty words,” referring to the treaty that governed Hong Kong’s handover and is supposed to guarantee Hong Kong people 50 years of freedom.
“The United States will not stand idly by while China swallows Hong Kong into its authoritarian maw,” he said, adding that the United States has already taken a number of actions in response, which include imposing visa restrictions on CCP officials for eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedoms, revoking Hong Kong’s special trading status, and imposing similar export restrictions on the city as it does on China on U.S. defense and dual-use technologies.
State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said on Twitter that the visa restrictions will also target CCP officials behind the national security law.

Our visa restrictions on PRC officials responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy will target those behind this legislation.
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) July 1, 2020

Pompeo said that the United States “will continue to stand with the freedom-loving people of Hong Kong and respond to Beijing’s attacks on freedoms of speech, the press, and assembly, as well as the rule of law.”
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on July 1 that the law was “an essential and timely decision for restoring stability in Hong Kong.”
Starting June 2019, millions took to the streets in ongoing mass protests in opposition to the now fully-scrapped extradition bill. Protests continued in Hong Kong on early July 1 with about a dozen members of pro-democracy party League of Social Democrats marching in Wan Chai while shouting slogans such as “Fight Against the National Security Evil Law,” and holding banners with the words “end one-party authoritarian rule.”
The League of Social Democrats said in a press release that the national security law “deprives Hongkongers’ freedoms” and “tramples upon the civil rights outlined in the Basic Law.”

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Dinesh D’Souza: On the Toppling of Statues and Socialism’s Divisive Push in America

The welfare systems of Scandinavian countries are often touted as examples of socialism implemented successfully. But how is the “democratic socialism” being advanced in America today fundamentally different?
Why are vandals targeting not just Confederate statues but also the statues of people like Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant?
And in the eyes of Dinesh D’Souza, what is the moral flaw at the heart of democratic socialism?
In this episode, we sit down with author, filmmaker, and public intellectual Dinesh D’Souza, to discuss his latest book, “United States of Socialism.”
This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
American Thought Leaders is an Epoch Times show available on Facebook and YouTube and The Epoch Times website. 

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GOP Senators: Russia Bounty Intelligence Unverified and Inconclusive

Republican senators on Tuesday said reports on intelligence suggesting Russia may have offered bounties for the killing of American troops were portrayed wrong, saying the intelligence wasn’t conclusive or verified.
Major newspapers “reported on unverified and inconclusive intelligence as though it had been conclusively determined that Russia paid bounties on U.S. troops,” Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) said at the U.S. Capitol after taking part in a briefing on the intelligence.
Some senators received a briefing from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and other officials at the White House earlier in the day.
The intelligence has “long been available,” Young added, charging that every member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence should have been aware of it.
Trump has been consistently tough on Russia and has taken action when the situation requires one, Young said.

President Donald Trump participates in a meeting in Washington on June 26, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), another member of Senate GOP leadership, told reporters she was at the briefing.
“The evidence that I have seen and heard shows no corroboration between what was posted in the New York Times article,” she said.
The paper reported on Friday, citing anonymous sources, that Trump received a briefing on the intelligence and that the United States concluded months ago that the intelligence was solid.
But intelligence officials vigorously disputed the reporting and the outlet walked back those claims in an update on Monday.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told reporters on Tuesday that Trump didn’t know about the intelligence.
“I’m convinced of that,” he said.
“I’m confident @RealDonaldTrump didn’t know about the report, and it’s clear our intelligence agencies aren’t in complete agreement on this,” Inhofe said separately in a statement on social media.

Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Todd Young (R-Ind.) speaks to reporters in a Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event at Alexis I. Dupont High School in Wilmington, Del., on June 30, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Former Vice President Joe Biden joined Democrats in hammering Trump over the intelligence, telling reporters in Delaware that Trump “doesn’t seem to be cognitively aware of what’s going on.”
“He either reads and/or gets briefed on important issues, and he forgets it, or he doesn’t think its necessary that he need [sic] to know it,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a Senate Democratic leadership press conference later Tuesday that every senator should be briefed on the situation. He said he hasn’t been briefed on it.
“There’s a bigger point here—where is President Trump? His number one job is to protect American soldiers, to protect the men and women who fight for us overseas,” Schumer said.
“Instead of dithering about what he knew, what he didn’t know, he should have a plan.”

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McGrath Wins Kentucky Democratic Primary, McConnell Showdown Awaits

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Former Marine pilot Amy McGrath overcame a bumpier-than-expected Kentucky primary to win the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination on Tuesday, fending off progressive Charles Booker to set up a bruising, big-spending showdown with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Voting ended June 23, but it took a week until McGrath could be declared the winner due to the race’s tight margins and a deluge of mail-in ballots. The outcome seemed a certainty early in the campaign but became tenuous as Booker’s profile surged as the Black state lawmaker highlighted protests against the deaths of African Americans in encounters with police.
It was a narrow victory for McGrath. With 89 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday afternoon, she had a nearly 9,500-vote advantage over Booker.

Democratic nominee Amy McGrath concedes the election for Kentucky’s 6th congressional district to Republican incumbent Andy Barr at the Eastern Kentucky University’s Center for the Arts in Richmond, Ky., on Nov. 6, 2018. (Philip Scott Andrews for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Kentucky switched to widespread absentee voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, and election officials needed days to count ballots. McConnell, a key ally to President Donald Trump, already breezed to victory in the GOP primary in his bid for a seventh term.
Since last summer, McConnell and McGrath looked past their primaries to skirmish with each other, and now those attacks are expected to intensify as they head into the fall campaign.
McGrath was backed by the Democratic establishment looking for a challenger to keep McConnell tied down in Kentucky as the GOP tries to hold its Senate majority. She raised prodigious amounts of campaign cash that put her on equal footing with McConnell.
Despite her advantages, McGrath sweated out her primary victory against the hard-charging Booker.

U.S. Senate candidate Charles Booker speaks at a campaign stop at Pikeville City Park in Pikeville, Ky., on June 22, 2020. (Ryan C. Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader via AP)
Booker’s long-shot Senate bid surged amid the national eruption of protests against police brutality. He joined demonstrations in his hometown of Louisville to demand justice for Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by Louisville police in her own home. Booker gained the backing of leading national progressives as he supported a universal basic income and Medicare for All—ideas that McGrath resisted.
McGrath charted a more moderate course inside Democratic politics. She supports adding a public health insurance option as part of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act and supports expanded access to Medicare for people 55 and older.
She portrays McConnell as an overly partisan, Washington insider who exemplifies what’s wrong with national politics. She accuses McConnell of undermining labor unions, awarding tax cuts for the wealthy, and cozying up to pharmaceutical companies while people struggle to afford prescription drugs.
McConnell accuses her of being too liberal for Kentucky on issues ranging from abortion to border security. He promotes his work with Trump—who remains popular in Kentucky—to appoint conservatives to fill federal court seats. McConnell also plays up his Senate leadership role and his ability to steer federal money back to the Bluegrass State.
Trump could turn into a focal point in the Senate race.
McConnell led the effort to defend the president after House Democrats impeached him. McGrath has said she would have voted to convict Trump on both impeachment counts.
By Bruce Schreiner

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Biden: Government Should Protect Statues of Washington, Columbus

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he supports government protection of some statues, including those of George Washington, America’s first president.
Biden, in his first press conference in nearly three months, said institutions like Princeton University are free to decide whether to remove names from their school. Princeton removed the name of former President Woodrow Wilson last week.
Biden, a former vice president, paraphrased former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who told reporters in 2017: “There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it.”
“The idea of comparing whether or not George Washington owned slaves, or Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, and somebody who was in rebellion—committing treason, trying to take down a union that keeps slavery—I think there’s a distinction there,” Biden told reporters.
“I think all those Confederate monuments to Confederate soldiers and generals, etc., who strongly supported succession and maintenance of slavery, and going to war to do it, I think those statues belong in museums, they don’t belong in public places.”
The government should protect non-Confederate statues, Biden suggested, saying people like Washington “had much broader views” even though some actions in their life were “distasteful.”
“For example, taking down or toppling a Christopher Columbus statue or a George Washington statue, or etc., I think that is something that the government has an opportunity and responsibility to keep from happening,” Biden, 77, said.

People take turns stomping the Christopher Columbus statue after it was toppled in front of the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minn., on June 10, 2020. (Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)
The former vice president and senator was speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, a short distance from the house he’s spent most of time in since early March.
While Biden expressed support for protecting monuments of Washington and his ilk, he also said he understands why vandals are tearing down statues dedicated to Confederate figures.
“I think the elected officials where those statues are have a responsibility to move [them]. Put them in museums. Get them down. But don’t expect … don’t be surprised if someone pulls down the statue of Jefferson Davis,” he said.
Pulling down Confederate statues is “fundamentally different” than going to the Lincoln Memorial or Jefferson Memorial and attempting to destroy those, he added.
Biden gave a speech attempting to portray President Donald Trump as inept when dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. He then took about a dozen questions from reporters. None asked him why he allegedly brought up the Logan Act in discussions in early 2017 about Trump’s incoming national security adviser.
Biden said he hasn’t been tested for the new disease, saying he hasn’t shown any symptoms and hasn’t wanted to take a test away from anybody else. He expects he will be tested soon.
He grew irritated near the end of the event, when a reporter asked if he was tested for cognitive decline.
“All you got to do is watch me, and I can hardly wait to compare my cognitive capability to the cognitive capability of the man I’m running against,” he said.

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Judge Blocks Release of Tell-All Book by Trump’s Niece, Mary

A judge blocked the release of a book from President Donald Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, in which she offers an unflattering account of her relationship with her uncle and other family members.
Judge Hal Greenwald, based in Poughkeepsie, New York, issued a temporary restraining order on Tuesday at the request of President Trump and Robert Trump, his brother. They said the book violates a nondisclosure agreement that was part of the estate of Fred Trump, President Trump’s father, after his death in 1999.
Their settlement nearly two decades ago included a confidentiality clause that explicitly states they would not “publish any account concerning the litigation or their relationship,” unless all of them agreed, according to court papers.
Greenwald set deadlines for each side to submit arguments about why the book, titled “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” should or shouldn’t be published. Mary Trump was slated to publish the book on July 28.
Mary Trump’s attorney Theodore Boutrous Jr., in a statement, said she will appeal the decision.
Boutrous said the order was “a prior restraint on core political speech that flatly violates the First Amendment.” He added: “This book, which addresses matters of great public concern and importance about a sitting president in (sic) election year, should not be suppressed even for one day.”
Robert Trump’s attorney, Charles Harder, said his client is “very pleased” with the judge’s order.
“We look forward to vigorously litigating this case, and will seek the maximum remedies available by law for the enormous damages caused by Mary Trump’s breach of contract and Simon & Schuster’s intentional interference with that contract,” Harder said, according to CNBC. “Short of corrective action to immediately cease their egregious conduct, we will pursue this case to the very end.”
Simon & Schuster, which also published a book from former White House adviser John Bolton, said it is disappointed by the court’s decision.
“We plan to immediately appeal this decision to the Appellate Division, and look forward to prevailing in this case based on well-established precedents regarding prior restraint,” the publisher said, according to the news outlet.
The move comes several days after a New York City judge dismissed a claim by Robert Trump to halt the publication of Mary Trump’s book. Surrogates Court Judge Peter Kelly said the claims were not appropriate for his court, where disputes over estate matters are settled.
Published accounts of the book’s contents say it contains an “insider’s perspective” of “countless holiday meals” and family interactions and family events, along with personal observations by Mary Trump, a psychologist, about her “supposedly toxic family,” according to the court papers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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House Democrats Set to Pass $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Package

House Democrats are poised to vote on their $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill this week, which is guaranteed to pass in the Democrat-controlled House but faces gridlock in the Senate.
The infrastructure legislation, H.R.2, The Moving Forward Act, allocates billions of dollars for a variety of improvement projects such as $300 billion for highways and bridges, $100 billion for broadband internet, $130 billion for “high-poverty” schools, $70 billion for renewal energy, and $25 billion for the U.S. Postal Service, among a host of other initiatives.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said Monday in a tweet: “Senate infrastructure bill is bipartisan, ready to go. House bill (The Moving Forward Act) is road to nowhere.”
“Instead of working with House Republicans, the House Democrats cut them out and wrote a partisan bill. In the Senate, both parties worked together to write bipartisan highway infrastructure legislation that would help the whole country. Infrastructure is critical to our economic recovery. When House Democrats are ready to be serious, they should look to America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act as a bipartisan model,” continued Barrasso.
As the House gets ready to vote on the The Moving Forward Act this week, members have filed 367 amendments, with 80 coming from Republicans, 54 bipartisan, and the rest from Democrats in an attempt to make it fit the needs of more of the Congress members’ districts.
“There may be a lot of amendments, but we hope to hold the votes down to a manageable level,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said last week. Hoyer said that in order to save time, the amendments may be voted on after they are grouped together.
The Rules Committee met Monday to decide which of the 367 amendments will be considered on the House floor later in the week. House leaders are trying to limit votes on the number of amendments because each can take as long as an hour due to proxy voting.

House Rules Committee Vice Chair Tom Cole (R-Okla.) during a hearing in the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Dec. 18, 2017. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Ranking member of the House Rules Committee Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said in a statement, “Our hearing today is on H.R. 2, which started out as the majority’s attempt to reauthorize the highway bill but has since morphed into the Speaker’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure wish list.”
“The majority tacked on all kinds of things that are not normally found in a surface transportation bill. Nine billion dollars for a new broadband internet benefit program and $80 billion to build broadband infrastructure. Two hundred million dollars for solar installations. Billions of dollars for hospital construction. One billion dollars for abandoned mines. A tax credit for people who buy electric cars. I could go on and on and on,” Cole continued.
Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said in a statement: “That’s why I’m so pleased that this week the House will consider and pass a comprehensive infrastructure package. The Moving Forward Act is a $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild American infrastructure—not only our roads, bridges, and transit systems, but also our schools, housing, broadband access, and so much more.”
“Committee Republicans may complain that they were cut out of the drafting process for this bill. But after reading their Minority Views, it’s clear the real problem is that we disagree about climate change. In the Minority Views they state, ‘H.R. 2, as amended, prioritizes climate change policy,’” DeFazio added.
While Democrats will vote and pass the bill in the House, Cole believes The Moving Foward Act will not become law because it is not bipartisan.
“I’d remind this committee that this bill is ultimately going nowhere. It will not be passed by the Senate, and the president will not sign it,” Cole said.
Along with The Moving Forward Act, the House will also be voting on State Health Care Premium Reduction Act Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 1425) and the Emergency Housing Protections and Relief Act of 2020 (H.R. 7301).

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Steele Testimony: FBI Coordinated Closely With State Department on Russia Probe

The Department of State worked closely with the FBI on the bureau’s investigation of the Trump campaign and its work with former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous dossier, according to Steele’s recent testimony in a UK court.
Steele told the court he became convinced over the course of the summer and fall of 2016 that the two departments were closely coordinating. By the time he met State Department official Kathy Kavalec in October of that year, it was “very clear that FBI and State Department were both consulting each other and discussing the whole issue of engagement with us and our investigation,” Steele said, according to court transcripts obtained by The Epoch Times.
Steele was questioned at the Queen’s Bench court in London on March 18 as part of a lawsuit against his company, Orbis Business Intelligence Limited, brought by three Russian businessmen affiliated with Alfa Bank. One of the installments of Steele’s report accused the men of funneling large amounts of “illicit cash” to then-Saint Petersburg Mayor Vladimir Putin in the 1990s. 
“My understanding was that Kathy Kavalec, who raised I think the Alfa issue with us in this meeting in October, had been closely coordinating with the FBI and the FBI knew that we were having the meeting and so on and so forth and that they were jointly working on this material.”
Kavalec, Steele added, met with him in Washington at the direction of the FBI.
Ample public evidence already shows that current and former State Department officials interacted with Steele and the FBI about the dossier. It has not been previously revealed that the two Obama administration agencies were closely cooperating in the investigation of the Trump campaign. 
Steele played a key role in the unfolding scandal of the FBI’s investigation and spying on the Trump 2016 presidential campaign. Given his level of involvement, the allegation about the State Department’s coordination with the FBI is significant, but must be taken with a grain of salt considering the numerous issues with Steele’s credibility outlined in the report by the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General (IG). The report did not state that the FBI and the State Department were in close coordination.
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment. The FBI declined to comment.
Steele told the Queen’s Bench court in London on March 18 that he learned in August 2016 from former State Department official Strobe Talbott that the State Department was aware of his election reporting on candidate Donald Trump. 
“He spoke in fairly cryptic terms, but he was aware that we had material of relevance to the US election,” Steele said. “Both National Security Advisor at the time, Susan Rice, and Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, who were the key policymakers on Russia, had been colleagues of Mr. Talbott, and I had—although he didn’t state it explicitly—one or either or both of them had briefed him on the work we had been doing.”
According to the IG report, Nuland personally authorized an FBI meeting with Steele in London on July 5, 2016. She has also said publicly that the State Department received a copy of Steele’s reporting the same month. The IG report outlines other instances of interaction between the State Department and the FBI but does not state that the two agencies were coordinating.
When confronted with the fact that the IG report does not corroborate his claim, Steele said “It may not be, but that was my understanding at the time was that there was close coordination between Victoria Nuland and Kathy Kavalec and the FBI on these issues.”
According to the IG report, Steele met with Kavalec and other State Department officials on Oct. 11, 2016. During the meeting, Steele briefed those present on the contents of his dossier. The briefing included the derogatory allegations about Trump-campaign associates Carter Page and Paul Manafort, both of whom were already under investigation as part of Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI’s codename for the probe of the Trump campaign. 
Kavalec told the IG that she believed Steele sought the meeting with the State Department “as part of a wider effort to disseminate his election report findings to persons in Washington.” At the meeting, Steele expressed frustration that the FBI was not acting on his allegations and that his client was eager to have the information come out before the presidential election in November 2016. 
According to the court transcripts, Steele was aware in early July 2016 that the ultimate client for his dossier was the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. The FBI used the dossier—without disclosing that the Clinton campaign funded it—to obtain a warrant to spy on Page.
Kavalec relayed the details of the Oct. 11, 2016, meeting to the FBI liaison at the State Department, who in turn informed the Crossfire Hurricane team on Nov. 18. Kavalec also forwarded a document about Alfa Bank to the FBI. The bureau would go on to investigate the Alfa Bank allegations and debunk them, but not before some media outlets ran with the unverified story. The outlets reported that a server in Trump tower communicated with Alfa Bank in Russia, insinuating it was a secret channel between the Kremlin and Trump.
According to Steele’s court testimony, he was specifically tasked by Fusion GPS to look for links between Alfa Bank and Putin because Fusion GPS was aware of the now-debunked Alfa Bank claims. Fusion GPS is the opposition research team that contracted Steele to compose the dossier. The Clinton campaign had retained Fusion GPS through a law firm, Perkins Coie. 
The IG questioned Steele about the State Department meeting, specifically as to why he did not abide by the FBI’s request to be the exclusive recipient of his reporting. According to the IG report, Steele did not mention the claim about cooperation between the FBI and the State Department. Instead, he said that it would be inappropriate to turn down a meeting with an assistant secretary of state, Nuland. He said his understanding was that he was free to talk about the general themes of his work with other agencies. Steele’s handling agent told the IG that Steele should have alerted him about the meeting with the State Department.
The bureau terminated its relationship with Steele after learning that he leaked what he told the FBI to the media.

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Trump Administration Announces Opposition After Houses Passes Obamacare Expansion

President Donald Trump’s administration says it opposes a bill the House of Representatives passed Thursday that would expand the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.
“This bill attempts to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to resuscitate tired, partisan proposals that would send hundreds of billions of dollars to insurance companies in order to paper over serious flaws in Obamacare,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement (pdf).
The bill “would pay for this bailout by imposing price controls that undermine the American innovation the entire globe is depending on to deliver the vaccines and therapeutics needed to respond to the coronavirus,” it added.
Advisers to Trump, a Republican, will recommend that he veto the bill if it passes the Senate.
The House passed the legislation 234-179. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) and Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) voted yes, while Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) voted no.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the bill would help people access affordable healthcare.
“Access to affordable care is a matter of life and death. That’s so self-evident as we see every day during the COVID-19 crisis, which now has killed more than 125,000 Americans, infecting 2.5 million Americans, and left tens of millions of people without jobs,” she said on the House floor in Washington before the vote.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 26, 2020. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo)
Democrats contrasted the effort with the administration’s attempts to completely replace Obamacare.
“Today we are going to pass the Patient Protection Act, which unlike the president we are willing to tell the American people now exactly how we plan to improve healthcare in America. We believe that the ACA should be improved, not taken away,” Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) told colleagues.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) argued that Republican lawmakers have created a number of healthcare programs, including the Medicare Advantage program.
“We want people to have access to quality, affordable health care that fits their needs, not Speaker Pelosi’s,” he said.
Brady called on Democrats to bring to the floor a measure that severs the individual mandate, which was deemed unconstitutional by several courts, from Obamacare.
The measure is unlikely to pass the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans. Trump could veto the bill if it passes with a simple majority. Congress can override a veto with a two-thirds supermajority of both chambers.
The vote came just days after the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare.
Trump told reporters at the White House last month that “Obamacare is a disaster, but we’ve run it very well.
“And we’ve made it barely acceptable. It was a disaster under President Obama, and it’s very bad healthcare. What we want to do is terminate it and give great healthcare. And we’ll have great healthcare, including preexisting conditions—100 percent preexisting conditions,” he added.

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Ernst Says Close Tax ‘Loophole That Goes All the Way to China’

China has loaned the United States more than $1 trillion to help cover the federal government’s spiraling national debt, all the while making huge profits in the process, thanks to an obscure provision of a landmark 1984 tax deal with this country.
“The Department of Treasury maintains a monthly accounting of major foreign holders of U.S. debt that serves as a great reminder of the more than $1 trillion we are in debt to the Chinese,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said in a June 25 letter to Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Mnuchin that was obtained late June 29 by The Epoch Times.
“What is not as transparent is how much China profits from our red ink, both in terms of dividends paid on the interest off of Treasury bonds and a special loophole that exempts those profits from taxation,” Ernst told Mnuchin.
“If its government-owned industries were treated the same as a U.S. citizen or small business, China would be required to pay taxes on the interest earned on the Treasury bonds that our government sells as a way to borrow money,” she explained.
“Due to a decades old trade deal, however, China pays no tax on U.S. Treasuries, which allows it to make off with billions of dollars that would otherwise be owed to the U.S.,” she said.
Ernst encouraged Mnuchin to “begin calculating and publicly posting the amount of interest paid to the top 10 major foreign holders of U.S. Treasury securities, as well as the cost of foregone tax revenues resulting from any exemptions granted by trade deals or other agreements with those nations.”
China, which is owed $1.09 trillion by the U.S., is second to Japan, which is the largest foreign holder at $1.27 trillion. The total U.S. national debt is almost $26 trillion.
“Think about that: We are borrowing money from China to pay China for lending us money and sweetening the bargain with a tax loophole that literally goes all the way to China,” Ernst said in a separate statement emailed to The Epoch Times regarding the issue.
Ernst was referring to the agreement negotiated by the Reagan administration in 1984 with Beijing and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1986. It was the first comprehensive tax treaty ever agreed to by the two nations, according to President Ronald Reagan in his transmittal letter to the Senate for ratification.
“The agreement will contribute to a long-run expansion of economic relations between the two countries by providing clear rules as to the tax consequences of investing or working in the other country,” Reagan told the Senate.
“It reduces the tax which residents of one country must pay to the other on certain types of income, such as dividends, interest, and royalties and provides limited exemptions for visiting teachers, researchers and students.
“The agreement also assures non-discriminatory taxation in the host country, and, provides a mechanism for cooperation between the tax authorities to try to resolve any potential problems of double taxation.”
The problem today, according to Ernst, is the fact China profits off its loans to finance the U.S. deficit with tax dollars paid by U.S. taxpayers who presently have no way of knowing how much those profits are.
Ernst is also angered that China makes these profits while possibly reneging on its phase-one commitments to buy billions of dollars of U.S. agricultural goods and that China tried to cover up its disease prevention failures that allowed the CCP Virus—also known as the novel coronavirus—to spread to the United States and the rest of the world.
China agreed late last year as part of a massive trade agreement negotiated by President Donald Trump to purchase as much as $50 billion worth of U.S. agricultural products annually. That amount represents approximately one-third of the $140 billion in agricultural products China imports each year.
A big portion of the $50 billion would be produced by Iowa farmers, a fact that is particularly significant for Ernst, who is seeking election in November to her second term in the Senate.
“The cost of this loophole is vitally important to U.S. taxpayers who are stuck with the bill, as well as U.S. trade negotiators, who might want to remind China of the billions of dollars that could be put at risk if our deals are not adhered to by both sides,” Ernst told Mnuchin.
The Iowa Republican also said Tuesday she is awarding the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which exercises an iron-fisted control of that nation’s government at all levels, her latest “Squeal Award.”
The CCP was named recipient of the June 2020 Squeal Award “for not keeping their end of the deal while benefiting from a tax break bonanza potentially worth billions of dollars every year,” she said.
The award represents Ernst’s promise to Iowa voters when she was first elected to the Senate in 2014 to shine so much light on waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government that it makes the beneficiaries squeal.
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

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Intelligence Chiefs Criticize Leaks of Classified Info Amid Reports on Russian Bounties

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel in statements late Monday criticized leaks of classified information, amid recent media reports claiming that Russian military intelligence offered bounties to Taliban-linked terrorists to assassinate U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan.
“U.S. and coalition force protection is a critical priority for both the president and the intelligence community,” Ratcliffe said in a statement. “The selective leaking of any classified information disrupts the vital interagency work to collect, assess, and mitigate threats and places our forces at risk. It is also, simply put, a crime.”
“We are still investigating the alleged intelligence referenced in recent media reporting and we will brief the president and congressional leaders at the appropriate time,” Ratcliffe continued. “This is the analytic process working the way it should. Unfortunately, unauthorized disclosures now jeopardize our ability to ever find out the full story with respect to these allegations.”
Haspel in a statement explained the process of intelligence assessments and the effects of intelligence leaks.

CIA Director Gina Haspel at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 8, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
“When developing intelligence assessments, initial tactical reports often require additional collection and validation. In general, preliminary force protection information is shared throughout the national security community—and with U.S. allies—as part of our ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of coalition forces overseas. Leaks compromise and disrupt the critical interagency work to collect, assess, and ascribe culpability,” Haspel said.
“Hostile states’ use of proxies in war zones to inflict damage on U.S. interests and troops is a constant, longstanding concern,” she continued. “CIA will continue to pursue every lead; analyze the information we collect with critical, objective eyes; and brief reliable intelligence to protect U.S. forces deployed around the world.
Ratcliffe’s and Haspel’s statements come after The New York Times on Monday cited two anonymous officials that Trump had received a written briefing about the alleged Russian bounties as early as February.
The outlet reported that the Russian bounties allegation was included in a written version of the president’s daily intelligence briefing in late February. CNN on Monday reported that the Russian bounties allegation was included in an intel daily briefing document “sometime in the spring.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks at her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 26, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also issued a statement late Monday after speaking separately with Ratcliffe and Haspel, saying that she called upon the two to “follow up” on her formal request (pdf) for a “full House briefing” on the intelligence about the Russian bounties.
“I reiterated that a primary purpose of the intelligence community is force protection,” Pelosi said. “Similarly, as Members of Congress, our priority is to keep our men and women in uniform safe. Many serious questions remain regarding what the White House is doing to address threats to American and allied troops and to hold Russia accountable.”
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Pelosi Wants Officials to Brief House on Russian Bounty Intelligence

The New York Times and The Washington Post were among the first media outlets to publish the claims regarding Russian bounties, with the Post reporting on June 28 that several American soldiers were believed to have died as a result of the program. The Kremlin has denied such arrangements.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany speaks during the press briefing at the White House in Washington on June 29, 2020. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
The Pentagon in a statement late Monday said that, to date, it “has no corroborating evidence to validate the recent allegations found in open-source reports” regarding Russian bounties.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said earlier on Monday that there is “no consensus within the intelligence community” on the Russian bounty claims, “and, in effect, there are dissenting opinions from some in the intelligence community with regards to the veracity of what’s being reported.”
President Donald Trump said on June 28 that he was never briefed about the issue. Trump also said that The New York Times must reveal its anonymous source.
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Trump Rejects NY Times Report of Russian Bounties on US Troops in Afghanistan

Ratcliffe earlier announced, “I have confirmed that neither the president nor the vice president were ever briefed on any intelligence alleged by The New York Times in its reporting yesterday [June 26].
“The White House statement addressing this issue earlier today, which denied such a briefing occurred, was accurate. The New York Times reporting, and all other subsequent news reports about such an alleged briefing are inaccurate,” Ratcliffe added.
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‘Ongoing Review’ of Russian Bounty on US Troops Report: White House

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US Revokes Hong Kong Special Trading Status, Stops Defense Exports

The Trump administration announced on Monday that it is revoking Hong Kong’s special trading status and stopping its defense equipment exports to Hong Kong, in order to protect U.S. national security amid the passing of Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong.
“With the Chinese Communist Party’s imposition of new security measures on Hong Kong, the risk that sensitive U.S. technology will be diverted to the People’s Liberation Army or Ministry of State Security has increased, all while undermining the territory’s autonomy. Those are risks the U.S. refuses to accept and have resulted in the revocation of Hong Kong’s special status,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
“Commerce Department regulations affording preferential treatment to Hong Kong over China, including the availability of export license exceptions, are suspended. Further actions to eliminate differential treatment are also being evaluated.
“We urge Beijing to immediately reverse course and fulfill the promises it has made to the people of Hong Kong and the world,” he added.
The United States previously treated Hong Kong as a separate entity from mainland China in the areas of trade, investment, and immigration. This has meant that current U.S. tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods have not applied to Hong Kong.
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Hong Kong Leader Blames City Protests and ‘Independence Movements’ For Beijing’s National Security Law

President Donald Trump had warned of the move to revoke Hong Kong’s special status in late May as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) moved to draft its so-called national security law. At the time, Trump also said that U.S. travel advisories would be updated “to reflect the increased danger of surveillance and punishment by the Chinese state security apparatus” following the national security law’s approval.
The administration will also “take necessary steps” to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials “directly or indirectly involved in eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy,” Trump said at the time.
Halt to Defense Exports
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in a statement on Monday that in addition to stopping exports of U.S.-origin defense equipment to Hong Kong, the administration will also take steps to impose similar restrictions on Hong Kong as it does for China on U.S. defense and dual-use technologies.
“The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to eviscerate Hong Kong’s freedoms has forced the Trump Administration to re-evaluate its policies toward the territory,” Pompeo said. “As Beijing moves forward with passing the national security law, the United States will today end exports of U.S.-origin defense equipment and will take steps toward imposing the same restrictions on U.S. defense and dual-use technologies to Hong Kong as it does for China.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a joint news conference on the International Criminal Court at the State Department in Washington on June 11, 2020. (Yuri Gripas/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
“The United States is forced to take this action to protect U.S. national security,” he continued. “We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China. We cannot risk these items falling into the hands of the People’s Liberation Army, whose primary purpose is to uphold the dictatorship of the CCP by any means necessary.”
Pompeo said that the administration’s decision seeks to “target the regime, not the Chinese people.”
“It gives us no pleasure to take this action, which is a direct consequence of Beijing’s decision to violate its own commitments under the U.N.-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration … given Beijing now treats Hong Kong as ‘One Country, One System,’ so must we,” Pompeo said.
CCP’s National Security Law
Beijing formally began the process of drafting a national security law for Hong Kong on May 28, after the National People’s Congress (NPC) conducted a ceremonial vote.
The law would criminalize those who engage in activities connected to “subversion, secession, terrorism, and any interfering activities by foreign countries and outside influences” that the CCP sees as a challenge to its one-party governing.
The NPC is a ceremonial rubber-stamp that approves directives from the CCP. The central government’s law will now go to Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing chief executive officer Carrie Lam, who will need to issue a legal notice in the Government Gazette for the law to come into effect.
Lam on June 30 refused to comment on the status of the national security law for her city, despite local media reporting that the law has been passed in Beijing.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam speaks at her weekly press conference at the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 30, 2020. (Anthony Wallace/AFP via Getty Images)
Critics say such a law would further threaten Hong Kong’s autonomy and allow the CCP to target dissident voices under the guise of safeguarding the CCP’s “national security.”
Hong Kong was handed back from British colonial rule to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 with the express guarantee under the Sino-British Joint Declaration that the city’s high degree of autonomy and essential freedoms would be preserved under the principle of “one country, two systems” until 2047.
CCP foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said on June 29 that the regime will impose visa restrictions on U.S. individuals who have acted maliciously on issues related to Hong Kong, according to Chinese state-run media Xinhua.
In a statement late June 29, Pompeo responded, “The Chinese Communist Party’s threats to restrict visas for U.S. citizens is the latest example of Beijing’s refusal to accept responsibility for breaking its commitment to the people of Hong Kong. We will not be deterred from taking action to respond.”

The Chinese Communist Party’s threats to restrict visas for U.S. citizens is the latest example of Beijing’s refusal to accept responsibility for breaking its commitment to the people of Hong Kong. We will not be deterred from taking action to respond.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) June 30, 2020

Eva Fu and Frank Fang contributed to this report.
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Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam Silent as Beijing Passes Draconian National Security Law

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Sidney Powell: Inside the Michael Flynn Case

Note: If you’re having trouble viewing the video above, you can also watch it here.
In the court case against Lt. General Michael Flynn, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has ordered Judge Emmet Sullivan to grant the request of U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss. But what will happen next?
In the eyes of General Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell, what are the implications of Judge Sullivan keeping the case open? Is there more exculpatory evidence to come in the Flynn case?
And, what are some possible steps to take to strengthen the DOJ as an institution?
In this episode, we sit down with Sidney Powell, counsel for Lt. General Michael Flynn. She is also the author of “Licensed to Lie” and “Conviction Machine.”
This is American Thought Leaders 🇺🇸, and I’m Jan Jekielek.

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Speaker Pelosi Extends House Proxy Voting Until August Amid Republican Opposition

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her decision to extend the House’s proxy voting system until Aug. 18 because of the ongoing public health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Pelosi said Monday her decision was based on the advice from House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving, in consultation with the Office of the Attending Physician, who notified her that the virus continues to be a public health emergency.
“I am hereby extending the ‘covered period’ designated on May 20, 2020, pursuant to section 1(a) of House Resolution 965, until August 18, 2020,” Pelosi wrote.
The rules change to include proxy voting was first implemented on May 20, initially for 45 days, with the provision that the time for remote voting could be extended if the Speaker feels there are further public health concerns from the pandemic.
Without the recent extension, the 45-day period would end in early July. According to guidelines (pdf) prepared by House majority staff on “Best Practices for Remote Floor Voting,” proxy voting “can be extended or renewed if the public health emergency persists or there is a resurgence.”
The temporary rule allows lawmakers who do not feel comfortable traveling to Washington because of the pandemic to still vote on the House legislation and attend committee meetings remotely.
Republicans have been opposed to the change from the beginning; they have filed bills to hold paychecks of members who do not vote in person. House Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) led Republicans in filing a lawsuit that argues that proxy voting is unconstitutional.
“As Americans get back to work, Dems extend their free pass to skip work altogether while a few Members vote multiple times for districts they don’t even represent,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).
GOP lawmakers have said public officials are essential workers and need to be on-site, just like doctors and firefighters.
McCarthy said, “Our work on behalf of the American people is the definition of essential work—now more than ever.”
“Democrats’ shadow voting is patently unconstitutional. So far, 70 Democrats have failed to show up for work, yet they are still collecting a paycheck from taxpayers. I just sent this letter to Speaker Pelosi calling for it to end—fittingly— on Independence Day,” added McCarthy.
McCarthy criticized Pelosi’s decision in a letter saying the duties of the House have been negatively impacted during this 45 day period of remote work.
“Technology issues have repeatedly marred committee activity and chairs have been forced to recess hearings and markups due to said technical difficulties. As we work through Congress’ growing backlog of business, it is imperative that critical committee proceedings not be further delayed or hampered due to what one Democrat brushed off as ‘bandwidth issues.’”
Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Md.) said, “House Democrats have already taken advantage of their proxy voting scheme. This is an abuse of taxpayer dollars. Hardworking Americans should not have to pay the price for this unconstitutional power grab.”
The 100 members of the U.S. Senate also stayed away from the Capitol complex for more than six weeks. The Republican-led Senate returned May 4.

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White House: Trump Shared Video of Man Who Shouted ‘White Power’ to Stand With ‘Demonized’ Supporters

President Donald Trump shared a video showing a man in Florida that at one point said “white power” to stand up for his supporters, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
The video shows supporters of Trump arguing with other seniors in The Villages, a community in Florida.
“The president did not hear that phrase in that portion of the video, and when it was signaled to him that this was in there he took that tweet down,” McEnany said during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” on Monday.
“But he made very clear to me that he stands with the people of The Villages, our great seniors, men and women in the Villages who support this president. He stands for them and his point in tweeting out that video was to stand with his supporters who are oftentimes demonized.”

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a news conference in the Brady Press Briefing room at the White House in Washington on June 29, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Trump deleted his tweet on Sunday several hours after posting it.
Sen. Tom Scott (R-S.C.) had called on the president to remove the tweet while Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive challenger, tried linking the video to the 2017 Charlottesville protests that ended with one dead.
“Today the President shared a video of people shouting ‘white power’ and said they were ‘great.’ Just like he did after Charlottesville,” Biden said in a social media post.
Biden has falsely said that Trump didn’t condemn the neo-Nazis and white nationalists after the clashes in Virginia.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to families who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act during an event in Lancaster, Pa., on June 25, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Getty Images)
The video Trump shared starts with a man and woman driving in a golf cart with the signs “Trump 2020” and “America First” on the front. The couple are shouting, as are several people holding signs signaling opposition to the president.
The man driving the golf cart shouts as he drives away, “white power, white power.”
Asked again about the tweet at a press conference later Monday, McEnany said: “He did not hear that particular phrase when he tweeted out the video.”
She said he did watch the clip but didn’t hear the man.
McEnany’s remarks came after White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement on Sunday: “President Trump is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.”

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Twitter Restricts Account of Michael Flynn’s Lawyer Sidney Powell

Twitter restricted the account of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell in the latest action against a prominent conservative.
Powell is an open supporter of President Donald Trump, a Republican.
Flynn was Trump’s first national security adviser.
Powell’s final tweet before being restricted appeared to be a link to an American Thinker article that alleged Attorney General William Barr was being attacked by most media outlets and Democrats because they believe Obama administration “criminals” are above the law.
Twitter and Powell didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Powell posted on Tuesday afternoon that her account was unlocked.
Directing a missive at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, she wrote: “Why in the world did @Twitter suspend my account and remove everyone I was following. Your abuse of conservative and #patriotic free speech knows no bounds.”
Twitter has been steadily ramping up its actions against well-known Republicans while taking little or no action against Democrats as President Donald Trump’s administration and Congress mulls removing special protections that tech giants receive under the Communications Decency Act.
Twitter has repeatedly added warnings to Trump’s tweets in recent weeks while taking no action against missives posted by his presumptive challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump posted that there would never be a so-called autonomous zone in Washington while he’s president, promising to meet people trying to set one up “with serious force.”

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter Inc., testifies at a hearing to examine foreign influence operations’ use of social media platforms before the Intelligence Committee at the Capitol in Washington on Sept. 5, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Twitter added a warning, telling users the tweet “violated the Twitter rules about abusive behavior.”
The social media giant said the tweet was a form of “targeted harassment of someone.”
Anarchists and far-left activists took credit for setting up the autonomous zone in Seattle. City officials there have repeatedly declined to force the occupiers out. At least three shootings have taken place inside or near the zone.
Trump didn’t specify any groups or name any activists in his missive.
The social media giant also banned a popular pro-Trump meme maker last week.
The president told The Federalist recently that he expects to be banned by Twitter.
“Some people say I should join Parler,” Trump said. “Maybe. We do have over 194 million followers, though, across multiple sites.”
Of the potential ban, he added: “I expect it will hurt them more than they realize.”

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Twitter Restricts Account of Michael Flynn’s Lawyer Sidney Powell

Twitter restricted the account of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s lawyer Sidney Powell in the latest action against a prominent conservative.
Powell is an open supporter of President Donald Trump, a Republican.
Flynn was Trump’s first national security adviser.
Powell’s final tweet before being restricted appeared to be a link to an American Thinker article that alleged Attorney General William Barr was being attacked by most media outlets and Democrats because they believe Obama administration “criminals” are above the law.
Twitter and Powell didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Powell posted on Tuesday afternoon that her account was unlocked.
Directing a missive at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, she wrote: “Why in the world did @Twitter suspend my account and remove everyone I was following. Your abuse of conservative and #patriotic free speech knows no bounds.”
Twitter has been steadily ramping up its actions against well-known Republicans while taking little or no action against Democrats as President Donald Trump’s administration and Congress mulls removing special protections that tech giants receive under the Communications Decency Act.
Twitter has repeatedly added warnings to Trump’s tweets in recent weeks while taking no action against missives posted by his presumptive challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump posted that there would never be a so-called autonomous zone in Washington while he’s president, promising to meet people trying to set one up “with serious force.”

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter Inc., testifies at a hearing to examine foreign influence operations’ use of social media platforms before the Intelligence Committee at the Capitol in Washington on Sept. 5, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
Twitter added a warning, telling users the tweet “violated the Twitter rules about abusive behavior.”
The social media giant said the tweet was a form of “targeted harassment of someone.”
Anarchists and far-left activists took credit for setting up the autonomous zone in Seattle. City officials there have repeatedly declined to force the occupiers out. At least three shootings have taken place inside or near the zone.
Trump didn’t specify any groups or name any activists in his missive.
The social media giant also banned a popular pro-Trump meme maker last week.
The president told The Federalist recently that he expects to be banned by Twitter.
“Some people say I should join Parler,” Trump said. “Maybe. We do have over 194 million followers, though, across multiple sites.”
Of the potential ban, he added: “I expect it will hurt them more than they realize.”

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Pelosi Wants Officials to Brief Congress on Russian Bounty Intelligence

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wants intelligence officials to brief the House of Representatives on intelligence about alleged Russian bounties.
Citing anonymous officials, several news outlets claimed Russians have been paying Afghans to assassinate American soldiers.
U.S. officials later said the intelligence was suspect and that neither President Donald Trump nor Vice President Mike Pence was briefed on it.
“The President now denies being briefed, but the Administration has not denied the existence of the intelligence,” Pelosi wrote in a June 29 letter (pdf) to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and CIA Director Gina Haspel.
“The questions that arise are: was the President briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed. Congress and the country need answers now,” she continued.
“I therefore request an interagency brief for all House Members immediately. Congress needs to know what the intelligence community knows about this significant threat to American troops and our allies and what options are available to hold Russia accountable.”
Lawmakers, including some Republicans, have said in recent days they want answers about the intelligence.
“I expect the Trump Administration to take such allegations seriously and inform Congress immediately as to the reliability of these news reports,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement Saturday.

President Donald Trump delivers a speech following a tour of Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis., on June 25, 2020. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Trump responded directly to Graham Sunday, telling him on Twitter: “Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP.”
Trump said the situation was potentially “another fabricated Russia Hoax,” referring to a myriad of reporters, pundits, and lawmakers claiming there was evidence his campaign colluded with Russia. Those claims were undermined by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which found no evidence supporting them.
Ratcliffe said in a rare statement on Saturday from the Office of Director of National Intelligence that he confirmed neither Trump nor Pence were ever briefed on the intelligence alleged in news reports.
“The White House statement addressing this issue earlier today, which denied such a briefing occurred, was accurate. The New York Times reporting, and all other subsequent news reports about such an alleged briefing are inaccurate,” he said in a statement.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said earlier in the day: “While the White House does not routinely comment on alleged intelligence or internal deliberations, the CIA director, national security adviser, and the chief of staff can all confirm that neither the president nor the vice president were briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence.”
Russian officials have denied the reporting.

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Man Who Participated in Protests Charged With Murder of Photographer

A man apprehended on suspicion of killing a photographer at a park occupied by protesters participated in a number of recent protests, officials said.
Steven Nelson Lopez, 23, was arrested on charges of murder and first-degree wanton endangerment.
“This man had been participating in the protests since they began and he had been arrested a couple of times over the past several weeks,” Interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder told reporters at a press conference Sunday.
“He had been repeatedly asked by other members in the park to leave due to his disruptive behavior.”
Showing surveillance footage at a press conference, officials said Lopez late Saturday fatally shot Tyler Gerth, a 27-year-old photographer, at Jefferson Square Park in Louisville.
“A man opened fire from the edge of the protest area at about 9 p.m., resulting in several people firing weapons and chaos for those at the park,” Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat, told reporters.
“It is just difficult to comprehend why things like this happen,” Fischer said, adding later: “Whether they were there at the time of the shooting or not, I know the sadness of those who have been organizing and participating in peaceful protest for racial justice. This is absolutely not what they wanted, or any of us wanted.”

A man prays at Jefferson Square Park in Louisville, Ky., on June 28, 2020. (Dylan Lovan/AP Photo)
Deputies from Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office responded quickly and began treating victims while police officers were on the scene within four minutes receiving a call.
Surveillance video showed a man authorities said was Nelson at the corner of the park brandishing a weapon. The man, dressed in black shorts and a t-shirt, and carrying a dark-colored backpack, appeared to be in the process of being pushed out of the park by several people before pulling out the gun.
After he did so, the people scattered as Nelson fired multiple shots.
Bystanders also captured the shooting on cell phone cameras, giving officials multiple angles to work with as they worked to identify the shooter.
“Tyler was incredibly kind, tender-hearted and generous, holding deep convictions and faith, “Gerth’s family said in a statement to the Louisville Courier Journal.
Multiple other people in the park were armed at the time of the incident. Investigators are still working on figuring out everyone who may have fired during the situation.
Following the shooting, the Louisville Metro Police Department said conditions in the park “have become increasingly unsafe.”
“While most protesters in the park have been largely peaceful, things changed last night when shots rang out in the park, leaving one dead and one other shot,” the department stated.

A protester speaks with Louisville police officers who were handing out flyers on an overnight camping ban in Louisville, Ky., on June 28, 2020. (Dylan Lovan/AP Photo)
Officers were, starting Sunday, enforcing a local law that prohibits camping.
The park will be closed each night at 11 p.m. and reopen at 6 a.m. Any property left overnight will be removed. The park will be cleaned daily.
People who don’t leave the park can be charged with third-degree criminal trespass.
Amy Hess. chief of public services, said the number of tents became a safety issue, blocking officials from seeing what exactly happened from surveillance video.
She admitted officials weren’t enforcing the law before the shooting.
Signs prohibiting camping have been in the park since the beginning but officials “wanted to balance the First Amendment exercise of free speech, the need to be able to come together and demand change, at the same time, while understanding that ordinances were in place for a reason, and it was specifically to help protect public safety,” she said at the press conference.
“When that became out of balance, we saw a need last night to take action.”

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Pence: Leaders of Black Lives Matter Pushing ‘Radical Left’ Agenda

Leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement are pushing a radical agenda, Vice President Mike Pence has alleged, citing how activists want to defund the police.
Pence, a Republican, was pushed repeatedly during an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on why he won’t say “black lives matter,” a phrase that activists say is a way of elevating concerns over what they describe as systemic racism.
Pence said he finds Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. an inspiration and noted he traveled to King’s home church in Alabama with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) in 2010.
“I cherish the progress that we have made toward a more perfect union for African Americans throughout our history. And I’ve aspired throughout my career to be a part of that ongoing work. It’s really a heart issue for me,” Pence said.
“And as a pro-life American, I also believe that all life matters, born and unborn. But what I see in the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement is a political agenda of the radical left that would defund the police, that would—”
CBS reporter John Dickerson interrupted, saying: “Leave that out of it. Just the phrase.”
Pence continued, saying: “—tear down monuments, that would would press a radical left agenda that, and support calls for the kind of violence that has beset the very communities that they say that they’re advocating for.”

A group of delegates participate in a discussion with Vice President Mike Pence, center, at the Covenant Church of Pittsburgh in Wilkinsburg, Pa., on June 12, 2020. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)
“I’ve literally met with African American leaders around this country and in the national capital area who’ve—who made it clear to us they—they want law and order. They want peace in our streets,” Pence added.
Dickerson asked Pence: “So you won’t say black lives matter?”
“John, I really believe that all lives matter,” Pence responded. “And that’s where the heart of the American people lies. And we’re going to continue to stand strong. We’re going to continue to stand strong with Americans that want to see us come together as a nation. And we’re going to carry that message all the way to November and for four more years.”
The Black Lives Matter Global Network, a global nonprofit that was founded in 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder in the killing of Trayvon Martin, didn’t respond to a request for a response to Pence.
The group says it’s mission “is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”
Black Lives Matter activists are pushing to defund police departments across the United States and some have said they want the departments abolished, a situation that’s unfolding in Minneapolis.
Leaders in the movement have declined to condemn the rioting and looting that’s taken place in tandem with protests over alleged police brutality and racial injustice.
Hawk Newsome, a New York-area leader of the group, drew criticism, including from President Donald Trump, after saying last week: “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it.”
Trump called the remarks treasonous. Newsome told The Epoch Times that he’s open to meeting with the president.

Protesters hold signs during a march in Chicago, Ill., on June 28, 2020. (Natasha Moustache/Getty Images)
The Trump administration has taken a number of steps since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. Pence met with black leaders in a number of states while the president met at the White House with relatives of minorities who have been killed in recent years, primarily by police officers, before signing an executive order on police reform.
Both have declined to use the phrase “black lives matter.”
A reporter in Philadelphia about a week ago tried multiple times to get Pence to say it.
“Let me just say that what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy. And in this nation, especially on Juneteenth, we celebrate the fact that from the founding of this nation, we cherish the ideal that all of us are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. And so all lives matter in a very real sense,” Pence said.
“It’s the reason why President Trump in the wake of that tragic event in Minneapolis said that justice would be served. We’ve met with law enforcement leaders. We’ve met with African American leaders.”
“I don’t accept the fact, Brian, that there’s a segment of American society that disagrees in the preciousness and importance of every human life,” he added when the reporter, Brian Taff with ABC 6, continued trying to get Pence to say the phrase.

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Trump Administration Open to 2nd Round of Stimulus Payments

A second round of stimulus payments is on the negotiating table in Washington, but some of the 160 million Americans who got money the first time could be left out. Instead, the Trump administration is pushing for a more limited approach. That’s more likely to garner Republican support in Congress, where lawmakers are expected to […]

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University Athletes Try to Force Expulsion of Student Who Joked About George Floyd’s Drug Use

A group of student athletes at Kansas state University, including the university’s football and women’s basketball teams, said they would not play or practice until a student who joked about George Floyd on Twitter is expelled. At the center of the controversy is Jaden McNeil, a junior at Kansas State and the founder of nationalist […]

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Attorney General Says New Strzok Notes Described Obama White House Meeting

The newly-declassified handwritten notes by notorious former FBI agent Peter Strzok memorialized the crucial Jan. 5, 2017, meeting at the Obama White House, according to Attorney General William Barr.
Upon their release as part of the lawsuit against former national security advisor Michael Flynn on June 24, Strzok’s notes did not bear a date. In a court filing, Flynn’s attorneys said the notes appear to have been taken on Jan. 4, 2017. 
Barr’s revelation of the date and location of the crucial meeting adds to a growing body of evidence surrounding a conversation about the investigation of Flynn held between President Barack Obama and senior administration officials at the White House on Jan. 5, 2017. 
Strzok identified the same attendees as did then-National Security Adviser Susan Rice in a recently-declassified email she sent on January 20, 2017. Obama, Rice, Vice President Joe Biden, FBI Director James Comey, and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates attended the meeting, according to the notes and the email.
In an interview about the same meeting with the special counsel investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Robert Mueller, Yates left Biden and Rice off the list of the attendees present. In testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey likewise left Biden and Rice off the list.
The date of the meeting raised a question about how Strzok learned of the content of the conversation. The on-the-fly nature of the notes suggest he was either physically present or listened in on a conference call. 
“They’re handwritten notes of the January 5 meeting at the White House between the president, vice president, James Comey and others,” Barr said on a podcast by Ted Cruz.
According to the notes, Obama asked those present whether there is anything he “shouldn’t be telling the transition team. Comey responded by pointing to Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak, but noted that the calls “appear legit.” 
The notes say that Biden brought up the Logan Act, an archaic and likely unconstitutional law that prohibits citizens from conducting unauthorized negotiations with foreign powers. Flynn was never charged under the Logan Act.
The involvement of Obama and Biden in an investigation of a key member of an incoming administration raises questions whether the outgoing administration scrapped the tradition of a peaceful transition of power in favor of a probe stemming from conduct that even the FBI director described as “legit.” 
One day prior to the Jan. 5 White House meeting, Strzok asked a fellow FBI agent to refrain from closing Flynn’s case. The agent had prepared the documents to close the case after finding no evidence of wrongdoing. Strzok intervened and mentioned that the request came from the bureau’s management.
Flynn’s case was still open when, several days into the administration of President Donald Trump, Comey sent Strzok and another agent to interview Flynn at the White House. Nearly a year later, Flynn would go on to plead guilty to lying to the FBI during that interview. 
Flynn has since withdrawn his plea and the Department of Justice on May 7 moved to dismiss the charges against the former national security advisor. The Justice Department based its decision on an internal review of the FBI’s investigation of Flynn, which found that the bureau had no reason to interview Flynn in the first place. In his plea withdrawal statement, Flynn said he pleaded guilty because the special counsel pressured him, including by threatening to prosecute his son.
Biden has provided conflicting statements about his involvement. Obama has not been publicly asked about the meeting. 
The public evidence about the Jan. 5, 2017, meeting from Strzok, Yates, Comey, and Rice is limited to a few lines of general statements. The Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month authorized the issuance of subpoenas for the interviews of the four former officials.
The FBI’s inquiry into Flynn was part of a broader investigation of the Trump campaign code named Crossfire Hurricane. Mueller took over the investigation in May 2017 and, after a 22-month inquiry, concluded there was no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

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Pelosi Says US Should Implement Nationwide Mask Mandate

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that there should be a nationwide mandate to wear face coverings to ward against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Definitely long overdue for that,” Pelosi told ABC News on Sunday when asked about whether masks should be required. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended—not required—the use of masks.
Vice President Mike Pence offered a contrasting statement, saying Sunday that Trump will leave it to states to decide whether masks should be mandatory to protect against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“One of the elements of the genius of America is the principle of federalism, of state and local control. We’ve made it clear that we want to defer to governors. We want to defer to local officials,” Pence said on CBS News.
“If we’d have taken that approach, we’d have never had the success that we had in the greater New York City area. We’d have never had the success in Michigan or New Orleans, because from early on, we worked closely in partnership with governors to make sure that they had what they needed when they needed it, tailored to the unique circumstances in their states,” Pence added.
According to Johns Hopkins University, more than 127,000 Americans have died from the virus so far. The COVID Tracking Project noted on Saturday that in the past several weeks, “deaths have continued to fall, even as cases and hospitalizations spike across the South and West.” About 500 people died from the CCP virus on June 26, the project reported.
In the ABC interview, Pelosi again demanded that the Senate pass the $3 trillion HEROES Act, a stimulus package aimed at tackling economic shortfalls during the pandemic. The measure hasn’t been brought to the floor of the Senate by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) after several GOP officials said there were too many unnecessary provisions in the bill.
“It’s time for this administration to take this seriously,” Pelosi said. “As Dr. [Anthony] Fauci said, we have a serious problem ahead.” She was referring to the U.S. infectious diseases expert.
“This is life and death, and we do have a plan to again reverse this trend, as well as to kill off this virus,” Pelosi added. “We don’t have a vaccine, and we don’t have a cure. God willing and science enabling, we will sometime soon, but until we do, we have the tools to halt the growth of this.”
GOP senators and President Donald Trump have signaled that another CCP virus stimulus package that includes direct payments to Americans will be a possibility in the future.
Last week, Trump praised the amount of testing being done in the United States but joked that he wished fewer tests were conducted so the number of confirmed cases would be lower. White House officials and Trump himself said his comments were made sarcastically.

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Trump Posts Wanted Posters Seeking People Allegedly Involved in Destroying Statues

President Donald Trump made more than a dozen separate Twitter posts on Saturday that included posters seeking information on 15 suspects who were allegedly involved in trying to tear down a statue of seventh President Andrew Jackson.
The posters included the statement, “The United States Park Police, in conjunction with the FBI Washington Field Office’s Violent Crimes Task Force, is attempting to identify several individuals who are responsible for vandalizing federal property at Lafayette Square in Washington, DC.”
It said that on June 22, a group of people vandalized the Jackson statue at Lafayette Square near the White House. The FBI and U.S. Park Police are now trying to locate several people who were allegedly involved.
On Sunday morning, the president wrote that since he imposed a “very powerful 10-year prison sentence” on people who attempt to vandalize monuments and statues, “many people [are] being arrested all over the country” and “vandalism has completely stopped.”

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2020

On Friday, Trump re-tweeted an FBI wanted poster picturing alleged vandals.
“I just had the privilege of signing a very strong Executive Order protecting American Monuments, Memorials and Statues – and combating recent Criminal Violence,” he announced on Twitter. “Long prison terms for these lawless acts against our Great Country.”

President Donald Trump retweeted this FBI wanted poster, showing photos of 15 protesters he says are wanted for “vandalization of federal property.” (FBI)
If you have any information about these individuals, contact U.S. Park Police at (202)-610-8737, uspp_tipline@nps.gov, or the case detective at (202)-610-8731. You can also contact the FBl’s Washington Field Office at (202) 278-2000.

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Barr Says Election Conducted Predominately by Mail-In Ballots Ripe for Fraud

Attorney General William Barr has reiterated his concerns over the security of mail-in ballots, saying that elections that are conducted predominately through vote-by-mail could open up “many occasions for fraud … that cannot be policed.”
“I think there’s a range of concerns about mail-in ballots. And let me just clarify here. I’m not talking about a mail-in ballot for a limited number of cases where somebody, you know, is going to be traveling around the world, and the way that the state has provided for that is, you mail in your ballot,” Barr told NPR during an interview on Thursday.
“I’m talking about a comprehensive rule where all the ballots are essentially mail-in, and there’s so many occasions for fraud there that cannot be policed,” he added.
Barr’s comments echo President Donald Trump’s stance on the issue, which has been widely disputed by his critics. The issue of voter fraud, which has gained more media attention in recent years, is a highly contentious issue that often falls within political ideological lines.
Trump has rebuked the idea of the blanket expansion of mail-in voting, and has often called on Republican lawmakers to push against calls for widespread mail-in voting. Democrats, on the other hand, argue that mail-in voting options are necessary in order for voters to comply with public health recommendations to reduce gatherings due to the pandemic.
Experts are also split on the issue. Supporters of mail-in voting say that the phenomenon is so rare that it is not an issue, while opponents say voter fraud isn’t just real, but a bipartisan issue.
Barr did not give any specific examples of fraud that led to his concerns but noted that he was concerned about the possibility that ballots could be counterfeited, adding that the ballots are “pretty primitive.”
He also believes that mail-in voting could be targeted by foreign countries that “want to sow discord in the United States by undermining confidence in the results of the election.”
“I think if we do adopt programs of mail-in, that will be an area which they will exploit. And I think you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out,” Barr said.
The conservative Heritage Foundation maintains a database that provides a sampling of election fraud cases from across the United States. The database, which contains 1,285 proven instances of fraud, is not comprehensive, the foundation said.
On Thursday, a New Jersey city councilman and three others were charged with voter fraud in connection to a recent special election that was primarily done by mail-in ballots.
Currently, five states—Utah, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado—conduct elections primarily by mail. Meanwhile, about two-thirds of the states allow voters to request an absentee ballot without needing an excuse.

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Charges Against Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou Solid, Not Politically Motivated: Former Trump Adviser

John Bolton, the former national White House national security adviser, said on Friday that the arrest of and charges against Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Meng Wanzhou are solid and not politically motivated.
“The facts are what the facts are,” he said during an interview with CBC Radio‘s “The Current.” “It’s very clear what the purpose of the arrest was. It was not politically motivated at all.”
“I’d be happy to testify under oath to that effect in a Canadian court,” he added.
Bolton—who’s known for his hawkish view on foreign policy matters—affirmed that the Huawei case is solid.
Huawei and people involved with Huawei had committed financial fraud in very serious ways in regard to violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran, Bolton said in the interview.
The former Trump adviser made the remarks in response to a report that Meng’s defense team may use his newly released controversial book to prove political involvement in her extradition. Bolton claimed in the book that President Trump used the criminal prosecution against Huawei as a bargaining chip in the U.S.-China trade deal.
However, Trump has denounced Bolton’s book as “pure fiction.”
“Bolton’s book … is a compilation of lies and made up stories, all intended to make me look bad.” he wrote in a Twitter post. “Many of the ridiculous statements he attributes to me were never made.”

In this Sept. 30, 2019, file photo, former National Security Adviser John Bolton gestures while speakings at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)
Meng, 48, who is also the daughter of Huawei’s CEO, was arrested in Vancouver in December 2018 at the request of the United States. She was formally charged on Jan. 28, 2019, with bank fraud, wire fraud, and conspiracies to commit bank and wire fraud.
Meng lost the first battle in her bid to avoid extradition in May and remains under house arrest in Vancouver.
Two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were detained in China in the same month shortly after Meng’s arrest.
Kovrig is a former Canadian diplomat and Spavor is a businessman. Both of them were charged formally with spying, the Chinese regime announced on June 19.
Bolton said that the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor are arbitrary.
“I think all the evidence points in that direction,” he said. “I think the Canadian government throughout this process has upheld its obligations under that agreement. And the Chinese have responded in an authoritarian fashion they’ve they’ve arbitrarily arrested Canadian citizens.”
He pointed out that countries should learn the danger of China dominating the world from the Chinese regime’s response to the Meng Wanzhou case.
“This is the way China behaves when it’s not dominant in the world. And if you don’t stand up to this kind of behavior now, what’s going to be like as China grows and economic strength,” he said.
Cathy He and Katabella Roberts contributed to the report.

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Colorado Governor Signs Bill Making It Harder to Get Nonmedical Vaccine Exemptions

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has signed into law the School Entry Immunizations act, which tightens state exemptions for vaccines.
Polis announced on Friday he had signed the highly contested bill, also known as Senate Bill 20-163, which essentially adds a step for parents wishing to exempt their children from vaccines for nonmedical reasons.
“Evidence shows that states with lenient exemption policies, such as Colorado, experience higher rates of vaccine-preventable diseases,” the state’s general assembly declared in the preamble to the bill, which seeks to increase Colorado’s vaccination rate, which is among the lowest in the nation.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who when the photo was taken was Governor-elect, speaks at a rally in Denver, Colo., on Nov. 6, 2018. (Jason Connolly/AFP/Getty Images)
Under the new law, parents have to submit a standardized exemption form bearing the signature of a medical professional or, as an alternative, they can provide a certificate proving they viewed a state-approved online educational video about vaccinations. The previous law allowed parents who wanted their children to be exempt from vaccination to submit a simple note to the school office.
Children who are home-schooled are not subject to the new rules, only those whose parents want them to attend public school. The new law also compels schools to make public their rates of exemption and vaccination and information from the new exemption forms is to be entered into a confidential database that public health officials could consult in case of an outbreak.
“Accurate and up-to-date documentation of immunization status supports coordinated and effective public health disease control response efforts in the case of an outbreak, which help protect the overall health of a community,” the lawmakers noted in the bill.
Polls have shown high bipartisan support for tightening vaccine exemptions in Colorado, though opponents argue it amounts to an unacceptable encroachment on parental choice.
“I think we’re all pretty lock-stepped that that’s a parent’s decision and a parents’ rights decision to make,” House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock), told The Denver Post earlier this year. “I don’t think any of us Republicans are against vaccines. It’s just something that we believe is a role between the parent and their doctors, not the government.”
Polis also opposed earlier efforts to tighten vaccination exemptions in Colorado, arguing in an interview on Hill.TV’s “Rising” program that the government should not force parents to participate in mandatory inoculations for their children.
“It’s important that parents vaccinate their children, but you can’t do that at the point of a gun,” Polis said, adding, “When the government tries to force parents to do this, it creates distrust in both vaccinations and distrust in government.
Friday’s signing of the bill took place with no advance public notice or fanfare.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children enrolled in kindergarten in Colorado had one of the lowest rates of vaccination in the country in the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years.

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Trump Repeats Vow to Protect Those With Pre-Existing Conditions After Seeking Obamacare Termination

President Donald Trump repeated his promise to protect those with pre-existing conditions on June 27 after asking the Supreme Court to terminate Obamacare.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, had a provision that protected people with preexisting conditions, ensuring they wouldn’t lose their insurance. It is one of the most popular aspects of the law.
Trump has repeatedly said that protections for preexisting conditions will remain despite efforts by his administration to terminate the law.
“Now that the very expensive, unpopular and unfair Individual Mandate provision has been terminated by us, many States & the U.S. are asking the Supreme Court that Obamacare itself be terminated so that it can be replaced with a FAR BETTER AND MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE,” said Trump in a message on Twitter.
“Obamacare is a joke! Deductible is far too high and the overall cost is ridiculous. My Administration has gone out of its way to manage OC much better than previous, but it is still no good. I will ALWAYS PROTECT PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS!!!” added Trump.
Earlier on Thursday, the administration appealed to the Supreme Court to terminate the ACA, asking justices to strike down the healthcare regulations.
Two federal courts have ruled that the act’s individual mandate, which required people who did not have health insurance to pay a fine, violated the U.S. Constitution. The mandate, the Trump administration is arguing, is not severable from the rest of the act.
“The individual mandate cannot be severed from the remainder of the ACA,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in a new court filing (pdf). “The entire ACA thus must fall with the individual mandate.”
The Department of Justice filed the legal brief in support of states that are seeking to have Obamacare entirely struck down. The states include Texas, Florida, Kansas, South Dakota, and West Virginia.
California, Hawaii, Minnesota, and other states are seeking to have the act upheld.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, said in a statement that the ACA “has been life-changing and now through this pandemic, we can all see the value in having greater access to quality healthcare at affordable prices.”
“Now is not the time to rip away our best tool to address very real and very deadly health disparities in our communities,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the Trump administration’s efforts have no legal justification.

A sign on an insurance store advertises Obamacare in San Ysidro, San Diego, Calif., on Oct. 26, 2017. (Mike Blake/Reuters)
“If President Trump gets his way, 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will lose the ACA’s lifesaving protections and 23 million Americans will lose their health coverage entirely,” she said in a statement.
Trump campaigned on replacing the ACA. The American Health Care Act of 2017 that would have partially repealed the ACA, failed in the Senate.
Zack Stieber contributed to this report.

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Hawley Wants Religious Conservatives to Get More Say In Trump’s New Supreme Court List

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) urged President Donald Trump to revamp his process of selecting Supreme Court nominees after warning that some conservative voters have expressed deep disappointment with recent decisions by some of the president’s judicial picks.
Hawley told Politico in an interview that religious conservatives are now “very depressed” following the Supreme Court’s recent run of left-leaning rulings, with the GOP senator singling out a June 15 high court decision expanding the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s ban on sex discrimination in hiring beyond biologically-determined sex, to also cover sexual orientation and gender identity.
The 6–3 decision by the Supreme Court in the Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia case (pdf) carried an additional cultural charge because it was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump pick. Conservatives widely objected to the ruling, leading some to question their support for Trump, who has made the confirmation of 200 federal judges, including two Supreme Court justices, a big part of his reelection platform, in line with the Republican goal of filling every appeals court opening by the end of the year.
“The whole point of the Federalist Society judicial project, the whole point of electing Trump to implement it, was to deliver Supreme Court victories to social conservatives,” Varad Mehta, a conservative writer, wrote in a tweet following ruling. “If they can’t deliver anything that basic, there’s no point for either. The damage is incalculable.”
Following the outcry from the ruling, Trump pledged to appoint more conservative justices and said he would be issuing a new list of potential Supreme Court nominees by September, in a bid to win over socially-conservative voters.
“I will be releasing a new list of Conservative Supreme Court Justice nominees, which may include some, or many of those already on the list, by September 1, 2020. If given the opportunity, I will only choose from this list, as in the past, a Conservative Supreme Court Justice,” Trump wrote in a tweet. Trump first released a list of possible Supreme Court nominees in 2016 with input from conservatives affiliated with The Federalist Society, with experts widely crediting the move as winning over many evangelical voters.

President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., on June 19, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Hawley said Trump should reconsider his process for compiling the new list, calling for religious conservatives to be more involved in discussions around judicial picks.
“Who actually goes out and votes for judges?” Hawley told Politico. “It’s conservative Catholics, conservative Jews, evangelicals, Mormons. That coalition of folks is vitally important to the Republican Party. I think they feel just shocked at what’s going on with the Supreme Court, so I think it’s vital that they be heard from and involved in this process.”
“The idea of issuing a new list, if it’s just going to be the same stuff and the same process, I mean I’m not wild about it,” Hawley said. “When it comes to this whole process, we have to ask ourselves, is this vetting process, is this really working?”
Hawley’s remarks echo those he made following the Supreme Court decision in the Bostock sex discrimination case, where he urged America’s religious conservatives to demand a new “bargain” from Republican leaders as a condition for their future support.
“If this case makes anything clear, it is that the bargain that has been offered to religious conservatives for years now is a bad one, it’s time to reject it,” Hawley said on the Senate floor on June 16.
“The bargain has never been explicitly articulated, but religious conservatives know what it is,” Hawley said. “The bargain is you go along with the party establishment, you support their policies and priorities, or just keep your mouth shut about it, and in return, the establishment will put some judges on the bench who supposedly will protect your constitutional rights to freedom of worship, to freedom of exercise.”
“That’s what we’ve been told for years now, and we were told that we’re supposed to shut up while the party establishment focuses more on cutting taxes and handing out favors for corporations, multinational corporations who don’t share our values, who will not stand up for American principles, who are only too happy to ship American jobs overseas,” Hawley said.
“But we’re supposed to say nothing about that, we’re supposed to keep our mouths shut, because maybe we’ll get a judge out of the deal,” he added.

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Europe Awakens to Threat Posed by Chinese Communist Party

The EU seeks a partnership with the United States “to defend our values and our interest” within the transatlantic community against China.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on June 25 that the U.S. has accepted the proposal made by EU’s High Representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell to establish a U.S.-EU Dialogue on China with a goal to address the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Pompeo hoped that this initiative to preserve “our free societies, our prosperity, and our future” will be kicked off in a few weeks and will continue for an extended period of time.
Confronting the threats posed by the CCP does not mean that countries “have to choose business over confronting the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo said, but “the ruleset on which that trade engages has to be reciprocal” and fair.
Both the United States and the EU have a big trade relationship with China. “It’s a market of a billion-plus people,” said Pompeo.
On the other hand “China needs markets too” and it also “needs access to Western knowledge, Western knowhow,” he said. However, both communities on both sides of the Atlantic “no longer allow the Chinese Communist Party to dictate the rules and terms and conditions of those relationships when they’re not fair and equitable to our peoples.”
An example of the CCP unfair practices is intellectual property theft that takes place in Germany, across Europe, and in the United States, said Pompeo.
“The hardworking German people created that intellectual property, worked hard for that intellectual property, built that, protected it in their system, and the Chinese came and stole it.”
The prosperity of the transatlantic world owes much to the protection of intellectual property, Pompeo added.

Britain’s then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (C) and Chinese Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua (C-R) applaud the launch of a stock link between the Shanghai and London stock exchanges, in London on June 17, 2019. Sources say listings were recently blocked by Beijing. (Henry Nicholls/AFP/Getty Images)
China has access to the Western capital market in ways Western countries cannot access Chinese capital markets, Pompeo said.
“For our relations to develop further, they must become more rules-based and reciprocal, in order to achieve a real level playing field,” President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen said after the EU-China summit earlier in June.
“Engaging and cooperating with China is both an opportunity and a necessity. But, … we have to recognize that we do not share the same values, political systems, or approach to multilateralism. We will engage in a clear-eyed and confident way, robustly defending EU interests and standing firm on our values,” President of the European Council, Charles Michel said after the summit.
In 2019, China became the third U.S. trading partner falling from its top position among the U.S. trading partners, which it held several years prior, according to Forbes.
U.S. goods exports to China in 2019 were $106 billion while imports from China were $452 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
In 2019, China was the third-largest EU partner for goods export (at $222 billion or €198 billion) and the largest EU partner for goods import (at $407 billion or €362 billion), according to the European Commission’s data.
Threats Posed by the CCP
Pompeo described several threats posed by the Chinese communist regime that can challenge free societies.
One of them is breaking international commitments by the Chinese Communist Party including those to the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, and the people of Hong Kong.
The Chinese regime plans to impose the new “national security law” for Hong Kong thus undermining the “one country, two systems” arrangement that separates Hong Kong’s political, legal, and financial infrastructure from mainland China.
If imposed, the law will violate “China’s own promises to the Hong Kong people under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-filed international treaty,” Pompeo said in a statement.
Predatory economic practices such as coercing nations to use 5G services offered by Chinese company Huawei, “an arm of the Chinese Communist Party’s surveillance state,” threatens people’s freedoms and privacy rights.
Violations of European sovereignty by the CCP, “including its browbeating of companies like HSBC,” is also considered a threat, Pompeo said.

Pedestrians wear face masks as they walk past HSBC signage outside a branch of the bank in Hong Kong on April 28, 2020. (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)
HSBC (Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corp.), a London based multinational corporation operating in Hong Kong has recently cast its support for Beijing’s “national security law” imposed on Hong Kong.
That move has drawn criticism from the U.S. and UK governments for supporting the crushing of political dissent in Hong Kong and from the CCP for its reluctant and delayed support of the security law as well as the bank’s previous efforts in cooperating with the United States.
Pompeo also brought up shocking human rights abuses taking place in China. According to a State Department report the Chinese regime imprisons religious minorities in internment camps, kills prisoners of conscience to harvest their organs for transplant surgery, persecutes lawyers for defending “pro-democracy dissidents, house-church activists, Falun Gong adherents, or government critics.” Falun Gong practitioners are subjected to especially severe persecution at the hands of the Chinese regime.
China also engages in provocative military actions such as “aggression in the South China Sea, deadly border confrontations in India, an opaque nuclear program, and threats against peaceful neighbors,” Pompeo said.
Can the EU Stand up to the CCP?
The EU and the United States need to first agree on the shared understanding of the core facts that constitute this threat, and then both the EU and the United States “can begin to take action,” Pompeo said.
He predicts that there may be different views on this issue, especially among business communities. They may not want to confront the CCP because they make money in China and will accept doing business with it based on conditions set by the CCP.
“I don’t accept that argument. There is no compromise between freedom and authoritarianism,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo believes that Europeans have every incentive to demand from the CCP reciprocity and fair treatment. They should not bow to the CCP because China is a billion people market, he explained. The United States told the CCP to stop stealing their intellectual property.

A pro-democracy protester waves a British colonial flag during a “Lunch With You” rally at a shopping mall in the Central district in Hong Kong on June 1, 2020. (Issac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images)
The G7 group has already condemned China’s national security law targeting Hong Kong. Especially the UK has strongly opposed this attempt to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy.
The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, consisting of lawmakers from both sides of the Atlantic, has been established with a goal to reform the ways democratic countries approach China.
The Czech Republic ”has led the charge in encouraging countries” to allow only trusted 5G service providers and suppliers in their networks, Pompeo said.
“The United States is not forcing Europe to choose between the free world or China’s authoritarian vision. China is making that choice between freedom and democracy,” Pompeo said.

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4 Charged in Mail-In Voter Fraud Scheme, 19 Percent of Ballots Rejected

A New Jersey city councilman and three others were charged in a mail-in voter fraud scheme that ended with 19 percent of ballots rejected, officials said.
Paterson City Councilman Michael Jackson, 48, Councilman-Elect Alex Mendez, 45, Shelim Khalique, 51, and Abu Razyen, 21, were charged with crimes including fraud in casting mail-in votes, unauthorized possession of ballots, and tampering with public records.
Paterson’s City Council members aren’t officially affiliated with a political party.
All voting in the May 12 elections in New Jersey was done by mail-in ballots, a move officials attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The charges came after the U.S. Postal Inspection Service found hundreds of mail-in ballots in a mailbox in Paterson, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.
“Today’s charges send a clear message: if you try to tamper with an election in New Jersey, we will find you and we will hold you accountable,” Grewal said in a statement. “We will not allow a small number of criminals to undermine the public’s confidence in our democratic process.”
The state’s election process lets voters complete a mail-in ballot themselves and return the ballot by mailing it, placing it in a specially designated “drop box,” or delivering it to the County Board of Elections. But the state also lets a voter give a completed ballot to a “bearer,” who is then supposed to complete a certification on the ballot envelope in the presence of the voter.

Shelim Khalique in an undated mugshot. (New Jersey Attorney General’s Office)
The bearer can then return the ballot on behalf of the voter.
Bearers are barred from collecting and delivering more than three ballots and a candidate in the election isn’t allowed to serve as a bearer.
Jackson, officials said, violated election laws by approaching at least one voter in Paterson in the same district where he was running and collecting their mail-in ballots. Jackson did not certify the ballots in an apparent bid to skirt the law. He also possessed more than three mail-in ballots.
Mendez is also accused of attempting to be a bearer in the same district he was running.
“In addition, Mendez allegedly procured or submitted one or more voter registration applications which he knew to be false, fictitious, or fraudulent, in that he knew the person for whom the application was procured was not eligible to vote in the election district identified on the application,” the office of Grewal, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Khalique, the brother of Paterson councilman Shahin Khalique, allegedly dropped off mail in ballots that didn’t have information identifying himself as the bearer and Razyen was captured on video footage flipping through a stack of more than three mail-in ballot envelopes that didn’t have the bearer portion completed.
Jackson faces up to 16 years and six months in prison, Mendez faces up to 31 years and six months in jail, and the other two men also face jail time if convicted.
The probe into elections for Paterson’s six ward seats on the City Council led to 3,190 ballots, or about 19 percent of those submitted, being disqualified, officials told the Paterson Press.
Keith Furlong, a spokesman for Passaic County government, called it “part of the normal process.”

Abu Razyen in an undated mugshot. (New Jersey Attorney General’s Office)
A request for comment sent to Jackson’s office wasn’t immediately returned. Contact information for the other three men wasn’t available.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh, both Democrats, called on Jackson and Mendez to resign.
Some have called for an entirely new election.
“Invalidate the election. Let’s do it again,” Rev. Kenneth Clayton of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Paterson chapter told NBC last month.
“These kinds of acts make people not want to vote anymore. They feel disenfranchised, disconnected that their votes don’t count, and that is not fair to people,” he said.
Scott Salmon, a lawyer representing Councilman Bill McKoy, filed a legal challenge earlier this month, asking a judge to order a new election in Paterson’s 3rd ward.
“In just a few weeks with limited resources, we have uncovered a deep and systemic problem with the way this election was conducted, at seemingly every level,” Salmon told a state paper. “We are most concerned with what appears to be a concerted effort to steal this election through a massive voter fraud program.”

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Trump Urges Illinois Governor, Chicago Mayor to ‘Establish Law and Order’ Amid Ongoing Violence in City

President accuses Pritzker, Lightfoot of putting political interests ahead of citizens’ safety
President Donald Trump called on Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to establish law and order amid crime and lawlessness in Chicago, the third largest city in the United States.
In a letter on Friday (pdf), Trump urged Pritzker and Lightfoot to take action on the violence taking place in Chicago. He accused the two of putting political interests ahead of the lives, safety, and fortunes of Chicago citizens, adding that “the people of Chicago deserve better.”
“While I have been heartened to see crime reductions nationally the last few years, I have been horrified by the continued violence in this great American city,” the president wrote.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (L) announces a shelter-in-place order to combat the spread of COVID-19, as Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot (R) listens, during a news conference in Chicago on March 20, 2020. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo)
Trump expressed concern over an article from Chicago Sun-Times on June 8 which reported 18 murders in 24 hours on May 31, which made it the most violent day in 60 years in the city. The article also noted that from late May 29 through early June 1, 85 people were shot and 25 were killed—the most in modern history in Chicago.
“Your lack of leadership on this important issue continues to fail the people you have sworn to protect,” Trump wrote to Pritzker and Lightfoot, citing the article. “I am concerned it is another example of your lack of commitment to the vulnerable citizens who are victims of this violence and a lack of respect for the men and women in law enforcement.”
“More Americans have been killed in Chicago than in combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq combined since Sept. 11, 2001, a deadly trend that has continued under your tenure,” Trump later emphasized.
“The combination of crime, high state and local taxes, and onerous state and local government regulations have caused thousands of Illinoisans to flee to other states,” he also wrote. “Between 2010 and 2019, Illinois lost more of its population than any other state in the nation.”

A Chicago police officer in a file photo. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Trump said that despite millions of dollars of federal funding that has been allotted each year to support public safety in Chicago, “these substantial sums of taxpayer money are not being turned into results, and the safety of [Chicago’s] most vulnerable communities continues to deteriorate.”
The president offered Pritzker and Lightfoot the option of meeting with members of his cabinet to help create “a plan to make Chicago safe.”
“My administration would also welcome the opportunity to engage with you and your colleagues as you develop bipartisan policy recommendations to improve policing and make our great cities safer for all,” Trump wrote.
“If you are willing to put partisanship aside, we can revitalize distressed neighborhoods in Chicago, together,” he added. “But to succeed, you must establish law and order.”

The president said that his administration has already taken a number of steps to support disadvantaged communities, including signing the First Step Act into law in December 2018—a move that marked the first of major reforms to the U.S. criminal justice system in over a decade.
“This brings historic reforms to make our justice system fairer and to help inmates successfully transition back into society by providing prisoners with a second chance through rehabilitative programs and fair sentencing,” Trump said of the move.
Trump also noted that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law in 2017 has created Opportunity Zones—where investors can qualify for special tax incentives when investing in certain economically distressed communities.
“Nationwide, nearly 9,000 communities have designated Opportunity Zones, including over 130 in Chicago, which are incentivizing investments in areas that have been forgotten for far too long,” Trump said.

Trump pointed to an Executive Order he signed on June 16 to help strengthen trust between police officers and their communities. The order stipulates that certain federal grants will only be awarded to police agencies that reform their use-of-force rules and send data on officer use-of-force misconduct to a national database.
“My administration continues to work closely with Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and others across the political spectrum to advance further policy improvements and meaningful reforms,” he wrote.
Petr Svab contributed to this report.

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House Democrats Fail to Override Trump’s Student Loan Forgiveness Veto

House Democrats didn’t garner enough support in today’s vote to override President Donald Trump’s first-ever domestic policy veto.
With only six Republicans joining them, the Democrats were unable to have the two-thirds majority needed to override the presidential veto of House Joint Resolution 76. Their effort failed in the House by a 238–173 vote.
The House joint resolution, sponsored by Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.), would have overturned Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s 2019 rewriting of the Obama-era standards for loan forgiveness for students who claim to be defrauded by for-profit schools, such as defunct education chain Corinthian College.
The original Obama “borrower defense” rule in 2016 adopted a rather broad definition of “fraud” in college education, allowing students to apply to have their loans wiped out if they thought the school they went to failed to deliver the education it promised.
DeVos rewrote the borrower defense rule in 2019 and directed the Education Department to calculate how much the defrauded students benefited from their education and how much of their debt, if any, can be discharged. The calculation is based on a complex formula that compares the median salary of the defrauded students to those of students who attended similar programs at other schools. The defrauded students will receive relief if their earnings are at a deficit.
Under the new standards, most allegedly defrauded borrowers only qualify for partial relief.
This overhauled system, according to DeVos, “treats students fairly and ensures that taxpayers who did not go to college or who faithfully paid off their student loans do not shoulder student loan costs for those who didn’t suffer harm.”
Trump on May 29 vetoed the House joint resolution opposing the rule, saying in his veto message that the rule provides “needed transparency to both students and schools,” while accusing the previous administration of promoting a “regulatory environment that produced precipitous school closures and stranded students.”
“H.J. Res. 76 is a misguided resolution that would increase costs for American students and undermine their ability to make choices about their education in order to best meet their needs,” he said. “For these reasons, it is my duty to return H.J. Res. 76 to the House of Representatives without my approval.”
Lee decried the veto at the time, arguing that DeVos’ rule would “weaken both protections for students and oversight of shady schools, while forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for the fraudulent actions of a few bad actors.”
“President Trump sent a message to the American people that he cares more about enriching predatory schools than protecting defrauded students and veterans,” she said.

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Supreme Court Rebuffs Texas Vote-by-Mail Expansion

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday sided with Republican state officials in Texas and refused to allow broader mail-in voting in the state, leaving in place a lower court ruling blocking the expansion sought by Democrats amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The justices let stand the ruling by the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that halted a federal judge’s earlier decision to permit any voter concerned about the threat of coronavirus infection to cast a ballot by mail. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, fought the expansion of mail-in voting.
By Jan Wolfe

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Pence Says ‘Open Our Economy Up’ But Do It Safely

Vice President Mike Pence said at a briefing Friday that the Trump administration seeks to press ahead with reopening the country from pandemic-driven lockdowns but intends to do so safely as parts of the country experience a COVID-19 surge.
The count of new confirmed infections, provided by Johns Hopkins University, surged to an all-time high of 40,000 on Friday, eclipsing the previous high of 36,400, set on April 24, during one of the deadliest stretches in the crisis.
Amid the surge, the White House coronavirus task force, led by Pence, held its first briefing in nearly two months.
“As we stand here today, all 50 states and the territories across this country are opening up safely and responsibly, but with cases rising, particularly over the past week throughout the South, President Trump directed our task force to brief the American people” on several issues relating to the outbreak, Pence said.
He said that the United States is “in a much better place” than it was two months ago, noting the country has more medical supplies on hand now, a smaller share of patients are being hospitalized, and deaths are much lower than they were in the spring.
Deaths from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus in the United States are down to around 600 per day, compared with about 2,200 in mid-April. The virus is blamed for 124,000 deaths in the United States and 2.4 million confirmed infections nationwide, by Johns Hopkins’ count.
Pence said the administration’s primary mission in the pandemic response was to save lives, adding that as mitigation efforts had the effect of flattening the curve.
“Once we came out of the 45 days to slow the spread, what our task force has been focused on over the course of the past two months is to partner with states to save lives and safely reopen,” Pence said.
He discussed the return of jobs that came with reopening.
“We’re seeing America go back to work, and in much of the country we’re seeing jobs expanding, economic activity expanding,” Pence said.
“We want to open our economy up. We want to move America forward,” Pence said, adding that officials would take steps to protect American lives.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, urged young Americans who have recently tested positive for the virus to follow safety guidelines and “be part of the solution” not “part of the problem.”
“You have an individual responsibility to yourself, but you have a societal responsibility. … We can either be part of the solution or part of the problem. …[T]he only way we’re going to end it is by ending it together,” he said.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci at the White House in Washington on April 17, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)
“Likely the people out in crowds, enjoying themselves—no blame there—understandably,” Fauci said. “But when you do that, you are part of a process. When you get infected, you will infect someone else who will infect someone else and ultimately you will infect someone who is vulnerable.”
“A risk for you is not just isolated for you,” Fauci warned young people Friday. “You are innocently and inadvertently propagating the process of a pandemic.”
Pence’s and Fauci’s comments come after Texas reported more than 17,000 confirmed new cases in the past three days, with a record high of nearly 6,000 on Thursday. In Florida, the number of confirmed cases neared 9,000, almost doubling the previous record, set just two days earlier.
Texas and Florida have both scaled back their plans for reopening, closing bars.

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