January 2020 in Washington DC
Election year is upon us and we immediately find ourselves in the throes of the most important election cycle of our lifetime. And tragically, if recent cycles are any indication, this critical election could be meaningfully influenced by a number of outside actors seeking to manipulate our election process. I hope you will please take five minutes and watch the attached video, a Senate hearing in which Senator Cruz exposes the risk of manipulation by Facebook and other social media platforms.
Please remember to join us at our annual meeting on January 22, to hear from one of the most important groups fighting on the front lines to defend the Constitution, preserve the rule of law, and fight against liberal judicial activism in our court system.
The health of our great nation depends on our participation.
President Palm Beach Republican Club
Wall Street Journal January 6, 2020
OPINION | COMMENTARY
The Democrats and Iran
Why can’t the party’s candidates simply admit Qasem Soleimani’s death makes Americans safer?
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with a photo of Qasem Soleimani in Tehran, Jan. 3. PHOTO: -/AGENCE
President Trump’s order to take out Qasem Soleimani was morally,
constitutionally and strategically correct. It deserves more bipartisan
support than the begrudging or negative reactions it has received thus far
from my fellow Democrats.
The president’s decision was bold and unconventional. It’s understandable
that the political class should have questions about it. But it isn’t
understandable that all the questions are being raised by Democrats and all
the praise is coming from Republicans. That divided response suggests the
partisanship that has infected and disabled so much of U.S. domestic policy
now also determines our elected leaders’ responses to major foreign-policy
events and national-security issues, even the killing of a man responsible
for murdering hundreds of Americans and planning to kill thousands more.
After World War II, Sen. Arthur Vandenberg, a Michigan Republican who
was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, formed a bipartisan
partnership with President Truman that helped secure the postwar peace
and greatly strengthened America’s position in the Cold War. “Politics stops
at the water’s edge,” said Vandenberg when asked why he worked so closely
with a Democratic president. He added that his fellow Americans
undoubtedly had “earnest, honest, even vehement” differences of opinion
on foreign policy, but if “we can keep partisan politics out of foreign affairs,
it is entirely obvious that we shall speak with infinitely greater authority
In their uniformly skeptical or negative reactions to Soleimani’s death,
Democrats are falling well below Vandenberg’s standard and, I fear, creating
the risk that the U.S. will be seen as acting and speaking with less authority
abroad at this important time.
No American can dispute that Soleimani created, supported and directed a
network of terrorist organizations that spread havoc in the Middle East. In
Syria he made it possible for the Assad regime to respond with brutality to
its own people’s demands for freedom. More than 500,000 Syrians have
died since 2011 and millions more have been displaced from their homes.
During the Iraq war, Soleimani oversaw three camps in Iran where his elite
Quds Force trained and equipped Iraqi militias. According to the U.S.
government, these fighters have killed more than 600 American soldiers
since 2003. In another time, this would have been a just cause for an
American war against Iran, and certainly for trying to eliminate Soleimani.
Within Iran, the Quds Force has worked with the supreme leader to
suppress freedom and economic opportunity, jail dissident politicians and
journalists, and kill protesters in the streets.
From the perspective of American values and interests, it’s impossible to
mourn the death of such a man, and Democrats haven’t. Their response thus
far has been “Yes, but . . .,” adding worries that Soleimani’s death will
provoke a violent response from Iran. Democrats have also suggested that
the Trump administration has no coherent strategy toward Iran or that Mr.
Trump shouldn’t have acted without notice to and permission from
Yet if we allow fear of a self-declared enemy like Iran to dictate our actions,
we will only encourage them to come after us and our allies more
aggressively. Some Democrats have said that killing Soleimani will lead us
into war with Iran. In fact, Soleimani and the Quds Force have been at war
with the U.S. for years. It is more likely that his death will diminish the
chances of a wider conflict because the demonstration of our willingness to
kill him will give Iranian leaders (and probably others like Kim Jong Un )
much to fear.
Some Democrats have also refused to appreciate Soleimani’s elimination
because they say it isn’t part of an overall strategy for the region. But based
on the public record, there is a strategy, beginning with the Trump
administration’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement, the shift to
maximum economic pressure, and now adding a demonstrated willingness
to respond with military force to Iran’s provocations. The goal is to bring the
Iranian government back into negotiations to end its nuclear weapons
program and rejoin the world’s economy.
The claim by some Democrats that Mr. Trump had no authority to order this
attack without congressional approval is constitutionally untenable and
practically senseless. Authority to act quickly to eliminate a threat to the
U.S. is inherent in the powers granted to the president by the Constitution.
It defies common sense to argue that the president must notify Congress or
begin a formal process of authorization before acting on an imminent
On many occasions President Obama sensibly ordered drone strikes on
dangerous terrorist leaders, including U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki. He did so
without specific congressional authorization, and without significant
Democratic opposition. Mr. Obama also “brought justice” to Osama bin
Laden without prior, explicit congressional approval.
It is possible that anti-Trump partisanship isn’t behind Democrats’
reluctance to say they’re glad Soleimani is dead. It may be that today’s
Democratic Party simply doesn’t believe in the use of force against
America’s enemies in the world. I don’t believe that is true, but episodes like
this one may lead many Americans to wonder whether it is. If enough voters
decide that Democrats can’t be trusted to keep America safe, Mr. Trump
won’t have much trouble winning a second term in November. That’s one
more reason Democrats should leave partisan politics at “the water’s edge”
and, whatever their opinion of President Trump on other matters, stand
together against Iran and dangerous leaders like Qasem Soleimani.
Mr. Lieberman, a Democrat, was a U.S. senator from Connecticut, 1989-
2013, and is chairman of No Labels, a national organization working to
Copyright © 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Mr. Lieberman, a Democrat, was a U.S. senator from Connecticut, 1989-2013, and is chairman of No Labels, a national organization working to revive bipartisanship.
Daniel Davis Interview with James Carafano
from the Daily Signal Podcast
Daniel Davis: Thanks for joining us for a special edition of The Daily Signal Podcast. We’re back early from our Christmas hiatus because of some major developments in the Middle East.
U.S. forces have killed General Qassim Suleimani in Baghdad. He was the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Joining me to unpack it all is Jim Carafano, The Heritage Foundation’s vice president for foreign and defense policy studies. Jim, thanks for your time.
The demand for socialism is on the rise from young Americans today. But is socialism even morally sound? Find out more now >>
Jim Carafano: Hey, great to be with you.
Davis: So we know now that President [Donald] Trump actually ordered this attack on Iran’s top general. Why did he take out the general in Baghdad?
Carafano: Yeah, so, well, first of all, Suleimani is probably the world’s most dangerous terrorist. He runs the Quds Force, this is part of the Iranian Republican Guard, which is basically responsible for all the covert operations, terrorist acts, managing the surrogates overseas, personally responsible for thousands of deaths, including hundreds of Americans who died because of [improvised explosive device] attacks.
And the Iraqi, the Iranians have actually [been] attacking U.S. people in Iraq now for over a year, the official number is there’s been 19 attacks. The real number is there’s much, much more than that.
So, all this stuff in the embassy, which preceded this, that was just the latest attack. But the better question is, why now? Right? Suleimani has been around forever, right? He’s been designated by the U.S. as a head of a foreign terrorist organization forever.
So here’s what happened, when [President Barack] Obama pulled out of Iraq back in 2011 and ISIS metastasized … we went back in, the Iraqis let us back in. We were doing operations in Iraq and Syria principally focused on killing ISIS.
Now, what the Iranians were doing during all that time is they were infiltrating their people and their influence out, getting more control of what’s called the Shia militias, so you have Kurds, Sunnis, and Shias in Iraq. The Shias are the majority population, that’s why they control the government. And the Iranians were infiltrating them, bribing, threatening, corrupting, getting control of them. We didn’t do much about it because to be honest, we were all fighting ISIS. So there was kind of a cease-fire, right?
And after ISIS is destroyed now, what the Iranians have done trying to push back on Trump and his isolation is they’ve tried a bunch of different things. They tried blocking the straits, they tried cutting off oil, they tried bombing Saudi Arabia, they tried shooting down an American drone, and now what they’ve done is weaponize the Iraqi militias that are controlled by Iran in Iraq to attack Americans.
So that’s why now. And because he was actually in a foreign country in Iraq, plotting terrorist Iraqians to kill Americans. So there’s every bit as rational, logical reason to kill him as there was to kill Osama bin Laden.
The stunning thing is, what the heck was he doing in Baghdad? He was arguably the most wanted terrorist of United States, the guy that’s in charge of killing Americans in Iraq.
What is he doing kind of out in the open in Baghdad? It’s like Yamamoto deciding to vacation in Waikiki or Osama bin Laden planning his next terrorist attack from a hotel in Times Square. That was such a brazen, in-your-face act.
If the United States did not do that, that would have rippled throughout the region. What the U.S. did is not an escalation, it was a very justifiable, very proportionally, very rational act of self-defense. On the other hand, if we hadn’t done that, there would just be more killing of Americans today.
Davis: Yeah, he was caught at the airport in Baghdad just a couple of days after the U.S. Embassy had been burning in Baghdad. What’s the connection between him and what happened at the embassy?
Carafano: Well, here’s the untold story, right? So the U.S. Embassy is in the middle of something called a green zone. It’s hundreds of acres, right? That is surrounded by Iraqi security. So unlike the attack at some of these other U.S. bases, you’ve got to get through all that Iraqi security to get to the embassy. Well, how did that happen? Because they literally walked through. And the answer is, somebody told them to walk through.
So, one of the untold stories of all this is the Iranians really overreached in their attack on the embassy because by doing that, all the people that were responsible for that security that allowed that to happen or of criticism, they just gave us a blueprint of everybody in the Iraqi government security forces who are working with the Iranians.
Davis: So, they’re basically like double agents. They say they’re working for Iraq and complying with the U.S., protecting our personnel, and then letting the Iranians through. Who was it that was actually attacking the embassy though? I mean, were they Iranian?
Carafano: Hezbollah, which is an Iraqi Shia militia that is funded and directed by the Iranians. And one of the guys killed in the strike with Qasem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force, was one of the heads of the Hezbollah militia that attacked the U.S. Embassy.
Davis: Wow. So does this killing seriously weaken Iran’s position in the Middle East? Or is it sort of you take the head off the snake and another one’s going to take its place?
Carafano: Yeah, I mean, I think it probably disrupted operations in the short term. And a lot of people said this is an escalation, which it’s just not. It is clearly an act of American self-defense. There’s no question about that.
But, well, Iran will try and get back at us and my answer is, “Well, what are they going to do?” Look, there’s not going to be a conventional war. The Iranians can’t get to the United States. We’re certainly not stupid enough to invade Iran.
Well, what can they do? Well, they do have a lot of capabilities. They have surrogates, you have Hezbollah, the Shia militias in Iraq, you have Islamic Jihad, Hamas in Palestine. You’ve got the Houthi rebels in Yemen. They can unleash them on the U.S. or their allies. OK? They can try to do terrorist attacks in the United States or Europe.
They can try to close the Straits of Hormuz. They can try to interdict shipping. They can even attack America’s friends and allies in the region like Saudi Arabia.
Now, that list I just gave you, over the last year they’ve tried to do all those things, right? So the answer is they’re probably going to try to do more of the same.
I think that the notion of war talk is pretty … I mean, in some sense we’re already at war. I mean, you storm an American Embassy, dude, that’s an act of war. But in another sense, we’re not going to escalate to a conventional conflict because our capabilities are very what we call asymmetrical. Right? We don’t really have the stuff to get at them, they don’t really have the stuff to get at us.
So what I expect the Iranians to do is kind of more of the same. And what the United States has demonstrated so far is that kind of activity, if it kills an American, it’s going to provoke a response. And what it’s certainly not going to do is cause the Americans to back down.
Davis: Something we haven’t mentioned is that Suleimani is not just a general, there’s really a political dimension to his power. Right?
Davis: He’s really the right hand man of the Ayatollah.
Carafano: So the other thing, when people say, “Well, how do people in Iran and Iraq respond to this?” And the answer is, you’re going to see both. You will see people in Iran, and we’ve already seen that, mourning his loss, vowing vengeance, and everything. Who are those people? Those are the people that are owing to the regime, right? They are people that support the regime.
On the other hand, there are vast swaths of Iranians who have been protesting and fighting back against their government for months, many of whom have been oppressed, tortured, and killed by his people. They’re kind of like going, “Yeah, baby.” Right? They’re happy he’s dead. Now maybe they’re not going to go out in the street and start cheering because they don’t want to get shot in the back of the head.
Davis: Is that a minority of people, though, in Iran? Or do you think that most people are probably secretly happy?
Carafano: No, I think that everybody that hates the regime hates the Quds Force and hates Suleimani. My guess is that’s a very significant chunk of the population. And we’ve seen that by the scope and the persistence of the protests in Iran.
In Iraq, it’s kind of the same thing. Remember there are Kurds, Sunnis, and Shia in Iraq, the largest group is the Shia. The smallest is actually the Sunnis. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni. And one of the problems was that you had a small Sunni group essentially dictating the country.
And then you have the Kurds, right? Which are often kind of their own little area. So the Kurds are just saying, “Dude, we’re just staying out of this.” Right? They’re just staying in Kurdistan being Kurds.
And by the way, they hate Suleimani because Suleimani helped kill a lot of the peshmerga and killed them, too. So, they’re not shedding any tears in Kurdistan.
The Sunnis, they’re being oppressed by Iran and their allies. They have used these militias not just to go after Americans, but to kill all the Sunni opposition.
I mean, if you’re a politician and you don’t play ball with the United States, we might cut off your money, maybe not give you a visa and not talk to you. If you’re a politician and you shun the Iranians, they’re going to find somebody to put a bullet in the back of your head. So the Sunnis, they’re cheering that this guy’s dead.
Now, the Shias are kind of split. There are Shias that are beholden to the Iranian regime, obviously, they’re very angry. Many of those people are actually in government because the Shias are the dominant force in government. So when you have government officials saying, “We object to what the Americans are doing,” those are government officials who are essentially working for the Iranians.
And then you have Shia who are very nationalistic and who love their country and are very patriotic and they’re actually glad Suleimani’s dead, right? They don’t want to be a suburb of Tehran.
So, people say, “Well, the people are protesting.” You got to ask the question, “Well, who’s protesting and what are they protesting about?”
If you remember people tried to say that the people that were protesting at the U.S. Embassy were just like the people that were protesting over the last couple of months. Completely different.
The people that had been protesting in Iraq were people protesting against Iran, hundreds of them were killed, thousands of them were wounded, all really at the direction of the Iranian regime. The people that attacked the embassy, those were terrorists and they were attacking a U.S. facility, they weren’t mourners or protesters.
Davis: You mentioned Iran’s proxies around the world, ways that they have to strike at the U.S. and our allies. The State Department is telling Americans now to get out of Iraq because they now have targets on them. Does that apply around the world, too? Should the U.S. personnel expect to be more of a target from proxies?
Carafano: Part of the problem with it is what’s changed, in terms of Iran looking to go after American assets worldwide. What’s changed from Tuesday? And the answer is nothing, right? So, I mean, I think if there is an Iranian presence or influence, I mean, we already had to be concerned about that before. So, I don’t think anything’s has really—
Davis: But isn’t there a kind of honor element? You’ve talked about how in their culture, being attacked is kind of a humiliation for them and now they sort of have more of an incentive to lash out?
Carafano: Right, but it’s also not a suicide pact, right? So, we’ve humiliated them before. I mean, they’ve done a number of different acts and we have basically responded and made them look weak. Their answer is just to try to do something else, which I assume they will do something here.
They will try to respond in some way and look strong, but they’re not going to do it in a way that really escalates conflict because I think that’s more of a danger to them than it is to us actually.
They’ve got a very weak political hold at home. The Ayatollah is very old. Their economy is in shatters. And the interesting thing is people always talked about the Iranian-Russian-Chinese Alliance. The Russians and Chinese have done nothing for them.
So Iran is really on its own when it comes to combating the U.S. Matter of fact, the one thing that hasn’t got a lot of press, which I think makes me angrier than everything, is that one of the first countries to come out and condemn the U.S. defending itself against Iranian terrorists in Iraq was Russia.
And what’s ironic about that was just last week the president of Russia called the president of the United States to thank him because the Russians helped thwart a terrorist attack aimed at Russia. So, if you help stop a terrorist attack aimed at Russia, you’re a hero—I mean, that’s good—but if you defend yourself against a terrorist attack, apparently, according to the Russian perspective, that’s bad.
Davis: Well, you said that conventional war is really not a possibility here, but could you imagine a situation where Iranian proxies do strike out more and the president orders some kind of strike in Iran? Maybe on oil facilities? Is that within the realm of possibility?
Carafano: I think [it’s] least likely that the United States would directly attack facilities inside Iran without some kind of major provocation. I don’t know if it’s necessarily off the table.
Look, here’s what we know about this president—this is what the critics have just maybe been, I don’t know, sleeping the last couple of years—he’s been through a lot of crises. Iraq, Iran, back to Iraq, back to Iran, back to North Korea, terrorist attacks. He’s been very steady and when he has used force, it’s always been restrained and proportional, right?
In Syria against a chemical weapons attack and, I mean, if I can remember, when the Iranians shot down a drone, we did nothing, that wasn’t an act of weakness. We did other [things] to punish the Iranians for that act, but we didn’t go in and start blowing up facilities in Iran, which, when you think about it, how does that even make sense? The guy that ordered the shoot-down of that drone is not some poor schlep who’s in the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] who’s sitting in a base in Iran. But when they cross the line and kill an American, the president goes after the people that did that.
If you look at the attack on the Saudi territory, that was an attack on Saudi territory, not an attack on Americans. If you noticed, after we put Americans in that area, the Iranians didn’t do that again.
So, why have the Iranians gotten so bold and still they’re not directly coming after us, because they’re not, they’re having the Iraqis do it, right? Why are they doing that though? They’re running out of options.
That’s one. Maybe they just don’t believe the president when he says, “Don’t do this.” I don’t know.
Davis: Well, we’ll keep watching the developments closely. Jim, as always, thank you for your time.
Carafano: Thanks for having me.
Fact Sheet: Qassem Soleimani
Since 1998, Qassem Soleimani commanded Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the terror arm of the Iranian regime. The IRGC-QF is tasked with planning and executing terror and military operations outside Iran’s borders. Under Soleimani’s command, the IRGC-QF has fueled destabilizing sectarian conflicts throughout the Middle East for decades.
The IRGC-QF continues to wage an illegal campaign of terrorism, assassinations, and violence. At Soleimani’s direction and with his oversight and guidance, the IRGC-QF has planned and conducted terrorist attacks across six continents and inside the United States.
The United States designated IRGC-QF a Foreign Terrorist Organization for its activities, and the United States designated Soleimani as a Specially-Designated Global Terrorist.
As the leader of the IRGC-QF, Qassem Soleimani was directly responsible for arming, funding, and training proxy groups in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Yemen, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Operations carried out by these proxy groups have led to the death and suffering of tens of thousands, including many hundreds of Americans. These proxies routinely target and kill civilians, intensify sectarian conflicts, and prolong the suffering of innocent men, women, and children.
Soleimani personally directed and provided arms to militias in Iraq for more than a decade. These militias undermine the sovereignty of the Iraqi state, threaten the legitimacy of Iraq’s security forces, and target American citizens and forces. With Soleimani’s support and lethal assistance, proxies of the IRGC-QF targeted and killed over 600 Americans between 2003 and 2011.
We can confirm that in the past several days, General Soleimani had been traveling in the Middle East coordinating further imminent large-scale attacks against U.S. diplomats and service members. These threats were highly credible and the intelligence is sound. General Soleimani’s travel also violated the ban imposed by the United Nations Security Council.
Recent orders given by General Soleimani dramatically escalated Iran’s campaign of violence and terrorism against Americans and American interests in the Middle East. He orchestrated a series of attacks against American forces in Iraq in the past several months, culminating in the rocket attack on December 27, 2019, which resulted in the death of an American citizen, wounded four American service members, and threatened the lives of many more American personnel. General Soleimani also ordered the assault on the American Embassy in Baghdad. General Soleimani continued to command Iranian supported proxies in Iraq, which posed an escalating threat to the lives of Americans.
For his actions, Soleimani had been designated and sanctioned by the United Nations, European Union, and United States and is banned from international travel by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231. In defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions, however, Soleimani continued to travel to Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon directing and coordinating lethal actions that pose a threat to regional peace and security.
Some key international and United States designations of Soleimani include:
Designated a Tier I terrorist as part of the Department of State designation of the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2019.
Designated under U.S. Executive Order 13224 as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in 2011.
Designated under U.S. EO 13572 for human rights abuses in 2011.
Designated under U.S. EO 13882 for providing material support to terrorists in 2007.
Sanctioned by the United Nations under UNSCR 1747 for involvement in Iran’s nuclear program in 2007.
Designated by the European Union in EU 442/2011 for support to the Syrian regime in 2011.
Bureau of Global Public Affairs
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 3, 2020
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP
ON THE KILLING OF QASEM SOLEIMANI
Palm Beach, Florida
3:13 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. Well, thank you very much. And good afternoon.
As President, my highest and most solemn duty is the defense of our nation and its citizens.
Last night, at my direction, the United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike that killed the number-one terrorist anywhere in the world, Qasem Soleimani.
Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him.
Under my leadership, America’s policy is unambiguous: To terrorists who harm or intend to harm any American, we will find you; we will eliminate you. We will always protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans, and our allies.
For years, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force — under Soleimani’s leadership — has targeted, injured, and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen.
The recent attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq, including rocket strikes that killed an American and injured four American servicemen very badly, as well as a violent assault on our embassy in Baghdad, were carried out at the direction of Soleimani.
Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London.
Today we remember and honor the victims of Soleimani’s many atrocities, and we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over.
Soleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years. What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago. A lot of lives would have been saved.
Just recently, Soleimani led the brutal repression of protestors in Iran, where more than a thousand innocent civilians were tortured and killed by their own government.
We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.
I have deep respect for the Iranian people. They are a remarkable people, with an incredible heritage and unlimited potential. We do not seek regime change. However, the Iranian regime’s aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors, must end, and it must end now.
The future belongs to the people of Iran — those who seek peaceful coexistence and cooperation — not the terrorist warlords who plunder their nation to finance bloodshed abroad.
The United States has the best military by far, anywhere in the world. We have best intelligence in the world. If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary. And that, in particular, refers to Iran.
Under my leadership, we have destroyed the ISIS territorial caliphate, and recently, American Special Operations Forces killed the terrorist leader known as al-Baghdadi. The world is a safer place without these monsters.
America will always pursue the interests of good people, great people, great souls, while seeking peace, harmony, and friendship with all of the nations of the world.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless our great military. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you.
END 3:18 P.M. EST
Breitbart News: Charles Spiering : 29, December, 2019
President Donald Trump spent his third year in office under siege from Democrats who by the end of the year moved to impeach the president, but there were moments when he had key victories and his supporters felt particularly vindicated about their decision to vote for him.
Those moments were “MAGA moments,” when it was clear that Trump was keeping his campaign promise to Make America Great Again.
15. President Trump declares a National Emergency on the Border.
As the government shutdown over a dispute about wall funding on the Southern border dragged on into the New Year, President Trump deployed his exit strategy to declare a national emergency on the border and assert executive privilege to fund the wall.
Trump made it clear to Congress that if they would not grant his funding request, he would find other ways to fund the wall, including the ability to draw funding from the Department of Defense, which received a tremendous boost of funding in the Trump presidency.
His argument was sound. If past presidents declared a state of emergency in foreign affairs, it was reasonable to do the same to protect the domestic borders of the United States. In July, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trump’s action, despite protests from lower courts and Congressional Democrats.
14. Declaring China a Currency Manipulator
President Trump finally declared China a currency manipulator in August, something he repeatedly promised on the campaign trail.
The Chinese yuan dropped to the lowest level in a decade after Trump announced a ten percent tariff on an additional $300 billion in Chinese imports.
“In recent days, China has taken concrete steps to devalue its currency, while maintaining substantial foreign exchange reserves despite active use of such tools in the past,” the Treasury Department announced in an unprecedented statement.
13. President Trump Issues the ‘Public Charge Rule’
In August, President Donald Trump announced a new rule preventing immigrants from abusing the welfare system in the United States.
The public charge rule required immigrants to the United States to prove they were financially self-sufficient before they were allowed to enter the United States.
It was a major step forward in fulfilling his campaign promise to keep new immigrants and green card holders from growing dependent on welfare.
12. Trump Pressures NATO Allies to Meet Spending Commitments
President Donald Trump celebrated the 70th anniversary of NATO in November at the summit in London but also celebrated the fulfillment of a campaign promise to make allies pay more of their share of the financial burden.
United Nations Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced in November that the United States would pay less of NATO’s budget and Germany would pay more. Eight of the other NATO nations met their commitment to spend two percent of their GDP on defense in 2019, up from only five in 2017.
We call them, affectionately, ‘Those 2 percenters.’” Trump said as he hosted a lunch for the countries meeting their commitment during the NATO summit in November. “This is a lunch that’s on me.”
11: President Trump commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day
President Donald Trump delivered one of the greatest speeches of his presidency at the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6.
Trump focused his speech on the American men who won the war.
“These men ran through the fires of hell, moved by a force no weapon could destroy: the fierce patriotism of a free, proud, and sovereign people,” he said.
He also focused on the faith in God that the men of World War II relied on in the historic conflict:
They were sustained by the confidence that America can do anything because we are a noble nation, with a virtuous people, praying to a righteous God. The exceptional might came from a truly exceptional spirit. The abundance of courage came from an abundance of faith.
The speech even earned positive reviews from some of Trump’s biggest critics, as he paid tribute to the greatest generation who fought to preserve the American way of life.
10: Signing the Wall
In September, President Trump traveled to the newly constructed wall on the San Diego border to demonstrate that he was completing his campaign promise.
No longer just an idea or a prototype, Trump showed off the immense 30-foot high structure to reporters with a group of border enforcement officials — 24 miles of primary and secondary wall on the border.
At the urging of one worker, Trump signed the steel barrier, cementing his campaign promise to build a wall on the Southern border despite historically fierce opposition from Democrats.
Trump remains unsatisfied with the speed of construction, and doubts continue whether border officials can deliver on the promised 500 miles of border wall before the 2020 election, but the president in 2019 finally demonstrated concrete results on his long-promised border wall.
9. President Trump Delivers “Salute to America” on July 4
President Donald Trump finally achieved an unprecedented salute to the American military, after pursuing the idea of a military parade in honor of the troops throughout his presidency.
Despite multiple roadblocks to his parade plans, the president settled on the Salute to America on July 4th, boosting the existing Independence Day celebration in the nation’s capital.
Despite some rain, Americans came out in droves to witness the event, as the president boosted pride in the United States military and promoted American patriotism.
The event featured Military aircraft flyovers, tanks stationed on the National Mall, military drills, performances from military bands as well as the biggest fireworks display ever in Washington, DC.
Trump’s speech was not political but rather focused on the greatness of America’s historic accomplishments.
“As long as we stay true to our course, as long as we remember our great history, as long as we never, ever stop fighting for a better future, then there will be nothing that America cannot do,” he said.
8. Trump Creates Deals with Central American Countries to Close Immigration Loopholes
Determined to stem the flow of migrants into the United States from Central America, President Donald Trump repeatedly pressed Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to do more in their countries to prevent the unprecedented number of refugees claiming asylum in the United States.
The president reached an agreement with the three countries allowing the federal government to send migrants from either of the three countries back home if they failed to first claim asylum in either of the three countries.
As a result of these agreements, the flow of migrants crossing the Southern Border dropped significantly in 2019.
7. Congress Passes USMCA Trade Deal
In December, President Donald Trump’s monumental trade deal replacing NAFTA finally passed in Congress after a year-long delay as a result of the Democrat-led House of Representatives.
Replacing NAFTA was a lifetime goal of President Trump, and it earned huge bipartisan support and was even endorsed by prominent labor unions.
6. November Jobs Boom
In December, the Department of Labor announced that the United States economy added 266,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, matching the lowest level in 50 years.
But that was not all.
Hourly wages also rose three percent from the previous year, including big gains for low-income workers.
The news sparked a surge of economic optimism ahead of the Christmas season, effectively boosting the stock markets to new highs and quieting recession fears raised in August due to the Field Curve inversion.
5. Donald Trump releases transcript of his phone call with Zelensky
As Democrats fueled speculation about what President Trump actually talked to Ukrainian President Volodymyr about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, the White House released the transcript of the call in a bold transparent move.
The release of the transcript allowed Americans to decide for themselves whether Trump committed a criminal act in the phone call, before Democrats could finish weaving their damaging political narrative to the president.
Congressional Democrats and the media were forced to move the goalposts of the inquiry as the transcript showed no “quid pro quo” attempt to leverage military aid and damaged the credibility of the so-called “whistleblower” that kicked off the impeachment process.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff tried to creatively dramatize the transcript to justify his inquiry, a stunt that President Trump repeatedly mocked as the Democrat-led movement to impeach the president continued.
The investigation never fully recovered it’s political momentum, as the president repeatedly asked Americans to “read the transcript” to realize that a crime was not committed.
4: Donald Trump Nominates Attorney General William Barr Who Takes Command
President Trump participated in the swearing-in of Attorney General William Barr in February, a major step forward in the ongoing battle with Democrats trying to ensnare the president in the Russia investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Muller.
In March, Barr controlled the release of Mueller’s conclusions of the investigation, noting in a four page summary that it found no evidence that the president and his campaign colluded with Russia and did not charge President Trump with a crime of obstructing justice.
Barr skillfully defended the president in several Congressional hearings, repeatedly warning about the Democrats’ tactics to use the legal system and the investigative powers of federal law enforcement to smear the president.
“In waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of Resistance against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in a systematic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law,” Barr said in a speech to lawyers at the Federalist Society’s convention in Washington, DC, in November.
Trump supporters were delighted with Barr’s stalwart legal defense of the Trump administration in 2019, when Democrats believed they had the president on the ropes.
3. President Trump creates the United States Space Force
President Donald Trump signed a defense bill in December, officially creating “Space Force” – a branch of the United States military dedicated to the defense of America in space.
“Space is the world’s newest warfighting domain,” Trump said. “American superiority in space is absolutely vital.”
The new brand of the United States military will reside inside the Air Force, the first new military brance since 1947.
Trump first coined the name “Space Force” in March 2018.
“My new national strategy for space recognizes that space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea,” Trump told a group of Marines in 2018. “We may even have a Space Force — develop another one; Space Force. We have the Air Force; we’ll have the Space Force.”
Less than two years later, Trump signed a bill doing exactly that.
2. Donald Trump Deploys “Remain in Mexico” Policy
In March, President Trump deployed a policy requiring migrants claiming asylum to remain in Mexico while awaiting their asylum court hearings.
The policy helped slow the flood of migrants claiming asylum and ultimately being set free into the United States while awaiting their court dates.
Less than one percent of asylum requests have been granted under the new policy, according to reports, slowing the flood of migrants exploiting the immigration loophole.
1. President Trump Announces Death of Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
President Donald Trump celebrated one of the most important achievements of his presidency in October, announcing the death of Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi after American special forces raided a compound in Syria.
“He died like a dog, he died like a coward,” Trump told the world in a major address after the raid. “The world is now a much safer place.”
Trump’s announcement cemented his legacy against ISIS, as he repeatedly promised in the 2016 presidential campaign to destroy the radical Muslim terrorists without mercy.
Wall Street Journal
December 26, 2019
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court this week blasted the Federal Bureau of Investigation for “misconduct” in the Carter Page surveillance warrant. Some would call this accountability. Others will more rightly call it the FISC’s “shocked to find gambling” moment.
Presiding Judge Rosemary Collyer issued her four-page rebuke of the FBI Tuesday, after a Justice Department inspector general report publicly exposing the FBI’s abuses. The judge blasted the FBI for misleading the court by providing “unsupported or contradicted” information and by withholding exculpatory details about Mr. Page. The FISC noted the seriousness of the conduct and gave the FBI until Jan. 10 to explain how it will do better.
The order depicts a court stunned to discover that the FBI failed in its “duty of candor,” and angry it was duped. That’s disingenuous. To buy it, you’d have to believe that not one of the court’s 11 members—all federal judges—caught a whiff of this controversy until now. More importantly, you’d have to ignore that the court was directly informed of the FBI’s abuses nearly two years ago.
On Feb. 7, 2018, Devin Nunes, then chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Judge Collyer informing her of its findings in his probe of the FBI’s Page application. He wrote that “the Committee found that the FBI and DOJ failed to disclose the specific political actors paying for uncorroborated information” that went to the court, “misled the FISC regarding dissemination of this information,” and “failed to correct these errors in the subsequent renewals.” Mr. Nunes asked the court whether any transcripts of FISC hearings about this application existed, and if so, to provide them to the committee.
Judge Collyer responded a week later, with a dismissive letter that addressed only the last request. The judge observed that any such transcripts would be classified, that the court doesn’t maintain a “systematic record” of proceedings and that, given “separation of power considerations,” Mr. Nunes would be better off asking the Justice Department. The letter makes no reference to the Intelligence Committee findings.
Mr. Nunes tried again in a June 13, 2018, follow-up letter, which I have obtained. He told the court that Congress “uncovered evidence that DOJ and FBI provided incomplete and potentially incorrect information to the Court,” and that “significant relevant information was not disclosed to the Court.” This was Mr. Nunes telling FISC exactly what Inspector General Michael Horowitz told the world—18 months sooner. Mr. Nunes asked Judge Collyer to “initiate a thorough investigation.” To assist her, the same month he separately sent FISC “a classified summary of Congress’s findings and facts” to that point. The letter was signed by all 13 Republican members of the Intelligence Committee.
Judge Collyer blew him off. Her letter on June 15, 2018, is four lines long. She informs Mr. Nunes she’s received his letter. She says she’s also received his classified information. She says she’s instructing staff to provide his info to “the judges who ruled on the referenced matters.” She thanks him for his “interest” in the court.
This is stunning, given the House Intelligence Committee has oversight jurisdiction of FISA. And Mr. Nunes didn’t come to the court with mere suspicions; he provided facts, following a thorough investigation. The court at the very least had an obligation to demand answers from the FBI and the Justice Department.
It didn’t—because it didn’t want to know. One of the biggest criticisms of the FISA court since its inception is that it is a rubber stamp for law enforcement. The FISA process is one in which government lawyers secretly and unilaterally present their case for surveillance to judges, with no defense attorney to argue in opposition. The system relies on judges to push back, but they don’t. Until recently, the FISA court routinely approved 100% of the applications before it.
Just as it rubber stamped the Page warrant. That application made clear the FBI was asking to spy on a U.S. citizen associated with a presidential candidate. And the court was provided a footnote indicating political operators were involved in producing the allegations. If ever there was time to grill a few government lawyers, this was it. Yet from the inspector general’s evidence, the court whipped through the warrant with barely a blink.
The secrecy of FISA had always shielded the players from scrutiny. But Mr. Nunes’s inspection of the Page applications threatened to highlight this rot in the system. Judge Collyer’s dismissive letters made clear just what the court thought of Congress poking its nose into the secret club.
After the Horowitz report, the court had no choice but to respond. It’s predictably pointing fingers at the FBI, but the court should itself account for its failure to provide more scrutiny, and its refusal to act when Mr. Nunes first exposed the problem. The FBI is far from alone in this disgrace.
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