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Democrats plan Capitol Hill event to put Trump’s mental health under fire


Reported by Kimberly Leonard |  June 05, 2019 12:00 AM

Democrats are planning to host a Capitol Hill event featuring psychiatrists who will warn that President Trump is unfit for office based on his mental health. The event will be led by Dr. Bandy Lee, a Yale School of Medicine psychiatrist and editor of The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, a book that argues psychiatrists have a responsibility to warn the public when a president is dangerous. The position is controversial because psychiatric associations urge members never to diagnose patients they haven’t personally evaluated, saying it undermines the scientific rigor of the profession.

But Lee and others who agree with her stance say that their description of the president’s behavior, of his showing mental instability and dangerousness, shouldn’t be interpreted as issuing a diagnosis.

“The president’s condition has been visibly deteriorating to the point where there’s a lot of talk right now about his mental state beyond mental health professionals,”Lee said. “It no longer takes a mental health professional to recognize the seriousness of the current presidency.”

The date for the town hall hasn’t been set but would be held “imminently soon within the next couple of weeks,” said Lee, who said the event was meant to be bipartisan. Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., who has called for Trump’s impeachment, confirmed the event was in the works, but said it would be more likely to occur in July because lawmakers have a full plate in June with spending bills.

“We’re planning to put together an event,” Yarmuth said. “She’s calling it a town hall. We haven’t actually determined the format, but it’s going to be an event where she is going to present her findings, and media will be invited.”

Yarmuth said every House member would be invited but that he hadn’t yet gauged who would be interested because not many people knew about it. Lee said the group would reconsider the event if no Republicans planned to show up.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

According to Lee, attendees at the town hall would watch a condensed video that was recorded at a Washington, D.C., event held at the National Press Club in March that featured 13 experts discussing how they didn’t think Trump was fit for office. The experts, who came from the fields of mental health, philosophy, history, and journalism, said they were worried about the president’s access to nuclear weapons and the impact his administration would have on climate change.

Lee said the event is to allow members of Congress to ask her and other experts questions, but planners hope the town hall will be broadcast live so that people who aren’t in D.C. also would be able to watch and submit questions.

Lee said the experts won’t make specific recommendations about whether Congress should consider invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office or whether they should do so by impeachment. The political process should be determined by members of Congress, she said.

Yarmuth said that, to him, the event was a separate question from impeachment. “I don’t think an assessment of someone’s mental health is an impeachable issue,” he said. He decided to hold the event “for the same fears she has,”he said, referring to Lee. “That the president is manifesting dangerous behavior and the American people need to be alert to it.”

“Their position is that as professionals, when they see patterns of behavior that are endangering people, that they have a professional obligation to go public and alert the people who are threatened, and in this case it’s the American people,” Yarmuth said. “I think the American people deserve to have wider dissemination of that perspective.”

It’s not yet clear who else will participate. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., who has a 25th Amendment bill that would set up a body in Congress to determine presidential fitness, had been asked to be on a panel that was based on the topic and set for sometime around May 20. The panel was then canceled or postponed because of scheduling conflicts, and Raskin’s office said it hadn’t heard about a new one in the works.

His deputy communications director, Samantha Brown, said in an email that he likely would have discussed the 25th Amendment from a historical and legal perspective.

Lee has been outspoken about Trump’s mental state. She’s the public face of a five-person group that is meeting regularly in D.C. and working to set up a medical panel to evaluate the mental capacity of Trump and Democratic presidential candidates.

“It’s deceptive because it seems like he’s alert, it seems like he’s responding to things in a rational manner, but it is not the case from every measure that we have taken,” Lee said of Trump. “And this is very serious. In fact, worse than if he had a stroke and were unconscious because he can mislead the country in destructive or nefarious ways.”

One of the other members of the working group is Dr. James Merikangas, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University, but the others haven’t identified themselves publicly and aren’t known to the Washington Examiner.

In April, Lee and other psychiatrists wrote a report using the former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference to make an assessment about the president’s mental health. They at first refrained from issuing a conclusion and gave Trump three weeks to undergo an evaluation. After they didn’t hear back, they released a conclusion that Trump “lacks mental basic mental capacity for duties of office” and recommended his access to nuclear weapons and war powers be curtailed.

“Our concern is that the dangers be contained — the dangers of having a president who lacks the mental capacity, lacks the fitness to discharge his duties of office for the remainder of his term,”Lee said. “I mean, this is really a national emergency.”

Bannon and Kobach unveil crowdfunded border wall amid unspent millions


Reported by Anna Giaritelli |  | May 31, 2019 12:05 AM

A group of immigration hardliners who used millions of crowdfunded dollars to build a border barrier on private land along the U.S.-Mexico border unveiled the nearly completed half-mile steel bollard fence Thursday following construction delays.

The 2,300-feet-long project marks the first time a nongovernment organization or individual has built a wall on privately owned land on the international boundary. It runs up a rocky 320-feet-tall hill and is 18 to 20 feet tall, depending on the point on the hill where it is measured.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, former Kansas State Secretary Kris Kobach, World Series MLB player Curt Schilling, Blackwater USA founder Erik Prince, and other longtime supporters of President Trump were on site at the project in Sunland Park, N.M., to showcase the fence, which stands on less than half a mile of the 1,954-mile border.

The undertaking has evolved, prompting questions about how money is being spent and the Trump administration’s involvement in the process.

Brian Kolfage, a triple amputee veteran, created a crowdfunding page in December with the intent of raising $1 billion for border wall construction following the Trump administration’s failure to obtain $25 billion for the project last December. The GoFundMe website did not state where the wall would be built or any other details. Kolfage vowed to return everyone’s money if the project did not reach $1 billion.

Kolfage insisted the campaign was not a scam despite having run a since-shuttered Facebook “news” page known for spreading conspiracy theories. He was also sued in 2017 after he reported the wrong name of the suspect involved in the fatal car accident during a white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Kolfage’s page did not come close to its $1 billion goal and topped out at $22.9 million earlier this year. The more than 330,000 people who donated were informed by GoFundMe that they were eligible for a refund because Kolfage had changed the terms of the fundraiser to move to a different fund money people did not request back.

Weeks ahead of the crowdfunding campaign’s failure, Kolfage had launched We Build the Wall, Inc., a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization. Bannon, Kobach, and other staunch conservatives who have been criticized as anti-immigrant were appointed to the organization’s board. The money from the crowdfunding campaign was then funneled to the outside organization.

About the same time this spring, Bannon and fellow board members, including former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, held a couple rallies in Midwestern cities to raise money for the organization, though they have not shared how much they raised in addition to the crowdfunding dollars.

Tommy Fisher, president and CEO of Fisher Industries, was paid to install the steel fence and said it is expected to come in at $7 million after taxes.

We Build the Wall has raised nearly $23 million for the project, though it is unclear how the nonprofit group plans to spend the remaining donations. The group did not respond to a request for comment.

Fisher told the Washington Examiner on Thursday he got involved in the project in April after receiving a call about his company’s claims it could build a mile of border wall per day. We Build the Wall officials, including Kobach, attended a demonstration of the construction in Coolidge, Ariz., last month.

Fisher said the organization signed a contract for him to build the half-mile portion of steel fence over the course of eight days, but it took longer because the city of Sunland Park shut down construction for two days. The suspension was lifted Wednesday.

Despite the board’s connections to Trump, organizers have insisted the project is not affiliated with the White House.

That claim was called into question in a recent Washington Post article that said Trump was adamant about the Army Corps of Engineers hiring Fisher Industries to carry out border wall projects.

Fisher dismissed being described as having lobbied Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., to get his name in front of Trump and insisted Trump was calling for the Pentagon to hire his company because of personal frustration with the less than 40 miles of border wall that has been installed in the two years and four months that he has been in office.

“I’d be mad if I were him,” Fisher said.

Christopher Steele won’t cooperate with John Durham review of Russia investigation


Reported by Jerry Dunleavy | May 28, 2019 05:13 PM

URL of the original posting site: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/christopher-steele-wont-cooperate-with-john-durham-review-of-russia-investigation

Christopher Steele, author of the dossier that played a key role in the Trump-Russia inquiry, will not assist Attorney General William Barr’s investigation of the investigators, according to a new report.

A source close to Orbis Business Intelligence, which is Steele’s investigative firm, told Reuters that the British ex-spy “would not cooperate” with nor answer questions from U.S. Attorney John Durham, whom Barr has tasked with reviewing the origins of the counterintelligence investigation into President Trump’s presidential campaign and the way that the Justice Department and FBI conducted the inquiry.

This revelation comes days after Trump’s order stating Barr was given “full and complete authority to declassify information” and ordering the intelligence community “to quickly and fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016 presidential election.” Barr said he picked Durham because he “was looking for someone who is tenacious, who is used to looking at sensitive material involving government activities, who has a reputation for being fair and evenhanded.”

Neither the Justice Department nor Steele’s business immediately responded to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment. Durham’s office said they had no comment at this time.

The report said Steele “might cooperate” with DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s independent investigation, signaling a shift in Steele’s thinking. In April, Politico reported that Steele “declined to be interviewed by the inspector general, citing, among other things, the potential impropriety of his involvement in an internal Justice Department investigation as a foreign national and former British intelligence agent.” That report said Steele might even “rebut the Inspector General’s characterizations” with a public statement.

Horowitz has been looking into potential Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse since early 2018 and is “homing in” on the potential misuse of Steele’s unverified dossier by the DOJ and FBI. Barr has said Horowitz’s probe should be done by May or June.

Steele did cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and submitted written testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee.

According to a New York Times report from April, the FBI reached out to some of Steele’s foreign sources in an attempt to determine their credibility, and as early as January 2017 agents had concluded that some of the dossier’s contents may have been based on “rumors and hearsay” which were “passed from source to source.” The agents believed that some of Steele’s information may have even been based on “Russian disinformation.”

Steele’s dossier, which was packed with unverified claims about Trump’s ties to Russia, formed a key part of the FISA applications that were used to justify surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Steele was working for Fusion GPS, which received funding through the Perkins Coie law firm from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Steele’s Democratic benefactors were not revealed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Barr said this month that “it’s a very unusual situation to have opposition research like that — especially one that on its face had a number of clear mistakes and a somewhat jejune analysis.” Barr’s pointed critiques of the Steele dossier’s flaws comes after former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI General Counsel James Baker defended their handling of the dossier in recent weeks.

Classified Iran briefing becomes heated as Trump team clashes with Democrats


Reported by Joel Gehrke | May 21, 2019

A classified Senate briefing on Iranian plots against the United States turned into a tense clash between top U.S. officials and lawmakers frustrated with President Trump’s strategy toward Tehran.

“I would say there was a lot of heat in that room,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told the Washington Examiner following the Tuesday afternoon briefing.

Key congressional Democrats suggested that President Trump’s administration was preparing for military conflict with the regime based on faulty intelligence or even false pretenses after ambiguous U.S. warnings that Iranian proxies might attack American personnel in Iraq. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan sought to allay that suspicion in separate meetings, first with House lawmakers and then the Senate Tuesday afternoon.

“Today I walked them through what the Department of Defense has been doing since May 3, when we received credible intelligence about threats to our interests in the Middle East and to American forces, and how we acted on that credible intelligence,” Shanahan told reporters after the Senate briefing. “That intelligence has borne out in attacks, and I would say it’s also deterred attacks. We have deterred attacks based on our re-posturing of assets, deterred attacks against American forces.”

The controversy shifted in the briefing to complaints that they didn’t communicate with Congress enough in recent weeks and a broader protest against the administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, was among the most aggressive in raising the specter of being misled into a conflict with Iran.

“Most Americans know way back when we were lied to about the situation in Vietnam and we went into a war which ended up costing us 59,000 lives, based on a lie,” he said. “In 2003, we were lied to in terms of Iraq supposedly having weapons of mass destruction.”

Sanders refused to answer whether he believes such lies are being told now. “I won’t talk about what we heard in the meeting,” he said. “But let me just say that I worry very much that, intentionally or unintentionally, we create a situation in which a war will take place.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer avoided that controversy entirely, focusing only on the frustration that the administration didn’t provide more information to lawmakers over the last three weeks.

“I told the people who were briefing us that I thought the consultation with the American people and the Congress was inadequate,” the New York Democrat told reporters in a brief appearance, without taking additional questions. “Both the American people and the Congress read about a lot of actions in the newspapers and had no idea what was going on. I told them they had to make it better next time.”

Shanahan acknowledged that desire for more information. “We heard feedback that they’d like more conversation,” he said. “They’d also like us to be more communicative with the American public, and we agreed to do more of that.”

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, a senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, conceded that the meeting was a “very helpful” survey of the intelligence reports and U.S. responses. Another lawmaker confirmed that the meeting was testy, but in this telling the confrontation was bipartisan and focused more on the administration’s policies than suspicions that they are fabricating intelligence.

“A number of them questioned the conclusions of the administration about the reaction of the Iranians and what it might lead to,” a Democratic senator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said after the briefing. “I think there’s a lot of us with real misgivings about how serious this is and how much is a creation of the administration’s own provocative policy.”

Shanahan stressed that the administration, which has deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf and threatened devastating consequences for attacks on Americans, is trying to avoid a conflict.

“Our biggest focus at this point is to prevent Iranian miscalculation,” he told reporters. “We do not want the situation to escalate.”

Cruz kept the focus on Democratic hostility to Trump and their fidelity to the nuclear agreement that former President Barack Obama’s team negotiated with Iran.

“Far too many congressional Democrats are invested in appeasement for Iran, which manifests in effectively defending the mullahs against maximum pressure,” he told the Washington Examiner.

Why didn’t FBI tell court about Christopher Steele bias?


Reported by Byron York  | July 26, 2018 09:49 PM

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., set off the argument last February, with the release of the so-called Nunes memo. In the memo, Nunes wrote, “Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele’s efforts.”

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In another passage, Isikoff and Corn wrote: “As FBI officials saw it, Steele seemed more interested in getting the story out rather than quietly working with them on the investigation. ‘There was clearly an agenda on his part,’ one senior FBI official later said.”

So to conclude: The FBI based a substantial part of its warrant application on Steele’s work. Steele had a strong and clear anti-Trump bias. The FBI knew about it. The bureau should have informed the court. And it did not.

Memes and More I’ve Found Around The Net


Oroville Dam: Five workers fired for posting photos to social media


waving flag disclaimerAuthored By TK Whiteman | February 21, 2017

URL of the original posting site: http://conservativefiringline.com/oroville-dam-five-workers-fired-posting-photos-social-media/

Damaged spillway at the Oroville Dam. (Facebook)

Damaged spillway at the Oroville Dam. (Facebook)

Things are going from bad to worse at California’s battered Oroville Dam. As if the severely damaged spillway wasn’t enough of a danger, the Sacramento Bee is reporting that authorities are pumping out 60,000 cubic feet of water per second (cfs). Unfortunately, the inflow of water due to the deluge of rain into the Oroville Lake just spiked at roughly 91,000 cfs. And things in the near future don’t look much better.picture3

Citing a meteorological event known as an “atmospheric river” (AR), Pacific Standard Magazine is citing that one of those very same weather scenarios is headed straight for the mountains of Central California.

According to the American Meteorological Society, an atmospheric river is typically thousands of miles long, while a mere few hundreds of yards wide. A single AR is capable of carrying a greater flux of water than the Amazon River, the largest river on the planet.

Acting much like a baseball field backstop, the tons of water that constitute an AR will slam into the Sierras, then the very same water will flow back towards the coast, but instead of making it to the Pacific, the wet stuff will fill the hundreds of already swollen dams and reservoirs much like the Oroville Dam.

As also reported by Pacific Standard Magazine;

Heavy rains will continue on Tuesday, at which point serious problems could begin to emerge. The fragile Oroville Dam will again be tested, but dozens of other dams — like the one at Don Pedro Reservoir near Modesto — are also nearing capacity statewide and planning emergency contingencies.

By late Tuesday, the San Joaquin River — the main hydrologic thoroughfare of the vast Central Valley — is expected to exceed a level not seen since 1997, and then keep rising the rest of the week. The river is already in “danger” stage — the stage above flood stage when critical levees could begin to become compromised.picture2

But here’s where things start to get a bit strange.

While the State of California is soothing frayed nerves by telling the world (cited above by the Sac Bee) that the water level at the Oroville Lake may be at 850 feet, all is well. After all, the Oroville Dam tops out at 900 feet.

 

Yet just a few short days ago the Los Angeles Times reported that “the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a temporary ban on flights around the Oroville Dam to allow emergency aircraft to operate safely.”

With both aircraft and drones banned until May 17, the government is claiming the ban is necessary due to work crews continuing “to conduct aerial surveys of the erosion on the emergency spillway.”words-of-a-leftist-propagandist

Speaking of erosion on the emergency spillway, San Francisco’s KRON published a rather terse report that five contract workers at the dam have been fired for posting unauthorized photos of the virtually destroyed spillway on social media;

Five Oroville Dam workers have been fired for violating a contract by putting pictures of the dam on social media.

The Department of Water Resources hires a contractor to work on the dam. The contractor hired was Syblon Reid.

This contractor has a strict “No social media, no photos policy” at every site they work on.

Some of the employees did not abide by their contract and posted pictures of the Oroville Dam emergency spillway online which is why five people were released.

As far as the state government is concerned, The Atlantic magazine reports that the maintenance and inspection records of the dam are spotty at best, Third World-ish at worst.

Provided the dam doesn’t burst, thusly threatening the lives of up to 200,000 Californians,  the cost of repairs is estimated at between $100 million to $200 million. Once it’s dry enough to begin work, that is.

In the meantime, Gov. Jerry Brown has pumped $64 billion in a high speed rail system that opponents have dubbed a boondoggle that is in reality “the train to nowhere.”

The California State Senate has also passed a slew of bills sent to the governor for signature that would place the California taxpayers on the hook to protect the estimated 2.4 million illegal aliens residing in the Golden State.partyof-deceit-spin-and-lies

 

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