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In Zeal to Indict Trump, New York Times Flirts With Authoritarianism

"The Law Is Coming, Mr. Trump," the New York Times editorial board crowed this morning. The paper's editorial board was celebrating the recent FBI raid on the offices of Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen. But in their zeal to indict Trump for his crimes, real or imagined, they ironically endorsed a view that threatens the very rule of law itself. The editors correctly begin by noting that contrary to Trump's protestations, the raid on Cohen's office wasn't necessarily a violation of his rights. "Attorney–client privilege is dead!" the president tweeted Tuesday. "He was wrong," the Times retorted. "The privilege is one of the most sacrosanct in the American legal system, but it does not protect communications in furtherance of a crime." But then they continue: "Anyway, one might ask, if this is all a big witch hunt and Mr. Trump has nothing illegal or untoward to hide, why does he care about the privilege in the first place? The answer, of course, is that he has a lot to hide." The Times evidently thought that line was so good, it used it as the pull quote when tweeting out the piece. If this is all just a big witch hunt, why does Trump care so much about preserving attorney-client privilege in the first place? https://t.co/elVOiv4XhF — NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) April 10, 2018 This line of thinking is downright dangerous. One of the premises of our justice system is that we do not infer guilt just because someone invokes his rights. The "if you have nothing to hide" argument is a favorite of the world's worst authoritarians, but it's not one I expect from the right-thinking liberals who comprise the editorial board of the New York Times. And it's definitely not one I expect to read the very next sentence after they call the attorney-client privilege "sacrosanct." Using the Times' logic, why should we care about protecting the right to have an attorney present during questioning? Why should we care about the right against self-incrimination? Why should we care if the police search a home without a warrant or probable cause? The only people who would object must be hiding something, after all. This is precisely the sort of argument the editorial board once rejected in the context of Bush-era NSA surveillance. This was not just a tragic waste of the F.B.I.'s resources in dangerous times. It was an outrageous and pointless intrusion into individuals' privacy. Anyone who read the original reports on the spying operation and thought, "Well, so what, I have nothing to hide," should think about the uncounted innocent Americans who had F.B.I. officers knocking on their doors because of secret and possibly illegal surveillance. Could it turn out that the Cohen files contain incriminating evidence? Perhaps. But the notion that the president's objection to the search is evidence of his guilt is absurd. If the Times‘s editors really don't understand this, I offer the following challenge to one of them: provide me your email address and password. While you're at it, let me peruse your phone records, maybe your tax returns. My suspicion is that you won't take me up on my offer, even though you're not all felons. Probably not all felons, that is. Because the longer you resist the more I find myself asking… what exactly are you hiding? The post In Zeal to Indict Trump, New York Times Flirts With Authoritarianism appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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GOP Regains Majority on Labor Arbiter

Republicans will once again have a majority at the nation's top labor arbiter after the Senate confirmed Trump nominee John Ring on Wednesday. The Senate voted 50-48 to appoint Ring to the National Labor Relations Board. Ring is the third Trump nominee confirmed to the agency and will replace former chairman Philip Miscimarra, an Obama-appointed management-side attorney. The confirmation gives Republicans a majority on the board, which oversees labor disputes and union organizing elections. The GOP gained its first board majority in a decade when the Senate confirmed career management-side labor attorney William Emanuel in September. The three Republicans quickly began walking back some of the Obama administration's most controversial labor policies, including decisions that broke from decades of precedent to allow micro-unions, give regulators oversight of company rulebooks, and hold parent companies liable for labor violations committed by subcontractors—a doctrine known as joint employer. Republicans lost their majority after Miscimarra left the board in December. The 2-2 split still allowed Trump appointees to control three-member panels—the most common type of board ruling—but Trump appointees have faced additional headwinds in reversing Obama era decisions. In February, the agency's inspector general declared that Boardmember Emanuel should have recused himself from the joint-employer case because his former law firm had represented clients in such cases, though Emanuel himself did not participate in those cases. The IG memo came despite an agency ethics official's determination that Emanuel should have been allowed to participate in the case. The IG responded by telling the ethics official "not to provide a written Ethics opinion on this subject," according to a response filed by Emanuel's attorney. In March, the board voted to vacate the joint-employer decision, restoring the Obama board's ruling. Unlike Trump's other appointees, Ring has been on the other side of the union-management divide during his career in labor relations. During his confirmation hearing he emphasized his work as a clerk for the Teamsters, which helped put him through college and law school. He went on to serve as a management-side lawyer, most recently with the influential law firm Morgan Lewis. "It was my completely accidental experience at the Teamsters that sparked my interest in labor law," he said. "I understand the practical realities of how the board's actions affect labor-management relations across the country, and I have seen the impact the board's decisions can have on how people run their businesses as well as how employees, union and non-union, work to support their families." Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, praised Ring's diverse résumé in celebrating his confirmation. "John Ring's varied experiences working for a labor union while attending college and law school, and then having been a management lawyer will be a strength to the board," Alexander said in a statement. House Republicans were also pleased with the appointment. House Committee on Education and the Workforce chairman Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.) and labor subcommittee chairman Rep. Tim Walberg (R., Mich.), said Ring would bring "a balanced and commonsense approach" to labor law on the board. They contrasted his approach to that of the Obama board, which they regarded as too committed to helping organized labor, rather than interpreting federal law. "John Ring has proven himself to be a strong, experienced, and fair leader when it comes to representing workers and job creators," they said in a joint statement. "Mr. Ring will be a principled and objective voice on the NLRB, and not a rubber stamp to special interests that were in favor during the Obama Administration." Ring has faced opposition from organized labor throughout the nominating process, sparking the narrow confirmation vote. In February, the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest union, sent a letter to lawmakers calling for increased scrutiny of the nominee because appointing Ring to the board could be "destructive of workers' rights." "He has no experience representing working people seeking to exercise their rights," the letter said. Ring's confirmation also won commendations from industry groups. The National Restaurant Association's Cicely Simpson praised Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell for promptly confirming the nomination and called the new majority a "win" for restaurants. "John Ring's appointment to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is a win for America's restaurants and their employees," Simpson said in a release. Labor watchdogs also hope that the new majority can restore the joint-employer standard vacated in the wake of the IG's memo. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market think tank that has requested an agency investigation into recusal standards, said the new majority should revisit the controversial liability standards. "With the complete, five-member NLRB finally back to full strength, it can get to work rolling back a spate of recent decisions that destroyed jobs and weakened worker freedom, such as the ruling on joint employer liability that now threatens so many small businesses, contractors, and franchise entrepreneurs," CEI labor expert Trey Kovacs said in a release. Ring will serve a five-year term on the board. The post GOP Regains Majority on Labor Arbiter appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Mulvaney: ‘We Are in the Process of Canceling’ Agreement With PR Firm Aligned With Obama, Clinton

Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), said Wednesday that the agency is in the process of canceling a contract with a PR firm that has worked for high-profile Democratic campaigns. GMMB, a powerful Democratic media consulting firm, worked on both of Barack Obama's presidential campaigns and was also a massive ad buyer for Hillary Clinton's failed 2016 campaign. During the Obama administration, the CFPB, a federal agency responsible for certain regulation in the financial sector, hired GMMB to do marketing for it, but Mulvaney said he is ending the agreement. "We are in the process of canceling that contract," Mulvaney told Rep. Warren Davidson (R., Ohio) during a congressional hearing. "Do you feel that the American people were getting good value for the $43 million that the CFPB was spending with GMMB?" Davidson asked. "If I thought I were getting good value for my $43 million, I would not have sought to cancel the contract," Mulvaney replied. Davidson expressed concern about the culture at CFPB being "hyper-partisan" in the past, and he said paying for a PR firm seems "outside the scope of the statute" for the agency. He asked Mulvaney why a nonpartisan agency would need to spend money on a PR firm, which led Mulvaney to explain why he wants to get out of the contract. "I don't think our statutory mission was being served," he said. "I'm not sure why we have the advertise—the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] does not advertise that it exists. The FDIC [Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation] does not advertise that it exists." Mulvaney, who also serves as White House budget director, granted that a newly created agency may have some argument for working with a PR firm, but he said it made no sense for such a line item to be increasing. Mulvaney added that the scope of the statute for the CFPB is so broad that it permits the director a "tremendous amount of discretion" to hire organizations to do marketing. He said Congress should consider how much power the CFPB has to hire partisan firms like GMMB in the first place. "This is particularly aimed at my colleagues across the aisle: That $242 million that I spent on the building, I could take that and hire Breitbart. I could take that and hire the Drudge Report to do marketing that I like for the bureau," he said. "Not going to do it, because it's the wrong thing to do, but I have that kind of flexibility." The post Mulvaney: ‘We Are in the Process of Canceling’ Agreement With PR Firm Aligned With Obama, Clinton appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Trump Deputy National Security Adviser Resigns

Nadia Schadlow, the White House deputy national security adviser for strategy, has resigned and will leave her position at the end of this month. White House spokesman Raj Shah on Wednesday released a statement thanking Schadlow, who will remain in her role until April 27, for her service, CNN reported. "The administration thanks Dr. Schadlow for her service and leadership in crafting the president's ‘America First' national security strategy," Shah said. "The strategy has set a strong foundation going forward for protecting the homeland, promoting American prosperity, preserving peace through strength, and advancing American influence. We wish Nadia and her family the best." In her resignation letter, Schadlow thanked President Donald Trump for "the opportunity to serve you and the American people." "Together, we captured your vision for a strong and confident American and developed your America First National Security Strategy—which turned that vision into a strategic direction for your administration," she wrote. "And I am particularly proud that you were able to submit your NSS to Congress earlier than any previous administration…on time and under budget!" Schadlow also said that she was "proud to work with LTG H.R. McMaster and the National Security Council team." Schadlow is the third senior national security official to resign or be pushed out after John Bolton officially replaced Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as Trump's national security adviser this week. Individuals close to the National Security Council have for weeks expected that Schadlow, who was a close adviser to McMaster, would leave her post after Bolton entered the White House, CNN noted. News of Schadlow's resignation comes one day after White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert resigned from the Trump administration, and three days after National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton also resigned under pressure. Bolton has yet to name any new senior staff to the National Security Council but is said to be assembling a team. The post Trump Deputy National Security Adviser Resigns appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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World’s Greatest Deliberative Body Doesn’t Understand Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced 44 U.S. Senators at Tuesday's joint committee hearing about Facebook's handling of user data amid a wider discussion about privacy on the Internet. Questions from the inquirers ranged from asking if Zuckerberg could identify hate groups under the control of Russians to demanding access to user options that already exist to wondering how Facebook makes money. It was a terrific hearing. The post World’s Greatest Deliberative Body Doesn’t Understand Facebook appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Albright: Trump Administration Is ‘All White Men’

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright falsely claimed Wednesday that President Donald Trump's administration is "all white men." Albright, who served as the nation's top diplomat under President Bill Clinton, sat down for an interview on BuzzFeed News‘ AM to DM show with editor-in-chief Ben Smith to talk about the importance of "co-ed decision making." "There are a lot of smart women that are very capable of making decisions," she said. "One of the things I have said is women work incredibly hard, having a lot of good ideas, but there needs to be more than one woman in the room." Smith asked Albright whether the complexion of the Trump administration shocked her. "You mean all white men?" Albright asked. Albright, the first woman to serve as secretary of state, then talked about the importance of diversity and how she was an immigrant to the United States. "I do think that what is necessary is diversity. The strength of our country is diversity. I'm an immigrant and I'm such a proud American and grateful to America and what has been the magic of America is our welcoming of people that are not exactly the same," Albright said. The Trump administration has several women in key cabinet positions, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Small Business Administration administrator Linda McMahon, and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Counselor Kellyanne Conway and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders are also key female White House team members. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Department of Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar, and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta are other cabinet officials who are not white men. The post Albright: Trump Administration Is ‘All White Men’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Bank of America Vice Chair Says Company Won’t Finance Manufacturers of ‘Military-Style Firearms’

A vice chairwoman at Bank of America said Tuesday that the financial services giant will no longer lend money to manufacturers of "military-style firearms." "We want to contribute in any way we can to reduce these mass shootings," Anne Finucane said on Bloomberg TV. "We do have a few manufacturers of military-style firearms. We're in discussions with them. We have let them know that we are going to—it's not our intent to underwrite or finance military-style firearms on a go-forward basis." When asked whether Bank of America will take the same actions with retailers who sell such weapons, Finucane said that is "a ways off" because of "civil liberties" and the Second Amendment. "For us, we have just a handful of manufacturers, they know what our intentions are, we have had intense conversations over the last few months, and it's our intention not to finance these military-style firearms for civilian use," Finucane added. The vice chairwoman said that Bank of America has received a "mixed" reaction from these clients but refused to elaborate further. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a leading gun industry trade group, criticized the bank's decision, saying it is wrong to deem semi-automatic rifles long available to civilians to be military-style weapons, Bloomberg reported. "We as an industry would welcome the opportunity to sit down with Bank of America executives and explain our industry's perspective to discuss what really would work to keep firearms out of the hands of those who should not have them," said Michael Bazinet, a spokesman for the NSSF. "We should be part of the discussion." Finucane also told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday that Bank of America is working to further reduce its work with coal companies and put that money into renewable energy. The post Bank of America Vice Chair Says Company Won’t Finance Manufacturers of ‘Military-Style Firearms’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Report: Gun Jobs Up Nearly 90 Percent Since 2008, Gun Industry Economic Impact Up 169 Percent

The firearms industry has boomed over the last decade with gun-related jobs nearly doubling and the economic impact of the industry growing more than 150 percent, a new report from an industry group said on Tuesday. The National Shooting Sports Foundation's newly released report showed the industry's economic impact rose from $19.1 billion in 2008 to $51.4 billion in 2017. That represents a 169 percent increase. At the same time, gun-related jobs grew from an estimated 166,000 to nearly 310,000. An increase of 87 percent. "Our industry is proud to be one of the truly bright spots in our economy as an unprecedented number of Americans have chosen to exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms and to safely enjoy the shooting sports," Stephen L. Sanetti, president and CEO of the trade group, said in a statement. "In response to that dynamic, we have increased our direct workforce by more than 7,000 in the past year alone, adding jobs that pay an average nearly $50,000 in wages and benefits. In addition, since 2008 we increased federal tax payments by 144 percent, Pittman-Robertson excise taxes that support wildlife conservation by 104 percent and state business taxes by 121 percent." The report said the firearms industry paid a total of $3.9 billion in taxes last year with the bulk coming from $2.9 billion in business taxes and $718 million in excise taxes. Of the jobs counted in the report, 149,113 were for companies that directly manufacture, distribute, or sell firearms, ammunition, or hunting equipment. The other 161,795 jobs were in supply or ancillary industries. "Not only does the manufacture and sale of firearms and hunting supplies create good jobs in the United States, but the industry also contributes to the economy as a whole," the report said. "In fact, in 2017 the firearms and ammunition industry was responsible for as much as $51.41 billion in total economic activity in the country. The broader economic impact flows throughout the economy, generating business for firms seemingly unrelated to firearms. Real people, with real jobs, working in industries as varied as banking, retail, accounting, metal working, even in printing, all depend on the firearms and ammunition industry for their livelihood." The report identified Texas as the state with the most firearms-related jobs and most excise taxes collected as well as the state with the second largest firearms-related economic output, California being the largest. It also found that New Hampshire had the greatest economic output and jobs per capita. Despite strict gun-control laws, New Jersey was identified as the state with the greatest growth in firearms-related jobs and excise taxes. Though the industry grew at a slower pace relative to previous years, 2017 still saw a 3 percent increase of total jobs from around 301,000 in 2016 to nearly 311,000 in 2017. Similarly, the industry's economic impact rose from $51.3 billion to $51.4 billion despite gun sales declining from 2016's record-breaking pace. Gun sales have picked up again in the wake of a renewed push for gun control. March 2018 set a new record for the number of gun-related background checks while protesters descended on Washington, D.C., in an effort to enact new bans on AR-15s and institute other strict gun-control measures. The post Report: Gun Jobs Up Nearly 90 Percent Since 2008, Gun Industry Economic Impact Up 169 Percent appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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John Boehner Joins Board of Cannabis Company, Says His Thinking on Marijuana Has ‘Evolved’

Former House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday that he is joining the advisory board of one of the nation's largest cannabis dispensers to help shift federal policy concerning medical marijuana. The former Republican congressman from Ohio, who as recently as 2011 claimed he was "unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana," wrote on Twitter that his thinking on the matter has "evolved." Boehner, who served as House speaker from 2011 until his resignation from Congress in 2015, said he is now committed to removing prohibitions that limit cannabis from being used for medicinal purposes. He pitched de-scheduling, the term for removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, as potentially beneficial to advancing medical research, especially when it comes to treating opioid addiction. I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved. I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities. @AcreageCannabis https://t.co/f5i9KcQD0W — John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) April 11, 2018 Acreage Holdings, which holds 35 licenses for cannabis businesses across 11 states, announced Boehner's appointment along with that of former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. In a joint statement, Boehner and Weld said it is time for "serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy." The pair cited the changing public perception of the drug as further impetus for action. "While we come at this issue from different perspectives and track records, we both believe the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy," they said. "Public perception of cannabis has dramatically shifted, with 94 percent of Americans currently in favor of some type of access, a shift driven by increased awareness of marijuana's many medical applications." The duo also castigated federal prohibitions on marijuana that left states like Colorado, Maine, Ohio, and Florida, which implemented their own laws governing the drug, in limbo. "Over the past 20 years a growing number of states have experimented with their right to offer cannabis programs under the protection of the 10th amendment," they said. "During that period, those rights have lived somewhat in a state of conflict with federal policy." Boehner and Weld also expressed optimism that de-scheduling the drug could prove beneficial in treating veterans with PTSD, something currently prohibited by the Veterans Affairs health care system. "We need to look no further than our nation's 20 million veterans, 20 percent of whom, according to a 2017 American Legion survey, reportedly use cannabis to self-treat PTSD, chronic pain, and other ailments. Yet the VA does not allow its doctors to recommend its usage," they said. "There are numerous other patient groups in America whose quality of life has been dramatically improved by the state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis." "We are excited to join the team at Acreage in pursuit of their mission to bring safe, consistent, and reliable products to patients and consumers who could benefit," Boehner and Weld added. The post John Boehner Joins Board of Cannabis Company, Says His Thinking on Marijuana Has ‘Evolved’ appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Trump Signs EO to Emphasize Work Requirements for Welfare

President Donald Trump put welfare reform front-and-center Tuesday evening, signing an executive order to begin a review of federal welfare programs to ensure that they promote helping dependents out of poverty. The order outlines key principles to shape welfare in the coming months. These include encouraging economic independence; supporting marriage and family; providing more flexibility to the states; and streamlining services. To implement these principles to the extent the executive branch is able, the order focuses primarily on enforcing and expanding work requirements associated with current federal welfare programs. At present, that means few concrete changes, but Trump has now instructed a number of his cabinet secretaries to review preexisting regulations and programs to ensure that they comport with the administration's goals. The order is part of the administration's current focus on reforming federal welfare programs. The White House announced in January it plans to help states implement work requirements for Medicaid. And in February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture began soliciting comment on changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Concurrent congressional action, likely in the form of changes to SNAP's work requirements, is expected in the near future. Able-bodied adults' enrollment in welfare programs is at record highs, according to the administration. Over 74 million Americans are enrolled in Medicaid and associated programs, up 23 percent from 2013. 42 million Americans are enrolled in SNAP, a decline from 2011 highs during the Great Recession, but a 26 percent increase compared to 2006. Federal welfare rolls are also filled with individuals who might otherwise be working. Twenty-eight million able-bodied adults are enrolled in Medicaid, a number that has quadrupled since 2000. Some 16 million able-bodied adults are enrolled in SNAP, but only 3.8 million are subject to expanded work requirements, according to official estimates. A recent study estimated that, thanks to the enrollment of large numbers of able-bodied adults in Medicaid under Obamacare’s expansion, some 21,000 people have died waiting to get off waiting lists. At the same time, unemployment rates remain at record lows. A January report from the Federal Reserve found that American businesses are struggling to find workers. Both of these facts indicate strong job market prospects for welfare-enrolled adults who could be working. Closing the gap between employable welfare recipients and companies seeking workers will likely be the major priority of the administration and congressional Republicans in coming months. Information provided by the White House noted that many states have already seen success with work requirements: Kansas saw a 75 percent decline in case load and a 50 percent decline in time spent on welfare after it implemented work requirements for able-bodied, childless adults on food stamps. With the backing of the Trump administration, many states are seeking to expand work requirements in their welfare programs. Kentucky has attracted significant attention for adding work requirements for able-bodied recipients of Medicaid. Indiana and Arkansas have also received federal approval to add work requirements to their programs; several other states are exploring or planning to implement similar such expectations. The post Trump Signs EO to Emphasize Work Requirements for Welfare appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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