The Outsider Perspective, brought to you by The Beltway Outsiders.
Good Friday Morning! I’d thank everyone for the positive feedback the past few weeks. I’ve received a lot of emails and messages saying this newsletter is a helpful resource! And I’m glad to hear it. I don’t have a chance to respond to every email. But know I do read the emails. Feel free to respond to this email for any feedback. I try to incorporate reader questions as I’m able to accommodate. More than one section has been inspired by a reader question.
This week has been incredibly busy. As have all the weeks under the Trump administration. Ben White, of Politico, put it this way: “The pace of “holy crap what the hell??” stories out of the White House is unsustainable. We are all going to die.” So that’s the mood of the DC media. I’m going to cover Michael Flynn’s forced resignation and all the things you need to know about it. I’ll also cover the dust up over Trump’s words on Israeli settlement activities and then wrap up with a look at Obamacare and its fate. Important links and stories follow.
Flynn kicked out and Russian fears reignite
The biggest story of the week is Trump requesting the resignation of the National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. To understand the big story here, you have to back up and see the big picture. So I’m going to lay some groundwork before focusing on why Flynn was forced to resign and what is happening behind the scenes.
First, the 30,000 foot view. The day of Trump’s inauguration, I wrote that there were two main areas where Democrats would try to impeach/oust Trump: The emoluments clause and being compromised by or colluding with the Russians. You can read my analysis of those issues here. Not much has changed since then. Trump and his campaign’s connections with Russia have long been a problem. Michael Flynn’s connections with Russia have also long been known (I’ll dig into the specifics momentarily). So why is this happening now? Three reasons:
- The American Intelligence Community (IC) believes American classified secrets, sources, and intelligence is endangered by the Trump administration. Specifically, both the Wall Street Journal and former NSA Analyst John R. Schindler are reporting that the IC is withholding classified intelligence from the President. They are doing this out of fear the White House has been compromised by the Kremlin. They find Trump’s praise of Putin alarming. While there is no direct evidence of collusion, the smoke is alarming the IC. Which has verified portions of the infamous Steele dossier on Trump.
- That same IC is leaking classified intelligence on Trump officials. This has taken two forms. There is one wing of the IC that is leaking documents and targeting specific officials, like Flynn, in an effort to get rid of compromised officials who are effectively moles for Kremlin intelligence. The WSJ and Schindler both noted that IC intel said that there were strong indications Flynn had been compromised. They were worried about the potential for him being blackmailed by Kremlin intelligence. However, there is second wing of the IC that is leaking for purely political reasons. They can be considered Democratic and Obama era loyalists who want to take out Trump. Eli Lake at Bloomberg, who called Flynn’s resignation a “political assassination,” reported that there are Obama-era insiders looking to take out Trump and his staff. This side of the IC is using an opening to achieve a political end.
- The leaks are combining with Trump’s history of connections to Russian. Specifically, his connections to previous campaign manager Paul Manafort, now resigned NSC Michael Flynn, and Trump’s own murky money connections to Russia are snowballing together. The leaks will spur on Congressional investigations into Russian malfeasance in the 2016 election.
I would add to Eli Lake’s piece, you can tell that some of this has the marks of an partisan echo chamber. Specially, this is highly similar to how Obama advisor Ben Rhodes would build a news cycle to push the narrative the White House wanted. Each one of the leaks has gone to a different news source: the NYT, the Washington Post, CNN, and the WSJ. When Watergate occurred, the leaks went to Woodward and Bernstein. These leaks are happening everywhere and going to a multitude of outlets to mask the location of the source(s). Second, the stories are all breaking at night. Each news outlet breaks the story the night before to get ahead of Trump’s morning tweets. This is allowing news outlets to stop Trump from driving the morning narrative with his morning tweets. These aren’t just leaks for the sake of leaks, there’s a distinct coordination effort behind some of them. That’s the definition of a Washington DC echo chamber.
Let’s move to Flynn. What did he do that forced his resignation? Flynn’s downfall began when rumors flared up that he had lied to Vice President Pence and Trump officials on discussing sanctions with the Russians. This was a big deal because Flynn’s discussions presumably happened without the administration’s approval. Then the Washington Post broke the story that Flynn had indeed been doing this very thing. And it wasn’t just one conversation. It was an ongoing conversation surrounding sanctions Russia wanted dropped:
National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said.
Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.
The talks were part of a series of contacts between Flynn and Kislyak that began before the Nov. 8 election and continued during the transition, officials said. In a recent interview, Kislyak confirmed that he had communicated with Flynn by text message, by phone and in person, but declined to say whether they had discussed sanctions.
…Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.
All of those officials said Flynn’s references to the election-related sanctions were explicit. Two of those officials went further, saying that Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by President Barack Obama, making clear that the two sides would be in position to review the matter after Trump was sworn in as president.
This is highly similar to the infamous hot-mic moment for Obama. Where he suggested to Putin that Obama would have more flexibility after the 2012 election. Looking back, we now know that Putin interpreted that as giving him free reign to do what he wanted. And not only did Flynn lie to Vice President Pence about his conversations, he lied to the FBI about them too. Outgoing officials for the IC and DOJ warned Trump about Flynn’s potential compromised situation with the Kremlin.
As an aside, then acting-Attorney General Sally Yates, was one of the officials who warned of Flynn. She infamously refused to defend Trump’s immigration executive order for political reasons. In her memo, she implied Flynn violated the Logan Act. This is how I know part of the resistance to Trump is political: no prosecutor worth their salt would ever think anyone violated the Logan Act. The Logan Act was passed in 1799 to stop private citizens from meddling with the US Government’s negotiations with foreign governments. It was meant to prevent the US government from being undermined in negotiations. It has only been used once since passed: 1803. It has never been used by prosecutors. It comes up as a political specter, but never enforced. And no one is even sure if the act is constitutional. You only bring it up for political reasons, not legal ones. It’s a dormant statute.
Flynn’s actions fall into a murky area involving activities with the Russians. After he was fired by Obama, Flynn strangely decided to cozy up with the Kremlin. He was paid by Russian propaganda outlet RT and began repeating Russian anti-American propoganda regarding foreign policy. This raised many red flags with the IC. Flynn, a former intelligence officer, was knowingly getting close to an enemy of America. He knowingly put himself in a position to have his phones tapped while talking to enemies of America (hence the transcript everyone is talking about now). Of all the people who should know better about dealing with the Kremlin, Flynn should have been at the top of the list. He has headed and directed US intelligence. He can’t claim dumbness or naivety. He knew what he was doing.
It’s important to note: The FBI has said they’ve found no evidence of direct collusion on the part of Flynn and the Russians. In fact, the sanctions Flynn discussed with the Russians have not been rescinded. Hopefully, with this blowup over Flynn, Trump will be forced to keep them in place. Russia seems to believe the same thing, as they’ve instructed their media outlets to stop fawning over Trump. Russia has responded overall by becoming even more of an agitator. They’ve kept a spy ship off the American east coast. And their embassy tweeted an exceedingly strange picture of a table of food, which some some IC insiders believe was a blackmail message shot at the White House. All of this is on top of the active measures campaign Russian intelligence has been attacking Americans with since the beginning of 2016. Russia wants chaos to rule in America. And they want those sanctions lifted.
So what happens now? Investigations. Flynn was just one of many Trump connections who had troubling connections with the Russians. Also included in those investigations are Paul Manafort, who was paid by the Kremlin to campaign for pro-Russian politicians in the Ukraine, Roger Stone, and Trump’s connections to Julian Assange and Wikileaks (both Russian intelligence operations). There are also many more questions surrounding Flynn, as John Schindler noted:
In the first place, it’s difficult to see how Flynn decided to parley with Moscow without a go-ahead of some kind from Donald Trump. We don’t know this to be the case and cannot allege or even speculate that this occurred. But while Flynn is unquestionably a loose cannon, as a career military man he understands the chain of command with perfect clarity. Moreover, accepting that the soon-to-be National Security Advisor opened up back-channels of communication with the Kremlin all by himself is as credible as the notion that the Plumbers decided to break into the Watergate without orders from higher up.
The rising debate over Flynn’s demise, however, was quickly overshadowed by explosive reports that revealed Team Trump’s secret collusion with the Kremlin in the months leading up to the election. As The New York Times reported, NSA intercepted numerous conversations between members of Trump’s inner circle and senior Russian intelligence officials, as well as other Kremlin power-players. Although NSA sources did not reveal the content of those calls—and even specified that to date, no signs of collusion in hurting Clinton’s campaign had been found—the appearance of something worse than mere impropriety was unavoidable. There are several reasons why a presidential campaign might regularly contact a hostile foreign intelligence service—and none of them is savory.
We’re back at the infamous Watergate questions: What did the President know and when did he know it? FoxNews is reporting that Trump was fully briefed on the matter and that Flynn had full recollection of what he talked about with the Russian ambassador. In other words, Trump’s number one media ally is saying he had full knowledge. Trump will have to answer questions about that problem. While leaks show up in nearly every administration. The types of leaks we’re seeing here will continue unless Congress acts. Republicans will be forced to investigate the matter:
At a minimum, the House and Senate intelligence committees will be conducting investigations which ought to worry the White House, whose political future will likely depend on how many Republicans are willing to back Trump—and by extension the Kremlin—over fellow Americans. Since several prominent Republican senators, including Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr, have indicated that investigations are going forward, the White House can’t depend on partisan loyalty to protect them for much longer.
Republicans should be advised to put country over party right now and pursue rigorous inquiries into the full extent of Trump’s Moscow links and their impact on the election—and the new administration. Washington is at the precipice of a scandal unlike anything seen since Watergate. Indeed, KremlinGate promises to be much seedier and more troubling than anything proffered by President Nixon.
Here the inevitable comparisons to Watergate fall short. Tricky Dick committed domestic crimes, and paid the price for them, but Nixon was in no way beholden to a foreign power—much less one which has several thousand nuclear weapons pointed at the United States. Neither did Nixon collude with that foreign power’s spies to arrange his own election to the presidency.
We are now discussing things worse than mere impeachment. If members of Trump’s team colluded with Russian intelligence, the Espionage Act comes into play, and we’ve entered uncharted waters, presidentially speaking.
We need to get to the bottom of this problem. The IC leaks need to stop, the President needs get the full picture of US intelligence. American security is at risk otherwise. Further, you can bet money Democrats will be calling for impeachment during these investigations. It doesn’t matter how tangential the connection to Trump will end up being, they will call for it. Flynn and Manafort’s connection to the Kremlin are too clear. We’re headed for a major period where impeachment will be called for, much louder than it is now.
If Trump is innocent, he needs to clean house, even this early into his administration. Sweep out the Kremlin-compromised individuals in his administration. Remove the threat before it could potentially cost him his administration. I’ll share a parting thought that Schindler heard from one of his IC contacts, all of which have proven to be accurate over the last 2 years. After Trump’s tweets on the IC Wednesday and Thursday morning, a person asked Schindler: “I can kind of guess but what do you think is going on inside NatSec right now after Trump’s “intelligence” tweet this morning?” Schindler replied:
Now we go nuclear. IC war going to new levels. Just got an EM from senior IC friend, it began: “[Trump] will die in jail.”
That should chill you to your core. The American IC mood is that they’re fighting for their lives and country against Trump. And if Trump keeps it up, they believe they will send him to jail. That’s why you’re seeing Trump pull in people to review and stop the IC leaks. People are informing Trump of how much trouble he is in. I sense that a purge of the IC will take place, to rid the agencies of pro-Obama loyalists. But that won’t stop those in the agencies who voted for Trump and still find his war against the IC shocking. The rift will grow.
Ultimately, I do not believe Trump will be impeached (Democrats have a numbers problem; and I doubt the full Democratic caucus would be gung-ho for impeachment). But the connections between his administration and the Kremlin are deeply troubling and need to be purged. The security of America is at stake. And Trump needs to learn that the security of America is more important than any single associate he has in the world or White House.
P.S. After I had already finished this section, news broke that Vice Admiral Robert Harward turned Trump down on taking the position of National Security Advisor. Harward is a highly respected military man and was who many wanted to see get the job. Right now, media reports are saying Harward rejected the position because he wanted his own team and to clean out Flynn’s underlings. Trump’s team was resistant to cleaning out Flynn people. Thus Harward rejected. Trump needs to clean house. This does not bode well.
Trump’s position on Israeli settlements and the two-state solution isn’t extreme
Trump also took some heat this week for his comments surrounding Israeli settlement activities and the “two-state solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the press conference with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump said on the issue of settlements:
[W]hen Trump was asked for his view of Israel’s settlement activities, he responded by pivoting to look at his Israeli counterpart and saying, “I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit. We’ll work something out, but I would like to see a deal be made.”
After Netanyahu offered a short reply to that statement — “Let’s try it,” he seemed to say, as he waved a hand — Trump said, “Doesn’t sound too optimistic, but he’s a good negotiator.”
“So I’m looking at two-state and one-state — and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said when asked about the subject alongside Netanyahu at the formal news conference around midday Wednesday.
“I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one,” Trump continued. “I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly if Bibi and if the Palestinians — if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”
The outcry was fairly loud, with people accusing Trump of abandoning US policy for the last 15-20 years on the two-state solution. And not pushing back on the issue of settlements. I didn’t find this to be altogether that inflammatory. Even though the media and Democratic officials are attacking this position.
The settlement issue is far more complicated than people want to let on. Only two Presidents have held the position that settlement activity by the Israelis is illegal. That would be George H. W. Bush and Barack Obama. All other Presidents, particularly Bill Clinton, took a more nuanced approach. The main issue with settlement activity, which is where Israel allows citizens to build and homestead in disputed territories like Gaza and the West Bank, is that pushing settlements out can potentially harm Israeli security. The more settlements there are, the more instability in the Middle East. You can get a taste of that argument here. I’ll return to this in a moment.
Second, on the issue of the two-state solution. President George W. Bush was really the first President to truly seek a two-state solution. All previous President simply sought some form of peace. Two-states, one for the Israelis and one for the Palestinians, was used as a potential idea/bargaining chip. So in reality, all Trump did was demote the two-state solution to one of several options. In negotiations like this one, the more chips you have the better.
The best book you can read on the subject is “Doomed to Succeed” by Dennis Ross. Ross worked under numerous administrations with Israel, specifically the Reagan, Clinton, and Obama administrations. Had Clinton won in 16, he would have undoubtedly been involved again. He traces back the conflict with Israel back to Truman and finds one central theme: Israeli security and peace the Middle East does not hinge on settlement activity or the lack of a state for the Palestinians. In fact, when presented with their exact wish list, over and over again, the Palestinians routinely reject peace or a two-state solution. Arab allies in the region also don’t care about the Palestinians.
While many Middle Eastern countries may publicly talk about the Palestinians, in reality, they care less about the Palestinians and more about their own personal well-being. In the modern climate, that means pushing back against a resurgent Iran. So while you may hear those countries talk about the Palestinians and Israel, their real concern is Iran and personal security. So much so that countries that openly talk about hating Israel are working with Trump to form a defense alliance with Israel AGAINST Iran:
The Trump administration is in talks with Arab allies about having them form a military alliance that would share intelligence with Israel to help counter their mutual foe, Iran, several Middle Eastern officials said.
The alliance would include countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that are avowed enemies of Israel, as well as Egypt and Jordan, which have longstanding peace treaties with Israel, five officials from Arab countries involved in the discussions said. Other Arab countries could also join the alliance.
For the Arab countries involved, the alliance would have a NATO-style mutual-defense component under which an attack on one member would be treated as an attack on all, though details are still being worked out, the officials said.
The U.S. would offer military and intelligence support to the alliance, beyond the kind of limited backing it has been providing to a Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, the officials said. But neither the U.S. nor Israel would be part of the mutual-defense pact.
“They’ve been asking diplomatic missions in Washington if we’d be willing to join this force that has an Israeli component,” one Arab diplomat said. “Israel’s role would likely be intelligence sharing, not training or boots on the ground. They’d provide intelligence and targets. That’s what the Israelis are good at.”
So what does this have to do with settlements and the two-state solution? It should point out that Trump’s positions on them aren’t that important to most Arab countries. And Trump’s position isn’t necessary to Israel’s future. The most dangerous elements in the Middle East right now are Iran, Syria, and terrorist groups.
Israeli settlements may encourage terrorist activity by Hamas or other pro-Palestinian groups, but those types of terrorism were already taking place. Those terrorists have explicit goals of eradicating Israel and Jews. Their concerns shouldn’t be taken seriously and they should be wiped out. Trump’s words in the press conference simply give the administration more wiggle room to negotiate with the Israelis. This isn’t some grand step back in time. Does it rock the boat? Yes. Does it change the landscape of peace in the Middle East? Not a bit.
Obamacare continues to sink while we wait for the Republican’s reform plans
Love it or hate it, the 2018 election will likely be a referendum on two things: 1) Trump and 2) Obamacare’s replacement. Every election since 2010 has, on some level, been a referendum on Obamacare. There are two major stories around Obamacare that are intertwined. First, a private GOP House meeting shows that while broad strokes of a plan are in place, the details of the Obamacare replacement are far from nailed down:
The continued discord seven weeks into the new Congress brought into high relief Republicans’ struggle to get on the same page to fulfill their most basic campaign pledge — a task that is turning out to be more complicated than they imagined. At town halls across the nation, lawmakers are getting grilled by progressives and others irate at their efforts to dismantle President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Leadership gave members a 19-page policy outline ahead of next week’s recess.
Newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price told lawmakers at Thursday’s meeting that President Donald Trump “is all in on” repealing and replacing Obamacare at the same time. Earlier this week, the conservative House Freedom Caucus called on Republicans to repeal the law first and work on a replacement later.
“Let’s not miss this opportunity,” Price said, according to a source in the room. “Let’s go shoulder to shoulder, arm to arm.”
Republicans appear to be in agreement on the broad strokes of a plan: Use a 2015 Obamacare repeal bill as a start, then pack in as much replacement policy as possible, including creation of high-risk pools, health savings accounts, tax credit assistance and significant Medicaid changes.
But the details are far from clear and, in fact, cracks in the outline have emerged. Some Republicans want to keep some of the Obamacare taxes in order to pay for the new plan. Lawmakers from states that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare don’t want to roll back the expansion because it could hurt their state’s coffers.
Second, the major push to consolidate the health insurance industry has failed. The Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers were blocked by federal judges:
Aetna and Humana said Tuesday morning that they’re calling off their $34 billion merger, and just hours later Cigna said it’s calling off its $54 billion deal with Anthem. Both deals were targeted by the Justice Department and were recently blocked by federal judges, citing antitrust concerns.
Cigna and Anthem are going to continue fighting over their merger. Cigna is seeking nearly $15 billion damages from Anthem. Those two companies had so many internal fights over their merger that it spilled over into the front pages of the Wall Street Journal.
The major incentive pushing those mergers was Obamacare. Internally, while companies argued that they were losing money from the marketplaces created by Obamacare, the real reason companies seek mergers like this is to save costs from regulations. Even if the companies hated each other, like Anthem and Cigna, they believed merger was preferable to living under Obamacare along. The amount of regulations promulgated by agencies via Obamacare is staggering. Combine the marketplaces with new regulations, and you get the toxic mix that encourages consolidation in an industry.
A similar example would be the banking and lending industry after Dodd-Frank. After Dodd-Frank passed, the number of community banks in small communities shrunk by 14%. Consolidation tool place as banks ate up each other in order to survive under the new regulations. Obamacare regulations are encouraging similar behavior by strangling the market into consolidation.
The big healthcare insurers were following a similar consolidation behavior. The main fear they all had when the mergers started was being the last company left to merge. Everyone knew the last company out would starve to death. So as soon as one set of companies jumped to consolidate, everyone jumped. Now all those companies are back at square one, facing two prospects: 1) An unclear future if Obamacare is repealed as the GOP continues to squabble, and 2) the near certainty that Obamacare is headed towards a death spiral if the law continues to rule over the industry.
The country needs Republicans to have a successful plan at the end of this entire debacle. Democrats are simply wrong on the future of Obamacare. There is nothing to save. The status quo is untenable. They’re trying their hardest to sell it now. But the future is pretty clear for the law: repeal/reform or enter into a death spiral. Obamacare is strangling the industry. Republicans need to free it.
Links and stories for your radar
The filibuster plan against Gorsuch appears to be falling apart – National Review Online
In the past week or so, nine Senate Democrats have stated that Judge Neil Gorsuch deserves an up-or-down vote in the Senate — implying that they would not vote to support a filibuster to block his nomination. If true, it would be Gorsuch should sail through the nomination process.
North Korea has a history of state-ordered assassinations, including an attempt — involving a poison needle disguised as a pen — to kill a defector-turned-activist in South Korea as recently as 2011.
Malaysian police have arrested two people accused of direct involvement in the brazen attack on Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur airport Monday — the women alleged to have carried out the poisoning, one apparently from Vietnam and the other from Indonesia — and have detained the Indonesian woman’s Malaysian boyfriend to help them with their inquiries.
Why you should care: The best theory here was that Kim Jong Nam was being kept in the wings in the event China wanted to depose Kim Jong Un. Un has been unfriendly to the Chinese. Worth watching to see if the Chinese seek to enact regime change in North Korea. Kim assassinating political rivals is nothing new. Angering the Chinese would be new.
The Russian military has reportedly deployed a new, nuclear-armed cruise missile, in direct violation of a 1987 treaty with the United States that bans hard-to-defeat medium-range, land-based nukes. The deployment of the truck-launched SSC-8 missile apparently somewhere in Eastern Europe, first reported by The New York Times, could escalate nuclear competition between the United States and Russia.
The Real Constitutional Crisis – LawFare
It is more than a little amusing, in light of the events of the last week, that we still see concerns about whether “we’re in a constitutional crisis” due to excessive presidential power, and about “how much … the early days of the Trump administration look like the Third Reich,” and about how the United States is part of a global movement on a downward spiral toward “repressive kleptocracy.” The real story in the last week, and indeed of the Trump presidency, is (as predicted) how well our constitutional checks and balances are working in reaction to an unorthodox, norm-breaking, law-indifferent President. It is increasingly clear that the main danger in a Trump presidency is not that it will be too strong, but that it will be too weak.
While We’re Distracted by the Drama, the Economy Seems to Be Taking Off – The New York Times
It may not be as dramatic as the torrent of political news out of Washington; an improving economy, after all, announces itself through a series of data releases that are just a little bit better than people were expecting. But that’s exactly what has happened. In consumer spending, the job market and manufacturing, the economy seems to be enjoying consistent, broad-based growth to start the year.
There could always be a setback, of course, but the momentum is almost uniformly positive as the Trump era gets underway.
The Ninth Circuit’s Comedy of Errors in Washington v. Trump – Josh Blackman
It is remarkable that a basic recitation of Washington v. Trump’s posture—which is less than two weeks old—required over 800 words. This fast-developing case has taken countless twists and turns in its infancy, and no doubt there are many curves lying ahead. The purpose of this two-part essay is to study carefully the reasoning in the Ninth Circuit’s panel opinion. Despite its well-meaning intentions, the per curiam opinion is, at bottom, a contrived comedy of errors.
Judges v. Trump: Be Careful What You Wish For – Eric Posner
Courts have historically deferred to the president on national-security matters because the president acts on the basis of classified information and may need to move quickly.
If courts are now creating a “Trump exception” to settled law on presidential powers, we should also remember that our safety depends on a return to the era in which the courts — and intelligence agents — trusted the president’s word. And if a terrorist attack does happen, as the president suggested in a tweet, he might feel empowered to defy the courts.
While we might celebrate the court’s alertness to its institutional prerogatives, we should also be aware of the high stakes and risks in this clash between the executive and the judiciary.
Hilary Clinton is Running Again – Politico Magazine
No inside information informs this prediction. No argument is advanced as to whether her run is a good or a bad idea—there are many ways to make a case either way. Instead this is just a statement of simple facts (if facts mean anything anymore, that is). And the facts are clear that the former secretary of state is doing everything she needs to do to run for the White House one more time. If she finds a path to do so, she will take it. And I can prove it.
US Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly has informed Congress that the DHS is considering requiring refugees and visa applicants from seven Muslim-majority nations to hand over their social media credentials from Facebook and other sites as part of a security check. “We want to get on their social media, with passwords: What do you do, what do you say?” he told the House Committee on Homeland Security on Tuesday. “If they don’t want to cooperate, then you don’t come in.”
Why you should care: While this type of rule wouldn’t affect US citizens directly. It could abroad. Most countries aren’t likely to put up with their citizens treated this way and would reciprocate in kind. So US travelers can expect to be requested to give up social media passwords traveling abroad if this rule passes.
Your satire news piece of the week
If there’s anything this wild year in Washington has shown us, it’s that the traditional rules of politics no longer apply. After months of Republicans defying all the usual conventions of bureaucracy to win unprecedented power in government, it looks like the Democrats are finally responding in kind. According to sources, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been dead for over three months, but Democrats have been spraying Febreze on her every day in hopes that no one else notices she’s no longer alive.
Well played, Dems. Well played.
Thanks for reading!