The Outsider Perspective, brought to you by The Beltway Outsiders.
Good Friday Morning! We finally have an official draft Obamacare replacement bill. I’m going to go through some of the politics and provisions behind that legislation. Next up, the new Wikileaks dump of CIA documents shows that Russia is still taking its cyber war with America seriously, despite the victory of Donald Trump. Finally, I wrap things up with a look at the allegations in Trump’s tweets accusing Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump/Trump Tower. It’s a hairy situation that requires a nuanced view of intelligence and what officials are publicly saying. Links for your weekend reading follow.
GOP releases first draft of Obamacare replacement: American Health Care Act
To understand this bill, you have to first understand the politics and a bit of recent history.
Why this isn’t a true “repeal”
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) is the first released draft of the Republican’s plan to fix Obamacare. The plan is to use what is called the “Budget Reconciliation” process. This process was how the Affordable Care Act was cobbled together under President Obama. So here is a brief refresher history of what happened in 2009-2010:
In the early phases of the act’s passage in December 2009, Democrats enjoyed a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the Senate, and did not need reconciliation to effectively pass bills. But the House and Senate did pass slightly different versions of a health-reform bill in December of that year, with the House bill spending more, taxing more, and extending more subsidies to increase coverage to more Americans. The House and Senate hoped to bring their bills closer together in a conference, which would have necessitated another Senate vote and another possible filibuster attempt.
Republican Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts in the 2010 special election to fill Democrat Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat changed the calculus on that process. Brown’s election upended the Democratic filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and in response, Democrats resorted to the process of reconciliation to bridge the gaps between the Senate and House bills. The Democrat-led House abandoned its own bill to pass the Senate’s more conservative legislation, and then the Senate avoided a Republican filibuster by using reconciliation to pass the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which amended the ACA to be more like the House’s original bill. That bill used federal funds to pay for the bulk of the Medicaid expansion, increased tax credits and subsidies for purchasing insurance, closed the Medicare “donut hole,” and increased some taxes to afford the expenditures, among other measures.
In 2017, though Republicans control the House, Senate, and Executive branch, they do not have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Democrats have already signaled they would filibuster any new Republican legislation. The Republicans would need 60 votes to break that filibuster and they just don’t have that in the Senate. Meaning, they cannot simply repeal Obamacare and replace it with their own legislation. The GOP has to pass a bill that can make it through the Senate with a simple majority vote (50 Senators plus VP Pence for the tie-breaker). Which is where the Reconciliation Process comes back into play.
Republicans are also under a time crunch because of three events: 1) The threat of rising premiums under current Obamacare standards. As I noted at the beginning of the year, premiums in 2017 are set to rise an average of 22%. The new enrollment period starts November 1st. 2) Under current Senate rule interpretations, only one major reconciliation bill can be passed a year. 3) The GOP has set a self-imposed deadline of having this healthcare bill signed and finished before August recess in Congress (this is less serious than the first two issues). Which is why you’re seeing a hurried process from the GOP. Dragging things out into the summer places them in a bind as the recess nears.
Functionally, what the GOP is doing is amending current ACA laws to include Republican ideas. It’s not a repeal in the truest sense of the word. They’re taking the shell of Obamacare, removing some things, and filling it in with a different set of concepts. The argument being, this is the best case scenario they can pull of given their numbers in Congress. Basically, this is like a house flip show on HGTV. The GOP is taking the limited amount of political capital they have to get something done and trying to flip Obamacare into a working piece of legislation (instead of burning down the house, getting the insurance money, and getting out of that neighborhood, as I would prefer).
Highlights of AHCA
Personally, I’ve seen very few positive reviews of the proposed legislation. Which is why I would emphasize the “draft” nature of this legislation. I expect changes. Particularly after the write-up process. I imagine we’ll see some provision added/amended/taken away in order to broker a deal with some group of Republicans (likely the freedom caucus). There are a few highlights to note:
- AHCA eliminates the Individual and Employer Mandate penalty taxes. (1)
- AHCA eliminates many taxes, including those on premiums, prescription and OTC drugs, and medical devices (2)
- AHCA increases federal money sent to states in order to modernize access to Medicare. (3)
- Current ACA laws are kept in place that prevent insurers from rejecting those with pre-existing conditions and allows children to remain on a parent’s coverage until the age of 26.
- Creates a tax credit for poor families who don’t have coverage through their employer or a government program to afford healthcare. The tax credit is a yearly payment of $2k – $14k.
The medicare section is most contentious section. Avik Roy, one of Forbes leading editors on healthcare, wrote the following on it (I recommend the entire piece as it includes a response from a GOP Congressman):
The strongest part of the American Health Care Act, by far, is its overhaul of Medicaid, the developed world’s worst insurance program. In 2013, a landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people on Medicaid had no better outcomes than those with no insurance at all.
That’s because the program’s dysfunctional 1965 design makes it impossible for states to manage their Medicaid budgets without ratcheting down what they pay doctors to care for Medicaid enrollees. That, in turn, has led many doctors to stop accepting Medicaid patients, such that Medicaid enrollees don’t get the care they need.
The AHCA takes important steps to strengthen the Medicaid program, by converting its funding into a per-capita allotment that would give states the flexibility they need to modernize the program. It’s an idea that was first proposed by Bill Clinton in 1995 as an alternative to block grants, and one that could give Medicaid enrollees the access to physicians and specialists that they struggle to have today.
Relative to the leaked AHCA draft from February 10, the new bill makes an important tweak to its Medicaid reforms. It improves the transition away from Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, by preserving the 90 percent federal match rate past 2020 for people who had signed up for the expansion prior to that year. That helps expansion states cover those individuals without significant disruptions in funding.
The great unknown, however, is how the bill gets paid for, because the AHCA does away with nearly all the taxes in Obamacare. Roy notes this in his piece:
The American Health Care Act repeals nearly all of Obamacare’s taxes, save the postponement of the Cadillac tax. But Obamacare’s tax hikes comprised about 60 percent of its funding for the law’s coverage expansion. So the $2 trillion question is: does the AHCA explode the deficit, or is it relying on steep Medicaid cuts to keep the deficit in line? We won’t know until the CBO scores the bill.
But, remarkably, House GOP leadership plans to move forward with marking up the bill on Wednesday without even having the CBO score available. It’s not clear why they’re proceeding without a score, but it means that members of the House Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means Committees will not have the information they need to make informed decisions about how best to revise the bill.
The CBO is likely to score the AHCA as covering around 20 million fewer Americans than Obamacare. There are flaws in the way the CBO models health reform legislation, but the AHCA itself contains enough flaws that there can be little doubt that the plan will price millions out of the health insurance market.
Until the CBO scoring comes in, we won’t have a baseline estimate for how the law works. Which is why I would suggest being skeptical of any reports claiming to understand the exact numbers of Obamacare until that scoring process is finished. The CBO will set the baseline for the debate over the AHCA. The Trump admin will release its own numbers and it wouldn’t shock me to see some other groups take a stab at estimating the law’s impact.
I would be highly skeptical of any report regarding the popularity of Obamacare. Remember, of this century, there have been 3 major votes that have shifted elections for years: 1) The authorization to use military force in Iraq in 2003, 2) The bailout/TARP legislation in 2007/08, and 3) The vote over Obamacare. Those 3 votes, plus the terrorist attacks on 9/11 have defined 21st century politics. Each political party has been rocked by backlash due to those votes. Democrats were systematically voted out of office over Obamacare alone. That doesn’t happen unless the law is massively unpopular. Reporters pretending otherwise is simply rewriting history.
What I expect from this legislation
I don’t see this legislation as the final GOP solution for healthcare. I see it as the opening move from the Trump admin towards reforming healthcare. I suspect the GOP will try to push through other reforms as well. If you read Paul Ryan’s fact sheet on the legislation, his office calls the bill a “stable transition to a patient-centered system.” Which suggests to me the AHCA is really just the first round of reforms from the GOP under Trump. And given that the GOP had 11-12 various bills with differing solutions, I imagine some of them will come back in other forms.
The GOP is likely playing a longer game here. They’re hoping they can engender some good will in 2017/18 from repealing the most hated items under Obamacare (individual mandate and taxes). Then they plan to use that goodwill to try and win a filibuster proof Senate in 2018 (a possibility, several Democratic seats sit in Trump states). This would allow a more robust round of reforms on Obamacare and healthcare overall. The major obstacle to GOP reforms on Obamacare isn’t a lack of ideas or not having a plan. It’s figuring out how to get reforms through with the numbers they have in Congress. The “repeal and replace” crowd is having to deal with political realities.
So in a nutshell, while the AHCA isn’t great legislation, it’s also not the last political push. Expect more reform ideas to percolate after this initial reform/replace movement. In other words, AHCA is really just political point scoring with a promise for policy depth at a later date.
Russia has Wikileaks launch another attack on US intelligence agencies
You may have seen the latest intelligence drop from Wikileaks: “AP – WikiLeaks reveals CIA files describing hacking tools”
WikiLeaks published thousands of documents Tuesday described as secret files about CIA hacking tools the government employs to break into users’ computers, mobile phones and even smart TVs from companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung.
The documents describe clandestine methods for bypassing or defeating encryption, antivirus tools and other protective security features intended to keep the private information of citizens and corporations safe from prying eyes. U.S. government employees, including President Donald Trump, use many of the same products and internet services purportedly compromised by the tools.
The documents describe CIA efforts — cooperating with friendly foreign governments and the U.S. National Security Agency — to subvert the world’s most popular technology platforms, including Apple’s iPhones and iPads, Google’s Android phones and the Microsoft Windows operating system for desktop computers and laptops.
The documents also include discussions about compromising some internet-connected televisions to turn them into listening posts. One document discusses hacking vehicle systems, indicating the CIA’s interest in hacking modern cars with sophisticated on-board computers.
To say this is bad is an understatement. Wikileaks is in bed with Russian intelligence. They run, effectively, as nothing more than an attack dog for the Russian FSB, successor to the KGB, to destroy US intelligence services. Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, are all nothing more than pawns in Russia’s attempts to cripple US intelligence. And this leak is likely another rogue contractor for the CIA.
The latest dump from Wikileaks comes as the Kremlin started tightening up its stance on Trump. They want Americans to distrust all forms of intelligence services. They want all of Silicon Valley to stop working with US intelligence. And the Russians want full chaos in America. All previous leaks have endangered US military personnel. This leak will be no different. It cripples legitimate tools the CIA uses to spy on America’s enemies, including ISIS. If you ever wanted proof that the Russians have no interest in defeating ISIS, look no further than these leaks.
The latest leaks from Wikileaks are likely another Snowden type operation. Authorities investigating the matter are focusing their efforts on outside contractors for the CIA. The investigation will explore more than a thousand potential suspects who could have had access:
Investigators working to find the source of this week’s WikiLeaks dump are likely set to focus on outside contractors for the CIA, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
A disaffected insider– not a foreign government—is believed to be behind the leak of thousands of documents on the CIA’s cyberspying capabilities, investigators told The New York Times.
The FBI is hunting to find the responsible party for the leak and is set to interview possibly more than a thousand people who may have had access to the leaked information, the paper reported. The scope of the investigation will even reach contractors outside the CIA, The Times report said.
The timing of the Wikileaks dump seems to be timed to cause more chaos in America. The dump happened just after the Trump accused the Obama administration in a series of tweets of wiretapping/spying on Trump and Trump Tower. Remember, the key for the Russians is to always create more public distrust of American institutions. The more chaos the better, to the Russians. And since the actual act of stealing data occurred last year, there is likely a purpose to the timing of the release.
While the Russian attacks on US intelligence is bad, it continues to mask the underlying issues within Russia. Putin’s iron grip cannot last forever. I’ll re-echo the point George Kennan made in 1946 regarding the Russians:
At bottom of Kremlin’s neurotic view of world affairs is traditional and instinctive Russian sense of insecurity. Originally, this was insecurity of a peaceful agricultural people trying to live on vast exposed plain in neighborhood of fierce nomadic peoples. To this was added, as Russia came into contact with economically advanced West, fear of more competent, more powerful, more highly organized societies in that area. But this latter type of insecurity was one which afflicted rather Russian rulers than Russian people; for Russian rulers have invariably sensed that their rule was relatively archaic in form fragile and artificial in its psychological foundation, unable to stand comparison or contact with political systems of Western countries. For this reason they have always feared foreign penetration, feared direct contact between Western world and their own, feared what would happen if Russians learned truth about world without or if foreigners learned truth about world within. And they have learned to seek security only in patient but deadly struggle for total destruction of rival power, never in compacts and compromises with it.
It was no coincidence that Marxism, which had smoldered ineffectively for half a century in Western Europe, caught hold and blazed for first time in Russia. Only in this land which had never known a friendly neighbor or indeed any tolerant equilibrium of separate powers, either internal or international, could a doctrine thrive which viewed economic conflicts of society as insoluble by peaceful means.
Russians strike out of fear of their own insecurity. Putin understands that he is in a similar precarious situation. His country is poor. His people are poverty stricken and need economic help. And for a country that just celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, empty stomachs grumbling again at their government could pose for a toxic mix. The Russian Revolution, with the rise of the Bolsheviks, marked the horrific rise of communism’s death march in the world. Millions died from famines and wholesale slaughter of civilians opposed to the government. Putin’s adventures in geo-politics are a form of distraction to his people. A distraction to prevent another uprising from his own people.
What to make of Trump’s tweets about the Obama admin wiretaps?
President Trump issued a number of tweets March 4th, Saturday morning. They are, to put it mildly, explosive and unlike anything we’ve ever seen in American politics:
1/ The first meeting Jeff Sessions had with the Russian Amb was set up by the Obama Administration under education program for 100 Ambs……
2/ Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
3/ Just out: The same Russian Ambassador that met Jeff Sessions visited the Obama White House 22 times, and 4 times last year alone.
4/ Is it legal for a sitting President to be “wire tapping” a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!
5/ I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
6/ How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!
And so, in 6 tweets, President Trump proceeded to upend the entire political world and annihilate any positive press he had after his well received speech to Congress. Obama and everyone in his administration denied the charges. At the time the story dropped, it appeared that Trump was sourcing these claims to a very thinly sourced Breitbart story that used radio show host Mark Levin as its source. The White House then tossed the job of finding evidence to Congress and said it was making no further comments on the tweets. So let’s go through what we know, or what we have evidence for in this case.
1. FISA warrants likely exist, but not that target Trump
Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.
The FBI agents who talked to the New York Times, and rubbished the ground-breaking stories of Slate (Franklin Foer) and Mother Jones (David Corn) may not have known about the FISA warrant, sources say, because the counter-intelligence and criminal sides of the FBI often work independently of each other employing the principle of ‘compartmentalization’.
Mensch was not alone in her reporting. Both the BBC and the Guardian confirmed with their own sources that a FISA warrant existed in October, and had been requested in June, that targeted people in Trump Tower. American media tried investigating, but came up with nothing. The Clinton camp even tried to gin up a response, but no one in American media could prove the warrants existed. While the June warrant application allegedly had Trump involved, the October warrant supposedly did not.
It’s also worth noting CNN has sources saying that the FBI has an open investigation into the server that is at the center of the FISA warrant allegations above. But, neither the investigators nor experts involved know what to think about the server.
Mensch’s sources state their belief that both FISA warrants may have covered Trump. But I have my doubts about that after former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said there was no wiretap of Trump or his campaign. This is not a blanket denial as many are taking it. It’s a very narrow denial from Clapper. It is a denial focusing on Trump and Trump’s campaign. By June and October, some of the key people we know were under investigation, Paul Manafort and his associates, were already gone from Trump’s campaign. Manafort also lives in Trump Tower, along with other colorful characters that could require a FISA warrant themselves. So it is entirely possible, if not likely, that US counter-intelligence agencies were investigating foreign sources contacting other Americans in Trump Tower. Andrew C. McCarthy, an attorney who has specialized in FISA warrants, echoed this same point (emphasis mine):
Other than Trump’s tweet (which I do not mean to minimize), there has been no allegation that Trump himself was wiretapped. The claim is that there was a FISA application in June 2016, in which the Justice Department sought to wiretap some of Trump’s associates and perhaps Trump himself (it is not clear that Trump was targeted; he was allegedly “named”). If there was a June application, it is said to have been denied by the FISA court. Therefore, wiretapping would not have been conducted as result of it. And obviously, Trump was neither president nor president-elect at that time — he was a candidate running for president. As for the assertion that there was no wiretapping “against [Trump’s] campaign,” the claims about wiretapping have never focused on the campaign qua campaign. The claim has been that associates of Trump with varying degrees of connection to the campaign and/or to a Trump Tower server were targeted for surveillance and wiretapped. In other words, Clapper did not deny any allegation that anyone following this story carefully had made. Clapper’s denial is responsive only to Trump’s tweet. Had it not been for Trump’s tweet, Clapper’s denial would be irrelevant — it does not refute the prior reporting. Nothing in this denial undermines the allegation that Trump associates with connections to the campaign were subjected to wiretapping.
Trump is likely wrong in his assertion that warrants were targeted at him in a political manner. There’s no evidence suggestion that the collection of data by intelligence agencies was done with political motivations. Nor is there evidence a warrant was issued against him personally. Hence the central claim in his tweets that Obama was targeting him with wiretaps is likely wrong (if it ends up being right, it would be the single most explosive story in our country’s history). However, I would wager it is likely FISA warrants exist regarding other Trump associates unattached to the campaign.
2. The DISSEMINATION of classified intelligence HAS been political
So while no evidence exists of the COLLECTION of classified intelligence being done for political purposes. There is considerable evidence that the leaks we’ve seen recently in media surrounding Flynn and Sessions HAVE been political. Recall last week, I wrote about how the Obama administration tried to hide and disseminate classified intelligence across the federal government in order to “protect it” from Trump. This is a highly generous reading of their actions. It presumes that political actors would have no political motivations. No NYT reporter is really that naive. So this is pure spin from political appointees being reported as fact.
Remember, no single report or leaked intelligence we know of has said Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russians. There is no smoking gun. Which means that each time former Obama officials are quoted anonymously in a leak, their purpose is purely political. They know none of the evidence leads to collusion. So instead, they’re focusing on Trump administration officials, one at a time. While I have my doubts about there being any kind of “Deep State” in the US Government. There are Obama appointed officials in the government who are leaking for the sole purpose of destroying Trump.
Their goal is to eventually impeach Trump on some level of allegations. Even though no smoking gun exists and no intelligence officer can say Trump colluded. The best we have so far is that are intelligence agencies are nervous about sharing information with Trump because they believe some in his circle have been compromised. Specifically, people like Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort.
There is evidence, and sources, who claim FISA warrants exist that targeted either Trump associates or people who associate in Trump Tower. Trump may have been included incidentally, but never targeted specifically under said warrants. There is no evidence the collection of intelligence by US agencies was done with political malevolence in mind. There is evidence Obama era officials are disseminating classified intelligence with political motivations. And while this is happening, Congressional investigations are beginning to kick off. Which means, we will know more about the truth as time goes on. This story isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Links for your Radar
American Carnage: The new landscape of opioid addiction – First Things
“Drug addiction used to be a ghetto thing. Now Oxycodone has joined shuttered factories and Donald Trump as a symbol of white working-class desperation and fecklessness. The reaction has been unsympathetic. Writes Nadja Popovich in The Guardian: “Some point to this change in racial and economic demographics as one reason many politicians have re-evaluated the tough ‘war on drugs’ rhetoric of the past 30 years.”
The implicit accusation is that only now that whites are involved have racist authorities been roused to act. This is false in two ways. First, authorities have not been roused to act. Second, when they do, they will have epidemiological, and not just tribal, grounds for doing so. A plague afflicting an entire country, across ethnic groups, is by definition more devastating than a plague afflicting only part of it. A heroin scourge in America’s housing projects coincided with a wave of heroin-addicted soldiers brought back from Vietnam, with a cost peaking between 1973 and 1975 at 1.5 overdose deaths per 100,000. The Nixon White House panicked. Curtis Mayfield wrote his soul ballad “Freddie’s Dead.” The crack epidemic of the mid- to late 1980s was worse, with a death rate reaching almost two per 100,000. George H. W. Bush declared war on drugs. The present opioid epidemic is killing 10.3 people per 100,000, and that is without the fentanyl-impacted statistics from 2016. In some states it is far worse: over thirty per 100,000 in New Hampshire and over forty in West Virginia.”
The party’s over now: On the state of political parties – The New Criterion
“Historically, parties in democratic countries did facilitate choice. They used to represent different sectional, demographic interests. In Britain, the Tories originally drew their support from the landed gentry; the Whigs from aristocrats and the wealthy middle class; Labour from unionized workers.
Parties also used to articulate different worldviews. The Tories, and later the Conservatives, stood for monarchism, protectionism, and the preservation of institutions; the Whigs, and later the Liberals, for religious nonconformity, free trade, and political reform; Labour for socialism and the expansion of the welfare state. Similarly, in the United States, Democrats and Republicans embodied the oppositions between federalism and states’ rights, statism and free markets, interventionism and isolationism.
But do political parties still offer choice today?”
Putin Critic, Poisoned Twice in Russia, Speaks Out – NBC Nightly News
Vladimir Kara-Murza, one of the Russian president’s most high-profile critics, gives his first interview since coming out of a coma. He tells NBC Nightly News’ Richard Engel why he believes he was the target of two failed assassination attempts.
I’ve worn ash on my head on ESPN for 16 years. This year was different – Tony Reali in the Washington Post
“I’ve been on national television for 16 years and for all 16 I wore an ash on Ash Wednesday. I am grateful to ESPN and fortunate to work in an environment that allows me to be myself. But it’s shocking to me that I’m one of the few faces you see on TV wearing an ash. I did an interview where the reporter told me if you put “The Guy Who Wears Ashes on TV” into Google, I’m the first name that comes up. That’s surprising. (Also true: I’m the first name that comes up for “The Guy Who Proposed In Between The Men’s and Women’s Bathroom at LaGuardia Airport.” Not as surprising.)
I struggle with the publicness of the ash. I was rolling in the pew laughing (RIPL!) when this year’s Gospel started with “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them.” Isn’t that what I’m doing when I get the ash in the afternoon and go on TV a few hours later? Could I not go to Mass after work? I’m still not sure I have answers to those questions. I want viewers to see an authentic version of me, and on this one day that includes the ash.”
The scandal that prompted an investigation into hundreds of Marines who are accused of sharing naked photographs of their colleagues in a private Facebook group is much larger than has been reported, Business Insider has learned. The practice of sharing such photos goes beyond the Marine Corps and one Facebook group. Hundreds of nude photos of female service members from every military branch have been posted to an image-sharing message board that dates back to at least May. A source informed Business Insider of the site’s existence on Tuesday.
Dem Super-Lobbyist Podesta Got $170K to End US Sanctions On Russian Bank – The Daily Caller
“Democrat super-lobbyist Tony Podesta was paid $170,000 over a six-month period last year to represent Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, seeking to end one of the Obama administration’s economic sanctions against that country, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.
Podesta, founder and chairman of the Podesta Group, is listed as a key lobbyist on behalf of Sberbank, according to Senate lobbying disclosure forms. His firm received more than $24 million in fees in 2016, much of it coming from foreign governments, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
Podesta is the brother of John Podesta, who was the national campaign chairman for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s losing 2016 campaign for the presidency. Former President Barack Obama imposed the sanctions following the Russian seizure of the Crimean region of Ukraine in 2014.”
President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who was fired from his prominent White House job last month, has registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for $530,000 worth of lobbying work before Election Day that may have aided the Turkish government.
Paperwork filed Tuesday with the Justice Department’s Foreign Agent Registration Unit said Flynn and his firm were voluntarily registering for lobbying from August through November that “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.” It was filed by a lawyer on behalf of the former U.S. Army lieutenant general and intelligence chief.
Satire piece of the week
Confirmed: Chick-Fil-A Open On Sundays In Heaven – The Babylon Bee
HEAVEN—An angelic representative for Chick-fil-A confirmed Wednesday morning that its restaurants located in Heaven are open seven days a week, rather than closing on Sundays as the fast food chain’s earthly locations are known for.
The statement was released in response to “literally millions” of prayers and petitions from Christians concerned about the operating hours of the establishment in the heavenly realms.
“There is no death, nor mourning, nor crying, nor pain, nor excellent chicken sandwich establishments closing their doors for 24 hours each week, for the former things have passed away,” the heavenly messenger confirmed, adding also that normal business hours do not apply in glory, and the beloved purveyor of moist chicken never closes.
Thanks for reading!