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Fox News’ Sean Hannity dictated Trump’s national emergency plan — and his next demands are even more frightening

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- Commentary

Fox News host Sean Hannity published an op-ed on Wednesday laying out exactly how he thought President Donald Trump, to whom he serves as an informal adviser, should move forward with congressional border security negotiations:

Step one: The president signs the deal, and uses the $1.375 billion as a downpayment for the wall. Step two: President Trump has identified some $900 million for additional construction that is already available for the administration’s discretion. That would bring the pot to about $2.3 billion. Step three: This needs to happen simultaneously, and it has the president declaring a national emergency. This is the time.

And on Friday, Trump followed the instructions obediently, suggesting Hannity’s influence over the White House could be near-absolute.

In light of that fact, Hannity’s other recent demands are even more terrifying than Trump’s national emergency gambit, which is likely to fail.

As Media Matters for America documented Friday, another of the Fox News host’s major priorities for the newly confirmed attorney general, William Barr, is the prosecution of Trump’s enemies.

MMFA reported:

On Thursday night, just hours after the Senate confirmed Barr, Hannity crowed, “My sources telling me tonight things are happening as we speak.” The Fox host went on to detail numerous purported crimes he said had been committed by 10 “deep state actors,” including former FBI Director James Comey, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“Over the next year with a brand new attorney general, William Barr, this country — we’ve got to decide,” Hannity concluded. “You want to save the United States? You want to be a constitutional republic? You want equal justice under the law? Do you want a dual justice system, or do you want America to be handed off to your kids and grandkids as a banana republic?

Later in the program, Gregg Jarrett, the Fox legal analyst whose role at the network is to explain why the president and his team did not break the law but all of his critics did, claimed that “more than a dozen” Obama-era officials had committed crimes and that Barr “should haul them all in front of a federal grand jury.”

“What about Hillary? Does she get held accountable?” Hannity asked. “They should reopen the investigation; it was a fraud,” Jarrett responded.

Barr is generally well-respected in conservative legal circles despite some of his controversial actions taken the last time he was attorney general. Assuming he is who these legal experts think he is, he would be unlikely to pursue Trump and Hannity’s wildly illiberal agenda of going after the president’s enemies through prosecution.

However, there are reasons to be concerned about Barr’s integrity. He chose to take a job under Trump, knowing full well what that would mean. And prior to getting the job, he circulated a memo to the administration outlining problems he had with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that many argued was severely flawed, showing a willingness to pander to the White House. During his confirmation hearing, Barr also suggested he shared concerns about baseless right-wing conspiracy theories, showing significant failures of judgment.

And on Thursday night, Matt Schlapp, the husband of a Trump aide, tweeted out that with a Barr in place, Mueller would soon be gone. So there remain many reasons to worry about the new attorney general’s integrity — and to worry that he might be willing to take marching orders from Sean Hannity.

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Why Mike Pompeo smirked when asked if North Korea executed negotiators

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“Suffer me that I may speak, and after I have spoken, mock on.”
The Book of Job, 21:3

No wonder Mike Pompeo awkwardly laughed or, as it was described by some observers, “smirked,” when asked about the reports of the execution of four of the people with whom Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo had been negotiating a few shorts months ago. Their roles might have been reversed.

The smirk made its appearance when Mr. Pompeo was being interviewed on a Sunday news show, and was asked for his reaction to reports that life had not gone well for four of the people he had gotten to know during the two sessions North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump had conducted over the preceding 12 months.

The first session had been a phenomenal success and the second, although cut short, did not extinguish the flame of love that warmed Mr. Trumps’ heart whenever he thought of Mr. Kim.

After the first meeting in Singapore in June 2018, Mr. Trump said at a news conference that he and Mr. Kim had “developed a very special bond. People are going to be very impressed. People are going to be very happy… I think our whole relationship with North Korea and the Korean Peninsula is going to be a very much different situation than it has in the past.” Describing Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump said he was “a very talented man.”

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018 and making reference to the historic meeting, Mr. Trump said in the manner of a child explaining the child’s affection for a person of whom the child’s parents disapprove: “He likes me, I like him. We get along. He wrote me two of the most beautiful letters. When I showed one of the letters—just one—to [Japanese] Prime Minister Abe, he said: ‘This is actually a groundbreaking letter.’”

Prior to the February 2019 meeting in Singapore, Mr. Trump said of his relationship with Mr. Kim: “It’s a very interesting thing to say, but I’ve developed a very, very good relationship. We’ll see what that means. But he’s never had a relationship with anybody from this country and hasn’t had lots of relationships anywhere.”

Notwithstanding Mr. Trump’s ardor, the February 2019 summit was cut short by Mr. Trump because he and Mr. Kim could not come to an agreement on the United States lifting economic sanctions and on North Korea cutting back its nuclear arsenal. Mr. Trump explained that “I’d much rather do it [a deal] right than do it fast.”

Mr. Pompeo, the secretary of state who accompanied Mr. Trump on the trip, commented on the early termination of the summit, saying, “We are certainly closer today [to an agreement] than we were 36 hours ago, and we were closer then, than we were a month or two before that.”

Success in negotiations with North Korea is a bit like beauty—it is in the eye of the beholder. What unconfirmed reports say happened in North Korea following the second meeting suggests that Mr. Kim was not quite as pleased with its results as Mr. Pompeo had been. If reports are accurate, Mr. Kim attributed the failure of the talks to four of his representatives and to make sure such an embarrassing failure would not happen again, the negotiators were lined up in front of a firing squad and executed.

During an interview on an ABC News program, Mr. Pompeo was asked about the reported execution and in response, he simply smiled or, as some described it, smirked, while declining to add anything to the reports but saying, “It does appear that the next time we have serious conversations, my counterpart will be someone else.” Here is why Mr. Pompeo smirked.

He is mildly amused by the fact that those negotiators were working for a man whose retributive actions towards his negotiators was so violent. Mr. Pompeo knows that those negotiators work for the same kind of manipulative, corrupt, and unpredictable tyrant as he. Mr. Pompeo smirked because he knows that it was only luck of the draw that he works for Mr. Trump, who lacks the ability, if not the wish, to have those who displease him shot. If he could, he would. He can’t. Mr. Trump’s remedies for dealing with those who displease him is to utter the famous two-word phrase: “You’re fired.”

Mr. Pompeo smirked because he knows how much those who were shot would have preferred to be part of the corrupt Trump White House team rather than the corrupt North Korean entourage, and he knows how lucky he is to be working for his nut job instead of the other one.

There is in truth, little to smirk about when the person who is smirking works for Trump instead of Kim. Both men are beneath contempt.

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Trump says he’ll give Americans the ‘best healthcare ever’ — but only if Republicans win in 2020

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President Donald Trump appears to be holding a healthcare plan hostage unless Americans vote for Republicans in 2020.

In a Fox News interview Sunday with Steve Hilton, Trump said he’s developing a plan that will be far better than the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). But that bill will never become law in the next two years because he wants Republicans to be elected first.

He began by saying that the 80 million Americans who have health care through their employer are “happy” and Democrats want to take it away. As a fact-check, the “Medicare for All” plan would give free health care to people instead of their employer paying for their health insurance.

“What I want to do, Obamacare is a disaster,” Trump said. “I got rid of the individual mandate, which was the worst part of Obamacare. Frankly, except for the one gentleman who decided after campaigning for eight years to repeal and replace at 2:00 A.M., he walked out on the on the floor and went thumbs, we would have healthcare repealed and replaced, but I’m doing it a different way.”

As another fact-check, the bill Republicans put up was a repeal without a replacement. It’s unclear if McCain voted against it for that reason, but many Republicans suggest it was the major problem with the GOP proposal.

“We get rid of the individual mandate as part of the tax cuts and that’s most we are now coming up with a much better plan than Obamacare if we take the House back, keep the Senate, keep the presidency, they will have phenomenal healthcare at a fraction of the cost,” Trump pledged.

If Trump was interested in actually fixing health care, he could work with Democrats to develop a law that both parties could pass. Instead, he’s hoping to take back both chambers of Congress so he can pass the bill he wants without bipartisan agreement.

Watch the interview with Trump below:

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Conference for local officials devolves into fist-fight — and one councilman in the hospital

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Councilman Leonard Mendoza

A conference for local-government officials began with cooler heads, but it devolved into an outright brawl.

The Cerritos Community News and The Los Angeles Times reported the conference battle Sunday at the Indian Wells resort. Several attendees began throwing punches and it resulted in at least one person being knocked unconscious, witnesses reported.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the fight broke out at the Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa around 12:30 a.m. where seven people were involved in “an altercation and physical battery.” One person was hospitalized.

None of the people involved “were cooperative,” Deputy Mike Vasquez told The Times, noting that there were no arrests.

It’s unclear who started the fight, but it involved members of the Commerce City Council and other officials, a written statement from Mayor John Soria said.

“It was a hectic scene,” one witness said.

The Times reported that a photo was circulating among local officials showing Councilman Leonard Mendoza on the ground with blood at his feet. Another man is seen checking Mendoza’s pulse.

(Screen capture taken from Cerritos Community News)

Mayor Soria said that he learned Mendoza and colleague Ivan Altamirano were talking about something when it “became elevated.” Mayor Soria “went to the area to defuse any potential conflict,” and that’s when he saw Mendoza on the ground. Altamirano was nearby “with a facial injury.”

Altamirano was then attacked “from behind by two individuals” according to Soria.

“I want to be clear in condemning the violent behavior from the individuals who initiated these assaults,” Soria said. “Once additional information is available I intend to call on my council colleagues to take appropriate action regarding any individuals that represent the City of Commerce who were involved in the incident.”

Read the full report from the Cerritos Community News.

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts