The president wants to go to war with the man investigating him. That’s a terrible idea.
There are eight places available for the candidates to become the official challenger to the world champion and competition is intenseThese are desperate times for several elite grandmasters, the select group in the world top 20 who hope to crown their careers with a place among the eight candidates fighting to become Magnus Carlsen’s official challenger in a multi-million dollar match.So far only Sergey Karjakin, who lost to Carlsen in the 2016 title contest in New York, is assured of a candidates spot. Two GMs will qualify from the 128-player World Cup at Tbilisi, Georgia, in September, two from the Fide Grand Prix after its fourth and final leg at Palma de Mallorca in November, two from the 2017 monthly rankings, and one as a wildcard nominated by the candidates organiser. Continue reading...
Think you're smarter than people who mispronounce sriracha or quinoa? See if you know how to say these popular food words that trip everybody up.
The Ned, London EC2: ‘It’s Harrods food hall crossed with Vegas’ – restaurant review | Marina O’Loughlin
The Ned, Soho House’s new £200m flagship hotel, boasts all of nine restaurants. Are they any good? Our award-winning restaurant critic finds outThe only possible reaction when first walking through the doors of The Ned is a gasp. Wow! The soaring height, towering windows, the many African verdite columns, the plush upholstery, the acres of polished oak and cherrywood and marble. People who dislike London will welcome it as an avatar for all that’s wrong with the bloated, metropolitan elite-germinating capital: at a reported cost of £200m, it’s a hosanna to consumption, to pin-striped hustlers, to bears and bulls and money, money, money. (Of course, to me and my fellow Scots, the name is pant-wettingly funny. Look it up.) Still, by any standard, it’s mighty impressive.This extraordinary development – 252-bedroom hotel, nine restaurants, roof terrace bar, two pools, a spa – comes from Soho House & Co with US boutique hotel group Sydell (NoMad, Saguaro). In an interview, Ned supremo Nick Jones – yep, still chortling – said that after his “art house” Soho Houses, this is “my chance to do a blockbuster”. And blockbuster it most assuredly is, this Edwin “Ned” Lutyens-designed, grade 1-listed former Midland Bank headquarters beside the Bank of England. My task is to eat at every restaurant from breakfast to late night; one that, after two days in the place, starts to feel more than a little Sisyphean. Continue reading...
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was intended to be small. Instead, its costs have doubled in the last two years.
Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, 7/20/2017
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room 2:27 P.M. EDT MR. SANDERS: Good afternoon. Before we get into the briefing today, I wanted to reiterate the President's statement from last night and say that the thoughts and prayers of the entire administration are with Senator John McCain, his wife Cindy, and their entire family. As the President said, throughout his life, a distinguished career in public service, Senator McCain has always been a fighter, and we know that he will bring that unflappable spirit to his latest challenge. This morning, the Office of Management and Budget released the first unified agenda update of the Trump administration, which shows that we are blowing away our initial one in and two out goal for regulatory reform. And with that, I'd like to bring out Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, to talk more about the administration's war on waste, and how it's helping our economy grow. Also, as a few of you may know, tomorrow is the Director's birthday. While I don’t want to insult him by getting into too many specifics, I can tell you that the CBO estimates that this will be his 75th birthday. But actually -- (laughter) -- took a couple of you a little longer to pick up on that. But actually, it's just the last day he can answer questions as a man in his forties. So please do a favor and speak really loudly so you can make sure that he can hear you. And with that, Director Mulvaney. MR. MULVANEY: Thank you. That's absolutely lovely. Thank you. Q Before you begin, Director, the visual aids, is it still off-camera given that you guys have this? I just had to ask. MS. SANDERS: Yes. MR. MULVANEY: Good. I'm glad we got that out of the way. Yes, happy birthday to me. This is a great way to spend my birthday. We actually started a Twitter account this morning for the sole purpose of getting into a Twitter war with my good friend, Congressman Gowdy, who tweeted out this morning that he thought I had turned 50 a long time ago. I tweeted back that he had two deep, dark secrets; one of which was that he's a lot older than I am -- which is true -- and also that he needs help counting to 50 -- which is also true. I'm going to talk a little bit about MAGAnomics, talk a little bit about what used to be called the unified agenda, which is a terrible name. And we'll talk about that in a second, and then take your questions. Thirty-five years ago, the situation the country was in had some similarities to where we were as we ended the Obama administration. Things were kind of rough. I was in the homebuilding business. My dad was; I was only 13 at the time. And I remember what it was like. We had stagflation, we had malaise, we had all these challenges that the country faced economically. And in response to that, Ronald Reagan came out with Reaganomics -- a term, by the way, that I'm not even sure he created. I think his opposition used that as a derogatory term to begin with, but it came to be associated with his presidency. And I think if we look back on it, we know what its basic, fundamental tenets were. It was a monetary policy to fix inflation, tax cuts, spending restraints, and a little bit of regulatory relief. Fast-forward to where we are today, here we are. It's been more than 10 years since our last year of a really healthy American economy, which we define as greater than 3 percent -- or 3 percent growth. And we think it's time for the next iteration of that, the next plan. And that is what we've put together as MAGAnomics. It's supposed to be this unifying theme of just about everything that we do. You all have seen me up here before, when we walk through the budget. You say, "Mulvaney, why are you doing this? Why are you doing that?" And I talked about the importance of getting back to 3 percent growth. I talked about the historical importance of that, the historical achievability of that -- about how if you're 30 years old in this country, you've never had a job during your adult lifetime, in a healthy American economy, and you think that 1.9 or 2.1 or 2.5 percent growth is typical, and it doesn’t have to be. It's not. I remember in the mid-1990s, when I had my first real job -- if I had been fired, it wouldn’t have been that big a deal because I knew I could go find something else, because you could do that in a healthy economy. I actually ended up quitting my job so that I could start my own business, because you know you can do that in a healthy economy. It's been a long time since we've been there. And our fear is that if we don’t get back there quickly, there will be people who never know what 3 percent means. There will be people who have forgotten what 3 percent can be like. And I don’t think it should come as a surprise that there are some people who don’t want you to remember what 3 percent growth would be like, because it would be a tremendous sort of damnation of what happened in the previous administration. So, what is MAGAnomics? It is tax reform. It is, what we're calling the "regulatory accountability project" -- regulatory accountability project. It's longer, but it's at least a little bit more descriptive than "unified agenda." Took me about six months here to figure out what the unified agenda was. And they told me, and I said, what is it really? And they said, well, it's a way to bring to some accountability to regulations. I said, great, it's now the regulatory accountability project. Energy dominance is part of this. Welfare reform is part of this. Infrastructure is part of this. Our trade policies is part of this. Even the spending restraint that we tried to introduce in the budget is part of this. All of those things are designed towards one common end, and that is 3 percent sustained economic growth in this country again. We've done it before. In fact, we've always done it. The last 10 years was the first time we have not been able to do it, I think, ever. We can do it again. We absolutely fully believe that. And I want to talk a little bit today about one piece of that, which is our deregulatory agenda. The regulatory accountability project -- used to be called the unified agenda -- released -- last night? Today? MR. CZWARTACKI: This morning. MR. MULVANEY: This morning. When the President came into office, he gave me some pretty specific instructions over the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs -- what we call OIRA -- O-I-R-A -- part of OMB. In fact, I still think OMB should be called OMBRA -- the Office of Management and Budget and Regulatory Affairs. That's how important it is to us. That's the priority that the President has set for it over at OMB. He said, look, get over there and tell everybody at all the agencies that we're on a two-for-one policy on new regs. You cannot put out a new reg until you get two old regs off the books. That was our two-for-one policy. He also said -- and no new burden. No new financial burden. If you come out with a new reg that raises the burdens on the private sector by a dollar, you got to go find me a reg you get rid of to reduce that burden by a dollar. So, zero net impact on the regulatory financial burden in this country. This is our first chance today to sort of get a temperature check on how we are doing on that. So the goal is two-for-one. When it comes to major actions -- we're at 16 to 1. Sixteen major deregulatory actions in the first six months of this administration. There's one new one. Is anybody going to guess what it is? Does somebody know? No dentists here? You know what it is? Yes. The dental amalgam rule. Apparently we're now regulating something to do with the stuff we put in our teeth when we get -- Q Mercury and waste water. MR. MULVANEY: There you go. All right? So that's the only significant new reg we put out in the first six months. We've gotten rid of 16. Twelve of those are CRAs you're probably familiar with, and four of them have gone through the agency process and so forth. But it doesn't -- it's not just those big ones, okay? The number that I use -- 860 regulatory actions removed or withdrawn -- 860. By the way, I asked for a list of them, and I got news for you: None of them are very sexy. None of them are very glamorous. None of them really rise to the level of getting national attention. But think about that -- 860 of them. I describe it as that -- sort of that slow accretion, that slow cancer that can come from regulatory burdens that we put on our people. Ryan Zinke, over at the Department of Interior, has already made some changes on how they streamline the paperwork for outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen -- people who want to go out in our national parks. That's really small. We know that. It's not going to change the world. But when you do that 860 times in the first six months, it can have a benefit. Plus, if you're a citizen and you're not out there and it's now easier for you to use the national parks, to use our public lands, that's got to have a positive impact on you. We think that it does. By the way, of the 860, and this is one that I think -- I don't think anybody knows about this because I didn't know about it until about 24 hours ago. The Obama administration had a secret list of regs. Back in 2011, they were doing their unified agenda. They had a bunch of things that they wanted to regulate. And what we're hearing is that they just didn't want to tell you about it. They thought it would be bad for their reelection prospects in 2012, so they created a secret list of regs that were not disclosed to you folks, and we are disclosing it. And by the way, when we threatened to disclose it, a lot of the agencies came up with those 860 things that we got rid of. So there will be no more of that, by the way. There will be none of that in this administration. We will not have a secret list. We will not have a hidden list of regulations that we're thinking about doing but we're not going to tell you about. That's going to end effective immediately. In fact, it has already ended. We're not going to do that anymore. By the way, where's my stack? So I'd love a little graphics. This is the last week of the Obama administration -- the regs put out by the Obama administration in their last week in office. This is ours from our first week in office. I can't lift both of those together, can I? I don’t think I can. In the last six months here, the Obama administration put on over $6 billion in new regulatory burden. The last six months, just over $6 billion. We had zero. In the first five months in their administration back in 2009, they had over $3 billion of new regs. We cleared the decks of $22 million of regs. So we actually went the other way. So I cannot express to you enough how much things have changed when it comes to the regulatory burden, the attitudes towards regulations in this country, and you're just going to see more of that for the next eight years. So I think that's everything I wanted to cover. Is it? I forget. So if I got any questions -- yes, sir. Right there. Q Thank you, Director. You talked about regulations in terms of the cost to business. Is there any other metric that you think is appropriate for measuring the effectiveness or necessity of regulations, such as whether they improve people's -- improve quality of life, improve safety in products, improve any sort of thing? Because it seems like all you talk about is how much this costs business. So is there any other metric that you look at? DIRECTOR MULVANEY: Yeah, in fact, we're required by law to do exactly that. We're required by law to do cost-benefit analyses before we put on new regs or take off old regs. It's what we're supposed to do. Our attitude has been, and our philosophy has been that the previous administration fudged the numbers, that they either overstated the benefits to people or understated the costs. And we're going to look at it in a much more pragmatic perspective. Q I mean, the reason I ask is because, you know, you just talked about the previous administration overstating the benefits. Are there benefits? I mean, talk about the regulations -- DIRECTOR MULVANEY: Were you healthy and safe before this came out? Yes, you were. And you'll be healthy and safe with this gone. Q I don't know what's in those, Director. What I'm asking you is -- and you just said it; you talked about benefits to people. Is there any other measure? Because all you do is talk about the cost. And you talked about what your first week in office -- you know, what the benefit to the ones that you held up for you all's first week? DIRECTOR MULVANEY: I think I answered that question. Yes, we are going through a cost-benefit analysis. We are obligated by law to do that and we continue to do that. Yes, ma'am. Q Can you tell us more about the secret list from the Obama administration? (Laughter.) What it was and what was in it? DIRECTOR MULVANEY: I don't know. John, have we got details on that? You want to push that? MR. CZWARTACKI: They called it a "pending list." DIRECTOR MULVANEY: They called it the "pending list" or something like that -- previously undisclosed. We can get you a list of the examples that came off of it. Q So it wasn't available anywhere? It was completely secret? DIRECTOR MULVANEY: 2011 -- I think they did a unified agenda in the spring of 2011? MR. CZWARTACKI: Yeah, in the fall, they did 2011. But the '12 spring agenda, they didn't do. DIRECTOR MULVANEY: They didn't do it. MR. CZWARTACKI: And instead, they put things they wanted to advance -- they kind of parked them on something they called the "pending agenda" and they kind of just went with that. And so when the fall full agenda came out, conveniently after the election, it was missing some things. So it was a trigger to a lot of academics who said, something's not right here, because there was this secret list being held back that was filled with all this. DIRECTOR MULVANEY: Fast forward to when we started this process and we started asking the agencies to send us their ideas about de-reg. Listen, it's been a challenge. Start to think about the last time that the federal government has engaged in a full board deregulatory type of action and attitude. There's a lot of folks who work for the federal government who have never been asked to do this. In fact, one of the anecdotes we've got is that -- I can't remember which agency it was -- but there was actually -- there was no box they could check on whether or not an action was deregulatory or regulatory. There was no column for deregulation. We're asking the federal government to use muscles it hasn't used in a long time, and it's hard to do. But I will tell you this, when we first started looking at this a couple months back, and we noticed there wasn't -- we had done a pretty good job at all the agencies of slowing new stuff, but we hadn't done a very good job of clearing the decks of the old stuff -- the stuff that was already in the pipeline -- getting rid of it until we found this secret list and threatened to go ahead and expose it. And then they said, well, you know what, maybe we’ll get rid of those. And that's how we ended up with our 860 here -- Q Can you assure us -- on one side of the ledger, then, you have secret lists from the Obama administration of potential new regulations. Can you assure us that there are no secret lists and will be no secret lists in this administration of regulations you want to do away with? Is all that public? MR. MULVANEY: Yes. Q You have no secret lists anywhere? MR. MULVANEY: I like questions like that. That’s an easy one. Q When you went back up on the Hill -- last time you were on the Hill -- some of your critics had said that 3 percent -- MR. MULVANEY: I have critics on the Hill? Really? Q Yeah, can you believe it? (Laughter.) They were saying that you had -- that it’s a pie-in-the-sky to believe that we can reach 3 percent. What is your response to those critics who say that you’ll never reach 3 percent? MR. MULVANEY: It’s outrageously pessimistic. You guys have heard my answer on that before. Q Specifically. MR. MULVANEY: Specifically is this -- is that, yeah, you can get there again. They say, oh well, there’s not enough people here anymore, all right. We’re a graying population. There’s almost 7 million people right now in between -- and I hate to get too technical -- U3 and U6. U3 is the general broad measure of unemployment. U6 are the folks who are working part-time or temporarily against the -- they want to work full-time but they can’t find it. Almost 7 million people in that gap between U3 and U6 who could move into the full-time workforce tomorrow if they had the opportunity to do that. They want to do that, we just haven’t given them the chance to do that. There’s a big part of your workforce base -- move to productivity, okay. We also need productivity to be higher than it has been in the past couple years. Look at our tax plan. That’s why the whole thing has worked together. That first answer, by the way, was welfare reform. How do you get people from U6 to U3? Economic opportunity plus welfare reform. Now we look at tax reform and its impact on productivity. We have to have the capital investment necessary to boost productivity, and we have to get that -- we can get that --through our tax reform. It’s why we focus so heavily on corporate tax reform. We need those businesses to invest in capital in order to increase their employees’ productivity because that’s how we get to 3 percent GDP. Q Just a quick follow up, though. Isn’t -- just real quick. Your critics say that what that will do is help further destroy the tax base and the middle class. How do you address that? MR. MULVANEY: The tax base is -- I wish they had asked me that -- how is the tax base eroded by having people go back to work? That’s absurd. So no, we are going to broaden the tax base by making sure there’s more folks working. Yes, ma’am. Q Two part question. First, in terms of the 3 percent growth, can you give us your latest target for when you think that might be possible? And then as the second part of that, you talked about tax reform. Without overhauling Obamacare, if you don’t get those tax cuts repealing the Obama-era tax cuts that you’re looking toward, can you actually achieve comprehensive tax reform or do you then go to a series of tax cuts? What’s your latest thinking in terms of what’s -- MR. MULVANEY: Okay, let me see if I can get this right. The first question is, what’s our sort of schedule, our plan, or how do to get to -- Q When you can achieve 3 percent -- MR. MULVANEY: I don’t think we’ve adjusted the -- we put out the midseason report or the midyear report, something like that, a couple weeks ago. That’s where you may have seen we changed sort of our -- we’ve measured actual receipts in the deficit and so forth. The deficit was a little bit higher than we expected. So we sort of go back in and say, well when we introduce our budget this is what we thought the world would look like. Here’s what it looks like today. That would have been an opportunity for us to change our economic projections from the budget. We didn’t do that. I think our projection for this year is still 2.3 percent and then 2.5 percent and then 2.7 percent or something like that. So the goal is to be at that 3 percent plateau in about three or four years. To your second question about the Obamacare taxes and so forth, let me answer it this way and see if I’ve answered your question. Yeah, I think we’re a little disappointed. The most recent proposed version of the Senate healthcare bill left some of those taxes in place, but I agree with many of my Republican colleagues on the Hill who say well, yeah, but you get another bite of that apple on tax reform. Is that your question? Q Do you think you can do comprehensive tax reform if you don’t repeal and replace Obamacare? Or do you then have to go to a series of tax cuts? MR. MULVANEY: I think it becomes easier to do comprehensive tax reform after healthcare for political reasons, for reasons of momentum and so forth, but I don’t -- Q The math -- MR. MULVANEY: Well, the math comes back to the issue of the deficit, so let’s talk about that for a second. What is OMB’s thoughts on this, right? You know that I've worked with Paul Ryan for many, many years. I believe that we should be willing to take on short-term increases on deficits if it’s what it takes to get an increase in our long-term sustained growth. By the way, that’s one of the big fiscal hawks in town saying that. Okay? That I’m okay with larger deficits in the short run if the tradeoff is 3 percent growth, and if we need more aggressive tax reform in order to get to 3 percent, then I’m more than willing to argue that despite the fact that it may increase the deficit. By the way, where did I learn this message about how important growth is in order to save the country long-term? Does anybody know? From Paul Ryan. So I can tell you, I think I’ve studied with some of the best, and I think I can make the case to him that while I appreciate and understand his position on deficit neutrality, when it comes to the tax reform, I think that growth needs to be paramount in that and that we’re willing to take on short-term deficit increases. We got one question here, and then I have to give it back to Sarah. Yes, sir. Q Okay. Two-parter, one on the regulation and one on tax reform. On tax reform, there’s a current-law baseline in the House budget that assumes that current tax cuts are going to expire, which means you’ll have to pay for them. Is that going to make it hard -- will that make tax reform harder? MR. MULVANEY: I’m sorry, there are no -- the current tax cuts that are proposed? Because there are no current tax cuts. Are you talking about like when the Bush tax cuts were going to expire a couple of years ago? Q Right. MR. MULVANEY: Those are all taken care of. I don’t think -- if there are tax cuts on the books right now that expire in the future, I’m sorry, I’m not aware of those. Maybe I don’t understand your question. Q Fair enough. Let me ask you one about the regulation then. Bigger picture here, does this make it cheaper to run your regulatory agencies, and will you have a cut following '18 or '19? MR. MULVANEY: Well, you saw some of our proposals in our budget and our budget blueprint about some of the reductions we made, for example at the EPA. And yes we do foresee a fundamental difference in the way that agency functions, and we think they should be able to function in the future with a much smaller workforce. That’s a reasonable conclusion from the proposals that we made in the budget, but I don’t think it’s fair to say we’re doing this in order to make it cheaper to run the government. What we’re doing is making it easier to run a country. That’s what’s driving the regulatory reform. Listen, I’d love to do this again, but I promised Sarah the last 10 minutes. Thanks very much, and thank you for not making a big deal about the fact that I’m getting old. MS. SANDERS: We’ll let you leave those there so you don’t throw your back out carrying those out of here. Thank you, Director Mulvaney. As the Director pointed out, today also marks six months since President Trump took office. On top of the historic results of our efforts to streamline regulation led by Director Mulvaney, the President has also made significant progress toward the rest of his top policy priorities. In part due to the deregulation, our economy is booming again, and Americans are going back to work in construction sites, mines, and factories across the country. And those workers can rest easy knowing that they have a staunch defender in the White House, as the President shows time and again that he is putting America first in trade negotiations, pursuing reciprocal agreements with our trading partners so that everyone benefits. He’s prioritized the enforcement of immigration laws to protect all Americans and ensure that our system treats everyone fairly. He’s opened up American energy after years of political opposition, putting us on track for energy dominance. Secretary Shulkin and his team at the VA are making sure our veterans get the care they deserve after the sacrifices they’ve made for our country by holding failing employees accountable. And in these first six months, President Trump has put America first in world affairs and national security, delivering historic speeches calling on our allies to come together in the fight against radical Islamic terrorism and calling out our enemies for the destructive behavior the previous administration neglected to address. As you can see, President Trump has taken serious action on everything from energy to defense to immigration, even as he faces historic obstruction from Senate Democrats, who are pulling every trick in the book to prevent him from putting his team in place. This week, we’ve seen even more evidence of Senate Democrats’ pattern of holding up this administration’s qualified nominees in unprecedented fashion. Here are some startling facts. To date, Senate Democrats have filibustered 34 of the 54 nominees that have eventually been confirmed. By contrast, in President Obama’s entire term, his nominees faced four filibusters in total. This President’s Cabinet nominees faced more Senate filibusters than all other Presidents combined. And as we’ve mentioned they’ve filibustered nominees that enjoyed unanimous support, including a judge that President Obama had previously nominated, and who was eventually confirmed by a vote of 100-0. They’ve filibustered key national security positions, like Patrick Shanahan to be the number two at the Department of Defense, who enjoyed bipartisan support and eventually received over 80 votes. And recent reports show that their refusal to hold votes on the President’s nominees for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which approves potential new pipelines, is preventing an estimated $14 billion in pipeline projects. These are projects like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which will create 17,000 new jobs and $2.7 billion in economic activity in Virginia and North Carolina, just through construction, while generating $377 million in annual energy cost savings. There are thousands more jobs like these that won’t happen, and the Democratic senators of states like Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania are standing by as party leadership puts politics over what’s best for their constituents. To be clear, they’re slow-walking because they can’t justify blocking these nominees who are both qualified and non-controversial, but this is part of a deliberate strategy to obstruct this President’s agenda and resist the will of the American people. Consider this fact: At this pace, it would take an astounding 11 years to confirm all of this President’s qualified nominees and finally have these important leadership positions fully staffed -- 11 years, clearly well after the President's two terms. We call on Senator Schumer and Senate Democrats to stop this reckless partisanship, which is undermining national security, undermining our judiciary, undermining health care, job creation, energy production, and our basic functions of government, and swiftly approve this President’s qualified nominees. And with that, I will take your questions. Q Sarah, thank you for the question. Does the President have confidence in his Attorney General? Does he want the Attorney General to stay in this post? MS. SANDERS: The President said -- as the President said yesterday, he was disappointed in the Attorney General Session's decision to recuse himself. But clearly he has confidence in him, or he would not be the Attorney General. Q Sarah, can I follow up on that one? You said the President has confidence in the Attorney General. Does the President believe that the Attorney General serves the President or the Constitution? MS. SANDERS: I believe that the President -- I think that's kind of a both. Obviously, the Attorney General's job is to follow and uphold the Constitution. But also, every member of the Cabinet and the administration serves at the pleasure of the President. Q Would the President prefer the Attorney General resign? MS. SANDERS: I believe I've answered that question. Q It's a little bit of a slightly different nuance, so that's why I'm asking it. You say he has confidence in him. Does that mean he does not want him to resign? MS. SANDERS: I think you know this President well enough to know that if he wanted small business to take an action, he would make that quite clear. Q But clearly there's a difference of opinion here because the President thinks what the Attorney General did was improper, yet the Attorney General, in recusing himself last spring, believes that he was taking the appropriate action, given the potential conflict of interest in him leading the Russia investigation. So how do you explain that split? And what -- MS. SANDERS: As I said, the President is disappointed in the decision and I think he's spoken about his feelings on this quite clearly. Matthew. Q Thanks, Sarah. A question about healthcare. The President has repeatedly said that 21-year-olds can pay $12 a year for health insurance under the Republican plan. He said it again yesterday to the New York Times. What does he mean by that? Is the White House aware of a health insurance plan that charges only $12 per year? And if not, why does the President keep making that claim? MS. SANDERS: I'll have to check on the specifics. Q Can you get back to me on that -- MS. SANDERS: Sure. Q -- because the CBO estimates that it would be about $1,100 dollars a year, even for the lowest income 21-year-olds. MS. SANDERS: Okay, I'll check on that. Q The President said that if Robert Mueller were to look at his finances or the family finances, it would constitute a red line. How is that not a threat to the special counsel? MS. SANDERS: I think that the President -- the point he's trying to make is that the clear purpose of the Russia investigation is to review Russia's meddling in the election, and that that should be the focus of the investigation. Nothing beyond that. Q That should not be viewed as a threat, as a warning to what the special counsel should or should not be looking at as it relates to the President’s and his family’s finances? MS. SANDERS: The President is making it clear that the special counsel should not move outside the scope of the investigation. Q Let me try to come at this one different way. MS. SANDERS: I have a feeling we might do this for a little while. Q Why does the President have confidence in his Attorney General? Maybe you can explain it that way. MS. SANDERS: I believe that the Attorney General has made significant progress in terms of things like MS13. They’ve taken great action on that front -- certainly on the front of immigration. He spoke today about some of the cybersecurity measures that they’re taking, and I think those are great examples of successes that they’ve had at the Department of Justice. Q It was reported last month that there was this rift between the President and the Attorney General and it ended up that the Attorney General had offered his resignation. Did that happen? How did that process play out? And why did the President at that time decide not to accept the resignation? MS. SANDERS: I’m not aware of that taking place so I can’t speak to that. Q One more question. From his sickbed, Senator McCain today issued a statement that questioned why, six months into the administration, there still is not an Afghanistan strategy. He said they’re still waiting. Why is there still not an Afghanistan strategy, and when can we expect it? MS. SANDERS: I believe that the President has empowered Secretary Mattis to make decisions on that front, and I would refer you to the Department of Defense for those specific questions. Kristen. Q Sarah, thanks. I want to go back to the President’s comments about Robert Mueller. He was asked if Mr. Mueller does, in fact, look into his finances as part of his special counsel, would he consider firing him. The President said, I can't answer that question because I don't think it’s going to happen. Does that mean that firing the special counsel is something that's on the table for this President? MS. SANDERS: I’ve answered this question several times before. Although the President has the authority to do so, he doesn't intend to do so. Q And, Sarah, if the President is not concerned about this probe, why does it matter? Why does he care if Robert Mueller looks into his finances? MS. SANDERS: I think it’s clear that the President is frustrated by the continued witch hunt of the Russia investigation, and he’d love for this to come to a full conclusion so that everyone can focus fully on the thing that he was elected to do. And that's what he’d like to be focused on. Q And just one more about Senator John McCain. The President, like so many others, sent out letters of prayers last night to the Senator. Has he had any time to reflect on some of his past comments about Senator McCain? Does he regret saying he likes people who weren’t captured? MS. SANDERS: I’m not sure about that. I do know that he certainly hopes that the Senator makes a full and speedy recovery. I don't have anything beyond that. Q Sarah, it’s been over a month since the President promised a press conference on discussing the administration’s ISIS strategy. The Daily Beast had an article about this ISIS strategy document, and so can we expect this press conference to take place soon? And if the strategy is completed, then what’s the delay about having this so far? MS. SANDERS: We’ll certainly make sure that there’s an announcement if there’s a press conference and that you are all invited. Roberta. Q Sarah, can you tell us a little bit more about the President’s meeting today at the Pentagon? What was discussed? What was sort of the main focus there? MS. SANDERS: Sure. Obviously, it’s important for the President to have continued conversations and dialogue. The President met with members -- key members of his Cabinet and national security team, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, primarily to discuss challenges and opportunities. They discussed how to integrate U.S. actions around the world to promote American prosperity, enhance American security, and extend American influence. Q So was it a certain part of the world? Or all parts of the world? MS. SANDERS: It was a broad discussion. Q Did North Korea come up? MS. SANDERS: I cannot get into the specifics of the detailed conversation. Q Sarah, a finer point on Mueller: The President said if he does investigate his or the family’s finances, that's crossing a red line. There’s a report today that Mueller is investigating a broad range of the family’s financial transactions. If that report is true, then he has crossed the red line. Does that mean he fires him? MS. SANDERS: Again, as I said earlier, the President has no intention to do so at this time. Q Even if he crosses the red line? So the red line doesn't mean anything? MS. SANDERS: That's not what I said. I don't believe everything I read in the paper. We’ll have to see as we get more details on that. Q But he said that. It’s on audio. He said, that's crossing a red line. That's not something you read in the paper. You can listen to the audio. MS. SANDERS: I’m talking about the investigation looking into the finances. Q But if it's true -- MS. SANDERS: The President has been clear many times before that he has no financial dealings whatsoever with Russia. The point the President is making is that the investigation should stay within the confines of meddling -- Russia meddling in the election and nothing beyond that. Q And if it doesn't, he fires him. MS. SANDERS: I’m not going to get into that. Q Why does the President expect loyalty from his aides, from members of his Cabinet when he’s constantly criticizing them and undercutting them and contradicting them in -- particularly in media outlets that he constantly tries to discredit? MS. SANDERS: I don't believe that the President is undermining them. I think he was being very candid about feelings that he had. But as I said, he has confidence in his ability. April. Q Sarah, how does the process play out when the President is very candid about what he thinks about his Attorney General, about what he thinks about Mueller? How does this process play out? MS. SANDERS: I’m sorry -- what? Q The investigation -- the investigation, the whole process of relationships between Sessions and the President; the process of this investigation by Mueller. How does this play out with the President being very upset over the process and openly criticizing everyone and people in fear? MS. SANDERS: I think it’s pretty clear how the process will turn out from our side is that this will be proven to be the witch hunt that it is, and that nothing further will happen. Trey. Q I have two more questions. MS. SANDERS: Two more? Q Yes, two more. There’s a belief that these conversations with the New York Times, with -- whatever reporters are pieces of intimidation to go to Mueller, to go to Sessions. What do you say to that? MS. SANDERS: I think that's ridiculous. Third question. Q And then lastly, Baltimore. Does the President regret what he said about Baltimore? He threw Rosenstein under the bus for the wrong city. He’s not from Baltimore, he’s from Philadelphia. And there are people in Baltimore saying there are a lot of Republicans there even though the city is led by a Democratic mayor. MS. SANDERS: I think he’s making a general statement. Trey. Q But it was wrong. The statement was wrong. MS. SANDERS: He’s spent a lot of time and has worked pretty extensively in Baltimore. Q Has President Trump spoken with the Attorney General in the past 24 hours? MS. SANDERS: No, not that I’m aware of. Q And a follow-up, does he regret appointing Jeff Sessions to be his Attorney General? MS. SANDERS: I don't believe so. I think if he did, then he probably wouldn’t be in that position. Q And a quick one on Afghanistan policy: Following his meeting this morning at the Pentagon, is the President any closer to unveiling a policy towards Afghanistan? And should the American people expect that we will be sending more troops to the region? MS. SANDERS: As I said earlier, the President has empowered Secretary Mattis in that front, and I would direct you to the Department of Defense. Q Sarah, can we just reconcile what you just said? You said the President does not regret appointing Jeff Sessions, yet he said in that interview with the New York Times that he does regret it because had he known what he was going to do before he appointed him, he would have said, sorry, Jeff, I’m going to get someone else. MS. SANDERS: I think -- Q So I just wondering, how do you come to those two thoughts? MS. SANDERS: Sorry. I may have misunderstood what Trey was asking. My understanding -- Q He asked, does the President regret appointing Jeff Sessions -- MS. SANDERS: I’m sorry. I thought you’d asked if he regretted not taking action to remove Jeff Sessions. Q So does he regret appointing Jeff Sessions? MS. SANDERS: The President has spoken very clearly on this in the interview yesterday. And as he said, he was disappointed that the Attorney General made the decision to recuse himself and certainly that he didn't tell him that before taking the job. Q But he also said had he told him that he wouldn’t have appointed him. So does he regret now in retrospect appointing Jeff Sessions? MS. SANDERS: I haven’t asked him specifically. Q When asked about Mueller today a couple of times you've used conditional language that he doesn't intend to -- it’s at this time. How can his independence be guaranteed if you're saying in conditional tense that he’s not going to try to have him removed? MS. SANDERS: Look, I can't predict everything that could possibly take place in the future and what Mueller could potentially do that might create an outrageous reason not to take action, so I’m not going to talk about hypotheticals. I can talk about where we are today, and that's the position of the President. Q Sarah, you've been asked multiple times today about the war in Afghanistan. Both times you referred us to the Defense Department. But President Trump is still the Commander-in-Chief. Does he take full responsibility for whatever happens on the conflict in Afghanistan? MS. SANDERS: I would think so. But again, he has empowered Secretary Mattis in terms -- I’ve been asked specifically about troop levels and decisions on specific instances, and in that regard, I would refer you to the Department of Defense. John. Q Thank you, Sarah. You spoke earlier about -- apparently about confidence in General Sessions staying there. Does the President have the same confidence and lack of regret in name Ron Brownstein [sic] deputy attorney general? Mr. Brownstein being -- MS. SANDERS: Rosenstein, Rosenstein. I don't know who that guy is, but -- (laughter). So I’m not going to speak about him. But Rod Rosenstein, as I stated, if the President didn't have confidence, he wouldn’t be in that position. Guys, I hate to cut us short today, but the President has -- hold on, I’m not finished. The President has an announcement that he’ll be making here shortly -- Q Here at the podium? MS. SANDERS: No. (Laughter.) Here at the White House, and so I’m going to cut it short today. Thanks, guys. END 3:06 P.M. EDT
On Thursday, BlackBerry Ltd. (BBRY) announced it has won the right to sell secure messaging tools to the United States government after the National Security Agency (NSA) endorsed the smartphone maker and its products.
CHINA is pushing development of the home rental market in large and medium cities to address a rising demand from urban newcomers. Measures will be taken in cities with net population inflows, including
When it comes to writing, how do you get it done?
The parents of an American journalist who has been missing in Syria for the past five years said on Thursday that they believe he is still alive — and that the U.S. and Syrian governments have assured them they are doing all they can to secure his safe release.
House Budget Chairman Diane Black fought off a last-minute attempt Wednesday night to preemptively bar the GOP from considering a border adjustment tax this year.In the final moments of a 12-hour budget markup, Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) abruptly attempted to offer a poison-pill amendment that would have blocked the contentious tax proposal the Freedom Caucus and other influential conservative groups oppose. In a six-minute exchange, Black swiftly shot down Sanford’s attempt, contending that the move violated rules that both parties negotiated hours earlier. The committee then advanced its fiscal 2018 blueprint by a vote of 22-14, with support from every Republican member, even some vocal critics from the Freedom Caucus. The $1.1 trillion nonbinding budget plan is now reported to the House, where it still lacks the votes for passage before the August recess, according to several GOP aides and lawmakers.Sanford said he was seeking an official assurance that GOP leaders would not include the import tax in their overhaul proposal this year. That policy, which Speaker Paul Ryan has favored, has the potential to be a major source of revenue for the GOP’s plan.“I’m not saying there’s a guarantee of a BAT going forward, but increasingly, what I’ve seen over the last couple of days, puts it in that direction,” Sanford said. “That puts myself and others on this committee in a bad spot." The Freedom Caucus had been demanding for weeks that House budget writers add a provision to the budget resolution ruling out BAT in any future tax debates. Black had repeatedly rejected the idea, arguing that the committee's job was only to provide the fast-track authority for tax reform, not to provide a recipe.Sanford said he felt “compelled” to offer the amendment after the collapse of the Senate GOP’s health care bill, which would have helped tax-writers start with a lower baseline. The chairwoman, who appeared visibly agitated, had been privately urging Sanford throughout the day not to offer the amendment, according to GOP sources.After Black blocked Sanford's amendment, several Democrats, eager to see GOP members forced into a vote on the tax policy, then intervened. “Is there any way to add an amendment?” Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) asked, before Democrats failed in an effort to use a procedural mechanism to overrule Black's decision.
The United States is very concerned about tensions surrounding the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif, a site holy to Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and calls upon the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to make a good faith effort to reduce tensions and to find a solution that assures public safety and the security of the site and maintains the status quo. The United States will continue to closely monitor the developments.
The Justice official seems unconcerned about potential conflicts on special prosecutor's staff.
Liberal activists are urging people to stay registered to vote after President Donald Trump’s new election integrity commission’s request for voter data spooked some Americans and caused them to cancel their registrations. Colorado got a burst of publicity after more than 3,700 residents canceled voter registrations, according to media reports. And while that’s a tiny percentage of total voters in the state, activists said it’s the wrong response to the federal government’s request for state voter information.“We don’t want people to be afraid of registering — not to do so is to play into the hands of the voter suppressors,” said Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Colorado. “To the thousands of people who have deregistered: go reregister and bring two others.”The voter fraud commission, which held its first public meeting on Wednesday, came under criticism from state officials when it asked for data as personal as the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers. Critics said the group might use the information to block people from voting, while others questioned the commission’s security procedures.Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams has said he would provide the commission with data that’s already in the public record. Woodliff-Stanley said the commission requested information that is not normally part of the public record: military status, information about felonies and more. Nicole Melaku, executive director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, said her group is urging Williams to make public statements to assure Colorado voters that their information is safe and that they should continue registering to vote. But even one person deregistering is too many, Let America Vote’s president Jason Kander, a Democrat who ran an unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate in 2016, said in an interview. He released a video via social media Friday that urged voters to stay registered, saying if the “data draft” intimidated voters from registering, the commission would have accomplished its goal. “This is the first time that a president is going to create what looks like a public, national database of who voted for which party,” Kander said. “Never before could a private business with one request get this much data. But now, there’s an opportunity to hand over information to them, whether it’s a business, a criminal or a foreign government.” He thinks states refusing to comply made the right decision. Other secretaries of states said they would provide the information if the federal government purchased their data. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said, as per protocol, if the federal government shelled out $32,716.66 for the state’s 3,217,666 voters, Alabama would honor the purchase. Oregon said it would hand over some information, too, if the commission paid $500 for the state’s database.Counting states that demanded compensation or that wouldn’t hand over nonpublic information, 44 refused to fully comply with the data request.Other states saw small increases in voters deregistering. In Florida, requests to be removed from the voter roll were double the same time frame last year: 1,715 this year compared to 789 in 2016, said Sarah Revell, communications director at Florida’s Department of State. Connecticut also saw more people cancel registrations than in past years, though the numbers were negligible: 243 voters deregistered in 2017, compared to 163 in the same time period a year ago, said Tina B. Prakash, special assistant to the Connecticut deputy secretary of state. While those numbers are marginal compared to their states’ respective populations, Woodliff-Stanley of the Colorado ACLU encourages more people — whether they have deregistered or have never registered before — to vote in coming elections.Besides, Woodliff-Stanley said, it’s not even clear whether deregistering hides your voter information — the requested voter records cover past elections, so canceling now might not make a difference.
Claremont McKenna punished multiple campus activists who shut down an event featuring a pro-police speaker—but were those punishments justified?
BUT MICHELLE OBAMA ASSURED ME LAST YEAR THAT “WHEN THEY GO LOW, WE GO HIGH.” Bill Maher Goes Too Far: ‘Does Trump Have to Actually Blow Putin?’ Earlier: Stephen Colbert’s Shocking Attack On Trump Concludes With A Homophobic Slur: “In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster,” […]
Remarks by Vice President Pence and Elected Officials at the First Meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity
Eisenhower Executive Office Building 11:40 A.M. EDT THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. And with that, ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to call the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to order. Our first order of business is to recognize each of our members and to make introductions and brief remarks. I'd like to start with a few comments of my own in addition to the remarks that I made from the podium. First and foremost, let me commend each one of you for stepping forward to serve your country in this capacity. As you heard from the President and from me earlier, we are truly grateful for your willingness to step forward. This is a bipartisan group that will perform a nonpartisan service to the American people. Our goal, as the executive order asserts, is to help promote free and honest federal elections. Our charge is to study the registration and voting processes used in federal elections. And, as I mentioned earlier, our charge is to explore vulnerabilities in the system that could lead to improper voting registration and improper voting. Let me reiterate the point I made earlier, now that we're on the record: We have no preconceived notions or preordained results. Our duty is to go where the facts lead and to provide the President and the American people with a report on our findings that can be used to strengthen the American people's confidence in our electoral system. And as you heard, the President looks forward to what we accomplish, and so do I. And I look very much forward to hearing from each and every one of you. The President and I have a meeting scheduled soon after this with a number of senators, so my hope is that I'll be able to hear from each and every one of you before excusing myself to hear from members of the United States Senate on another matter. But I'm very, very grateful that you're here. We'd like to ask that you limit your remarks -- your opening remarks -- to five minutes or less. There is a timer in the back, but I know we can go on the honor system here with each one of you, and we appreciate your sensitivity. I'd like to start by recognizing our distinguished Vice-Chair, the Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach. And Mr. Secretary, you are now recognized, with the gratitude of the President and this administration, for your opening remarks. MR. KOBACH: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. It's indeed a great honor to serve as vice chairman of this commission. The charge of the commission is a significant one, as the President outlined: to study the threats to the integrity of our elections; to quantify those threats, if possible; and, if it's the will of the commission, to offer recommendations to the President to help ensure the integrity of future elections in this country. And most importantly, to share that information -- after the report is made to the President -- to share that information with the American public. This is a mission of the highest order. I've often thought that at the very foundation of our republic are really two bedrock things: the American Constitution and the faith and reality that our elections are conducted fairly. If you take away either of those two things, I believe that our republic cannot stand for long. So, for a long time, there's been lingering doubt among many Americans about the integrity and fairness of elections, and it's not a new issue at all. If you look at the polling data, it goes back decades. Public opinion has been consistent on this in that there is a substantial number of people who wonder if our elections are fair. A 2014 survey showed that only 40 percent of voters thought elections were fair to the voters, which indicates that 60 percent either did not think so or were undecided. We owe it to the American people to take a hard, dispassionate look at the subject. And throughout our country's history, there have been specific historical episodes that we may have learned of in school or in college of voter fraud, and those may have received a great deal of attention. And individual states, from time to time, may have investigated specific allegations of voter fraud or have done some specific investigation of voter fraud. For example, in my state of Kansas, we're engaged in litigation right now, defending our proof of citizenship requirements at the time of registration. And we've engaged in extensive fact-finding for the federal courts involved, and have discovered 128 specific cases of non-citizens who either registered to vote or attempted to register to vote. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. One expert in the case estimated that the total number could be in excess of 18,000 on our voter rolls. But there's never been a nationwide effort to do some sort of analysis of this scope and scale -- to quantify and analyze the various forms of threats to our election's integrity. This commission will have the ability to find answers to questions that have never been fully answered before and to conduct research that has never been conducted before. And that research will not be buried. We respect the voter's privacy and will not identify individual voters with our voter roll data, but we will lay out factual findings and systematic problems that we can identify in our electoral systems. And those results, whatever they are, will be made public for the American people to draw their own conclusions from. In 2013, President Obama established a Presidential Commission on Election Administration, and he did so, among other things, to analyze a problem that had been reported in several states in the 2012 election, and that was long lines at the polling places. When someone drives to a polling place and sees a long line two blocks long, there's a chance that that person may decide it's not worth it for me to vote, and turn around and drive home. Similarly, if someone lives in a place where voter fraud has been known to occur in the past, and the elections in the past may have been stolen, there's a chance that he or she will decide that his vote is not likely to count or it will be counterbalanced by the fraud, and therefore decide not to vote in that case. These are both problems worthy of investigation and worthy of a presidential commission. In Kansas, for the last 11 years, we've hosted the Interstate Crosscheck System, in which approximately 30 states participate. We annually compare our voter rolls to each other, and in so doing we find literally millions of people that are probable double registrations -- where the same person is registered in more than one state. With that information, the participating states can begin the process of keeping their voter rolls accurate and up to date. It’s a starting point when the state can then call the voters in question, and, with the voters' consent, remove them from the voter rolls of the state in which he no longer resides, or else using a process laid out by the National Voter Registration Act. The program also develops leads where it appears that the same person may have actually voted twice in the same election in two different jurisdictions. After further investigation, a prosecution for double-voting may be appropriate. This program, hosted by Kansas and in 30 states, illustrates how a successful multistate effort can be in enhancing the integrity of our elections and in keeping our voter rolls accurate. I’m confident that this commission will be equally successful on the national level. The talent, experience, and expertise of my fellow members of the commission is truly impressive. Thank you all for giving your time and your energy to this endeavor. I’m really looking forward to beginning our work together. Thank you THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you for your opening remarks and thank you for your leadership on this commission. We look forward very much to working with you. With that, I’d like to recognize my friend and fellow Hoosier, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, for five minutes. MS. LAWSON: Well thank you, Mr. Vice President, Vice-Chairman Kobach, and distinguished commission members and fellow citizens. It really and truly is an honor for me to join the commission today, and I want to thank President Trump for the chance to serve in this capacity. I am Connie Lawson. I’m the Indiana Secretary of State. I also serve as president of the bipartisan National Association of Secretaries of State, and in that role I co-chair the NASS Election Security Taskforce. I think my background is uniquely situated to the issue of voting processes and election administration. I served, on the local level, two terms as the Hendricks County clerk overseeing -- actually, after the 2000 election, it really and truly was the beginning of the move towards electronic voting and modernization of voting machines. I was very involved in the association, becoming president and legislative chair as well. Following my time in local office, I served 16 years as state senator. During that time -- the entire 16 years -- I was a member of the Senate Elections Committee. I did become the majority floor leader in the Indiana Senate, I think, as a result of my respect in that work. In 2012, a vacancy arose in the Secretary of State’s office, and Governor Mitch Daniels appointed me to serve the remainder of the term. And I was elected to a full term in 2014. It really and truly is an honor to be here with my distinguished fellow commissioners to discuss issues related to voting systems and processes around the country. With statewide elections in New Jersey and Virginia this year, and many more contests to follow in 2018, there is no better time to analyze how we can improve voter confidence in civic participation. While it’s important to create an accurate understanding of the 2016 cycle, I believe that it’s even more important for us to be discussing what lies ahead. This body has a great opportunity to outline constructive priorities as we begin our work. I would submit that one of the most important goals we have is improving the partnership between federal and state authorities where election issues are concerned. For instance, I and other secretaries have been frustrated by attempts to communicate with the federal Department of Homeland Security in their wake of their decision to designate election systems as critical infrastructure. The situation is improving, but it doesn’t help when I’m still discovering facts about this decision through the media rather than from the decision-makers, and I’m hopeful that we can address this issue going forward. While I was state senator, significant updates were made to federal and state election law. Among those was the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, passed in 2002. It was passed to improve voting systems and voter access in response to the 2000 election. This legislation created the Election Assistance Commission and addressed provisional voting, voting equipment, statewide voter databases, among other things. A crucial point is that the HAVA standards were developed in a bipartisan, cooperative manner seeking input from multiple stakeholders in order to find points of agreement. It’s my hope that this commission will operate in a similar manner as we get to work on behalf of the President, our states, and the American people. Thank you. THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Appreciate your remarks very much. And now the chair recognizes the former Secretary of State for the great state of Ohio, Ken Blackwell. MR. BLACKWELL: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’m honored to be a member of this commission. I want to thank you, Vice President Pence, for your leadership in this endeavor and express my gratitude to all of my colleagues for their willingness to undertake this important work. This commission and its task is to identify every threat to the integrity of the electoral process, both foreign and domestic. We are to serve the American people by enumerating the vulnerabilities of our electoral system and recommending countermeasures to protect the voting rights of the American people as guaranteed by the Constitution. I would like to offer, into the record, my work of constitutional law on this issue. I co-authored this work with Ken Klukowski, a respected constitutional attorney -- I’m going to say, from Indiana. (Laughter.) And our law review article is entitled, “The Other Voting Right: Protecting Every Citizens Vote by Safeguarding the Integrity of the Ballot Box,” published by the Yale Law and Policy Review. We set forth that one way to articulate the right to vote secured by the Constitution is that every properly registered adult has the right to an undiluted vote. Each elector has the right to a vote that carries its full weight and that, when it is tallied, has its maximum proper effect to give that citizen a full voice in determining who among us will be entrusted with the powers of government for a term of office. As we explain in our article, this really means the Constitution secures two voting rights. The first is the one we talk about most often -- the franchise, the right to cast a ballot on Election Day. Most voting laws combat abuses rooted in the past that denied Americans access to the voting booth. But there’s a second right that accompanies the right to cast a ballot, and that is the right of the citizen -- a citizen’s legal ballot not being diluted or canceled by anyone else’s illegal activity. That activity could be voter fraud by casting a ballot in more than one precinct or state. It could be a non-citizen voting, whether that non-citizen is a legal alien or an illegal alien -- if they are not citizens. Then their ballots dilute the votes of American citizens. The illegal activity could be voter intimidation or voter registration fraud, or it could be foreign interference in our elections, whether from Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, or any other foreign power. This other voting right is a fundamental constitutional right against any such dilution or cancellation, and it is our commission’s work and our mandate from the President of the United States to identity these threats and safeguard against them. Another topic explored in our article is that voting is perhaps our only fundamental right secured by the Constitution that is also a citizen’s duty. We all have the right to the free exercise of religion, or to keep and bear arms, for example, but our form of government does not impose them upon us as duties. But when it comes to voting, the Constitution enables election officials to presume that public-spirited citizens with due concern for the course of the state and national policy will be willing to satisfy reasonable regulations and shoulder incidental burdens in the fulfillment of their civic duty. My home state of Ohio is the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Among the judges on that bench is Alice Batchelder. Two years ago, in Russell vs. Grimes, Judge Batchelder wrote, “Citizens cannot demand as constitutional entitlement an environment in which fulfilling this civic duty is effortless. To the contrary,” Judge Batchelder added, “the Constitution allows for the possibility that citizens should be expected to overcome minimal obstacles when voting.” Every patriotic citizen who is a qualified elector has a solemn duty in our democratic republic to participate in public debate by casting their thoughtful, informed, and deliberate ballot on Election Day. We are a self-governing people. The machinery of democracy on Election Day is the cornerstone of how we govern ourselves. This commission’s duty is to catalogue every threat to that machinery and determine how to thwart each threat and thereby safeguard the integrity of the ballot box. Mr. Chairman, I ask that this article and my extended remarks be made part of the record today -- today’s proceedings and the work of the commission. Thank you so much, sir. THE VICE PRESIDENT: Your law review article and your extended remarks are submitted to the record without objection. And thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your opening remarks. With that I’d like to recognize the Secretary of State of Maine, Secretary Matt Dunlap, for five minutes. MR. DUNLAP: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. I apologize I don’t have any prepared remarks, so I’ll try to keep it within the 45-minute allotment. (Laughter.) Our experience in Maine has really been a truly gracious one, and we are very, very blessed to have the commitment of so many incredibly devoted and dedicated people across the state in the 503 towns and 425 unorganized territories of the state of Maine. An area from Fort Kent to Kittery, and from Oquossoc to Eastport -- the people that I work with in elections -- you know, I’m the chief elections officer of the state of Maine, but the actual election is run by those local town officials who put an extraordinary amount of effort to make sure that their neighbors can freely and fairly exercise their constitutional franchise of democratic self-governance. And we owe them a great deal -- and we have a great deal to be proud of. We, too, get questions from time to time about something that happens in an election. We get a few hundred allegations of possible double-voting. But because our clerks work very closely with each other and we communicate with each other, typically what happens is someone requests an absentee ballot, and they forget about it or lose it in a pile of seed catalogues, and then they show up at the polls and we divine pretty quickly that, in fact, they only cast one ballot and then the question is answered. But accountability is pretty important here, and I think that’s the entire purpose of this commission is to help bolster and instill confidence in electoral process that belongs to the American people. And I hope that, in those considerations, one of the things we focus on is what works well. What do we do right? And certainly -- I listened very closely to the remarks of the President -- but no one who has spoken, including the President, has questioned the legitimacy of the outcome of the 2016 election. I think that’s a great place to start from is, you know, what are the balance points between security and access? And I think that anything that we do to answer those questions, to reassure people that there are no goblins under the bed, and if there are, we deal with them in a way that is balanced, again, towards access of the voting public to participate in their government. This is not ours. It belongs to them. And I think as we move forward, the one thing I want to focus on -- and I tell our clerks this when we do our training every year -- is that this is a process that does not belong to us. It belongs to the voters. And everything we do, we must do with devotion to assure that the voters have their voice heard and that the ballots that are cast are done without question, and that the government that is installed to represent those people acts on their behalf with the confidence of the public. And I want to make sure that we answer those questions and that we move forward as a group with that same level of confidence, and I’ll be very pleased to be a part of this. So, thank you. THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and thank you for those very thoughtful words, without notes and with great brevity. I like it. (Laughter.) With that, it would be my privilege to recognize the longest-serving secretary of state in American history, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner. Secretary Gardner, you’re recognized for five minutes. MR. GARDNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Vice-Chairman. I look forward to the work we have ahead. After our federal Constitution was ratified, a person asked George Washington this question: What is the most important thing that a person can do for his country? And Washington answered that in five words: Express your view beyond yourself. When I first became aware of that, I took it to mean everyone’s voice mattered. Be willing to share your views, have dialogue with others, and let others share their views with you, for it will strengthen our country. It can also be applied to voting, where we collectively express our views beyond ourselves by way of the ballot box. And the more often we get to do that, the more we fulfill the will of our first President. I would like more Americans to vote, not fewer. For over a half-century, since the Civil Rights era of the ‘60s, our federal government and the states have been trying to find more and more ways to make it easier to vote. But when states try to balance that ease of voting with measures to increase voting integrity, it is often met with hostile resistance and charges of suppression. I will respect the facts that this commission receives, but it has been my belief over many years of administering elections that we will see an increase in voter turnout only when ease of voting is balanced with security and integrity. Making voting easier by itself does not result in higher turnout, as we have seen in our recent elections. Polls conducted just before the last presidential election found over half the country believes there's voter fraud. And polls after the election show a declining level of confidence in the balloting. During this century, there have been three national election commissions previous to this one. They spent time continuing the quest for ways to make voting easier. In my opinion, we need to first understand why turnout has not increased as a result. One of the previous commissions recommended states adopt photo ID requirements for voting, and that commission was severely criticized for doing so. We also need to compare states that have voter ID laws with those without. I might add that the two highest states in turnout during the presidential primaries last year were both photo ID states. Why is it important for the public to have confidence in their elections? The reason is contrary to common belief: One vote does matter. I have conducted nearly 500 recounts, all done by hand, counting paper ballots in a public process, including state-wide, congressional, and various smaller district races. Eleven of those recounts have ended in a tie; 32 were decided by one vote; and a total of 202, by less than 10 votes. And while serving as state representative, back in the 1970s, my state had a U.S. Senate race that was decided by two votes. The U.S. Senate, after that, tried to do a recount of that race and gave up after trying for five months. I am a witness that every vote matters, and there doesn’t need to be massive voter fraud to sway the outcome. These are the experiences I will bring to this commission, and I will work with all of you endeavoring to let the facts we receive speak for themselves. Thank you. THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Mr. Secretary. And thank you for those words and for your long service to the people of your state. The chair now recognizes Judge Alan King of Jefferson County, Alabama for five minutes. MR. KING: Mr. Vice President and Secretary Kobach, it's a pleasure to serve on this committee. I appreciate the invitation. I'm Alan King. I'm the presiding probate judge in Jefferson County, Alabama. It's the largest county in the state of Alabama. We have roughly 660,000 residents, and in 2016 we had almost 460,000 registered voters. We have two probate judges in Jefferson County, and I was elected in 2000 as the place two probate judge, and then in 2006 and '12 as the presiding probate judge. I have a law degree, and I'm a former president of the Alabama Probate Judges Association. In Alabama, probate judges are the chief election official for his or her county. I've been involved in 10 major elections as the place two probate judge, and I've been the chief election official for 39 major elections as the presiding probate judge. On August 15th of this year, we will have a special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions. I have a certification, through the Election Center, which the premier -- or one of the premier election training organizations in the United States. And so I'm involved in elections, have been involved in elections for 16.5 years. I bring a wealth of experience from a county level. So to speak, I've had boots on the ground in every aspect of elections. I would consider myself to be an election expert on everything that involves elections. In the national organizations that I'm a member of, it's been my great pleasure to meet other election officials on the national level. I have talked extensively with men and women for the last few years. I feel inclined, since I'm the chief election official for Jefferson County, Alabama, to say that, in my 16.5 years in the Jefferson County probate judge position, that I have not seen evidence of voter fraud in Jefferson County. I had one situation -- I think it was in 2014 -- where it was a father and a son had the same name. I became aware of that. I submitted this information to our district attorney, and the district attorney chose not to pursue any charges against either the father or the son. The executive order that created this commission refers to voter confidence and voter processes. And again, since I'm a county official, I feel inclined to say that one of the most massive problems that will be facing this nation in the years to come is technology, and it's the technology of the voting machines. And I've seen it in the legal profession, from discovery and cases that have come before me in court. I'm in court virtually all day, every day. And bottom line: Technology is moving so fast that society is not able to keep up with the legal profession. My wife is an elementary school librarian -- now called a school media specialist. She's not able, educators are not able to keep up with technology. And I would venture to say, Mr. Vice President and Secretary Kobach, that we have a huge challenge in this nation with keeping with voting machine technology. And in 2002, the U.S. Congress and HAVA -- Help America Vote Act -- passed -- had funding that was filtered down to the states and to each county. And so from a county-wide standpoint, these voting machines are outdated. There's no money there. Counties don’t have money. States don't have money. We need money. I was -- thankfully, four years ago, I got on top of this issue. I was able to convince my county commissioners to fund the next generation of voting machines in Jefferson County. We did that in the 2016 election to the tune of $3.1 million. But not every county can do that. Not every state can do that. And as we go down this process, it is my hope that we will -- that will be an issue that we will discuss. Because we can discuss a lot of things about voting, but unless we have the technology, unless the technology is keeping up with voting, then we're not using our time very wisely, in my opinion. So I hope that that's an issue that we will get into. I hope that's an issue that we will discuss and discuss freely. And I hope that's a recommendation that this commission makes to Vice President Pence, to you, and to President Trump. Again, thank you so very much for the opportunity to serve on this commission. THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Judge King. Thank you for bringing your extraordinary experience at the county level, and those thoughtful opening remarks today. We look forward to working with you very much. An honor to have you here. With that, the chair recognizes Commissioner Christy McCormick, who is also a member of the Election Assistance Commission, for five minutes. MS. MCCORMICK: Thank you. Mr. Vice President, Secretary Kobach, and my fellow distinguished commission members: I'm very much looking forward to participating in the mission of this commission. I started working in elections almost 30 years ago as an assistance voter registrar in East Haven, Connecticut. And since then, I've worked in several capacities in elections and voting, including eight years in the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division's Voting Section, litigating and defending our federal voting statutes, including the Voting Rights Act, the NVRA, UOCAVA, and the MOVE Act. I was detailed to Baghdad for a year as the Department of Justice's expert in elections to work on the Iraq national elections. And I have since served, since January of 2015, as the commissioner on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which is dedicated to making election administration better across our country. I have worked directly with state and local election officials from every state and territory, and I see my role on this commission as representing a wide range of election officials. I have also regularly interfaced with voting system vendors and not-for-profit voting and elections organizations, and I will always take their concerns and interests into consideration. Our Constitution provides that our states have the authority and responsibility to run our elections, and I fully support this provision. However, I also believe that our federal government does have an interest in elections being free, fair, and secure from outside and improper influences. Our nation as a whole should be dedicated to ensure the survival of America's representative democracy. Over the past year and, quite frankly, much longer than that, we've heard that our election system is in danger. It is appropriate for us to examine any threats or dangers to our system, the integrity of our system, and the fairness of our system. We need to ensure that every American citizen who is eligible to vote may do so freely and privately, and that his or her vote is not diluted by improper votes or influence. We need to ensure that persons who are eligible to vote are not disenfranchised, and that voters have confidence that our system is producing accurate, secure, and expeditious results. With that in mind, I would like to see this commission, at a minimum, look at some of these questions: How we keep ineligible, and those operating in bad faith, off of and out of our voting systems. How we address the management of voter registration systems and the problem of inaccurate lists. I applaud the dedication and hard work of our election administrators across this country. And, believe me, they have a hard, hard and extensively complex job. But I've also done election observation over the past dozen or so years, and I have yet to see a fully accurate voter list in any polling place across the country. I have seen firsthand irregularities take place in the polling place and in some offices. What causes a lack of voter participation and confidence in our system, and what actions should we consider that would hopefully boost participation and confidence in the voters' experience with our election system? What methods are currently used to identify, deter, and investigate improper registration and voting, and are those methods sufficient? And what are the methods currently used to identify, defer, and investigate voter intimidation or suppression, and are those methods working? The entire world looks to the United States as a model for representative democracy and free and fair elections. As a nation, we must continually review and investigate any possible issues with our voting system, and we must stay vigilant to protect our precious right to elect our leaders. I look forward to working with the Vice President and with other members of this commission. I expect, as I believe the other members of this commission do also, full transparency, courteous discussion, and professional respect. I appreciate, in spite of some of the media reports I've seen, that the commission has no preconceived results, that we are not afraid of the facts leading us to the truth -- whatever that looks like, and that any conclusions or recommendations will be based on these truths. Finally, thank you to the President, Vice President for trusting me and allowing me to participate in this commission. It is an honor to serve my country. Thank you. THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, Commissioner McCormick, thank you. Thank you for those good words. Thank you for bringing your vast experience in elections, at home and abroad, to this commission's work. We're grateful to have you here. The chair now recognizes J. Christian Adams from Virginia for five minutes. MR. ADAMS: Thank you, Mr. Vice President. Thank you, Vice Chairman Kobach. I'd also like thank President Trump for initiating this long overdue effort. I would like to thank the other members of the commission for their willingness to examine the integrity of our electoral systems, and to seek the truth about vulnerabilities in these systems and contemplate ways to improve the process. Most Americans value truth and value election systems deserving of our faith. It has been said that truth enlightens our intelligence and helps shape our freedom. Clean elections protect our freedom. Elections tainted by fraud disrupt the consent of the government. I believe that all the commissioners are dedicated to an inquisitive and robust search for the data and for the truth about vulnerabilities in our elections, and ways to improve the systems. There are areas of serious concern. For example, there are recurring indications that individuals are getting registered to vote even though they are marking the voter registration forms "no" to the question, "Are you a United States citizen?" Again, they are checking the box on the registration form that they are not American citizens, but are still getting registered to vote. What fair-minded American could support this? What serious, inquisitive American wouldn't ask, "How does this happen? How often does this happen? How can we improve the system?" Yet, there are plenty of interests that would rather see these questions not be asked. The truth is more important but these individuals do not want the questions asked, and that is the wrong approach. Americans have never assumed that we could not accomplish the mission, could not improve the way things work. There are ways to examine and reach the truth about our elections without harming a single legitimate voter registration. I'm sure the members of the commission will do their best, as I will, to improve our election system. For the first time, we have the tools, we have the will, and we have the support of the majority of the American people who are concerned with voter fraud to document these vulnerabilities in our systems and suggest improvements. And so I'm excited to help, and thank you for this effort. THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Mr. Adams. We're grateful to have you on the commission, and thank you for those opening remarks. The chair now recognizes the clerk of Wood County, West Virginia, Mark Rhodes, for five minutes. MR. RHODES: Thank you, and thank you for permitting me to be on this commission. It is an honor. As county clerk, yes, I am in charge of the elections, and several of the things that I've even heard discussed here, I can say it's happened to me. I started working in our IT department in Wood County in 1997. I believe if you check my voting registration record for the year 2000, you'll find that I voted a provisional ballot. And the reason being was, I was deceased. We were doing a -- before we had a statewide voter system, we had to do a data upload monthly to the Secretary of State's office. It wasn't working properly. I'd marked myself deceased, ran a test, and never revived myself. (Laughter.) I walked into the precinct. I went over to Janice, who was our poll worker. She said, you're not in the book. I should be. I voted a provisional ballot because I was not in the book. I appeared at the county commission meeting during canvass, and they went, yep, you're alive, and my vote did count. So it's one of those -- there are things that do happen. And we try to make sure that every legally-cast ballot counts. In 2014, when I ran for my first election as county clerk, I won by five votes out of over 24,000 votes that were cast. So it's one of those -- we need to have fair, clean, honest elections, and there should be no doubt that those five votes -- you know, my win is the win and it's there. There should be no speculation. I just want to make sure that we have good, fair, clean, honest elections. And thank you for permitting me to serve. THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Clerk Rhodes. We're grateful to have you here bringing that experience. And I'm glad you're doing well. You look fine. (Laughter.) Now the chair recognizes David Dunn of Arkansas for five minutes. MR. DUNN: Thank you, Mr. Vice President, Secretary Kobach. I want to also thank President Trump for allowing me to serve. I'm humbled and I'm honored to have this opportunity to serve my country. Having grown up in the Delta and to a political family, and spent most of my life as an economic developer in one of the most economically depressed areas in our country, I know how important the democratic process is. Anything that calls into question the integrity of this process undermines the entire democratic system. We were asked today to present our thoughts on what we expected of this commission. I'm eager to learn -- and I have, today, a bit -- the priorities of my fellow commissioners, all of whom I have met for the first time today, and I look forward to -- with everyone how to tackle these complex issues. A vision for this commission is threefold. First, it is my desire for us to look at a myriad of issues to determine whether there are significant problems involving the election voter integrity. We should look at the way the states' elections systems are currently working, and what resources or support the have, and what might be needed to improve their accuracy and efficiency. Whether there's an increase in training of election and poll workers, improved communication between the states and localities across states, updated voting machines, or providing funds to assist localities in carrying out their voting election work, I hope this commission will look at all the possibilities to help states in their effort to run competent and true elections. Second, I hope that this commission will ensure the privacy of America's voting public. I understand while the letter that was sent to the states asked for only publicly available voter information, it still raised concerns. And I believe that any data, statistics, or information collected by us or by the state should be held in our trust and safeguarded from any political misuse. And finally, I hope that the activity of this bipartisan commission are completely transparent and public. It's important that our work be conducted with the highest level of integrity, and that a variety of views can be expressed and considered. I applaud Vice President Pence for putting together this commission. I look forward, with each of you, to ensure that the voters in my great state of Arkansas and across the country know that they will not be unlawfully disenfranchised, and they can have confidence in the integrity of our election. Thank you. THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Commissioner Dunn. Thank you for those very thoughtful words and admonitions. We value them and identify greatly with what you said. Grateful to have you here. Lastly, let me -- let the chair recognize Hans von Spakovsky for five minutes. MR. VON SPAKOVSKY: Mr. Vice President, fellow members of the commission: I want to thank President Trump for the honor of having appointed me to the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. I come at this issue of election integrity from very personal history. My German mother grew up in Nazi Germany as a child. My Russian father fought and escaped communism twice. They met in a displaced persons camp in Europe, after the end of World War II, before immigrating to the United States. My childhood was filled with stories of what it's like living in a dictatorship. And we were taught as children that the right to vote is a very precious right, it's one that can be easily lost, and that it was our duty to always vote and participate in the democratic process. I want to ensure that every American who is eligible is able to vote, and that his or her vote is not stolen or diluted because of administrative mistakes, errors by election officials, or intentional wrongdoing by those who are willing to take advantage of what we have, which is basically an honor system. I have almost three decades of experience in the field of voting and elections. That includes not only legal experience as a lawyer in the U.S. Department of Justice, enforcing federal laws that protect the right to vote, but I've also been a local county election official in two states, Georgia and Virginia. So I know very well how hard election officials work to try to administer the voting process fairly. But we do have problems that need to be fixed. We have vulnerabilities in the administrative system that we have, and we also have a history of voter fraud in this country. The Supreme Court itself said in 2008, when it upheld Indiana's voter ID law, the U.S. has a long history of voter fraud, and it could make the difference in a close election. And we have many close elections in this country. Now, one of the documents I want to hand out to everyone on the commission -- and this is a printout, and it's easily available on the Heritage website -- is a database that we started about two years ago of voter fraud cases from around the country. We are up to almost 1,100 proven cases of voter fraud, including almost 1,000 convictions of individuals in court. These cases run the gamut and show all ways that voter fraud is committed in this country. It includes impersonation fraud at the polls, false voter registrations, duplicate voting, fraudulent absentee ballots, vote buying, ineligible voting my felons and non-citizens, altering of vote counts, and ballot petition fraud. We know we have problems with the accuracy of our voter registration lists. Numerous studies have been done about this that show -- including the Interstate Crosscheck Program -- that we have literally hundreds of thousands of voters who are registered in multiple states, and we have many people who are deceased remaining on the voter rolls. No systematic, all-encompassing study has been done about these problems. But we know that more must be done to improve the accuracy of our voter registration system and the security of our voting process. Now, I have full confidence in this commission, which is a bipartisan commission, and I look forward to working with my colleagues. But I can't end my remarks without addressing what I consider to be the unfair, unjust, and unwarranted criticisms that have been leveled at this commission and some of its members. My father passed on to me the belief that one of the best things about America is the ability to have spirited but civil debates, even on contentious issues. Yet we seem to have lost that valuable part of our democratic process. Members of this commission, including me, have already been subjected to vicious and defamatory personal attacks. Those who want to ensure the integrity of the election process are only interested in preserving our great democracy. The scurrilous charges that have been made are reprehensible and a tactic, frankly, to avoid a substantive debate on important issues and to prevent the research, inquiry, and study that is necessary to identify the problems in our election process, to determine what the solutions are, and to therefore ensure that we have the best election and best democratic system in the world. Thank you. THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Commissioner von Spakovsky. Thank you for bringing your practical experience and your background to this commission. We're truly grateful, and grateful for your stirring words. Well, let me say, listening to all of the commissioners on this panel, I am more confident than ever that this bipartisan group is going to perform an enormously valuable non-partisan service to the American people. I'm grateful for the words of admonition and challenge, one to another. I can attest and promise you that we do go into this process with no preconceived notions or preordained results. And the President has charged us to pursue the facts, and we will follow them with integrity, where they lead. This will be a transparent and open process. But knowing the background of all these commissioners, I can also promise you a spirited but also civil debate. And we look very much forward to that. Our charge is simple. In the executive order establishing this commission, let me reiterate: It's to help to promote free and honest federal elections; to study registration voting processes used in federal elections; to identify vulnerabilities to the process that could lead to improper voter registration or even improper voting. We will live up to that and we will challenge one another to achieve that. And I know -- I know in my heart that we'll do a great service to the American people. With that, the chair would like to recess the meeting for a short lunch break. Vice-Chair Kobach will reconvene in approximately 20 minutes to preside over the rest of the meeting's agenda. But on behalf of the President and myself, I offer you my heartfelt thanks for being willing to serve your country at such a time as this, in this important work. So, thank you much. And we're going to recess. END 12:29 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT Donald Trump on Wednesday stepped up the pressure on reluctant Republicans to erase much of Barack Obama’s health care law, tweeting, “They MUST keep their promise to America” and vowing the