Kamala Harris adds Clinton campaign vets to DC office

Jul 21, 2017 16

California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris has brought a number of former Hillary Clinton campaign veterans on board to work in her Washington, D.C., congressional office, according to its roster.

Harris has garnered media attention in recent weeks fueling speculation that she could be positioning herself to run in the Democratic primary during the 2020 presidential race.

Harris reportedly mingled with former top donors to Hillary Clinton in the Hamptons this past weekend and will head back this upcoming weekend for a private meeting with Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood liberal and longtime donor to Clinton, and his wife Georgina Chapman. The freshman senator is reported to have a separate dinner planned with Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) and former Attorney General Eric Holder, whose group is working with former President Barack Obama on redistricting efforts.

On Saturday, Harris will attend a reception with major liberal donor Charles E. Phillips, the CEO of Infor, a software company based in New York City.

Harris has also added a number of former Clinton campaign veterans to her D.C. congressional office this year. 

Click for more from The Washington Free Beacon.

Sanctuary city standoff looms as ICE director vows agent surge

Jul 21, 2017 14

The acting ICE director is vowing to use new resources to target undocumented immigrants in sanctuary cities – a move likely to hit resistance from mayors and local law enforcement who previously have refused to cooperate with federal authorities.

ICE Director Thomas Homan told The Washington Examiner he thinks sanctuary cities like New York and San Francisco are “ludicrous” and plans to direct extra agents to those areas.

“What I want to get to is a clear understanding from everybody, from the congressmen to the politicians to law enforcement to those who enter the country illegally, that ICE is open for business,” Homan said.

‘ICE is open for business.’

– ICE Director Thomas Homan

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also traveled Friday to Philadelphia, one of the nation’s biggest sanctuary cities, to call out the local government for not cooperating with federal immigration policies. He said such cities “aren’t giving sanctuary to law-abiding people but criminals” and urged Philadelphia to “reconsider carefully the harm they are doing to their citizens.”

When the supposed agent surge starts is still up in the air — and contingent on funding as well as the sometimes sluggish pace of federal employee vetting and hiring.

ICE currently has more than 20,000 employees in 400 offices across the country as well as agents in 46 countries. It has an operating budget of about $6 billion. Adding another 10,000 employees, as President Trump has indicated he wants, will cost millions.

For example, in fiscal 2017, ICE requested $6.6 million to hire 100 new officers.

An ICE spokesperson told Fox News there is no specific operational plan or timetable in place yet but that the agency will focus new resources that come their way on places that don’t cooperate with detainer requests.

“As Director Homan stated, uncooperative jurisdictions have a higher rate of criminal alien releases than in places that honor ICE detainers,” the ICE official told Fox News. “As a result, ICE is forced to focus additional resources to conduct at-large arrests in the field in these non-cooperative areas.”

The requests, sometimes called immigration holds, are a vital tool the agency uses to go after illegal immigrants. The detainer asks local authorities to hold a person in jail up to 48 hours beyond when he or she is set to be released so federal officials can take them into custody.

The crackdown on sanctuary cities lines up with Trump’s promised prioritization of the issue on the campaign trail. Members of his administration have repeatedly tried to link violent crime to illegal immigration – though mayors of sanctuary cities across the country have pushed back on that assertion.

“Actually, cities like Austin (Texas) are safer and have better economies,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said in a statement. “ICE should be figuring out why that’s true and applying those lessons.”

While not a technical term, “sanctuary cities” are places that have refused to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials after detaining undocumented immigrants. By law, they are required to inform the feds when they have an illegal immigrant in custody, even if he or she has not been convicted of a crime.

There are an estimated 200 to 608 local and state governments with some sort of sanctuary policy in place – however, their degree of cooperation varies. Some work with federal authorities on felony convictions while others only comply in civil investigations. There are a few places that refuse to cooperate altogether.

The Trump administration has tried to strong-arm some jurisdictions into reversing their sanctuary policies by threatening to cut off millions of dollars in federal funds.

Late Thursday, a San Francisco federal judge refused to reinstate Trump’s sanctuary cities order, which sought to slash funding to cities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The ruling is the latest turn in the heated battle between the Trump administration and local governments pushing back on the policies.

CALIFORNIA JUDGE REFUSES TO BRING BACK TRUMP’S SANCTUARY CITIES BAN

Sessions has said that sanctuary cities like Philadelphia are violating the supremacy clause of the U.S .Constitution by limiting local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities. 

Anthony Scaramucci: A look at the man rumored to be the next White House communications director

Jul 21, 2017 30

Anthony Scaramucci rose through the financial ranks of New York, ardently defending Wall Street and founding a global hedge fund. Now his latest project might be the White House’s messages.

Scaramucci is expected to be the next communications director for the White House, Axios reported. The job has been vacant since veteran GOP strategist Mike Dubke resigned from the post in late May.

Scaramucci, who became the senior vice president and chief strategy officer of the Export-Import Bank in June, met with President Donald Trump Friday morning. 

The appointment of the Goldman Sachs alumn to the White House communications department may not please chief of staff Reince Priebus, who isn’t Scaramucci’s biggest fan, according to Axios.

Read on to find out more about Scaramucci, more commonly known among friends as “The Mooch,” an apparent reference to his last name.

Financier

Named Wall Streeter of the Year by Yahoo Finance in 2016, Scaramucci founded and co-managed SkyBridge Capital, a fund of hedge funds with a reported $11.8 billion in assets.

He’s also hosted a variety of financial conferences and programs, including Fox Business Network’s “Wall Street Week” and the glitzy SALT Conference, an annual gathering of prominent financiers and politicians.

RESIGNATIONS, CHANGES ON TRUMP LEGAL TEAM

Scaramucci, 53, sold his SkyBridge Capital in January in preparation for a role in the Trump administration. The price of the sale was not disclosed, but firm was thought to be valued at more than $200 million, the Financial Times reported at the time of the sale.  

But it’s been several months since the Long Island native sold his company, and without a concrete role in the White House yet – despite multiple rumors of various positions – Scaramucci had been left in “limbo.”

Fundraiser

A Republican in New York, Scaramucci has donated to politicians in his party for a long time – but Trump, a fellow wealthy New Yorker, didn’t catch his eye right away.

Scaramucci initially backed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and then former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.

While he was supporting Walker, Scaramucci said he was a “team Republican” but had a difficult time communicating with Trump.

“When I talk to Donald and he talks to me, I guess we don’t understand [each other],” Scaramucci told Fox Business Network in 2015. “I may need to get an interpreter in the room to talk to Donald.”

SCARAMUCCI ACCEPTS CNN’S APOLOGY FOR RETRACTED RUSSIA STORY

Ultimately Scaramucci kept his promise to support the Republican presidential nominee and threw his full support behind Trump, eventually serving on his transition team. 

At the SALT Conference in May, Scaramucci contended that he is “ready to serve” in the current administration.

“And so, to the extent the president needs me, I will be available to him,” Scaramucci said then.

“I remain loyal to the president and to the cause,” he added.

On Friday, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway sang Scaramucci’s praises, saying that he has been “an incredible asset to President Trump during the campaign, transition” and now.

Conway declined to speculate on whether Scaramucci would join Trump’s communications team, however.

Scaramucci made headlines in 2010 when he asked Obama during a televised town hall meeting when he was going to “stop whacking at the Wall Street piñata.”

Scaramucci has also contributed to scores of Democratic politicians, including Obama.

Paul Ryan says tax reform will get done – no matter what happens to health care bill

Jul 21, 2017 10

House Speaker Paul Ryan says there is a “contingency plan” to pass and pay for tax reform this fall – even if the congressional overhaul of Obamacare is unsuccessful.

“We can still do tax reform regardless of what happens on health care reform,” Ryan told Fox News on the floor of a New Balance factory on Thursday in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

His comments come a week before a White House and congressional deadline to agree on a tax code framework. A tax overhaul requires Congress to pass a budget that is already overdue.

TRUMP’S TAX REFORM: WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN NEXT

But Ryan seemed upbeat that it will pass.

New Balance makes 4 million pairs of sneakers in the U.S. every year, and owner Jim Davis told workers gathered around a podium at the factory that a friendlier tax code could incentivize his company to aggressively expand in the United States.

Surrounded by sneakers in various stages of production, Ryan described this fall’s planned fix of the complicate tax code as a “once in a generation opportunity.”

TAX REFORM AND IMMIGRATION POLICY – TIME FOR A RETURN TO COMMON SENSE

But further action may be required on a health care bill before lawmakers have a chance to tackle the tax code.

The Senate has made significant changes to the health care measure that passed the House in May, but Ryan says that version is still preferable to a repeal-only bill.

“We just want the Senate to keep working at it until they get it right,” Ryan said.  

Peter Doocy is currently a Washington D.C.-based correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC).  He joined the network in 2009 as a general assignment reporter based in the New York bureau.

Paul Ryan says tax reform will get done – no matter what happens to health care bill

Jul 21, 2017 10

House Speaker Paul Ryan says there is a “contingency plan” to pass and pay for tax reform this fall – even if the congressional overhaul of Obamacare is unsuccessful.

“We can still do tax reform regardless of what happens on health care reform,” Ryan told Fox News on the floor of a New Balance factory on Thursday in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

His comments come a week before a White House and congressional deadline to agree on a tax code framework. A tax overhaul requires Congress to pass a budget that is already overdue.

TRUMP’S TAX REFORM: WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN NEXT

But Ryan seemed upbeat that it will pass.

New Balance makes 4 million pairs of sneakers in the U.S. every year, and owner Jim Davis told workers gathered around a podium at the factory that a friendlier tax code could incentivize his company to aggressively expand in the United States.

Surrounded by sneakers in various stages of production, Ryan described this fall’s planned fix of the complicate tax code as a “once in a generation opportunity.”

TAX REFORM AND IMMIGRATION POLICY – TIME FOR A RETURN TO COMMON SENSE

But further action may be required on a health care bill before lawmakers have a chance to tackle the tax code.

The Senate has made significant changes to the health care measure that passed the House in May, but Ryan says that version is still preferable to a repeal-only bill.

“We just want the Senate to keep working at it until they get it right,” Ryan said.  

Peter Doocy is currently a Washington D.C.-based correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC).  He joined the network in 2009 as a general assignment reporter based in the New York bureau.

Dems’ new slogan mercilessly mocked, compared to Papa John’s ad

Jul 21, 2017 14

Democrats, after lengthy deliberations, reportedly have settled on a new slogan – and it’s not exactly getting rave reviews.

The winner, according to Vox, is: “A Better Deal: Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Wages.”

The slogan drew immediate taunts given its obvious similarity to the Papa John’s tagline, “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza. Papa John’s.”

But considering the party has been scrambling to regroup with an effective message and strategy since its November thumping – all toward the goal of retaking at least one chamber of Congress next year – Obama-era communications pros greeted the slogan with a collective facepalm.  

“If your slogan uses a colon or a comma, back to the drawing board,” tweeted Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for then-President Barack Obama.

“Fire every consultant involved,” added Jon Lovett, a former speechwriter for Obama and Hillary Clinton.

And in a more colorful tweet, he ruled, “ALLOW ME TO SECOND ANYONE WITH A F—ING BRAIN: THIS SLOGAN IS GARBAGE. Hoping it’s not real.”

The Republican National Committee press shop gleefully circulated their put-downs overnight.

Unclear is whether the Democrats might revisit the choice before formally announcing it.

Vox congressional reporter Jeff Stein first reported on the slogan, saying he was told it would be released on Monday. He initially omitted the “Better Deal” part but then corrected himself.

Stein added, “Another member noted that this is the result of months of polling and internal deliberations among the House Democratic caucus.

A Politico report earlier this month that previewed part of the slogan – “A Better Deal” – also said the slogan was being polled in battleground House districts.

After the party’s White House loss, Democrats faced intense criticism for building last year’s message around opposition to then-candidate Donald Trump – with not enough focus on what their candidates, including presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, would do. The electoral map also exposed a failure to connect to key blue-collar voting blocs in battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.  

The effort to craft a new slogan apparently is being led by congressional Democratic leaders and has been a rocky process all along. House Democrats recently asked people to vote on a new slogan – with the options largely focusing again on resisting or mocking Republicans.

One of them was: “I mean, have you seen the other guys?”

The supposed winning message, though, might be rooted in a rallying cry from former Clinton VP nominee Sen. Tim Kaine.

As noted by Ezra Levin at the liberal Indivisible Project, Kaine advertised a May op-ed with a tweet that said, “Better Skills. Better Jobs. Better Wages. My thoughts on why Dems need a stronger economic message in @USATODAY.”

Trump expands H-2B visa program as critics say it's ripe for abuse

Jul 21, 2017 17

The job pays $18 an hour but Andrea Hance can’t find any Americans to do it. If she does, they don’t last.

“Statistically,” Hance said, “there is a 97 percent chance that a U.S. seasonal worker will ask to get off the boat with the first week.”

Hance and her husband run two shrimp boats. She also heads the Texas Shrimp Association. This was supposed to be their year. Gulf shrimp are supposed to be plentiful and the price of shrimp is good.

TRUMP WINERY UNDER FIRE AFTER APPLYING FOR VISAS SEEKING FOREIGN WORKERS

But without the workers to get their catch, they’re leaving money on the table. 

The H-2B Visas is supposed to help. The visa is for non-agricultural seasonal help for industries like construction, landscaping and fishing. The program allows 66,000 of these workers into the U.S. but only after the business requesting them has proven it can’t find American workers to find the jobs.

Just this week, the Department of Homeland Security announced the H-2B program is being expanded, for this year only, to add an additional 15,000 workers.

You would think that would be music to the ears of Jeff Stokes, who is with the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association.

But Stokes says “it’s too little, too late.”

DOZENS OF FOREIGN WORKERS SOUGHT FOR TRUMP’S FLORIDA CLUBS

Since the H-2B visa deals with seasonal workers, Stokes said, by the time the new visas are approved, the businesses may not even need workers anymore. The opening period to apply for workers through the expansion began Wednesday. Typically, it takes the government 30 to 60 days to process the visas.

Businesses can pay an extra $1,200 for the expedited processing.

But Jason Craven with Southern Botanical, a landscaping company in Dallas, said he already pays $1,000 for each worker who comes in on the H-2B visa. He employs 50 workers with the visas. He started on their applications last fall.

“I’m sure it’ll help some people,” he says of the program’s expansion.

But for him, it doesn’t make much sense to try to get more help now, since any workers gained through the program would still be leaving at the end of November or early December. Instead, in September Craven will start filling out the paperwork needed for next year’s batch of visas.

Just how many jobs are being left empty? Critics of the H-2B program say it’s hard to tell.

Daniel Costa with the Economic Policy Institute said that the visa is ripe for abuse.

“So many employers are claiming they have labor shortages,” Costa said, “but nationwide – we don’t see that evidence.”

Costa is also concerned that H-2B workers aren’t paid what they should be and are open to exploitation, given that their status in the U.S. is tied to their employer. Costa said he’s not opposed to immigration but wants a level playing field.

“It has to be fair to migrant workers,” Costa said, “but also the U.S. workers should have a fair shot at those jobs and not be discriminated against.”

Craven said each year he’s required to advertise jobs with his landscaping company, in the paper and online, for about a month before he can apply for the H-2B Visas.

He said he usually only gets one or two applicants and if he does hire someone, they usually only last a day.

“It’s hard work,” Craven said.

Casey Stegall joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2007 and currently serves as a correspondent based in the Dallas bureau. He previously served as a Los Angeles-based correspondent.

Resignation, changes on Trump legal team

Jul 21, 2017 23

The spokesman for President Trump’s personal legal team resigned Thursday, as part of what may be a wave of changes for the president’s inner circle.

The attorney who had been leading the charge for Trump’s outside counsel team on the Russia investigation also will now take a lower-profile role. And there are reports Friday morning that Anthony Scaramucci could be tapped for communications director. 

The resignation was tendered by Mark Corallo, who had been the lead spokesman on behalf of Trump’s long-time personal attorney Marc Kasowitz and the legal team. Corallo, who was previously a spokesman for the Justice Department, reportedly objected to public criticisms of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His resignation comes days after Trump told The New York Times that he didn’t want Mueller investigating Trump family business ties outside the Russia scope.

Despite media reports to the contrary, however, Kasowitz did not resign from the president’s outside counsel team, a source close to Kasowitz told Fox News — he will instead be taking a lower-profile role.

Kasowitz will continue to give his input and guidance to the president, as well as all members of the outside counsel.

Kasowitz was originally summoned to help assemble and launch an outside counsel team with the president’s confidence. According to a source close to Kasowitz, he instructed Jay Sekulow to handle media appearances, John Dowd to work as a D.C. criminal lawyer, and Ty Cobb to handle the White House.

Kasowitz was on defense last week after ProPublica exposed a series of profanity-laden emails seemingly threatening someone who had criticized him. Kasowitz lashed out after receiving an email from the individual that reportedly said: “Resign Now.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S LAWYER, MARC KASOWITZ, THREATENS SOMEONE OVER EMAIL, REPORT SAYS

Kasowitz later apologized. “The person sending that email is entitled to his opinion and I should not have responded in that inappropriate matter. I intend to send him an email stating just that. This one of those times where one wishes he could reverse the clock but of course I can’t,” Kasowitz said in a statement after the emails became public. 

Reports also surfaced overnight Thursday that Scaramucci is being floated for White House communications director. First reported by Axios, Scaramucci, who supported Trump during the general election, is expected to fill the White House role that has remained vacant since Mike Dubke’s resignation in May. 

Asked Friday about the reports, White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said, “We have a great communications team already.”

But she told “Fox & Friends” that Scaramucci “has been an incredible asset to President Trump during the campaign and now—he goes out there and thinks the president is being treated very unfairly.” 

Fox News’ John Roberts contributed to this report. 

Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Sessions in a tough spot after Trump criticizes him in New York Times interview

Jul 21, 2017 17

Donald Trump wishes he had never hired Jeff Sessions.

This comes not from some shadowy source or questionable leak, but from the president himself.

And it’s the president talking to three reporters from the New York Times, which he has repeatedly attacked and branded as fake news.

But Trump also knows it’s a prime forum for getting his message out, especially considering that he’s held one full-scale news conference during his six months in office.

So what are we to make of this extraordinary situation in which the president rips his own pick to run the Justice Department, while also taking shots at Jim Comey and Robert Mueller?

This anger at Sessions has been brewing for a long time. My sources told me months ago that the president felt blindsided when his AG recused himself from the Russia probe and believed the move was totally unnecessary.

As he told the Times: “Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

In Trump’s view, the Sessions move had an unfortunate domino effect. The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, had to take over supervision of the Russia probe, and he appointed Mueller as special counsel, putting the president in the crosshairs of a mushrooming independent investigation. (Trump also took a swipe at Rosenstein for being from the heavily Democratic city of Baltimore, and having a conflict because he wrote the famous memo urging Comey’s firing.)

Trump also faulted Sessions for not recalling two past meetings with the Russian ambassador when he testified on the Hill: “Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers.”

Sessions was an Alabama senator who went out on a limb in endorsing Trump early and spent considerable time with him. He was, in other words, an integral part of the campaign.

So when the FBI started investigating allegations involving the campaign and possible collusion with Russia, Sessions was in an untenable position. He really had no choice but to remove himself from overseeing the probe. There are DOJ rules to be followed. Otherwise, he could have been continually hammered for a serious conflict of interest.

In the same interview, the president said Mueller would be in “violation” of his mandate if he started investigating Trump’s family finances, unrelated to Russia, but stopped short of saying he would fire the special counsel. And he said Comey had told him of an unsubstantiated Russian dossier on him, filled with what Trump called “made-up junk … so that I would think he had it out there”—meaning, as leverage against him.

Trump’s lawyers cannot be happy about an interview in which he criticizes the attorney general, deputy attorney general, special counsel and former FBI director.

Sessions said yesterday that he’s “totally confident” he can keep doing his job effectively and will stay at Justice “as long as that is appropriate.”

The clear thread here is about loyalty. Keep in mind that Comey has said, and Trump has denied, that he asked for the FBI director’s loyalty before firing him.

But as the nation’s chief law-enforcement officer, Sessions has responsibilities that go beyond supporting the president who appointed him. And the attorney general has now been put in a difficult position.

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of “MediaBuzz” (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz. 

Democrats Harris, Kennedy dismiss talk of challenging Trump in 2020

Jul 21, 2017 27

President Donald Trump has been in office for only six months, but that hasn’t prevented political junkies from speculating about which Democrats may try to oppose him in the 2020 presidential race.

An upcoming scheduled appearance in New Hampshire by U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of California has already sparked talk that she might run, as Fox News reported Thursday.

But other Democrats – aside from obvious names such as former Vice President Joe Biden – are also drawing attention. Fresh faces being mentioned include Sen. Kamala Harris of California and Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts.

Speculation about Harris continues to mount following her recent trip to New York’s Hamptons, where she met with Hillary Clinton supporters and major donors.

“She’s running for president. Take it to the bank,” one fundraiser told the Hill about 52-year-old Harris. “She’s absolutely going to run.”

A recent poll showed that Harris would narrowly defeat Trump if the 2020 election were held today, Breitbart News reported.

The former prosecutor and state attorney general of California gained national attention during recent Senate Intelligence Committee hearings, when her questioning of former FBI Director James Comey and others was interrupted on two occasions – once by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and once by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

However, Harris quickly dismissed talk of a presidential bid while at a Recode technology conference in May.

“I’m not giving that any consideration. I’ve got to stay focused,” Harris said.

But, according to Page Six of the New York Post, the senator is scheduled to make another trip to the Hamptons soon, where she will meet with influential Democrats, including Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and former Attorney General Eric Holder.

Meanwhile, Kennedy was recently featured in a Town & Country article that dubbed him “The next president.”

The grandson of Robert F. Kennedy is also known for his stand against Trump’s promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare, as well as his support for Planned Parenthood.

But just like Harris, the 36-year-old congressman quickly dismisses talk of a run for the White House.

He added that the headline caught him by surprise.

“Furthest thing from my mind,” he said after a rally in Quincy, Massachusetts. “So, no plans on that, thanks very much.”