First House Republican comes out in support of impeachment inquiry: report

Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., on Friday became the first House Republican to express support for Congress’ impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

“I’m a big fan of oversight, so let’s let the committees get to work and see where it goes,”  he said in a conference call with reporters, according to The Hill.

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) speaks at a town hall with Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) inside the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on April 17, 2017 in Reno, Nevada. (Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images)

Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) speaks at a town hall with Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) inside the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on April 17, 2017 in Reno, Nevada. (Photo by David Calvert/Getty Images)


Amodei told reporters that at this point he wouldn’t vote to impeach Trump. But he said he was concerned about the July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in which Trump asked him to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s activities in the country.

“Using government agencies to, if it’s proven, to put your finger on the scale of an election, I don’t think that’s right,” Amodei added. “If it turns out that it’s something along those lines, then there’s a problem.”

But he cautioned he was “in no way, shape, or form” indicating “support for impeachment,” The Hill reported.

Trump’s phone call with Zelensky came under scrutiny after an unidentified whistleblower filed a complaint with the Inspector General, alleging Trump abused his office by pressuring a foreign country to investigate his political rival.


Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich., has said he supports impeachment. He left the Republican party earlier this year.

Why Trump is taking flak for inviting the Taliban to Camp David

Another historic Camp David summit was not to be.

We didn’t learn until late Saturday that President Trump planned to meet with Taliban leaders at the Maryland retreat to finalize a peace deal for Afghanistan. That news came through presidential tweets announcing that the secret session had been canceled, in the wake of a Taliban attack whose victims included an American soldier.

This is one of those rare instances when Trump is drawing criticism from some of his allies on the right as well as his harshest critics on the left. Just about everyone seems relieved that the agreement collapsed at the last minute.

And the plan to use Camp David, where Jimmy Carter famously negotiated peace between Israel and Egypt, is bringing an extra measure of passion to the debate.


Simply put, it is hard for many Americans to stomach that the Taliban, who harbored Osama bin Laden in the runup to 9/11, would be given a civilized welcome by a president of the United States in those storied cabins–especially with the anniversary of that terrible day approaching.

It may well have been a bad idea for several reasons. But I will say this: Many people have a hard time understanding why, 18 years later, the United States still has troops in a country torn by civil war. And Trump ran for the White House as an opponent of endless wars.

No one wants to allow brutal terrorists to again operate with impunity in Afghanistan—but few want American troops bogged down there for decades.

The New York Times, which has by far the most detailed reporting on the episode, said it has “all of the characteristic traits of the Trump presidency — the yearning ambition for the grand prize, the endless quest to achieve what no other president has achieved, the willingness to defy convention, the volatile mood swings and the tribal infighting.”

The Washington Post says that when the top U.S. negotiator asked for a summit meeting in D.C., “Taliban leaders said they accepted the idea — as long as the visit came after the deal was announced.

“That would become a fundamental dividing point contributing to the collapse of the talks. Mr. Trump did not want the Camp David meeting to be a celebration of the deal; after staying out of the details of what has been a delicate effort in a complicated region, Mr. Trump wanted to be the dealmaker who would put the final parts together himself, or at least be perceived to be.”


These and other news outlets agree that the maneuvering highlighted the divisions between Mike Pompeo, the secretary of State, and John Bolton, the national security adviser. Pompeo, according to the Times, increasingly tried to isolate Bolton, the leading opponent of the deal.

The tentative agreement would have the U.S. withdrawing its remaining 14,000 troops over 16 months in exchange for counterterrorism assurances from the Taliban. Bolton has argued that Trump could pull out 5,000 troops without a deal. But what incentive do the Taliban have make concessions if the American troop presence is being slashed anyway? And how come the Afghan government isn’t in on these talks?

Lindsey Graham and retired generals David Petraeus and Jack Keane counseled Trump against the meeting, as did (according to CNN) Mike Pence. (Trump called it fake news that he overruled the VP and other advisers, saying the “Dishonest Media likes to create the look of turmoil in the White House.” He also tweeted that “we have been serving as policemen in Afghanistan.”)

Rep. Liz Cheney tweeted, “Camp David is where America’s leaders met to plan our response after al Qaeda, supported by the Taliban, killed 3000 Americans on 9/11. No member of the Taliban should set foot there. Ever. The Taliban still harbors al Qaeda. The President is right to end the talks.”

I wonder whether the car bombing that killed the American soldier is the entire reason for Trump’s pullback. After all, it’s routine to hold peace talks while wars are raging unless there’s a cease-fire. Perhaps the president thought the death would just galvanize the deal’s opponents.

But what rankles most of all is the venue. The Vietnam peace talks were held in Paris. The two summits with Kim Jong-un were in Singapore and Hanoi. The summit meeting with Vladimir Putin was in Helsinki. To invite the terroristic Taliban to Camp David, whatever the negotiating details, is really hard to swallow.

Perfect storm: Media pound Trump over ‘Sharpie-gate’ hurricane map

There is something seemingly ludicrous in the media obsessing on a squiggle drawn on a map with a black Sharpie, especially with millions in the path of a destructive hurricane.

And yet the Category 5 controversy must be added to the list of disputes that Donald Trump brought upon himself by doubling, tripling and quadrupling down.

You can practically hear the media calls for a special prosecutor as the president denied knowing who drew a crude black bubble on a days-old National Weather Service map to include a sliver of Alabama in the storm’s potential path—just as the president had originally claimed.


On one hand, the tidal wave of coverage—story after story, segment after segment—was way out of proportion to the alleged offense. CNN even ran an on-screen chyron: “As People Die, Trump Defends Presenting Doctored Map.”

At the same time, the president was again displaying his adamant refusal to let go of previous controversies where he feels he has been unfairly criticized. In this case, it was the criticism of his Sunday declaration that the hurricane might reach Alabama, which was contradicted by government forecasts. A minor mistake, easily corrected. But by using the Aug. 29 map with the added black squiggle, Trump opened the floodgates of criticism well after the press had moved on.

He also tried to claim vindication by tweeting a day-earlier map: “As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!”

It will not surprise you to learn that no apologies were forthcoming. In fact, the Washington Post reported that tampering with official weather maps is…illegal.


Now there’s obviously a legitimate story here. Who wielded the now-infamous Sharpie? A White House official told Fox it was someone in the room when Trump was meeting with his emergency team, but wouldn’t say who.

Still, some pundits are using this episode to rail about Trump being a pathological liar who doesn’t care about people dying from hurricanes. It is practically being played as a scandal. And there are online memes with Sharpie marks to doctor famous photos, such as putting more people in Trump’s inaugural crowd or making him taller.

But if the media are fixated on this misstep, so is the president. Time and again, he brings up controversies that have faded from the news in an effort to vindicate his past position. If not for the altered map, precisely no one would be talking about Alabama today.

Late yesterday, Trump again tweeted five- and six-day old NOAA forecast maps, saying: “Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit. The Fake News denies it!” But some of those maps showed only a 5 or 10 percent chance of the storm hitting a sliver of Alabama, and the projections had moved east by the time Trump first mentioned the state being in jeopardy on Sunday.

With the hurricane having hit the Carolinas and still barreling its way up the East Coast, the constant back-and-forth over a black squiggle feels like a giant distraction.

Rep. Steve King jokes about imprisoned Muslims being forced to eat pork in China

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, is facing backlash after he joked about forcing Muslims imprisoned in China to eat pork during a town hall event on Tuesday.

The Sioux City Journal reported that King was explaining China’s crackdown on Muslims and how a “million of them” have been detained in concentration camps where he said the women are sterilized so that they can’t have any children. He went on to mention how China had also been forcing them to “wear Chinese clothes” and “eat Chinese diet,” which he reportedly added, “includes trying to force the Muslims to eat pork.”

“That’s actually the only part of that that I agree with. Everybody ought to eat pork. if you have a shortage of bacon, you can’t be happy,” King chuckled.

An estimated 1 million Uighurs have since been detained in internment camps and prisons across the region, and advocacy groups say that includes more than 400 prominent academics, writers, performers and artists. Critics say the government is targeting intellectuals as a way to dilute, or even erase, the Uighur culture, language and identity.


King has already gotten blowback from The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), demanding GOP lawmakers to condemn the Iowa representative.

“Republican leaders need to make clear, once and for all, that Islamophobia will not be tolerated in their ranks,” CAIR said in a statement to the Sioux City Journal. “If King had joked about any other religious minority in concentration camps suffering the same humiliation he would have been kicked out of the Republican Party.”

This isn’t the first time King’s remarks sparked controversy. Earlier this month, the congressman pondered whether everyone’s “family trees” included ancestors who were the product of rape or incest while attempting to defend his pro-life stance that excludes any exceptions for abortions.

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?” King said. “Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations, I know that I can’t say that I was not a part of a product of that.”

Several GOP lawmakers condemned their colleague following those remarks, including Rep. Liz Cheney, who called on him to resign.


King was formally condemned in the House of Representatives back in January for asking why terms like “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” had become offensive. He was also stripped from all committee assignments.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Former Yang staffer explains why he wants Democrat Nadler’s US House seat

A former staffer of Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang explained Thursday why he plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., in next year’s Democratic primary.

“The reason I’m running on this platform is we’re going through a fundamental economic shift — the greatest in our history where we’re automating away the most common jobs in our economy,” Jonathan Herzog said on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

Nadler, 72, has been a member of Congress since 1992 and currently serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He represents New York’s 10th Congressional District, which includes parts of the Manhattan and Brooklyn boroughs of New York City.


“Working in retail is still the most common job,” Herzog explained to guest host Jason Chaffetz. And so we need to enact meaningful solutions to help hundreds of thousands of folks here in New York and especially in the district to transition to this fundamental economic shift.”

Herzog, who announced his candidacy Tuesday, is running on a platform similar to that of Yang, calling for a universal basic income giving citizens $1,000 a month, dubbed a “Freedom Dividend.”

The congressional candidate vowed to beat Nadler by “proposing bold solutions.”

“Putting forth bold solutions that address the challenges of our time is what will bring us across the finish line,” Herzog said.

At one point during the interview Herzog brought up Amazon not paying federal taxes, using it as reason to push for a “Freedom Dividend.”

Chaffetz pressed Herzog on whether he agreed with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., whose criticism of Amazon ultimately led the company to pull out of a plan to build a secondary headquarters in New York City.


“Do you want Amazon to come to New York, yes or no?” Chaffetz asked.

“Yes, it is good to have job growth,” Herzog said after some prodding.

Missouri’s lone abortion clinic loses license to perform procedure

Planned Parenthood in Missouri, the only abortion clinic in the state, lost its license on Friday to perform the procedure, but a judge has ordered the clinic remain open and will allow it to continue performing abortions until a final ruling has been reached.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who banned all abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy — the only exception involves health complications, not rape or incest — said in a statement the clinic had “failed to meet basic standards of care, placed multiple patients in life-threatening situations, performed multiple failed abortions where patients remained pregnant, and intentionally impeded the state’s health investigation by not allowing health inspectors to talk to the abortion doctors.”


Earlier this month, anti-abortion advocates gather outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. Missouri's only abortion clinic. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

Earlier this month, anti-abortion advocates gather outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis. Missouri’s only abortion clinic. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)

The Missouri health department notified Planned Parenthood the license would not be renewed because it had failed to correct 30 deficiencies identified by the department during inspections, Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said at a press conference.

Additionally, health department investigators said the clinic was responsible for three “failed abortions” requiring additional surgeries and a fourth that led to life-threatening complications for the mother, The Associated Press reported this week, citing a now-sealed court filing.

The state agency allowed the clinic’s license to lapse as of June 1, but St. Louis Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer said the health department had to make a definitive decision on whether or not the license would be renewed on Friday.

M’Evie Mead, director of Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri claims the licensing battle is just an excuse for the conservative state government to impede on abortion rights in Missouri, one of the states across the nation flirting with the legislation that will force the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.


The health department’s restrictions on Planned Parenthood makes Missouri the first state since 1974, the year after the court’s landmark ruling, without a functioning abortion clinic if it does close.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Ted Cruz praises AOC on banning lawmakers from becoming lobbyists: ‘I AGREE’ with her!

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex, seemed as surprised as everyone else when he admitted he agreed with a proposal put forward by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY.

The duo found common ground after the New York Democrat called for a ban on lawmakers becoming lobbyists. Ocasio-Cortez got the ball rolling on Twitter, reacting to a statistic that shows 60 percent of former congressmen from the 115th Congress received jobs as lobbyists or federal policy influencers, something she disapproved.

“If you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn’t be allowed to turn right around & leverage your service for a lobbyist check,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “I don’t think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you’ve served in Congress. At minimum there should be a long wait period.”

Cruz commemorated the rare agreement with the progressive congresswoman by tweet and opened the door to a potential collaboration on future legislation.


“Here’s something I don’t say often: on this point, I AGREE with @AOC,” Cruz wrote. “Indeed, I have long called for a LIFETIME BAN on former Members of Congress becoming lobbyists. The Swamp would hate it, but perhaps a chance for some bipartisan cooperation?”

Ocasio-Cortez seemed intrigued, but only if it’s a “clean bill.”

“@TedCruz, if you’re serious about a clean bill, then I’m down. Let’s make a deal,” Ocasio-Cortez responded. “If we can agree on a bill with no partisan snuck-in clauses, no poison pills, etc – just a straight, clean ban on members of Congress becoming paid lobbyists – then I’ll co-lead the bill with you.”

“You’re on,” Cruz agreed.

Sanders rips Trump over escalating tensions with Iran, says war would be ‘disaster’

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday took aim at President Trump over the rising tensions between the United States and Iran, warning on Memorial Day that a military confrontation between the two countries would be more disastrous than the Iraq war.

At a speech in Warner — the Democratic presidential candidate’s first stop in a two-day swing through the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire — Sanders said that during his decades in Congress, ”I think perhaps the most important vote that I have ever cast was against the war in Iraq.”


“Right now if you can believe it, Trump and his people in his administration apparently have learned nothing from that horrific war in Iraq,” Sanders said. “And you have (national security adviser) John Bolton and others talking about the need to go to war in Iran.”

Sanders, who is making his second straight bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, said, “If you think the war in Iraq was a disaster, my strong belief is a war with Iran would be much worse…Not only would a war with Iran be a disaster, it happens to be unconstitutional.”

Sanders made similar comments at a large rally in Vermont on Saturday.

The Trump administration has been ringing alarms the past month over what it calls “troubling” and “escalatory” moves by Iran. The U.S. has been raising the volume on Iran ever since the president took the country out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran a year ago.

Trump has spent weeks alternating between tough talk towards Tehran while still insisting he’s open to negotiating with the Islamic republic. On Friday, the president told reporters before departing on a trip to Japan that “we’re going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.”

On Monday, during a news conference with the Japanese prime minister, Trump highlighted his administration’s efforts at diplomacy, saying “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal, and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to happen.”


Sanders’ spotlighting of his vote against the Iraq war also appears to be a subtle dig against former Vice President Joe Biden, the clear front-runner right now in the latest national polls in the Democratic nomination race, as well as many of the most recent surveys in the crucial early voting primary and caucus states of New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina.

Then-Sen. Biden of Delaware voted in favor of the Iraq War in 2002.

“Joe voted for the war in Iraq. I led the effort against it,” Sanders said earlier this month in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

An optimistic Sanders told the crowd – estimated at 600 by his campaign – “I believe we stand a very good chance of winning in Iowa and with your help, we can win here in New Hampshire. And if we win here in New Hampshire, I think the path is very good.”

Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton by more than 20 percentage points in New Hampshire’s 2016 Democratic presidential primary. The victory sent the one-time longshot candidate into a marathon battle with Clinton, the eventual nominee. Because of that victory, and the continuing strong organization in the state of his supporters, New Hampshire’s considered a must win for Sanders.

The candidate also said “we’re doing much better in South Carolina and we’re going to do well in Nevada as well. And we’re strong in California. So if we can win those states, I think we have a very strong path to victory.”

And he highlighted that “virtually every poll that I have seen has us defeating Donald Trump and in many of the battleground states, beating him by pretty big numbers.”

But those same very early hypothetical 2020 general election matchups also indicate Biden topping Trump by a healthy advantage.

Sanders was introduced by Ben Cohen, the co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream who was a top supporter and surrogate of Sanders’ 2016 bid and who’s once again a national co-chair of the campaign.

“Before Bernie, Jerry and I used the be the most famous guys in Vermont,” Cohen joked.

Turning more serious, he called the nation’s capital “the cesspool of what is our political system today. With our help, with all of us, it’s Bernie who will be able to finally flush the crap down the drain.”

Ben and Jerry’s ice cream was served to the crowd gathered in an outdoor amphitheater style setting in this small central New Hampshire community.

The Republican National Committee took aim at the candidate saying “while Bernie Sanders dishes up ice cream today, it’s important to remember that what he’s proposing isn’t so sweet.”

“Bernie may hope voters find his agenda to be sweet, but to Granite Staters, it’s nothing but sour,” RNC spokesperson Nina McLaughlin highlighted.

Scott Wallace, a veteran from South Newbury, New Hampshire backed Sanders in 2016 and he told Fox News he’s supporting the candidate once again.

“He’s consistent, he’s been right on almost every issue since he joined Congress,” he explained.

While plenty of other rivals in the historically large field of nearly two-dozen Democratic White House hopefuls are pushing the same progressive agenda Sanders first championed in his 2016 run, Wallace said “I’m going with the original.”

Susan Reynolds of Concord was also in the audience.

Reynolds, who backed Clinton in 2016, said she’s undecided this time around but gave up part of her holiday weekend because she “was interested to hear what he had to say.

“He’s one of my top four,” she noted, along with Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

Mainstream media, celebrities stunned as Mueller report filed with no new indictments planned

The mainstream media seemed to suffer a collective shock Friday evening after the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller handed its final report of its Russia investigation to the Department of Justice.

MSNBC host Chris Matthews seemed livid that neither President Trump, his children, nor his “henchmen” would face any criminal charges from the special counsel.

“Maybe he missed the boat here,” Matthews said of Mueller. “Because we know about the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, we know about the meeting at the cigar bar with Kilimnik [Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian political consultant]. My God, we know about all of those meetings with Kislyak [Sergey Kislyak, a Russian diplomat] at the Republican convention in Cleveland. All these dots we’re now to believe don’t connect.”


The liberal cable news host was particularly upset that the president wasn’t indicted on obstruction of justice and never sat down for an interview with the special counsel.

“Why was there never an interrogation of this president? We were told for weeks by experts, ‘You cannot deal with an obstruction-of-justice charge or investigation without getting the motive. … How could they let Trump off the hook?” Matthews asked. “He will not be charged with obstruction of justice or collusion without having to sit down with the Special Counsel Mueller and answer his damn questions. How could that happen?”

Matthew’s primetime colleague, Rachel Maddow, was visibly emotional throughout her show.

Maddow kicked off by telling her viewers she was reporting live from Tennessee because she felt she needed to interrupt her vacation to address the breaking news. She appeared to be holding back tears.

Meanwhile, several personalities on CNN were forced to admit that the announcement of the Mueller report was a positive development for the president.


CNN’s chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin offered rare favorable commentary for President Trump, calling the end of the Mueller probe “really good news” for the commander-in-chief.

“There has been a lot of suspicion around certain people. And a lot of negative things have been said and imputation of criminal activity,” Toobin told “Situation Room” anchor Wolf Blitzer. “Mueller has said, ‘I am not proceeding.’ There is no better news to receive than you are not being indicted by the United States government.”

Later, CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta said the White House was “quietly celebrating” and that the Trump administration was reacting to Mueller’s report with “a fair amount of glee.”

“I talked to a Trump campaign adviser earlier this evening who said, ‘This was a great day for America and we won,’” Acosta told “AC360” anchor Anderson Cooper. “That’s how they feel right now.”

Liberal celebrities also appeared surprised by the sudden end to the investigation.


In Hollywood, “Real Time” host Bill Maher expressed disappointment but doubled down on his negative views of the president, whom he has often called a “whiny little b—-.”

“Did the Democrats put too must trust in the Mueller report? Because I don’t need the Mueller report to know he’s a traitor. I have a TV,” Maher told his panel of guests.

Outspoken anti-Trump comedian Chelsea Handler took to Twitter on Friday night and told her 8 million followers that she was “sexually attracted” to Robert Mueller.

CNN bows to pressure from left, makes former GOP strategist Sarah Isgur on-air analyst instead of political editor

It appears that CNN’s latest hire is already being reassigned after the news of her employment sparked outrage from the left.

Last month, CNN announced that Sarah Isgur, a former spokeswoman for the Department of Justice under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and GOP strategist, was hired as a political editor assigned to coverage of the 2020 presidential election.

The hire ruffled feathers among many employees at the network and triggered an uproar from liberals on Twitter because of her lack of experience in journalism and her former alliance with big-name Republicans such as Sessions, Mitt Romney and Carly Fiorina.


CNN assured the Democratic National Committee that Isgur would not have any involvement in the Democratic primary debates nor would she have any “editorial decision-making control over the network’s coverage of the 2020 election.”

Well, Democrats have nothing to worry about now because Isgur announced on Twitter that she will no longer become a political editor but instead a political analyst who will appear on air and write online.

CNN confirmed the role shift but claimed it was all Isgur’s idea.

“We can confirm that when Sarah came to us and proposed her role be adjusted to a political analyst instead, we agreed and we look forward to her starting in that role,” a CNN spokesman said.

The liberal news network was panned for that decision as well. Washington Post media critic Eric Wemple says CNN “embarrassed itself” amid the controversy.


“We can confirm that this episode exposes the perils of living on the narrow median strip of American politics. As we’ve argued before, CNN hired Isgur because of its efforts to stay in the middle lane. And it presided over her role reduction because of its efforts to stay in the middle lane. Hire people you believe in; stand behind them,” Wemple wrote.

Others took to Twitter to criticize the decision, including former CNN contributor Roland Martin and former New York Times assistant managing editor Jim Roberts.