REPORT: House Cancels Thursday Session Amid Warnings of Capitol Attack Plot

WASHINGTON (Newsmax)– The House of Representatives canceled its planned Thursday session after the Capitol Police warned on Wednesday of a possible plot by a militia group to breach the building, an threat that echoed the deadly Jan. 6 attack.

The House had been scheduled to debate and vote on a police reform bill on Thursday. But a House Democratic aide said that the police warning, based on intelligence that “an identified militia group” could present a security threat, contributed to the change in plans.

Authorities have said right-wing extremists were part of a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump that stormed the Capitol in January, interrupting the formal congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Thursday marks the date when some right-wing conspiracy theorists have falsely claimed that Trump, defeated by Biden in the Nov. 3 election, will be sworn in for a second term in office.

The Justice Department has charged more than 300 people with taking part in the Capitol siege, in which five people, including a police officer were killed. Among those arrested were members of the right-wing groups called the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and Proud Boys. The Oath Keepers and Three Percenters are armed militia groups.

“The United States Capitol Police Department is aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” it said in its statement.

It said it is working with local, state and federal agencies “to stop any threats to the Capitol,” adding, “We are taking the intelligence seriously.” It did not disclose the nature of the intelligence.

The police statement noted that the department already has made “significant security upgrades” at the Capitol, home to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.

The Senate had been aiming to debate Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19-relief bill on Thursday. There was no immediate response from Senate leadership officials on whether its Thursday session also would be suspended.

On Tuesday, Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett notified members of Congress of a possible security threat spanning Thursday through Saturday. It referred to “potential protests and demonstration activity surrounding what some have described as the ‘true Inauguration Day.'”

For nearly a century, U.S. presidents have been inaugurated on Jan. 20, including Biden, who took the oath of office on the grounds of the Capitol. Previously, March 4 had been the swearing-in date.

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman testified to Congress on Feb. 25 that Trump supporters who launched the Jan. 6 attack have indicated they want to “blow up” the building and kill members of Congress.

Since Jan. 6, National Guard troops have been dispatched to the Capitol grounds and tall fencing has been erected to extend the security perimeter of the Capitol. Blodgett told lawmakers that the Capitol Police department has “enhanced” its security posture for the coming days.

Congress has held a series of hearings on the riot and congressional leaders in the coming days are expected to receive recommendations for new, permanent security measures at the Capitol.

The House impeached Trump on Jan. 13 on a charge of inciting an insurrection, focusing on an incendiary speech he made to supporters shortly before the mob converged on the Capitol, though the Senate acquitted him on Feb. 13.

‘TEAR ‘EM DOWN!’: Pelosi Calls For Removal of Monuments Honoring Confederate Heroes From Capitol

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling for the immediate removal of 11 Confederate statues from the United States Capitol on the grounds that their presence promotes “barbarism.”

In a letter to Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo, and Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif, who head a congressional panel responsible for the handling of Capitol displays, Pelosi said the statues represent “cruelty.”

“The halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy,” Pelosi wrote in the letter sent Wednesday. “The statues in the Capitol should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation. Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals. Their statues pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed.”

In a statement issued in response, Lofgren wrote that she supported Pelosi’s efforts to remove the statues.

“Indeed, what the Confederate statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection represent is anathema to who we are as a Congress and a country,” Lofgren said. “I agree that the Joint Committee and Architect of the Capitol should expediently remove these symbols of cruelty and bigotry from the halls of the Capitol.  I stand ready, and call on the Chair of the Joint Committee to swiftly approve the removal of these statues. The Capitol building belongs to the American people and cannot serve as a place of honor for the hatred and racism that tears at the fabric of our nation, the very poison that these statues embody.”

As of press time, Blunt had not yet issued a response.

TRUMP BETRAYED: Cohen turns over docs on Moscow to House panel

WASHINGTON (AP) — Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, turned over documents to lawmakers Wednesday as he tried to back up his claims that a false statement he delivered to Congress in 2017 was edited by the president’s attorneys, two people familiar with the case said.

It’s unclear who edited the documents or what exactly was changed.

But in public testimony last week on Capitol Hill, Cohen said Trump’s attorneys, including Jay Sekulow, had reviewed and edited the written statement he provided to Congress in 2017. Cohen acknowledged in a guilty plea last year that he misled lawmakers by saying he had abandoned the Trump Tower Moscow project in January 2016, when in fact he pursued it for months after that as Trump campaigned for the presidency.

At issue is whether Trump or his lawyers knew that Cohen’s statement to Congress would be false, and whether the attorneys had any direct role in crafting it. Cohen has said he believed the president wanted him to lie, but he also said Trump never directed him to do so. It’s also unclear whether any of the president’s lawyers knew the truth about when the Trump Tower negotiations had ended.

Sekulow has flatly denied ever editing any statement about the duration of the project.

“Testimony by Michael Cohen that attorneys for the President edited or changed his statement to Congress to alter the duration of the Trump Tower Moscow negotiations is completely false,” Sekulow said in a statement last week.

Cohen appeared behind closed doors Wednesday before the House intelligence committee, his fourth day of testimony on Capitol Hill as he prepares for a three-year prison sentence for lying to Congress and other charges.

Cohen has become a key figure in congressional investigations since turning on his former boss and cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. During last week’s public testimony, he called Trump a con man, a cheat and a racist. He was also interviewed privately by both the Senate and House intelligence committees last week.

“I will continue to cooperate to the fullest extent of my capabilities,” Cohen said in a short statement to reporters after he finished Wednesday’s testimony.

Among the issues discussed in Cohen’s closed-door interviews last week was a pardon, according to people familiar with those interviews. They spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal the confidential discussion.

Cohen told Congress last week that he had never asked for and would not accept a pardon from Trump. But that may not be the full story.

According to people with knowledge of the situation, a lawyer for Cohen expressed interest to the Trump legal team in a possible pardon for his client after a raid last April on Cohen’s hotel room, home and office. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

The president’s attorneys were noncommittal during the conversation with Cohen’s lawyer, the people said. Cohen did not participate in the conversation.

No pardon was given, and Cohen ultimately pleaded guilty and is cooperating against the president in separate investigations by the special counsel and by federal prosecutors in New York.

Asked about the pardon issue Tuesday evening, another Cohen attorney, Lanny Davis, said his client was speaking carefully during his public testimony. He acknowledged on MSNBC that Cohen “was certainly looking at the option of a pardon” before he decided to come clean and turn on Trump.

But since then, Davis said, Cohen has been clear that he wouldn’t accept a pardon.

There is nothing inherently improper about a subject in a criminal investigation seeking a pardon from a president given the president’s wide latitude in granting them. But lawmakers have requested information about talks on possible pardons for Cohen and other defendants close to the president who have become entangled in Mueller’s investigation.

The intelligence committee investigation is one of several probes Democrats have launched in recent weeks as they delve deeper into Trump’s political and personal dealings.

On Monday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., sent 81 letters to Trump’s family and associates seeking documents and information. Nadler said he would investigate possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power.

Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the duration of negotiations over the Trump real estate project in Moscow. In addition, he pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations for his involvement in payments to two women who allege they had sex with Trump, which Trump denies.

Federal prosecutors in New York have said Trump directed Cohen to arrange the payments to buy the silence of porn actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal in the run-up to the 2016 campaign. Cohen told a judge that he agreed to cover up Trump’s “dirty deeds” out of “blind loyalty.”

Cohen said in his Oversight testimony that Trump directed him to arrange the hush-money payment to Daniels. He said the president arranged to reimburse Cohen, and Cohen took to the hearing a check that he said was proof of the transaction.

Trump has said Cohen “did bad things unrelated to Trump” and “is lying in order to reduce his prison time.”

___

Mary Clare Jalonick and Eric Tucker of The Associated Press contributed to the contents of this report.

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REPORT: McConnell open to bill that would prevent future government shutdowns

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that he is open to legislation that would prevent future government shutdowns.

“I don’t like shutdowns. I don’t think they work for anybody and I hope they will be avoided. I’d be open to anything that we could agree on on a bipartisan basis that would make them pretty hard to occur again,” McConnell told reporters less than a week after the last partial shutdown ended.

The Senate GOP leader added that federal funding lapses were an example of “government dysfunction” and they should be “embarrassing.”

A growing number of senators say they would support legislation that would prevent future government shutdowns by automatically creating a continuing resolution (CR). But there are competing proposals in the Senate, with both Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) introducing legislation.

Portman’s proposal would reduce funding by 1 percent after 120 days and again every subsequent 90 days if lawmakers haven’t reached a deal. Warner’s would withhold funding for the legislative branch and the Executive Office of the President in an attempt to motivate lawmakers to negotiate.

Congress faces another deadline to prevent a partial shutdown on Feb. 15. The 35-day funding lapse, which ended on Friday, was the longest in U.S. history and sparked considerable frustration on Capitol Hill.

But the idea of automatically creating a CR ran into backlash from prominent House Democrats on Tuesday.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters that he was “reticent” about legislation that would take Congress out of the decision-making process.

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The Hill’s Jordain Carney contributed to the contents of this report.

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KAVANAUGH TESTIFIES: Prepared opening remarks for SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony on allegations of sexual misconduct

Washington — Prepared Written Testimony of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh Nomination Hearing to Serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court September 27, 2018 (submitted September 26, 2018)

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Members of the Committee: Eleven days ago, Dr. Ford publicly accused me of committing a serious wrong more than 36 years ago when we were both in high school.

I denied the allegation immediately, unequivocally, and categorically. The next day, I told this Committee that I wanted to testify as soon as possible, under oath, to clear my name. Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired. There has been a frenzy to come up with something—anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious—that will block a vote on my nomination.

These are last-minute smears, pure and simple. They debase our public discourse. And the consequences extend beyond any one nomination. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination—if allowed to succeed—will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from serving our country.

As I told this Committee the last time I appeared before you, a federal judge must be independent, not swayed by public or political pressure. That is the kind of judge I am and will always be. I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. This effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. I am here this morning to answer these allegations and to tell the truth. And the truth is that I have never sexually assaulted anyone—not in high school, not in college, not ever.

Sexual assault is horrific. It is morally wrong. It is illegal. It is contrary to my religious faith. And it contradicts the core promise of this Nation that all people are created equal and entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.

Allegations of sexual assault must be taken seriously. Those who make allegations deserve to be heard. The subject of allegations also deserves to be heard. Due process is a foundation of the American rule of law. Dr. Ford’s allegation dates back more than 36 years, to a party that she says occurred during our time in high school. I spent most of my time in high school focused on academics, sports, church, and service. But I was not perfect in those days, just as I am not perfect today. I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many. In retrospect, I said and did things in high school that make me cringe now. But that’s not why we are here today.

What I’ve been accused of is far more serious than juvenile misbehavior. I never did anything remotely resembling what Dr. Ford describes. The allegation of misconduct is completely inconsistent with the rest of my life. The record of my life, from my days in grade school through the present day, shows that I have always promoted the equality and dignity of women. I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation against me by Dr. Ford. I never had any sexual or physical encounter of any kind with Dr. Ford. I am not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time. But I have never done that to her or to anyone.

I am innocent of this charge.

<> on September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC.

MCCABE STEPS DOWN: FBI Director resigns as vote on FISA memo looms

WASHINGTON, D.C. — FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe announced Monday that he will be stepping down immediately.

The news comes as McCabe, who The Daily Beast reports is named in a controversial FISA memo, has found himself increasingly under fire.

According to the Beast report, McCabe, former FBI Director James Comey, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are each named in the “shocking” FISA abuse memo which allegedly details unlawful surveillance practices carried out on then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and his associates during the campaign of the 2016 presidential election.

“A controversial Republican memo alleging surveillance abuse specifically names FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein along with former FBI Director James Comey,” the Beast report states (https://www.thedailybeast.com/doj-warns-that-releasethememo-would-be-extraordinarily-reckless?ref=home).

“Capitol Hill sources on both sides of the aisle say the memo’s release is only a matter of time. And when it comes out, these current and former officials — all GOP bêtes noires — are likely to face even more criticism from the right over their involvement in FBI counterintelligence work.

Republicans, including Trump himself, have spent months attacking McCabe and Comey while special counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating Team Trump’s connections to the Kremlin. Rosenstein put that probe in place—a move Trump has derided as a witch hunt. […]

Rep. Chris Collins, a New York Republican, told The Daily Beast that Nunes has told Republicans his staff spent months putting the memo together.”

According to White House sources, President Trump was briefed on McCabe’s intent to vacate his role Monday morning. McCabe became Trump’s acting director of the FBI in May after the president fired then director James Comey.

The president has made no secret of his mistrust of McCabe since he was appointed to his role, tweeting on several occasions that he believed the FBI colluded to protect former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton from prosecution for illegally storing classified materials on a private server in her home during her tenure as Secretary of State.

“How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?” Trump tweeted in December of 2017.

McCabe, who was already expected to step down in early 2018 upon becoming eligible for his pension, reportedly told no one of his intent to depart his role ahead of schedule.

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is expected to take a vote Monday afternoon to decide whether or not the FISA memo should be released to the public.

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MAKING THE MIDDLE CLASS GREAT AGAIN: Republicans unveil plan to slash, simplify tax code

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The GOP on Wednesday announced plans to overhaul the U.S. tax code, including sharply reduced tax rates on businesses and the middle class.

If approved, the proposed legislation (https://www.speaker.gov/press-release/unified-framework-fixing-our-broken-tax-code) would boost household incomes for millions of Americans by nearly doubling the standard IRS deduction used by most tax payers. The plan would increase the standard deduction to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families, essentially doubling the amount of personal income that would be considered tax-free.

For mid size corporations, the plan calls for a tax rate at 20% and elimination of the corporate AMT (alternative minimum tax). The new maximum tax rate for business income of small and family-owned businesses (undefined) would be capped at 25%.

The plan would also impose a new, one-tax, lower tax on corporate profits held overseas, and create a new tax structure for overseas business operations of U.S. companies.

“My plan is for the working people and my plan is for jobs,” President Trump said of the plan on Wednesday. When asked by a reporter whether or not he would personally benefit from the proposed tax breaks the president replied,“No, I don’t benefit, I don’t benefit. In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.”

“This has been a long time coming,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R)-Wis., said at a news conference on Capitol Hill where he pointed out that this type of major tax reform has not been seen in Washington in over 30 years.

“Instead of a source of pride, our tax code has become a constant source of frustration. It’s too big. It’s too complicated. It’s too expensive. Today, we are taking the next step to liberate America from our broken tax code.”

Republicans across the board praise the plan, calling the proposed legislation a giant step in the right direction for the middle class.

“We are moving forward with a unified framework that paves the way for bold, transformational tax reform—tax reform that will bring more jobs, fairer taxes and bigger paychecks,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said of the announcement. “We have a lot of work ahead. But this moment marks a major step forward in the process.”

However, despite the optimism shown by Republicans, Democrats were quick to condemn the plan, claiming it would only benefit the rich and do little to help the poor.

“As the sun rises in the east, so will you have a partisan Republican plan that cuts taxes disproportionately for the well-to-do, the very rich, the top of our economic system,” said Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, echoed Wyden’s comments.

“It’s clear from this plan that when it comes to tax reform, Republicans will always put the wealthy first,” said Neal. “After more than a year of work …. this tax plan would give big tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.”

Undeterred by the criticism from the left, Mitch McConnell, (R)-Ky, praised Repulican efforts and said the new plan is about “getting America going and growing again.”

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EMAILGATE EXPLODES: FBI DIRECTOR CONFIRMS CLINTON FORWARDED CLASSIFIED EMAILS TO ANTHONY WEINER

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was the subject of an FBI probe amid reports that she stored and sent classified emails from her home computer, allegedly sent some of the highly sensitive emails in question to Anthony Weiner, FBI director James Comey testified on Wednesday.

Clinton, who served as Secretary of State at the time, allegedly stored thousands of government emails and documents on a secret server kept on site at her upstate New York home. How these documents wound up on Weiner’s computer remains a subject of debate, said Comey. The receipt of these emails is of major concern because Weiner, who was married to vice chair of Clinton’s campaign at the time, Huma Abedin, did not have classified clearance to receive such information.

“Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,” Comey said. “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the Secretary of State.”

“Really the central problem we had with the whole email investigation was proving people… had some sense they were doing something unlawful. That was our burden and we were unable to meet it,’’ he said of the FBI’s decision not to charge Clinton in the matter.

“Why did you conclude that neither of them committed a crime?” Sen. John Kennedy, (R)-La., asked Comey during his testimony Wednesday at a Senate judiciary committee hearing.

“Because with respect to Ms. Abedin in particular, we didn’t have any indication that she had a sense that what she was doing was in violation of the law, couldn’t prove any sort of criminal intent,” Comey answered.

Comey also defended his decision to announce that he had reopened the investigation into the Clinton email scandal just days before the election, saying he was forced to choose “between really bad and catastrophic.’’

“The team also told me we cannot finish this work before the election and then they worked night after night after night and they found thousands of new emails, they found classified info on Anthony Weiner,” Comey said while responding to a question from Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Capitol Hill. “Having repeatedly told this Congress we are done and there’s nothing there … To re-start in a hugely significant way, potentially finding the emails that would reflect on her intent from the beginning, and not speak about it would require an act of concealment in my view.”

Meanwhile, as a result of a Freedom of Information request, 29 previously undisclosed email exchanges including classified information were released, part of a total of 317 emails that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to turn over to the State Department, The Washington Free Beacon reported on Tuesday (http://freebeacon.com/national-security/comey-thousands-clinton-emails-forwarded-anthony-weiner/).

“These new emails show Hillary Clinton is a serial violator of various laws concerning the handling of classified material,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch told the Beacon in response to the revelation.

Clinton, speaking at a Womens’ conference on Tuesday, blamed Comey, among others, for her loss to Donald Trump, her Republican rival in the 2016 presidential election. “If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

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