Join Jim and Greg as they relish Lincoln Project founder Rick Wilson – the “principled conservative” who wants to defeat Trump and all other Republicans – getting blasted for hypocrisy and grift by Stephen Colbert’s “Tooning Out the News.” They also welcome CNN’s Jake Tapper slamming New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his self-congratulatory poster and TV appearances. And they marvel at the the rise and fall of Jeff Sessions over the past four years.
Liberty Counsel Chairman Mathew Staver is reacting to the forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying Sessions has many fine qualities but made a terrible mistake that cast a shadow over everything else he did at the Justice Department.
“Jeff Sessions is a good man. He’s an honorable person and he’s done very well on religious freedom. However, anybody who serves under the president needs to have the president’s blessing and President Trump, for good reason, got concerned with Jeff Sessions, even though he was loyal during the campaign and he’s been faithful during his term.
“However, if you go back to this whole Russia investigation, it was Jeff Sessions who actually pushed the first domino by recusing himself. He didn’t need to recuse himself,” said Staver.
Listen to the full interview as Staver explains why he does not believe Sessions needed to recuse himself and names one person he strongly hopes is not in line to be the next attorney general.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is pulling the plug on a Justice Department policy instituted during the Obama years that effectively forced corporations to settle lawsuits by, in part, donating to leftist political organizations, a practice many critics considered a liberal slush fund.
“When the federal government settles a case against a corporate wrongdoer, any settlement funds should go first to the victims and then to the American people—not to bankroll third-party special interest groups or the political friends of whoever is in power,” said Sessions in a statement.
Former Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky is now with the Heritage Foundation. He is also co-author of “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department.” He calls the former policy nothing more than the government stealing from the American people.
“It’s pretty clear the Obama administration figured out a way to rob the public and help their political allies,” said von Spakovsky, who adds that we’re talking about a lot of money going to Obama’s political friends.
“We’re not talking about chump change here. My understanding is in the last 30 months before the new administration came in, the Justice Department had funneled about a billion dollars to outside third party groups,” said von Spakovsky.
And who exactly received the money?
“Environmental groups, civil rights groups, ACORN-type groups, that’s who was getting this money,” said von Spakovsky.
He then explained how the process worked.
“When the Justice Department sued defendants such as Volkswagen or the Bank of America claiming they had violated federal law, they entered into settlement agreements with those defendants, in which the defendants agreed to pay a large sum of money to end the litigation,” said von Spakovsky.
“The Obama Justice Department would come in and say, ‘We want you to give a portion of this money to such-and-such organization.’ These were not organizations that had anything to do with the lawsuit. They weren’t parties to the lawsuit. They didn’t have members who were injured by whatever the misbehavior was of the company,” said von Spakovsky.
“These are simply third-party, mostly advocacy organizations who were big political allies of the administration. That, frankly, is really stealing money that is due to the American taxpayer and funneling it to political friends of the government,” added von Spakovsky.
He says this wasn’t just unethical but illegal.
“I actually think it was illegal. There is a federal law called the Miscellaneous Receipts Act, which requires DOJ lawyers to deposit settlement checks into the U.S. Treasury Department. That was not happening, so I think it was illegal. Thanks goodness Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said this is not going to happen anymore,” said von Spakovsky.
However, Sessions appears content to end the program. Von Spakovsky suspects there will be no legal danger for anyone who created or operated this program.
“It sounds like he’s just going to end the practice and move on. There doesn’t appear to be an effort by the Justice Department to apply this [retroactively], in other words to go backwards and go to some of these settlements of lawsuits, open them, and try to get the money back. I don’t think they’re going to do that,” said von Spakovsky.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America start the day reacting to reports that former FBI director James Comey will not accuse President Trump of trying to obstruct justice. They also sigh as tensions mount between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions after Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. And they are a bit surprised to see ISIS attacking Iran, but also see some benefit in two detestable entities focused on each other rather than targets in the West.
Republicans in Washington are fiercely lining up behind Sen. Luther Strange in this year’s special election to finish the U.S. Senate term of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the nation’s best known state judge says he is ready to battle big GOP dollars in the primary and defend the Constitution in Washington.
“I think I can take the values of this state and my particular qualifications to the Senate to help us get this country back to what it should be. I have had a lot of study in the Constitution of the United States. I understand it’s meaning and I understand how far away we’ve drifted from that document. Underlying all of this is virtue and morality which comes from God and we’re trying to deny that God upon which our morality is founded,” said Moore.
Moore is most famous for twice being elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and effectively removed twice as well. Moore lost his job the first time in 2003 for refusing to obey a federal court order requiring a Ten Commandments monument to be removed from the court.
In 2015, he was suspended without pay and benefits for telling probate court judges that the Supreme Court decision on marriage did not impact the Alabama Supreme Court’s injunction that preserved marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the state.
Moore says his public stands on those issues tell Alabama voters exactly who they would get as a senator.
“It’s not just what I say. It’s what I have done. I have stood for the principles of this state and the people of this state. I’ve stood against the federal government in a legal manner,” said the 70-year-old Moore.
Moore finds himself in a crowded field for the GOP nomination. With the filing deadline set for Wednesday, six Republicans are officially in the field. In addition to Judge Moore and Sen. Strange, the most recognizable name is Rep. Mo Brooks, best known for his work in combating illegal immigration.
Prior to Brooks officially joining the race on Monday, Moore held a 10-point lead over Strange in a poll conducted by Brooks.
The national GOP is coming out with guns blazing against Moore and Brooks and is promising an initial down payment of $2.6 million in advertising on behalf of Strange.
Moore finds it a bit odd that the National Republican Senatorial Committee, or NRSC, is all-in for a man appointed to the Senate just three months ago.
“He was appointed by the (former) governor and the law provided that an election should be held forthwith, so treating him as an incumbent isn’t exactly what they should be doing,” said Moore, who points out the NRSC’s money plans were announced after Moore got in the race last month.
“They didn’t do it about anybody else but me. They did it after I announced that I was in the race,” said Moore. “They restricted consultants. They imposed large amounts of money for Sen. Strange. They did it because I’m in the race and they know that I will not follow the agenda of anyone else. I’ll do what I believe is right under the Constitution and in the sight of the people of this state,” said Moore.
Moore’s comments on consultants refers to the NRSC warning any political operatives that they will never work with the group again if they offer assistance to any of Strange’s rivals.
However, Moore also thinks the NRSC is wasting its money.
“Trying to control the people of Alabama just doesn’t work and it’s futile to do so. They know better than to be controlled by people in Washington, D.C. They see me as an outsider. I recognize I’m not an insider to Washington, D.C.,” said Moore.
Moore is speaking out most strongly on issues like immigration, health care, education, and the military. However, he says he uses the same approach with everything.
“All the issues that arise in the Senate, whether it be foreign relations, the military, health care, domestic issues, immigration all go back to a basic understanding of what the federal government should do and what it should not do,” said Moore.
“The tenth amendment, as we know, says the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution or prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively or the people. Yet we see the federal government, particularly in the judicial branch, stepping into state powers like marriage and divorce and dictating issues they have no jurisdiction over,” said Moore.
He cited the Obama administration’s effort to mandate transgender accommodation at all public schools as another example of the federal government trying to usurp power intended for the states to have.
So what did Moore do in response to the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage decision to get him suspended from the bench?
“I advised the probate judges that they were still under the injunction that was issues by the Alabama Supreme Court and had not been removed. For that, the opposition said I told the probate judges to disobey a federal court order. I never did such a thing,” said Moore.
He says there’s a simple explanation for why the Supreme Court’s decision did not apply to Alabama.
“The United States Supreme Court, in Obergefell, did not rule on the Alabama case, did not rule on anything in the Eleventh Circuit. It rules in the Sixth Circuit, from the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee,” said Moore.
He says until the high court rules on Alabama’s case, the injunction stands, although that injunction is not currently being enforced.
On federal policy, Moore says he would demand a full repeal of Obamacare, ripping out common core, which he considers educational “indoctrination.” The West Point graduate also favors a beefing up of the military and wants to see an end to the nation’s armed forces being used to advance “the homosexual agenda.”
The first Alabama primary is slated for August 15. The primary runoff will take place September 26. The final election will be held December 12.
Ian Tuttle of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer Attorney General Jeff Sessions for announcing he plans to vigorously enforce immigration law and recommend felony charges for anyone entering the U.S. illegally after already being deported. They also react to reports that the FBI conducted surveillance on Trump campaign aide Carter Page in 2016. And they respond to Sean Spicer’s comments suggesting Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons in World War II and the media’s massive overreaction to it.
A former Justice Department official says the liberal outrage over Attorney General Jeff Sessions having contact with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 campaign is much ado about nothing and that Democrats are doing whatever they can to thwart the Trump agenda.
He also says reports of a slush fund at the Justice Department created during the Obama years and funneled money to liberal activist groups are a big deal and further evidence that Democrats turned a blind eye to the Justice Department when far more serious things were happening.
It’s the Sessions story that has the media in a frenzy Thursday after Wednesday reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions misled senators during his confirmation hearings in January.
At that hearing, Sen. Al Franken cited CNN reports that officials in the Trump campaign discussed the election on multiple occasions with agents of the Russian government. When asked by Franken what he would do if the reports were proven true, Sessions indicated he was unaware of such activity.
“I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians. And I’m unable to comment on it,” said Sessions during the confirmation hearing.
New revelations show that Sessions was at an event that included Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the Republican National Convention in July 2016. They also crossed paths later in the year.
Democrats are now accusing Sessions of perjury for that answer and for not clarifying the statement in writing after the hearing.
On Thursday, Sessions did try to clarify.
“I have not met with any Russians at any time to discuss any political campaign,” he told NBC News.
So is Sessions in real political or legal trouble for his testimony under oath or are his critics deliberately blurring the line between communication about the campaign and communication for other purposes?
Former Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky says this controversy is way overblown.
“Those calls for his resignation are all overblown and there’s no reason for him to resign,” said von Spakovsky, who now runs the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation. “There’s really nothing to this story.”
He says the Democrats are still in shock over losing the elections and are lashing out in every possible direction.
“They did not want Jeff Sessions to become attorney general because he’s a conservative, rule of law type of guy. They’re seizing on this, even though there’s nothing really to it when you dig down into it, because they want to oppose anything the attorney general might do, such as actually start enforcing our immigration laws. That’s the real goal here,” said von Spakovsky.
But why is there nothing to the story? Von Spakovsky says you have to understand Sen. Franken’s question in its proper context.
“It’s clear Sen. Franken is asking about communications between the Trump campaign and Russian intermediaries or agents about the election. Sen. Sessions had no such meetings with the Russians over the elections as a surrogate of the campaign,” said von Spakovsky.
He also says the meetings in question hardly qualify as election collusion.
“One of them was a conference at which there was a hundred people, ambassadors and their staff. They had been invited to observe the RNC convention by the State Department. The Heritage Foundation, a number of other organizations and the U.S. State Department had this conference at which Jeff Sessions was the keynote speaker,” said von Spakovsky.
“The idea that he engaged in some hush-hush conspiracy talk with the Russian ambassador in a conference with a hundred folks where he’s giving the keynote speech is just ridiculous,” said von Spakovsky.
“The only other meeting was a meeting when he was a member of the (Senate) Armed Services Committee and he had a meeting with the Russian ambassador last year in which they talked about relations between the countries, no discussion of the election,” said von Spakovsky, noting Sessions met with roughly two dozen ambassadors in 2016.
Several Republicans are joining Democrats in demanding Sessions recuse himself from the federal investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 elections and any collusion it had with the Trump campaign. Von Spakovsky says there’s nothing for Sessions to recuse himself from.
“That’s premature because at the moment there’s nothing in front of the attorney general. The FBI has not sent over any kind of investigative file for him to look at,” said von Spakovsky.
While Sessions stands in the media and political cross hairs, the Obama Justice Department is under fire for operating a slush fund to give a boost to liberal activist groups. Instead of sending money won through legal cases to the U.S. Treasury, the Justice Department instead sent billions to activist groups, including the National Council of La Raza, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and the National Urban League.
Von Spakovsky and co-author John Fund exposed this slush fund in their book, “Obama’s Enforcer,” which details the legacy of former Attorney General Eric Holder. Von Spakovsky says this activity is unique to the Obama Justice Department.
“This has been an open secret in Washington for years, but nothing has been done about it. I would hope the new attorney general would this down and, frankly, go in and try to get these funds back if that can possibly happen,” said von Spakovsky.
He admits the action is most likely no illegal but he says it should never be done.
“I do think it was unethical. I think any funds recovered by the federal government in a lawsuit should go to the U.S. Treasury because they belong to the American taxpayer. Those funds should not be given to third party advocacy organizations, certainly not political organizations like La Raza,” said von Spakovsky.
Von Spakovsky says Holder politicized the Justice Department far more than any of his predecessors and adds that Loretta Lynch was no better. He notes the federal judges scolded DOJ attorneys for their unethical conduct and Holder was the only attorney general in history to be held in contempt of Congress for withholding documents related to the ill-fated and deadly “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation.
He says the people now venting over Sessions had no problems with the Justice Department from 2009-2017.
“We never heard any complaints whatsoever from Chuck Schumer or any other Democrats about that behavior,” said von Spakovsky.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss Democrats killing their own goal of immigration reform by refusing to work with Trump. They also discuss Attorney General Jeff Session and the significance of his comments under oath about Russian communication with the Trump campaign. And they discuss the new interior secretary’s first commute to work and comments from a GOP House member that may come back to bite him.
Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says the confirmation of Jeff Sessions means we will once again have a Justice Department that follows the law and he says the way Democrats treated Sessions could mean fewer of them in the Senate after the 2018 elections.
After eight years of Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch running the Justice Department, Cuccinelli says Sessions will be a breath of fresh air.
“Simply making decisions based on what the law says would be a radical change at the Department of Justice, as would the appearance of justice,” said Cuccinelli, who served four years as the top law enforcement official in Virginia.
While hoping to see many changes compared to the Obama years, Cuccinelli says one of Sessions’ top goals should be to stop federal agencies from granting themselves power that the law does not grant them.
“They have to stop backing up executive agencies, including the department itself, in expanding the law. They need to focus on containing government within the law. That includes everything from silly stuff like transgender bathrooms being covered by gender discrimination all the way up to agencies attempting to create new regulatory arenas for themselves and this vastly increase their power,” said Cuccinelli.
President Trump has already talked about his desire to roll back the ability of the government to grab more power. But Cuccinelli says that effort really needs to be rooted at the Justice Department.
“The legal oompf for all of that comes from the Department of Justice and having Sessions there – someone who’s committed to the rule of law and to reining in the federal government and not using it to exercise power – is going to be a very welcome change,” said Cuccinelli.
One specific area Cuccinelli expects to see great improvement in is the Justice Department’s relationship with law enforcement.
“These are people going to bat to protect you and me who have not had the back of the government. Frankly, it’s been the opposite. They’ve had to worry about getting prosecuted just for doing their job. That day is over thanks to the ascension of Jeff Sessions as the attorney general,” said Cuccinelli.
However, Cuccinelli reminds Sessions and all Americans that attorney general is different than every other cabinet position.
“When it comes to matters of policy, the attorney general does what the president wants. When it comes to matters of law, the attorney general does what the law dictates regardless of what the president wants,” said Cuccinelli.
“As opposed to what we’ve seen for the past eight years, I am confident that Sessions is going to be an attorney general who is actually going to uphold both sides of that deal for the American people,” said Cuccinelli.
On Wednesday, Sessions was confirmed by the Senate on a 52-47 vote. Only Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, crossed the aisle to back Sessions.
The confirmation process featured heated debate, including Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, telling the Senate Judiciary Committee that Sessions should be rejected for his record on race and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was booted from the debate for allegedly disparaging Sessions in her floor speech.
Cuccinelli says the vitriol coming from Democrats is telling.
“They’re playing to a rabid left-wing base that is wildly out of touch with just ordinary Americans,” said Cuccinelli, who says the Democrats never found substantive reasons to oppose Sessions.
“There’s just nothing that they can point to other than generating their own allegations for complaints. He is a nice guy. He is an intelligent individual. He believes what he believes and that is somewhat different than the lefties there. Nonetheless, the way he conducts himself even in those situations has never given any of them cause for complaint before,” said Cuccinelli.
He believes Booker and Warren lodged their fierce protests for the sake of their own self-promotion. He notes Booker recently lavished praise on Sessions in public after they worked together, but then turned and accused Sessions of being racially biased.
“I don’t care what the project is. If I think you’re a racist, I will never stand next to you and tell the world what a great guy you are,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli is also president of the Senate Conervatives Fund, which recruits and contributes to conservative U.S. Senate candidates. The group has frequently clashed with establishment Republicans and the national party, but right now Cuccinelli sees great opportunities as Democrats have to defend the vast majority of Senate seats in 2018.
“I fully expect Republicans to gain seats. The only question is how many. The biggest targets of them all are going to be Democrats in states that President Trump won,” said Cuccinelli.
Three years after narrowly losing the governor’s race in Virginia, Cuccinelli will not be a Senate candidate against Tim Kaine in 2018. However, he believes the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee is vulnerable too.
“This is an eminently winnable state and Sen. Kaine has really accomplished nothing and has become more radicalized, certainly much more so than the average voter in Virginia, than his time in the Senate,” said Cuccinelli.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss a good day for judicial conservatives as Neil Gorsuch distances himself from some of Trump’s tweets on the judiciary, the Senate confirms Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General and Sen. Tim Scott exposes the racist messages he got for supporting Sessions. They also cringe as Tucker Carlson suggests Elizabeth Warren would have defeated Donald Trump. And they slam Kellyanne Conway for blatantly promoting Ivanka Trump’s products in a national television interview.