Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America sigh as Democrats repeatedly interrupt the start of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings in a futile attempt to delay him from joining the court. They also give John Kerry credit for explaining how President Obama’s failure to enforce the red line over chemical weapons in Syria led to major diplomatic headaches. And they respond to calls for Meghan McCain to replace her father in the U.S. Senate by saying such seats are not family heirlooms and any family members who wants to serve should have to get elected.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America congratulate the Seattle City Council for letting common sense prevail when they repealed a controversial employee tax. They recoil as GOP primary voters in Virginia nominate Corey Stewart for U.S. Senate and wonder what the real reason is for Mark Sanford’s defeat in South Carolina. They also worry that President Donald Trump may have declared the North Korea nuclear threat over too soon.
Virginia Del. Nick Freitas is racing to the finish line ahead of the commonwealth’s June 12th U.S. Senate primary and says his message of individual liberty, smaller government, and thriving markets is resonating with voters.
Freitas got a major political boost in March when his passionate defense of the second amendment on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates went viral.
“When 40 million people see something, that helps with your name ID,” said Freitas.
While recent polling is scarce in the GOP primary, the viral video is helping Freitas raise his profile against primary rivals Corey Stewart and E.W. Jackson, both of whom have run statewide before. Freitas has dwarfed his rivals in fundraising in recent months and he recently secured the National Rifle Association endorsement.
Stewart, who currently serves as chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors, is known for his aggressive, confrontational style of politics. He says that approach will be necessary to defeat incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine in November. He also claims that his ability to win in a blue part of Virginia makes him the natural choice for a nominee.
Freitas strongly disputes that.
“Donald Trump does not need a cheap imitation of himself in order to win in Virginia. There’s only one Donald Trump. Let Trump be Trump. What the Republican Party needs in Virginia is someone who can go around and explain and advocate for the positive, substantive policies that have made people’s lives better,” said Freitas.
“He thinks it’s a divide and conquer campaign. I think it’s more of a divide and lose campaign. It’s unfortunate because there are good things about Corey Stewart and there are good things he’s done in Prince William County.
“But there’s other things he’s done there that have really given people pause. He’s voted to raise taxes several times in Prince William County, and there’s other things that people are just skeptical of,” said Freitas.
Freitas believes he has the ability to bring people together to get things done.
“We need to be able to unify Virginians around a central message and that message is we’re going to empower you, not government programs,” said Freitas.
Freitas also believes he separates himself from Stewart and Jackson in three critical ways, starting with his service as a Green Beret in Iraq.
“I’m the only combat veteran in the race, which means I understand a key component of the federal government, which is providing for national defense. I fought counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency and unconventional warfare. President Trump needs more people in the Senate that share his view that we are not the police force in the world but we need a strong military and I can provide that kind of advice,” said Freitas, who believes the U.S. does need to be a leader on the world stage but does not need to deploy the military unless absolutely necessary.
He also says his time in the Virginia House of Delegates sets him apart from Stewart and Jackson.
“I’m also the only candidate that’s served in the legislature. So I understand what it’s like to take an idea from concept all the way through the legislative process. I know how to effectively engage constituents in the process when there’s that critical vote in the subcommittee or full committee,” said Freitas.
Third, Freitas says his message distinguishes him from the rest of the field. He says his goal is not to gain power to reward friends and punish political foes but to return power to where it belongs.
“My goal is to get in a position where we can disperse power back where it belongs and that’s to the people, that’s to states, and that’s to localities. And then if we keep the federal government within its proper boundaries so it can do its intended jobs well instead of doing a hundred other jobs poorly,” said Freitas.
But what does that look like for a candidate who embraces major strains of both conservative and libertarian thought? Where does he come down those beliefs conflict?
On the role of the military, Freitas believes in having a strong military and using overwhelming force whenever force is absolutely necessary. He also wants to see Congress return to its constitutional role of authorizing war.
On cultural issues, Freitas says his deeply-held Christian beliefs inform him on the definition of marriage but he believes much of the political debate over it misses a key point.
“You’ve got some people wanting the government to define marriage one way. You’ve got other people who want that government to define marriage another way. And I’m sitting here going, ‘Why is the government defining marriage?’
“I understand why government has to handle civil contracts, but I certainly don’t understand why the government needs to be in the process of coercing people to accept a particular definition that they may not want to,” said Freitas.
Freitas did introduce religious freedom legislation that would protect conscience rights for Virginians.
“(Former Virginia Gov.) Terry McAuliffe had signed an executive order which essentially prevented any religious organizations that happened to hold the viewpoint that marriage is between one man and one woman from being able to team with the government to help hungry, sick, and addicted people. I said that was ridiculous,” said Freitas.
On abortion, Freitas says science and the law make it clear that unborn life deserves protection.
“At the moment of conception, we’re talking about life. If we use science to determine between human life and other forms of life, we find at the moment of conception we’re talking about human life.
From a legal perspective, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re also talking about innocent human life. So the question for me is does the government have an obligation to protect innocent human life? I think it clearly does,” said Freitas, who was born out of a crisis pregnancy.
“I don’t know what it’s like to be that young woman who finds herself pregnant and completely unprepared for it, but I do know what it’s like to be her son,” he said.
On fiscal matters, Freitas is appalled by the $1.3 trillion omnibus shepherded through Congress and signed into law – all by Republicans. He says Congress desperately needs transparency and open debate on what is worthy of taxpayer money. He also says Congress, like the Virginia government, fails to use common sense on spending issues.
“On the things that we agree on – that are legitimate functions of government – the military, law enforcement, public safety, certain things with transportation and others – great, let’s fund them. But let’s not hold those things hostage because certain congresspeople have different goodies that they’ve got to hand out to various constituents to help their re-election chances,” said Freitas.
Freitas says he’s also ready to tackle health care policy, especially after fighting against Gov. Ralph Northam’s efforts to enact Obamacare Medicaid expansion in Virginia. In addition to stating that medical care for Medicaid patients is not much different than it is for the uninsured, he says government intervening in health care is a guaranteed failure.
“What’s so frustrating to me is that what wee clearly need in health care is more competition and more market forces, which always have a tendency to increase quality and drive down prices,”said Freitas, noting that the cost of vision correction surgery, such as Lasik, has dropped from $2,500 per eye to $500 per eye while the reliability of the procedure has improved drastically.
“Unfortunately, there are many, especially on the left, (for whom) the only solution they will accept is a government solution. The problem is government does the opposite of what we need. Government almost always causes prices to go up and quality to go down,” he said.
David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America cheer new poll numbers showing that voters in many states with incumbent Democratic senators overwhelmingly want someone new. David explains his concern that evangelicals are showing themselves to be hypocrites and damaging their efforts to share the gospel by defending President Trump in every situation. And they discuss the closing ad from Republican West Virginia Senate candidate Don Blankenship, who uses his 30 seconds to accuse Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of creating jobs for “China people” and labels McConnell himself as “Cocaine Mitch.”
Virginia Del. Nick Freitas says his U.S. Senate bid is not only about defeating Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine but about returning the Republicans back to a party that champions the ideals that make America strong.
Freitas, 38, is in his second term in the Virginia House of Delegates. He is also a U.S. Army veteran who served two tours in Iraq in a special forces unit. He is married with three children.
And while he wants to replace Kaine in the U.S. Senate, Freitas says steering the Republican Party back on course is just as big of a goal.
“There’s an impulse by some that they want big-government Republicanism, where they concede some of the arguments of the progressive left that we need to have this nanny state and it would just be better if Republicans ran it.
“I completely reject that. I think the Republican Party needs to be the party of individual liberty. It needs to be the party of free markets and opportunity, and it needs to be the party of equal justice before the law,” said Freitas.
He says Republicans need to do a much better job of explaining not only what they believe but why they believe it.
“It’s not just about why we want tax reform or regulatory reform or greater opportunity within education. It’s about explaining that the reason we believe all those things goes back to this core fundamental belief and love for the individual person,” said Freitas, who says that view stands in complete contrast with how liberals look at people.
“I really despise how the modern left has manages to categorize people based many times on superficial distinctions. The left right now has four questions they want to ask you. What’s your skin color? What’s your gender? What’s your sexual orientation? How much money do you make?
“If you answer those four questions, they put you into a victim group and there you stay. I don’t see people that way. I see people as unique individuals with something to offer themselves, their families and society. The key for them to be able to do that is a government that stays within it’s constitutional boundaries and protects their librety and freedom to do so,” said Freitas.
He says once that approach to government is explained, then you can get down to policy.
“Then we explain why tax reform, why regulatory reform, why a greater educational opportunity, why a free market for health care helps the individual achieve all those things they want to and allows them to pursue happiness, that’s a winning message for the Republican Party.
“I want to see more people advocating for it so I decided to step up and make the argument,” said Freitas.
And Freitas believes making a strong case for those principles and supporting the pro-liberty aspects of the Trump agenda does not require a confrontational tone.
“The solution to that is not to yell and scream at everybody in Virginia and treat them like idiots if they don’t agree with us. The solution is to explain the benefits of those policies in such a way that they can relate to and feel an urge to support,” said Freitas.
Five Republicans are in the field for the GOP nomination, including Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, who narrowly lost last year’s gubernatorial nomination, and Bishop E.W. Jackson, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013.
While vowing to focus on his message, Freitas believes he is the strongest candidate to return power to the individual.
“That’s not an attempt to disparage any of the other candidates that are running. I think they’re going to take a different approach to the Republican message. In a lot of ways, I think it’s going to look like the approach that’s been used before and quite frankly hasn’t worked very well in Virginia,” said Freitas.
“Corey Stewart is obviously going to take a very different approach than I will with respect to addressing these issues and to building the sort of coalition we need in Virginia to win elections,” said Freitas.
Republicans control the U.S. Senate by a narrow 51-49 majority and had some hits and misses in the first year of the Trump administration. The Senate managed to pass tax reform but failed to repeal Obamacare or deal with huge deficits.
Freitas says tax reform was “definitely a step in the right direction” and roundly applauds Trump for rolling back burdensome regulations, but he is frustrated by the GOP approach to spending.
“Everybody loves to cut taxes. Nobody loves to cut spending except for very few people, and that’s because we’re not going out there and actually making the argument for why this sort of government spending is not appropriate and what it’s going to mean for our children and future generations,” said Freitas.
If elected, Freitas says he’d be looking for a new GOP leader in the Senate.
“I’m not going to commit to vote for Mitch McConnell,” said Freitas. “I want to see someone that is going to push a bold and unapologetic argument for conservative principles. If we’re running on it, we shouldn’t be afraid to legislate it.”
Sen. Kaine, who was also the 2016 vice presidential nominee for the Democrats, is considered a big favorite to win a second term. But Freitas says he is ready to take the fight to Kaine over where the power in the United States should reside.
“It’s not that Tim is a horrible guy or a mean guy. Tim believes that the solution to our problems is more government control. Tim fundamentally believes that if he has more control over our lives, he’ll make things better,” said Freitas.
He says the contrast is clear.
“I believe that the way to achieve not only greater economic opportunity but greater equality before the law is by dispersing power, by taking it out of the hands of politicians and putting more control of decisions back in the hands of individuals,” said Freitas.
“It’s the parent whose child has been consigned to a failing school, giving that parent more options over where that child can go to school in order to craft a unique education for their child. It’s that person that wants to engage in the marketplace but can’t because federal regulations are holding them back. It’s the additional tax burden that prevents families from doing the things they need to do in order to be successful,” said Freitas.
While Freitas and Kaine disagree on a vast array of policy areas, Freitas says a few in particular come to mind first, including Kaine backing the FISA court without any concern over the fourth amendment rights of Americans, supporting tax increases and additional regulations on businesses, and consistently voting to protect late-term abortions.
“From individual policy perspectives all the way down to the core, the fundamental difference between Tim Kaine and I is Tim believes in controlling people. I believe in freeing people to be able to live their own lives. That’s going to influence every decision and that’s going to be the starkest contrast between Tim Kaine and myself,” said Freitas.
In addition to Kaine’s widespread name recognition and full bank account of over $9.2 million as of the end of 2017, Freitas and the other Republicans are running statewide just a year after Democrats convincingly swept all statewide offices. In fact, the GOP has not won a statewide race since 2009.
Freitas is not concerned. He says Virginia almost always goes the opposite way the year after a presidential election and that his approach to liberals in his district has won quite a few converts.
“I have people that are definitely left of center in my district support me and not just come out and vote but actively go out and support my candidacy against a liberal progressive Democrat.
“The reason for that was not because I was a Squish on the issues. It wasn’t because I walked away from tough votes. It wasn’t any of that. It was bcause I found the issues where there was overlap. For instance, I think we need criminal justice reform and so I’m carrying the bill on civil asset forfeiture reform to make sure the government can’t take your property and sell it off without a criminal conviction.
“I’ve carried the legislation that removes onerous regulations on growing industrial hemp in Virginia because, quite frankly, our farmers need this and people want access to the products,” said Freitas.
“One does not have to compromise any of their conservative principles to get a wide base of support, but they do have to spend time learning how to talk to people in a way that’s relevant to them, identifying the issues that are important when there’s room for cooperation, and then spending the time and energy to actually get the legislation passed,” said Freitas.
The U.S. Senate primary in Virginia is scheduled for June 12.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome the news that Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer will run for the U.S. Senate in North Dakota, and even though he’s not as conservative as we might want him to be, by all accounts Cramer gives the GOP its best chance to defeat Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Jim also details his frustration with the constant demand for a national conversation on gun laws when so many gun control activists have little grasp of the facts and little idea what the existing laws are. And they react to Ronan Farrow’s column detailing Donald Trump’s efforts to carry on a months-long affair and keep it a secret, all while he was married to Melania and just months after their son was born.
Conventional wisdom suggests 2018 will be a good year for Democrats but one GOP candidate believes not only that Republicans can win but that he can win in California – one of the bluest states in the U.S.
John Estrada is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is seeking a fifth full term and her sixth overall election to the U.S. Senate. Estrada is a U.S. Navy veteran, a small business owner, and a decades-long activist in California Republican politics.
He ran twice for Congress in the 1990’s and once for lieutenant governor in 2014, bowing in the primary each time.
Estrada says his reasons for getting in the Senate race are simple.
“I care about America. I want to help the America First agenda. I have been in the military and I care about my fellow veterans and the people in the military that are trying to keep us safe,” said Estrada.
He says his Navy service showed him just how special the United States is.
“During that time, I got a chance to travel to a lot of foreign destinations which were pretty incredible. I learned how great America is and how great it has to continue to be,” said Estrada.
There’s a reason that sounds similar to Make America Great Again. Estrada is running as an unabashed pro-Trump Republican.
“I think Donald Trump has really put a strong message to America and the world that America needs to be first, so I will work with the president,” said Estrada.
Estrada is also clear about why he thinks Feinstein ought to lose her job.
“If somebody has been in office for 25 years and hasn’t done her job yet, I think it’s time to move on. I think California and America needs a change,” said Estrada.
He points specifically to Feinstein’s work as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and what he sees as her lack of effort into determining the role of the FBI during the 2016 campaign.
“I hold her as one of the responsible parties. She isn’t overseeing the process of what’s going on with the FBI and why they’re going rogue on us,” he said.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump in California by nearly a two-to-one margin. On that same ballot, two Democrats faced off in the general election as a result of the state’s primary system that advances the top two vote-getters to the general election.
Since 2016, California effectively became a sanctuary state and passed laws making it a crime to call someone by the “wrong” gender pronouns while significantly lessening the penalties for knowingly infecting someone with HIV. This year Democrats are pushing legislation to raise state taxes on corporations and jail waiters for giving plastic straws to customers without being asked.
So is winning in California beyond hope for Republicans?
“Not at all,” said Estrada, who believes he can win votes other Republicans cannot.
“I truly believe I have the ability to cross over party lines, get conservatives and independents and make it a very competitive race,” said Estrada.
Estrada says Republicans just need to address what really matters in California.
“I think (former House Speaker) Tip O’Neill said is greatly many years ago, and that’s that all politics is local. What I have found is that the problems in California can be solved by the federal government,” said Estrada.
He says water access is a good example of this.
“We have a great opportunity to bring sustainable, safe, clean, water for our residents. Unfortunately, environmentalists have allowed so much of this fresh water to go into the Pacific Ocean and we keep losing opportunities to save that in water storage facilities,” said Estrada.
“With federal dollars, I think we can build enough water storage facilities to help everybody out, all water users,” said Estrada.
Estrada would also take aim at the Endangered Species Act, which he says California and the federal government are using to stifle economic development and even the construction of low-income housing, which he says is a major contributor to the growing problem of homelessness in the Golden State.
But while Estrada has issues he is most passionate about, he says his actions will be dictated by what the people of his state want from him.
“I will take my personal views, being a conservative and take a look, case by case, at how we can help the people of California, because really, it belongs to them. It’s their state and I’ll be working for them,” said Estrada.
But he is quick to add that when he serves the people of California, he means the citizens of California.
“We have to help our citizens first. America is a very generous nation. When there’s disasters across the world, we’re there helping everybody, but there’s a lot of corrupt administrations around the world – a lot of dictators and a lot of corruption – and America’s got to lead,” said Estrada.
Roy Moore defeated interim Sen. Luther Strange in the run-off for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Alabama Tuesday, a decisive win that the Senate Conservatives Fund says is already having reverberations throughout the nation.
Moore, twice elected Chief Justice of Alabama and twice removed for refusing to follow federal court orders on the Ten Commandments and same-sex marriage, defeated Strange by roughly ten percentage points. Strange was appointed to the seat earlier this year by disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley following the confirmation of former Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
Not only did Moore win and win easily, he also overcame millions of dollars in attack ads from the Senate Leadership Fund, which is closely aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Moore also won despite President Trump’s active support for Sen. Strange.
Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli says the impact of Moore’s win is huge.
“Judge Moore’s spectacular performance and the support of the Alabama’s grassroots was a sign across this country that the grassroots is serious about draining the swamp, about repealing Obamacare, about getting rid of amnesty and building the wall and all of those substantive reasons that motivated people to give the Republicans the majority in the first place,” said Cuccinelli.
He says the willingness of GOP voters in Alabama to defy Trump showed how deep the frustration goes with the status quo in Washington.
“The people of Alabama were serious about that. They were so serious about it that they disregarded the president’s endorsement of Judge Moore’s opponent because they knew the president was just trying to be nice to Mitch McConnell and this race really turned into Moore vs. McConnell,” said Cuccinelli.
“Ten million dollars and the president and the vice president could not save Luther Strange from the albatross around his neck in Mitch McConnell and the Gang of Five, the leadership team that loomed so large to the grassroots in Alabama,” he added.
Cuccinelli says a look at Strange’s voting record over the past few months wouldn’t necessarily alarm most conservatives but he says Strange’s alliance with McConnell turned into a liability.
“Luther Strange bought a ticket on the first-class cruise liner that was the SS McConnell. It turned out to be the Titanic,” said Cuccinelli.
“Luther is no Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski, but he made it very clear from the moment he arrived in Washington that he was going to be on the McConnell team and Mitch McConnell is bad for America.” pronounced Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli didn’t stop there.
“People think in terms of Republican-Democrat. Everything isn’t Republican Democrat. When we talk right-left, Mitch McConnell is part of the left. He’s part of the big government cronyism that is destroying this country,” said Cuccinelli.
“If we’re going to get America on a track to saving it for our children and grandchildren, Mitch McConnell is part of the problem, not the solution,” added Cuccinelli.
So how does this reverberate beyond Alabama? Cuccinelli says McConnell allies started sprinting before the exits even before the polls closed on Tuesday.
“Roy Moore didn’t just unseat appointed Sen. Luther Strange. He also forced the retirement of Bob Corker,” said Cuccinelli, alluding to the decision of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn,. not to seek a third term in 2018.
Cuccinelli says the private data from the Moore-Strange race was clear days ago that Moore would win handily, and he believes Corker saw the handwriting on the wall for his own re-election bid.
“Bob Corker wanted to get out before it looked like he was running scared from his own grassroots. But, you know, that’s exactly what he was doing with his retirement yesterday,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli also asserts that the fact the Senate Leadership Fund was even involved in a GOP primary belies what McConnell’s goal really is in campaigns across the country.
“Mitch McConnell says, ‘Donate to my Super PAC so we can keep a Republican majority. That is not what the Senate Leadership Fund is about. It’s about protecting the Gang of Five and keeping Mitch McConnell leader. It has nothing to do with making America better. It has nothing to do with a Republican majority,” said Cuccinelli.
He says the Senate Leadership Fund will go all-in for candidates who are kindred spirits with McConnell but will leave strong conservatives twisting in the wind.
“Last year, they wouldn’t lift a finger – well they lifted their middle finger – but they wouldn’t lift a finger to help Darryl Glenn in one of only two states Republicans could win last year. and you know why they wouldn’t help Darryl Glenn in Colorado? Because he’s a conservative who wouldn’t knee-jerkingly support the leadership.
“Here’s a black conservative veteran, graduate of the Air Force Academy elected in one of the biggest counties in Colorado. They refused to support him despite the fact that he’s a candidate practically out of central casting from the 2012 Republican autopsy,” said Cuccinelli.
“They wouldn’t support him because they wouldn’t support Mitch McConnell. They were willing to risk the majority rather than support conservative Darryl Glenn last year. So no one should be fooled by Mitch McConnell’s so-called commitment to the Republican Party or the Republican majority. Mitch is for Mitch,” said Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli is bullish on the midterm elections, not only in the possibility of insurgent conservatives replacing existing Republicans loyal to McConnell but in conservatives winning nominations and defeating Democrats in states Trump won big.
Specifically, he’s excited about the candidacies of Matt Rosendale against Sen. Jon Tester in Montana, Josh Mandel versus Democrat Sherrod Brown in Ohio and West Virginia Attorney General vying for the nomination to face Sen. Joe Manchin.
“This is the best cycle we’ve seen for conservatives that we’ve seen, frankly, since 2010,” said Cuccinelli. “There’s an awful lot of opportunity, not just to get Republicans replacing Democrats but to get good Republicans replacing Democrats.”
Key White House officials are denying any change in President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, but supporters of Trump’s position are increasingly concerned by the growing number of treaty supporters in the president’s inner circle and by he unwillingness to kill the treaty once and for all.
Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal quoted European Union’s Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete as suggesting Trump may be mulling a change in policy.
“The U.S. has stated that they will not renegotiate the Paris accord, but they will try to review the terms on which they could be engaged under this agreement,” said Canete, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Trump administration immediately sought to pour cold water on the report.
“Our position on the Paris agreement has not changed. @POTUS has been clear, US withdrawing unless we get pro-America terms,” tweeted White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
On Fox News Sunday, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster called the speculation a “false report.”
“The president decided to pull out of the Paris accord because it was a bad deal for the American people and a bad deal for the environment,” said McMaster.
Trump’s top economic adviser also joined the chorus.
“Per the White House statement on Saturday and consistent with the president’s announcement in June, we are withdrawing from the Paris Agreement unless we can re-engage on terms more favorable to the United States,” said Cohn.
But that statement actually raises more questions than it answers for those concerned about Trump sticking with his decision to withdraw from the treaty.
“The position itself is inherently ambiguous. What President Trump announced June 1 in the Rose Garden was that he was going to withdraw in November 2019, taking effect the year after that, unless he found better terms. They have yet to define what those better terms are,” said Christopher C. Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who served on Trump’s transition landing team at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Horner says the debate within the White House before Trump’s announcement in June was a battle royale and he says it still hasn’t stopped.
“The struggle that led up to the June 1 announcement and was particularly acute in May among administration staff, not just Obama administration holdovers and not just career resistance types at the State Department, but some Trump appointees at the White House in the National Security Council and elsewhere, who are fighting to reverse this,” said Horner.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has consistently advocated for staying in the treaty. On CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, Tillerson said remaining in the deal is still possible.
“The president said he is open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue,” Tillerson said.
Horner says Tillerson’s position is not surprising because the State Department bureaucrats are licking their chops to implement this agreement.
“This is the biggest boon for the State Department, possibly ever. You’re talking about the creation of an enormous climate diplomatic corps,” said Horner. “They think, oddly enough, when you rob Peter to pay Paul, Paul thinks it’s a great idea.”
“The politicos they’ve brought on board are not the ones you’d want if you wanted to keep the president’s promise,” said Horner.
Horner says the issue is simple. On Trump’s present course, the debate could rage for another two years.
“The struggle continues. Until President Trump sends that letter on November 5, 2019, this fight goes on,” said Horner.
Trump’s decision to exit the treaty via letter in 2019 is what aggravates Horner most, pushing fiercely for Trump to declare the agreement a treaty and force the Senate to vote on and likely kill the agreement.
He says by taking unilateral executive action, Trump’s decision is only good for the remainder of his presidency.
“If he wants a durable withdrawal, meaning something that President Warren cannot turn the key on on January 20, 2021, you’re going to have to have the Senate vote,” said Horner.
Horner sees multiple options by which Trump can bring an end to the issue, whether by submitting the treaty to the Senate now or renegotiating the plan and then submitting the amended plan for a vote that would still likely fail, since ratification requires two-thirds of senators to approve.
But Horner says one reason Trump may not be taking that action is because the Senate doesn’t want to touch it.
“So far the Senate has not stirred. In fact, to my understanding, the Senate told President Trump they don’t want him to involve them,” said Horner.
The treaty is non-binding, leaving many to wonder why Horner and others are wringing their hands over a possible Trump reversal or his allowing his successor to rejoin the agreement. Horner points out the deal tightens the screws on emissions every five years, so the longer we’re attached to the deal the more pressure we’ll be under to comply.
Already, he says the Germans are desperately trying to keep the U.S. in the fold.
“We have obtained records from the State Department, a cable, saying the Germans are worried that if the rest of the world doesn’t do this to themselves too they will lose billions,” said Horner.
“In other words, ‘It’s not fair that we did this to ourselves. You’re mean if you don’t do it to yourself too,'” said Horner.
Horner also explained that the real strategy is for the climate change movement to enforce the plan – both at home and abroad – is to use the courts to their advantage.
“The United Nations, just before the president made his announcement, issued a report about how activists could use the Paris treaty to really put the screws to signatories who are claiming it’s not binding,” said Horner.
“The pointed to a decision out of the Hague that’s fairly recent, in which the court said, ‘I know you’ve got your agreement and you’ve got your number here and you’ve also got decades of saying I’m so awful. I’m so responsible, I’m so obligated,'” said Horner.
Horner says the court at the Hague assigned an even more aggressive plan for reducing carbon emissions and liberal activists in the U.S. are already trying to get federal judges in the Ninth Circuit to enforce the treaty and make the terms even more burdensome.
“So you can say non-binding, but the people behind this know what they’re up to and they know who occupies our judicial benches here,” said Horner.
Not only does Horner warn that failing to get the Senate to vote on the treaty allows the next president to reverse Trump’s decision, but he says keeping the Senate out of the fray will permanently damage the separation of powers.
“This is simply a beginning point for the courts. That’s a key reason why it’s so dangerous. The other is, of course, that you have outsourced policy making to this body instead of to our Senate as our Constitution dictates. You’ve gutted the treaty power, probably forever, if you just shrug at this usurpation of the Senate’s treaty role,” said Horner.