Ensures the Rights of People of Faith Supersede the Rights of LGBT People
Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday issued a 25-page memo that establishes the Trump administration’s interpretation of federal law and regulations in an attempt to deliver to religious conservatives the widest possible license to discriminate, especially against the LGBT community.Â The AP calls it “an order that undercuts protections for LGBT people.”
Sessions quoted President Trump saying his administration “will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore.”
The new DOJ memo is “an attempt to deliver on President Donald Trump’s pledge to his evangelical and other religious supporters,” the AP reports, saying it “effectively lifts a burden from religious objectors to prove that their beliefs about marriage or other topics are sincerely held.”
It makes clear the Trump administration across all executive branch agenciesÂ and departments will ensure the rights of people of faith supersedeÂ the rights of LGBT people.
“Under the new policy, a claim of a violation of religious freedom would be enough to override concerns for the civil rights of LGBT people and anti-discrimination protections for women and others,” the AP explains. “The guidelines are so sweeping that experts on religious liberty are calling them a legal powder-keg that could prompt wide-ranging lawsuits against the government.”
“This is putting the world on notice: You better take these claims seriously,” said Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “This is a signal to the rest of these agencies to rethink the protections they have put in place on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The Attorney General’s memorandum includes 20 “Principles of Religious Liberty.”Â
The anti-gay hate groupÂ Alliance Defending Freedom “called it ‘a great day for religious freedom.’ The Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights group, called the guidelines an ‘all-out assault’ on civil rights and a ‘sweeping license to discriminate.'”
Politico adds that this new legal guidance “could affect health care, gay rights, political action by churches,” and says it takes a “muscular view of religious freedom rights.”
Naturally, a top Trump support, Tony Perkins of the anti-gay hate groupÂ Family Research Council, praised the administration’s new interpretations of law.
“President Trump is demonstrating his commitment to undoing the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and restoring true religious freedom,” said Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council.Â
“President Trump and the Department of Justice are putting federal government agencies on notice: you will not only respect the freedom of every American to believe but live according to those beliefs,” Perkins added. “As President Trump continues to follow through on his promises on these core issues, he will continue to have the support of social conservatives on his policy initiatives.”
Based on the Session memo earlier Friday the Trump administration issued a sweeping rollback of the ObamaCare contraception mandate, that requires nearly all employers to ensure health insurance plans provide contraception at no out-of-pocket cost to employees or those on their plans. Now, any employer can claim a religious or moral objection and opt out of covering contraception.Â
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State Dept. Kicks National Public Radio Reporter Off Plane After Pompeo’s Unhinged Attack on NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly
The State Dept. has kicked a reporter for National Public Radio off Secretary Mike Pompeo’s plane just days after he attacked a different NPR reporter and even issued an astonishing and false statement accusing her of lying.
PBS NewsHour’s Nick Schifrin reports Michele Kelemen is the NPR reporter, part of the State Dept. press pool, who was removed from Pompeo’s trip to London and Kiev.
State Department removes @NPR‘s @michelekelemen from @SecPompeo plane–where she was scheduled for a pool radio rotation–during upcoming trip to London, Kiev. Comes after @SecPompeo accused media of being “unhinged” after @NPRKelly interview and subsequent back and forth.
— Nick Schifrin (@nickschifrin) January 27, 2020
Last week Pompeo blasted NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly, claiming she had agreed to his remarks on Ukraine being off the record. She had not. At the end of the interview Pompeo reportedly forced Kelly to point out Ukraine on an unlabeled map. Kelly anchors “All Things Considered,” has a master’s in European studies from Cambridge, and is an an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, teaching classes in national security and journalism.
Pompeo issued a press release suggesting she had incorrectly identified Bangladesh when asked to point out Ukraine on the map, which is highly doubtful given her education and background, including being a State Dept. correspondent for two decades.
Schifrin adds the State Dept. Correspondents’ Assoc. has issued a statement condemning the removal of Kelly.
State Dept Correspondents Association’s @shauntandon:”We can only conclude State retaliating against @NPR as result of this exchange..State press corps has long tradition of accompanying secretaries on travel,we find it unacceptable to punish individual member of our association”
— Nick Schifrin (@nickschifrin) January 27, 2020
Here’s Pompeo’s astonishing press release from last week attacking Kelly:
The Secretary of State has issued this statement regarding his NPR interview: pic.twitter.com/Jp6vl3wny9
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) January 25, 2020
Image by U.S. Department of State via Flickr
‘Bizarro World’: Internet Explodes as Pam Bondi Defends President on TV: ‘Frat Houses at Trump University Must Be Wild Now’
Former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, possibly best-known for refusing to join a fraud investigation into Trump University that ultimately led to the President of the United States forking over $25 million, is right now defending President Trump on national TV during the Senate impeachment trial.
As many on social media noted, Bondi refused to join that investigation that led to a $25 million payment from the president, but was only too happy to accept a $25,000 donation from Donald Trump for her re-election campaign, just as she was deciding on whether or not to investigate him.
Bondi rocketed to the number two trending item on Twitter within minutes of speaking.
On social media some are calling it “bizarro world”:
Pam Bondi, who ended an investigation into Trump University as AG of Florida within weeks of Trump donating to her campaign, is going to defend the President on the topic of corruption. We are in bizarro world.
— David Pakman (@dpakman) January 27, 2020
Some posted evidence:
Copy of the $25,000 check from Trump to Bondi after she mentioned she might be looking into fraud complaints at Trump University https://t.co/e5uBSfw9z4
— Bill Weir (@BillWeirCNN) January 27, 2020
Some say Bondi has experience “overlooking allegations made against Trump”:
Pam Bondi’s job is to attempt to persuade the public to overlook the allegations in Trump’s impeachment.
And when it comes to overlooking allegations made against Trump, she’s got experience.https://t.co/xjqhK2rR1C
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) January 27, 2020
Some mocked the “frat houses” that never existed at the now-defunct Trump University:
The frat houses at Trump University must be wild now that Pam Bondi is up.
— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) January 27, 2020
Pam Bondi, who dropped an investigation into Trump University after Trump’s foundation gave her campaign $25,000, is here to lecture us about corruption pic.twitter.com/XH5nlwGrqK
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 27, 2020
Trump made an illegal campaign contribution to Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, and she’s the lawyer the Trump defense team chose to talk about corruption? https://t.co/fRBKu0EL2J
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 27, 2020
Ah, we’ve arrived at the “I’m not impeached, you’re impeached” part of the proceedings in which Pam Bondi will lecture us on corruption and why Biden should be impeached. https://t.co/L3HwBThROV
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) January 27, 2020
This Pam Bondi presentation about Hunter Biden is the Trump team achieving in a Senate trial what Trump couldn’t get Ukraine to do: publicly smear the Bidens.
— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) January 27, 2020
Pam Bondi is engaged in government-sponsored slander of a private citizen.
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) January 27, 2020
‘Ken Starr Punched Himself in the Face’: MSNBC Host Calls Trump Team’s Opener a ‘Total, Unmitigated Disaster’
Legal expert and MSNBC host Ari Melber explained Monday that former independent counsel Ken Starr could not have been a worse person to give an opening statement for President Donald Trump’s impeachment.
Host Nicolle Wallace explained that she was satisfied with not being yelled at on television by Trump’s team, as other lawyers have done. But Melber explained that beyond the volume level, the Trump team isn’t on a successful trajectory.
“This is the first big TV lawyer that we’ve seen deployed, that Donald Trump added to the team,” said Melber. “This was a disaster for Republicans, a total unmitigated legal and constitutional disaster. Ken Starr, at no point in this dramatic, at times, mournful opening, explained in any factual or legal way what’s different. If anything, he drew attention — and there are senators who understand the history — he drew attention to the fact that the last two times in modern history we’ve had impeachments: Clinton and Nixon.”
“They were for less!” exclaimed Wallace.
“They were for abuse of power among the original articles,” Melber agreed. “There were three articles for Nixon, one abuse of power, four initially for Clinton, one abuse of power. Hearing this mumbo jumbo of technical crime vis-à-vis high crime, abuse of power is the ultimate high crime. And so listening to this it was remarkable because Ken Starr is ‘Mr. Abuse of Power’ and I was listening interested, ready, open-minded to hear him somehow distinguish, explain, foreign policy. Nothing. He came up empty.”
Melber went on to call it a case of Starr vs. Starr like he was “shadow-boxing with himself.”
“I think constitutionally it may or may not resolve this case but for lawyers and senators watching constitutionally and anyone paying attention thought, ‘That’s odd.’ You asked a panelist earlier, ‘Well, what’s in his mind?’ We don’t know but we know what’s in his hands, his own hypocritical history,” Melber continued.
Watch the full exchange below:
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