The Kremlin has just embarrassed President Donald Trump, again. On Tuesday the Kremlin leaked news that Russian President Vladimir Putin met with President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires in November. The meeting was previously not publicly known, but The Financial Times first reported on the story.
What made the news a bombshell is that President Trump held the meeting with President Putin without a single U.S. official present. No government officials, no translators, no one from the State Dept. Russia is a hostile foreign country that attacked America’s elections in 2016, and has been waging a cyber war against the U.S. political system since at least 2013. It is unprecedented to have held the meeting without a U.S. witness, especially someone to record the details of what happened.
That was embarrassment number one.
Embarrassment number two came Wednesday, via TASS, the official state media news outlet of the Kremlin.
In response to the news that President Trump had no translator or other official on hand as he met with Putin, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters (link to TASS article in Russian), “It’s none of our business whether Trump had an interpreter; Putin’s interpreter is always by his side — we have stability and order in that regard,” according to Russian Media Analyst Julia Davis.
And that sounds like a strong dig at the Trump White House. Basically, President Putin knows what he’s doing, it’s none of our business that President Trump does not.
The Kremlin responds to the reports that no staff or interpreters were present during Trump’s conversation with Putin at the G20:
“It’s none of our business whether Trump had an interpreter; Putin’s interpreter is always by his side — we have stability and order in that regard.” pic.twitter.com/TTXsD382Y4
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) January 30, 2019
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has made the case that Putin could be blackmailing Trump.
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Pompeo, Huckabee, Benham Brothers Top List of New ‘Fellows’ as Liberty University Rebrands Culture War Arm
Liberty University’s Standing for Freedom Center—until recently known as the Falkirk Center—announced its new class of fellows Thursday, making it clear that the organization may have a new name but it has not abandoned its purpose of promoting the religious right’s “biblical worldview” in culture and public policy. The new fellows are former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Arkansas Governor and failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, anti-abortion rights activist Abby Johnson, and brother anti-LGBTQ culture warrior duo David and Jason Benham.
Earlier this year, the university ditched the Falkirk name, presumably to distance the center from its disgraced co-founder and former president, Jerry Falwell, Jr. It has also said goodbye to its earlier crop of fellows, which included Falkirk Center co-founder Charlie Kirk, president of right-wing youth organization Turning Point USA; Jenna Ellis, a Trump attorney who now hosts her own TV show, unironically called “Just the Truth”; pundit, conspiracy theorist, and so-called Stop the Steal activist Eric Metaxas; and Steve Bannon acolyte and former White House aide Sebastian Gorka.
Executive Director Ryan Helfenbein remains in place. As Right Wing Watch noted in December, when the center celebrated its first anniversary, Helfenbein touted the organization’s aggressive posture, saying, “We don’t just want to be an organization that barks; we want to be an organization that bites.” The center bragged that it had “consistently encouraged churches and pastors to defy” pandemic-related “lockdown orders.” Among the center’s first-year accomplishments was “Get Louder,” a “faith summit” held last September, which included Christian Reconstructionist Gary DeMar on a panel moderated by Metaxas.
The Standing for Freedom Center’s new fellows have the credentials one would expect for a religious-right center that aims to bite:
Mike Pompeo used his position as secretary of state to promote the religious right’s agenda at home and abroad. He created the Commission on Unalienable Rights—which has been repudiated by the Biden administration—to create justification for a narrow view of human rights in U.S. foreign policy. As secretary of state, Pompeo opened doors in other countries for a Bible study ministry that teaches public officials that the Bible requires them to back right-wing social, economic, environmental, and criminal justice policies. Pompeo and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar worked to create a new global “pro-family” coalition of anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice regimes and to celebrate governmental enforcement of “traditional” religious values on gender, sexuality, and family. Pompeo is a longtime religious-right favorite who, as a member of Congress, promoted Christian nationalism and associated with anti-Muslim activists. Axios reported this week that Pompeo is “pouring money” into a new PAC called Champion American Values in apparent preparation for a 2024 presidential run. Update: “Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules governing the use of taxpayer-funded resources when he and his wife, Susan, asked State Department employees to carry out tasks for their personal benefit more than 100 times, a government watchdog has determined,” Politico reported Friday.
Mike Huckabee, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2016, has remained active in religious-right politics since turning to punditry after his failed 2016 campaign. The former Arkansas governor is the honorary chairman of the religious-right get-out-the-vote operation My Faith Votes, which was active in the 2020 elections, including the Georgia Senate runoffs. Huckabee spoke at the Falkirk “Get Louder” summit last year and appeared on an Intercessors for America call in September, where he warned that if conservative Christians didn’t turn out to vote, the government would force churches to shut down. He also appeared in “Trump 2024: The World After Trump,” a religious-right “documentary” that promoted Trump’s reelection. Last year, Huckabee said, “Redefining gender and sexual identity is the ‘greatest threat’ to the moral fiber of America,” and blamed the existence of transgender people on Christian churches’ failure to teach a “biblical standard of maleness and femaleness.” Huckabee has railed against the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling and has claimed that the president could criminalize abortion without a Supreme Court decision or constitutional amendment. Huckabee’s daughter, former Trump White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is running to follow in her father’s footsteps and become the next governor of Arkansas.
Abby Johnson is an anti-abortion rights activist who spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention and participated in the so-called Stop the Steal campaign to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Johnson has become a religious-right superstar with her disputed story—dramatized in the movie “Unplanned”—about having worked for Planned Parenthood before having an epiphany about abortion. The day before the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, Johnson spoke at the D.C. rally at which Stop the Steal’s Ali Alexander led cheers of “Victory or Death!” Johnson told the crowd she was there “to defend the most pro-life president we have ever had in the history of the United States.” She said that she is tired of “compromise,” which she said “has led to our houses of worship being unconstitutionally closed for months and months.” In her speech at the Jan. 5 rally, she shamed American Christians for not doing more to shut down clinics that perform abortions, saying, “It is time, patriots, to stop worrying about offending your neighbor and start worrying offending the heart of God.” She also targeted COVID-19 vaccine research, saying, “Shame on us for accepting and peddling vaccines that were produced on the back of aborted babies.” And she exhorted, “It’s time to rise up. It is time to fight back. It is time to be bold. Enough! Enough of these cowardly leaders!” Johnson once said it would be “smart” for police to racially profile her adopted biracial son because “statistically, my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons.”
David and Jason Benham. The Benham brothers became religious-right folk heroes and martyrs to “political correctness” in 2014 when HGTV canceled plans for a television show starring the duo after Right Wing Watch and others reported on their anti-LGBTQ activities. The brothers, who have repeatedly portrayed the “homosexual agenda” as aligned with Satan, were actively involved in pushing anti-LGBTQ legislation in North Carolina in 2016; they had earlier called for the Charlotte city government to deny permits for LGBTQ pride events and organized an anti-gay prayer rally when the Democratic National Convention was held there. The brothers are also active opponents of reproductive choice. In 2017, a month before they appeared at the Values Voter Summit—not for the first time—they said that hurricanes striking the U.S. were a warning for the country to repent for “breaching the boundaries of God” on gender, sexuality, and marriage. That summer, they declared, “Discrimination against gay people simply does not exist.” Earlier that year, the pair said they would skip the Super Bowl halftime show featuring Lady Gaga, warning, “The vine of Sodom has pierced and penetrated our nation at one of the biggest sporting events of the year.” The Benhams initially backed Sen. Ted Cruz for president in 2016 and joined a campaign advisory council that recommended that a President Cruz roll back federal job protections for LGBTQ people. In 2015, David Benham spoke at the supposedly “nonpolitical” prayer rally organized by Christian nationalist political operative David Lane and railed against the LGBTQ movement and the church for not doing enough to stop it.
In other news, on Thursday, Liberty sued Falwell for $10 million, alleging that he “withheld scandalous and potentially damaging information from Liberty’s board of trustees while negotiating a generous new contract for himself in 2019 under false pretenses,” the New York Times reported. The lawsuit also alleges that Falwell failed to disclose his “personal impairment by alcohol.”
This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.
Watch: Thugs Destroy Memorial for Daunte Wright: ‘We Could Have Done Worse’
At least four people destroyed a Los Angeles makeshift memorial for Daunte Wright, the 20-year old Black man fatally shot by a white police officer, Kim Potter, in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.
This appears to be the memorial, part of a vigil, before it was destroyed.
— Vishal P Singh (@VPS_Reports) April 16, 2021
In a series of videos posted online the perpetrators, at least one masked, can be seen removing signs, grabbing flowers, and blowing out candles.
A woman off camera confronts them, and is told, “We could have done worse.”
Right-wing racists in Los Angeles destroy a vigil for Daunte Wright pic.twitter.com/MHOgv8Z0bC
— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) April 16, 2021
By the time the incident is over, there is broken glass all over the sidewalk and the area is in shambles.
Trump supporters destroyed the #DaunteWright candlelight vigil in Hollywood after LAPD declared unlawful assembly and attacked activists. I have video to confirm the incident from witnesses on the scene. pic.twitter.com/4R26oNOPFM
— Vishal P Singh (@VPS_Reports) April 16, 2021
The identities of the people who destroyed the memorial, or any affiliation they may have, have not been confirmed.
Conservatives Cry ‘Political Terrorism’ as Democrats Introduce Bill to Expand Supreme Court
House and Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced legislation to expand the U.S. Supreme Court to 13 seats, from the current nine. Contrary to commentary from conservatives, the Constitution does not specify the number of seats the nation’s highest court should have, and this would not be the first time Congress has changed the size of the Court: it has been changed seven times before.
And as some point out, counting Senate Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow President Barack Obama to fill an empty seat on the Supreme Court unofficially makes it eight times before.
The Judiciary Act of 2021 has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and in the House by Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Mondaire Jones (D-NY).
It merely reads: “Section 1 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking ‘a Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices, any six of whom shall constitute a quorum’ and inserting ‘a Chief Justice of the United States and twelve associate justices, any eight of whom shall constitute a quorum’.”
U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR):
Packing the Supreme Court would destroy the Supreme Court.
The Democrats will do anything for power.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) April 15, 2021
Cotton also tweeted: “Court packing will be the end of the Supreme Court’s legitimacy and the end of the rule of law in America.”
Former DOJ director of public affairs and Clinton 2016 campaign national press secretary Brian Fallon responded, saying: “In Cotton’s home state of Arkansas right now, Republicans are pushing an amendment to the state Constitution to strip the state Supreme Court’s ability to set rules for how courts hear cases and give that power instead to the GOP-controlled legislature.”
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appears to believe a “conservative majority” is merely the Supreme Court’s natural state.
Those pushing this idea are among the most liberal in the entire Congress.
They are trying to dilute the conservative majority of the Court by implementing the radical policy of Court-packing.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) April 15, 2021
Former OANN host, coronavirus conspiracy theorist, anti-LGBTQ activist:
Crickets from the Never Trumpers who voted for Biden as the radical Democrats unveil a Supreme Court packing plan. Rest assured, Never Trumpers, I do blame you.
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) April 15, 2021
Candace Owens, former Turning Point USA communications director who praised Hitler, saying, “if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay, fine,” but the problem is he “wanted to globalize”:
It has now been unveiled that the Democrats are planning to pack the Supreme Court.
This needs to be fought tooth and nail.
If they get this, Democracy in this country will become an illusion. America will pívot quickly into a socialist dictatorship.
Left or Right— WAKE UP.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) April 15, 2021
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO):
Packing the Supreme Court is an act of political terrorism.
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) April 15, 2021
Mike Pompeo, former Trump Secretary of State and 2024 presidential hopeful:
Our Supreme Court Justices uphold the rule of law, not the emotion of law. Packing the Supreme Court to tilt favorable outcomes brings partisan politics into the courtroom. SCOTUS is the last place we need political games.
— Mike Pompeo (@mikepompeo) April 15, 2021
Packing the Supreme Court is a blatant power grab by the Democrats. The seat count has not changed since 1869.
If we allow them to do this, say hello to a one-party system. It would unhinge our Democratic Republic and destroy much of the little political compromise that’s left.
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) April 15, 2021
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