The Trump administration is finalizing details on its plan to grant special religious “rights” to medical professionals who claim a moral objection to providing care to transgender patients, or women seeking an abortion, among others.
The new rules would roll back Obama-era protections, according to a report by Politico.
The Trump administration’s so-called “conscience regulations” would extend far beyond those two scenarios.
The proposal, which would directly impact the Dept. of Health and Human Services, “would give HHS ‘a lot more authority and power’ to effectively remake and enforce existing conscience protections, said Katie Keith, a Georgetown University law professor who’s studied the regulations,” Politico notes.
For instance, a medical school receiving federal funds could not deny admission to applicants who refuse to perform abortions; providers could not require staff to inform patients about services like sterilization procedures or advance directives rejecting end-of-life care; and doctors and nurses would gain further protections to refuse providing services like vaccinations.
The forthcoming HHS nondiscrimination rules are the latest example of President Donald Trump violating a campaign pledge to protect the LGBTQ community, advocates for transgender people say. The administration’s ban on transgender troops took effect just weeks ago, and the health department reportedly tried to effectively eliminate the federal definition of “transgender.”
It’s possible the “conscience regulations” might extend to those who practice harmful “reparative” or “conversion” therapy, a pseudoscientific practice falsely purports to turn LGBTQ straight.
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‘National Security Nightmare’: Experts Concerned Melania Trump Was in Situation Room During ‘Major Military Operation’
National security and legal experts are expressing concern over a report revealing that then-First Lady Melania Trump had been present in the White House Situation Room during a “major military operation,” according to a new book by former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller.
Melania Trump in October 2019, “sat in and watched the U.S. raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a compound in Syria,” The Hill reports Miller’s book reveals. At the time, Miller was special assistant to the president for counterterrorism and transnational threats.
In addition to the First Lady, present in the Situation Room were President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.
“Her presence was unexpected, to say the least,” Miller wrote. “I wondered how it would play in the press if word got out that the first lady had popped in to watch a major military operation.”
It was the First Lady who suggested the administration promote the “hero dog” involved in the raid. That became a fiasco when it appeared later that President Trump, trying to play up the pup, either got the dog’s gender wrong, or had the wrong dog in the Oval Office.
That debacle led The New Yorker’s Masha Gessen to pen a piece on “Conan, the Gender-Fluid Hero Dog.”
“Kellyanne Conway, a counsellor to the President, refused to commit to a gender for Conan,” Gessen wrote. “Pressed by reporters on Tuesday, she said, ‘I won’t do that, because then you’ll say that I was talking about somebody’s sex or gender, so I’m not doing that.'”
Larry Pfeiffer, who served as President Barack Obama’s director of the White House Situation Room and previously as Chief of Staff of the Central Intelligence Agency, expressed outrage at the First Lady having been in the Situation Room during a critical mission.
“Hmmm…what would I have done if President Obama had brought Michelle into a sensitive meeting there? Don’t know. Never had to think about it cuz it NEVER would have happened,” he said via Twitter.
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now a professor of law, MSNBC legal contributor and a podcaster, responded saying: “Melania in the situation room, top secret documents at Mar-a-Lago that Trump knew were there & refused to return. Private meetings with Putin where Trump insisted translator’s notes be destroyed. The Trump administration was a national security nightmare.”
At Vanity Fair, politics correspondent Bess Levin asked, “What other overseas military operations did the former first lady play a role in?”
Levin also notes Trump’s strong “disdain” for dogs, which made the Conan catastrophe such a farce.
She writes, “according to Miller, it was Melania who came up with the idea about how to tell the American people about the mission. ‘You should talk about the dog,’ Miller said she told the president. ‘Everyone loves dogs.'”
“Everyone, of course, except Donald Trump,” Levin notes, “who has a well-established disdain for animals in general and dogs in particular. (The only president in more than a century to live in the White House without a pet, Trump’s ex-wife Ivana wrote in her 2017 memoir that ‘Donald was not a dog fan,’ and that her poodle, Chappy, would ‘bark at him territorially’ whenever he got near her closet. Trump also has a long history of denigrating ex-employees and other perceived enemies by comparing them to dogs, tweeting that his enemies have ‘choked like a dog,’ been ‘dumped like a dog,’ been ‘fired like a dog,’ and, our personal favorite, been ‘kicked out of the ABC News debate like a dog.’)”
Trump on the dog that took part in the al-Baghdadi raid: “We were going to put a muzzle on the dog, & I thought that was a good idea, but then it gets even more violent…but no, the dog is incredible. Actually incredible. We spent some good time with it. So brilliant. So smart.” pic.twitter.com/4r5227ofUD
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 25, 2019
Another fiasco for the Trump White House that day was the photo (above) which was taken during or after the operation that led to al-Baghdadi’s death. Some at the time noted it appeared staged, and an attempt to replicate the famous photo of President Barack Obama actually taken during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Image: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
House Ethics Committee Begins Questioning Santos Staffers
The U.S. House Committee on Ethics has begun questioning staffers for embattled Rep. George Santos, who on Friday was accused of sexual harassment and improper hiring practice by a prospective aide the New York Republican interviewed and hired.
CNN Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona, reporting the committee’s questioning, calls it “a sign that the committee is looking into some of the allegations against Santos, though it doesn’t necessarily mean a formal investigation has been launched yet.”
“It is unclear what exactly the committee asked these staffers about, but multiple ethics complaints have been filed against Santos,” Zanona adds.
Most recently, a prospective staffer filed a complaint that the congressman made an unwanted sexual advance.
Two New York Democrats last month also filed an ethics complaint against Santos over his financial disclosure reporting.
Santos Denies Sexually Assaulting Prospective Staffer Working in His Office – Calls Allegations ‘Comical’
U.S. Rep. George Santos is denying an allegation he sexually assaulted a prospective staffer he had offered a $50,000 a year job to who was on his second day of work in the embattled and disgraced New York Republican’s Capitol Hill office.
“Of course, I deny that claim,” he insisted.
The staffer, working as a volunteer because, he says, the Santos office was waiting for the congressional payroll department to complete his paperwork, filed an official complaint with the House Ethics Office and, he says, the Capitol Police.
In that two-page letter of complaint to the Ethics Committee dated Friday requesting an investigation, Derek Myers alleges Rep. Santos invited him to a karaoke club on his second day of work, then “proceeded to take his hand and move it down my leg into my inner-thigh and proceeded to touch my groin.”
Myers, a former Ohio journalist who also secretly recorded at least one of his other conversations with Santos, alleges the congressman told him: “My husband is out of town tonight if you want to come over,” and told him where he lived.
“The Congressman earlier in the day had asked me if I had a Grindr profile, which is widely-known as an LGBTQ+ social networking app, more commonly used for sexual intercourse,” Myers says in his letter. “The Congressman shared with me that he, himself had a profile.”
Santos called him “buddy,” and “insisted I sit next to him on a small sofa,” he also alleges.
MSNBC columnist Marisa Kabas, pointing to Santos’ characterization of the allegations, says, “however you feel about the veracity of these particular claims, calling them ‘comical’ is quite the choice.”
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