A national security expert and former congressional staffer broke down the seriousness of a breach by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and other Republican lawmakers into a secure area beneath the Capitol.
A group of GOP congress members carrying prohibited cell phones stormed a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) in the Capitol basement, where Laura Cooper, a Pentagon official with jurisdiction over Ukraine policy, was scheduled to testify as part of the House impeachment inquiry.
“Aside from disrupting the testimony of a DoD official shedding light on the President’s attempts to extort a sham investigation into the child of his most feared political rival by withholding military aid that Congress gave to resist a Russian invasion,” tweeted Mieke Eoyang, vice president of the Third Way think tank’s national security program, “storming the SCIF without respecting the security protocols that require people to leave their electronic devices *outside* the space, is actually compromising our national security.”
A few words on why Gaetz stunt to storm the SCIF to disrupt Laura Cooper’s deposition is a VERY serious national security problem.
Note, I worked in that SCIF for HPSCI and handled cybersecurity issues while there.
— Mieke Eoyang (@MiekeEoyang) October 23, 2019
She explained that the SCIF itself is designed to prevent electronic eavesdropping to lawmakers can receive highly classified information about very sensitive intelligence operations, and how that information is collected.
“Foreign adversaries are constantly trying to figure out what goes on inside those rooms to figure out what the US knows about them, to out US high-level sources in their governments, to know what the US government knows and use it against us,” Eoyang tweeted.
The facilities are carefully designed to ensure listening devices cannot compromise their security, and Eoyang said the GOP lawmakers had made an inexcusable error in judgment.
“Members of Congress (and their electronic devices) are high-value targets for compromise by foreign intelligence services,” she tweeted.
Lawmakers have access to sensitive information and are highly sensitive to their public reputations, Eoyang pointed out, which makes them vulnerable to blackmail.
“They also tend to be lax in their security protocols. This means they may not know they have been compromised,” she explained. “For example, their phones can be turned into listening devices without their knowledge.”
Bluntly stated, Eoyang explained, Gaetz and his Republican accomplices endangered national security.
“I cannot emphasize enough how serious this is,” she tweeted.
“To disrupt testimony from a DOD official on how the President endangered national security for both the US and Ukraine by withholding military aid,” Eoyang added, “the President’s allies further endangered national security by storming the SCIF with their electronic devices.”
So, to recap:
To disrupt testimony from a DOD official on how the President endangered national security for both the US and Ukraine by withholding military aid, the President’s allies further endangered national security by storming the SCIF with their electronic devices.
— Mieke Eoyang (@MiekeEoyang) October 23, 2019
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Republicans Confirm Anti-LGBTQ Extremist Who Never Tried a Case to Lifetime Appointment as Federal Appeals Court Judge
Every Republican in the U.S. Senate but one just voted to hand Steven Menashi, an anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, misogynistic right wing extremist, a lifetime appointment as a judge on the federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
No Democrat voted for Menashi. Senator Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to vote against his nomination. The final vote was 51-41.
Menashi, who is just 40 years old, is not only unqualified to sit on a federal appeals court because he has never tried or argued a case, his history should have been deemed automatically disqualifying.
HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendary reports Menashi, “currently Trump’s White House legal aide, compared race data collection in college admissions to Germany under Adolf Hitler; denounced women’s marches against sexual assault; opposed the ‘radical abortion rights codified in Roe v. Wad’; accused the Human Rights Campaign of having ‘incessantly exploited the slaying of Matthew Shepard’ for political benefit, and claimed that a Dartmouth fraternity wasn’t being racist when it held a ‘ghetto party’ attended by white students donning Afros and carrying toy guns.”
If that weren’t enough, Menashi “also spread the Islamophobic myth that in 1913, Gen. John Pershing executed Muslim prisoners in the Philippines using bullets dipped in pig fat.”
That last one is a favorite of President Donald Trump’s – except he prefers the tale told with “pig’s blood.”
There’s actually more.
Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Menashi also helped devise an illegal Education Department effort to use private Social Security data to deny debt relief to thousands of students cheated by for-profit colleges.
Despite – or more likely, because of – all this, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McxConnell on Thursday called Menashi “impressive.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) had a different perspective.
Today, the Senate will be voting to confirm Steven Menashi to a lifetime seat on 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. I don’t say this lightly: He’s one of the worst judicial nominees to be put forth by President Trump—and I intend to cast a resounding no vote.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) November 14, 2019
Former Obama DOJ official Vanita Gupta, now the President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:
This was a civil rights vote, and senators who voted for Menashi have failed. They have failed their constituents, failed our judiciary, and failed the nation.
The attack on the federal bench is a deeply consequential and long-lasting assault on civil rights. We can’t forget it. https://t.co/zgEqTmLRRj
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) November 14, 2019
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR):
Today the Senate votes on Steven Menashi to serve in a lifetime judgeship. This is a Trump nominee who:
Gutted protections for survivors of sexual assault.
Helped Stephen Miller craft a racist immigration agenda.
Denied debt relief to students scammed by for-profit colleges.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) November 14, 2019
Anti-LGBTQ Extremists, Right Wing Activists and Establishment Republicans Pen Letter Urging Trump to Not Fire Mulvaney
A Who’s Who of Anti-LGBTQ Extremists
An assortment of 79 prominent hate group leaders, anti-LGBTQ activists, and far right wing activists representing a swath of the religious right and the establishment GOP have penned a letter praising Mick Mulvaney and urging President Donald Trump to not fire him as acting chief of staff – and to make his role permanent.
It’s no secret the far right and religious right have not just won a foot in the Oval Office door, but a proverbial key to the White House. They helped get Trump elected and have enjoyed a warm open-door policy with the president ever since.
Now they’re taking advantage of that special relationship to make their desires known, this time, publicly.
Signatories to the letter (which is published at the Conservative Action Project) include the head of the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council, Tony Perkins. Tea Party activist and prominent DC lobbyist Ginni Thomas, who also just happens to be the wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. (Both have worked together to achieve their dream of a ban on transgender service members.)
Others who have signed the letter praising Mulvaney as the “most successful Chief of Staff in this administration to advance the Trump pro-America agenda,” are former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who has served at Perkins’ Family Research Council as the hate group’s “Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment.”
Washington Times columnist and Tea Party Patriots cofounder Jenny Beth Martin has signed the letter. So has long-term veteran anti-gay activist Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who has represented many far right Republicans, and the NRA.
Also, former U.S. Senator (R-SC) and former Heritage Foundation president, Jim DeMint, an anti-gay activist and right wing religious liberty extremist. Former U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), also an anti-LGBTQ activist and religious extremist. And failed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” activist Elaine Donnelly.
“As director of the Office of Management and Budget and as acting White House chief of staff, Mulvaney has overseen the office most responsible for implementing the Trump agenda throughout the government,” the letter says, according to Politico. “His attention, vision, and commitment to the president’s policies have been evident from the beginning of the administration to today. We believe the president should make him permanent in the chief of staff role.”
Matt Gaetz Interview Devolves Into Shouting Match After He Proclaims He ‘Should Be Allowed’ Into Closed Hearings
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) led a crowd of Freedom Caucus members to storm a secure room where Democrats and Republicans in the House Intelligence Committee have been holding depositions.
According to committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), once depositions are finished the open and public hearings will begin. He explained the depositions are important to do in secret so witnesses don’t coordinate with each other as they seemed to do in the Russia investigation.
An MSNBC interview with Gaetz on Thursday began after he overheard the introduction and sound of a Q&A with Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), who mocked the Republicans as a bunch of angry white men conducting a stunt. Gaetz was livid asking why his whiteness had anything to do with it.
“Did she say we were a bunch of white men? What does the fact that we are white men have to do with our desire to represent the millions of constituents we serve?” he asked rhetorically. “I was deeply offended. When Jackie Speier walks in I don’t say, ‘a white woman comes in.’ This is the type of Identity politics from the left that seems to permeate any substantive or procedural arguments they make and it’s sickening to me that’s how we would be thought of. People we serve are diverse and it’s just really kind of sickening.”
Gaetz represents the Florida First District where 77 percent of his district is white.
“We started on this conversation on the idea that Republicans walked into this secure area of the capitol yesterday, including some Republicans who could have just gone in and participated as members of those committees as the rules allowed. What was the point of this? Was this really anything more than a stunt?”
Gaetz proclaimed it was to highlight the inequities and lack of “due process” in the investigation. Investigations don’t have due process, proceedings are where due process occurs. Until then, the Republicans in the room are there to ask questions of the witnesses behind closed doors. Republicans who want to posture for the cameras, however, can’t do so publicly in the classified room.
“We’re showing a picture, I don’t know if you can see it, some of the members of Congress walking in, your Republican colleagues, who could be in the room anyway, 47 are on the committees able to go in and participate on depositions and many have in these depositions,” MSNBC host Hallie Jackson shot back, chuckling.
“I’m speaking for myself,” Gaetz shot back. “I should be allowed. I tried to go in last week as a member of the Judiciary Committee and that’s a reasonable thing to do, on September 12th, Jerry Nadler, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said I am hereby launching the impeachment inquiry, the impeachment investigation. So, I think the bizarre element here is that you would exclude members of the committee that launched the impeachment inquiry from the factual development that Adam Schiff is trying to do in secret…”
Schiff, who runs the Intelligence Committee, is running depositions pertinent to his committee, where Nadler is running his own investigation through the Judiciary Committee.
“I think that’s why we were trying to get in there, but like, I only speak for myself. I should be allowed in that room as a member of the Judiciary Committee, Armed Services Committee and they wouldn’t let us in. It begs the question of what are they hiding,” Gaetz said. The Armed Services Committee doesn’t have anything to do with the impeachment inquiries.
Jackson shot back that neither of the committees he is on are conducting depositions, which seemed to anger Gaetz, who began yelling back and forth with the host. Gaetz’s committee hasn’t subpoenaed anyone.
“I don’t know that. I don’t know that. No,” Gaetz insisted.
“It is a fact,” she shot back.
“It’s not a fact. Now you’re shifting ground. Go back and look at the 12th hearing of the Judiciary Committee,” he shouted. “You cannot misstate that as a fact. How can you tell me it’s a fact that my committee is not involved when it was the Judiciary Committee who launched the investigation.”
Jackson explained that the Judiciary Committee may be launching their own impeachment inquiry, but they are not doing closed-door depositions, which Gaetz would be able to be part of. Schiff’s Intelligence Committee is.
“You’re playing the game, Hallie,” Gaetz claimed, saying that Democrats are only strategically leaking testimony and he can’t verify if the testimony is true. There are nearly two dozen Republican members on the committees on the impeachment inquiry.
“So you don’t trust the Republicans on these committees?” Jackson asked.
“I want to see the consequence of their work,” he claimed. “It’s not — they put out their opening statement we engage in cross-examination, you want to ask me about the opening, but I don’t have the benefit of the cross-examination to be able to test the allegations made in the opening statement.”
He went on to attack Schiff for creating the “rules” where he is not allowed to ask questions. As a fact-check, members who are not on the committees don’t get to ask questions. If Gaetz wanted to ask questions to witnesses he probably should have gotten a seat on the relevant committees, but his Republican leadership did not put him on said committees.
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