House announces contempt proceedings against Pompeo after he refuses to hand over documents

For weeks, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has been asking Mike Pompeo to testify about his use of State Department resources for political purposes, and for weeks Pompeo has been ignoring those requests. Not only did Pompeo violate all past protocol—and the Hatch Act—by speaking this week at the RNC, he did so while on a supposedly official trip to Israel. But long before that grievous violation, Pompeo provided a 1,600 page “portfolio” of information on Joe Biden to Republican senators, and only Republican senators. A subpoena for that information met with no response. Pompeo has been deeply involved in attempts to find some supporting evidence for Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories, both about Biden’s role in Ukraine and the origins of the investigation into the actions of Russia in the 2016 election. 

On Thursday, the State Department finally provided a response to the House subpoena—though Pompeo didn’t deign to write anything personally. Instead, he left it to an assistant to tell the Foreign Affairs Committee that Pompeo “categorically rejects your baseless assertion that the Department may have acted inappropriately or violated any law” in "what appears to be partisan misuse of resources." In addition to denying that the State Department had provided information to only Republican members, despite overwhelming evidence that this is the case, acting (and unconfirmed) assistant secretary Ryan Kaldahl made it clear that Pompeo wasn’t going to appear before the House and that the State Department was not going to hand over any documents it had produced for Senate Republicans—not unless Democrats announce that they are also starting a formal inquiry into Joe Biden and nonexistent crimes in Ukraine.

Committee chair Rep. Eliot Engel was just as clear in his response on Friday: The House is going forward with contempt proceedings against Pompeo.

Engel’s statement did not hold back: “From Mr. Pompeo’s refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, to his willingness to bolster a Senate Republican-led smear against the President’s political rivals, to his speech to the RNC which defied his own guidance and possibly the law, he has demonstrated alarming disregard for the laws and rules governing his own conduct and for the tools the constitution provides to prevent government corruption,” said Engel. “He seems to think the office he holds, the Department he runs, the personnel he oversees, and the taxpayer dollars that pay for all of it are there for his personal and political benefit.”

The letter from Kaldahl makes it clear that this is Pompeo’s “final response,” and the idea that the House should be required to pretend—as Pompeo is doing—that there is the least scrap of truth behind the conspiracy theories Trump is promoting is ridiculous. 

“Mr. Pompeo is demanding that the Committee do essentially the same thing Russia is doing,” writes Engel, “In other words, Pompeo will give the Committee what we were seeking if we join in a smear of the President’s political rival. Sound familiar?”

Engel is now drawing up a resolution holding Pompeo in contempt. There’s no doubt that Republican members will complain and attempt to delay the process. But Engel seems unlikely to be in a patient mood with only 67 days left until the election.

Why Republicans weaponized impeachment at the convention and Democrats ignored it

Eight months after Democrats mounted a historic effort to remove Donald Trump from office, not a single speaker uttered the word “impeachment” during their four-day convention.

Trump and his allies filled that vacuum.

Though the four-month impeachment battle was far from a centerpiece of the GOP convention, some of the president’s allies strategically wove it into their anti-Joe Biden message, monopolizing the impeachment discussion and offering a strategic — often sharply distorted — counter-narrative punctuated by Trump himself during his keynote speech Thursday night.

“They spied on my campaign and they got caught,” Trump said, issuing his favored rejoinder to the investigations that have shadowed his entire term in office. “Let’s see what happens.”

Trump’s ad lib, not a part of his prepared remarks, was a reference to his unsubstantiated claim that former President Barack Obama orchestrated an effort to monitor his campaign and disrupt his transition to the White House. But that false narrative has become a rallying cry for his supporters as he seeks to retaliate against his political foes, including Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee.

For Democrats to completely omit impeachment from their convention was once unthinkable. Democrats had mounted a case that Trump had abused his power to blackmail Ukraine into investigating his political adversaries, including Biden. And they made an existential argument that without removing him from office, Trump’s behavior would get worse and democracy itself would be at risk.

Yet their decision underscores the party’s lingering unease about how voters may view the effort — and the reality that the country has sunk into a series of all-consuming crises since Trump’s Feb. 5 acquittal by the Senate. The coronavirus pandemic, a subsequent economic collapse and a wrenching national debate over police brutality and systemic racism paired with protests across the country combined to sideline the issue almost entirely.

Its absence at the Democratic convention was stark: Not only was the word “impeachment” entirely left out over the course of the four night event, so was any mention of Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine. A key impeachment witnesses, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, appeared in a DNC video to vouch for Biden, but did not mention the impeachment charges against the president. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia — which Democrats once thought could topple Trump for obstruction of justice — also went unmentioned, even as it was a defining moment of Trump’s nearly four years in office.

Republicans, in contrast, mentioned impeachment five times, describing it as “illegal” and a “sham.” And a member of Trump’s impeachment defense team, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, reprised her anti-Biden case during a Tuesday address as others used it as a cudgel against Democratic leaders.

“Democrat leaders told me that I had to vote for impeachment or my life would be made difficult … and I wouldn't be allowed to run again,” said New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who left the Democratic Party and joined the GOP amid the impeachment push.

Democrats contend that Biden’s decision to keep impeachment out of his convention was logical. He wants to win over disaffected Republicans and project a unifying message, and impeachment stirs instant partisan passions. Moreover, the U.S. has weathered calamities since the end of the impeachment saga that more directly affect Americans’ everyday lives, most notably the coronavirus pandemic, which is claiming 1,000 American lives every day.

“We’re talking life and death now, as opposed to trying to cheat and steal an election,” said Daniel Goldman, who served as chief counsel for the House’s impeachment inquiry. “It would be a strong, winning message, but it pales in comparison to his complete ineptitude in dealing with Covid, which has resulted in 180,000 Americans dying.”

Trump’s response to the pandemic, Goldman added, “has put lives and livelihoods at risk here in this country, and that is both a stronger message and a more important message than his efforts to extort a foreign country in order to help him cheat to win an election.”

Democrats agonized for weeks over whether to even move forward with an impeachment inquiry targeting the president, fearful of the potential for blowback at the polls. Eventually, after the party's moderate and vulnerable lawmakers relented, Democrats used an immense amount of political capital on the impeachment effort, backed by polling data showing that public support had finally shifted in favor. The impeachment of a president is a historic event; only three presidents have been impeached including Trump, and a fourth, Richard Nixon, resigned before the House could impeach him.

“It seems so long ago already. It seems like history,” added House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), one of the Democrats who led the prosecution of Trump’s impeachment trial. “One of the things with the Trump administration ... there’s outrage upon outrage upon outrage.”

Nadler said despite the absence of explicit impeachment references, the impact of the investigation and trial are an important part of the election backdrop — reinforced every time new developments emerge, like the Senate Intelligence Committee’s finding that Trump campaign leaders worked closely with a Russian agent.

“It’s having its impact,” he said.

But even as the convention placed a heavy emphasis on the pandemic and Trump’s response to it, a major theme of the week centered on Trump’s handling of foreign-policy and national-security issues, with Democrats arguing that the president has made the U.S. less safe.

Central to the House’s impeachment case was the argument that Trump abused his power by soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 presidential election when he pressured Ukraine’s newly elected president to launch investigations targeting Biden and his son Hunter. That Biden was the target of the effort made it even more remarkable that Democrats chose to avoid the topic altogether.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who served as the lead impeachment manager during the Senate trial, noted that many of the speakers at the Democratic convention sought to make the case that Trump has undermined U.S. national security and alienated longtime allies — even though they didn’t explicitly mention the allegations central to Democrats’ impeachment case.

It was part of an explicit effort by the Biden campaign, Schiff said, to appeal to disaffected Republicans — a tacit acknowledgment of how polarizing the impeachment issue remains in American politics.

“I think they chose to make the case at the same time of how broad the tent is and bring in a number of former elected Republican officials,” Schiff said in an interview this week. “And so I think the thrust of the Democratic convention was really to show what a big tent the party has, how the vice president is such a profound contrast on the issue of character, decency.”

Yet Democrats said throughout the trial that even though they knew they were going to lose the Senate vote, they had secured a political victory because polls had moved sharply in their favor. About 70 percent of Americans viewed Trump’s actions toward Ukraine as wrong, a bipartisan majority that they said justified the national pain of an impeachment. But after the trial ended on a nearly party-line vote to acquit Trump, with Utah Sen. Mitt Romney being the only Republican to vote to convict, Democrats pulled back from their investigative posture and focused on the pandemic and racial-justice issues.

And when Biden surged in the Democratic primary in March, impeachment all but dropped from the lexicon.

Without an affirmative Democratic effort to define their impeachment case against Trump — that he abused his power to blackmail Ukraine into investigating Democrats — Republicans recognized their monopoly on the issue and weaponized their own impeachment arguments against Biden. They also leveled some of Trump’s favored, factually challenged rejoinders to the Russia and Ukraine investigations.

Bondi, the former Florida attorney general, delivered a sequel to her impeachment defense, leveling discredited charges about Biden’s diplomatic efforts in Ukraine. Biden helped engineer the ouster of a prosecutor viewed by the international community as corrupt — but Bondi reissued debunked claims that Biden sought to remove the prosecutor to shield his son Hunter, a member of the board of a Ukrainian energy company at the time, from a corruption investigation.

Former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell falsely said that Biden asked to unmask “hidden information” about Trump’s incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn “three weeks before the inauguration.” But the documents that Grenell himself released undercut that claim. They show that Biden — or someone in his orbit — asked to review intelligence that turned out to include Flynn’s name on Jan. 12, eight days before inauguration, and that the request included legitimate justification.

Republicans and even Trump, to be sure, soft-pedaled many of their more salacious allegations about Democrats. No one echoed Trump’s favored “witch hunt” attack. And Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, eschewed the issue altogether, despite his years-long effort to pressure Ukrainian leaders to investigate Biden, a push that accelerated Trump’s impeachment.

In a Thursday radio interview, Giuliani indicated he hadn’t given up on the matter, though.

“That'll be for another day,” he said.

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House panel initiating contempt proceedings against Pompeo

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is launching contempt proceedings against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for what it says is his repeated refusal to cooperate with the committee's investigations.

Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) cited Pompeo's refusal to turn over documents in the House impeachment inquiry last fall as well as another subpoena seeking documents the State Department has already voluntarily turned over to a Republican-led Senate panel targeting Joe Biden. Democrats view that probe by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee as a smear campaign against the Democratic presidential nominee that relies on Russian propaganda.

“I want no part of it. Under no circumstances will I amplify [Vladimir] Putin’s debunked conspiracy theories or lend them credence,” Engel said in a statement. “And I won’t stand by and see the Committee or the House treated with such disdain by anyone.”

In a letter to the committee that Engel released alongside his announcement, State Department legislative affairs chief Ryan Kaldahl said the department would readily comply with Democrats’ demands for documents if they mirrored the Senate GOP’s investigation of Biden.

“If you can confirm by letter that the Committee is, in fact, substantively investigating identical or very similar corruption issues involving Ukraine and corrupt influence related to U.S. foreign policy, the Department is ready to commence production of documents responsive to such a request,” Kaldahl wrote.

The department also rejected the contention that it’s obstructing Democratic investigations or politicizing the department's response.

But Engel said the State Department was effectively asking the House committee to parrot the GOP investigation, amounting to the amplification of a false narrative.

The move by Engel may be mostly symbolic; it's unclear whether the resolution will charge Pompeo with civil contempt or criminal contempt, but legal enforcement of a criminal contempt order against a Cabinet secretary is unlikely. The House has previously voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt for their refusal to comply with subpoenas related to the 2020 census. The House Judiciary Committee also held Barr in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller's underlying documents.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chair Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are spearheading two separate investigations that Democrats have panned as an abuse of the Senate’s oversight authority. One centers on Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while his father was vice president; the other is a review of the 2016-era Russia investigation and the presidential transition period in 2016 and 2017.

Earlier this year, Engel issued a subpoena to Pompeo seeking copies of the documents that the State Department was turning over to the Senate Republican investigators.

In justifying his move to seek contempt proceedings, Engel referenced a POLITICO story revealing that a Pompeo aide instructed senior State Department officials last week to begin compiling documents for the Senate GOP-led investigation into the origins of the Russia probe, showing that the department was prioritizing what Democrats have labeled a politically motivated probe intended to denigrate Biden.

The State Department memo was highly unusual, Democratic aides said, in part because it sets an arbitrary date range that Johnson and Grassley never specified. The aides noted that the State Department appeared highly deferential to the request, though the senators initially demanded the documents earlier this year.

Kaldahl, the State Department’s legislative affairs chief, defended the memo as “a required step in the process of authorizing searches and collections in response to congressional requests for documents.”

In his letter to the committee, Kaldahl included a 40-page compendium of responses to previous House oversight requests. And he rejected the notion that Pompeo had politicized the department’s response to inquiries from Democrats or Republicans.

A State Department spokesperson said the department has offered to turn over the requested documents to Engel if the New York Democrat explains “what foreign policy issue he is investigating that requires these documents.”

“Once this letter is received, the Department will produce the documents,” the spokesperson added. “This press release is political theatrics and is an unfortunate waste of taxpayer resources.”

Nahal Toosi contributed to this report.

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Even Rudy Is Sick of His Biden-Ukraine Conspiracies

Even Rudy Is Sick of His Biden-Ukraine ConspiraciesFour years ago, Rudy Giuliani took to the stage at the Republican National Convention to deliver a shouty monologue about how his friend Donald Trump would usher in a new era of law and order and end the racial strife prompted by police killings of Black men. Four years later, Giuliani is back at the RNC. He’s still shouty. And this time he’s monologuing about how  an unprecedented wave of protests, civil strife, and outrage over yet another new round of police shootings is why we need to re-elect Trump.Claiming that “my city is in shock” over a rise in shootings since the George Floyd protests began and with “a self described Progressive Democrat” in charge (shootings in New York City are up sharply this year, though still well below the levels they were at then Giuliani left office after 2001), Trump’s lawyer called Joe Biden, a “Trojan horse” after yelling to the cameras: “Don’t let Democrats do to America what they have done to New York!”Despite the references in Giuliani’s speech Thursday night to rising urban crime rates and attacks on Democratic mayors, the speech from “America’s mayor,” as Oprah Winfrey deemed him after 9/11, had little to do with cities and everything to do with launching a broadside in the battle of the suburbs. Polls show suburban women and college-educated whites deserting Trump and leaning towards Biden. The president has responded on Twitter with dog whistles about affordable housing bringing minorities into the suburbs and housewives fearing that low income families would “invade” their communities. Trump campaign surrogates have tried to seize on the narrative by pointing to dire footage of cities on fire and warn that they’re an omen of an America under Biden—while forgetting to acknowledge that it’s the present under Trump.The unspoken subtext of Giuliani’s speech tried to resolve that contradiction: Trump can’t be held responsible for what happens in the Democratic-run cities and minority neighborhoods because he’s not the president of cities and Black Americans; he’s your president, the president of white suburbans. “It is clear that a vote for Biden and the Democrats creates the risk that you will bring this lawlessness to your city, town or suburb,” Giuliani warned.He ticked off the names of innocents killed in recent months — 4-year old LeGen Taliferro in Kansas City , 17-year-old basketball star Brandon Hendricks in the Bronx days after graduating High School and passed with only brief mention, and 1-year-old  Davell Gardner, Jr. in Brooklyn,” before declaring that “For President Trump, and for us Republicans, all Black Lives Matter and the lives of LaGen, Brandon and Davell matter to us. All lives matter to us.”A few sentences later, he managed to use those names to blame Barack Obama and Biden, declaring that “It has been like this for decades and it’s been controlled throughout by Democrats. In fact, shamefully Obama and Biden did nothing at all to quell the carnage. I guess these Black lives”—again referring to people killed this year, during the Trump presidency—”didn't matter to them.”Perhaps not coincidentally, Biden was the candidate who punctured what remained of Giuliani’s aura when both men were running for president early in the 2008 campaign. The soon to be vice president famously said of then-Republican frontrunner, that “there's only three things he needs to make ... a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11.”Speaking directly after Pat Lynch, the leader of the NYPD’s biggest union, which endorsed in a presidential race for the first time this year declared that "you won't be safe in Joe Biden's America," Giuliani again reached into subtext to criticize the Democratic nominee. The former mayor had spent the lead-up to the convention in a campaign of amateur gerontology in an attempt to suggest that Biden was senile and insinuated his diagnosis again on Thursday, alebit with more subtlety. Biden, Giuliani said, was “an obviously defective candidate” incapable of leaving his basement. The role of floating trial balloons in poor taste on the candidate’s behalf was once reserved for another Trump advisor, Roger Stone. But since then Giuliani has stepped into the role with enthusiasm. Giuliani’s most cherished trial balloon was notably absent from his speech and the convention in general. Trump’s personal attorney spent much of 2019 roaming about Ukraine in search of dirt that could put Hunter Biden in the crosshairs of a foreign prosecutor and his father at a safe remove from the White House. Even for a campaign that’s still in search of attack lines that will stick to the Democratic nominee, no one—not even Rudy—appears to have felt the Ukraine narrative was worth airing. Trump’s impeachment appears to be the only thing Giuliani got for his effort to find what many once thought would be a political deathblow for Biden. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

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This Week in Statehouse Action: Counterprogramming edition

I have a present for you.

It’s this.

You can read it instead of watching (or while watching, as a distraction) Trump’s RNC speech tonight.

I mean, let’s be real—it’s a much better use of your time all around.

This: Contains facts.

That: Contains outright lies.

This: Has bad jokes.

That: Has racisms.

This: Can be read to yourself in any voice you like (personally, I prefer Nathan Fillion as my internal narrator).

That: Can only be heard in Trump Yells.

Anyway, you get the idea.

Even though Republicans are holding their national convention this week, not all is sunshine and roses in GOP-land.

In fact, there’s some serious R-on-R violence astir in Ohio at the moment.

Campaign Action
  • And no, I’m not even talking about the state’s former governor who addressed last week’s Democratic convention.
  • Three GOP state House members have drawn up articles of impeachment against Republican Gov. Mike DeWine because they’re mad about how he’s been handing the coronavirus epidemic.
    • … which, frankly, he’s been doing a lot more competently than many of his fellow GOP governors.
  • GOP Reps. John Becker, Nino Vitale, and Paul Zeltwanger joined right-wing forces this week to sponsor an impeachment resolution detailing 10 specific articles against DeWine, including claims that he
    • Violated separation of powers by having the state health department issue orders “tantamount to creating new laws”
    • “Conspired” with the secretary of state to cancel the March 17 primary and move it to June (lawmakers eventually passed legislation setting an April 28 all-mail primary)
    • Unconstitutionally ordered businesses to close to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which “resulted in record-high unemployment,” which increased “poverty,” “depression,” “despair,” and “suicides” but also required state budget cuts
    • Usurped the state board of education’s power by ordering schools to shut down and then “violat[ing] students’ civil liberties” by requiring them to wear face coverings when schools reopened
    • “Prove[d] his incompetence” by providing “misleading COVID-19 data”
    • Violated Ohioans’ due process rights and civil liberties by issuing a stay-at-home order
    • Somehow violated the First Amendment by requiring Ohioans to wear face masks in houses of worship (and all other indoor spaces)
    • “Promote[d] fear” by issuing a face mask requirement.
  • These three genius lawmakers also set forth the inane lie that face coverings render the wearer somehow “more likely to infect themselves with COVID-19.”

Since both the state’s Democratic and Republican parties are denouncing the impeachment attempt, it’s fair to anticipate that these three extremists won’t be able to muster the House majority and Senate supermajority required to remove DeWine from office.

  • In fact, the Ohio GOP chair called the move “a baseless, feeble attempt at creating attention for themselves.”

… not that feeble, I guess. I’m not the only one writing about it.

  • Republican Rep. Nino Vitale made some other news this week, too.
    • Ohio’s GOP Secretary of State Frank LaRose filed a campaign finance complaint with the state elections commission accusing Vitale of, among other things,
      • Failing to keep a strict account of all campaign contributions
      • Failing to disclose all expenditures above $25
      • Failing to deposit all contributions into an account that wasn’t for personal or business use
      • Using campaign resources for his personal business when he
        • converted his campaign website, email marketing program, and social media accounts for his own use and
        • used his campaign account to pay for Facebook ads promoting his shooting classes on his personal gun range.
    • Vitale thinks LaRose is out to get him because of the impeachment resolution against DeWine.

let them fight dot gif

Elsewhere ...

  • The Milwaukee Bucks made some excellent headlines this week after their extremely righteous move to go on a sudden wildcat strike instead of taking the court for a playoff game in protest of racial injustice and police brutality in the wake of a Kenosha cop shooting an unarmed Black man seven times in the back last weekend.
    • Something that made fewer headlines, however, was the team’s substantive followup on their show-stopping activism.
      • The team also issued a statement on Wednesday calling out Wisconsin’s GOP-controlled legislature for “months of inaction” on bills addressing police accountability and criminal justice reform.
        • The state’s GOP leaders have said nothing in response to the Bucks’ call and have refused reporters’ requests for comment on the matter.
    • Relatedly, earlier this week, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called a special session to convene this Monday specifically to consider nine bills related to police reforms and training he proposed back in June.
      • Lawmakers will meet, but the Republican-majority chambers could vote to adjourn as soon as they gavel in because they’re classy that way.
  • In Pennsylvania, the GOP-controlled legislature is responding to “glitches” in the state’s new mail-in voting law by … trying to make it harder to vote by mail.
    • Specifically, Republicans are pushing a proposal that would cut the amount of time voters have to request a mail-in ballot and limit the locations at which voters to hand-deliver their ballots prior to Election Day.

I mean, of course the GOP is trying to game the system in a closely-contested swing state like Pennsylvania.

It’s not clever, but it’s smart.

… but not everyone is up to no good.

  • Last week in Virginia, state lawmakers convened in a landmark special session and are continuing to advance legislation to reform police practices in the commonwealth.
    • But the session wasn’t noteworthy just because of the subject matter.
      • For the first time in over 400 years, the General Assembly tried a new way of convening.
      • Specifically, the House of Delegates held a virtual session.
        • The endeavor met with some hiccups, though—Republican members complained of lost connections and the system itself was described as “balky.”
        • But in light of the dangers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Democratic-majority chamber was eager to try something new—despite GOP members’ foot dragging.
    • Because Republican delegates refused to immediately get on board with the change, legislative action in the House is off to a slow start.
      • The much smaller (40 vs. 100) state Senate opted to meet in person (with many precautions in place).
        • But that choice brought its own coronavirus-related consequence when GOP Sen. Bryce Reeves revealed this week that he’s tested positive for COVID-19.
          • Reeves reported experiencing “mild symptoms” during the special session’s three days last week.
      • Meanwhile, since Republican Sen. Amanda Chase refuses to wear a mask because of an alleged medical condition, Senate staffers constructed a Plexiglass box around her desk to keep her from potentially infecting her colleagues.
    • Despite all this drama, police reform legislation is actually making headway.
      • On Wednesday, the Senate approved (on a party-line vote) a measure allowing judges and juries to consider lesser offenses (i.e. misdemeanors) for someone who, say, shoves an officer (as opposed to the felony charge from a shooting or stabbing).
        • Currently, any “assault” on a cop is a felony that carries a mandatory six-month minimum sentence.
      • In the House, committees are advancing measures that would ban tear gas and rubber bullets, prohibit police departments from acquiring surplus military gear, and establish “community care teams” to accompany officers when responding to a mental health crisis.

While ending the garbage legal doctrine of qualified immunity for cops (which protects them from personal liability for their actions) is, sadly, not on the table in Virginia, stay tuned for some actual reforms to emerge from the newly-Democratic legislature in the coming weeks.

While some lawmakers are hard at work doing the business of the people in the middle of a pandemic, others are … hardly working.

  • Many are running for reelection, which, you know, makes sense, since we’re a couple of months away from Election Day.
    • But some Republicans would rather party with lobbyists on the beach than actually connect with their constituents or help their states deal with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic or work to address racism and police brutality.
  • This week, the Republican State Leadership Committee (the GOP party organization tasked with election Republican state legislators, lieutenant governors, secretaries of state, and judges across the country) met at a Georgia resort at Sea Island for their annual Summer Meeting.

These sorts of “meetings” are nothing new, and they certainly aren’t unique to the GOP.

  • In the middle of a pandemic, though, when you’re almost guaranteed to take germs you didn’t arrive with back to your respective home states?
  • In a huge COVID-19 hot spot?

Seems pretty clear that one party is actually taking the coronavirus seriously this election season, and it ain’t the GOP.

Welp, that’s a wrap for this week. Thanks for tuning in!

Now go do something nice for yourself.

A snack.

A beverage.

A stretch.

A call to someone special.

An animal ear-scratch.

A fitness.

Whatever floats your boat (including actually floating a boat).

Just take good care of you.

You’re important, and we need you.

The Things Not Said: What Do Democrats Have to Hide?

In the case of the Democrats, a kind of poetic justice was achieved last week when a virtual convention nominated a virtual candidate for what promises to be a virtual presidency.

COVID-19 made both major parties opt for political conventions that don’t put delegates and others at risk with large in-person gatherings, but for Democrats, lessening the risk of disease also meant lessening the risk of the public finding out that there is less than meets the eye to Joe Biden and his candidacy.

What was obvious from start to finish was that a pre-recorded, pre-scripted, pre-ordained infomercial gave Democrats the perfect opportunity to divert the attention of America away from their doddering candidate and their socialist policies into a fawning celebration of phony feel-good sloganeering and Trump hatred.

What Biden and Democrats Didn’t Say At the DNC

While the actual words spoken at the convention were for the most part snooze-worthy, what was left unsaid is like the proverbial nine-tenths of an iceberg lurking beneath the water. If and when the USS Biden crashes and sinks, it will be because of all those things Democrats don’t want to talk about, starting with the fact that 59% of voters expect Kamala Harris to finish out the four-year term of a presumptive President Biden, if not be the virtual president from the start.

Maybe that would be a good thing since so many people suspect Biden has cognitive issues, but it raises the specter of another word never heard at the Democratic convention, not even in the speech of leftist Sen. Bernie Sanders, and that is “socialism.”

That’s because most Americans do not support fundamentally transforming the American economy from its capitalist roots into a socialist “paradise” like Venezuela. Most Americans don’t, but Harris does — at least in part. She co-sponsored Sanders’ single-payer “Medicare for All” plan that would cost $32 trillion before she realized it was a political millstone around her neck.

She also famously pledged “to invest $100 billion of federal money into housing assistance for black families as part of an effort to close the racial wealth gap in the United States.” Wait! Isn’t that illegal discrimination and a blatant violation of equal protection under the law? Yes, it is.

Which brings us to another word not heard much if at all during the Democratic convention — the United States Constitution. Of course, you can’t talk about the Constitution when you intend to violate the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. You can’t talk about the Constitution when you intend to silence the speech of conservatives in a blatant power grab.

You can’t talk about the Constitution when you oppose the Electoral College and when you want to force nuns to subsidize birth control and abortion.

It’s also hard to talk about the Constitution and its promises to “insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty” when you are allowing mob rule in major cities. I’m not sure how the Democrats can sweep this under  the rug, but let’s remember that as a party they oppose the use of force by police, Homeland Security or the National Guard to protect our people, our homes and our businesses.

RELATED: Kamala Harris Acceptance Speech Shows Duplicated Videos of Supporters

And because Democrats know that the vast majority of Americans have an uncanny interest in the safety of themselves and their families, this convention never got around to a discussion of the anarchy in Portland, Seattle and elsewhere.

Barack Obama Takes the Gloves Off

There was plenty of talk about the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impact of a massive lockdown, with speaker after speaker blaming President Trump for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. Former President Obama, taking the gloves off, was representative of the general theme:

“Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t. And the consequences of that failure are severe: 170,000 Americans dead. Millions of jobs gone. Our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before.”

This was a shameless politicization of a national emergency — and a national tragedy — and again what mattered more than what was said was all that was left unsaid. Did anyone hear a Democrat politician blame China for unleashing the virus on not just the United States but the entire world?

In complaining that Trump was too slow to react to the virus, did any Democrat mention that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Biden were all critical of Trump’s decision to shut down air traffic from China last winter? Did any of them have the courage to talk about how China used the virus as a political and economic weapon against the United States?

For that matter, did anyone mention how Biden had dismissed the threat of China to the United States back in May 2019 when he said this while campaigning in Iowa City: “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man. I mean, you know, they’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what? They’re not competition for us.”

Really? This is the man to whom Democrats want to entrust not just our economy but our national security?

Joe Biden’s Record on China

Of course, Biden has good reason not to mention China because when you think about Biden and China, you have to talk about Hunter Biden as well — the former vice president’s son who accompanied his dad to China on Air Force Two and emerged with a $1.5 billion investment deal.

And the last thing you want to talk about if you are Joe Biden is Hunter Biden — although it can’t exactly be avoided, can it? Hunter even got a moment on stage Thursday night when he and his sister, Ashley, introduced their dad. Good for him, but that’s not the last you will hear of Hunter, even if Democrats hope it is.

You can bet that Trump will talk about Hunter Biden when he shares the stage with Joe Biden during the presidential debates, and not just because of China. Remember Ukraine? Apparently, the Democrats have forgotten all about it.

You would think that when you are running against only the third president to be impeached, you would find some way to embarrass him by talking about it. But talking about impeachment means talking about Ukraine, and talking about Ukraine means talking about Burisma Holdings, and talking about Burisma (the corrupt Ukrainian energy company) means talking about (yep!) Hunter Biden, who wound up with a lucrative spot on the company’s board of directors despite having no knowledge of Ukraine or energy.

It ultimately would mean talking about how Joe Biden was in charge of Obama’s foreign policy in both China and Ukraine, and how Biden extorted the president of Ukraine into firing the prosecutor who was investigating both Burisma and the younger Biden.

So, yeah, the less said about Ukraine, the better.

But when you come right down to it, Democrats didn’t want to talk about anything of substance during their four-day coronation. Green New Deal? Better not tell voters you want to take away their SUVs, raise their taxes and shut down 10 million jobs.

Foreign policy? Besides liking China and loving Iran, what does Biden have to talk about? If he talks about the Mideast, he has to acknowledge that Trump’s hard-line support for Israel and opposition to Iran are paying huge dividends in the form of a new peace deal that could be the first of many.

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And there is one other issue that may be the most glaring omission in the list of things not acknowledged: the #MeToo movement that empowered women to come forward and speak out against their alleged abusers.

You would think with a woman selected to be Biden’s running mate, he would want to emphasize how he is a longtime supporter of women’s rights, including the right to be safe from abuse. But that is a “touchy” issue — literally.

It’s not any secret that Joe Biden has a history of unwanted touching. He apologized for it, sort of, after a former Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor in Nevada accused him of inappropriate intimacy.

“So I invaded your space. I’m sorry this happened,” he told various unnamed women while appearing on “The View” back in April 2019. “But I’m not sorry in the sense I think I did anything that was intentionally wrong or did anything inappropriate.”

That is essential Biden. He never quite gets around to admitting anything. Did he or did he not, for instance, intentionally plagiarize Neil Kinnock when he ran for president back in 1988? I think the answer we got from Biden then should perhaps be reserved as his epitaph: “I’ve done some dumb things, and I’ll do dumb things again.”

Maybe the dumbest thing Biden ever did was win the nomination this time around, because nothing will be hidden from view in the next 71 days. Joe Biden and the far-left agenda he now represents will be an open book.

Starting with the GOP convention tonight, you can expect to hear the words China, Ukraine, Mideast and Hunter repeatedly. If the Democrats think they have this thing won, they had better come out from under their cone of silence and look at the iceberg up ahead.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire

Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell Mont., is a columnist for RealClearPolitics. His new book “How We Got Here: The Left’s Assault on the Constitution” is available from his Amazon author page. Visit him at to read his daily commentary or follow him on Facebook @HeartlandDiaryUSA or on Twitter or Parler @HeartlandDiary.

The post The Things Not Said: What Do Democrats Have to Hide? appeared first on The Political Insider.

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