Devon Archer debate focuses on Hunter Biden ‘illusion of access’

Democrats and Republicans are offering clashing interpretations of the significance of former Hunter Biden business associate Devon Archer’s closed-door testimony, which lawmakers said included assertions that Hunter Biden was selling the “illusion of access” to his father and that Hunter Biden sometimes put President Biden on speakerphone to talk to his business associates.

The revelations are fueling Republican attempts to link the president to his son’s business dealings. Republicans, including Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. James Comer (Ky.), say the testimony shows that President Biden “lied” when he made campaign trail statements that he had never talked to his son about his foreign business dealings.

But Democrats say Archer’s testimony to the House Oversight Committee on Monday actually shows the president was not involved in Hunter Biden’s foreign business affairs.

Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), who attended the hours-long transcribed interview, said Archer testified that because Hunter Biden was under pressure from Ukrainian energy company Burisma, “he had to give the illusion — and he used that term, the illusion — of access to his father, and he tried to get credit for things that he — that Mr. Archer testified Hunter had nothing to do with, such as when Vice President Biden went to Ukraine on his own.”

Lawmakers clash over whether testimony implicates president

Archer was on the board of Burisma with Hunter Biden. Republicans have said then-Vice President Biden’s call to remove Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin, whose office was investigating Burisma, was directly related to his son’s involvement with, and sizable payments from, the company. 

But the investigation in Burisma had been opened before Shokin took the position, and Shokin was widely criticized for failure to prosecute corruption, with his ouster supported by numerous U.S. officials.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement that Archer testified that “President Biden was not involved in his son’s business affairs, and that President Biden was never asked to, nor did he, take any official actions in relation to those business matters.” 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week that the president “was never in business with his son.”

On the other end of the partisan spectrum, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), who also attended the transcribed interview, said he thought Archer’s testimony “implicate[s] the president.”

Reading from his notes of the transcribed interview, Biggs said Archer testified that “Burisma would have gone out of business sooner if the Biden brand had not been invoked. People would be intimidated to legally mess with Burisma because of the Biden family brand.”

According to Biggs, Archer said the Biden “brand” referred to President Biden. But Goldman later said that Archer clarified the “brand” was based on a “D.C. brand based on his own experience in lobbying” and “in conjunction with the fact that his last name was Biden.”

Burisma bribery allegations

Both Biggs and Goldman said that Archer had no knowledge of an alleged $5 million payment to Biden from Burisma, an allegation relayed by a confidential FBI source in a form released by Republicans earlier in June.

Goldman argued that Archer’s testimony undercut the premise of the Biden-Burisma bribery allegations.

“Even though it was perceived by Burisma that they had the Prosecutor General Shokin ‘under control,’ quote unquote, that Joe Biden advocated for his firing — which of course, was not coveted or desired by Burisma, and would potentially be bad for Burisma,” Goldman said.

Raskin said that Republicans appeared to be “chasing” the bribery allegations, and pointed to a recent letter to Comer from Lev Parnas, who was involved in an effort to dig up dirt about the Bidens in Ukraine ahead of the 2020 election, urging Comer to abandon efforts to chase the “conspiracy theories.”

Comer, on the other hand, took issue with Hunter Biden’s work with Burisma.

“When Burisma’s owner was facing pressure from the Ukrainian prosecutor investigating the company for corruption, Archer testified that Burisma executives asked Hunter to ‘call D.C.’ after a Burisma board meeting in Dubai,” he said in a statement, which a press release said raised concerns that Hunter Biden was in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Phone calls with the president

Archer’s testimony did appear to partially back up Comer’s statement to the New York Post last week that he expected Archer to discuss the times he witnessed Hunter Biden’s putting then-Vice President Biden on speakerphone with foreign business partners.

Democrats downplayed that concern.

“The witness indicated that Hunter spoke to his father every day, and approximately 20 times over the course of a 10-year relationship. Hunter may have put his father on the phone with any number of different people, and they never once spoke about any business dealings,” Goldman said.

“As he described it, it was all casual conversation, niceties, the weather, ‘What’s going on?’” Goldman said, adding that “there wasn't a single conversation about any of the business dealings that Hunter had.”

Democrats also stressed that there were especially frequent conversations between Hunter Biden and his father after his brother, Beau Biden, died from brain cancer in 2015.

Biggs pushed back on Goldman’s characterization.

“He probably forgot to tell you that Devon Archer himself said that was an implication of who the ‘big guy’ is,” Biggs said, referring to communications drawn from a laptop hard drive that purportedly belonged to Hunter Biden.

The House Oversight GOP also said in a tweet that President Biden attended a 2014 dinner with Hunter Biden and some of his foreign business associates at Cafe Milano in Washington, D.C.

White House slams GOP after ‘much-hyped witness’ testimony

Ian Sams, White House spokesperson for oversight and investigations, also argued that the Archer interview poked holes in the GOP attempts to directly link President Biden to his family’s foreign business dealings.

“It appears that the House Republicans’ own much-hyped witness today testified that he never heard of President Biden discussing business with his son or his son’s associates, or doing anything wrong,” Sams said. “House Republicans keep promising bombshell evidence to support their ridiculous attacks against the President, but time after time, they keep failing to produce any. In fact, even their own witnesses appear to be debunking their allegations.”

Raskin said that the Biden family investigation is a “desperate effort to distract everyone from former President Donald Trump’s mounting criminal indictments and deepening legal morass.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who was also in the interview, told reporters that Archer had revealed new information, but declined to elaborate further.

Abbe Lowell, counsel for Hunter Biden, said in a statement that House Republicans "keep swinging and keep striking out in their obsessive pursuit of the President through his son, Hunter." 

"Mr. Archer confirmed one more time that Hunter Biden did not involve his father in, nor did his father assist him in, his business. It’s well known that Hunter and his father speak daily, and what Mr. Archer confirmed today was that when those calls occurred during Hunter’s business meetings, if there was any interaction between his father and his business associates, it was simply to exchange small talk," Lowell said.

"Like the relatives of Donald Trump, Senators Ron Johnson and Ted Cruz, Rep. Lauren Boebert, and many others, family members of elected representatives meet people and may get opportunities because of those connections," he continued. "Congress would be busy investigating many of their own if that’s their idea of an offense.” 

Archer did not answer shouted questions when entering or leaving the transcribed interview, and his attorney declined to take a side in the debate over his testimony.

“We are aware that all sides are claiming victory following Mr. Archer’s voluntary interview today. But all Devon Archer did was exactly what we said he would: show up and answer the questions put to him honestly and completely. Mr. Archer shared the truth with the Committee, and we will leave to them and others to decide what to do with it,” said Matthew L. Schwartz, a managing partner of Boies Schiller Flexner LLP.

Democratic senators challenge Alito to testify before Congress 

A pair of Democratic senators is challenging Justice Samuel Alito to testify before lawmakers, just days after the justice said Congress had “no authority” to regulate the Supreme Court.

Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) both called on the justice Monday to testify before lawmakers after Alito told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Friday that Congress lacks the jursidiction to regulate the court. This comes as Democrats attempt to mandate stronger ethics rules since Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas have come under recent scrutiny for ethics controversies.

“If Justice Alito is willing to expound to the Wall Street Journal that Congress has no authority over the Court, he should come before Congress to tell us directly why—in testimony before the Judiciary Committee,” Blumenthal posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

“And while he’s there, we can talk about ethical lapses & a Supreme Court code of conduct,” he added.

Whitehouse reposted Blumenthal’s comments, adding that “Alito can also explain how it’s ethical to offer opinions on matters likely to come before the Court — that’s not what they tell us in confirmation hearings.”

Blumenthal and Whitehouse both serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee and have both been outspoken about the recent ethical controversies the Supreme Court has faced. Whitehouse also blasted Alito’s interview with the Journal in a separate post on X on Monday.

“And why would they not offer opinions about matters that might come before the Court? Right, because it would be unethical,” Whitehouse wrote. “To belabor the point, Alito just did something colleagues have called unethical, to protect his ability to do things that are unethical. Rich.”

Tuberville blasts Biden’s Space Command decision: ‘This is absolutely not over’ 

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) blasted President Biden’s decision Monday to keep the headquarters of the Space Command in Colorado, overturning former President Trump's decision to move it to Alabama.

“As soon as Joe Biden took office, he paused movement on that decision and inserted politics into what had been a fair and objective competition—not because the facts had changed, but because the political party of the sitting President had changed,” Tuberville said in his statement.

Tuberville is locked in a standoff with the Pentagon over its abortion policy, placing a hold on hundreds of Biden's military nominations in protest.

Some officials have said Alabama's restrictive abortions laws played into the Space Command HQ decision, though the White House said it was motivated entirely by concerns that a major move would undermine military readiness.

Tuberville wrote that it was “shameful” the Biden administration waited until Congress was in recess to make this decision, noting it came after the House and Senate passed versions of next year’s defense budget. The two chambers still need to hammer out a final version of the defense budget.

And he claimed that Colorado Springs did not even crack the top three sites for the headquarters in a review by the Air Force, trailing locations in Alabama, Nebraska and Texas.

“This decision to bypass the three most qualified sites looks like blatant patronage politics, and it sets a dangerous precedent that military bases are now to be used as rewards for political supporters rather than for our security,” he wrote.

Trump's initial decision to move the HQ to Alabama also prompted claims of political motivations from Democrats. Alabama overwhelmingly voted for Trump in the 2020 election and has two GOP senators, while Colorado voted for Biden and has two Democratic senators.

Tuberville on Monday said the fight to bring the headquarters to Alabama was “not over,” adding he hopes House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) will continue an investigation into the matter.

“This is absolutely not over. I will continue to fight this as long as it takes to bring Space Command where it would be best served—Huntsville, Alabama,” he said.

Rogers said in a statement that he will continue the committee's investigation into the relocation of the headquarters, also saying the “fight is far from over.”

“The Biden administration’s shameful delay to finalize the permanent basing decision for U.S. Space Command warranted the opening of a Congressional investigation," Rogers said.

"I will continue this investigation to see if they intentionally misled the Armed Services Committee on their deliberate taxpayer-funded manipulation of the selection process. I will continue to hold the Biden administration accountable for their egregious political meddling in our national security."

Other Alabama Republicans, including Sen. Katie Britt and Gov. Kay Ivey, also took aim at Biden’s decision Monday.

“President Biden has irresponsibly decided to yank a military decision out of the Air Force’s hands in the name of partisan politics,” Britt said in a statement. “Huntsville finished first in both the Air Force’s Evaluation Phase and Selection Phase, leaving no doubt that the Air Force’s decision to choose Redstone as the preferred basing location was correct purely on the merits."

“The White House choosing to not locate Space Command Headquarters in Alabama – the rightful selection – is very simply the wrong decision for national security,” Ivey posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “The fact that a CNN reporter is who first delivered the news to Alabama should say all.”

Ukraine Update: MAGA support for Russia rising as Trump attacks Ukraine in his campaign

Over the weekend, Donald Trump resuscitated the same anti-Ukraine crusade and tactic that got him impeached the first time around: holding Ukraine aid hostage unless the Biden family is “investigated.” No one will ever accuse him of learning from his mistakes.

Yet his renewed and vocal ire against Ukraine is having a real effect on the MAGA view of the conflict, according to Civiqs polling.

Civiqs doesn’t publicly track attitudes about the Ukraine war, but it has tracked one relevant question for the past six years: ”Do you see Russia as more of a potential ally, or a foe of America?”

Among the general public, Russia’s ratings are in the gutter—10% consider it an ally, while 76% are correct that it is a foe. It’s not a subjective matter. Russian leadership regularly threatens to launch nuclear weapons against the United States and its allies. It’s hard to “Make America Great” if America (and the rest of the world) is a nuclear wasteland. This shouldn’t be controversial.

Yet that 10% is a very special decile. It represents MAGA country, and they are increasingly warming up to Russia’s fascist dictator Vladimir Putin, as Trump and MAGA leaders like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene lead the charge.

Check out the chart among Republicans:

What’s initially interesting is that despite Trump’s railing about the “Russian hoax,” Republican attitudes toward Russia worsened throughout Trump’s first impeachment proceedings, the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2020 elections, and ultimately, Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Yet attitudes about Russia among Republicans have improved from their nadir in November 2022, going from 11% ally, 71% foe, to 15-64 today, an 11-point net swing. Russia’s brutality and nuclear rhetoric have only worsened since, so the shift is all from domestic politics.

Indeed, that November 2022 nadir is notable, as that is when Republicans took the House, emboldening Greene to make promises at a Trump rally that, “Under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine. Our country comes first."

She and Rep. Matt Gaetz unsuccessfully tried to defund Ukraine aid this past month. Greene’s effort got 89 Republican votes, with 130 opposed. Gaetz’s push got 70 votes, with 149 opposed. It’s not a majority opinion in the Republican Party, but Trump is moving his base’s opinion on the matter.

What’s interesting is which Republicans are changing their minds.

Among Republicans older than 65, the spread is 8% ally, 78% foe. These are old Cold War survivors who lived under the threat of Soviet annihilation. But the younger the Republican, the more likely they support Putin. Among Republicans age 18-34, the spread is 20-52.

This is the crowd that worships incels like Nick Fuentes, megalomaniacs like pro-Russia Elon Musk, and weirdos like Jackson Hinkle.

If you don’t know who Jackson Hinkle is, this is a taste:

Satanic Zelensky has signed a law moving Christmas in Ukraine from January 7 (Orthodox Christmas) to December 25, in his effort to "renounce Russian heritage.”

— Jackson Hinkle 🇺🇸 (@jacksonhinklle) July 28, 2023

Can you think of anything more satanic than celebrating Christmas on Dec. 25? This is a great thread if you want to hate-read more about Hinkle. It includes stories about his pathetic romantic life and his parents smacking him down for his lies.

Those younger conservatives lack the personal memory of Russia’s long history of aggression and fascism, and they are part of a social media algorithmic culture that rewards contrarianism and outrage-harvesting. It really is telling that the geriatric Republican caucus in the Senate has little patience for Russia, while the youngest Republican House members drive divisions in the House.

These numbers among Republicans will likely keep swinging toward Putin as Trump centers much of his campaign on this message. He is under legal assault for breathtaking corruption, he feels an existential need to “both sides” that level of corruption, and he still weirdly thinks that centering Ukraine in that narrative gets him there. And let’s face it, Trump loves Putin. He wants to be Putin. And any enemy of Putin is no friend of Trump.

“Make America Great,” indeed.

As of now, the pro-Putin MAGA crowd is far from garnering the necessary support to block Russian aid. That doesn’t mean that they won’t be making this a defining rallying cry for both the Republican primary (former vice president Mike Pence was booed on a campaign stage for defending Ukraine aid), and the 2024 general election.

I’ve mostly ignored Russia’s big push around Kreminna and Svatove up in northeastern Ukraine, on the Luhansk-Kharkiv border. At one point, Ukraine claimed that 100,000 Russian troops had gathered to try and retake the strategic logistical hub city of Kupyansk, which they lost in last year’s fall counteroffensive.

The whole notion was as stupid as fears that Belarus would invade Ukraine, or that Russia would launch an amphibious assault on the Black Sea port city of Odesa. When something seems implausible, it most likely is. And the idea that Russia would move one-third of its forces to a part of Ukraine with little strategic value when it was failing to advance anywhere else on the map was ridiculous.

But Russia is dumb; we know that. So it made sense to keep an eye on things. In the end, the most that Russia could accomplish was to capture three “towns” with a combined population of around 80 people. If there were 100,000 Russian troops in the area, why were we only seeing a few dozen here or there?

In any case, Ukraine has recaptured at least two of those three “towns,” and maybe even the third. There is violence and death in that section of the front, so I don’t mean to minimize what those troops are experiencing. But in the greater scheme of things, it’s not very relevant at all. There were never 100,000 Russian troops, and Ukraine never worried too much about it.

The real action is happening down south.

After the initial attempt at a big armored breakthrough failed, Ukraine reverted to a more cautious approach, with a refocus on shaping the battlefield in southern Ukraine. That meant two things: 1.) degrading Russia’s massive artillery advantage, and 2.) degrading Russia’s logistics. If Russian frontline troops can’t get the supplies they need, and if they can’t put up a wall of artillery in front of a Ukrainian advance, things look a lot different for any Ukrainian advance.

Ukrainian counterbattery fire has done a number on Russian artillery, and General Staff still claims between 20-30 artillery kills every single day.

Russia has long ago adjusted for GMLRS rocket artillery, moving its supply depots and hubs beyond its range. But that changed with the arrival of British Storm Shadow cruise missiles and their French counterpart, SCALP. Suddenly, supply depots, troop concentrations, and command control centers once considered safe by Russia are going “boom” all around Russian-occupied territory. And just as importantly, so are bridges.

In fact, Ukraine just shut down the last remaining rail link connecting Crimea to southern Ukraine.

In connection with the confirmed damage to the Chongar railway bridge, I consider it appropriate to recall the importance of this connection for Russian military logistics. The railroads that Russians can use to supply the entire southern front are a connection from Armiansk…

— Special Kherson Cat 🐈🇺🇦 (@bayraktar_1love) July 31, 2023

Russian can truck supplies in, but it is infinitely more challenging to do so. Trucks use more fuel, they break down, they get ambushed by partisans, more stuff gets stolen or “diverted,” and you need far more vehicles to transfer the same amount of supplies that a single train can ship.

It’s the same problem with closing the grain shipping corridor. There are other ways for Ukraine to move that grain—like trucks and rail—but those have nowhere near the capacity of a single one of those massive container ships.

Given current satellite photos and a single Russian on-the-ground photo (they’re being better at hiding the evidence this time around), it’s hard to tell just how extensive the damage to the bridge is. Rail lines can be fixed quickly, so it depends on how damaged the bridge’s supports are. But now we know Ukraine can hit it, and can continue to hit it to keep the bridge out of action.

Indeed, we’re starting to see something akin to last year’s Ukrainian counteroffensives, where Ukraine spent the spring and summer shaping the battlefield, targeting Russian logistics, command, and control, then pulled the big trigger in the fall. Let’s hope for equal success!

Donate to help those escaping Putin's illegal invasion of Ukraine

Biden overturns Trump decision to move Space Command HQ from Colorado to Alabama

President Biden overturned a decision from the Trump administration to relocate the temporary headquarters of Space Command to Alabama, deciding instead to keep the base in Colorado.

The decision was made because Biden believes keeping the HQ in Colorado Springs, rather than relocating it to Huntsville, would maintain stability and not impact readiness, according to a senior U.S. official.

The senior administration official said Biden consulted with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other military leaders before deciding to keep the base in Colorado permanently.

Gen. James Dickinson, the head of Space Command, also helped to convince Biden to not relocate the base, according to the Associated Press.

U.S. Space Command headquarters is set to achieve “full operational capability” at Colorado Springs later this month, according to the senior administration official.

The official said moving the headquarters to Alabama would force a transition process that does not allow the new base to open until the mid-2030’s.  

"The President found that risk unacceptable, especially given the challenges we may face in the space domain during this critical time period," the official said. "Locating Headquarters U.S. Space Command in Colorado Springs ensures peak readiness in the space domain for our nation during a critical period."

Biden's reversal is likely to spark the fury of Alabama Republicans who have for months feared the administration would scrap the relocation plan.

Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers (R), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has been investigating the delay behind the relocation plan, which was first put in motion when Space Command was resurrected in 2019.

Former President Trump's decision to temporarily establish a headquarters in Colorado and relocate Space Command to Alabama was criticized as a political choice based upon a more favorable constituency in the Yellowhammer state.

Since coming into office, the Biden administration ordered reviews of the decision, none of which found anything improper in Trump's decision, though they found the former president could have followed better practices in the process.

The delayed relocation reached new heights over the spring when NBC News reported the Biden administration was considering scrapping the relocation plan because of restrictive abortion laws in Alabama.

Rogers and other Alabama Republicans objected to any such plan, saying Huntsville, also known as Rocket City, was selected based on its merits and in a fair process, while pointing to the reviews that found nothing improper.

The House version of the annual defense bill that passed earlier this month includes provisions that slash funding for the Air Force Secretary until the administration makes a final decision. It's unclear whether Rogers will be satisfied with a reversal.

Other Alabama politicians, including Gov. Kay Ivey (R), quickly blasted the the decision as political. Alabama overwhelmingly voted for Trump in the 2020 election and has two GOP senators, while Colorado voted for Biden and has two Democratic senators.

Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) said the base Redstone Arsenal in Alabama was the correct location based on its merits, arguing "Biden has irresponsibly decided to yank a military decision out of the Air Force’s hands in the name of partisan politics."

"The President’s blatant prioritization of partisan political considerations at the expense of our national security, military modernization, and force readiness is a disservice and a dishonor to his oath of office as our nation’s Commander-in-Chief," she said in a statement.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby reiterated during an interview with CNN on Monday that the president's decision was entirely due to national security considerations, pointing specifically to the rising threat from China.

"This was really a decision based on one thing and one thing only for a president and that was operational readiness," Kirby said. "He took the inputs of many leaders across the Department of Defense that when it came down to it, he believes that it's in the best national security interest of the country if we leave Space Command in Colorado."

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett (D) joined officials from his state in celebrating Biden's decision.

"Over the past two and half years, we have repeatedly made the case that the Trump administration’s decision to relocate U.S. Space Command was misguided," the senator wrote on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Today’s decision restores integrity to the Pentagon’s basing process and sends a strong message that national security and the readiness of our Armed Forces drive our military decisions," he added.

Updated at 5:34 pm ET.

Harris: ‘Ridiculous’ to have to say slavery had no benefits

Vice President Kamala Harris is doubling down on her rebuke of new Florida education guidelines that call for the teaching of how enslaved people benefited from slavery. 

In an interview Monday with ABC News’s Linsey Davis, Harris dismissed allegations that her response to these guidelines is “ideological posturing.”

“I think that this is just a matter of whether one chooses to speak fact and truth or not, and its pretty much that simple,” said Harris. “I don’t think this is up to any ideological debate to say that people who were enslaved did not benefit from slavery, period. 

"It almost seems ridiculous to have to say what I just said, that enslaved people do not benefit from slavery,” Harris continued. “There are so-called leaders, extremists, who are attempting to require in our nation an unnecessary debate with the intention, I believe, to try and divide us as Americans. Stop. Stop.”

Harris has been among the top voices to criticize Florida’s new education guidelines, going as far as to accuse the Florida Department of Education and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) of creating a “revisionist history.” 

“They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, and we will not stand for it,” Harris said earlier this month at Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.’s 56th national convention in Indianapolis. “We who share a collective experience in knowing we must honor history and our duty in the context of legacy.”

Later, the nation’s first Black vice president traveled to Jacksonville, Fla., a predominantly Black city in the Sunshine State, and accused Republican leaders of “pushing propaganda” on children. 

Black leaders around the country have condemned the lesson, along with another lesson that discusses how acts of violence were perpetrated against and by African Americans, including the Tulsa Race Massacre and the 1920 Ocoee Massacre. 

DeSantis, who is campaigning for president, has defended the guidelines, saying that the state's education department “did a good job with those standards." 

He has also accused Democrats, including Harris, of lying about Florida’s educational standards “to cover for their agenda of indoctrinating students and pushing sexual topics onto children.” 

But the growing criticism has also come from within DeSantis’s own party. Black conservatives have called for the standards to be reviewed

It’s unclear if the guidelines will be changed at all, but the fallout so far has come as DeSantis’s competitors for 2024 have begun to gain on his second-place position for the GOP nomination. 

Harris's comments with Davis are part of a larger interview set to air Monday night. The full interview will include her thoughts on reproductive rights and the way Black history is taught in schools.

Pence’s political advocacy group calls for Congress to declare an invasion at southern border

Former Vice President Mike Pence’s political advocacy group is calling for a declaration of an invasion at the southern border as part of a legislative agenda to tackle the ongoing migrant crisis.

Advancing American Freedom, which was founded by the 2024 presidential candidate, released its agenda Monday to secure the border and end illegal immigration.

It calls for legislation to declare an "invasion" in response to the crisis that has seen record numbers of migrants hit the southern border since 2021.


"The United States Constitution declares that the federal government shall protect states from invasion. So long as the Biden administration refuses to do this job, Congress should officially declare an invasion so that states have the legal authority to secure the border for themselves," the agenda states.

The use of the term "invasion" has grown in Republican circles in recent years to describe the crisis. Both former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have used the term as part of their presidential campaigns – with DeSantis promising to "stop the invasion" as part of his border strategy.

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has cited the "invasion" clause to authorize the return of illegal immigrants to the border with Mexico. That comes after there were more than 1.7 million migrant encounters at the southern border in FY 2021 and 2.4 million in FY 2022.

Democrats have taken aim at the use of the term, saying it is dangerous and encourages anti-immigrant sentiment.

"The invasion narrative some members push in this hearing room is bigoted, fact-free and dangerous," Jerry Nadler, House Judiciary Committee ranking member, said at a hearing last week.

The policy proposals put forward by Pence’s group also call for Congress to explore a possible impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas – something that has been called for by a number of House members. 

DHS has responded to those calls by urging Congress to pass legislation to fix a "broken" immigration system and provide the funding requested by the Biden administration.


Separately, the AAF agenda calls for an end to "chain migration" – which allows for immigrants to sponsor relatives for green cards into the U.S. – and also for reforms to temporary visa programs like the controversial H-1B visa program. Critics have said such visas are used by companies to replace American workers with cheaper foreign nationals.

It also backs legislation already introduced in Congress – including the GOP House border security package passed earlier this year. Other bills supported are Kate’s Law, as well as measures to end the visa lottery, allow victims of illegal immigrant crime to sue sanctuary cities, reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols, and continue border wall construction at state level.

 "Congress needs to hold President Biden, Secretary Mayorkas, and the Department of Homeland Security accountable for their dangerous failings at the border, while also passing legislation that gives our border agents the resources and restored powers they need to do their jobs and enforce the law, AAF Executive Director Paul Teller said in a statement. "Advancing American Freedom believes that a country without a secure border and the rule of law isn’t a country at all and will continue to call for decisive action from Congress and the administration to keep our country safe." 

The policy rollout, which will be followed by a visit by AAF staff this week, is the latest indicator of how the border crisis is likely to continue to be a top political and 2024 issue – even as the Biden administration has touted a recent drop in numbers at the border since the end of Title 42 in May.

Republicans have blamed the crisis on the Biden administration, with 2024 candidates rallying around calls to restore policies implemented when Pence was vice president. The Biden administration has said it is expanding lawful pathways while punishing illegal immigration as part of its post-Title 42 strategy.

However, the recent torpedoing of its asylum rule after a left-wing legal challenge has raised new fears that a potential new surge could be coming soon.

Witness says Joe Biden talked to Hunter’s business associates; GOP sees smoking gun, Dems downplay

Hunter Biden’s former associate Devon Archer said Hunter would sometimes put then-Vice President Joe Biden on speakerphone while meeting with business partners, two lawmakers said Monday.

Archer spoke to the House Oversight and Accountability Committee on Monday in a closed-door meeting. The panel is investigating Hunter Biden and what, if any, role his father played in his foreign business dealings.

But Republicans and Democrats were split on whether Archer's comments were a sign that now-President Biden has been working closely with his son's business deals, something the White House has denied.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., told Fox News Digital that Archer’s admission proves Biden "lied" about not being involved in his son’s foreign dealings.


Greene, who was not in the meeting but said she is getting regular updates from her staff, said that Archer "said specifically, he heard Hunter Biden speak to Joe Biden more than 20 times" and said Archer recalled the conversations were "about their business deals."

"Not about lunch or the weather or just getting dad on the phone. It's about their business deals. He also said that the Bidens were in the business of influence peddling. And that is significant. Very significant," Greene said.

"What that does is that proves Joe Biden lied…think about how significant that is. That means Kevin McCarthy calling for an impeachment inquiry is the right thing to do," she said.

On the other side of the aisle, freshman Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., told reporters that Archer said Biden was on the phone when he was working with Hunter. But Goldman said they discussed "casual niceties" and "the weather" rather than topics of business.


"Like many people, Hunter spoke with his father every day, and would often put his father, occasionally would put his father on to say hello to whomever he happened to be caught at dinner with, and Mr. Archer clarified that was sometimes people that they were having, you know, they were trying to do business with, and it was sometimes friends or other social engagements," he said.

"As he described it, it was all casual niceties, the weather, what's going on," Goldman added. "There wasn't a single conversation about any of the business dealings that Hunter had."

Greene, however, accused Goldman of covering up for the president and his family. She pointed out that before coming to Congress, Goldman first gained national attention as House Democrats’ lead counsel during the first impeachment of former President Trump.

"Dan Goldman is a former prosecutor on the impeachment team of President Trump, and now has basically just declared himself the de facto attorney for Joe Biden and Hunter Biden. And so he's standing out there trying to downplay this and spin this, but that's not what was said," Greene said.


Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., told reporters that he believes Archer's testimony "implicated the president" but said of the phone calls with business associates, "The substance of the conversations were pleasantries."

Archer said that Biden was put on the phone to sell "the brand," a source told Fox News. These phone calls included a dinner in Paris with a French energy company and in China with Jonathan Li of BHR.

Archer testified there was value of adding Hunter Biden to Burisma’s board was "the brand," the source said. The argument was that then-Vice President Joe Biden brought the most value. Archer also stated that Burisma would have gone under if not for "the brand."

Biden says he doesn’t watch TV, shares ‘worst advice’ he ever got

President Biden is opening up about the crummiest advice he’s ever gotten, saying holding grudges “gets you nowhere.”

“I guess the worst advice I’ve ever received was holding a grudge — because lots of times when people do something that is really not good, it’s because they were fearful when they did it. Not fearful of you, but their circumstance,” Biden said in an interview on Jay Shetty’s “On Purpose” podcast released Monday.

“It gets you nowhere, which means people will doubt that I’m really Irish,” Biden quipped.

“But all kidding aside,” the 80-year-old president continued, “remembering is important, but holding a grudge is not helpful.”

The best advice Biden said he’d been given was to “show up.”

“My mother used to say, ‘Joey, get up. Never bow, never bend. Just get up.' But showing up, that's a big part,” he said.

In the wide-ranging chat focused on grief and mental health, Biden also revealed he’s definitely not serving as the country’s TV viewer in chief.

Asked which TV show set in the world of politics and Washington is the most accurate and which is the least, he cracked, “’Mission Impossible.’”

“Look, one of the problems I have is I don't — and I should — I don't watch much television,” Biden said.

“And it's not because I'm above it or anything like that,” he told Shetty during the pair’s conversation at the White House. Biden blamed decades of commuting between D.C. and Delaware as a senator for cutting into potential TV time.

“And so when I get home, there wasn't much to watch,” Biden said, noting he’d focus his energy on spending time with his then-young children.

“So I've been back and forth so much I just haven't watched many programs,” the 46th president said after describing his usual Amtrak train commute while in the Senate.

“There’s a lot of good stuff, I'm sure. I mean, every once in awhile I turn it on,” Biden said of current television fare.

Living at the executive mansion, which is equipped with a movie theater, has helped his viewing habits, according to Biden.

“I get this list what movies are in and we have the new one,” Biden said of “Oppenheimer,” adding that he’s yet to see the summer box office hit starring Cillian Murphy as the famed real-life Manhattan Project physicist.

“They’re the movies I see these days,” Biden said of the films screened at the White House. “I get to see them at night every once in awhile.”

White House board warns of ‘intelligence failures’ without reauthorization of 702

A White House board of intelligence experts made the case Monday for reauthorizing one of the intelligence community’s most controversial tools, arguing failure to do so could be “one of the worst intelligence failures of our time.”

Congress has until the end of the year to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a process looking more in doubt amid growing lawmaker mistrust of the FBI as well as concern the practice unnecessarily sweeps up information on Americans.

“The Board strongly believes that Section 702 authorities are crucial to national security and do not threaten civil liberties, so long as the requisite culture, processes, and oversight are in place,” the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) wrote in its report.

“The cost of failure is real. If Congress fails to reauthorize Section 702, history may judge the lapse of Section 702 authorities as one of the worst intelligence failures of our time.”

Section 702 allows intelligence outfits to undertake warrantless surveillance of foreigners located outside of the U.S., but their communications with American citizens are often captured in the process. That creates a database officials can query that critics have likened to backdoor searches of U.S. citizens.

Much of the consternation around Section 702 has been focused on the FBI, the intel agency with the most domestic scope of work but also a history of improperly using the tool — a problem the bureau has acknowledged and done some work to address.

That issue surfaced anew when a FISA court opinion from April released earlier this month revealed 702 searches were improperly done on a U.S. senator, state lawmakers and a state court judge.

“The Board, however, found no evidence of willful misuse of these authorities by FBI for political purposes,” PIAB wrote in the report.

“To date, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has only identified three incidents of intentional misconduct from among millions of FBI queries of Section 702 information and FBI has addressed the incidents appropriately.”

However, many of the board's proposed reforms are directed at the FBI, including directing the attorney general to limit the bureau’s ability to conduct some 702 queries for non-national security-related crimes.

The board also recommends establishing a more rigorous preapproval process for those wishing to use 702 to search for information related to U.S. citizens.

In a call with reporters, however, officials stressed they would not back any plan that would require getting a warrant to use the 702 database for information concerning Americans, noting that it's been used to assess whether an American is the victim of a crime or the target of foreign intelligence services.

“One thing we do not recommend is a warrant for every U.S. person inquiry … That issue of U.S. personal inquiries, particularly by the FBI, has been a dominant issue in this discussion. We do not recommend that in part because obviously, when you're first assessing whether or not the U.S. person is the victim of cyberattack or an effort by a Chinese intelligence officer for recruitment, you have no probable cause to believe that that person is a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power,” a PIAB board member said.

“So there are legal limitations to getting a warrant each time, not to mention the burdensome nature.”

The FBI in a Monday statement said Section 702 should be “reauthorized in a manner that does not diminish its effectiveness,” a sentiment backed by the White House on Monday.

“We also agree with the Board’s recommendation that Section 702 should be reauthorized without new and operationally damaging restrictions on reviewing intelligence lawfully collected by the government and with measures that build on proven reforms to enhance compliance and oversight, among other improvements,” it said in a joint statement from national security adviser Jake Sullivan and principal deputy national security adviser Jon Finer.