Pelosi takes shot at ‘scared puppy’ Trump

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday said former President Trump had looked like a “scared puppy” a day earlier as he traveled to Washington, D.C., to appear in court in his arraignment on charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and his efforts to remain in power.

“I wasn’t in the courtroom of course, but when I saw his coming out of his car and this or that, I saw a scared puppy,” Pelosi said in an interview with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. “He looked very, very, very concerned about the fate," adding she did not see any "bravado or confidence or anything like that" from Trump.

“He knows the truth, the truth that he lost the election,” she continued. “And now he’s got to face the music.” 

Trump appeared at Washington’s federal courthouse Thursday afternoon where he pleaded not guilty to four counts alleging he led a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and attempted to block the certification of votes Jan. 6, 2021. The Department of Justice’s 45-page indictment alleges Trump led a campaign of “dishonesty, fraud and conceit” to obstruct a “bedrock function” of a democracy. 

Pelosi appointed the nine members of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol, which investigated the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and surrounding events and communications from those involved.

“Very proud of the Jan. 6 committee, which took us, laid the foundation, created a path or us to get to this place, to seek the truth," she said Friday.

When asked about Trump’s defense’s strategies to delay the trials until after the election if he is the Republican nominee, Pelosi said it’s because the former president is “afraid of the truth.” 

“Instead of having this back-and-forth publicly about delay and that, there are certain options that are available to a person who has been arraigned,” Pelosi said. “But that’s up to the judges to decide. But it’s not up to the arraigned person to say the justice system is not on the level.”

Rand Paul warns Republicans against falling into impeachment ‘trap’

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is warning Republicans against falling into the “trap” of impeachment after Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signaled earlier this week that the House could move forward with an impeachment inquiry against President Biden. 

“It’s not good for the republic to keep impeaching presidents and indicting presidents,” Paul said in an interview on Fox Business Network's “Mornings with Maria.”

“All this stuff is destructive,” he added. 

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday night, McCarthy said the House GOP’s investigations into the Biden family’s foreign business activities are “rising to the level of impeachment inquiry,” but clarified no decision had been made. 

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Paul pushed back on that idea.

“The other side [Democrats] says, ‘Oh they want to, they’re for preserving democracy.’ They’re pitting everyone against each other and they’re destroying the fabric of our republic, so I think we have to be careful not to fall into the same trap,” Paul said. 

Former President Trump was impeached twice by a majority-Democratic House during his four-year term. Republicans in the Senate acquitted Trump in both instances. 

Paul is among several Republican lawmakers who have pushed back against McCarthy’s comments. That group also includes Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who called the remarks “impeachment theater” meant to distract from budget negotiations, and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), who told reporters, “No one is seriously talking about impeachment.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks to a reporters as he arrives to the Capitol for a procedural vote regarding a nomination on Tuesday, June 13, 2023. (Greg Nash)

In a statement exclusively obtained by The Hill, the White House said McCarthy’s suggestion is “a ridiculous, baseless stunt, intended to attack the President at a time when House Republicans should instead be joining the President to focus on the important issues facing the American people.” 

In his interview with Hannity, McCarthy accused Biden of using the “weaponization of government to benefit his family and deny Congress the ability to have oversight.”

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Republican skepticism over the Biden family’s foreign business activities was boosted last week when Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) released an FBI form containing unverified allegations of corruption connected to Hunter Biden’s business with Ukrainian energy company Burisma. 

The White House has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the matter, and White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated Monday that Biden was never in business with his son.

Morning Consult poll conducted June 22-24 found 30 percent of register voters believe it should be a “top priority” for Congress to investigate whether Biden should be impeached, including 11 percent of Democrats, 24 percent of independents and 55 percent of Republicans.

Updated at 2:40 p.m. 

Blinken warns of ‘problematic behavior’ from China during Tonga visit

Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of "problematic behavior," from China during his visit to the Polynesian island of Tonga on Wednesday.

"What I think one of the things that we've seen is that as China's engagement in the region has grown, there has been some, from our perspective, increasingly problematic behavior," Blinken said, pointing to concerns over China's "unlawful maritime claims," "predatory" economic activity and investments that "promote corruption."

The comment follows Blinken's high-stakes trip to China last month, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping amid rising tensions between the countries. The trip to Tonga is Blinken's third visit to the Asia-Pacific region over the past two months, having also visited Indonesia.

The trip comes as part of the White House's efforts to push back on China's growing influence in the Pacific islands region and increase the U.S. presence. In a notice sent to Congress earlier this month, the State Department said it is planning a sharp increase in diplomatic personnel and spending for new U.S. embassies in the Pacific islands.

Meeting with Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi ‘Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni on Wednesday, Blinken dedicated a new U.S. embassy in Tonga that opened two months ago.

"We acknowledged a changing global landscape, the impacts of conflict and the strategic importance of the Pacific Island region," Sovaleni said.

He also told reporters that Tonga's growing partnership with the U.S. is rooted in a "shared respect for democracy, the rule of law, and the rights of freedom of others." Solvaleni said he and Blinken discussed the focuses of the partnership, including the climate crisis, education and defense.

When asked about Tonga's debt to China, Sovaleni said the country has officially started to pay off the debt and does not "have any problems or concerns," about it.

"When we talk about 'free and open,' we mean a region where all countries are free to choose their own path and their own partners; where problems are dealt with openly; where rules are reached transparency and applied fairly; where goods, where ideas, where people can move freely and lawfully," Blinken said.

The secretary of State will next head to New Zealand to meet with officials and watch the Women's World Cup soccer match between the U.S. and Netherlands. He will then visit Brisbane, Australia, to meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Australian counterparts.

The Associated Press contributed.

Gaetz introduces legislation to end ‘unqualified’ birthright citizenship  

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) introduced a bill Tuesday that would end “unqualified” birthright citizenship for children whose parents are not themselves U.S. citizens.

The legislation, titled the “End Birthright Citizenship Fraud Act of 2023,” would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act “to reflect the original intent of the 14th Amendment’s ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ clause,” according to a statement on the measure

The 14th Amendment grants citizenship to all “born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”  

The amendment was passed in 1866, shortly after the Civil War, to ensure citizenship and equal rights for formerly enslaved people.

The 1898 Supreme Court case United States v. Wong Kim Ark upheld the idea the 14th Amendment applies to children regardless of their parents’ immigration status.  

Birthright citizenship has become a favored target of hard-line conservatives. Former President Trump, who toyed with moving against it during his time in office, has pledged to end it on his first day in office if he returns to the White House, though experts say a president would lack that legal authority on their own.

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If passed, Gaetz’s legislation would deny automatic citizenship at birth to children born in the U.S. to parents who are not U.S. citizens, while “excluding aliens lawfully admitted as refugees or permanent residents or performing active services in the U.S. Armed Forces.” 

The bill claims birthright citizenship has "enabled an entire black market," citing estimates of 33,000 births to women on tourist visas annually, and "hundreds of thousands more" born to undocumented immigrants or those on temporary visas, "many of whom have misrepresented the purpose of their trip to avoid scrutiny."

It is not clear if the removal of birthright citizenship can happen through legislation. 

“Birthright citizenship has been grossly misapplied for decades, recently becoming a loophole for illegal aliens to fraudulently abuse our immigration system,” Gaetz said in a statement, adding that his bill shows “American citizenship is a privilege — not an automatic right to be co-opted by illegal aliens."

The Florida Republican, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said the bill will “preserve the sanctity of American citizenship” and ensure citizenship is something that is “earned” from legal migration to the U.S.  

The bill comes as the Judiciary Committee is slated to question Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday regarding the agency’s operations and immigration in particular.  

Pelosi: McCarthy is ‘playing politics’ with support of expunging Trump’s impeachments

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she believes Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is "playing politics" with his support of expunging former President Trump's two impeachments.

"We had no choice, [Trump] must be impeached," Pelosi told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union." "Kevin is, you know, playing politics. It's not even clear if he constitutionally can expunge."

McCarthy told reporters last month he supports erasing Trump's impeachments because one was "not based on true facts," and the other was "on the basis of no due process."

"Well, [Trump] was impeached because we had no choice," Pelosi said Sunday. "He had undermined our national security, jeopardized our well being of our country."

Pelosi also called the idea of expunging the impeachments "not responsible."

"This is about being afraid," Pelosi said. "As I've said before, Donald Trump is the puppeteer. And what does he do all the time to shine light on the strings? These people look pathetic."

During her time as Speaker, House Democrats impeached Trump twice — once in 2019 for his abuse of power when he threatened to withhold U.S. military aid to Ukraine unless Kyiv investigated his political rivals, and again in 2021 for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Republicans in the Senate acquitted Trump in both instances.