Politics

The gun debate in Virginia took another turn after a Republican state senator said he was told that his attempt to pass an amendment to giving the states sheriff departments a 3 percent raise failed because of opposition by some sheriffs to Gov. Ralph Northams anti-gun agenda.

When Sen. William Stanley on Feb. 20 had tried to amend the state budget with the wage increase, it was defeated—with every Democrat voting against it. Stanley alleged that after the vote, he was approached by Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw, a Democrat.

“Hey Stanley, you want to know why your sheriffs didnt get a raise? Because they came to our committees and said that they werent going to enforce our laws,” Saslaw said.

Stanley said he asked Saslaw which particular legislation he was alluding to, in which the majority leader responded, “gun control.”

Saslaws remark was an apparent reference to Second Amendment sanctuaries, a growing movement in which local officials and some sheriffs generally state that they wont follow new gun laws they believe are unconstitutional. In Virginia, 91 of the states 95 counties have passed some sort of measure affirming their support for Second Amendment sanctuaries.

“I was shocked that the Democrats are now punishing our local Sheriffs Departments (by eliminating a pay raise for them), for their choice to protect and defend our citizens Second Amendment rights,” Stanley wrote in a now-viral Facebook post following the incident.

“Democrats want to restrict a citizens right to protect themselves, but wont pay our sheriffs deputies to protect Virginians,” Stanley continued. “Hypocrisy has a name.”

Saslaw didnt immediately respond to The Epoch Times request for comment, but he told CBS 6 he did say those words.

“All I said was a lot of people are upset that these people come in and say theyre not going to enforce my laws,” he told the network. “Thats all.”

David Campbell, vice chairman of the Effingham County Board in Illinois, told The Epoch Times he sees the incident as a “direct attack on Virginias sheriffs.”

“All representatives and senators take the same oath of office as the sheriffs do,” he said via email. “The sheriffs are only doing their job and what they were sworn to do, and that is to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America.”

A handful of gun control bills have advanced swiftly through Virginias state legislature in recent weeks and could be passed in the coming days. Those bills include limiting handgun purchases to one per month, universal background checks on gun purchases, allowing localities to ban guns in public buildings, parks, and other areas, and a “red flag” bill that would allow authorities to temporarily confiscate guns from anyone deemed by a judge to be dangerous to themselves or others.

The Senate version of the state budget included a one-time, $200 bonus for sheriffs departments during the first year and a 3 percent increase in the second year, Read More – Source

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Politics

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) scored a landslide victory at the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22, defeating a field of five rivals and raising the possibility of a socialist front runner in the race to face President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

Sanders won more than half the popular vote and 46 percent of the vote with 60 percent of the precincts reporting as of 2 p.m. on Feb. 23. Former vice president Joe Biden, who had led the Democratic field in national polling for over a year before plunging late last month, held a distant second place with 19.6 percent of the vote.

Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, added uncertainty to the race by defeating even the opponents who had shifted their policy proposals as far left as his own socialist agenda. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) trailed in third and fourth place with 15.3 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.

With the consequential Super Tuesday coming up on March 3, the results from Nevada solidify Sanders as the front runner after he won the popular votes in both New Hampshire and Iowa. In terms of delegates to be sent to the national convention, Sanders tied with Buttigieg in New Hampshire and lost by one delegate in Iowa. More than a third of all the delegates for the Democratic National Convention will be determined on Super Tuesday.

“First we won the popular vote in Iowa. Then we won the New Hampshire primary. And now we have won the Nevada caucus,” Sanders wrote on Twitter after the results were called. “Lets go forward together and win it all.”

Sanders, a self-described socialist who once honeymooned in the Soviet Union, is running on a far-left agenda. His Medicare for All and Green New Deal policies would cost American taxpayers up to $93 trillion over the course of a decade, according to estimates by the American Action Forum.

In Nevada, Sanders proved his strength with a broad coalition that included Latino voters, union members, and African Americans. The results are significant for Super Tuesday, when the biggest delegate counts are to be won in California and Texas, which are demographically similar to Nevada.

In terms of funding, Sanders holds a major advantage over all candidates except billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

Buttigieg, who shared front-runner status with Sanders until the Nevada caucuses, attacked the Vermont senator and positioned himself as the only viable choice.

“Sen. Sanders believes in an inflexible, ideological revolution that leaves out most Democrats, not to mention most Americans,” Buttigieg told supporters.

“Sen. Sanders sees capitalism as the root of all evil. Hed go beyond reform and reorder the economy in ways most Democrats—let alone most Americans—dont support.”

Nevada proved to be a major disappointment for Biden, who is now counting on the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29 to reestablish himself before Super Tuesday. Biden was in third place in both Iowa and New Hampshire, far behind Sanders and Buttigieg.

“Were alive and coming back, and were gonna win,” Biden told supporters in Las Vegas.

Biden is counting on his support among South Carolinas black voters, who could make up as much as two-thirds of the electorate in the state.

Facing a dual threat from Sanders and Bloomberg, Biden tried out a new rallying cry in Las Vegas: “I aint a socialist. I aint a plutocrat. Im a Democrat. And Im proud of it.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who produced oRead More – Source

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Politics

A man who allegedly hacked the website of a congressional contender in Californias 25th District has ties to the Democrat who won the race, Katie Hill, according to an FBI affidavit.

Both of Hills opponents in the 2018 Democratic primary, Jess Phoenix and Bryan Caforio, complained that their websites were disrupted by cyberattacks.

The man responsible for the attacks on Caforio was Arthur Dam, according to a Feb. 19 affidavit by FBI special agent Elliott Weideman.

Dam was arrested on Feb. 21, the Department of Justice (DOJ) stated in a release.

Dams wife, Kelsey OHara, was fundraising for Hill as her campaign consultant and went on to become a program and research director in Hills congressional office in Palmdale, California.

Hill had the blessing of the Democratic establishment. Former President Barack Obama endorsed her, saying she was “running to take the values of her community to Washington.”

She won the Democratic nomination by less than 3,000 votes and went on to beat the Republican incumbent, Steve Knight, with 54 percent of the vote, outspending him more than 3-to-1.

She resigned in November amid an ethics probe after photos were leaked to the media of her having intimate relations with a former campaign staffer. Hill complained of “cyber exploitation” at the time.

Cyberattacks

As the FBI agent described, Caforios campaign website was targeted four times by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that took it down for a total of about 21 hours, including on April 28, 2018, right before a live television debate between the candidates. The website remained offline for at least the duration of the debate.

DDoS attacks overload a website with bogus traffic in order to shut it down. The agent found that the computer IP addresses linked to the attacks on Caforio were assigned to a single Amazon Web Services (AWS) account registered with the email address “[email protected]

Dam listed the address as one of the emails on his Apple account and also as his recovery address for his Gmail account. The IP addresses used to access the AWS account were linked to OHaras and Dams home address as well as his workplace address.

The agent went as far as to collect Dams banking records and the geolocation data and browsing history from his Google account, which further corroborated Dams involvement.

“Dam was found to have conducted extensive research on both the Victim and various cyber exploits, malicious toolkits, and cyberRead More – Source

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Politics

Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, a key witness in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, has signed a book deal.

Publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt confirmed that it acquired the rights to Yovanovitchs as-yet-untitled memoir.

The book will follow her career as a foreign service officer in Mogadishu, Somalia; Kyiv, Ukraine; and eventually Washington, “where, to her dismay, she found a political system beset by many of the same challenges she had spent her career combating overseas,” the publisher said in a statement.

“Yovanovitchs book will deliver pointed reflections on the issues confronting America today, and thoughts on how we can shore up our democracy.”

The company didnt disclose the terms of the contract, but two people familiar with the deal told The Associated Press that the agreement is worth seven figures. The release is expected in spring 2021, months after the elections in November.

Yovanovitch is represented by the Javelin literary agency, which counts former FBI Director James Comey and former national security adviser John Bolton among its clients.

“Ambassador Yovanovitch has had a 30-year career of public service in many locations, with many lessons to be drawn. This is about much more than just the recent controversy,” said Houghton Mifflin Senior Vice President and Publisher Bruce Nichols, in response to a question about why her book wasnt coming out this year.

Trump removed Yovanovitch from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine in 2019. Upon her return to Washington, she was given a post of her choice by the State Department with no negative impact on compensation.

Yovanovitch testified in the impeachment inquiry about the events surrounding her return to Washington. She didnt provide any first-hand testimony related to the core allegations brought by House Democrats, who accused Trump of abusing his power and obstructing Congress. The Senate acquitted Trump of both charges on Feb. 5.

The Democrats alleged that by removing Yovanovitch, Trump paved the way for carrying out the alleged scheme of pressuring Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. The allegations are drawn from aRead More – Source

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Politics

President Donald Trump said an apparent leak on Russian interference in the 2020 election was designed to hurt Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) before calling for an investigation.

Before leaving on a trip to India, the president told reporters at the White House that “nobody briefed [him] about that at all” when he was asked about the alleged Kremlin interference to bolster Sanderss campaign. Trump then offered critical words to a longtime congressional foe.

“They leaked it, Adam Schiff and his group, they leaked it to the papers. They ought to investigate Adam Schiff for leaking that information,” Trump said, referring to House Intelligence Chairman Schiff, a Democrat from California. “He should not be leaking information out of Intelligence.”

Schiff served as the lead architect during Trumps impeachment inquiry and lead prosecutor during the subsequent trial in the Senate, which resulted in the presidents acquittal. Schiffs panel also held a public hearing with former special counsel Robert Mueller, who led a two-year investigation into whether Russia helped Trump win the election in 2016, but Muellers report ultimately concluded that Moscow didnt collude with Trumps campaign at all.

“I think what it could be is, you know, the Democrats are treating Bernie Sanders very unfairly and it sounds to me like a leak from Adam Schiff because they dont want Bernie Sanders to represent them. It sounds like its [2016] all over again for Bernie Sanders,” Trump told reporters on Sunday. Following his 2016 victory, Trump accused the Democratic Party of favoring former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Sanders.

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House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) listens as Ranking Member Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) speaks at the open impeachment hearing in Washington on Nov. 19, 2019. (Shawn Thew – Pool/Getty Images)

In response to Trumps accusation, Schiff accused the president of “deflection.” He wrote, “You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraines help in 2019, and wont protect our elections in 2020. Now you fired your intel chief for briefing Congress about it. Youve betrayed America. Again.”

Sanders, meanwhile, netted a significant victory in Nevada, meaning that he nowRead More – Source

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White House national security adviser Robert OBrien said he has seen no evidence of Russia interfering in the 2020 election to help President Donald Trump, according to an interview aired on ABC on Feb. 23.

OBrien was responding to anonymously sourced media reports which claimed that the intelligence community told lawmakers in a briefing that Russia is interfering to help re-elect Trump.

“I havent seen any intelligence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump reelected,” OBrien told ABC. “I think this is the same old story that weve heard before.”

“Weve been very tough on Russia, and weve been great on election security. So I think its a nonstory.”

OBrien is not the only one disputing the media report of the intelligence briefing. Marc Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, told Fox News in an interview aired on Feb. 23 that there is no evidence that Russia favors Trumps re-election.

“I think theres not intelligence that said the Russians are trying to help Donald Trump win [the] election,” Short told Fox. “We know that foreign governments have been trying to interfere in elections to sow chaos.”

According to The New York Times, the briefing was provided to House lawmakers, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) who led the House impeachment inquiry. Reports about the briefing were followed by the resignations of Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire and the number two DNI official Andrew Hallman.

OBrien said that Maguires exit had nothing to do with the intelligence briefing.

“First of all, Joe Maguire wasnt pushed out,” OBrien said. “He was serving under the Vacancy Act. He was acting, and his term, I believe, was ending March 11 or March 2, like two weeks from now.”

Election Threats Executive Shelby Pierson was reportedly the person to voice the assessment that Russia was helping Trump. Lawmakers at the briefing reportedly pressed Pierson for evidence, but she did not provide any.

Then-DNI Dan Coats created the Election Threats Executive position at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and appointed Pierson shortly before he resigned. The whistleblower who triggered the impeachment process referenced the Coats memo in his or her anonymous complaint. The ODNI has refused to release the memo, which is not classified.

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Politics

President Donald Trump on Feb. 21 announced his nomination of Roger D. Carstens as the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA), according to a White House statement.

Carstens currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the Department of State, where he oversees the Bureaus work in Near Eastern Affairs, Western Hemisphere Affairs, and the Office of Security and Human Rights.

A graduate of the United States Military Academy, he has also worked overseas with international NGOs in Somalia and Jordan, where he provided humanitarian assistance and stability support to Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons.

Carstens retired from the United States Army as a Lieutenant Colonel with 20 years of service, including in the Special Forces, 1st Ranger Battalion, and as Special Assistant for Legislative Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Following the announcement, National security adviser Robert OBrien said on Twitter that the “appointment of Roger Carstens as Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs is an important signal reaffirming @realDonaldTrumps priority of bringing home as many of our wrongfully detained Americans and hostages as possible.”

“It was my honor to serve as SPEHA from May 2018 to October 2019. I know Roger will do a great job implementing the Presidents priorities and bringing our fellow citizens home.”

OBrien also thanked Hugh Dugan for his role as acting SPEHA since last October, saying, “He did great work bringing Americans home.”

Earlier this week, OBrien also responded to reports that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election in order to get President Donald Trump reelected.

He said reports that intelligence officials were briefed that the Kremlin is trying to give Trump a helping hand in his 2020 bid were a “non-story.”

“So, look, who knows what happened over at the House and the Intelligence Committee, but I havent seen any evidence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump reelected,” he told

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Politics

Robert OBrien, the White House national security adviser, dismissed claims that the Russians are interfering in the 2020 election or are attempting to help President Donald Trumps reelection campaign.

“I havent seen any intelligence to support the reports that were leaked out of the House. But its just hard to comment on that because, again, I wasnt there,” Robert OBrien told CBS Newss “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning.

Those leaks, he noted, were released from a hearing conducted by the House Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). “I havent seen any intelligence that would back up what Im reading in the papers,” he said.

Earlier this month, intelligence officials told bipartisan members of the Intelligence panel about alleged election interference on behalf of Russia, according to reports. Republicans asked for evidence. Those reports claimed intelligence officials then briefed the White House on election security.

“From what I understand about the report … I get this second hand, but from Republican congressmen that were in the committee, there was no intelligence behind it,” OBrien said. “I think this is the same old story that weve heard before. … Weve been very tough on Russia, and weve been great on election security. So I think its a nonstory,” he also told ABCs “This Week” on Sunday.

On Friday, after reports on the alleged interference surfaced, Trump was similarly dismissive, saying it was part of a Democratic-led plan to undermine his presidency.

Trump wrote on Twitter that it is merely “another misinformation campaign is being launched by Democrats in Congress.” He added in another post: “Be careful of Russia, Russia, Russia.”

The Kremlin said that new allegations that Russia is trying to influence the 2020 election are false.

Epoch Times Photo
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President Donald Trump walks to board Air Force One prior to departure from Daytona Beach International Airport in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Feb. 16, 2020. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

“These are more paranoid announcements which, to our regret, will multiply as we get closer to the [U.S.] election,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

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Trump administration will begin denying green cards to aliens who would be dependent on government welfare for extended periods from Monday after the Supreme Court lifted a state injunction on its “public charge” rule in Illinois, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Saturday.

Based on the rule, which was first introduced on Aug. 14 last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will determine an alien as inadmissible to the country or ineligible for permanent residency if they are likely to become a public charge at any time in the future.

At the same time, the rule will also give USCIS the authority to require a nonimmigrant who is seeking extension of nonimmigrant stay or change of nonimmigrant status to demonstrate that they have not received public benefits over a designated threshold since obtaining the nonimmigrant status they seek to extend or change.

A public charge refers to an individual who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government for subsistence through assistance such as food stamps or Medicaid. The rule, also known as the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule, will consider a person a public charge if they receive at least one government benefit for more than 12 months in a three-year period.

“This final rule will protect hardworking American taxpayers, safeguard welfare programs for truly needy Americans, reduce the Federal deficit, and re-establish the fundamental legal principle that newcomers to our society should be financially self-reliant and not dependent on the largess of United States taxpayers,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

The White House announced the new timeline after the Supreme Court lifted the last obstacle to the nationwide implementation of the public charge rule on Feb. 21.

The top court justices voted 5-4 on Friday to grant the halting of an injunction issued by a lower court in Illinois against the rule, allowing the Trump administration to enforce its policy in the state while an appeal plays out in the 7th Circuit. The oral arguments for the Illinois appeals case are scheduled for Feb. 26.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and SoniRead More – Source

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Twitter suspended 70 pro-Michael Bloomberg accounts from its platform, the company announced late on Friday, according to multiple news reports.

A Twitter spokeswoman told The Los Angeles Times that the company was temporarily suspending some and outright banning other accounts because they violated the platforms policies against spam and manipulation.

Twitter did not immediately respond to request for comment.

“We have taken enforcement action on a group of accounts for violating our rules against platform manipulation and spam,” the Twitter spokesman told the LA Times.

The Bloomberg campaign told The Epoch Times in an email that its staffers use an app called Outvote to share the campaigns message with friends and family.

“We ask that all of our deputy field organizers identify themselves as working on behalf of the Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign on their social media accounts,” Twitter campaign spokeswoman Sabrina Singh wrote in an email.

The Bloomberg campaign has hired an army of people in California to post on their social media accounts in support of Bloomberg, according to the Wall Street Journal. These employees receive $2,500 a month to carry out standard campaign duties and send out pre-approved messages on social media.

A review of several accounts by the LA Times found a number of accounts using identical text, hashtags, and images. Such behavior is in violation of Twitters manipulation and spam policy.

Bloomberg announced his candidacy on Nov. 24. The billionaire former New York City mayor has spent more than $400 million on the campaign since. He received little support in polls in December, but began to surge at the turn of the year and is currently in third place, according to an average of national polls maintained by Real Clear Politics.

Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the Real CleaRead More – Source

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