Rand Paul Agrees With Trump on at Least This One Thing (FULL AUDIO)

On Wednesday, as just about everyone knows by now, Donald Trump gave an interview to the New York Times in which he lambasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions for accepting the post and then recusing himself from decisions on the Russia probe.

A lot of GOP senators were not happy:

Confronted with the rare and awkward choice of siding with either a president of their party or a Cabinet member who’s a former colleague, Senate Republicans are sounding of single mind:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, until five months ago a senior GOP senator from Alabama, has done nothing to merit the upbraiding he’s been taking from President Donald Trump.

Being a former member of one of the most exclusive clubs in American politics, it seems, has privileges — including insulation from a wave of piling on when your job seems in jeopardy.

Conversations on Thursday with nine senators from across the Republican ideological spectrum, representing one-sixth of the party caucus, produced not a single critical word about their former colleague — let alone anyone willing to agree the president is justified in being angry that Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Well, the reporter could have looked a little deeper:

Yesterday, Paul was guest on Dom Giordano’s radio show and he discussed the subject:

“I do think he could’ve been stronger and stood up and said, look, I met with the Russian Ambassador many times, it was left off of forms as an oversight, but, by golly, I’m going to do my job and I’m not recusing myself. Ultimately, he has the power to do that and I just think that they all got scared of their shadow because the Democrats kept going on and on and on about everybody that once upon a time met with a Russian ambassador or Russian foreign minister.”

While I understand Trump’s desire to feel like he had an ally running the investigation, the fact of the matter was that Sessions was not going to be allowed to be involved in any part of the Russia probe and, moreover, he probably wanted nothing more than to divest himself of a tar-baby that was going to damage his ability to act as AG. The issue was also more complicated than the Russian ambassador no one will admit meeting. Sessions was an early supporter of Trump, endorsed him, and campaigned on his behalf. But the meeting with the Russian ambassador clearly spooked Sessions who probably saw himself getting dragged into the Russia probe as a subject.

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NEVERMIND: Sean Hannity Won’t Be Receiving Media Excellence Award, After All

Several weeks ago, we brought you the mind-boggling news that Fox’s Sean Hannity would be receiving Media Research Center’s William F. Buckley Award for Media Excellence.

The absolute audacity in presenting somebody like Sean Hannity with an award named after the man who founded the National Review and was considered, in his time, “arguably the most important public intellectual in the United States” was surreal.

Hannity has never been an intellectual, and since jumping the Trump train, he has devolved to nightly, frothing rants, raves, and tabloid-level pimping of conspiracy theories.

Actual conservatives, those who are holding firm to the platform of less government, state rights, and the free market, over nationalism and the sycophantic blathering of Trumpism, were pretty aghast at the notion of Buckley’s name being associated with Hannity.

Just a small tip moving forward for Hannity, or anybody else living in confusion: Conservatism does not mean “Whatever Trump says is right.”

Buckley’s family were just as upset, and apparently, his only child, author Christopher Buckley, made his displeasure known.

According to CNN:

A source familiar with the situation tells CNN that Christopher Buckley “expressed great dismay” at the announcement that the award would go to Hannity, who has spent a great deal of time insulting conservative intellectuals on Twitter, particularly since he became a strong supporter of Donald Trump.

Buckley, sources say, called the Media Research Center and expressed his disapproval. Sources tell CNN that the MRC acquiesced and will no longer give the award to him. Hannity has since been removed from the gala website.

The line they’re going with, in order to explain away the sudden switch from news that was announced several weeks ago is that Hannity had a “scheduling conflict.”

A source familiar with the situation tells CNN that Christopher Buckley said of the concocted scheduling excuse: “perhaps Mr. Hannity has been offered the Ronald Reagan Great Communicator Award on the same evening and had decided to leverage upwards.”

Can we safely say the younger Buckley is not a fan?

A Fox News spokesperson has confirmed that Hannity will not be attending the gala to accept that award.

That’s because they’re not giving it to him, now.

Brent Bozell, the founder of Media Research Center, is the nephew of William F. Buckley, so this train wreck was, ultimately, his doing. Thankfully, he listened to his cousin and corrected it before further besmirching his uncle’s name.

Maybe he should have checked with the other members of Buckley’s family before attempting to posthumously load his uncle aboard the Trump train – a move the man would have almost assuredly objected to, were he in a position to speak.

For his part, Hannity is taking it well:

You stay classy, Sean.

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The Myth That We Need New Republicans

“We need new Republicans!” That phrase or variations on it (“Drain the swamp!”) are ubiquitous once again as the GOP-led Congress continues to fail to repeal and replace Obamacare. It returns to the lips of conservatives every time Republicans break a campaign promise or are less productive legislatively than hoped. It has fueled electoral efforts now at the frequency of every two years and despite replacement Republicans and anti-establishment candidates, non-politicians, Tea Partiers, and others, it always comes back.

Maybe it’s time to check this premise. No doubt some will argue that there was nothing wrong with these candidates before they came to Washington: they went to Washington to change it, but Washington changed them. Who said that again? Not that it matters, because that is not the problem.

Nor is the problem that they’re all a bunch of squishy, RINO, moderate, big government, statist, secret-liberals. Conservative health care policy expert Avik Roy noted that Ronald Reagan

embraced universal [health care] coverage. In “A Time for Choosing” — Reagan’s celebrated conservative manifesto delivered at Goldwater’s 1964 Republican National Convention — Reagan declared, “No one in this country should be denied medical care for lack of funds.”

Though Reagan opposed mandated coverage, he did support assisting the needy in paying for care. Some short-sighted conservatives think that all that is necessary to enact a conservative agenda is complete ideological purity and will, but the sort of proposals the Gipper put forward are not even on the table for some on the right today. Indeed, if another Republican took the same stance today, they would call him a squish. Yet Reagan was the most successful conservative of our collective lifetimes.

Health care is not the only policy area in which Republicans, despite complete control of the legislative and executive branch, have nothing to show for their efforts. Ramesh Ponnuru points out that they have made no progress on tax reform, their campaign promises notwithstanding. Neither have they accomplished anything regarding infrastructure, supposedly a priority of President Trump’s. Ponnuru concludes, “The main reason they’re not doing much is that they haven’t figured out what they want to do.”

I think there is truth to that. The question is, why? The answer is that conservatism lacks leadership.

Jay has already addressed the fact that President Trump’s first six months in office have been marked by a complete lack of leadership. He wrote,

Being the president is not the same as throwing your name on bad steaks and bottles of water. It requires discipline, hard work and, as Trump himself said, a willingness to get everybody in a room and hammer out a deal.

That’s legislative leadership and it’s absolutely crucial. That said — and not to let the president off the hook — I have a different kind of leadership in mind: movement leadership.

Can anyone state what the priorities of the conservative movement are? I don’t just mean what the most important issues are, but within those issues, what does the movement consider to be the most important outcomes of reform? If immigration is a top priority, for example, what values do conservatives seek most to promote? What outcomes are at the top of the list? How do we think it best to get there?

Certainly, in a certain sense, it doesn’t make sense to speak of single conservative movement. Conservatism is first and foremost a disposition to preserve the institutions and values of a society. Specific policy prescriptions will generally conform to a pattern at any given time, but individual conservatives can differ on how best to conserve. This is why conservatism can be such a strange amalgamation of factions at times. Modern American conservatism began as a fusion of anti-communism, free-market libertarianism and traditional conservatism. Add to that neoconservatives, paleoconservatives, the Religious Right, Reagan Democrats, reform conservatives, Tea Partiers, federalists and more, and there is little reason to wonder why bringing them together to enact major legislation is so difficult.

In fact, perhaps the better question is how all of these camps have come together at all. The answer to that is probably opposition to liberal Democrats more than anything. It appears to be the classical tale that conservatives know what we are against, but not what we are for. It would be more accurate to say that we are united in what we’re against, but divided in what we are for.

Without a doubt, it is Congress’s job to figure out the best way to run with the mandate it has been given. Failure in that regard should not be excused. Nor should conservative constituents expect to elect yesmen. As Burke said, “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” But how much can we expect from representatives in Washington if the only thing coherent about the conservative agenda is that we don’t like the Obama (or even the Bush) legacy?

21st century conservatism needs to decide what it is for. Most probably, that will require leaders with compelling visions to take the reins. It will require difficult decisions. It may involve leaving some factions largely out, in order to unite around goals and priorities into something coherent. It may also involve innovative policies unembraced by conservatives on a large scale.

It cannot be simply a legislative movement for two reasons. The first is that it would have to rely solely on the will of those who are elected. Rather, they must be held accountable by a movement united in purpose — not merely in opposition, but also in promotion. The second reason is that, like it or not, such unification is a long-term proposition — if not very long-term, at least longer than the next election cycle.

Only when there is a coherent and cohesive vision can conservatives send people to Washington and expect them to come together productively for conservative ends. Until then, we can only expect so much out of new legislators who must try to make sense of such disparate ends.

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Seminole man arrested after police pursuit reaches 100 mph

A police pursuit in Seminole ended in a cotton field early Friday morning after the vehicle stalled. Around 3 a.m., a Seminole Police Officer tried to pull over a white 2003 Mitsubishi Montero for a traffic violation in the 100 block of SW D Street. 
Source: KCBD News

As Mueller Expands Investigation Into Trump’s Business Dealings, Trump Sweats

Of all the things Donald Trump has chosen to do differently than any other president before him, his refusal to release his tax returns has struck many as the most curious.

Initially, Trump insisted that he was under audit, but the IRS said that even under audit, his releasing his tax returns would not be a problem.

Then it was that they were too complicated for anyone to understand.

That morphed into, “Nobody cares.”

Now it seems, he’s moved on to, “OMG… THEY’RE GOING TO LOOK AT MY TAX RETURNS!”

That was the report late Thursday, when the news turned to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation expanding to look into Trump’s business dealings.

According to Bloomberg:

The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in last year’s election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe.

FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.

The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

That’s a pretty deep probe.

Trump, in an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, had said that if Mueller started digging into information beyond the 2016 election, it would be crossing a line.

By Thursday, Mueller hadn’t just crossed the line, but it appears he soaked it in kerosene and lit a match.

All that being said, the scope of Mueller’s investigation was given pretty wide territory.

The Justice Department’s May 17 order to Mueller instructs him to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,” suggesting a relatively broad mandate.

Agents are interested in dealings with the Bank of Cyprus, where Wilbur Ross served as vice chairman before he became commerce secretary. In addition, they are examining the efforts of Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and senior aide, to secure financing for some of his family’s real-estate properties. The information about the investigation was provided by someone familiar with the developing inquiry but not authorized to speak publicly.

The roots of Mueller’s follow-the-money investigation lie partly in a wide-ranging money-laundering probe launched by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara last year, according to the person.

Bharara was fired back in March.

There has also been recent reports that Trump has at least broached the topic of his powers of pardon, although those reports are framed in the context of casual curiosity, and not as if he were addressing this investigation, specifically.

Whatever the case, Trump is not pleased with the news of Mueller’s expanding investigation.

We can only speculate why.



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Trump’s Legal Team May Use Presidential Pardons to Fence in Mueller’s Investigation

According to unnamed sources quoted in the Washington Post, Donald Trump’s legal team is researching how the president’s power to pardon may be used to fence in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller:

Some of President Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump’s lawyers have been discussing the president’s pardoning powers among themselves.

One adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller’s investigation.

“This is not in the context of, ‘I can’t wait to pardon myself,’ ” a close adviser said.

President Trump suggested the special prosecutor’s team might not be fair, impartial investigators because of previous political contributions, legal clients and personal friends. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)
With the Russia investigation continuing to widen, Trump’s lawyers are working to corral the probe and question the propriety of the special counsel’s work. They are actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work, according to several of Trump’s legal advisers.

This is consistent with Trump’s Wednesday interview with the New York Times in which he said that he considered any of Mueller’s investigation outside the scope of the collusion-with-Russia allegations to be too much and with Bloomberg’s report that Mueller was looking into a decade-old property deal by Trump.

I think there are three parts to this puzzle.

First, Trump’s statements on Wednesday, the complaining about the very obvious appearances conflicts of interest on the part of Mueller and some of his team, and this story–which is obviously generated by the White House–which includes this item:

Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s private lawyers, said in an interview Thursday that the president and his legal team are intent on making sure Mueller stays within the boundaries of his assignment as special counsel. He said they will complain directly to Mueller if necessary.

should be viewed as brush-back pitches. If you were alive during the Clinton era, the Ken Starr Whitewater investigation provides a case study in how an independent counsel can go batsh** crazy. Starr started out to investigate a failed land speculation scheme. Before it was done he had investigated the firing of White House Travel Office personnel, Hillary’s use of confidential FBI files, Madison Guaranty, Rose Law Firm, Paula Jones’s law suit and Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress. From the WaPo:

“This is Ken Starr times 1,000,” said one lawyer involved in the case, referring to the independent counsel who oversaw an investigation that eventually led to House impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. “Of course, it’s going to go into his finances.”

The Trump legal team has every right to worry that Mueller will be a Frankenstein’s monster and are working to establish boundaries because otherwise, Mueller’s investigation will be a multi-generational effort.

Second, I would not be shocked in the least to see pardons issued in the near future if the investigation goes very far from the Russia issue. Pardons are a way of fixing the problem in the view of Trump’s legal team. It would tell Mueller that he’s free to investigate but he’s never going to be allowed to prosecute. I think that Trump will be able to politically survive doing that if it becomes obvious that Mueller is targeting Trump’s business deals and not the primary focus of his charter–and we are virtually at that point today. I also can’t imagine him letting either Donald Jr. or Jared Kushner be placed in legal jeopardy. It would be unthinkable for Trump to allow Mueller to prosecute either of them. I don’t care what they did.

Third, there is the question of what he will do when other people close to him are potentially indicted for crimes, like lying to federal investigators or campaign finance violations, in conjunction with the Russia investigation but are not really charged with working with Russians. My bet here is that Trump does not allow perjury charges of the Scooter Libby variety to be used against anyone. I think Mike Flynn is golden on the FARA accusations–as he should be. I don’t, however, see him intervening in nearly inevitable money laundering charges against Manafort.

And the corollary issue is how much leeway does he give Mueller before he has Mueller fired and what kind of political difficulties that causes him. If he continues the drumbeat on Mueller taking the investigation away from Russia I think he keeps GOP support if Mueller is fired and another counsel appointed. Even lefties like Kevin Drum at Mother Jones are getting queasy over a wide ranging Mueller investigation of Trump’s business dealings:

I’ll confess to some mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, this stuff is all semi-related to Russia, and might therefore be relevant to the campaign issue. On the other hand, we’ve all seen what happens when special prosecutors get out of control and start investigating everything under the sun. So far this looks like it’s still legitimately tied to Mueller’s original brief, but it’s a close call.

If substantive progress is made in the Russia probe, like actual charges being filed, then Mueller becomes bulletproof and can do pretty much what he wants. The odds of this happening, however, approach zero.

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Crews respond to fire at mobile home in southeast Lubbock

The Slaton Fire Department has confirmed to KCBD they responded to a mobile home fire in southeast Lubbock around 1:30 Friday morning. Buffalo Springs and Woodrow also responded to the scene. The Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office says they will provide more information on the incident at 8:00 am. This is a developing story and we will continue to update it as more information becomes available. Copyright 2017 KCBD. All rights reserved. 
Source: KCBD News

Democrats provide free circus at Texas Capitol

One fun thing about the first called session of the Texas Legislature which began Tuesday is the theater of malcontented useful idiots being turned out by leftist Democrat front organizations. “More than 350 people called together by a coalition of social advocacy groups and Democratic-leaning political organizations rallied on the south steps of the state […]
Source: Pratt on Texas

We Need To Have A Chat About Senate Leadership

This week marked the utter collapse of health care reform efforts in the U.S. Senate. With several GOP defections, the Senate’s bill was mercifully put out of its misery.

Of course, Mitch McConnell has put forward the very idea he appears to have wanted to avoid by calling for a floor vote for a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act… which, if you recall, is the entire reason the voters supported the GOP in three of the last four election cycles.

However, to say that there is a lack of confidence that this current plan will succeed is an understatement.

The GOP struggles in Congress when it comes to leadership. And, the Senate is the prime example of leadership failure. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, bears a lot of the blame for the chamber’s failure to push a conservative agenda.

To be fair, Mitch McConnell is great at winning battles. He thrives in a fight, and he is an able tactician when it comes to orchestrating a floor fight. Where McConnell struggles is long-term strategy and pushing an agenda, and it is a weakness that has caused the GOP-run Senate to flounder even while the party holds the White House.

One of the problems is that McConnell’s heart is simply not into conservative agendas. A lot of his best fights are ones that involve his power base. He can make conservative-ish decisions when they ensure his position or elevate his profile. But, when it comes to making conservative legislative choices for the sake of ideology, he simply cannot make himself do it.

Another big problem is that McConnell and his ilk do not like to start from the right on any issue. They start from the middle. Whether it is a liberal streak that keeps him from putting too much conservatism into his legislative efforts or just laziness in wanting to avoid negotiation, the result is that he always finds himself having to deal with conservative insurgency just to get a single idea put in.

The health care reform battle is a case in point. With more than half a decade to come up with a plan, the Senate puts forward a bill that violates the spirit of the GOP’s central promise to its voters (repeal Obamacare), and it is a bill that would have done better if it were the end result of negotiations, and not the first and seemingly only draft McConnell and other GOP leaders wanted to put forward.

So, on health care reform, the single biggest reason that the GOP has enjoyed electoral success since 2010, the GOP has absolutely dropped the ball, and the problem (no matter what GOP leadership like McConnell will tell you) is not that conservatives are obstructionists. The problem is on the liberal streak running rampant through the GOP in Congress.

What made Ronald Reagan, one of the templates of conservative leadership, so great is that he led his party by starting as far to the right as possible on an issue and negotiating his way inward. Sure, the Democrats picked up some victories, but there was a lot of moving the ball down the field when it came to conservatism.

Those days are long gone now as McConnell and gang skip the negotiation part and start in the middle. The result is that they give up so much and the Democrats pick up greater victories as a result. And that’s when McConnell can manages to get a bill passed.

There is no easy solution here. McConnell excels at short-term battles, so dethroning him is not going to be easy. He and his friends also direct a lot of resources to beating any challengers to the more liberal senators in the GOP caucus. If conservatives want to get anywhere, they have to overcome these factors and get conservative fighters into the Senate.

Until then, however, call your senators and apply as much pressure as possible. They ran for years on certain promises, and they have to be held accountable here. If they aren’t, then we can kiss good conservative reform under a GOP administration goodbye.

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