Joel B. Pollak


Former Vice President Joe Biden is only 5 points ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the latest poll of voters in South Carolina, the state where Biden had built a “firewall” of support among African-Americans.

The Charleston Post and Courier reported Sunday: “Biden, who once led by as much as 31 percentage points in South Carolina, holds a 5-point edge over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.” The margin of error is 4 points.

The new poll result raises the possibility that Sanders could sweep all four of the early primary states that vote in February. He leads in the latest polls in Iowa and New Hampshire; he is statistically tied with Biden in the most recent poll in Nevada; and now he is clinging to a slim lead over Sanders in South Carolina.

It is not clear why Biden is fading, but Sanders has surged over the past several weeks, especially after the entire field of candidates failed to impress during the last Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses.

The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has kept Sanders, and other Senators running for the nomination, in Washington. However, it has also highlighted alleged conflicts of interest for Biden.

The Post and Courier poll also reported that billionaire left-wing donor Tom Steyer is now in third place in South Carolina, at 18 percent. CNN reported last month that Steyer had bought over 90% of the television advertising time in both South Carolina and Nevada, flooding the airwaves and possibly hurting Biden.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Poll: Joe Biden Fading in South Carolina; Bernie Sanders Could Sweep Early Primary States

Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told the Senate that it would be wrong for a president to ask the Department of Justice to investigate a political rival. But Schiff defended then-President Barack Obama doing just that to then-candidate Donald Trump.

The remark came during the first of two days of questions and answers in President Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.

Schiff was responding to a query osed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), asking a hypothetical question about whether Obama would have had the authority to investigate suspected corruption by a son of Mitt Romney, Obama’s rival in his 2012 re-election campaign.

The lead House manager dismissed the hypothetical, then went on to argue that a president should not ask the DOJ to investigate a rival.

But as Breitbart News noted last week, Schiff wrote in the Washington Post in April 2019 (emphasis added):

Counterintelligence investigations differ from criminal investigations in their means, scope and ultimate disposition. Their goal is not successful prosecutions, but to identify and mitigate threats to national security. If a foreign power possessed compromising information on a U.S. government official in a position of influence, that is a counterintelligence risk. If a foreign power possessed leverage, or the perception of it, over the president, that is a counterintelligence nightmare.

Later on, White House attorney Jay Sekulow noted that Trump had been a victim of exactly the kind of investigation that the Obama administration had initiated under Operation Crossfire Hurricane.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Schiff Claims It’s Wrong for President to Investigate Rival — After Defending Obama Investigating Trump

Former Vice President Joe Biden linked President Donald Trump to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in a sermon on Sunday in a black church in South Carolina on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“We can defeat this moment of hate. … This president and his — the Ku Klux Klans and the rest of them, they think they’ve beaten us again. But they have no idea — we’re just coming back. God love you all,” Biden told the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina.

In a halting speech, Biden also repeated the false claim that President Donald Trump had referred to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville as “very fine people” in August 2017.

“They asked the president what he thought, and he said, ‘There are very fine people on both sides’,” Biden claimed.

In fact, Trump specifically condemned those groups, as the transcript of his remarks reveals.

Trump had praised non-violent protesters on either side of the removal of a Confederate statue as “very fine people,” contrasting them with violent rioters, and saying neo-Nazis and white nationalists should be “condemned totally.”

Breitbart News specifically confronted Biden directly at the Iowa State Fair last summer with the fact that he was misquoting the president. He and his campaign continue to claim otherwise, and to spread the “Charlottesville hoax.”

Biden has made the false claim throughout his campaign, citing it as his very reason for running in his launch video. His sermon Sunday repeated what he has said previously in South Carolina — but with an explicit link to the KKK.

Biden was introduced by Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), who endorsed Biden and said that there was “no bigger threat to [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s] legacy than the person who is in the White House now.”

The former vice president said that he had been involved in the civil rights movement “for real” as a teenager, and said “I got my education — for real — in the black church. And that’s not hyperbole, that’s a fact.”

Biden repeatedly referred to former President Barack Obama, who has not yet endorsed anyone in the 2020 primary.

Sunday’s sermon was not the first time Biden has linked a political opponent to the worst of white racism, in an effort to appeal to an African-American audience. During his 2012 re-election campaign, Biden told a predominantly black group of voters in Virginia that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains.”

The New York Times reported that Biden is expected to join other Democratic hopefuls in a rally at the state capitol in Columbia for an annual march in King’s memory. Biden’s support among black voters in the state is seen as a “firewall” against possible victories by his rivals in other early primary states, who poll poorly thus far among black voters.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Joe Biden Links President Donald Trump to KKK in Sermon to Black Church

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wrote a letter to her Democrat colleagues in the House on Sunday to reveal a new “War Powers Resolution” that amounts to a pre-emptive surrender to Iran in ongoing hostilities.

Pelosi’s letter begins with the declaration that President Donald Trump’s airstrike last week targeting Iranian General Qasem Suleimani, leader of the terrorist Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IGRC) Quds Force, responsible for the murders of hundreds of Americans and for recent attacks on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, was “provocative and disproportionate,” terms suggesting the attack was illegal under international law and could constitute a war crime.

Harvard Law School professor emeritus (and Democrat) Alan Dershowitz argued in Monday’s Wall Street Journal that the strike was not only lawful, but an “easy call”: “The president has the constitutional authority to take military actions, short of declaring war, that he and his advisers deem necessary to protect American citizens. This authority is extremely broad, especially when the actions must, by their nature, be kept secret from the intended target.”

Nonetheless, Pelosi’s letter indicates that the House will declare the president’s action illegal under international law.

The letter further claims that Trump’s action “endangered our servicemembers, diplomats and others by risking a serious escalation of tensions with Iran” — placing the responsibility for violence not on Iran, which recently attacked a U.S. Navy drone; a Saudi oil field; and, via proxies, Americans soldiers and civilians in Iraq; but on the United States, which had restrained itself until the recent assault by an Iranian-backed militia on the embassy.

The letter goes on to describe a new resolution that would “limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran,” essentially signaling a surrender in the potential conflict before the Iranian regime itself had managed to respond.

Pelosi adds that the resolution “reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.” Under current law, the War Powers Act of 1973 limits the time that a president can lead a military effort, without formal authorization, to 60 days following a required presidential report to Congress when hostilities begin.

The new resolution, which Pelosi says mirrors a similar Senate bill by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), would amount to an effective surrender by signaling that the president had no congressional support for striking back against Iran, and imposing a new deadline for any military action that would give Iran greater freedom of action. Paradoxically, the resolution could force the president to choose more drastic measures of conducting a war effort before the deadline.

By declaring the attack “provocative and disproportionate,” the resolution also invites international prosecution of the president, as well as members of the administration and the military itself, who carry out his orders. The U.S. does not recognize the authority of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Americans for war crimes, but the ICC takes a different view, and a future Democratic administration might well side with the ICC instead.

Pelosi’s letter indicates that the new “War Powers Resolution” will be introduced and voted on this week. She has not yet indicated when she will transfer the articles of impeachment passed by the House on Dec. 18 to the Senate, which she claims is a necessary prerequisite to the Senate holding a trial on the president’s removal from office.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Nancy Pelosi to Introduce Resolution Implying Pre-emptive Surrender to Iran

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) attempted to defend his and other Democrats’ claims that the facts in the impeachment debate were “undisputed” by challenging Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee to dispute his facts.

It ended badly.

Swalwell’s list of undisputed “facts” included the following:

  • “I want to hear someone dispute the fact that Rudy Giuliani was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.” – This is the only “undisputed” fact; it is also irrelevant. The only people who seem to have disregarded that fact are Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and fellow Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, who snooped on Giuliani’s phone calls with the White House, ignoring the sanctity of the attorney-client privilege.
  • “I want to hear someone dispute the fact that when Rudy was hired, the anti-corruption ambassador, Marie Yovanovitch, was fired.” The fact that one event preceded another does not prove cause and effect. Trump may have lost confidence in Yovanovitch because of information from Giuliani, but as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told Trump in their infamous July 25th phone call, she irritated the Ukrainians as well. Yovanovitch’s “anti-corruption” credentials are undermined by her admission that she did nothing about Burisma, despite being briefed about it prior to her confirmation. In any case, as she herself recognized, presidents have the absolute right to fire ambassadors; it is not an impeachable offense to do so.
  • “I want to hear someone dispute the fact that Donald Trump told Vice President [Mike Pence] to not go to President Zelensky’s inauguration.” We do not know if or why Trump told Pence not to go; Pence aide Jennifer Williams testified that she heard Trump had made the decision, but had no firsthand knowledge.
  • “I want to hear someone dispute the fact that President Trump ignored the talking points about anti-corruption in his April 21 and July 25 calls with President Zelensky.” The president did address corruption in the latter call. Asking Zelensky to look into how and why Biden was able to force the firing of a prosecutor with jurisdiction over investigations into Burisma, where the vice president’s son, Hunter, was a board member, is certainly related to corruption. Here Swalwell is simply pretending to read Trump’s mind.
  • “I want to hear someone dispute the facts that President Trump invoked his political rival’s name four times on that July 25 call.” Technically, it was only three, and all in the same context of Burisma.
  • “I want to hear someone dispute the facts that the president’s chief of staff said, we are withholding the military aid because the Ukrainians need to investigate 2016.” Mulvaney walked that back, saying: “Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election. The president never told me to withhold any money until the Ukrainians did anything related to the server.” He said the reasons for withholding aid were related to corruption and to irritation that other nations in Europe were not contributing enough to Ukraine’s defense — persistent concerns for Trump.
  • I want someone to dispute the facts that Ambassador Sondland said quid pro quo absolutely on investigations.” He did not say “absolutely.” He said he believed there was a “quid pro quo” for a meeting, a claim contradicted by Ambassador Kurt Volker. He also said he only presumed that there had been a “quid pro quo” for aid. He also said that President Trump told him explicitly, first-hand: “No quid pro quo.”

Swalwell went on to misquote George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, the only legal expert witness Republicans were allowed to call. He claimed that Turley said the Ukraine call was “anything but perfect.”

What Swalwell omitted, of course, was the context of that statement, in which Turley warned Democrats not to impeach the president. Turley’s full statement was:

[T]his is wrong. It’s not wrong because President Trump is right. His call is anything but perfect. It’s not wrong because the House has no legitimate reason to investigate the Ukrainian controversy. It’s not wrong because we’re in an election year. There is no good time for an impeachment.

No — it’s wrong because this is not how you impeach an American president.

Earlier, Swalwell attempted to accuse Trump of “bribery” — a claim swiftly shot down by Republicans, who noted that Democrats had not accused Trump of bribery in the articles of impeachment.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Eric Swalwell Challenges Republicans to Dispute His ‘Facts’; It Ends Badly

Former National Security Council official Dr. Fiona Hill testified on Thursday that President Barack Obama had ignored the “interagency consensus” on sending weapons to Ukraine for “political” reasons.

Under questioning from Republicans, Hill admitted that she herself had been against giving weapons to Ukraine to help it fight Russian invasion, and that she had written an op-ed in the Washington Post expressing those views.

She also said that the “interagency consensus” had actually been in favor of arming the Ukrainians; she herself was not in government service at the time, but working at the liberal Brookings Institution think tank.

Hill noted that President Obama had ignored the “interagency consensus” for what she called “political” reasons. She explained that Obama was concerned that arming the Ukrainians could provoke the Russians.

On Tuesday, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who worked for Hill and remains at the National Security Council, testified that President Donald Trump’s decision to withhold aid from Ukraine temporarily went against the “interagency consensus” on Ukraine, though he also acknowledged that Trump had armed Ukraine while Obama had not.

Democrats say that Trump hurt U.S. national security by jeopardizing American support for Ukraine, and ignoring the “interagency consensus,” for what they claim are political reasons.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Fiona Hill: Obama Denied Weapons to Ukraine for ‘Political’ Reasons

Democrats accidentally undermined their own case against President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning when one of their star witnesses, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, confirmed Ukraine felt no pressure from the administration.

The House Intelligence Committee’s counsel, Daniel Goldman, tried to establish that President Trump had pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden solely, or primarily, for the potential political benefit.

However, his questioning of Vindman did not quite go as planned:

Goldman: Col. Vindman, you’ve said in your deposition that it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the political benefits of the president’s demands. For those of us who are not rocket scientists, can you explain what you meant by that?

Vindman: So my understanding is that it was — the connection to investigating to a political opponent was inappropriate and improper. I made that connection as soon as the president brought up the Biden investigation.

Goldman: Col. Vindman, you testified that the president, President Trump’s request for a favor from President Zelensky would be considered as a demand to President Zelensky. After his call, did you ever hear from any Ukrainians, either in the United States or Ukraine about any pressure that they felt to do these investigations that President Trump demanded?

Vindman: Not that I can recall.

Goldman: Did you have any discussions with officials at the embassy here, the Ukrainian embassy here in Washington, DC?

Vindman: Yes, I did.

Goldman: Did you discuss at all the demand for investigations with them?

Goldman: I did not.

Vindman went on to say that he became aware, in the August “timeframe,” that Ukrainian officials became aware of a hold on U.S. aid. Multiple other witnesses have testified that the Ukrainians were not aware until Aug. 28, when Politico published an article stating that aid had been stalled.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Vindman Confirms: Ukrainians Felt No ‘Pressure’ to Investigate

Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko said Thursday that U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland had “never” linked U.S. aid to Ukrainian investigations of the 2016 elections or the Biden’s role in stopping a probe of Burisma.

Prystaiko spoke the day after the first public hearings in the House Intelligence Committee as part of the “impeachment inquiry,” where two witnesses said they came to believe there had been such a link — though only some time after Politico reported on August 28 that aid had been held up by the Trump administration.

One of the witnesses, Chargé d’affaires Bill Taylor, introduced new evidence that a staffer told him recently that he overheard Sondland speaking to President Donald Trump the day after his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, discussing “investigations.” The staffer also told Taylor that Sondland said that Trump was more interested in investigations than anything else.

As Breitbart News’ Kristina Wong noted, that new evidence — which is fourth-hand hearsay, plus opinion — added little new information, but was cited by Democrats and journalists as evidence that aid might have been linked to investigations Trump had asked the new Ukrainian government to pursue.

On Thursday, Prystaiko said that there had been no link in discussions at the time with Sondland, as Reuters reported:

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said on Thursday that U.S. ambassador Gordon Sondland did not explicitly link military aid to Kiev with opening an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Interfax Ukraine reported.

“Ambassador Sondland did not tell us, and certainly did not tell me, about a connection between the assistance and the investigations. You should ask him,” Prystaiko said about Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

“I have never seen a direct relationship between investigations and security assistance,” Prystaiko was quoted as saying by Interfax. “Yes, the investigations were mentioned, you know, in the conversation of the presidents. But there was no clear connection between these events.”

In his closed-door testimony last month, which was released by the House Intelligence Committee several days ago, Sondland told the committee that he had spoken frequently with Prystaiko and other Ukrainian officials during the period in question.

Sondland is due to testify in the public hearings next week.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Ukraine Foreign Minister: U.S. Aid, Investigations Were ‘Never’ Linked

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Wednesday evening that he will call Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) to testify in the Senate if the House impeaches President Donald Trump.

Graham added that he would not allow a trial of President Donald Trump in the Senate based on hearsay evidence alone, and without testimony from the “whistleblower.”

Graham was speaking after the close of the first day of public hearings in the House Intelligence Committee as part of the “impeachment inquiry” authorized by Democrats in a House resolution that passed on party lines October 31.

After the first two witnesses testified, Democrats on the committee voted along party lines to table a motion made by Republicans to call the “whistleblower” — who admitted having no first-hand knowledge — to testify in person.

Republicans — notably Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) — pointed out that neither of the two witnesses would qualify to testify in court, since they only had “hearsay” evidence, i.e. they did not see or hear anything relevant themselves.

The Sixth Amendment, which guarantees the right to confront one’s accuser, excludes hearsay evidence in most circumstances — especially when the direct evidence, in this case the transcript of the telephone call between the president and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.

Graham, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a former impeachment manager during the trial of former President Bill Clinton, would have considerable sway over the procedural rules the Senate would adopt for Trump’s trial if the House impeaches the president.

He declared that he would bar any case against the president based on hearsay alone, suggesting the prospects of a motion to dismiss. “Any resolution setting up a trial in the Senate — I’m going to make sure that hearsay cannot be the basis of an impeachment investigation,” he said.

“If you excluded hearsay, like every other court in the land, there’s nothing there,” he added. “If you invoked the hearsay rule, what would be left?” He described impeachment based on hearsay as “a threat to the presidency itself.”

Graham added that he would require that the “whistleblower” testify.

“Any trial in the Senate must expose the whistleblower so the president can confront his accuser. I will not accept a trial in the Senate until I know who the whistleblower is,” he said.

Graham also said that Congress needed to satisfy questions about the whistleblower’s potential motivations — and whether he had a role in former Vice President Joe Biden’s conflict of interest regarding his son Hunter’s board position in a corrupt Ukrainian company, Burisma. Biden threatened to block $1 billion of U.S. aid unless Ukraine fired a prosecutor who was, theoretically at least, overseeing an investigation of the company’s corruption.

Some media reports have suggested that the whistleblower worked for Biden under the Obama administration.

“Was the whistleblower connected to Joe Biden in any way? … Here’s the point: did the whistleblower engage in an effort to get the Ukrainian president [at the time, Petro] Poroshenko, to weigh in and stop the investigation of this gas company [Burisma]? Was there a connection between the whistleblower and Biden’s effort to call the Ukraine?

Graham also vowed that House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) would be called to testify. Ordinarily, he said, he would not call a member of the House to testify, as a matter of mere oversight, but an impeachment trial was a special case.

“One of the witnesses will be Adam Schiff because if he, in fact, did meet with the whistleblower, and coached the guy up, I think that’s relevant to the impeachment inquiry itself,” Graham said.

Schiff denied having met the whistleblower, and denied knowing the whistleblower’s identity, in the hearing on Wednesday — but he was not under oath.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Lindsey Graham: I Will Call Adam Schiff to Testify in the Senate

Former California Governor Jerry Brown told Congress on Tuesday that President Donald Trump and the Republican Party were responsible for the ongoing California fires because of their opposition to drastic climate change policies.

“California’s burning while the deniers make a joke out of the standards that protect us all,” Brown told the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday, as quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle. “The blood is on your soul here and I hope you wake up. Because this is not politics, this is life, this is morality. … This is real.”

Brown was testifying against efforts by the Trump administration to rescind California’s waiver that previously allowed it to set its own emissions standards for vehicles — effectively giving the state control of the entire auto industry. The administration argues that California’s policy is actually worse for the environment because higher standards make new cars — which are more energy-efficient than old cars — more difficult for consumers to buy.

The ongoing California wildfires have a variety of causes. The immediate cause of the Getty Fire in Los Angeles, for example, appears to be a tree branch that was blown by high winds into power lines, according to the Los Angeles Times. Critics fault California and its utility companies for spending money on complying with “green” initiatives rather than on burying power lines. Others also cite homeless camps, where past fires have started, and poor forestry management policies that have barred the clearing of brush that can provide fuel for wildfires.

But Brown and other Democrats have identified climate change as the cuplrit, even though there is no scientific evidence to support that claim. In 2015 and in 2017, Brown also blamed climate change for wildfires in California, though scientists disagreed, calling Brown’s arguments an example of “noble-cause corruption.”

California Democrats are facing new criticism at home, as utility companies have begun cutting power to electricity customers in peak fire conditions — a new practice for which the state government seems to have been unprepared.

Author: Joel B. Pollak

Source: Breitbart: Jerry Brown Blames Trump, Republicans for California Fires: ‘The Blood Is on Your Soul’

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