Adios Muchachos: Sanctuary Cities to Obey the Law or Lose Funding

Attorney General Jeff Sessions laid out the Trump Administration policy tying availability of federal funds only to cities that comply and certify compliance with 8 U.S.C. Section 1373.

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Sanctuary City
  Attorney General Jeff Sessions laid out the Trump Administration policy tying availability of federal funds only to cities that comply and certify compliance with 8 U.S.C. Section 1373.
Statutory Authority
   8 U.S.C. Section 1373 broadly discusses the communication between government agencies and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, including the obligation to respond to Inquiries.
   Article I, Section 8, clause 4 of the United States Constitution specifically grants to Congress the power to establish a “uniform Rule of Naturalization.” For obvious reasons, you can’t have each of the 50 states determining their own criteria for citizenship. Currently, the federal laws provide for the removal or detention of illegal aliens “convicted or detained” in connection with certain crimes.
   As Sessions pointed out, it is the responsibility of the executive branch, through the duty of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws.  Currently, the Department of Justice is anticipating distributing $4.1 billion to city, state and local governments in the way of grants. Those grants will now be tied to both compliance and certification of compliance of 8 US.C. Section 1373. Sanctuary cities will lose their funding should they fail to comply.
(Video courtesy of Donald Trump Speeches & Press Conferences Youtube Channel.)
   Why should sanctuary cities’ federal funding be tied to compliance?
   Sanctuary cities have begun to engage in a campaign of frustrating and circumventing the law regarding the detention requests performed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
   According to Sessions, “In a single week there were over 200 incidents of refusal to comply with ICE detention requests of individuals charged or convicted of a serious crime including:
  1. Drug trafficking;
  2. Hit and run;
  3. Rape;
  4. Sex offenses against a child; and
  5. Murder.”
   Importantly, this will work to reduce states’ and local governments’ “willful failure” to comply with valid federal law.
Why should states and local governments benefit from federal funding when they simply choose to disregard federal law?

CNN: Caught In Its Own Lies

John Nolte of Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire has released an excellent article exposing the recent exploits of CNN as it advances fake facts and stories to push its own agenda. When the news skews the facts, who fact-checks the news?
 You can access the article here:
Fake News
(Photo courtesy of the bullelephant.com.)

Alex Jones Apologizes and Folds like a Cheap Suit

Alex Jones caves to legal pressure and issues on-air apology while Davide Seaman remains steadfast in his reporting.

On Friday, Alex Jones of InfoWars.com issued a wide-ranging and meandering apology to James Alefantis and Comet Ping Pong for the stories he ran regarding James Alefantis’ and Comet Ping Pizza’s connection to Pizzagate and the John Podesta emails.

Comet Ping Pong Pizza

To my knowledge today, neither Mr. Alefantis, nor his restaurant Comet Ping Pong, were involved in any human trafficking, as was part of the theories about Pizzagate that were being written about in many media outlets and which we commented upon.  We apologize to the extent our commentaries could be construed as negative statements about Mr. Alefantis or Comet Ping Pong, and we hope that anyone else involved in commenting on Pizzagate will do the same thing.
 Mr. Jones even invited Mr. Alefantis on the show.
This is a far cry from the weeping Alex Jones who decried pedophilia and sex slavery and squarely implicated John Podesta and Alefantis in those activities.  Moreover, Alex Jones’ many law enforcement informants often “substantiated” his reports and investigation.
What a disappointment Alex Jones has become.
Question: Was the story/information about Podesta and Alefantis true or not?

Alex Jones

If not, why wasn’t this information better vetted before weeping on the air and whipping his viewers into a frenzy?  If true, then why retract it?  If you’ve received evidence that has cleared them, then why not share it with your viewers?
Mr. Jones you’ve become part of the fake news that you rail against.  You have no excuse to engage in bad reporting.  If your information isn’t credible–don’t put it our there or label it as unsubstantiated. Americans don’t need new sources that can’t be trusted or who spin an agenda.
You, Mr. Jones, owe your viewers an apology far greater than the one you gave to Alefantis. 
Fulcrum News reporter, David Seaman continues to stand by his reporting and his story:

David Seaman Video

10 Urgent Takeaways from Nunes Press Conference on Trump “Wiretapping” Claims

Background.
The House Intelligence Committee held its first public hearing into Russian Interference in the 2016 election on March 20, 2017 when James Comey, director of the FBI and Admiral Mike Rogers who serves as the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), and Chief of the Central Security Service (CSS). As part of the hearings, the Committee is also investigating claims by President Trump of “Wiretapping.”
Yesterday, March 22, 2917, Representative Devin Nunes, who is currently serving as chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence), held essentially two press conferences to reveal newly discovered information on President Trump’s wiretapping claims.

 

Ten (10) Critical Takeaways.
1.  President Trump and/or his transition team were surveilled “incidental” to normal surveillance activities of foreign agents (video at 3:35); although it was unknown how this information was picked up (video at 3:59). Presumably this surveillance began as a FISA warrant. However, American citizens in the United States who are intercepted incidental to a FISA order, are to remain masked with identities concealed and omitted from the intelligence briefing and not disseminated absent content that rises to criminal or national security level.
2.  Representative Nunes stated unequivocally, that there was no criminal conduct and that the information contained in the intelligence briefings did not rise to national security concerns or threshold amounts. In fact, Nunes noted that “details about U.S. persons associated with the incoming administration—details with little or no apparent foreign intelligence value were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting (video at :54). Further, additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked when none of this surveillance was related to Russian or the investigation of Russian activities of the Trump team. A lot of the information on the president detailed him and his transition team and what they were doing (video at 7:30).
3.  There were at least two dozen reports (perhaps more) discussing the activities of the Trump transition team from November through mid-January of 2017.  These reports were compiled and disseminated to intelligence communities and perhaps the Obama White House.
4.  None of the lawful surveillance include surveillance of Russian ties and of the intelligence gathered, none involve Russia or Russians.
5.  Perhaps one of the most important takeaways is that the information reviewed by Nunes was not provided by the FBI, NSA, or CIA.  Rather, Nunes made a public request for individuals with information and the authentic documents turned over were done so lawfully by a concerned individual or individuals.  The agencies have not turned over these documents.  Specifically, on Monday, Nunes “encouraged anyone who has information about relevant topics including surveillance to come forward . . .” (video at :35)
6.  The unlawful disclosure and dissemination of the identity of an American citizen incidental to a FISA court order is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
7.  While Trump has used the term “wiretapping,” Nunes clarified that Trump and his team had used the term broadly to cover all manners of surveillance. And Nunes himself was “concerned that other surveillance was used.” (video at :53).
8.  There will be a thorough investigation to determine:
a.  Who was aware of it;
b.  Why it wasn’t disclosed to Congress;
c.  Who requested and authorized the additional unmaskings;
d.  Whether anyone directed the intelligence community to focus on Trump associates; and
e.  Whether any law, regulations, or procedures, were violated.
9.  Representative Cummings (Democrat) has called for an investigation into Representative Nunes for announcing publicly that a source showed him evidence. (I would be interested in the law applicable to that).
10.  Nunes reminded the press that in July of 2014 the CIA improperly surveilled and spied on the Senate Intelligence Committee when they were reviewing the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.
Why it’s important.
A U.S. citizen is protected by the 4th Amendment of the Constitution (part of the Bill of Rights) against unreasonable searches and seizures. This right is enshrined in our heritage and reflects the founder’s belief of protect of citizens against abuse by their government. This right reads:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
This right prevents the government from spying, harassing, and prosecuting its own citizens including those who disagree with the government.  The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Action allows spying to be done on agents of a foreign government while in the U.S. by obtaining a FISA court warrant. U.S. citizens who are surveilled incidental to those lawful activities are supposed to stay hidden or “masked” unless there is a threshold amount of activity that is illegal or these incidental subjects are engaging in activities covered by the national security issues. Routinely, agents of foreign governments are surveilled.
Parsing Nunes’ language, the communications of Trump and his transition team were picked up by a lawful FISA warrant. However, the information obtained was not criminal and had “little or no foreign intelligence value.” Yet, those individuals were unmasked, additional unmasking was done, and then the information was widely disseminated in the intelligence community in real time, across “dozens” of reports, during November, December, and January.  All of this was done in violation of the Constitution and 4th Amendment rights.  This should scare every citizen because if the intelligence community will abuse its power by directing their efforts on an incoming president, they will have no qualms about abusing your rights as a citizen.  The intelligence community has a long history of abusing U.S. citizens’ rights and this is just the latest example- and probably just the tip of the iceberg. This should outrage every citizen regardless of what you may think of Trump.
Additionally, bear the following in mind:  1) none of the intelligence agencies willingly disclosed any of this information in response to the request by Congress; it was brought to Nunes by a whistleblower. 2) what is to preclude lawful surveillance of all individuals surrounding “a real target” whose communications are then incidentally collected and disseminated without a proper warrant and without constitutional protections? Lastly, this is all classified information. Had this whistleblower not come forward, it is quite probable that no one would even know this is being done under the guise of “national security.”
Late Thursday, there is some breaking new on the possible identity of the whistleblower. Below you will find a letter drafted by Larry Klayman, General Counsel of Freedom Watch which indicates that 1) government abuse of power has been and continues to be a problem; and 2)  a whistleblower stepped forward; and 3) nothing is being done to curb the violations by our government.

Maddow Steps on a Rake: 4 Takeaways from her Epic Fail

Rachel Maddow’s failed report on the Trump tax return just underscores why the mainstream media can’t be trusted. In revealing the front and back of Trump’s 2005 Form 1040, Maddow’s plan backfired by proving there is no rational basis to continue to call for his taxes to be released. The voters were correct that this is a non-issue, she and Johnston (who apparently found these in his mail box) may have broken the law to smear Trump, and her reporting relies on innuendoes and suppositions while omitting facts.

An October 1, 2016 New York Times reporter wrote: “Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by the New York Times show.” It was later asked about at the presidential debate and Clinton stated Trump refused to reveal his tax returns for one of three reasons: First, maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he paid nothing in federal taxes.

  1. What the Return revealed: The Tax “Return” (only the front and back of form 1040), revealed approximately $38 million paid in taxes on $153 million (effective rate of 25%) in claimed income and $103 million in loses.

This refutes the claim of not paying taxes.  Because of the loss claimed, Trump would have paid zero in taxes; however, the Alternative minimum tax kicked in and brought his taxes paid at over $38 million. He also paid “millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes,” a Whitehouse official noted in an official statement. http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/14/politics/trump-tax-returns-release/

RMhorseThe argument has been raised that the effective tax rate paid by Trump is unfair under the AMT because individuals who make far less, pay a much higher effective tax rate.  However, this argument is a misdirection as Trump also incurred $103m in losses which would have reduced his taxes to a far lower rate. Under the tax code, Trump wasn’t allowed to take the loss to fully reduce his taxable income and was therefore mandated to pay $38 million in taxes despite the loss. Those individuals earning less, but in a higher tax bracket, didn’t suffer a huge loss which they can’t deduct. Essentially, it’s an unfair comparison which conveniently ignores the loss Trump suffered but couldn’t utilize to offset his tax liability (look for our upcoming primer on the Alternative Minimum Tax and arguments for and against it going away).

The decision to not release tax returns is a non-issue: any information revealed would be tenuous—at best–and the voters don’t care. 

  1. There are no laws requiring an individual running for president or a sitting president to release his tax returns.

The arguments for Trump to release his tax returns started out in the debates with three arguments being advanced by Hillary Clinton (noted above). 1. On the level of his wealth:  He has enough indicators of substantial wealth such as his 2005 return, his own jet, multiple businesses and helicopters—does it really matter if he is worth $500 million or $10 billion? I don’t think so. I think he has enough wealth to indicate he is a savvy businessman. 2. On his charitability: There are multiple incidents of anecdotal evidence of Trump’s charitable giving: loaning his plane, writing out checks to individuals in need, etc. How much does he need to give for his opponents to be satisfied with this issue? This is a slippery slope and if he gave 10 million away to charity a year, his opponents would claim” That’s hardly anything compared to his wealth.” 3. On Paying Nothing in Federal Taxes: Put this issue to bed—he clearly pays personal, business, employment, and sales tax. Because none of those lines have yielded any fruit, the opposition now insinuates that he is hiding his dealings with criminals and Russian oligarchs.

Most criminals don’t attempt to deduct expenses on their tax returns—is there a Schedule ‘N’ for nefarious? Secondly, any connections that might be revealed, still don’t prove anything.   In fact, considering Trump has been engaged in real estate development and casinos since the 80s and he is continually audited, then people far smarter than Rachel Maddow would have likely charged him with criminal conduct a long, long, time ago had that been an issue. As Rachel is fond of saying, this just doesn’t make “factual sense.”

Assuming—and this is a big assumption—that there are any business connections to Russians on Trump’s tax returns, what does that prove? Criminals enter legitimate business transactions all the time. No one accused their landlords of being criminals because they accept their rent. There must be some indication of criminal activity on Trump’s part to even get a warrant. This is no more than a fishing expedition to keep Trump on the defensive about his businesses and taxes. These manufactured issues were raised prior to the election and Trump still won. The media doesn’t understand that the public can see through this and really doesn’t care about it. It’s political and enough people realized that to vote for Trump anyway.

As a result of Maddow’s clear misstep, this, I think, is where our focus should be:   Where did they get the copy of the return; and did they break the law?

  1. David Johnston claims that the tax return was in his mailbox. However, regardless of where/how the information was obtained (and there may be other laws preventing this but we need more facts), U.S. Code Section 7213(a)(3) provides:

It shall be unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)) is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by this title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/7213

Setting aside the issue of the theft of the information, the disclosure and dissemination of the tax return is what is contemplated by this statute. It clearly indicates that printing or publishing (i.e. dissemination) of the return or return information is felony. In addition, there are certain civil causes of action which also might be applicable to Maddow.

Maddow claims that her First Amendment freedom of speech allows her to publish this information. However, this—much like most of what Maddow says—if way off the mark. All freedoms have some underlying policy limits. You may have freedom of speech, but you aren’t allowed to scream “fire!” in a crowded theater. Freedom of speech doesn’t allow you to circumvent a criminal statute. Perhaps the most important point is that Maddow and the mainstream media will risk criminal penalties for a story that has no substance to perpetuate a narrative which has no proof. That should worry everyone.

On a side note, David Johnston began his discussion of the return by indicating that Trump may have himself leaked the return.  We discuss this later, but there really are two issues: 1) how the return was obtained; and 2) the dissemination of the information.  We are concerned with the latter and it is the latter that the statute addresses.

  1. The newscast relied exclusively on supposition and innuendo and the conclusions drawn were specious, at best.

David Johnston claimed that Trump “has a long history of leaking things about himself when he thinks it’s in his best interest” and that Trump’s reluctance to release his returns is because he is hiding something.  Then Maddow claimed a 2008 sale to a Russian netted Trump a dump of millions of dollars into his coffers for “inexplicable” and “no discernable” reasons.  This is sheer speculation with no basis in fact- hardly respectable journalism.

Johnston and Maddow’s claims that Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns because he is receiving money from foreign governments and Russian oligarchs might carry more weight if, in fact, these “journalists” were equally as aggressive at pursuing similar lines of inquiry against Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and money she received from foreign governments while Hillary was Secretary of State. Interestingly enough, they haven’t pursued the Clinton’s receipt of foreign money as Secretary as State—which isn’t speculation, but declared fact. Neither have they asked Clinton why she refused to release her emails, or had a private server, or why she scrubbed 33K emails, or why her server technician invoked his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, or disobeyed a subpoena to appear before Congress. I would expect just as much “unrelenting” inquiry on those issues if there was true objectivity and a desire to protect democracy and the public.

Johnston also supported his conclusion that Trump “has a long history of leaking things when he thinks it’s in his best interest” by citing two examples. Interestingly, if you watch the video clip of Johnston while he is discussing these examples, he slips in qualifiers in both examples with the word “may.”  “Trump may have leaked…” Why would you draw a conclusion and base that conclusion on two examples that you qualify with the word “may?” If Trump did it, say he did it. If he didn’t do it, don’t cite it as an example of your conclusion that he leaks things. This an example of the main stream media misleading and manipulating the public for their own purposes.

Maddow had her own problems.  As evidence of possible collusion with Russian oligarchs, Maddow cites as evidence a 2008 sale of a Palm Beach Florida property.  Essentially, Maddow relies on the following facts: Trump bought the property In 2004 for $41m, and sold it “inexplicably” in 2008 to Russian billionaire Dimitry Rybolovlev for the sum of approximately $100m and for no “discernable” reason nets an additional $60m.  She claims this must be evidence of collusion. Again, Maddow leaves out certain facts: 1) the property was bought at a bankruptcy auction for $41m; 2) Trump renovated the property with an investment of approximately $25m; 3) the property was sold for $95m. http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/business/real-estate/trump-former-estate-the-story-behind-the-million-mansion-tear-down/5qgtlikl46SX7KXGdtDPUI/ So, Trump buys a property. He renovates it with an investment of approximately $25m. He then sells it for a profit of approximately $29m. I think it’s called “real estate development” – it’s a legal occupation and it’s what he does and how he makes a living. Is it reasonable to say that 8 years ago, he sold it to a Russian oligarch in the hopes that 8 years later, he might run for president, and might win and thereby the Russians have influence over him? Aside from leaving out the fact that he spent $25 million renovating a property that is already in one of the richest zip codes in the country, the supposition and innuendos have no rational basis and defy all common sense.

Now maybe Maddow could argue that in the past 8 years, this relationship with Dimitry has been cultivated to establish some sort of relationship that gives him undue influence over the president. Maybe. But 1) you aren’t going to find that on a tax return; 2) you must have some facts establishing this; and 3) you won’t get there by misleading the public and omitting pertinent facts. If Maddow spent as much time digging into stories about unemployment, our crumbling school system, and disseminating actual facts, she might be a trustworthy reporter someday.

The mainstream media loves to tout itself as a “fourth branch of government.” Its claimed role is to hold government accountable.  But doesn’t this assume that the media itself is unbiased and honest?  Who holds the media accountable for the stories and facts it presents?  Who is the media to tell the people what the important stories are and what conclusions to draw?  Three weeks prior to the election, Hillary Clinton had “won the election” and the media bias in her favor was palpable and blatant. It continues to this day. If the mainstream media can’t report the facts openly and honestly and wants to sell its own agenda—then they need to state that their stories are in fact editorials.  And yet, the media wonders why no one trusts them and how Trump won the election.