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Mike Pompeo abused taxpayer-funded resources: State Department IG

A government watchdog has found that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo improperly used taxpayer-funded resources when he and his wife, Susan, asked State Department employees to carry out tasks for the couple's own personal benefit, POLITICO reports.

"By digging through emails and other documents and interviewing staff members, investigators uncovered scores of instances in which Mike or Susan Pompeo asked State Department staffers to handle tasks of a personal nature, from booking salon appointments and private dinner reservations to picking up their dog and arranging tours for the Pompeos' political allies," POLITICO's Nahal Toosi writes. "Employees told investigators that they viewed the requests from Susan Pompeo, who was not on the federal payroll, as being backed by the secretary."

Speaking to investigators, Pompeo insisted the tasks were small and inconsequential, but the inspector general's office says the investigation said the ethics rules governing such interactions are clear and make no exception, regardless of how small the task is.

Read the full report over at POLITICO.

'That is not how it works': Jen Psaki dismantles conservative reporter's factually incorrect question

During a press conference at the White House this Wednesday, reporter Owen Jensen from the Catholic news network EWTN asked Jen Psaki a question regarding the Biden administration's move to reverse a Trump-era family planning policy.

"Today, as you well know, the Biden administration and HHS started the reversal of the Trump administration's ban on abortion referrals at Title X family planning clinics," Jensen said. "So my first question -- why does the Biden administration insist that pro-life Americans pay for abortions and violate their conscience?"

"First, that's not an accurate depiction of what happened," Psaki replied.

"None of the funds appropriated under this title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning," she continued. "That is written into the Health Services Act and it specifically states that."

"Indirect subsidies minus funds that can't be traced -- we know that, come on," Jensen pressed.

"That is not how it works. That is the law," Psaki shot back. "So I'm stating what the law is and how it is implemented legally by these organizations."

According to NPR, the proposal "would largely return the federal Title X family planning program to its status before Trump took office. The current rules, implemented in March 2019 under Trump, forbid any provider who provides or refers patients for abortions from receiving federal funding through Title X to cover services such as contraception and STD screenings for low-income people."

Watch the full exchange in the video below:

Leaked emails reveal new details about criminal investigation into Trump’s businesses

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s office has asked Cook County officials about property records involving the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, according to a report from WBEZ.

Documents obtained exclusively by WBEZ show that financial intelligence analyst Daniel Kenny emailed the Cook County recorder and asked about obtaining records associated with Trump Tower in Chicago between September and November of 2020.

Kenny reportedly asked about a specific property identification number in the building, and whether online records could be downloaded and "would those be the same records I would receive" if a subpoena was sent.

"In other words, are there any other records that the Recorder of Deeds maintains for that property that are not available to download?" he wrote in the email.

Responding to Kenny, the recorder's chief legal counsel, Khang P. Trinh, said that property records except for those filed prior to 1985 and land drawings known as "plats" could be found online.

"The property identification number cited in Kenny's email traces back to a particular condominium in the Trump building, but WBEZ could find no connections between its owner and the ex-president, his family or anyone else affiliated with the Trump Organization," WBEZ reports. "The Recorder of Deeds office did not receive a subpoena from the New York District Attorney's office, according to an open records request."

Democratic Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough told WBEZ that her office has fully cooperated with Vance's office.

"They're good at turning over rocks, OK?" she told WBEZ. "And the fact that they're in Chicago turning over rocks, I'm not surprised, not surprised at all. As I said, we're going to see where this is going or if it's going anywhere. But I'm not surprised at anything that I see and hear about what's going on with the New York District Attorney's office, but clearly there is some smoke."

Read the full report over WBEZ.

'Heresy!' Franklin Graham's followers revolt after the evangelical leader says Jesus would get the COVID vaccine

Evangelical leader Franklin Graham, the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, took to Facebook this Wednesday and endorsed the COVID-19 vaccine, saying that if Jesus were alive today he'd definitely take it -- a bit of speculation that invoked an angry response in the comment thread that opened up beneath his post.

"I have been asked my opinion about the vaccine by the media and others. I have even been asked if Jesus were physically walking on earth now, would He be an advocate for vaccines," Graham wrote. "My answer was that based on the parable of the Good Samaritan in the Bible, I would have to say—yes, I think Jesus Christ would advocate for people using vaccines and medicines to treat suffering and save lives."

"So, my own personal opinion is that from what we know, a vaccine can help save lives and prevent suffering," he added.

While there were many positive reactions in the over 17,000 comments on the post, the majority were from people chastising Graham for daring to speak positively about a vaccine they believe to have evil origins.

"The faux vaccine doesn't prevent ANYONE from contracting or spreading the virus!" commenter Luticia Brooks wrote. "People are still advised to wear 2 masks and social distance! What a joke! How do you know what Jesus would do in this situation? Jesus was wise and would see this farce for what it is; brainwashing the weaklings of the world!"

Another commenter slammed Graham based on the false notion that the COVID vaccines contain aborted fetal cells.

"This vaccine has aborted Baby cells in it; Jesus would NOT advocate for anything such as that!" wrote Jennifer Matthews. "The Ten Commandments says, 'Thou shalt not kill'! Jesus was and is not in our level; He is God! He lived in this world, but was not of this world; He told us not to conform to the the world but be transformed through Him, by accepting Him as our Savior."

According to Beverlee Pidgue, a Christian "should have faith in God not man nor doctor."

"Jesus said if none amongst u r sick there be no need of a physician...he is your true healer," she added.

"Jesus would not want his children to be poisoned," wrote Stephanie Lynn. "This is about greed not health. Sad to see this post."

You can read Graham's post along with the comment thread in the link below:

'Chaos': Miami Herald drops the hammer on Ron DeSantis for Florida's super-spreader Spring break

Spring break in Florida this week is bringing super-spreader crowds, chaos, crime, and even death. According to Fabiola Santiago writing in the Miami Herald, it's the "perfect showcase for what ails the state's governor: recurring poor judgment."

On top of all the chaos, spring breakers will then go home to to elders or to college campuses and likely spread the coronavirus further.

"By flaunting that Florida is a free-for-all state for the sake of businesses gains and people who make a living off tourism, DeSantis created a mess for local leaders, whom he left without any power to enforce mask mandates, never mind social distancing," writes Santiago, adding that while people are personally responsible for their behavior, DeSantis "set the table for the chaos."

Given the fact that people have been deprived of gatherings since March, DeSantis should have foreseen the chaos -- "it's his job to do so," Santiago contends.

"But this is Florida and, according to the governor, you're free to be as dumb, drunk and unmasked, as you wanna be."

Read the full op-ed over at the Miami Herald.

Suspect identified in Boulder supermarket mass shooting: report

The man who's accused of killing ten people inside a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado, on Monday has been identified as 21-year-old Ahmad Alyssa of Arvada, Colorado, Mediaite reports. He has been charged with ten counts of first-degree murder.

"Police, who announced the charges in a Tuesday press conference, said the suspect was armed with a rifle and was shot by police before he was arrested. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment, and is in stable condition. Police have yet to reveal any motive for the shooting," Mediaite's report stated. "A shirtless and bloodied man was filmed being walked away from the scene of the shooting in handcuffs to a stretcher on Monday. It is unclear if that man is the suspected shooter."

Read more here.

'You're not hearing what I'm saying': Rand Paul embarrasses himself in an attempt to play gotcha with Fauci

During a hearing on the nation's response to the COVID-19 pandemic this Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) questioned Dr. Anthony Fauci while citing studies he said show that the threat of being reinfected with the virus is relatively low.

Paul said the studies show "significant optimism" that the virus is on the wane. "What specific studies do you cite to argue that the public should be wearing masks well into 2022?" Paul asked Fauci.

Fauci replied that he didn't understand the connection Paul was drawing between masks and reinfection.

"We're talking about people who have never been infected before," Fauci said.

"You're telling everybody to wear a mask whether they've had an infection or a vaccine," Paul shot back. "What I'm saying is they have immunity and everybody agrees they have immunity. What studies do you have that people who have had the vaccine or have had the infection are spreading the infection? If we're not spreading the infection, isn't it just theater? You've had the vaccine and you're wearing two masks -- isn't that theater?"

Fauci, visibly frustrated with Paul's line of questioning, replied, "Here we go again with the theater."

"Let's get down to the facts," Fauci said. "The studies that you quote from Crotty and and Sette look at in vitro examination of memory immunity, which in their paper they specifically say this does not necessarily pertain to the actual protection. It's in vitro. ... The other thing is when you talk about reinfection and you don't keep in the concept of variants, that's an entirely different ball game. That's a good reason for a mask."

Paul reiterated his point that "there is no evidence" of significant reinfection after natural infection or the vaccine. "It doesn't exist," Paul said.

"You're not hearing what I'm saying about variants," Fauci replied.

Paul argued that there's no evidence of significant reinfections from variants with hospitalizations and deaths, to which Fauci replied that "we don't have a prevalent variant yet."

Watch the full exchange in the video below:

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Trump's Secret Service detail fears being drawn into his legal battles now that he's lost immunity: report

Now that Donald Trump is out of office and no longer enjoys presidential immunity, he faces numerous criminal and civil challenges in federal and state courts. According to legal experts and former agents speaking to Business Insider, Secret Service agents who served during his tenure could be hauled unto court to testify against him.

As Insider points out, there's no legal privilege that prevents Secret Service agents from testifying about potential criminal behavior or the abuse of power that they might have witnessed while on the job.

But many former and current agents don't like the idea of being subpoenaed.

"That is a very, very slippery slope to go down as far as the Secret Service is concerned," said former Secret Service agent Joe Funk, who served under George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

"In order for us to do our job, we need to be close to the president in some capacity," Funk said. "And the president — and rightfully so — is going to be very concerned about that proximity in vehicles, especially if agents are privy to conversations" that they may be forced to recount at a later date.

Even some who have been critical of Trump are wary of agents being called to testify. The deputy director of the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Donald Sherman, said that while there's no telling "what kind of illegal or unethical activity the Trump family has engaged in," forcing agents to testify against a former president is "incredibly risky and shouldn't be considered or pursued without the utmost caution and consideration of the potential benefits."

"We shouldn't let the Trump family's gross abuse of power lead us down a road that undermines the Secret Service's role and function, which is critical to our democracy," Sherman said. "You're creating a risk that presidents or their family will duck or voluntarily shoo Secret Service protection that's there for a reason."

Read the full report over at Insider.

Trump's own defense secretary just threw him under the bus for inciting the Capitol riot

The former Acting Secretary of Defense under the Trump administration, Chris Miller, spoke to VICE on Showtime recently, and said that he thinks then-President Trump's speech on the morning of Jan. 6 helped spark the attack on the U.S. Capitol building later that day.

"...would anybody have marched on the Capitol, and tried to overrun the Capitol, without the President's speech?" Miller asked, adding that he thinks it's "pretty much definitive" that the violence wouldn't have taken place if Trump hadn't spoke.

"It seems cause and effect," Miller said. "The question is, did he know he was enraging people to do that? I don't know."

Miller got his share of criticism from some who say the Defense Department waited too long to deploy the National Guard in its response to the attack, but he said that the speed of the response was fairly standard.

"It comes back to understanding how the military works—this isn't a video game, it's not Black Ops Call of Duty," Miller said.

The story will air exclusively on VICE on Showtime at 8 p.m. on Sunday March 14.

GOP frustration with Marjorie Taylor Greene grows after she derails votes on uncontroversial legislation

Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and several members of the House Freedom Caucus called for a roll call vote on group of suspension bills this week, forcing Democrats to delay votes on 13 uncontroversial pieces of legislation.

As CNN points out, it would have taken 10 hours to pass the bills with a roll call vote on each measure because of COVID-19 restrictions.

"The American people deserve to know where their member of Congress stands with a roll call vote," Greene said in a statement to CNN. "While thousands of illegal aliens are invading Biden's open border, American kids are losing their education with closed schools, thousands of small businesses have been forced to shut down, the People really don't care about politicians whining about voting and doing their job for 10 hours."

But the bills -- some of which were sponsored by Greene's fellow Republicans -- had nothing to do with the topics Greene mentioned. One bill called for Congressional Gold Medals to be awarded to members of the Capitol Police Force and the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. Others focused on child abuse prevention, literacy and credit management.

Greene's move also delayed a vote on the VA VACCINE Act, legislation intended to help provide COVID-19 vaccines to veterans and their caregivers.

A GOP aide told CNN that "rank-and-file GOP members" are started to grow frustrated with Greene's antics. "Her act is starting to wear thin," said the aide.

"I think this is an end result of what the House has become, what the posture of the House has become," said Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) "I think what you're seeing with a lot of the shenanigans on the floor is because so many members have so much time on their hands to be able to go to the floor, and worry about what's happening with suspension bills rather than moving along, trying to look at legislating into the future."


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