Washington Free Beacon
President Trump is still waiting for the Senate to confirm several of his Cabinet nominees one month after he was inaugurated.
"We're using everything we can to stop these awful nominees," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said at a press conference earlier this month.
The same day, Trump decried "obstruction by Democrats" for delaying confirmation votes to fill his Cabinet.
"It is a disgrace that my full Cabinet is still not in place, the longest such delay in the history of our country. Obstruction by Democrats!" the president tweeted on Feb. 7.
When Obama was in the White House, Democrats said Republicans went to unprecedented lengths to stop his agenda–not just to fill his Cabinet but more broadly.
"No president in U.S. history has faced the level of obstruction that Barack Obama has," read a 2014 email from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. In parentheses, the group added: "(It's not even close at this point)."
So did Obama or Trump face more obstruction to fill their Cabinet?
Below is a comparison of Trump and Obama's Cabinet nominees.
*Inauguration Day for the president counts as the first complete day in calculating how long it took to confirm each nominee–except for nominations that were not the president's original choice. For these individuals, day one counts as when the president announced his new nomination.
*For Trump's nominees, two Independent senators, Angus King (I., Maine) and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), are counted as Democrats.
*For Obama's nominees, two Independent senators, Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), are counted as Democrats.
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President Donald Trump picked Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to replace Michael Flynn as his national security adviser on Monday.
Trump told reporters at his Mar-a-lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. that McMaster would replace Flynn as national security adviser.
The president touted McMaster's credentials, saying he is "a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience."
"I watched and read a lot over the last two days. He is highly respected by everybody in the military, and we're very honored to have him," the president added.
McMaser called it a "privilege" to be appointed national security adviser.
"I would just like to say what a privilege it is to be able to continue serving our nation," McMaster told reporters. "I'm grateful to you for that opportunity, and I look forward to joining the national security team and doing everything that I can to advance and protect the interests of the American people."
McMaster, 54, has been regarded as "smart, energetic, and tough" by Tom Ricks of Foreign Policy.
When McMaster was a colonel he served as an advising officer on counterinsurgency operations in Iraq for David Petraeus, who was leading U.S. combat operations in the country at the time.
During the Iraq War, McMaster argued for the U.S. to switch to counterinsurgency operations to secure local populations from the country's insurgent movement, working with Petraeus and others to lead that effort. McMaster is a decorated combat veteran who helped secure the Iraqi city of Tal Afar from Sunni insurgents in 2005 through innovative leadership.
McMaster, who also served in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf War, is currently director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center and became deputy commanding general, Futures, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, in July 2014.
McMaster received a doctorate in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who was acting national security adviser after Flynn's resignation from the post, will serve as chief of staff on the National Security Council, working with McMaster to advise the president and coordinate the many pieces of the country's national security apparatus.
"That combination is very, very special," Trump said of Kellogg and McMaster.
Trump also addressed on Monday former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, who was considered a front runner to replace Flynn by senior White House officials.
"I know John Bolton we're going to be asking to work with us in a somewhat different capacity," Trump said.
Flynn resigned last week after misleading Vice President Mike Pence about a phone conversation he had with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in December about U.S. sanctions.
Trump had first asked retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward to replace Flynn as his national security adviser, but Harward turned the down job.
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Chelsea Clinton took to the streets of New York on Sunday to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community and protest Muslim discrimination.
Clinton brought along her young daughter Charlotte.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 19, 2017
Linda Sarsour, a Muslim activist who is known for her vocal condemnation of Israel, gave a speech in which she discussed President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's signing of executive order 9066, which put Japanese Americans in internment camps. Sarsour implied that President Trump would do the same with Muslims.
— I Am A Muslim Too (@iamamuslimtoo) February 19, 2017
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Milo Yiannopoulos was disinvited from the Conservative Political Action Conference after a video surfaced of the controversial Breitbart editor allegedly condoning pedophilia on Monday.
Milo was set to be a keynote speaker at CPAC. Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative confirmed in a tweet that Milo would be speaking at the conference.
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) February 18, 2017
The video posted by Yiannopoulos on YouTube on January 4th gained attention over President's Day weekend.
"I'm grateful for Father Michael," Yiannopoulos said. "I wouldn't give nearly such good head if it wasn't for him."
— The Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) February 19, 2017
CPAC released a statement on Monday regarding Milo.
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) February 20, 2017
"Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation of Milo Yiannopolous to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference," Schlapp stated.
Milo made headlines in early February after violent protests broke out at the University of California, Berkeley campus where he was set to speak.
Yiannopolous is an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, whom he calls "daddy."
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Texas school policy allowed a testosterone-taking wrestler, who was born female but is seeking to transition to male, to compete against teen girls and ultimately win a regional title after his competitor forfeited.
Seventeen year-old transgender Mack Beggs of Euless Trinity High School revealed on social media that he started taking taking testosterone in October of 2015, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Beggs won a regional wrestling title on Saturday after his opponent Madeline Rocha of Coppell High School forfeited the match. Beggs' coach declined to comment on why Rocha forfeited, but said it was expected.
The Texas Education Code and University Interscholastic League rules dictate that high school students must compete with the gender stated on their birth certificate, and also allow athletes to use steroids that are prescribed for valid medical purposes, according to NBC's Dallas-Fort Worth affiliate.
Rocha wasn't the only one who seemed to have a problem with wrestling a testosterone-taking peer. Coppell wrestling parents filed a lawsuit against the University Interscholastic League, which governs Texas high school sports, claiming that Beggs' testosterone use put other female wrestlers under an "imminent threat of bodily harm."
— Trinity Wrestling (@THSWrestling17) January 7, 2017
Jim Baudhuin, one of the parents involved with the lawsuit, suggested other coaches had previously forfeited matches with Beggs out of fear for their wrestlers' safety. Baudhuin said he respected Beggs as a transgender male, but said testosterone use gave the teen a leg up on the competition.
"All we're saying is she is taking something that gives her an unfair advantage," Baudhuin said. "It's documented. It's universal that it's an unfair advantage."
Beggs declined to comment to the Dallas Morning News, but his grandmother Nancy Beggs suggested the lawsuit was about hatred and bigotry.
"Today was not about their students winning," Beggs' grandmother told the Morning News.
"[Mack Beggs and wrestlers from the Coppell team] have wrestled each other before, they know each other and they were not happy with this," she said.
Two teen transgender athletes told the Dallas Morning News that testosterone does not always give athletes an unfair advantage because people within gender already have "natural differences in strength and speed."
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A group of nearly 100 prominent Iranian dissidents is demanding that Congress launch investigations into clandestine efforts by the Islamic Republic to influence U.S. policy using a network of lobbyists and propaganda pieces placed in Voice of America's Persian service, according to a letter sent to leading lawmakers and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
The group of dissidents, composed of prominent Iranian voices that oppose the hardline regime in Tehran, says that Congress is not doing enough to expose the Iranian regime's lobbying efforts in D.C. and propaganda network, which is said to include some at VOA Persia.
Iranian-American groups claiming to represent American interests are said to be carrying water for the Islamic regime inside the White House and on Capitol Hill, according to these dissident voices.
The letter cites VOA's Persian service as a source of pro-Iran corruption. The Free Beacon has reported multiple times on claims that VOA has been infiltrated by Iran regime loyalists who seek to spin coverage in a favorable way for Tehran. In one instance, an Iranian dissident was barred from appearing on VOA Persia for voicing critical opinions about the regime.
The letter comes at a time when the Trump administration is seeking a tougher approach on Iran for its repeated violations of international accords governing the nuclear deal. The dissidents maintain that U.S. officials have been too soft on the regime and ignored its surreptitious efforts to make American diplomacy more generous to Tehran.
"We write to request a congressional hearing on the efforts of Tehran's theocratic regime to influence U.S. policy and public diplomacy toward Iran," the dissidents write to Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.) and Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), the heads of Congress' foreign affair committees, according to copies of the letter obtained by the Free Beacon.
"We ask that you launch an investigation into any and all lobbying activities of Iranian-American groups, which ostensibly promote the interests of our community but whose real goal is to undermine long-term U.S. national security interests in Iran and its neighborhood," the dissidents write.
Organizations such as the National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, which played a key role in championing the Iran nuclear agreement and worked closely with the Obama administration, have long operated under a cloud of suspicion. Dissident voices maintain that NIAC in particular serves as a mouthpiece for Iran's regime in the United States.
The group of dissidents—which includes foreign policy experts, university professors, interfaith leaders, prominent real estate developers, and human rights activists, among others—also requested that Congress shine a light on VOA Persia's activities.
"We also ask that you launch an inquiry into the Voice of America's Persian service, whose bloated budget is the largest of all language services under the VOA," they write.
"There have been numerous instances of editorials by the VOA's Persian service that have been lenient or favorable to Iran's clerical despots. We consider this to be totally unacceptable and demoralizing for pro-democracy Iranians who watch these broadcasts."
Such hearings would compliment past efforts by Congress to investigate corruption at VOA, including what many describe as its pro-Tehran bent.
Peter Kohanloo, a chief architect of the letter and president of the Iranian American Majority, told the Free Beacon that the missive represents an unprecedented effort by Iranian dissidents to expose the Iranian regime's "influence-peddling agenda."
"Never before have so many Iranian dissidents of different political persuasions and backgrounds come together to speak with one unified voice," Kohanloo told the Free Beacon. "This historic letter is a clear and unmistakable message to Tehran that we will no longer tolerate their influence-peddling agenda, which divides our community and demoralizes pro-democracy activists in Iran."
The group of dissidents informed lawmakers that they are all willing to testify publicly at congressional hearings on both of these matters.
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John Wick: Chapter 2 starring Keanu Reeves is currently burning up the box office. If you're a Washingon Free Beacon reader, you just may have heard of John Wick by now. Our in-house movie nerd is kind of obsessed with it–one of his few positive characteristics.
Ever since a video of Keanu training with Taran Tactical Innovations hit the internet a lot of gun people have been equally obsessed with the more-realistic-than-your-average-shoot-em-up-movie gunfighting in the film. The sequel, like the original, didn't disappoint and has been accurately referred to by some as "gun porn"–especially the delightful tasting Wick does with the Sommelier before killing pretty much everybody at a party in Rome. Now, thanks to the sleuths at the Internet Movie Firearms Database (IMFDB), we know exactly what guns John Wick had at his disposal in Chapter 2.
Taran Tactical Innovations Combat Master Glock 34 ($1,350 Upgrade)
Taran Tactical Innovations Combat Carry Glock 26 ($1,149.99 Upgrade)
Taran Tactical Innovations TR-1 ($1,999.99 Upgrade)
Taran Tactical Innovations Benelli M4 Super 90 ($1,399.99 Upgrade)
Kimber Warrior 1911 ($1,257)
Wick also commandeers some generic Glock 17s from a few of his opponents. But this setup, for all intents and purposes, is his arsenal. And it can be yours for only a few grand! So, if you want to get to running and gunning like John Wick it looks like you better start with a trip to Taran Tactical Innovations in Simi Valley, California, for some training and gunsmithing.
Chelsea Clinton took to Twitter on Sunday to berate President Trump after he claimed an immigration-related security incident recently occurred in Sweden.
Trump said at a rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday that his travel ban should remain in place to prevent incidents similar to the one in Sweden, the Hill reported.
No incident had occurred in Sweden.
"When you look at what's happening in Germany, when you look at what's happening last night in Sweden, Sweden!" Trump said. "Who would believe this? Sweden! They took in large numbers, they're having problems like they never thought possible."
Many in Sweden were reportedly confused by Trump's statement.
In her tweet, Clinton referenced Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, fabricating a massacre in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
What happened in Sweden Friday night? Did they catch the Bowling Green Massacre perpetrators?
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 19, 2017
Clinton is rumored to be looking towards running for the Senate if Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) vacates her seat.
Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt also took a jab at Trump and questioned his sobriety.
Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound. https://t.co/XWgw8Fz7tj
— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) February 19, 2017
Trump later clarified on Twitter that his comment was referring to a story he saw on Fox News about immigrants entering Sweden.
My statement as to what's happening in Sweden was in reference to a story that was broadcast on @FoxNews concerning immigrants & Sweden.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 19, 2017
The Fox News show "Tucker Carlson Tonight" ran a segment on Friday reporting that Sweden had last year taken in over 160,000 asylum-seekers, only 500 of whom had found jobs, according to the Telegraph. The Fox report went on to say that there has been a surge in rape and gun violence in Sweden after the influx of immigrants.
A White House spokeswoman said Sunday that Trump was referring to a general increase in crime rather than any specific incidents.
UPDATE Monday, February 20, 9:16 A.M.: This post was updated to include President Trump's tweet and information on the Fox News report he was referencing, as well as comment from a White House spokeswoman.
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A Democratic Federal Election Commission official who pushed to regulate the internet and has been absent from public meetings for months is resigning, according to an announcement.
Ann Ravel, who wanted to regulate political speech on the internet from websites such as the Drudge Report, announced Sunday that she is stepping down from her post.
“It’s been an honor to serve the FEC. I’m committed to transparency – here’s my resignation letter to Donald Trump,” Ravel tweeted on Sunday morning.
Ravel attached her resignation letter to President Donald Trump, which focused on asking Trump to prioritize campaign finance reform.
"I respectfully urge you to prioritize campaign finance reform to remedy the significant problems identified during the last election cycle," the letter says. "Disclosure laws need to be strengthened; the mistaken jurisprudence of Citizens United reexamined; public financing of candidates ought to be expanded to reduce reliance on the wealthy; and Commissioners who will carry out the mandates of the law should be appointed to expired terms at the FEC. Thank you very much."
Ravel’s resignation will be effective March 1.
The Democratic commissioner has come under fire on numerous occasions in the past due to her desire to regulate online political speech—actions some viewed as targeting conservative websites.
Ravel has also been a no-show from FEC public meetings in recent months, phoning it in from California after being passed up for the attorney general spot in the state. During one meeting, Ravel seemed so distant that the Democratic chair of the commission asked if she was awake.
Despite Ravel’s absence from the meetings, she attempted to call for a special meeting that would allow a vote on whether or not she could attend a foreign-funded junket to Ecuador to observe their elections.
After being contacted by the Washington Free Beacon seeking comment on the demand, Ravel’s special counsel said that Ravel had reversed her decision to participate in the trip. If Ravel did not rescind her demand and the trip were approved, she would currently be in Ecuador.
"Ravel had become a frequent no-show at Commission meetings since late last year, phoning into 4 public meetings (one from a train) and completely skipping two executive sessions in January," a source close to the Commission said in an emailed statement. "That did not stop her, however, from requesting a special meeting to obtain Commission approval to travel to Ecuador, at foreign expense, a request she later withdrew after the Free Beacon wrote about the matter."
Ravel was first appointed to the FEC by President Barack Obama in 2013 and chaired the commission in 2015.
Ravel did not immediately return a request for comment on her resignation.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said on Sunday that he and other Democratic lawmakers have to find ways to work with President Donald Trump.
"I think we have to work with him," Cummings told CBS host John Dickerson on "Face the Nation."
"I keep telling people that this is our president for the next four years," Cummings said of Trump.
Cummings told Dickerson that the Trump administration has plans to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus to work on urban issues. He also said that Trump responded to a letter from the Congressional Black Caucus just a few day ago.
"I've got to work with this president, but at the same time there has been nobody tougher on this president than I have," Cummings said.