JUICE – Florida Politics’ Juicy Read – 5.28.20 – No Florida Poll Tax – Trump v Twitter – Rubio Says ‘No’ to Obamagate – And More
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JUICE – Florida Politics’ Juicy Read – 5.28.20 – No Florida Poll Tax – Trump v Twitter – Rubio Says ‘No’ to Obamagate – And More

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Florida’s “Poll Tax” Gets Stricken Down by Courts

It appears that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ measure to force convicted felons to pay their dues and monies owed to the court before being able to vote did not sit well with the courts, as a federal court ruled against the so-called “poll tax,” a term coined by Democrats. House Democrats like Rep. Debbie Murcarsel-Powell (D), who is one of DeSantis’ and President Donald Trumps’ detractors, has praised the Court’s decision. Read More.

Bill Alert

Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R)Lois Frankel (D)Donna Shalala (D) have just announced that they have filed their Protecting the Health of America’s Older Adults During COVID-19 and Beyond Act. The bill would create a centralized federal entity that makes sure that older adults are taken care of during the pandemic, and all their needs are addressed.

President Donald J. Trump vs. Twitter

Trump has fired back against the social media platform Twitter after they took it upon themselves to become the arbiter of the resident’s tweets, fact-checking his statements. Trump fired back and threatened to scrutinize and regulate Twitter. Even Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg thought it was a bad idea for Twitter to do so. This move by Twitter could be the beginning of an egregious push to influence the 2020 presidential election. Read More.

The Bug

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) responded to the announcement that the United States has surpassed 100,000 deaths since the breakout of the pandemic. Her statement reads: “Today, we mourn the loss of 100,000 mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, grandparents, friends, and fellow Americans. We mourn the 2,319 of those lost who were Floridians, beloved by those who call the Sunshine State home. As we continue to battle the most significant pandemic in a century, may the actions of our leaders and the governance of our state and country reflect the memory of those lost to COVID-19.”

Obamagate

Acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio (R), is not too keen on following and pushing the narrative about Obama’s role in Russian collusion investigation (Obamagate) and is rather focused on other pressing matters. Many Republicans are not too happy. Read More.

 

Florida’s Trail

Kat Cammack has just been endorsed by Former Hampton Mayor James Mitzel in her efforts to become the next member of Congress in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District.

Bob Cortes has been endorsed by Business Force of Central Florida for his reelection run for the Florida House of Representatives.

Just In >>> Trump Threatens to Veto FISA Renewal Bill  

Here is a snapshot of the most up-to-date numbers from the Florida Dept. of Health:

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“Trump Threatens to ‘Strongly Regulate’ Twitter After Fact Check Added to Tweet” by The Floridian’s Mona Salama – President Trump on Wednesday threatened to “strongly regulate” shut down social media companies after Twitter just a day ago tagged fact-check warning label under two of his tweets on mail-in voting. “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservative voices,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. “We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that…happen again.” “Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!” Trump continued. Later Wednesday morning, Trump added on his threat by promising “big action to follow” against Twitter. “Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct,” the president tweeted. “Big action to follow.” The president’s response came after Twitter on Tuesday slapped a fact-check label on two of Trump’s tweets regarding mail-in ballot for the first time in the platform history. The label, according to Twitter is “designed to combat misinformation and unverified claims, linked to a curated page with links and summaries” to offer context to what it views as potentially misleading information, instead of removing the tweets.

“Mucarsel-Powell Praises Strike-Down of Modern Poll Tax” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – A federal district court has ruled to strike down Florida’s law that required convicted felons returning to society to pay court fines and fees before they are allowed to vote. In a statement, Florida Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) praised the District Court’s decision, arguing that “Floridians voted for a stronger democracy when we passed Amendment 4 two years ago, and we’ve continued to make it clear that we will not stand for modern poll taxes.” She explained that “Sunday, the court recognized that this restrictive and discriminatory voting law does not align with justice or democracy,” adding that “our most fundamental right in a democracy is the right to vote – trying to take away that right is going against our democratic values.” The Florida lawmaker reaffirmed that “we must work to ensure that every Floridian has access to the ballot because our fundamental right to vote should be denied because of your income.” So, “as we head into election season in the midst of this crisis,” the lawmaker who faces opposition in Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez (R), assured that she is “continuing to advocate for expanded at-home and early voting options so Floridians do not need to choose between their personal health and their right to vote.” She concluded by calling for the need to “pass the Heroes Act to invest in safe, secure elections.”

“Republican Leadership Praises Newest FL “Young Guns by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – The Young Guns program was designed to mentor and support candidates in races across the United States to ensure they’re provided with the necessary tools to run a productive and effective campaign against their Democrat rivals. This week, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy announced the second round of “Young Guns,” which includes two Florida candidates – Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Maria Elvira Salazar. In a statement, House Leader McCarthy shared his enthusiasm “to promote such a diverse group of candidates to the final phase of the Young Guns program.” He added, “as we move closer to Election Day, these candidates have shown they stand in stark contrast to their Democratic opponents and have the structure in place to come out victorious in November.” After losing a congressional bid in the 2018 midterm election to Florida Rep. Donna Shalala (D) for Florida’s 27th congressional district, Maria Elvira Salazar is running again to unseat the Florida freshman. As well, Miami-Dade County Mayor Gimenez is challenging Florida Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) for her own seat in Florida’s 26th congressional district.

“Rubio’s focus is elsewhere, not on ‘Obamagate’” by The Floridian’s Daniel Molina – President Trump has taken to social media to voice his disapproval of Obamagate, which he argues dates before the investigation into possible Russian collusion regarding the President’s win in the 2016 presidential election. The President has alleged that the Obama administration conspired to entrap General Michael Flynn. As the President moves forward with this conflict, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) is signaling that he won’t take part in this national conversation, but he is focusing on Russia and the threat the country poses on the United States and the world. As the Florida lawmaker takes on the role of acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Rubio has called for Republicans to not promote Russian disinformation as they move forward in investigating Hunter Biden and the Biden campaign. In an interview last week, Rubio commented that he’s “not going to accuse any member who believes that they are exercising oversight to be colluding with a foreign power.” He added, “I will say to you that I think it’s pretty clear that the Russians are constantly pursuing narratives that they believe will drive conflict in our politics and divide us against each other.”

“Charlie Crist Called Out for Supporting Illegal Alien Bailout” by The Floridian’s Javier Manjarres – It goes without saying that U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist’s (D) popularity and fundraising prowess is legendary in the State of Florida and has helped him finally make it to the U.S. Congress when he won his first federal election four years ago. But the 2020 presidential election cycle could turn out to be the election that changes the recent political fortunes of the Democratic party and its congressional candidates and leaders like Rep. Crist, Rep. Debbie Murcarsel-Powell, and other targeted House Democrats in Florida. Crist is one of the top targets for the NRCC and national Republicans and is expected to face a tough reelection challenge from whoever wins the Republican primary race in Floridian’s 13th congressional district. Amanda Makki and Anna Paulina Luna have positioned themselves as the top two potential Republican congressional nominees that will face off against Crist in November. Both women have been throwing jabs and haymakers at Crist and his positions and votes he has taken, including his full-throated support for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s political agenda, which includes the most recently COVID-19 funding bill that allocates taxpayer dollars to bail out illegal aliens.

“Florida Gov. DeSantis to appeal Amendment 4 ruling that allows ex-felons to vote” by Tribunes News Service via Tampa Bay Times – Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he would appeal a federal judge’s decision to strike down a Florida law requiring felons to pay fines and fees associated with their sentences before getting back their right to vote. “It’ll go to the 11th Circuit, and we’ll see what happens there,” DeSantis told reporters in Miami, referring to the Atlanta-based appellate court. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle issued a ruling Sunday that said Florida’s law approved in 2019 to install Amendment 4 was unconstitutional because it required felons to pay restitution, fines and fees before being able to vote. Florida voters approved the amendment in 2018 with more than 64% of the vote. Hinkle called the law a “pay-to-vote system” and noted the difficulty in finding out how much a felon might owe. The ruling calls on state elections officials to determine the amount owed and allow felons to seek an advisory opinion for the full amount. If there’s no response in three weeks, they should be allowed to vote, the ruling states. The lawsuit brought by 17 ex-felons was argued by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and backed by other liberal and voting rights groups, which called the ruling a victory. Republican lawmakers who passed the law have defended their approach, noting that supporters of Amendment 4 argued before the Florida Supreme Court in 2018 that felons who complete “all terms of sentence” would have to pay fines and fees before being allowed to vote.

“FBI: Florida man scouted terror targets and attack weapons” by Associated Press via Wink News – A Florida man is charged with providing material support to the Islamic State extremist group, including attempting to buy multiple weapons and scouting potential targets for an attack in the Tampa Bay area, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. A criminal complaint charges Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azhari, a 23-year-old U.S. citizen, with attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization. The charge carries a potential 20-year prison term. A public defender listed in court records for Al-Azhari said the government’s charges in the case unfairly attempt to portray him as a terrorist. “The allegations misunderstand both the law and the evidence,” said the public defender, Samuel Landes, in an emailed statement. “I’m thankful that in this country everyone enjoys a presumption of innocence, and I look forward to Mr. Al-Azhari’s day in court before a jury of his peers.” An FBI affidavit says Al-Azhari was recorded as expressing admiration for Omar Mateen, the deceased shooter at the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016, and even drove there to scope out the location. In a conversation with a confidential informant, the FBI says, Al-Azhari said “that’s how I want to die, to be honest.”

“Banned lawyer files lawsuit over Florida governor’s lockdown” by Associated Press – The one-time busboy who is challenging the legal authority of Gov. Ron DeSantis to issue virus-related shutdown orders in Florida is a used-car salesman who worked for decades as a lawyer until he was banned from the courtroom last year in disputes over his behavior. William Abramson of Lantana, just south of West Palm Beach, filed a longshot lawsuit over the governor’s authority to issue lockdown orders under Florida’s constitution and state laws. The Florida Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the matter, has designated the lawsuit one of its high-profile cases. Even Abramson acknowledged he was unlikely to win the case. He spoke to Fresh Take Florida, a news service of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, in an interview last week. He called the governor “a good guy” but said he handled the virus emergency poorly. Abramson’s legal challenge tracks closely with critics across the U.S. who said shutdown orders by governors responding to the pandemic were excessive or legally questionable.

“Trump says he’ll return to Florida for second attempt at SpaceX launch on Saturday” by Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly – President Trump’s trip to Florida on Wednesday ended early when SpaceX postponed the launch of its rocket ship due to inclement weather just 17 minutes before two NASA astronauts were set to make a historic flight into orbit. But Trump is already looking forward to getting another chance at seeing the first commercial manned spacecraft blast off from the Kennedy Space Center on its next launch date this weekend. “Thank you to @NASA and @SpaceX for their hard work and leadership,” the president tweeted while on his flight back to Washington from the aborted launch. “Look forward to being back with you on Saturday!” Vice President Mike Pence, who was also in Florida Wednesday, tweeted that he too would be returning for Saturday’s expected launch. “President @realDonaldTrump and I will be back at @NASAKennedy this Saturday to watch History in the Making as we send American Astronauts back to Space on an American Rocket for the first time in nearly 10 years! #LaunchAmerica,” Pence tweeted. Shortly after the launch was aborted on Wednesday, SpaceX announced that liftoff was rescheduled for Saturday afternoon.

“The Florida Supreme Court’s U-turn on the death penalty | Editorial” by Tampa Bay Times’ Editorial Board – What’s the obsession at the Florida Supreme Court with becoming an outlier on the death penalty, with reversing established law and shaking public confidence in the state’s judicial system? A recent decision by the court, which overturned protections for death row inmates with intellectual disabilities, is only the latest sign of judicial activism out of control, out of sync with the times and out of keeping with the tradition of restraint and following court precedent. In a case this month, the court ruled 4-1 against Harry Franklin Phillips, who for years has sought to set aside his death sentence for the murder of Bjorn Thomas Svenson, a parole supervisor, in Miami in August 1982. Phillips has argued he cannot be executed because he is intellectually disabled, which the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2002, outlawed as “cruel and unusual punishment.” Phillips wanted his claim reconsidered in light of a U.S. Supreme Court case in 2014 that expanded the basis of disability findings, and under a 2016 decision by the Florida Supreme Court that applied those looser standards retroactively. At issue was the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hall v. Florida in 2014, which struck down a state law that set an IQ test score of 70 as the maximum threshold for a defendant to present evidence of his intellectual disability. The court found that Florida’s “rigid rule” was not “proper or humane,” out of line with most states and the test’s designers themselves.

“Disney says its Florida theme parks will reopen in mid-July” by Washington Posts’ Steven Seitchik – Disney said on Wednesday that it will reopen its Florida theme parks in July even amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, hoping to capitalize on Americans’ pent-up desire to leave the house and, in the process, reverse a months-long tide of lost revenue. Executives said Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom will reopen July 11, while Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, also in Florida, will resume business July 15. But big questions remain hovering over the announcement — whether the company will be able to operate the massive properties safely, and whether consumers will feel comfortable enough to take the chance. Executives on Wednesday sought to reassure consumers and government officials. A number of social-distancing measures will be imposed at the parks, said Jim MacPhee, senior vice president of operations for Walt Disney World Resort. Customers will be required to wear masks and undergo temperature checks. And MacPhee said parades and fireworks displays will remain temporarily suspended because of the crowds those events attract. MacPhee made his comments as part of a reopening plan Disney submitted at an economic recovery task-force meeting in Orange County, Fla., on Wednesday morning. The task-force members approved Disney’s plan shortly after it was presented. The plan still needs to be approved by Orlando Mayor Jerry Demings (D) before it is sent to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Both are expected to greenlight the move.

 

 “Minneapolis protests get heated, looting reported as George Floyd death sparks new outcry” by Fox News’ Michael Ruiz – Protests grew increasingly tense in Minneapolis on Wednesday, and looting was reported, as outrage grew over George Floyd – whose death in police custody was recorded on video that went viral. Fox News’ Mike Tobin, reporting live from the scene, was caught in the crossfire and said he felt pepper spray get into his eyes. “Some of the flashbangs have been deployed, primarily from the police on the rooftop,” Tobin said at one point, standing with a news camera and microphone between the lines of protesters and police officers. Video of the protest showed a line of police slowly backing away from a Minneapolis intersection as protesters continued to move forward, carrying signs and chanting “I can’t breathe.” Loud bangs can be heard periodically throughout the live shot. The ground was littered with bottles that Tobin said protesters had hurled at police. The police on the ground, carrying their bicycles like shields along with Tasers, pepper spray and tear gas, received cover from a garrison of officers on the nearby rooftop of the department’s 3rd Precinct, armed with tear gas launchers.

“Pompeo says Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, jeopardizing billions of dollars in trade” by CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Nicole Gaouette and Kylie Atwood – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he certified to Congress Wednesday that Hong Kong no longer enjoys a high degree of autonomy from China — a decision that could result in the loss of Hong Kong’s special trading status with the US and threaten its standing as an international financial hub. President  which comes at a time of increased tensions with Beijing as the two countries trade barbs over the coronavirus pandemic. Ending a special trading relationship that has existed for decades would carry costs for American business, rattle an already fragile global economy and hurt Hong Kong more than China, experts warn. “The State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China. After careful study of developments over the reporting period, I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997,” he said in a statement. “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.”

“Republicans Open to More Election Funding, but Not on Democrats’ Terms” by WSJ’s Kristina Peterson – Republican leaders on Capitol Hill say they don’t want the federal government telling states how to hold elections during the coronavirus pandemic. But they haven’t closed the door on increased funding for local officials wrestling with how to keep voters safe this November. While most Republicans are leery of new federal requirements backed by Democrats that mandate mail-in voting nationwide, they are discussing a range of other ideas. Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.), chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, said he expected the next relief package would include more money for elections. “I think it’s likely and it’s likely necessary,” Mr. Blunt, a former Missouri secretary of state, said in an interview. He said he is also looking at reducing the current requirement that states provide a 20% match in order to access emergency election funding. In late March, Congress approved $400 million in election assistance grants as part of its roughly $2 trillion stimulus bill. Although the legislation didn’t specify the 20% contribution for states, the Election Assistance Commission, which administers the grants, has required the matching funds in order to be consistent with current government funding guidelines.

“U.S. DOJ closing insider trading probes into three senators: WSJ” by Reuters’ Kanishka Singh – The U.S. Department of Justice is closing probes into three U.S. senators over stock trades made shortly before the coronavirus market turmoil, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The three senators include Republicans Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, the Journal reported, adding that prosecutors are alerting their defense attorneys about the closing of the probes. However, the DOJ’s related probe into Senator Richard Burr is continuing, according to the newspaper. Representatives for Burr, the DOJ and the FBI declined to comment. The senators were investigated over selling large amounts of stock before the coronavirus-induced market meltdown and after closed-door briefings on the outbreak this year.

“Barr asks US Attorney John Bash to review ‘unmasking’ before and after 2016 election, DOJ tells Fox News” by Vandana Rambaran and Jake Gibson – Attorney General Bill Barr has asked U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash to review the practice of “unmasking” before and after the 2016 presidential election, a controversy that has picked up steam after the Justice Department moved to drop charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the DOJ announced. Republican lawmakers have demanded more information about the extent of the practice after a previously clandestine list of Obama-era officials who sought to reveal what turned out to be the identity of Michael Flynn in intelligence reports was released on Wednesday. Kerri Kupec, a spokesperson for the Justice Department said on Fox News’ ‘Hannity’ Wednesday that U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is reviewing the origins of the Trump Russia Investigation, was looking into “unmasking” but that Barr determined that certain aspects of the practice needed further review, and Bash has been assigned to do so. “Unmasking inherently isn’t wrong, but certainly, the frequency, the motivation and the reasoning behind unmasking can be problematic, and when you’re looking at unmasking as part of a broader investigation– like John Durham’s investigation– looking specifically at who was unmasking whom, can add a lot to our understanding about motivation and big picture events,” Kupec said.

“Campaign finance filings takeaways: Joe Biden is still in a financial hole, super PAC importance rising” by CNN’s Fredreka Schouten – Former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee came close to matching the fundraising performance of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party in April, but the presumptive Democratic nominee remains in a deep financial hole as the general election shifts into full gear, new figures show. Biden and the Democrats started May with about $100 million in cash reserves, according to filings Wednesday night with the Federal Election Commission. That’s less than half the $255 million that Team Trump said it had remaining in the bank, the result of a massive fundraising operation the President has cultivated since entering the White House. Biden and the DNC took in more than $60 million in April, nearly as much as the $61.7 million the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee said it raised over the month, as the coronavirus pandemic forced both candidates to suspend traditional face-to-face fundraising. But Trump has built an aggressive apparatus to tap small-dollar contributions, and his campaign’s new filings show that nearly half — about 45% — of donations from individuals last month came in amounts of $200 or less. By comparison, small-dollar donations fueled about 37% of Biden’s individual contributions in April.

“Trump Ramps Up Swing-State Travel” by WSJ’s Catherine Lucey and Alex Leary – With swing-state locations, familiar rally playlists and political appeals from the candidate, President Trump’s recent official White House outings have included many of the trappings of campaign stops. On Wednesday the president arrived in Florida, his fourth battleground-state destination in four weeks, where he planned to watch the launch of the private SpaceX rocket, manned by NASA astronauts, which ended up being postponed. While his megarallies are on hold, Mr. Trump’s incumbency affords him the ability to hit the road in his official capacity, in contrast with likely Democratic rival Joe Biden, who made his first foray out in public Monday but didn’t leave his home state of Delaware. While incumbent presidents often utilize their official travel opportunities in a political year and focus their attention on swing states, as President Obama did in 2012, critics said Mr. Trump is blurring the lines more than his predecessors. Noah Bookbinder, of the ethics advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, noted that past incumbent presidents would typically hold separate official and political events on such trips. “Generally in the past though, presidents have been really scrupulous about avoiding hybrid events which are part official and part campaign,” Mr. Bookbinder said. “He holds what ostensibly are official events, but then does things that make them look like they have a campaign goal.”

“Trump to sign executive order on social media on Thursday: White House” by Reuters’ Jeff Mason and Nandita Bose – U.S. President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on social media companies on Thursday, White House officials said after Trump threatened to shut down websites he accused of stifling conservative voices. The officials gave no further details. It was unclear how Trump could follow through on the threat of shutting down privately owned companies including Twitter Inc. The company declined comment. The dispute erupted after Twitter on Tuesday for the first time tagged Trump’s tweets about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact check the posts. Separately, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit by a conservative group and right-wing YouTube personality against Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple accusing them of conspiring to suppress conservative political views. In an interview with Fox News Channel on Wednesday, Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said censoring a platform would not be the “right reflex” for a government worried about censorship. Fox played a clip of the interview and said it would be aired in full on Thursday. Facebook left Trump’s post on mail-in ballots on Tuesday untouched.

“House Dems adjourn without FISA vote after Trump announces veto threat” by Fox News’ Marisa Schultz – The House of Representatives adjourned late Wednesday without voting on whether to reauthorize advanced surveillance tools used by law enforcement — a measure that had wide bipartisan support back in March, but which has drawn sudden GOP opposition amid news of apparent FBI misconduct. President Trump threatened to veto the bill if passed earlier on Wednesday, and House Democrats delayed a vote three times throughout the day. Democrats can only lose 17 votes, and their failure to forge ahead indicated that they hadn’t yet whipped that minimum number. The House is set to reconvene Thursday at 9 a.m. ET. Fox News is told that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., still wants the House to pass the bill, align it with the Senate’s version, and dare the president to veto it. “If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it,” Trump tweeted ahead of the vote. “Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history. The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it!” Earlier, Pelosi and Democratic leadership marched forward with the scheduled vote to authorize Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provisions and said it will be up to Trump to decide whether he wants to undo the carefully drafted bipartisan effort.

“Governors of Georgia and Florida offer to host Republican convention as Trump threatens to pull it from North Carolina” by CNN’s Paul LeBlanc – The governors of Georgia and Florida have offered to host the Republican National Convention after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the event out of North Carolina, where it is expected to be held in late August. Trump contended that Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is “unable to guarantee” that the Charlotte arena can be filled to capacity for the convention scheduled for August 24 to 27. Cooper has said that data and science will guide his decisions on whether the state can hold large gatherings like the convention amid the coronavirus pandemic. The friction prompted Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, to tweet Tuesday, “We hope you will consider the Peach State, @realdonaldtrump!” “With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention,” Kemp said. His offer was echoed by Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said during a news conference Tuesday that his state would “love to have the RNC” and would be open to hosting the Democratic convention as well. “The door is open. We want to have the conversation whether it’s RNC or DNC because I think it would be good for the people of Florida,” the Republican said. “Florida wants to work with you if you’re a business, if you’re a sports team, if you want to have some of these events, we want to work with you to get to yes.”

“Rosenstein to testify in Senate on Trump-Russia probe” by Reuters’ David Morgan and Sarah N. Lynch – A key figure behind the U.S. investigation into links between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign will testify next week before a Republican-led Senate committee examining the origins of the probe, the panel said on Wednesday. Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller in 2017, will testify on June 3 as part of a Senate Judiciary Committee examination of an FBI probe of Trump campaign officials code-named “Crossfire Hurricane,” which led to the Mueller investigation. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Rosenstein would offer “new revelations” about federal surveillance practices. Trump and his Republican allies claim the probe was intended to undermine his candidacy and presidency. In December, a Justice Department watchdog found evidence of numerous errors but no political bias when the FBI opened the probe. “Even the best law enforcement officers make mistakes and … some engage in willful misconduct,” Rosenstein said in a statement on Wednesday. “We can only hope to maintain public confidence if we correct mistakes, hold wrongdoers accountable and adopt policies to prevent problems from recurring,” he added.

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 “Minneapolis protests get heated, looting reported as George Floyd death sparks new outcry” by Fox News’ Michael Ruiz – Protests grew increasingly tense in Minneapolis on Wednesday, and looting was reported, as outrage grew over George Floyd – whose death in police custody was recorded on video that went viral. Fox News’ Mike Tobin, reporting live from the scene, was caught in the crossfire and said he felt pepper spray get into his eyes. “Some of the flashbangs have been deployed, primarily from the police on the rooftop,” Tobin said at one point, standing with a news camera and microphone between the lines of protesters and police officers. Video of the protest showed a line of police slowly backing away from a Minneapolis intersection as protesters continued to move forward, carrying signs and chanting “I can’t breathe.” Loud bangs can be heard periodically throughout the live shot. The ground was littered with bottles that Tobin said protesters had hurled at police. The police on the ground, carrying their bicycles like shields along with Tasers, pepper spray and tear gas, received cover from a garrison of officers on the nearby rooftop of the department’s 3rd Precinct, armed with tear gas launchers.

“Pompeo says Hong Kong is no longer autonomous from China, jeopardizing billions of dollars in trade” by CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Nicole Gaouette and Kylie Atwood – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he certified to Congress Wednesday that Hong Kong no longer enjoys a high degree of autonomy from China — a decision that could result in the loss of Hong Kong’s special trading status with the US and threaten its standing as an international financial hub. President  which comes at a time of increased tensions with Beijing as the two countries trade barbs over the coronavirus pandemic. Ending a special trading relationship that has existed for decades would carry costs for American business, rattle an already fragile global economy and hurt Hong Kong more than China, experts warn. “The State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China. After careful study of developments over the reporting period, I certified to Congress today that Hong Kong does not continue to warrant treatment under United States laws in the same manner as U.S. laws were applied to Hong Kong before July 1997,” he said in a statement. “No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground.”

“Republicans Open to More Election Funding, but Not on Democrats’ Terms” by WSJ’s Kristina Peterson – Republican leaders on Capitol Hill say they don’t want the federal government telling states how to hold elections during the coronavirus pandemic. But they haven’t closed the door on increased funding for local officials wrestling with how to keep voters safe this November. While most Republicans are leery of new federal requirements backed by Democrats that mandate mail-in voting nationwide, they are discussing a range of other ideas. Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.), chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, said he expected the next relief package would include more money for elections. “I think it’s likely and it’s likely necessary,” Mr. Blunt, a former Missouri secretary of state, said in an interview. He said he is also looking at reducing the current requirement that states provide a 20% match in order to access emergency election funding. In late March, Congress approved $400 million in election assistance grants as part of its roughly $2 trillion stimulus bill. Although the legislation didn’t specify the 20% contribution for states, the Election Assistance Commission, which administers the grants, has required the matching funds in order to be consistent with current government funding guidelines.

“U.S. DOJ closing insider trading probes into three senators: WSJ” by Reuters’ Kanishka Singh – The U.S. Department of Justice is closing probes into three U.S. senators over stock trades made shortly before the coronavirus market turmoil, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The three senators include Republicans Kelly Loeffler of Georgia and James Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, the Journal reported, adding that prosecutors are alerting their defense attorneys about the closing of the probes. However, the DOJ’s related probe into Senator Richard Burr is continuing, according to the newspaper. Representatives for Burr, the DOJ and the FBI declined to comment. The senators were investigated over selling large amounts of stock before the coronavirus-induced market meltdown and after closed-door briefings on the outbreak this year.

“Barr asks US Attorney John Bash to review ‘unmasking’ before and after 2016 election, DOJ tells Fox News” by Vandana Rambaran and Jake Gibson – Attorney General Bill Barr has asked U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John Bash to review the practice of “unmasking” before and after the 2016 presidential election, a controversy that has picked up steam after the Justice Department moved to drop charges against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the DOJ announced. Republican lawmakers have demanded more information about the extent of the practice after a previously clandestine list of Obama-era officials who sought to reveal what turned out to be the identity of Michael Flynn in intelligence reports was released on Wednesday. Kerri Kupec, a spokesperson for the Justice Department said on Fox News’ ‘Hannity’ Wednesday that U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is reviewing the origins of the Trump Russia Investigation, was looking into “unmasking” but that Barr determined that certain aspects of the practice needed further review, and Bash has been assigned to do so. “Unmasking inherently isn’t wrong, but certainly, the frequency, the motivation and the reasoning behind unmasking can be problematic, and when you’re looking at unmasking as part of a broader investigation– like John Durham’s investigation– looking specifically at who was unmasking whom, can add a lot to our understanding about motivation and big picture events,” Kupec said.

“Campaign finance filings takeaways: Joe Biden is still in a financial hole, super PAC importance rising” by CNN’s Fredreka Schouten – Former Vice President Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee came close to matching the fundraising performance of President Donald Trump and the Republican Party in April, but the presumptive Democratic nominee remains in a deep financial hole as the general election shifts into full gear, new figures show. Biden and the Democrats started May with about $100 million in cash reserves, according to filings Wednesday night with the Federal Election Commission. That’s less than half the $255 million that Team Trump said it had remaining in the bank, the result of a massive fundraising operation the President has cultivated since entering the White House. Biden and the DNC took in more than $60 million in April, nearly as much as the $61.7 million the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee said it raised over the month, as the coronavirus pandemic forced both candidates to suspend traditional face-to-face fundraising. But Trump has built an aggressive apparatus to tap small-dollar contributions, and his campaign’s new filings show that nearly half — about 45% — of donations from individuals last month came in amounts of $200 or less. By comparison, small-dollar donations fueled about 37% of Biden’s individual contributions in April.

“Trump Ramps Up Swing-State Travel” by WSJ’s Catherine Lucey and Alex Leary – With swing-state locations, familiar rally playlists and political appeals from the candidate, President Trump’s recent official White House outings have included many of the trappings of campaign stops. On Wednesday the president arrived in Florida, his fourth battleground-state destination in four weeks, where he planned to watch the launch of the private SpaceX rocket, manned by NASA astronauts, which ended up being postponed. While his megarallies are on hold, Mr. Trump’s incumbency affords him the ability to hit the road in his official capacity, in contrast with likely Democratic rival Joe Biden, who made his first foray out in public Monday but didn’t leave his home state of Delaware. While incumbent presidents often utilize their official travel opportunities in a political year and focus their attention on swing states, as President Obama did in 2012, critics said Mr. Trump is blurring the lines more than his predecessors. Noah Bookbinder, of the ethics advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, noted that past incumbent presidents would typically hold separate official and political events on such trips. “Generally in the past though, presidents have been really scrupulous about avoiding hybrid events which are part official and part campaign,” Mr. Bookbinder said. “He holds what ostensibly are official events, but then does things that make them look like they have a campaign goal.”

“Trump to sign executive order on social media on Thursday: White House” by Reuters’ Jeff Mason and Nandita Bose – U.S. President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on social media companies on Thursday, White House officials said after Trump threatened to shut down websites he accused of stifling conservative voices. The officials gave no further details. It was unclear how Trump could follow through on the threat of shutting down privately owned companies including Twitter Inc. The company declined comment. The dispute erupted after Twitter on Tuesday for the first time tagged Trump’s tweets about unsubstantiated claims of fraud in mail-in voting with a warning prompting readers to fact check the posts. Separately, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit by a conservative group and right-wing YouTube personality against Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple accusing them of conspiring to suppress conservative political views. In an interview with Fox News Channel on Wednesday, Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said censoring a platform would not be the “right reflex” for a government worried about censorship. Fox played a clip of the interview and said it would be aired in full on Thursday. Facebook left Trump’s post on mail-in ballots on Tuesday untouched.

“House Dems adjourn without FISA vote after Trump announces veto threat” by Fox News’ Marisa Schultz – The House of Representatives adjourned late Wednesday without voting on whether to reauthorize advanced surveillance tools used by law enforcement — a measure that had wide bipartisan support back in March, but which has drawn sudden GOP opposition amid news of apparent FBI misconduct. President Trump threatened to veto the bill if passed earlier on Wednesday, and House Democrats delayed a vote three times throughout the day. Democrats can only lose 17 votes, and their failure to forge ahead indicated that they hadn’t yet whipped that minimum number. The House is set to reconvene Thursday at 9 a.m. ET. Fox News is told that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., still wants the House to pass the bill, align it with the Senate’s version, and dare the president to veto it. “If the FISA Bill is passed tonight on the House floor, I will quickly VETO it,” Trump tweeted ahead of the vote. “Our Country has just suffered through the greatest political crime in its history. The massive abuse of FISA was a big part of it!” Earlier, Pelosi and Democratic leadership marched forward with the scheduled vote to authorize Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provisions and said it will be up to Trump to decide whether he wants to undo the carefully drafted bipartisan effort.

“Governors of Georgia and Florida offer to host Republican convention as Trump threatens to pull it from North Carolina” by CNN’s Paul LeBlanc – The governors of Georgia and Florida have offered to host the Republican National Convention after President Donald Trump threatened to pull the event out of North Carolina, where it is expected to be held in late August. Trump contended that Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is “unable to guarantee” that the Charlotte arena can be filled to capacity for the convention scheduled for August 24 to 27. Cooper has said that data and science will guide his decisions on whether the state can hold large gatherings like the convention amid the coronavirus pandemic. The friction prompted Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, to tweet Tuesday, “We hope you will consider the Peach State, @realdonaldtrump!” “With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention,” Kemp said. His offer was echoed by Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said during a news conference Tuesday that his state would “love to have the RNC” and would be open to hosting the Democratic convention as well. “The door is open. We want to have the conversation whether it’s RNC or DNC because I think it would be good for the people of Florida,” the Republican said. “Florida wants to work with you if you’re a business, if you’re a sports team, if you want to have some of these events, we want to work with you to get to yes.”

“Rosenstein to testify in Senate on Trump-Russia probe” by Reuters’ David Morgan and Sarah N. Lynch – A key figure behind the U.S. investigation into links between Russia and President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign will testify next week before a Republican-led Senate committee examining the origins of the probe, the panel said on Wednesday. Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed former U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller in 2017, will testify on June 3 as part of a Senate Judiciary Committee examination of an FBI probe of Trump campaign officials code-named “Crossfire Hurricane,” which led to the Mueller investigation. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham said Rosenstein would offer “new revelations” about federal surveillance practices. Trump and his Republican allies claim the probe was intended to undermine his candidacy and presidency. In December, a Justice Department watchdog found evidence of numerous errors but no political bias when the FBI opened the probe. “Even the best law enforcement officers make mistakes and … some engage in willful misconduct,” Rosenstein said in a statement on Wednesday. “We can only hope to maintain public confidence if we correct mistakes, hold wrongdoers accountable and adopt policies to prevent problems from recurring,” he added.

 

President Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump– Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election. If that happens, we no longer have our freedom. I will never let it happen! They tried hard in 2016, and lost. Now they are going absolutely CRAZY. Stay Tuned!!!

Nancy Pelosi @SpeakerPelosi – We have a responsibility to defeat COVID-19. It’s time for President Trump to stop making excuses and take responsibility. #FamiliesFirst

 

 

Everyone is too busy looking for an open barbershop today…Kidding

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Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning South Florida-based political journalist owns Diverse New Media, Corp. which publishes Floridianpress.com, Judicialpost.com, shark-tank.com, and Hispolitica.com He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming and biking. He ran as a Republican in the 2018 congressional primary race in Florida's CD 22. Javier is also a political consultant, and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Learn more at www.brownpeople.org Email him at [email protected]