House Judiciary Subpoenas FBI Director Wray, AG Garland to Target Parents

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

House Judiciary Republicans issued subpoenas to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland to produce documents about alleged FBI investigations of parents at school board meetings in response to a controversial directive that Garland issued in late 2021.
The Epoch Times reviewed the subpoena, signed by Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), which forces Wray to turn over relevant documents to the House Judiciary Committee on March 1 at 9:00 a.m. ET due to the alleged “misuse of federal criminal and counterterrorism resources.”
The subpoena wants “all documents and communications referring or relating to” meetings with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in connection to Garland’s memo issued in October 2021 to address “violent threats” that were allegedly made against school officials that Republicans later described as a politically motivated attempt to squash dissent. It also seeks to compel documents and communications relating to the establishment of a related Department of Justice task force.
“Since October 2021, Judiciary Committee Republicans have sent over one hundred letters to Biden Administration officials requesting answers about how the Administration used federal counterterrorism resources against American parents,” the House Judiciary Committee said in a later news release.
The Oct. 4, 2021, memo directed the FBI to team up with local law enforcement agencies and U.S. Attorneys to identify possible threats at school board meetings. It came in light of viral incidents where parents criticized school board members and teachers across the United States, accusing those officials of promoting left-wing or pro-LGBT viewpoints to students.
All documents and communications relating to the FBI’s “EDUOFFICIALS” threat tag and related investigations are also sought by House Judiciary Republicans, according to the subpoena. Weeks after Garland’s announcement, House Judiciary Republicans, citing whistleblower testimony, revealed how the FBI created the threat tag to track allegedly threatening statements at board meetings and said it was proof that counterterrorism resources were being used against parents.
“This subpoena is continuing in nature and applies to any newly discovered documents, regardless of the date of its creation,” it says. “Any document not produced because it has not been located or discovered by the return date should be produced immediately upon location or discovery subsequent thereto.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (D-Ohio) nominates House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for Speaker of the House of the 118th Congress during a speech in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on Jan. 3, 2023. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
House Judiciary Republicans on Friday also subpoenaed Garland, asking the attorney general to hand over relevant documents and communications linked to his October 2021 directive. Namely, Republicans are seeking communications and documents between Garland and top officials in the National School Board Association (NSBA) regarding a September 2021 letter on alleged threats or violence at school board meetings.
The Epoch Times also reviewed the subpoena sent to Garland, which asks him to provide GOP lawmakers with documents on March 1. Also subpoenaed was Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, who also has to produce communications and documents before the House Judiciary Committee on March 1.
Response
The FBI, in a statement to The Epoch Times on Friday, confirmed that the bureau received the subpoena but that Wray and other FBI officials are not targeting individuals for their speech. Instead, the bureau is investigating potential threats of violence, the statement said.
“The FBI has never been in the business of investigating speech or policing speech at school board meetings or anywhere else, and we never will be. Our focus is and always will be on protecting people from violence and threats of violence,” a spokesperson for the FBI said. “We are fully committed to preserving and protecting First Amendment rights including the right to free speech.”
“Attempts to further any political narrative will not change those facts. The FBI recognizes the importance of congressional oversight and remains fully committed to cooperating with Congress’s oversight requests consistent with its constitutional and statutory responsibilities. The FBI is actively working to respond to congressional requests for information –including voluntary production of documents.”
Controversy
The controversial NSBA letter, later removed from its website, equivocated incensed parents at school board meetings with “domestic terrorism,” drawing outrage from parents groups and Republicans. The NSBA later apologized for sending out the letter and launched a “formal review” into the matter.
But just days after the NSBA letter was sent, Garland issued a memo (pdf) and news release calling for greater partnership to address alleged threats against school board officials.
“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” Garland said in a news release at the time. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”
During an October 2021 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Garland told lawmakers that real threats of violence against school officials “are not protected by the First Amendment.” He also stipulated that officials are “not investigating peaceful protests or parent involvement in school board meetings.”
About a year ago, Jordan and other Republicans said that whistleblowers came to them and alleged the FBI carried out dozens of investigations into American parents who complained about schools’ COVID-19 mandates and labeled them with a “threat tag.”
The alleged FBI investigations targeted parents who were “upset about mask mandates and state elected officials who publicly voiced opposition to vaccine mandates,” the GOP lawmakers said at the time, noting that it was the EDUOFFICIALS tag that was used to label those individuals.
“In sworn testimony before this Committee, you denied that the Department of Justice or its components were using counterterrorism statutes and resources to target parents at school board meetings,” the lawmakers wrote. “We now have evidence that [is] contrary to your testimony.”
The Epoch Times has DOJ for comment on the subpoenas, which were first reported by Fox News on Friday.

Republicans Establish Working Group to Push Back Against ESG Movement

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

Republican House Financial Services Committee leaders are establishing a first-of-its-kind task group to coordinate their response to numerous environmental, social, and governance (ESG) movement-related ideas.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), announced the formation of the group on Feb. 3, saying it would be a working group led by Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.).
According to a press release shared with The Epoch Times by Huizenga’s office, the working group’s goal is to counter the danger that individuals on the extreme left who are advocating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) measures pose to our capital markets.
The working group will look at measures to: counter the threat that far-left environmental, social, and governance initiatives represent to our free markets, restrict the SEC’s regulatory overreach, uphold the materiality standard as a cornerstone of our disclosure regime, and hold market participants accountable for abusing the proxy process or their disproportionate influence to impose ideological preferences in ways that undermine democratic lawmaking.
Congressman Huizenga released a statement following his selection as the head of the new ESG Working Group: “Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia v. EPA that government bureaucracies cannot arbitrarily expand their own regulatory reach.
“The SEC’s climate disclosure rule is a prime example of this overreach—that would have a wide-ranging impact on hard working Americans across all walks of life,” said the congressman. “I look forward to leading our committee’s ESG working group, which will focus on promoting strong, vibrant capital markets, while defending the interests of all retail investors.”
McHenry also issued a statement about the working group, saying that he believes the political left are working to “do with American businesses what they already did to our public education system—using our institutions to force their far-left ideology on the American people.”
The congressman went on to say that the ESG movement and proposals related to it are one of the tools used to make changes to the system of government that conservatives hope to retain.
“This group will develop a comprehensive approach to ESG that protects the financial interests of everyday investors and ensures our capital markets remain the envy of the world,” McHenry said, according to the press release. “Financial Services Committee Republicans as a whole will continue our work to expand capital formation, hold Biden’s rogue regulators accountable, and support American job creators.”
Other ESG Working Group members include Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.), Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), Monica De La Cruz (R-Texas), Erin Houchin (R-Ind.) and Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.)

White House Responds to Chinese Spy Balloon

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

The White House on Feb. 3 said it was “keeping all options on the table” in relation to a Chinese spy balloon traveling across the United States.
White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden was briefed on the balloon flight on Tuesday, and a senior defense official previously said it was the “strong recommendation” of military leadership not to shoot down the balloon “because of risk to safety and security of the people on the ground.”
“The president will always put the safety and security of the American people first,” Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday. “We are tracking closely and keeping all options on the table.”
The U.S. military is currently tracking the spy balloon which is currently in the center of the country hovering eastward, and the administration has canceled a planned trip of Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Beijing this weekend in response.
At a news conference with South Korea’s visiting foreign minister later on Friday, Blinken said he had told Wang Yi, director of China’s Central Commission for Foreign Affairs, that the incident on the eve of his trip was an “irresponsible act” by China, but Washington remained committed to engagement and he would visit when conditions allowed.
“[China’s] decision to take this action on the eve of my planned visit is detrimental to the substantive discussions that we were prepared to have,” he said.
Blinken said he was not going to put a date on when he might go to China and the focus was on resolving the current incident. “The first step is … getting the surveillance asset, out of our air space,” he said, adding that the United States would continue to maintain open lines of communication with China.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which rules China as a single-party state, has claimed that the balloon is a civilian meteorological device that “deviated far from its planned course.”
U.S. military leaders, however, said the device is maneuverable and has changed course, directly contradicting Beijing’s claims about the balloon being blown off course.
“Clearly the intent of this balloon is for surveillance,” a senior defense official said on Thursday. “The current flight path does carry it over a number of sensitive sites.”
The balloon flew from China, then to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, and through northwest Canada before arriving somewhere in Montana on Wednesday, according to reports. Montana is one of three homes for U.S. nuclear strategic silos.
A senior defense official said that on Wednesday the U.S. prepared fighter jets, including F-22s, to shoot down the balloon if ordered. The Pentagon ultimately recommended against it, noting that even as the balloon was over a sparsely populated area of Montana, its size would create a debris field large enough that it could have put people at risk.
While spy balloons have entered U.S. airspace several times over the past years, this balloon has stayed for longer, the defense official said.
The incident has caused bipartisan alarm in Washington, where countering the CCP’s continued espionage against the United States remains one of the few bipartisan priorities in Congress.
Many Republican figures have called on the administration to shoot down the balloon.
The Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), said the balloon should never have been allowed in U.S. airspace and could have been shot down over water.
“I am calling on the Biden administration to quickly take steps to remove the Chinese spy balloon from U.S. airspace,” he said in a statement.
In a joint statement on Feb. 2, Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), chairman of the House select committee on the CCP, and the panel’s ranking member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), used the incident to underscore the threat posed to the United States by the CCP.
“The Chinese Communist Party should not have on-demand access to American airspace,” the statement said. “Not only is this a violation of American sovereignty, coming only days before Secretary Blinken’s trip to [China], but it also makes clear that the CCP’s recent diplomatic overtures do not represent a substantive change in policy.”
“Indeed, this incident demonstrates that the CCP threat is not confined to distant shores—it is here at home and we must act to counter this threat.”
Reuters contributed to this report.

Rep. Victoria Spartz Announces That She Will Not Run for Reelection in 2024

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) said on Feb. 3 that she will not run for reelection to her Indiana congressional seat next year, nor will she run in the Republican primary for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.
Spartz, 44, said in her statement that she found being a working mother to be a difficult balance, and she wanted to spend more time with her two high school-aged daughters.
“It’s been my honor representing Hoosiers in the Indiana State Senate and U.S. Congress and I appreciate the strong support on the ground,” Spartz told The Indianapolis Star.
“[The year] 2024 will mark seven years of holding elected office and over a decade in Republican politics.
“I won a lot of tough battles for the people and will work hard to win a few more in the next two years. However, being a working mom is tough and I need to spend more time with my two high school girls back home, so I will not run for any office in 2024.”
Despite being Ukraine-born, the Indiana Republican has been critical of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government since the Russian invasion began last February. Spartz has alleged high-level corruption within the Kyiv government.
Spartz’s decision to resign likely strengthens the hopes of Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) for the Senate seat from the Republican-dominated state after former Gov. Mitch Daniels withdrew to run earlier this week.
Current GOP Sen. Mike Braun’s decision to run for governor in 2024 sparked a flurry of activity in the Senate, but Banks has backing from former President Donald Trump and the Senate Republican national campaign group.
Since being initially elected to Congress in 2016 from a strongly Republican district in northern Indiana, Banks has evolved into a fierce supporter of Trump.
Spartz was elected to her second term in a central Indiana district in November after facing a tight and costly campaign to win the seat for the first time in 2020.
A redrawn district map shifted the Democratic-leaning north side of Indianapolis out of her district and gave her the more GOP-friendly rural areas north and northeast of the city.
Consequently, she defeated her Democratic contender with 61 percent of the vote to take her second term.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Manchin and Cruz Introduce Bipartisan Gas Stove Protect Legislation

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced bipartisan legislation that would protect the use of gas stoves.
Cruz, who is the incoming Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and Manchin, who is the Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act. The legislation would block the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) from banning gas stoves.
Manchin commented on the legislation during the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee opening remarks on Feb. 2: “Gas stoves have been in the news lately, and I’ve come out strongly against the Consumer Product Safety Commission pursuing any ban of gas stoves,” the West Virginia Democrat said.
“I’m introducing legislation today with Senator Cruz that would ensure they don’t. And separately sending a letter to the Commission with Senator [James] Lankford [(R-Okla.)] seeking clarification about the Commission’s sudden desire to conduct an RFI on gas stoves,” the lawmaker went on.
The letter Manchin referenced was addressed to Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairman Alexander Hoehn-Saric, questioning the comments made by administration officials about regulating the use of gas stoves.
The letter (pdf) states that, while the commission has dissuaded public outrage about banning the stoves, Lankford and Manchin “remain concerned about the commission’s goals and potential future action on this issue.”
The future use of gas stoves has been in the headlines for weeks as the Biden administration considers ways to pursue its climate change goals. The internal administration memo, seen on Fox News, indicated that the administration may have been seriously considering the ban. Lawmakers and citizens alike voiced fierce pushback about the possibility.
“Make no mistake, radical environmentalists want to stop Americans from using natural gas,” Cruz said, according to a representative from the Senate Commerce Committee Republican Press Office who responded to The Epoch Times’ request for comment. “The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s proposed ban on gas stoves is the latest egregious scaremongering by the Far Left and their Biden administration allies. I am pleased to partner with Senator Manchin in this bipartisan effort to stop the federal government from issuing regulations that put the interests of the Green New Deal before the well-being of American families.”
The legislation introduced by Manchin and Cruz prohibits the CPSC from using government funds to ban gas stoves or impose requirements that would significantly raise the costs of gas stoves, making them inaccessible to Americans.
“In light of the broader concerns about the administration looking to find ways to push out natural gas, I think it’s prudent to say we’re looking at this,” Manchin said at his committee meeting. “As I’ve said before, the federal government has no business telling American families how to cook their dinner.”

The Debt Ceiling: Why it Matters

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) met on Feb. 1 to talk about raising the U.S. debt ceiling. Many Americans, however, may not have a whole grasp on what that is, though oddly so many have an opinion on what should be done about it.
A recent poll conducted by RMG Research, for example, found that 79 percent of Americans think the debt ceiling should be raised, but are divided on whether that should be accompanied by spending cuts.
Of the 1,000 registered voters surveyed, 45 percent said spending cuts should be a prerequisite for raising the limit, and 24 percent said it should be raised with our without cutting spending.
A 2013 poll from National Journal showed that 62 percent of Americans thought raising the debt ceiling would allow the government to borrow more money for future spending, which is not the case.
What Is the Debt Ceiling?
The debt ceiling, sometimes called the debt limit, is the total amount of debt the federal government is allowed to have at one time. That limit is set by Congress and cannot be exceeded without congressional approval.
Freshly printed $20 notes at the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, on July 20, 2018. (Eva Hambach/AFP via Getty Images)
The current U.S. debt ceiling is a bit over $31 trillion. To be more precise, it’s about $31,381,000,000,000.
Hitting the debt ceiling is like hitting the limit on a credit card. Unless you have cash, you have to stop spending money, even on things you’ve already bought, like electricity or phone service.
The United States would have reached the debt ceiling on Jan. 19 if Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen had not taken “extraordinary measures” to keep the nation’s bills paid for another five months or so.
How Did We Rack Up $31.4 Trillion in Debt?
The short answer is that we’ve spent more money than we’ve received in taxes and other revenues for a long, long time.
The United States began borrowing during the American Revolution and had accumulated $75 million in debt by the start of 1791. We’ve been in debt ever since.
Historically, the national debt has grown the most during wartime. It jumped $2.7 billion during the Civil War, reached $22 billion after World War I, and topped $4 trillion by the end of World War II.
From there, the national debt settled back to around $3 trillion and remained there through the 1970s.
The rest of our $31.4 trillion debt was created between 1982 and today. During that period, the national debt has doubled approximately every seven years.
Representatives gathered in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, on Jan. 3, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Some of that increase is attributable to unusual circumstances that called for emergency spending, like the pandemic.
More often, debt has increased because Congress elected to operate the country on a deficit budget. That means we made a spending plan that intentionally exceeded our income, planning to borrow money to cover the difference.
That has been the case in all but four of the last 52 years. Since 1970, we’ve spent more money than we had about 90 percent of the time.
Can’t We Just Cut Future Spending?
Raising the debt ceiling is about paying for the past, not financing the future.
If you wanted to remodel your kitchen, you might hire a contractor to do the work. You’d sign a contract for, let’s say, $5,000. If the contractor trusted you, you might pay anything upfront.
But when the contractor did the work, you’d have to pay. If you didn’t have cash, you might put it on a credit card.
That’s essentially what happens when Congress passes a deficit spending bill. It obligates the country to spend money in the future for a commitment made today.
So when Congress agreed to spend $1.7 trillion in 2023, members knew that would require borrowing money at some point.
And that $1.7 trillion is not all the government is committed to spend this year. Many spending commitments were made years ago, but will come due in the months ahead. That includes things like Social Security benefits, Medicare payments, employee salaries, defense contracts, and many other obligations.
What Happens When We Hit the Ceiling?
When you reach the limit on your credit card, you have three choices. You can pay all your bills with cash, ask the bank to raise the limit, or stop spending money.
It’s much the same for the government. But since the government planned to spend more than it would receive in revenue, paying cash for everything is not an option. Either Congress must raise the debt limit or the U.S. Treasury must stop paying for some things.
President Biden has said he won’t consider any negotiation on the subject of the debt ceiling, because failure to raise it would put the “full faith and credit” of the United States at risk.
President Joe Biden speaking at the White House in Washington, on Jan. 20, 2023. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
Speaker McCarthy and other Republicans, however, are determined to use this occasion to get both political parties to stop overspending the country’s income, or at least to spend less.
The president will release his proposed budget on Mar. 9.
The parties have until early summer to reach an agreement. That’s when the United States will again reach its debt ceiling.

Trump: The Truth About “Fake News” Reporting on the “Russia Hoax” is Finally Out

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

Former U.S. President Donald Trump says he finally sees some truth emerging about “the fake news.”
More than six years after the media began covering the former president’s alleged collusion with Russia–which Trump calls “the Russia, Russia, Russia” hoax–has been dissected from within journalism.
The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), which calls itself “the most respected voice on press criticism,” recently published findings from an 18-month investigation: a 24,000-word expose’ entitled, “The Press Versus The President.”
President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on his way to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, on May 14, 2020 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Days later, Trump reacted with righteous indignation to the tactics of the press, as revealed in the CJR article.
“It is a STAGGERING, detailed account of the lies, disinformation, and complete lack of journalistic integrity,” Trump wrote Feb. 2 on Truth Social, singling out “the purveyors of Fake News at the Washington Compost (sometimes known as the Washington Post), the Failing New York Times, and many others.”
Trump also decried the incalculable damage that dishonest coverage caused to his 2020 reelection bid.
“This Fake News, with all of its disinformation, had a huge impact on the 2020 Presidential Election, just one of the many ways that the Election was Rigged and Stolen,” he wrote in another Truth Social message. “This proves, once again, that the Corrupt, Woke, Radical Democrats stole the 2020 Election, making it impossible for that fact to be called ‘the Big Lie,’ as the Marxists and Communists in our Country attempt to portray it.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s allies cried out for media outlets to correct the record as his campaign to win back the White House gains momentum. Detractors, however, fault CJR for failing to put Trump himself far enough under the microscope.
Important but Too Long
CJR, in an introduction to its piece, wrote that the investigation’s findings “aren’t always flattering, either for the press or for Trump and his team.” CJR predicted that the article’s revelations would be “debated and maybe even used as ammunition in the ongoing media war being waged in the country.”
American computer analyst turned Russian citizen Edward Snowden, best known for leaking information about the National Security Administration’s spying on Americans, weighed in with a brief analysis on Twitter for people who may think the piece was “TL/DR,” an abbreviation for “too long, didn’t read.”
His summary of the CJR’s findings: Corporate media “knowingly suppressed facts that cut against popular narratives, ignored denials, eagerly laundered partisan attacks via ‘anonymous sources,’ and refuses to reflect on mistakes.”
CJR said its article raises issues that are “important, and worthy of deep reflection as the campaign for the presidency is about, once again, to begin.”
The publication also wrote: “No narrative did more to shape Trump’s relations with the press than Russiagate.”
That term refers to the FBI’s investigation of Trump, which began while President Barack Obama was in office and Trump was then running his first presidential campaign. Information later surfaced revealing that the federal government relied in large part on a “Trump-Russia dossier” to justify its investigation.
But that dossier was found to be of dubious origin. A former British spy, hired by people with connections to Trump’s political opponent, Hillary Clinton, used unverified information from people with ties to Russia.
Despite a 22-month investigation by former special counsel Robert Mueller, none of the 103 allegations in the dossier was declared valid.
Special counsel Robert Mueller speaks on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, at the U.S. Justice Department in Washington on May 29, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Big Impact
Reporting on the allegations “resulted in Pulitzer Prizes as well as embarrassing retractions and damaged careers,” CJR noted. “For Trump, the press’s pursuit of the Russia story convinced him that any sort of normal relationship with the press was impossible.”
When Trump first announced his run for president in 2016, the real estate magnate/media personality was laughed off as a joke. But then he morphed into somewhat of a media darling. Everything Trump-related became clickbait. Before long, however, the media put Trump in its crosshairs; reporters were “going all in on efforts to catalogue Trump as a threat to the country,” CJR wrote.
The publication said journalist Jeff Gerth took an “encyclopedic look at one of the most consequential moments in American media history.” Gerth is an investigative reporter who worked for almost three decades at The New York Times. His investigation for CJR required interviews with dozens of insiders connected to Trump and media organizations.
Gerth wrote that the U.S. news media’s coverage of Trump helped sink the American people’s trust in journalists.
Prior to the 2016 election, “most Americans trusted the traditional media, and the trend was positive, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer,” Gerth said. The phrase, “fake news” was little-known, and the notion that media were “enemies of the people” was “voiced only once … on an obscure podcast, and not by Trump, according to a Nexis search.”
But those phrases later became fixtures in Trump’s contentious relationship with reporters, and his supporters embraced those labels as they watched how many members of the mainstream news media handled Trump coverage.
By 2021, a year after Trump left office, “83 percent of Americans saw ‘fake news’ as a ‘problem,’ and 56 percent—mostly Republicans and independents—agreed that the media were ‘truly the enemy of the American people,’” Gerth wrote, citing Rasmussen Reports.

Houses China Panel Leaders Attack Pentagon’s Response to Chinese Spy Balloon

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

The top Republican and Democrat on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Competition Committee have issued a joint statement denouncing the Pentagon’s response to a Chinese spy balloon spotted over Montana.
“The United States Government has detected and is tracking a high altitude surveillance balloon that is over the continental United States right now,” the Pentagon told the nation in a Feb. 2 statement.
“The U.S. government, to include NORAD, continues to track and monitor it closely,” the statement continued. “The balloon is currently traveling at an altitude well above commercial air traffic and does not present a military or physical threat to people on the ground. Instances of this kind of balloon activity have been observed previously over the past several years. Once the balloon was detected, the U.S. government acted immediately to protect against the collection of sensitive information.”
Pentagon Press Secretary U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder holds a press briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., on Oct. 18, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder insisted during a Feb. 3 press conference that the balloon, which he said is currently moving eastward across the central U.S., “does not pose a physical or military risk to people on the ground.”
Bipartisan Response
The same day, CCP Competition Committee Chairman Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) issued a statement decrying the Pentagon’s response to the threat.
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Nov. 20, 2019. (Samuel Corum-Pool/Getty Images)
The statement was posted to Gallagher’s website.
“The Chinese Communist Party should not have on-demand access to American airspace,” the two lawmakers wrote. “Not only is this a violation of American sovereignty, coming only days before Secretary Blinken’s trip to the [People’s Republic of China], but it also makes clear that the CCP’s recent diplomatic overtures do not represent a substantive change in policy. Indeed, this incident demonstrates that the CC threat is not confined to distant shores—it is here at home and we must act to counter this threat.”
While much of the 118th Congress is hopelessly divided along party lines, Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi agree on the risk posed by the CCP.
In an additional statement on his website, Gallagher applauded House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries’ (D-N.Y.) appointment of Krishnamoorthi.
“I’m thrilled to have Rep. Krishnamoorthi as my partner on this critical bipartisan effort,” Gallagher wrote. “Rep. Krishnamoorthi and I have a shared understanding of the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party and a long history of working together across the aisle on a range of issues—from protecting Americans from the threat posed by CCP controlled apps like TikTok and co-chairing the Middle-Class Jobs Caucus to introducing bipartisan infrastructure bills.”
In the past, Krishnamoorthi and Gallagher have teamed up against the Chinese app TikTok, which has been used to harvest the data of Americans using the app.
Gallagher continued: “What the Chinese Communist Party fears most is Democrats and Republicans working together to combat their malign influence and defend our nation. The CCP thinks it will be easy to divide us along partisan lines, but I look forward to working with Rep. Krishnamoorthi and my colleagues across the aisle to prove them wrong.”
Following the identification of the foreign espionage balloon, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that he would postpone a scheduled diplomatic visit to China.
“After consultations with our interagency partners as well as with Congress, we have concluded that the conditions are not right at this moment for Secretary Blinken to travel to China,” a senior State Department official told reporters on Feb. 3.
“We have noted the PRC [People’s Republic of China] statement of regret, but the presence of this balloon in our airspace is a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law, and it is unacceptable that this has occurred,” the official said.
In their own statement, the Chinese Foreign Ministry (CFM) confirmed that the balloon “is from China.” However, the communist state denied charges of espionage, claiming the balloon is merely a civilian research vessel that drifted off-course.
“It is a civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological, purposes,” the CFM wrote. “Affected by the Westerlies and with limited self-steering capability, the airship deviated far from its planned course.
“The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into US airspace due to force majeure [an unforeseen and unintended outcome]. The Chinese side will continue communicating with the US side and properly handle this unexpected situation caused by force majeure.”
‘Weakness’
Others were quick to blast the Pentagon’s response.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), who serves as the GOP conference chairwoman, was also critical of the administration’s reaction in a Feb. 3 statement.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) speaks at a press conference following a Republican caucus meeting, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on June 08, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
“The Chinese Communist Party’s violation of the United States’ airspace and growing military aggression is a threat to our national security,” Stefanik said. “This should be a wakeup call for Joe Biden’s weakness on the world stage.”
Stefanik, a senior Member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, called for an immediate intelligence briefing on the situation.
She said: “[Biden] can no longer allow China, our greatest geopolitical challenge, to undermine us …  I am demanding an immediate intelligence briefing, so that we can know exactly how this happened and what malign intentions are behind this spying to ensure we hold China accountable, so the CCP does not violate American sovereignty again.”
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who chairs the important House Judiciary Committee, was also critical of the administration’s response.

Communist China:
-Steals our intellectual property-Hurts American manufacturing -Supplies our enemies -Distracts Americans on TikTok -Flies a spy balloon over our country
And what’s Joe Biden doing about it?
Nothing.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) February 3, 2023

Jordan wrote: “Communist China … Steals our intellectual property, Hurts American manufacturing, Supplies our enemies, Distracts Americans on TikTok, [and] Flies a spy balloon over our country. And what’s Joe Biden doing about it? Nothing.”
Rep. Young Kim (R-Calif.) agreed.
“Whether through air space or cyberspace, we cannot allow the CCP to spy on the American people,” Kim wrote on Twitter.
“This Chinese spy balloon is an egregious breach of U.S. airspace and demonstrates China’s mounting aggression towards the U.S.,” Rep. Jim Baird (R-Ind.) concurred. “I hope the Biden administration will act quickly to remove this spy balloon from our airspace.”
Kari Lake, who last year fought Katie Hobbs for the Arizona governorship, was lighter in her response.

I’m told there’s a balloon that needs to be taken care of? pic.twitter.com/k33onkFL3a
— Kari Lake (@KariLake) February 3, 2023

Lake posted a video of herself crouched, hunting rifle in hand, with the caption “I’m told there’s a balloon that needs to be taken care of?”
The Pentagon has since confirmed that the aircraft can maneuver and will likely stay over the U.S. for a “few days.”
Madalina Vasiliu and Eva Fu contributed to this report.

NJ Governor: GOP Councilwoman’s Murder doesn’t appear to be politically motivated

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

The shooting death of Eunice Dwumfour, a Republican councilwoman in Sayreville, does not appear to be politically motivated, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on Thursday.
The Democratic governor said during an interview with WNYC that the Wednesday night murder of the 30-year-old councilmember feels “very specific,” but noted that there’s “very little that is known right now.”
“I spoke to the GOP chair in both Sayreville and Middlesex County, as well as the commissioner director in Middlesex County,” Murphy told the New York-based radio outlet. “It does not appear to be related to her position as an elected councilwoman in Sayreville.”
The mother-of-one was found dead shortly after 7:20 p.m. on Feb. 1 with multiple gunshot wounds, police said. She was located inside her white Nissan SUV that crashed near her home in Sayreville, a borough in Middlesex County.
No arrests have been reported in connection with the shooting. However, an eyewitness who lives in the area saw an individual, possibly the suspect, running toward the Garden State Parkway, which is near the scene of the shooting, RLS Media reported.
Dwumfour’s relatives, as well as authorities, have told news outlets that it appears the councilwoman was the suspect’s intended target. Murphy also noted that there’s no evidence that suggests the shooting was accidental.
The governor said during Thursday’s interview that he spoke with “a whole bunch” of veteran officials about the event, asking if anyone could remember a sitting official who was shot and killed in the region.
“Nobody can remember,” Murphy said, noting that the case is “shocking” and “awful.”
At a news conference on Thursday, the FBI said agents are now assisting in the investigation, which also includes Sayreville police and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
“The FBI is aware of that incident and we are working with all of our partners in order to find out more about that incident,” said James Dennehy, the FBI special agent in charge of the Newark field office, the New York Post reported.
Dwumfour was a political newcomer and was elected in November 2021. She took office in January 2022, starting a three-year term, after winning against an incumbent Democrat in Sayreville.
The councilwoman graduated from William Paterson University and worked as a certified business analyst and scrum professional, according to TAPinto.net. She also used to work as a part-time emergency medical technician (EMT).
Community Response
The homicide was addressed by a number of elected officials, including Sayreville Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick, who said in a statement that the community is “shocked and saddened” at the loss of the councilwoman, adding that she had personally “worked very closely” with her as she served on the council.
“The fact that she was taken from us by a despicable criminal act makes this incident all the more horrifying,” Kilpatrick said, noting that she’s confident law enforcement “will bring this fast-moving investigation to a quick and successful conclusion and look forward to the identification, arrest, and successful prosecution of the person responsible.”
In a statement, the New Jersey Republican Party remembered Dwumfour for her “steadfast dedication to the community, as well as her deep and abiding Christian faith.”
“I would like to express our horror and deepest sorrow at the senseless violence that claimed the life of Sayreville Councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour,” said Bob Hugin, chairman of the committee. “We have the utmost confidence that law enforcement will bring the perpetrators of this heartbreaking tragedy to justice.”
A friend of the councilwoman also posted a tribute on Facebook, saying the shooting “shocked [and] scared” her.
“[Dwumfour] was killed 300 feet from my home this evening. She was shot while returning back home. She was a woman full of life,” said Mahesh Chitnis, a member of Sayreville’s Human Relations Commission (HRC), of which Dwumfour is also a former member.
“When a fellow commissioner messaged me, I couldn’t believe that this can happen in my town,” Chitnis added. “After almost 2 hours, I am still processing the news.”
From NTD News

Trump pledges “Peace Through Strength” Unveiling his 2024 Hypersonic Defense plan

February 3, 2023 ConsFreedom 0

Former President Donald Trump unveiled a new military policy as part of his 2024 presidential campaign this week, proposing to develop “a state-of-the-art, next-generation missile defense shield” to protect the United States from hypersonic missiles.
The former president pledged to build the shield as part of a “peace through strength” plan in a video posted on Twitter on Jan. 27.
“Just as Israel is now protected by the Iron Dome, a dream once thought impossible, America must have an impenetrable dome to protect our people,” Trump said. “We have technology that is unsurpassed, but our past leaders haven’t really wanted to use it.”
‘Vastly More Dangerous’
Trump alleged that the world has become “vastly more dangerous” under President Joe Biden and said that there is a danger of nuclear and hypersonic missiles due to the present political climate.
“Hypersonic missiles move at many times the speed of sound and six times faster than current missiles. Armed with nuclear weapons, they could annihilate entire cities and even countries within minutes, and we can not let this happen,” Trump said.
He said the threat is rising because other world leaders don’t have respect for the current president, and if the United States becomes involved in a war, it would likely dwarf World War I and World War II.
“The best way to ensure that such a conflict never happens is to be prepared with unmatched technology and unrivaled strength,” Trump said.
The former president went on to promise that if elected again, he would work with Congress and military leaders to create a “state-of-the-art, next-generation missile defense shield.”
The Epoch Times previously published an analysis of China’s advancements in missiles, saying that the country is leading the United States in the race to hypersonic dominance.
Chinese Missile Advances
Andrew Thronbrooke’s analysis referenced Chinese hypersonic missile testing that has taken place over the past few years.
In 2021 the world was shocked and Pentagon officials were blindsided by reports that a Chinese missile circled the Earth before descending near the target.
Since then, the US and China have both worked relentlessly to improve their hypersonic capabilities, and one analyst believes the United States is losing the race.
“China has effectively taken the lead in the hypersonic weapons race due to the breadth and depth of its technology investments,” said Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, a security-focused think tank.
“We are only seeing the beginning of their weapons developments in this field.”
Fisher observes that the United States and China are racing to build hypersonic weapons, and who deploys them first may determine who guides the international order in future decades.
“We must be able to defend our homeland, our allies, and our military assets around the world from the threat of hypersonic missiles no matter where they are launched from,” Trump said near the end of his comments.
“We will have peace through strength.”