Thursday, March 4, 2021

Last Call For The Most Corrupt Couple

Mitch McConnell certainly remains one of the most corrupt people in Washington, but his wife, former Dubya Labor Secretary and Trump Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, is just as bad. Turns out the Trump regime sat on an inspector general's report that Chao was so corrupt that she was referred to the Justice Department for prosecution, something of course Bill Barr ignored.

While serving as transportation secretary during the Trump administration, Elaine Chao repeatedly used her office staff to help family members who run a shipping business with extensive ties to China, a report released Wednesday by the Transportation Department’s inspector general concluded.

The inspector general referred the matter to the Justice Department in December for possible criminal investigation. But in the weeks before the end of Trump administration, two Justice Department divisions declined to do so.

Ms. Chao, the wife of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, announced her resignation on Jan. 7, the day after the Capitol riot. At the time of her departure, an aide to Ms. Chao said her resignation was unrelated to the inspector general’s investigation.

The investigation of Ms. Chao came after a 2019 report in The New York Times that detailed her interactions with her family while serving as transportation secretary, including a trip she had planned to take to China in 2017 with her father and sister. The inspector general’s report confirmed that the planning for the trip, which was canceled, raised ethics concerns among other government officials.

As transportation secretary, Ms. Chao was the top Trump administration official overseeing the American shipping industry, which is in steep decline and is being battered by Chinese competitors.

“A formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted,” Mitch Behm, the Transportation Department’s deputy inspector general, said to House lawmakers on Tuesday in a letter accompanying a 44-page report detailing the investigation into “use of public office for private gain.”

The investigators did not make a formal finding that Ms. Chao violated ethics rules. But they detailed more than a dozen instances where her office took steps to handle matters related to her father, who built up a New York-based shipping company after immigrating to the United States from Taiwan in the late 1950s, and to her sister, who runs the company now.

These included an interview with a Chinese-language television station at the New York City headquarters of Foremost Group, the shipping company. The focus of the conversation there, according to a Transportation Department translation of the media plan prepared for the interview, was to discuss how Ms. Chao’s father, James Chao, had been “dubbed ‘Chinese Ship King,’ how Foremost Group ‘ascended to its status in the world,’ and Dr. Chao’s business endeavors.”

Mr. Chao, 93, who was born in China, built a business that centered around transporting commodities like coal and iron ore to the Chinese market. Elaine Chao, his eldest daughter, who was raised in and around New York City, has been prominent in Republican politics for decades, including an eight-year term as labor secretary under President George W. Bush.
Foremost Group was responsible as of 2019 for a large portion of orders at one of China’s biggest state-funded shipyards, and had secured long-term charters with a Chinese state-owned steel maker, The Times reported.

The Chao family’s American success story has vaulted the family to celebrity status in China, and the Chaos regularly meet with top officials on their trips to the country.

In a statement on Wednesday, a public relations firm representing Ms. Chao said the report cleared her of any wrongdoing.

“This report exonerates the secretary from baseless accusations and closes the book on an election-year effort to impugn her history-making career as the first Asian-American woman appointed to a president’s cabinet and her outstanding record as the longest tenured cabinet member since World War II,” the statement said.

Turns out the reason the Trump regime screamed about "Biden crime family's corrupt China deals!" for years was because the wife of the Senate Majority Leader was actually the one getting rich off Beijing for herself and her family.

That's how all this works, you see.

Another Head For The Blue Dog Wall

After Joe Manchin claimed his trophy of Neera Tanden's head earlier this week, it looks like California Attorney General Xavier Becerra may be going down in flames as well, after the Senate Finance Committee deadlocked 14-14 on his nomination as Health and Human Services Secretary.

The 14-14 party-line vote sent Becerra’s nomination to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for further action. Under new rules to deal with the 50-50 Senate split between the two parties, either can file a motion to bypass a tied committee and bring matters straight to the Senate floor with a separate procedural vote.

Becerra’s fate will depend on Senate Democrats’ ability to stick together and support him, possibly with a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris.

The defection of one moderate Democrat, Joe Manchin, derailed the nomination of Biden’s pick as budget director, Neera Tanden, especially given the lack of Republican support, but administration officials suggested that was an isolated case given lawmakers’ frustration over Tanden’s past tweets.

A spokesman for Manchin could not immediately be reached for comment on Becerra’s nomination.

Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said the White House remained confident about Becerra’s ultimate confirmation.

“We certainly understood from the beginning that every nominee would not receive 93 votes, but we ... remain confident and confidently behind the nomination,” she told reporters.

The Finance Committee in the same session on Wednesday approved two other Biden nominees - Katherine Tai for U.S. Trade Representative and Wally Adeyemo for deputy Treasury secretary - by voice votes, indicating no significant opposition.

Two Finance Committee Republicans, Bill Cassidy and Mike Crapo, said on Wednesday they had opposed Becerra because of his lack of past healthcare experience and challenges as California attorney general to HHS authorities to grant religious conscience waivers to Obamacare mandates that coverage be provided for contraception.

“His qualifications to be HHS secretary seem to be minimal beyond suing HHS,” said Cassidy, who is a physician.

Psaki noted, however, that Cassidy also told Becerra “he’d bet he has the votes” to be confirmed.

Both Crapo and Cassidy said they would work with Becerra to lower healthcare costs if he won confirmation.
So, exactly like Tanden, Becerra has zero chance of getting any GOP votes, which means Joe Manchin can now have his head too if he wants it. Whether or not he will is a question for next week. And if Manchin doesn't bite, well, it's entirely possible that Kyrsten Sinema or another Democrat could lay down a big, big marker.

We'll see, but I have a bad feeling about it.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Capitol police are so concerned about the domestic terrorism chatter involving another Trump cultist attack on Democratic lawmakers that the House is not in session today as a precaution.

U.S. Capitol Police have intelligence that shows “a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group” on Thursday, nearly two months after a mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the iconic building to try to stop Congress from certifying now-President Joe Biden's victory.

The threat appears to be connected to a far-right conspiracy theory, mainly promoted by supporters of QAnon, that Trump will rise again to power on March 4. That was the original presidential inauguration day until 1933, when it was moved to Jan. 20.

Capitol Police are “aware of and prepared for any potential threats towards members of Congress or towards the Capitol complex,” they said in a statement Wednesday.

Capitol Police already have upgraded security and increased patrols, they said. No specific information on the threat was released.

The U.S. House on Wednesday was working to wrap up for the week given the threat of violence at the Capitol. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer notified lawmakers late Wednesday of the sudden schedule change.

The decision was made given the threats on the Capitol, according to a Democratic aide granted anonymity to discuss the matter. The House had been scheduled to be in session Thursday, but moved up consideration of its remaining legislative item, the George Floyd Justice in Police Act, to Wednesday night.

Capitol Police received “new and concerning information and intelligence” on Tuesday afternoon indicating “additional interest in the Capitol for the dates of March 4th – 6th by a militia group,” Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett said in a message Wednesday morning to members of Congress.

Blodgett said earlier this week that additional personnel would be posted on Capitol grounds as a precaution on Thursday because of a conspiracy theory about the significance of the date. He said at the time that there was no indication that groups would travel to D.C. or commit acts of violence.

Members of Congress and staff members were asked to carry identification, report any threats or suspicious activity, and keep emergency numbers on hand.
As FBI Director Chris Wray warned on Tuesday, the threat of white supremacist domestic terrorism remains both real and widespread.

FBI Director Chris Wray bluntly labeled the January riot at the U.S. Capitol as “domestic terrorism” Tuesday and warned of a rapidly growing threat of homegrown violent extremism that law enforcement is scrambling to confront through thousands of investigations.

Wray also defended to lawmakers his own agency's handling of an intelligence report that warned of the prospect for violence on Jan. 6. And he firmly rejected false claims advanced by some Republicans that anti-Trump groups had organized the deadly riot that began when a violent mob stormed the building as Congress was gathering to certify results of the presidential election.

Wray's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, his first before Congress since the insurrection, was the latest in a series of hearings centered on the law enforcement response to the Capitol insurrection. Lawmakers pressed him not only about possible intelligence and communication failures ahead of the riot but also about the threat of violence from white supremacists, militias and other extremists that the FBI says it is prioritizing with the same urgency as the menace of international terrorism organizations.

“Jan. 6 was not an isolated event. The problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing across the country for a long time now and it’s not going away anytime soon,” Wray told lawmakers. “At the FBI, we’ve been sounding the alarm on it for a number of years now.”

The violence at the Capitol made clear that a law enforcement agency that remade itself after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to deal with international terrorism is now laboring to address homegrown violence by white Americans. President Joe Biden’s administration has tasked his national intelligence director to work with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to assess the threat. And in applying the domestic terrorism label to conduct inside the Capitol, Wray sought to make clear to senators that he was clear-eyed about the scope and urgency of the threat.

Wray said the number of domestic terrorism investigations has increased from around 1,000 when he became FBI director in 2017 to about 2,000 now. The number of white supremacist arrests has almost tripled, he said.
Everyone knew this was coming. Now that it's here, Republicans are doing their dead level best to pretend otherwise. Meanwhile, their cultist minions circle like sharks, looking for opportunities to ambush Democratic lawmakers.  It won't be long before the attacks start mounting outside the Beltway, too.


Related Posts with Thumbnails