'The Daily Briefing' host Dana Perino reacts to the Biden campaign's bold strategy.
One of President Obama's former doctors reportedly disputed a letter released by former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign in which the former vice president's own doctor praised the 77-year-old presidential candidate as a "healthy, vigorous" man.
“He’s not a healthy guy,” said Dr. David Scheiner, who previously served as Obama's physician. According to the Washington Examiner, Scheiner read Biden's medical history and said the presidential candidate "has a lot of issues."
“He’s not in bad shape for his age, but I wouldn't say he’s in outstanding health. Could I guarantee he won't have issues for the next four years? He has a lot of issues that are just sort of sitting there," Scheiner said.
Scheiner previously told the Examiner that Biden "looked frail" during the first Democratic primary debate. "I sort of got the feeling he wasn’t very strong. It was similar to the feeling I got when Republicans started attacking Mueller so fiercely," he said.
Dr. David Scheiner and former Vice President Joe Biden. (Getty/AP).
Questions about Biden’s health and age have repeatedly come up since even before the former vice president declared his candidacy in April. In September, Biden committed to publicly releasing his medical records before the Iowa caucuses, to try and put to rest concerns over whether he was fit enough to take on President Trump in a general election campaign — and whether he would be up to the rigors and stress of serving as president.
On Tuesday, the Biden campaign released a statement from Dr. Kevin O'Connor, who served as White House physician to Biden for several years.
"Vice President Biden is a healthy, vigorous 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency, to include those as chief executive, head of state and commander in chief,” Dr. Kevin O’Connor said.
In his report, O’Connor said that Biden is currently being treated for non-valvular atrial-fibrillation, better known as Afib, which is an irregular heartbeat. He said Biden is also being treated for hyperlipidemia, which is an abnormally high concentration of fats or lipids in the blood, as well as gastroesophageal reflux, a digestive disorder that occurs when acidic stomach juices, or food and fluids, back up from the stomach into the esophagus. And he noted that Biden – as many Americans do – suffers from seasonal allergies.
“For these, he takes three common prescription medications and two common over-the-counter medications,” O’Connor said.
His report listed Biden's weight as 178 pounds and his height as 5 feet, 11.65 inches.
Biden's campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
Scheiner also commented on former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's health. Bloomberg, also 77, threw his hat into the 2020 race late and provoked speculation that he thought 2020 frontrunners like Biden couldn't cut it.
Bloomberg previously released his medical history with his doctor describing his health as "outstanding."
“'Outstanding health'? With that history, I wouldn’t call it outstanding health,” Scheiner said, referring to the description as "hyperbole."
Bloomberg's doctor had disclosed that the former mayor was receiving treatment for arthritis and heartburn. The letter added that Bloomberg takes a blood thinner to treat atrial fibrillation and another medication to control his cholesterol.
Fox News' Paul Steinhauser and Kelly Phares contributed to this report.
Former President Barack Obama has reportedly made the case that women should be in charge across the globe, calling them 'indisputably' better than men. The 'Outnumbered' panel reacts.
Former President Obama seemed to knock his own gender on Monday, telling an audience that women would make the world a much better place if they dominated the ranks of political leadership.
"Now women, I just want you to know; you are not perfect, but what I can say pretty indisputably is that you're better than us [men]," he said, according to the BBC.
"I'm absolutely confident that for two years if every nation on earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything… living standards and outcomes."
Obama famously won the 2008 presidential election after defeating future Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the primary contests. The former president later appointed her as his secretary of state and reportedly saw her as a better candidate than former Vice President Joe Biden for continuing his legacy.
"If you look at the world and look at the problems, it's usually old people, usually old men, not getting out of the way," Obama also said during Monday's event in Singapore.
"It is important for political leaders to try and remind themselves that you are there to do a job, but you are not there for life, you are not there in order to prop up your own sense of self-importance or your own power."
Obama has long praised his wife, former first lady Michelle Obama. For example, he's said staying married to her was one of his greatest accomplishments. He also praised her performance as first lady and claimed that she "upgraded" him.
“Joe Biden understands the pain felt by every family across the U.S. that has had a loved one removed from the country, including under the Obama-Biden administration,” his campaign wrote.
It added that the country "must do better to uphold our laws humanely and preserve the dignity of immigrant families, refugees, and asylum-seekers."
Biden's fellow Democratic candidates have used his former boss's deportation record as an attack line in an attempt to knock the frontrunner down a peg. Last month, Biden was confronted by a protester who cited Obama's massive number of deportations.
“You should vote for Trump. You should vote for Trump,” Biden told the protester at the time. He also refused to apologize following a similar confrontation in June.
Biden's campaign has positioned his immigration plan as a stark contrast to President Trump, with priorities that include ending family separations at the border, rolling back Trump’s travel limits on citizens from certain Muslim-majority countries and providing a path to citizenship for about 11 million people in the U.S. illegally, including immediately shielding immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children from deportation.
While speaking in Las Vegas, Biden promised to spend "literally, a billion dollars a year" on stabilizing Central American governments and economies, a reference to his proposal to spend $4 billion in four years to help those nations.
The former vice president also pledged to enforce existing asylum law by reversing the Trump administration’s moves that have made claiming asylum extremely difficult and end the national emergency that Trump has declared to divert Pentagon funding to the construction of a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Biden joins progressive senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, along with South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, as Democratic White House hopefuls promising to close for-profit detention centers. The U.S. government contracted for such facilities under Obama, drawing criticism from civil rights groups at the time. But the practice has gained new scrutiny under Trump’s hard-line approach to immigration, especially his administration’s practice of separating families in the facilities.
Fox News' Danielle Wallace, Nick Givas, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
'Fox News Sunday' host Chris Wallace reacts to Attorney General Bill Barr going to bat on the conclusions of the DOJ inspector general report.
Eric Holder, who headed the U.S. Justice Department under former President Barack Obama, penned a column late Wednesday in which he calls Attorney General William Barr an unfit successor due to "nakedly partisan" actions and loyalty to President Trump.
Barr has been a favorite target of Trump critics since becoming attormey general in February following the departure of Jeff Sessions. Barr's detractors see him as a high-ranking enabler of the president who may use the department to serve Trump's personal and political interests.
In an interview with Fox News earlier this year, Barr said he was ready for the criticism.
His supporters, however, see Barr as a major player in determining the origins of what became the Russia investigation. The White House and Republicans in Congress say they want to know more about why the FBI decided to investigate the Trump's 2016 campaign's possible ties to Moscow — what Trump has often called a partisan “witch hunt.”
Writing in The Washington Post, Holder's criticism of Barr is wide-ranging. He points to a comment Barr made last month at a Federalist Society event, asserting that Barr made the "outlandish suggestion that Congress cannot entrust anyone but the president himself to execute the law."
"This is a stunning declaration not merely of ideology but of loyalty: to the president and his interests," Holder writes. "It is also revealing of Barr's own intent: to serve not at a careful remove from politics, as his office demands, but as an instrument of politics — under the direct 'control' of President Trump."
Attorneys general and their relationship with presidents have long been closely watched. Kris Olson, a former U.S. attorney in Oregon, wrote about the close relationships that usually hang in the balance. A president can remove his attorney general at will, but the person is "also intrinsically tied with the politics of the administration."
Holder, in 2013, did not hide his closeness with Obama. During a radio interview, he called himself Obama’s “wingman.”
"I’m still enjoying what I’m doing, there’s still work to be done. I’m still the president’s wingman, so I’m there with my boy. So we’ll see," Holder told Tom Joyner's radio show, according to Politico.
Critics quickly seized upon Holder's term "wingman" because the attorney general is traditionally considered a role independent of the president — even though the job holder is appointed by the president.
Continuing in the Post, Holder writes about his initial reluctance to go public with his criticism of Barrr but adds he is in a unique position where his voice is needed. He says Barr's actions "demand a response from someone who held the same office.”
Holder also writes that he was infuriated as he watched Barr comment on the ongoing John Durham criminal investigation into the origins of the FBI probe into Trump’s 2016 campaign. Barr, at the time, said he thought "spying occurred" by the government into the Trump campaign and then, according to The New York Times, clarified that he was "concerned" it occurred.
Holder warns that Durham could see his good reputation meet the same fate as Barr’s — becoming "irrevocably lost."
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley joins Melissa Francis on 'Outnumbered Overtime.'
An impeachment trial in the Republican-led Senate is largely expected to fail but that may not stop some Democrats from pushing for another impeachment after President Trump's would-be reelection in 2020.
"If the Senate doesn’t vote to convict Trump, or tries to monkey w his trial, he could of course be retried in the new Senate should he win re-election," tweeted Neal Katyal, who served as acting solicitor general under former President Obama.
"Double jeopardy protections do not apply," he added, referring to the principle that suspects can't be tried twice for the same crime. "And Senators voting on impeachment in the next months know this."
Katyal went on to promote his book pushing impeachment on Twitter. He was one of the lawyers who fought President Trump's travel ban in court.
Republicans have argued that Democrats always intended to impeach Trump and overturn the results of the 2016 election. Prior to the current inquiry, some Democrats called for Trump's impeachment after the Justice Department released former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings on the Russia investigation.
On Thursday, the speaker urged Democrats to proceed with articles of impeachment, which could include charges related to the Russia investigation and other complaints House Democrats have lodged against the president.
The trip comes as Biden tries to regain lost momentum in the Hawkeye State.
Rural farmers are panning Joe Biden’s decision to hit the Iowa campaign trail this week with former Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who’s been under fire over his $1 million-a-year job with a group that is funded by mandatory fees from struggling dairy farmers.
Vilsack, the former Iowa Democratic governor, endorsed Biden and joined the former vice president on his “No Malarkey” bus tour of Iowa in an appeal to rural voters. But some farmers said the move shows that Biden is tone deaf to the harsh realities of dairy farmers who are suffering from closures and bankruptcies.
“Vice President Biden clearly didn’t think through the ramifications of having someone like Secretary Vilsack on the bus tour and writing your agriculture policy when the former secretary is taking a million dollars out of the pockets of dairy farmers across the country,” said Jake Davis, national policy director at Family Farm Action, a non-profit progressive advocacy group aimed at curbing corporate agribusiness growth.
Davis, a farmer from Missouri who hasn’t endorsed in the 2020 race, called Biden’s tag-team with Vilsack this week a “clear misstep.”
“It just seems like a risk that one didn’t have to take,” Davis said.
Vilsack has been in the hot seat in recent months for earning nearly $1 million in salary in 2018 as the highest paid executive at Dairy Management Inc., a nonprofit responsible for promoting milk goods and funded directly by mandatory fees from dairy farmers. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this year exposed the bloated salaries of the top 10 dairy executives that topped $8 million at a time when many dairy farmers are on the brink on financial ruin amid a downturn in milk prices.
Under federal law, farmers are required to pay 15 cents for each 100 pounds of milk they sell into a so-called “checkoff” program to promote and advertise their products. Ten cents goes to local and regional programs and 5 cents goes to fund national programs, such as Dairy Management where Vilsack is executive vice president.
With money so tight, dairy farmers are fuming that their checkoff fees are padding the pockets of people like Vilsack.
“When we see that the funds that we’re mandated to pay through the checkoff are going to these really high salaries, it kind of just kicks you in the stomach,” said dairy farmer Sarah Lloyd from Wisconsin Dells.
Lloyd, a Bernie Sanders supporter and director of special projects at the Wisconsin Farmers Union, said Biden’s choice to campaign with Vilsack at this time “clearly shows me that Biden is out of touch.”
“It’s insulting to me to be asked this question,” Vilsack said. “The dairy industry came to me and offered me the job – I didn’t seek the job. I didn’t ask for the job.”
Vilsack endorsed Biden and joined him on the Iowa bus tour to help the former VP appeal to rural voters and the agriculture community in the run up to the Iowa caucuses Feb. 3. He made several stops with Biden on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
His $1 million salary didn’t come up. Iowa attendees said they generally respected Vilsack during his time as governor from 1999 to 2007 but it wasn’t necessarily enough to sway them to support Biden.
“Right now Tom Vilsack could be a liability for anybody taking that big wage. In my opinion, he hasn’t earned it,” Chris Petersen, a hog and hay farmer in Clear Lake and backer of Bernie Sanders.
“I think many farmers who are struggling, especially dairy farmers, really frown upon that,” Petersen added.
Doug Errthum, who farms dairy, corn, soybeans and hay in Holy Cross, Iowa, said he used to think of Vilsack as a “great guy,” but he wondered why Vilsack would make $1 million through fees out of his pocket.
“Obviously, seeing the money going to them is difficult when we have bills to pay ourselves,” said Errthum, who supports President Trump.
“It’s been a rough four years,” Errthum said of his dairy business. “I have a lot friends who used to milk and they don’t do it anymore. They can’t handle it anymore. It’s emotionally draining.”
While Vilsack declined comment, Dairy Management Inc. released a statement to Fox News from its chair Marilyn Hershey, a Pennsylvania dairy farmer.
“We hired Secretary Tom Vilsack to expand U.S. dairy’s presence in key global markets,” the statement said. “Under his leadership over the last three years, U.S. dairy exports reached an all-time high in 2018, with 16 percent of U.S. dairy being sold to global markets."
The statement continued: "His relationships across the public and private sectors internationally are opening new doors and new opportunities for U.S. dairy products. And his ability to proudly represent U.S. dairy farmers’ commitments around sustainability to global leaders is unmatched. We wouldn’t be able to achieve these kinds of results, which are critical to the ongoing strength and viability of the U.S. dairy sector and farmers, without Secretary Vilsack’s vision and leadership.”
Joe Maxwell, a hog and hay farmer in Missouri and sharp critic of the mandatory checkoff fees, said the high salaries might be warranted for a successful ad campaign. Instead, reporting revealed that Dairy Management paid $9.1 million to Domino’s and more than $5 million for McDonald’s USA LLC to help the mega-companies with their promotions.
“Dairy farmers are having that money extracted to ensure Domino’s and these executives are living fat and happy,” said Maxwell, who is policy advisor for the Organization of Competitive Markets, a family farm advocacy organization.
“We would suggest that Vice President Biden take a hard look at getting advice from others who are not opposed to taking on that corporate power.”
Fox News' Madeleine Rivera contributed to this report.
"My campaign is evolving the same way President Obama's did," he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"The same way that Jimmy Carter and others who talked to the larger aspirational goals didn't break through right away. But God, when our team is at number three in net favorably in Iowa and climbing, … 80 percent of the people have not settled on their final choice."
"So we're confident on our pathway to win in Iowa — to upset in Iowa," Booker added. "We're seeing local news write about the fact that we have the makings of an upset."
Booker complained about Democratic debate qualifications and claimed that they keep quality candidates from reaching the stage.
"I believe these artificial hurdles for this debate stage right now are having the unintended consequences of having minority voices – which are essential to our party, essential to moving our party to the right – … being excluded," he said.
"And that's problematic for a party that will rely on Black and Latino – black and brown I should say – Asian-Americans and others, turning out in record numbers. Not just to win the presidency, but to win back critical Senate seat that we need from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia to Arizona."
He also said there are more billionaires on the debate stage than black people and claimed the billionaires don't have a legitimate shot at winning the Democratic nomination.
"I am concerned that the unintended consequences of the rules that have been written, allows a billionaire – and by the way, there will now be, if this race stays where it is right now, this 2020 election, we'll have more billionaires than black people – that allows billionaires to be on that stage and not people that have legitimate chances to win the nomination," Booker said earlier in the segment.
According to the most recent RealClearPolitics polling average, Booker was under two percent in the Hawkeye State, tied for ninth place with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Biden was asked on Monday whether he would want Obama's endorsement as the race narrowed to just a few Democratic candidates. “No, because everyone knows I’m close with him,” Biden said, according to Politico. “I don’t need an Obama endorsement.”
His comments came amid ongoing speculation that the former president didn't have confidence in his former right-hand man.
“You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t,” Obama told Biden early in 2019, according to The New York Times. The Times reported that Obama "took pains to cast his doubts about the campaign in personal terms."
And according to a Politico Magazine story from November, Obama told another candidate that Biden didn't have an intimate bond with the electorate like he did in 2008.
“He may have said that. And if it’s true, and he said it, there’s truth to it," Biden reportedly said when asked about the comment.
Biden, who has led President Trump in several polls on 2020 matchups, said he couldn't forgive himself if he passed up the opportunity to beat Trump. He initially thought he could beat Trump in 2016, but Obama reportedly pushed back because, in part, he reportedly thought former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be more effective in continuing his legacy.
Despite Obama's widespread popularity among Democrats, the former president appeared to become somewhat of a liability for Biden during the race.
During the second round of primary debates, Biden faced criticism over the number of deportations under the Obama administration. The Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature legislative achievement, also came under fire from candidates who said it had fallen short.
While Obama has stayed relatively quiet during the 2020 race, some of his former officials have cautioned against using the former administration to attack Biden during the primaries.
Fox News contributor Karl Rove and 'The Five' co-host Juan Williams weigh in.
Joe Biden, from the very outset of his 2020 bid, has sought to leverage his history with old running mate President Barack Obama to propel him to the Democratic presidential nomination — the problem is, this does not appear to be a plan shared by the former president or his closest advisers.
First, there was the persistent criticism of Biden's campaign from Obama's inner circle. Then, there were the lingering questions over why "44" has not simply endorsed his former vice president. Now come reports that Obama has made discouraging — even derisive — comments about his candidacy.
"[Y]ou know who really doesn’t have it? Joe Biden," Obama said about a connection with voters, according to a recent Politico Magazine report. That remark reportedly was made to one of Biden's Democratic primary opponents.
An August New York Times report also cited a source who claimed that before Biden officially entered the 2020 race, Obama told him, “You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t.”
That article came after Obama's former top strategist David Axelrod had harsh words for the former vice president. Axelrod warned that Biden “has sort of played into the caricature” of being mentally weak that President Trump has played on in the past. This, after Axelrod had questioned Biden's "steadiness" regarding an abortion policy flip-flop.
Axelrod also has described Biden as “confused” and suggested he looked like “part of the past rather than the future,” after a heated exchange during a June debate between Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
The dismissive commentary from one of the chief architects of Obama's history-making 2008 presidential run is not helpful for a candidate who has latched his campaign to the Obama legacy — routinely defending ObamaCare in the face of primary rivals vowing to pursue "Medicare-for-all," and reminding voters of their bond. (In the category of kidding/not kidding, Biden once posted matching friendship bracelets on Twitter wishing the former commander-in-chief a happy Best Friends Day. Obama responded with a classy, "Back atcha Joe," along with a GIF of him calling Biden the "best VP America has ever had.")
Obama may think Biden was a great VP — but that doesn't mean he sees him as president.
Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush and current Fox News contributor, pointed to signals from Obama's aides.
“The Obama team is everywhere across the field and you don’t get the sense that there’s a lot of love and enthusiasm for Joe Biden as a candidate,” Rove said Tuesday. “Maybe it’s because they don’t think he can get it across the line, maybe it’s because they don’t agree with him, or maybe it’s because they dealt with him in the Obama administration and while they have a great deal of affection for him don’t think he has what it takes to be a presidential candidate and a victor.”
Obama has yet to endorse any candidate in the race, but Biden has said that it was his decision not to seek an endorsement from the former president.
At the same time, the mixed messages from Obama World do not seem to be hurting Biden at the moment.
A new CNN poll released Wednesday has Biden leading the pack with 28 percent, well ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., with 17 percent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., with 14 percent, and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 11 percent.
And a newly released Quinnipiac University poll of Democratic-leaning voters had Biden in first place with 24 percent, and way ahead of the other candidates on the question of who would have the best chance of defeating Trump.
It happened at a South Carolina town hall event for the former vice president, before about 800 people at Lander University in Greenville.
Biden seemed to lose his cool when Carlos Rojas, an immigration activist with a group called Cosecha Movement, pointed out that more illegal immigrants were deported during Obama's first two years as president than during Trump’s.
“In 2008 I was a volunteer for Obama because I had hope and I believed in the promises to the immigrant community," Rojas said. "The fact is that over those eight years there were three million people who were deported and separated from their families."
“You should vote for Trump. You should vote for Trump,” Biden retorted, turning away from the man.
“No, I’m not going to do that, but I want to make sure that immigrant families … are not afraid and you have the power as a candidate to actually commit to stop all deportations from day one from executive action, and we want to hear you say that.”
“I will not stop all deportations. If you commit a crime, that’s a felony,” Biden affirmed.
At that point a group of protesters — many holding signs reading “Not 1 More Deportation” – began to chant that very phrase, demanding Biden pledge to stop deporting all illegal immigrants if he’s elected president.
“No matter what happens, if someone commits perjury, they should be deported,” Biden pressed.
In an effort to quell protesters, Biden promised: “There will be no family separations under my … as president of the United States.”
“That’s a lie, you said?” Biden responded. And the crowd erupted once more.
During the first three years of his presidency, Obama deported 1.18 million people, The Washington Post reported. Trump, despite promising in 2016 to deport “millions,” has deported less than 800,000 people during his first three years in office.
Under the Obama administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported more than 385,000 people each year in fiscal years 2009-11. The rate spiked in 2012 when 409,849 deportations were carried out, Axios reported, citing Department of Homeland Security records. The Trump administration has not carried out more than 260,000 deportations in a single year, according to the Post.
These numbers drew the ire of protesters during a July Democratic presidential debate.
CNN moderator Don Lemon asked Biden: “In the first two years of the Obama administration nearly 800,000 immigrants were deported, far more than during President Trump’s first two years. Would the higher deportation rates resume if you were president?”
“Absolutely not,” Biden responded. He briefly took a swipe at fellow candidate Julian Castro, who served as Obama’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, before protesters cut him short.
Also at the town hall Thursday, after a student asked how Biden would address illegal immigration, Biden said the federal government needs “to produce a path to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented people in the United States,” according to IndexJournal.
“We are denying access to people who seek asylum,” Biden said. “The separation of families and putting kids in cages is brutal.”
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on Hunter Biden, impeachment hearings on 'Hannity.'
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., sent a letter Thursday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting the release of any documents related to contacts between former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
Graham’s letter, which was released as the final day of public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump wrapped up, asked Pompeo to release a series of documents and transcripts of conversations in 2016 between Biden and Poroshenko in relation to an investigation into the Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma Holdings.
Burisma – and more specifically, Hunter Biden’s role on the company’s board of directors – has become one of the main talking points from Trump and the Republicans amid the impeachment inquiry into the president.
Speaking on Fox News’ “Hannity” on Wednesday night, Graham said the phone calls between Biden and Poroshenko coincided with the time frame in which a Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was fired.
“I want to know, are there any transcripts or readouts of the phone calls between the vice president and the president of Ukraine in February  after the raid on the gas company president's house,” Graham said. “After this raid, Hunter Biden kicks in. Hunter Biden's business partner meets with [then-Secretary of State] John Kerry, and Vice President Biden on three occasions makes a phone call to the president of Ukraine and goes over there in March and they fire the guy, and this is the same man that the ambassador wanted investigated in 2015.”
Shokin was investigating Burisma Holdings at a time when Hunter Biden sat on its board and while the vice president was leading the Obama administration's diplomatic dealings with Kiev. Though the timing raised concerns among anti-corruption advocates, many Western nations had supported Shokin’s firing.
Ranking Member Devin Nunes, R-Calif., along with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, penned a scathing letter to Schiff in which they slammed the “sham ‘impeachment inquiry’” and notified the chairman of their intent to subpoena Biden and the whistleblower whose report sparked in the inquiry. Jordan, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, has been appointed as a temporary member of the House Intelligence Committee.
“The American people understand how you have affirmatively prevented Republicans from examining serious issues directly relevant to the issues,” the two GOP lawmakers told Schiff in their letter. “Therefore, to provide some basic level of fairness and objectivity to your ‘impeachment inquiry,’ we intend to subpoena the anonymous whistleblower and Hunter Biden for sworn testimony in closed-door depositions.”
The whistleblower last August reported that Trump had pushed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch a public investigation into the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine—specifically, why the former vice president pressured Poroshenko to fire Shokin. The complaint questioned whether Trump withheld military aid and the opportunity of a White House meeting from Zelensky until Ukraine publicly announced an investigation into the Bidens. Trump and the White House repeatedly have denied the president did anything wrong.
On Wednesday, Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland said he never heard directly from Trump on a quid pro quo linking military aid for Ukraine to politically advantageous investigations.
But, Sondland said, “we all understood” that a meeting at the White House for Ukraine’s president and a phone call with Trump would happen only if Zelensky agreed to an investigation into the 2016 U.S. election and the Bidens. And, he testified that he came to presume aid was linked to investigations too.
He said he sent an email on July 19, just days before the July 25 call at the center of the impeachment inquiry, in which he laid out the issue in detail to members of the State and Energy Departments and White House staff.
Sondland added: “It was no secret.”
Fox News Charles Creitz contributed to this report.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham wraps up the first week of public impeachment inquiry hearings.
Former White House aides are pushing back after White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed members of the Obama administration left disparaging notes for their replacements.
“We came into the White House. I’ll tell you something, every office was filled with Obama books and we had notes left behind that said ‘you will fail,’ ‘you aren’t going to make it,’” Grisham told conservative radio show host John Fredericks in an interview Tuesday.
High-profile officials including former National Security Adviser Susan Rice denied the claim. “This is another bald faced lie,” Rice tweeted. She also defended herself, retweeting a claim that she left a supportive note for her successor, Michael Flynn.
Grisham took over as press secretary after her predecessor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, resigned earlier this year. After President Trump entered the White House in 2017, Grisham served as deputy press secretary and worked as a spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump.
Cody Keenan, a speechwriter for former President Obama, tweeted that he left behind an iPhone charger, but that “nobody left unimaginative notes written at a sixth-grade level.”
He also wrote, “I mean, if they read the ‘how to do your job’ memos and briefing books we actually left, they’d at least know how to write a coherent speech, vet their appointees, and maybe fewer of them would be indicted or heading to jail.”
Grisham clarified that she was referring specifically to her experience in the lower press office. “At the time, we saw it as kind of a prank and something that always happened. We were so busy trying to learn where the bathrooms were and how to turn on the lights, it wasn’t that big of a deal.”
As Grisham noted, pranks in the White House would be nothing new. The General Accounting Office previously reported that the White House saw “damage, theft, vandalism and pranks” between the administrations of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The agency noted some of the damage was intentional and costs reached upwards of $14,000. That included nearly $5,000 for computer keyboards, with some that had damaged or missing “W” keys.
Voters have to be 'rooted in reality' says former President Barack Obama.
Former President Barack Obama is facing a new wave of criticism from the Democratic Party's left flank after cautioning Democrats about going too radical with their policy proposals — in the latest sign of a growing rift between the popular 44th president and the party's activist base.
Obama on Friday warned 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls to pay attention to what voters actually think, claiming at a gathering of Democratic donors that most of them don’t want to “tear down the system” and that many Democrats “just don’t want to see crazy stuff.” Members of his party soon turned on him, using the hashtag #TooFarLeft.
“I’m #TooFarLeft because I want kids to be safe in school. I’m #TooFarLeft because I want people to live in dignity. I’m #TooFarLeft because I seek justice and equality. I’m #TooFarLeft because I think healthcare and housing are human rights,” tweeted former Hillary Clinton adviser Peter Daou, who started the hashtag.
Daou clarified Sunday evening that the slogan "isn't primarily about Obama for me, though he was the catalyst for the tag."
It quickly went viral, used by other liberal Democrats such as Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Celebrities weighed in as well. Former “Two and a Half Men” star Jon Cryer claimed a "far left" position is necessary to counter an existential threat to humanity.
“I am #TooFarLeft because I believe that we cannot let greed cause the collapse of the ecosystem that supports all human life on earth,” he tweeted.
This is not the first time Obama has taken a stance against the leftward drift of the party or been on the receiving end of criticism for allegedly being too moderate.
During a discussion at the Obama Foundation Summit held at the Illinois Institute of Technology in October, Obama explained that the world is more complicated than people realize and urged politically active Americans to be practical if they want to be effective.
“This idea of purity and you're never compromised and you're always politically woke, and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly," Obama said.
Several Democratic presidential candidates have taken veiled shots at Obama’s administration this year while targeting his former vice president, Joe Biden — especially regarding health care and immigration.
Over the summer, before he dropped out of the race, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said Biden should “absolutely” answer for the Obama administration’s deportation record.
“There are a lot of persuadable voters and there are a lot of Democrats out there who just want to see things make sense. They just don't want to see crazy stuff," he said. "They want to see things a little more fair, they want to see things a little more just. And how we approach that I think will be important.”
The two-term Democratic president made the remarks at a gathering of the Democracy Alliance, a group of wealthy Democratic donors. He was interviewed by Stacey Abrams, who lost Georgia’s gubernatorial race last year.
Obama has largely stayed on the sidelines on the 2020 Democratic primary, and has not yet backed a candidate — even as former Vice President Joe Biden has invoked his name on numerous occasions. But Obama has made remarks indicating he is nervous about the drift to the extreme left on a number of issues by parts of the Democratic Party.
On Friday, he did not mention any candidates by name, but did cite immigration and health care reform as examples of where Democrats may be out of sync with the broader electorate.
Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who have both released plans on immigration and “Medicare-for-all” respectively in recent weeks. Warren’s government-led overhaul of the health care system would eventually abolish private insurance and cost $52 trillion, while Sanders’ immigration plan includes radical policies including welfare for illegal immigrants and a moratorium on all deportations.
“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality and the fact that voters, including the Democratic voters and certainly persuadable independents or even moderate Republicans, are not driven by the same views that are reflected on certain, you know, left-leaning Twitter feeds,” Obama said.
The comment about Twitter feeds echoes remarks he made last month, when the former president took a swipe at “woke” virtue signalling and cancel culture, telling a Chicago audience to “get over” their obsessions with ideological purity tests.
“This idea of purity and you're never compromised and you're always politically woke, and all that stuff, you should get over that quickly," Obama said. “The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids, and share certain things with you.”
Fox News' Ronn Blitzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
A newly proposed regulation from the Trump administration will end the Obama-era policies restricting federal funds from flowing to some faith-based adoption organizations.
Rolling back a last-minute regulation put in place under former President Obama, the President Trump administration is being praised by Christian conservatives for defending religious freedom with a newly proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would allow faith-based foster care and adoption services to receive federal funding even if they turn away couples because of their religious beliefs.
The new rule, proposed Thursday, reverses regulations under the Obama administration that required religious organizations to get a waiver in order to apply for an HHS grant, unless they include sexual orientation as a protected trait under anti-discrimination protections.
The move angered LGBTQ activists and progressives, who argue it will decrease the number of available homes — something that actually happened as local government and states enacted the Obama-era rule largely targeting Roman Catholic and evangelical Protestant organizations, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In an op-ed for WSJ Monday, Russell Moore said the Trump administration "took a major step toward addressing the problem" of religious organizations that hold a biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman being punished in "proxy culture wars" that don't focus on the "welfare of children."
Moore points to the city of Philadelphia barring Catholic Social Services from placing children in homes in March 2018 because of the Catholic Church's teaching on marriage, and Michigan's Attorney General Dana Nessel citing the rule when attempting to cancel a state-approved foster care and adoption services contract with St. Vincent Catholic Charities.
"Charities shouldn't have to choose between their religious views and beliefs, in putting that before helping the needy," Stephanie Hamill, Daily Caller video columnist, told Shannon Bream on "Fox News @ Night."
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said the "need for this action is unfortunately evident as various state and local governments have trampled upon religious freedom protections and the First Amendment, forcing the shutdown of faith-based adoption providers that decline to leave their faith at the door."
The Catholic Association told Fox News the rollback helps "free" religious organizations to help "needy kids" without having to violate their belief that children do best in a home with a married mom and dad.
"Agencies that find loving foster and adoptive homes shouldn’t be subject to ideological shakedowns by the government,” said Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, a legal adviser for The Catholic Association Foundation.
Left-wing activists, however, argue the administration's plan will reduce the number of qualified parents who want to adopt or foster a child.
Republicans send a letter to Inspector General Michael Atkinson demanding to know why the watchdog hasn't said if he's investigating 'a number of leaks of highly sensitive information.'
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson on Thursday formally sought "all email communications" between Hillary Clinton and former President Obama, saying the Justice Department was blocking their release — even though they could shed light on whether the former secretary of state discussed sensitive matters on her unsecured personal email system while she was overseas.
Johnson's letter came as House Democrats approved procedures for their impeachment inquiry against President Trump, saying he may have endangered U.S. national security by allegedly withholding aid to Ukraine for political reasons. Earlier this month, a State Department report into Clinton's use of a private email server for government business found dozens of people at fault and hundreds of security violations.
In a letter to the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Johnson, R-Wis., said summer 2016 communications from FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok to FBI Director James Comey’s Chief of Staff James Rybicki hinted at the existence of the Clinton-Obama messages that were relevant to the issues raised by her private server.
Johnson noted that on June 28, 2016, a week before Comey’s public statement declaring that "no reasonable prosecutor" would charge Clinton, Strzok wrote, "Jim – I have the POTUS – HRC emails [Director Comey] requested at end of briefing yesterday. I hesitate to leave them, please let me know a convenient time to drop them off."
"I write to request email communications between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama," Johnson wrote, setting a deadline of Nov. 14, 2019. "In January 2018, I requested the Department of Justice (DOJ) produce emails Secretary Clinton sent to President Obama while she was located in the 'territory of a sophisticated adversary.'"
He added: "Given that DOJ acknowledged that they 'are not in a position' to produce emails to the committee that contain 'equities of other executive branch entities,' I ask that, pursuant to the Presidential Records Act, you please provide all email communications between Secretary Clinton and President Obama."
A May 2016 email from Strzok, obtained by Fox News last year, said "we know foreign actors obtained access" to some Clinton emails, including at least one "secret" message "via compromises of the private email accounts" of Clinton staffers. However, last year, the DOJ watchdog slammed Comey for speculating publicly that Clinton's emails had been hacked by foreign actors.
Interviews with intelligence community officials released this past August indicated that senior FBI leaders "seemed indifferent to evidence of a possible intrusion by a foreign adversary" into Clinton’s non-government email server, and that State Department officials allegedly sought to "downgrade classified material found on the server," according to Senate investigators probing the matter.
The information was contained in a letter and interview transcripts sent by the majority staff on Johnson's Homeland Security Committee to senior Senate Republicans including Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. The letter also noted that "neither the committees nor the FBI were able to confirm whether an intrusion into the server occurred."
Many Clinton emails already have been released. A batch of unearthed, heavily redacted and classified emails from Clinton's personal email server, published this past March, revealed that the former secretary of state discussed establishing a "private, 100% off-the-record" back channel to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and that one of her top aides warned her she was in "danger" of being "savaged by Jewish organizations, in the Jewish press and among the phalanx of neoconservative media" as a result of political machinations by "Bibi and the Jewish leadership."
The 756-page group of documents, revealed as part of a transparency lawsuit by Judicial Watch, seemingly contradicted Clinton's insistence under oath in 2015 that she had turned over all of her sensitive work-related emails to the State Department, and included a slew of classified communications on everything from foreign policy to State Department personnel matters.
The files came from a trove of 72,000 documents the FBI recovered and turned over to the State Department in 2017.
Ivanishvili notably did not criticize Putin during his campaign, despite Putin's invasion of Georgia years earlier — and in 2012, Ivanishvili made headlines for refusing to meet with Clinton unless it was a one-on-one sitdown.
Fox News' Jason Donner contributed to this report.
Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe says the Justice Department was used by the Obama administration to go after their enemies.
A number of former high-level Obama administration officials could fall into the investigative crosshairs of U.S. Attorney John Durham's team as his probe into the handling of the Russia investigation rises to the level of a criminal inquiry.
The elevation in status means the U.S. attorney for Connecticut will be able to subpoena witnesses, file charges and impanel grand juries.
“You do not impanel a grand jury at this point unless you are going to indict,” a source familiar with the investigation told Fox News. “Durham is at a point where he knows he has crimes and now the question is how many people were involved and they have a pretty good idea of that group of people and what the charges can be and whether or not they can get some cooperators.”
The development has prompted allegations from Democrats that the Department of Justice is being politicized. Attorney General Bill Barr, however, rejected those claims and defended the Durham probe in an interview earlier this week with Fox News, while accusing the James Comey-era FBI brass of a "failure of leadership."
Those bureau leaders and others could well be questioned as part of Durham's probe, as speculation runs rampant over who might be at risk of being charged.
For his part, Comey was asked about Durham’s investigation at the recent Politicon convention in Nashville. He said he's “not worried about a single thing in connection with any of the matters under investigation.”
“Gather the facts, write a report and share it with the American people — please do that,” Comey said. “Don’t drip it out. Don’t leak it out. Give it out. And I’m confident that when the American people see the picture of why we did what we did, their confidence in the institution will be maintained, restored and protected.”
Comey also praised Durham as someone who has “a strong professional reputation” and someone he has “for years thought was an excellent prosecutor."
“I would hope Mr. Durham will do everything possible to protect his reputation from being damaged by those in leadership, and the most important way he can do that is give us transparency,” he continued.
One source told Fox News that Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s forthcoming report, which will focus on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in connection with the early stages of the Russia probe, will shed light on why Durham’s investigation has become a criminal inquiry.
Horowitz, for more than a year and a half, has been investigating alleged misconduct related to the FISA warrants delivered by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The Justice Department and the FBI obtained warrants during the final months of the Obama administration in 2016 to surveil Trump adviser Carter Page. It is unclear, at this point, if Page was the only Trump campaign official that the DOJ obtained a FISA warrant against.
With regard to Page’s FISA application, there was “one initial FISA warrant” targeting his and three other renewals from the FISC. The statute requires that every 90 days a FISA order on an American citizen “must be reviewed.”
Former FBI Director Comey signed three FISA applications for Page, while former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente signed at least one, according to a House Republican memo filed last year.
One source told Fox News that it would be a “necessity” for Durham to interview the majority of those officials as part of his probe.
Meanwhile, Fox News has learned that Durham is “very interested” in questioning former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. According to a source familiar with the situation, Brennan has received word from his attorney that he may be contacted by Durham’s office, but Clapper has received no such communication at this time.
A prominent Trump critic, Brennan continues to take swipes at the president amid the impeachment inquiry over allegations he improperly pressured Ukraine to launch politically helpful investigations. After Trump questioned the account of a witness who this week voiced concerns about those conversations, Brennan tweeted: "As in previous times of National peril, we rely on our military, diplomats, intelligence officials, law enforcement officers, & other courageous patriots to protect our liberties, freedom, & democracy. May they stay resolute & strong despite corrupt political headwinds they face."
Because Durham’s investigation is focused on a timeline spanning from the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election through the spring of 2017, former FBI special agent Peter Strzok will likely be seen as another key figure. Strzok, on July 31, 2016, officially opened the FBI’s initial Russia investigation.
In a separate review led by Horowitz, politically charged text messages between Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page were revealed. Page was also involved in the early stages of the bureau’s Russia probe, and she and Strzok both later served on former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team to investigate Russian meddling and alleged collusion with members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
Strzok's role has also come under question regarding the original interview of former national security adviser Mike Flynn, who later pleaded guilty to giving false statements concerning his discussions with Russia's ambassador. His lawyer recently alleged that official FBI files on that interview were manipulated.
Prosecutors have cast doubt on these allegations, though, saying in a Tuesday filing: "In an extraordinary reversal, the defendant now claims that he is innocent of the criminal charge in this case" and "makes this claim despite having admitted his guilt, under oath, before two federal judges."
Also, as part of his probe, Durham has traveled with Attorney General Barr to Italy and had conversations with law enforcement officials in the U.K. and Australia about their investigation, according to multiple sources familiar with the meetings.
The team is “gathering information from numerous sources, including a number of foreign countries,” Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.
This week, during an exclusive interview with Fox News, Barr said that while he’s assisting in connecting Durham with countries that could have valuable information, Durham is running the show.
“He is in charge of the investigation, I’m not doing the investigation,” Barr said, calling Durham “thorough and fair.”
“Some of the countries that John Durham thought might have some information that would be helpful to the investigation wanted preliminarily to talk to me about the scope of the investigation, the nature of the investigation, and how I intended to handle confidential information and so forth,” Barr said. “So I initially discussed these matters with those countries and introduced them to John Durham and established a channel by which Mr. Durham can obtain assistance from those countries.”
But Democrats have blasted Durham’s investigation, and taken direct aim at Barr.
“The Department of Justice under AG Barr has lost its independence and become a vehicle for President Trump’s political revenge,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said in a joint statement after learning Durham’s probe had become a criminal inquiry. “If the Department of Justice may be used as a tool of political retribution or to help the President with a political narrative for the next election, the rule of law will suffer new and irreparable damage.”
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner also spoke out against Durham’s probe, saying Friday that the Senate Intelligence Committee “is wrapping up a three-year bipartisan investigation, and we’ve found nothing remotely justifying this.”
He called on Barr to testify before Congress.
In response to such criticism, Barr said, "It wouldn't be appropriate at this stage for me to discuss the Durham investigation." He said he'd "certainly inform the public and Congress" when possible.
As for the direction of the investigation, he said: "We’ll let the chips fall where they may.”
Fox News' Jake Gibson and Sam Dorman contributed to this report.
Sanders rips Biden for changing position; Peter Doocy has the details.
Joe Biden insisted he’s still the front-runner in the Democratic presidential nomination race, downplayed the lack of an endorsement by former President Barack Obama, defended his son’s actions in Ukraine, and called President Trump an “idiot,” as he faced tough questions during an interview broadcast Sunday night on "60 Minutes."
Biden said he still considers himself the leader in the race for the nomination, emphasizing, “I know I'm the front-runner. Find me a national poll with a notable — a couple exceptions (sic). But look, this is a marathon."
Yet Biden has been underperforming when it comes to another key metric — fundraising. He raised just $15.2 million during the July-September quarter, far behind top-tier rivals Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. And as of Oct. 1, he had just $9 million cash-on-hand, far behind Sanders – who had nearly $34 million in the bank – and Warren, who had $26 million in her campaign coffers.
Asked by CBS' Nora O’Donnell how he can compete against that, the former vice president answered, "I just flat beat them,” as he laughed.
“We're on a course to do extremely well,” he insisted. “I’m not worried about being able to fund this campaign. I really am not, truly."
Biden was also pressed on the lack of endorsement from Obama, his boss for eight years in the White House.
"I want to earn this on my own," he stressed.
But asked if the former president offered to back him, Biden said, “No, we didn't even get there. I asked him not to. He said, ‘OK.’”
Biden added: “I think it's better — I think he thinks it's better for me. I have no doubt when I'm the nominee he'll be out on the campaign trail for me."
The former vice president took aim at Trump over the president’s repeated comments that Russian interference in U.S. elections is a hoax.
"He's an idiot, in terms of sayin' that. Everybody knows this. Everybody knows it. Nobody doubts it,” Biden highlighted.
And asked how he would respond to Trump’s accusation that “Joe Biden and his son are stone-cold corrupt,” Biden said, “Let's see how straight you are, OK old buddy? I put out 21 years of mine. So show us your tax returns … what are you hidin'? You want to deal with corruption? Start to act like it. Release your tax returns or shut up."
As the president faces an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives and as support for impeaching and removing the president increases, Trump and his allies have repeatedly tried to put the spotlight on the Bidens. Hunter Biden served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company while his father was vice president. Trump and fellow Republicans have questioned how Biden pushed in 2016 for the dismissal of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was looking into corruption at the company. The prosecutor – who had been widely accused by both Democrats and Republicans of overlooking corruption in his own office – was later dismissed.
Pressed by O’Donnell on whether he considered the optics of his son working for the Ukrainian company during his years in the White House, Biden contended that Hunter was already on the board when he took office.
Biden has said repeatedly that the only thing he asked his son about regarding sitting on the board of the company was, "I hope you know what you're doing."
Asked what he meant by that, Biden answered, “What I meant by that is I hope you've thought this through.”
"I hope you know exactly what you're doing here. That's all I meant. Nothing more than that, because I've never discussed my business or their business, my sons' or daughter's. And I've never discussed them because they know where I have to do my job and that's it and they have to make their own judgments,” he explained.
And Biden took aim at Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who serve as top advisers in the administration.
Biden vowed that he if gets “elected president, my children are not going to have offices in the White House. My children are not going to sit in on Cabinet meetings. … It's just simply improper because you should make it clear to the American public that everything you're doing is for them. For them. And the idea that you’re going to have his children his — son-in-law, et cetera, engaged in the day-to-day operation of things they know nothing about.”
Trump’s reelection campaign defended Ivanka and Jared and took aim at Hunter Biden, saying, “Hunter Biden would never have an office in the White House because he’s proven that his only qualification is being the son of Joe Biden.”
"I knew where you were going, but I'm not going to let you catch me in a corner," Romney said. "He has elements, I'm sure, of honor in his life and there are things that I think are not honorable. And, I mention that because of the payment to a porn star for sexual relations outside of marriage.
"Look, I'm one of those who believes we have a responsibility to be honorable and faithful to our wives and the president made a failing in that regard."
"People will recognize that character really is important in our leaders and that it's important for our leaders to do things that unify us, that welcome people who come here legally as immigrants, that in no way signal to anybody in America that they're less of an American because of where they came from or their sexual orientation or their race or their religion," he said.
The senator added that the future will not be kind to Trump’s legacy, including his recent move to withdraw troops from northern Syria, which analysts claimed could be seen as abandoning U.S.-allied Kurdish forces. As Romney put it, "We should never abandon our friends."
He also said, "Clearly, the world watches and people who potentially could be our allies at a critical time say perhaps the U.S. won't stay with us. Perhaps they'll cut and run if they think it's in their best interest. And, walking away from the Kurds in a corner of Syria at a critical time when the troops coming from Turkey are intent upon doing them harm is something which I think would be a very dark spot in American history."