Mitt Romney: You Know, It Sure Looks Like Hillary Was Bribed at State

To get you up to speed, read Guy’s eye-opening and glass-shattering post published earlier this week. In it, he explains how a “very serious series of facts,” as Gov. Mitt Romney phrased it in his exclusive interview with Salem radio host Hugh Hewitt, is raising unsettling questions about an alleged quid pro quo agreement between the Clintons and the Russians.

Weighing in, the former Republican presidential nominee stated flatly that the scandal is very “troubling” to him – and has “every earmark of bribery.”

HH: Pleased to welcome back to the program former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney. Governor Romney, always a pleasure, welcome back.

MR: Thank you. It’s good to be with you, Hugh.

HH: Governor Romney, I know you’ve had a chance to read, I assume you’ve had a chance to read the Jo Becker/Mike McIntire New York Times piece today about the cash flowing into the Clinton Foundation from the Russians as they got control of Uranium One. What’s your reaction to this story?

MR: You know, I’ve got to tell you, I was stunned by it. I mean, it looks like bribery. I mean, there is every appearance that Hillary Clinton was bribed to grease the sale of, what, 20% of America’s uranium production to Russia, and then it was covered up by lying about a meeting at her home with the principals, and by erasing emails. And you know, I presume we might know for sure whether there was or was not bribery if she hadn’t wiped out thousands of emails. But this is a very, very serious series of facts, and it looks like bribery.

HH: I just asked Senator Lindsey Graham last hour if they would hold hearings into the donors to the Clinton Family Foundation, because if the Russians can give them that much money, is it possible the Iranians have as well, Governor Romney?

MR: Well, we don’t know who gave money, and the IRS apparently is making it known that the filings of the Clinton Foundation did not include the fact that foreign governments were making contributions. And they had misstated their filings over the past several years. This is obviously a very troubling setting. But even what we do know, based on what was written by the New York Times, and is being reported by Fox and others, it has every earmark of bribery. And this is from the office of Secretary of State. This is a very troubling set of facts, and clearly, there’s got to be some kind of investigation to find out what the truth is here, because around the world, people are going to look at Hillary Clinton, a potential candidate for president, a former Secretary of State, and say gosh, is this a person who could be trusted? And I think the American people are asking that question as well.

Indeed they are. A new poll finds that 54 percent of Americans do not believe Hillary Clinton is “honest and trustworthy.” So perhaps we can all agree this scandal isn't going to do her any favors.

Read the full transcript of the interview here.

NYT, WSJ Editorial Boards Hit Clinton Over Foundation Dealings

Earlier this week, Team Clinton found itself besieged by continued questions over foreign donations to the family’s non-profit. Such inquires have lingered since the winter when it was discovered that the Clinton Foundation accepted a donation from the Algerian government when Hillary was Secretary of State, which appeared to have violated an ethics agreement with the Obama White House. Speculation intensified when Reuters reported that the Clintons haven’t disclosed their donors since 2010, despite a 2008 promise Hillary made in a move to be more transparent. Now, we have cash flowing into the Clinton Foundation from the family foundation of the chairman of Uranium One, who was in the middle of securing a deal with Rosatom, a state-owned Russian energy corporation. Bill Clinton would then receive a $500,000 speaking fee from a bank with connections to this deal. Uranium One was a mining company that was responsible for 20% of the United States’ uranium production. These transactions were not disclosed to the Obama administration during these business negotiations (2009-2013), and the review of this deal by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, who “are charged with reviewing any deal that could result in foreign control of an American business or asset deemed important to national security,” according to the Times–was met with approval. All of this, just prior to Clinton’s exit as Secretary of State, who is a principal actor on the board.

As a result, the editorial boards are showing the former first lady no love. The New York Times demanded she disclose all the Foundation’s donations and donors, while chastising her for breaking her pledge regarding disclosing such donors when she became Secretary of State:

The increasing scrutiny of the foundation has raised several points that need to be addressed by Mrs. Clinton and the former president. These relate most importantly to the flow of multimillions in donations from foreigners and others to the foundation, how Mrs. Clinton dealt with potential conflicts as secretary of state and how she intends to guard against such conflicts should she win the White House.

The only plausible answer is full and complete disclosure of all sources of money going to the foundation. And the foundation needs to reinstate the ban on donations from foreign governments for the rest of her campaign — the same prohibition that was in place when she was in the Obama administration.

The donations, which included $2.35 million from a principal in the deal, were not publicly disclosed by the foundation, even though Mrs. Clinton had signed an agreement with the Obama administration requiring the foundation to disclose all donors as a condition of her becoming secretary of state. This failure is an inexcusable violation of her pledge. The donations were discovered through Canadian tax records by Times reporters. Media scrutiny is continuing, with Reuters reporting that the foundation is refiling some returns found to be erroneous.

There is no indication that Mrs. Clinton played a role in the uranium deal’s eventual approval by a cabinet-level committee. But the foundation’s role in the lives of the Clintons is inevitably becoming a subject of political concern.

It’s an axiom in politics that money always creates important friendships, influence and special consideration. Wise politicians recognize this danger and work to keep it at bay. When she announced her candidacy, Mrs. Clinton resigned from the foundation board (Bill Clinton remains on the board). This was followed by the announcement of tighter foundation restrictions on donations from foreign countries, which had resumed after she left the State Department.

These half steps show that candidate Clinton is aware of the complications she and Bill Clinton have created for themselves. She needs to do a lot more, because this problem is not going away.

The Wall Street Journal said this was nothing short of “graft.”

We’re not the first to make the comparison, but Bill and Hillary Clinton’s adventures in the uranium trade recall nothing as much as Tammany Hall’s concept of “honest graft.” Except maybe their never-ending use of power and status for personal and political gain requires a new special terminology. Dishonest graft?

The New York Times reported Thursday on the foreign cash that flowed into the Clinton Foundation between 2009 and 2013 as subsidiaries of the Russian state nuclear energy agency Rosatom acquired control of a Canada-based mining company called Uranium One. The story features the familiar Clinton touches: lucrative Kazakh mining concessions for the tycoon Frank Giustra, with Bill along as a character reference; a half-million-dollar-a-pop speech by the former President in Moscow for a Kremlin-linked bank; $2.35 million in secret donations from one family foundation to another.

All the while, Mrs. Clinton was serving in her capacity as Secretary of State on the U.S. Cabinet committee that screens foreign investment for national-security risks. The group approved the deal, despite critics who warned it would give the Russian government control over the world’s nuclear fuel—the same material Vladimir Putin is now selling to Iran. Oh, and don’t forget this was also amid the famous “reset” of relations with Mr. Putin.

Oh, and here’s the New York Post:

Thursday was a banner day in the unfolding scandal of the Clinton Foundation.

We learned that a Russian government-controlled company has taken control of one-fifth of all uranium producing capacity in the US by acquiring a Canadian firm whose chairman, Frank Giustra, has pledged over $130 million to the foundation.

Bill Clinton also got $500,000 in speaking fees from a Russian bank that had been promoting the Canadian firm’s stock. And Hillary’s State Department signed off on the acquisition, which has serious national-security implications.

Giustra also reaped huge profits when Hillary reversed her earlier “clear and firm” opposition to a trade deal with Colombia.

Her ex-president hubby, meanwhile, actively promoted the agreement the same month he accepted $800,000 for speeches, delivered after flying on Giustra’s private jet, to a pro-agreement group.

Bill also hosted a meeting in his home to introduce Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to Giustra, then eyeing Colombian oil contracts.

Meanwhile, the Clinton Foundation is now hurriedly re-filing five years worth of tax returns that somehow failed to list any of the millions it received in foreign donations. And Bill and Hillary’s family charity only acted after journalists uncovered the discrepancy.

The Clinton camp is trying to frame this as a right-wing hit job, while their supporters have seemingly begun to smear the author of the upcoming book on the Clinton Foundation’s dealings–Peter Schweizer–on the airwaves. The problem: it’s not going to work. Mainstream news outlets have begun investigating the claims made in Schweizer’s book, and it’s a fact that these news outlets– Reuters, Bloomberg, The New York Times, Politico, and The Washington Post– are not part of this “right wing” conspiracy against the Clintons. To say otherwise, is desperate and a bit nutty.

Flashback: That time Hillary said then-Sen. Obama had some questions to answer about his alleged backroom deals with a nuclear power company–Exelon–who were also one of his biggest donors. Oh, and she's Mrs. Transparency.

Poll: Majority Says Obama 'Too Soft' on Iran, More Evidence of Rubio Surge


A few notes on the latest Fox News poll:

(1) President Obama's job approval rating has slipped to (42/53), sliding six net points since last month. He's underwater on all four big issues, and down double digits on three:

april2015Foxpoll

(2) His low marks on Iran stem from deep mistrust of that country's leadership. By a 36-point margin, Americans say the regime poses a threat to US national security, with a 51 percent majority saying that the Obama administration has been "too soft" with Tehran. Just two percent say Obama's posture has been "too hard," with one-third of respondents approving of the "balance." Multiple polls show public support for engaging in negotiations with Iran (though suspicion of the regime remains sky high -- and rightly so), but Fox words the question slightly differently, producing a noticeably different result:

apr15iranQ

(3) On the 2016 race, Fox's numbers are strikingly similar to the fresh Quinnipiac data we examined earlier in the week.  Hillary has some significant image problems (a majority calls her untrustworthy), but holds modest leads over potential GOP rivals (between three and six points; hovering around 46 percent support).  It also confirms the Rubio bounce:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio receives a five percentage-point bump after his April 13 announcement and has the backing of 13 percent in the race for the Republican nomination -- just a touch over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker who gets 12 percent among self-identified GOP primary voters. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul comes in at 10 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee earn 9 percent each and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz gets 8 percent.

Rubio is seen as honest (+13), and a leader of the "future" vs. the "past" (+29). Clinton is (-6) and (+2) on those measures, respectively. Fox's write-up also features this nugget, which may be ominous for Jeb Bush: "The Bush dynasty is seen as a negative while the Clinton dynasty is a positive. By a 58-34 percent margin, voters say being related to previous presidents is a disadvantage for Jeb Bush, yet by a 52-39 percent margin they think it’s an advantage for Hillary Clinton." I'll leave you with Hillary Clinton lamenting that America's pro-life culture stems from deep seated" religious beliefs that "have to be changed:"

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Thursday said "deep-seated … religious beliefs" have to be changed before the world's women will get full access to abortion. “Far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth. All the laws we've passed don’t count for much if they’re not enforced,” Clinton said. “Rights have to exist in practice — not just on paper,” Clinton argued. “Laws have to be backed up with resources and political will." “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed,” Clinton added.

Although it's true that much of the moral opposition to abortion is rooted in faith (a great many of our societal norms and mores are derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition), Hillary ignores the numerous scientific, ethical and logical reasons to support the pro-life cause. She also breezily calls for the extirpation of deep-seated values in order to achieve political ends -- a phenomenon with which she is intimately familiar (minus the authentically "deep-seated" bit).

The Friday Filibuster: Bought and Paid For?

The Friday Filibuster: The one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about this week in politics.

Closing Numbers

52% of Americans believe defending gun rights is more important than gun control, as opposed to 46% who believe gun ownership should be restricted.

91%—The chance Sen. Lindsey Graham will run for president.

49%-43%--Rubio takes the lead in Florida over Hillary Clinton.

99-0—Senate finally passes anti-sex trafficking bill.

37.5% of respondents in a HotAir poll said they’d vote for Ted Cruz if the Republican primary were held today—beating out all the other declared candidates.

34% of respondents in a YouGov poll believe it’s “totally unacceptable” for a candidate to oppose same-sex marriage.

95,727 kids prove there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism.

100,000—The amount former CIA Director David Petraeus was fined for military leaks.

15% of Republican primary voters in a Q-poll chose Marco Rubio over other candidates.

56-43—The yea and nay votes, respectively, for Loretta Lynch’s confirmation.

Terror, Global Security & Foreign Affairs

The Islamic State continues to slaughter innocent Christians, again in Libya. And it’s starting to look like they might be in Afghanistan, too. The fact that its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been gravely injured is clearly not slowing them down. CBS returned to the 2013 Sarin gas attack in Syria this week, reminding viewers that no one has been held accountable for the attack, which killed more than 1,400 people. And Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi has finally been sentenced to two decades in prison for his involvement in criminal acts of violence and torture during his time in office. And Iran, meanwhile, is obstinate that they’re not going to allow inspections at military sites. Oh, and the White House isn't going to require Iran release American hostages as part of nuclear deal.  

HRC: Bought and Paid For?

Will Hillary’s campaign turn out to be a house of cards? After events that unfolded this week, it may be. First up, Peter Schweizer’s new book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” shines much-needed sunlight on their shady dealings. It also appears the Foundation’s largest donor has been trading with Iran, which may be a breach of U.S. sanctions on the country. To make matters worse for her, the NYT and Reuters jumped on the bandwagon with regard to exposing more foreign cash and tax scandals. Team Hillary is in damage control mode, sending former Obama WH adviser John Podesta to her defense and claiming critics can't prove corruption with a 'shred' of evidence. They’re also gearing up to smear the author of the book. The Times is actually calling Team Hillary out for their ‘misdirection and obfuscation’ surrounding the money scandal. The White House, meanwhile, continues to stand by her side. And back to Email-gate, Trey Gowdy still wants her in the hot seat

Campaigns & Elections

Carly Fiorina will formally enter the presidential race on May 4; rapper Waka Flocka claims he is also entering the race (impossible); and Sen. Manchin says he’s running for re-election, not governor of West Virginia. Sen. Marco Rubio answers Google questions in a new campaign video, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, who’s 91 percent sure he’s running for president, took a knock at Sen. Rand Paul for being ‘behind’ Obama and Clinton on foreign policy. And the Koch brothers have not endorsed Gov. Walker yet, but they’re giving Jeb an ‘audition’—they also said they may back several candidates in the primaries. And for the latest on polling, don’t forget to check out the Closing Numbers section at the top. 

Earth Day

It was Earth Day this week. Global warming fanatic Bill Nye celebrated with fossil fuel powered flights on Air Force One. And as a reminder, the co-founder of Earth Day killed and composted his girlfriend

In other news

The head of the DEA is set to resign after a Justice Department OIG report revealed that several agents had engaged in ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes paid for by Colombian drug cartels; more MSNBC hosts have been slapped with tax warrants; and two hostages were killed in a US counterterrorism operation. 

Graphics by Townhall Graphic Designer Feven Amenu. 

Congress Is Legislating Again Because Harry Reid Is No Longer Majority Leader

As Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post  wrote, we’ve seen the confirmation of Loretta Lynch (we’re not discussing whether it was a good or bad thing), the passage of a Medicare doc fix, a human trafficking bill, and fast-track authority on the Trans-Pacific trade deal, which has President Obama fighting among his fellow Democrats.

Congress is working somewhat again–and the reason seems to be because Harry Reid was toppled as Senate Majority Leader or at least that’s what Republicans on Capitol Hill told Cillizza:

I also asked a handful of longtime Republican congressional hands to explain the sudden unfreezing. The name that kept coming up in those conversations was Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

"I think there was a significant pent-up desire on both sides to return to legislating," said Billy Piper, a former top aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell and now a GOP lobbyist. "These guys don't work so hard to win elections to just come up here and be potted plants. They want to accomplish things, and the last several years they have been prevented by Leader Reid from even trying."

Added another smart Republican mind: "Following the collapse of the Grand Bargain talks in the summer of 2011, Reid essentially shut down the Senate (presumably at President Obama’s request) until after the presidential election. . . . Now, McConnell is making the Senate work again, and President Obama (in the final quarter of his presidency) would like some sort of second-term legacy. So things are moving."

It's not just Republicans who are blaming Reid. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who announced this week that he will seek reelection in 2016 rather than run for governor, took a shot at Reid's tenure as leader, too. “His leadership and the things he thought would work did not," Manchin said on "Morning Joe." "So with that, you just move on.”

For the record, not all Democrats -- or even most -- blame Reid. Democrats generally insist that the reason things have begun to work better is because their side isn't willing to block legislation the same way Republicans did when they served in the Senate minority.

My sense is that it's a combination of these factors. Yes, it is true that McConnell has opened up the amendment process in the Senate, allowing more voices to be heard and members -- Republicans and Democrats -- to feel as though they are a bigger part of the process.

Vox’s Jonathan Allen, formerly of Bloomberg,  wrote that there could be a “bipartisan consensus” on reauthorizing No Child Left Behind and a bill that taxes foreign earnings of corporations to finance a new infrastructure bill. Yet, Allen also noted that the thaw in the Senate since Reid was booted from the Majority Leader slot:

The biggest change is in the Senate, where McConnell's intransigence and Harry Reid’s hammerlock on the floor schedule over the past four years frustrated lawmakers in both parties. Reid didn't want Republicans to force Democrats into tough votes before the last election. The amendment process was cut off. Nothing moved. Now McConnell has opened up the floor, and that’s encouraging Republicans and Democrats to cobble together coalitions both in committee and on floor amendments.

"One of the side benefits of all the floor time is that members have more time to talk while they’re down there, and so things just start happening," said a senior GOP aide. "Budget votes ran into 4 am a few Thursdays back. McConnell fed both sides and their staffs out of his office. Stuff like that just leads to more things happening legislatively."

Yet, this can always change in a heartbeat. Case in point, the overwhelmingly bipartisan human trafficking bill that just passed hit a nasty partisan bump when Democrats pathetically tried to accuse Republicans of sneaking in Hyde Amendment language. This led to Republicans tying the passage of the trafficking bill to the Loretta Lynch Attorney General confirmation vote. Now, both cases have been resolved, but it gridlock could happen again.

At the same time, gridlock isn’t universally bad. As George Will has said repeatedly, gridlock isn’t an American problem; gridlock is an American achievement” to which he then lists the mechanisms of government (veto, veto override, supermajorities, and judicial review) that are meant to slow the pace of government.

Yet, I think we can all agree that Harry Reid not being Senate Majority Leader is quite refreshing.

Team Hillary: Critics Can't Prove Corruption With a 'Shred' of Direct Evidence


Perhaps not the the most effective messaging in the history of politics, but this is the corner in which Team Hillary finds itself, in the wake of two major bombshells that detonated this morning:


The New York Times (building on reporting in the forthcoming book 'Clinton Cash') revealed the sordid web of cash and coziness wherein the Clintons and their foundation found themselves much richer, and the Russian government found itself in possession of a very large percentage of American uranium capacity. Reuters blew the whistle on Clinton organizations'  -- shall we say -- incomplete tax filings dating back years, which failed to report tens of millions in overseas cash, including from foreign governments.  These "mistakes", evidently unnoticed by the Clintons' bookkeepers and the savvy professionals at the IRS, are prompting Clintonworld to re-file at least five years' worth of returns:


The Clinton campaign's response to these scandals, aside from the standard "old news" / attack the messenger playbook, is to tout their own transparency (!), and loudly point out that there isn't smoking gun proof that can directly connect the millions flowing into Clinton Inc's coffers to State Department favors orchestrated by Hillary Clinton. Let's set aside all of the financial bread crumbs and obvious interests at play in the Times story, and layer in several additional pieces of compelling circumstantial evidence. Exhibit A, from that same Times article:

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock. At the time, both Rosatom and the United States government made promises intended to ease concerns about ceding control of the company’s assets to the Russians. Those promises have been repeatedly broken, records show.

Deliberate opacity and broken rules. Exhibit B, raised by Allahpundit earlier (toggle ahead to the 5:20 mark):


The Clinton camp flat-out denied that a key meeting held at the couple's private home had ever occurred…until they were confronted by photo evidence from a New York Times reporter, at which point they were forced to admit that the nonexistent meeting actually did happen after all. This is called "lying." And Exhibit C is the ever-present fact that Hillary Clinton flouted every rule in the book by setting up a secret, private email server in her basement, on which she conducted all official business at State. When people started sniffing around, Hillary's lawyers examined the emails without any oversight (later shifting their story about how they culled "personal" missives from public documents), and deleted more than 30,000 of them. Before wiping the server clean, of course. It is not unreasonable to infer that perhaps some of the concrete evidence of quid pro quo corruption Clinton loyalists are demanding doesn't exist anymore because Clinton loyalists actively destroyed said evidence. Between the smell test, the facts laid out by several news outlets, the lack of required disclosures of foreign donations, the very shady tax "errors," the Chappaqua meeting lie, and Hillary's eradicated paper trail, the Clintons have not earned the benefit of the doubt on any of this. Quite the opposite. I'll leave you with the Clinton machine desperately slinging mud until enough time has passed to allow them to declare all of this "old news" again:


Ah yes, the infamous Fox News/New York Times alliance is conspiring to victimize the clean-as-the-wind-driven-snow Clintons. Sure. Also, hmmmm:


Addenda: WaPo's Jennifer Rubin points out that the lack of smoking fun evidence does not provide political or legal salvation for the Clintons in this case -- which I discussed with Gretchen Carlson yesterday:


Editors Note: A version of this item is cross-posted at HotAir.com

GOP Hopefuls Make Their Case

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal: 

Hugh Hewitt and Ted Cruz on Obama's non-deal with Iran. Michael Medved on Obama squaring Iran's "death to America" mantra. Bill Bennett and and Bing West on Obama's inability to deal with aggressive Iranian war ships. Hewitt and John Kasich on Kasich's possible run in '16. Medved with Jeb Bush on why he would make a good president. Hewitt and Rick Perry's on Perry's credentials if he decides to run in '16. Prager on the non-terrorist Muslims throwing numerous Christians overboard and murdering them because they prayed to God.

Good News: North Korea Has More Nukes Than We Thought

His imperial majesty, Kim Jong-un, has more nuclear weapons than originally assessed by U.S. officials, and they could double their nuclear arsenal by next year. Currently, the country has at least 16, maybe even 20, nuclear warheads. By 2020, this communist dictatorship could have as many as 100 nuclear warheads (via USA Today):

The Chinese experts believe North Korea has a greater domestic capacity to enrich uranium than previously thought, Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford University nuclear expert and former head of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, told the Journal.

The Chinese estimates were shared in a closed-door meeting with U.S. nuclear specialists in Beijing this February, said the report. The growing stockpile will complicate international efforts to halt Pyongyang's nuclear program, said Hecker, who attended the February meeting.

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the revelations cast a shadow on the pending nuclear deal the United States and other world powers are negotiating with Iran to curtail that country's nuclear program.

Zhu Feng, a leading Chinese security expert at Peking University, could not confirm the numbers given by the Journal, but agreed North Korea is expanding its nuclear arsenal. "There are a lot of signs indicating North Korea is working very hard on their bomb-making and it is quite likely their warheads and bombs are increasing," Zhu said.

North Korea currently has up to 16 nuclear weapons and could build as many as 100 by 2020, according to a February report by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. The country can put these on at least medium-range missiles capable of hitting most targets in Japan and South Korea, and it is developing longer-range missiles to reach the USA, the report said.

Earlier this week, the United States has re-negotiated a deal with South Korea, who will not be able to reprocess spent nuclear fuel or enrich uranium (via Jennifer Rubin):

The U.S. and South Korea on Wednesday signed a new nuclear-energy cooperation pact that approves Seoul’s nuclear research but doesn’t allow the Asian nation to produce its own fuel.

During nearly five years of negotiations, South Korea has been pushing for U.S. approval to make its own fuel for its fleet of 23 nuclear reactors. Washington has been resistant, concerned about nuclear proliferation in Northeast Asia.

In a compromise, the deal allows Seoul to research a nascent nuclear-reprocessing technology known as “pyroprocessing” that may eventually provide fuel for reactors. The technique is considered by some scientists hard to use to make nuclear weapons.

The Wall Street Journal noted that nuclear technology has been a contentious issue between Seoul and Washington, as the latter is concerned about nuclear proliferation, while the former notes that its neighbor–Japan–is allowed to reprocess spent nuclear fuel from their reactors, but they can’t.

Concerning Japan, there was probably little hesitation over allowing the island nation reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. It’s the only industrialized nation to reject nuclear weapons. It’s also the only country to have suffered multiple nuclear strikes–and the scars remain deep. Yet, it was partially responsible for the creation of one of the most memorable movie monsters of all time. Its armed forces are confined to a self-defense capability only–and the notion of nuclear armament is such a toxic issue that it forced its Vice Minister for Defense to resign in 1999, for suggesting that they do so.

Yet, as the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin noted, South Korea is an ally, a trade partner, and a rational actor in the diplomatic realm. We have nearly 30,000 troops stationed along the 38th parallel to aid in their defense from invasion, yet we can’t trust them on the enrichment of uranium, but with Iran; it’s okay. Something is off here.

Jake Tapper Gets Big Promotion at CNN

Jake Tapper, who has a reputation for objectivity and asking tough questions, will permanently replace Candy Crowley as anchor of CNN’s flagship weekend television program "State of the Union." The network released a promotional video accompanying the news – and the journalist himself released a statement.

"I couldn't be more excited about this election season and the new platform I will have at CNN to cover it," he said, according to CNN. "'State Of The Union' has a rich tradition and I hope to not only build on its history but expand the definition of what a Sunday show can be."

Tapper, for his part, will also keep his current job as the host of CNN’s "The Lead", which airs weekdays at 4:00 PM EST.

“With his new position, Tapper will become the second man to work weekdays and Sunday mornings,” CNN reports. “ABC's George Stephanopoulos is both a co-host of "Good Morning America" and the moderator of "This Week."

And yet Stephanopoulos is also one of the few Sunday talk show hosts to actually be sticking around. Chuck Todd, after all, recently replaced David Gregory as the anchor of NBC’s "Meet the Press," and John Dickerson will take the reins over at CBS’ "Face the Nation" after Bob Schieffer retires this summer.

Change, as they say, is in the air.

The Liberal Media’s War on a Film About the Cosmos

“The greatest power in the world is to tell the creation story,” said writer and producer Rick Delano. Yet, it is this same story the liberal media is trying to silence. ‘The Principle,’ Delano’s latest film project, challenges the Copernican principle, the notion that humans are just an insignificant speck in the universe. Interviews with cosmologists, in depth studies and surveys will leave viewers wondering whether we are indeed a unique species. Yet, it seems this is exactly what liberal academics and the mainstream media don’t want.

“There’s no question at all that this film clearly threatens some very powerful people,” Delano told Townhall. “When I made this film, one of the things that became really apparent to me was, when you really look at the history of modern civilization, it really begins with Copernicus. The idea that we’re not the center. It’s such a powerful change in the way we view ourselves. Of course it had tremendous implications in terms of the relative power of the church versus the academy. It is this change that really brings the modern world into existence…If we construct a worldview based on the fact that we are the center of creation, and that the entire reason and existence of this universe is us, you’re going to have a certain kind of civilization that flows from that assumption.”

Some specific ways the media targeted the film was by contacting the cast and other people involved in the production and convincing them they had been tricked.

“First of all, the actual media assault was the result of an attempt to call these guys up out of the clear blue and say, ‘Hey, do you know you just got duped into making a movie with a bunch of crazed geocentrists who made you sound like you believe in geocentrism?’ If you put yourself in the position of these guys getting these calls, it would be highly embarrassing for them.”

Despite the media firestorm, a conservative grassroots effort has been building to get the film to as many theaters as possible.

“That was nothing other than our determination not to allow the film to be buried,” Delano explained. “It’s been an incredible experience. We were able to secure a passionate base of supporters who were willing to go out there and find an audience for us.”

They chose areas where they had the most support and launched a limited release. So far, the film has arrived in ten cities and has been met with a positive reception.

“The overwhelming response we’ve received from people who have actually seen the film is tremendous,” he said. “We have been absolutely vitiated in the mainstream media and it’s clear that’s never going to change. It’s sort of like a culture war. But, so many of the people who have reviewed the film have written amazing reviews of the film. Our entire audience is people who have heard about the film through word of mouth or who have come in contact with it through our Facebook page or website and have gone to see it and told their friends, ‘You’ve got to see this.’”

Facing a ruthless media goliath and a lack of resources isn’t stopping ‘The Principle’ team from trying to expand its audience.

“We don’t have the money, we don’t have the connections, we don’t have the media support to expect this thing to go to wide theatrical release, but let’s go as far as we can.”

‘The Principle’ DVD is set to come out midsummer. You can find more information on the film here

Dana Perino: A Glimpse Into President Bush's Kindness and Character


Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary and co-host of Fox News' The Five, is out with a new book, entitled, 'And the Good News Is,' which Katie wrote about here.  It's a delightful blend of autobiographical anecdotes, political observations, and morsels of sound advice gathered over an extraordinary career in public life.  I taped a radio interview about the book with Dana last evening, and thought I'd relay one of the stories she shared about President Bush's very personal role in helping to mend an important relationship in her life:

PERINO: One of the reasons I wrote this book is that historians and political analysts will be writing and talking about and studying the Bush administration for many years to come, but they'll only be looking at public policy decisions and the political decisions. My book provides a personal look because the president became much more than my boss; he was like a second father to me. And what I write about is this one scenario where President Bush gave me back my relationship with my dad, and it meant so much to me. My dad had not come to visit [me] in Washington DC. My parents had divorced. It wasn't that we were estranged, so much as that I hadn't seen him. People are busy, and it was hard, and you sort of grow apart because I was so busy those years. We were coming to the end of the administration, and there was one big dinner left for [Italian] Prime Minister Berlusconi, and I come from an Italian-American family, so I got invited to the dinner. My husband loves anything American, any event, he will go -- he loves it. But I told him that I wanted to invite my dad. If he declined, I would understand; but to my surprise, he said yes. So my husband, Peter, arranged for him to get a flight, and then he rented my dad a tux, which was the first time my dad had ever worn a tux..."

GB: [Laughs]

DP: The president knew about my relationship with my dad...he knew about how I'd felt sort of abandoned after my parents divorced, even though I was 28. So one day after the invitations had gone out, I'm on Marine One waiting for the president to board so we could go to Andrews Air Force Base. He gets on the chopper and he's looking out the window, and he says, 'so, I see you invited your dad to the White House.' And I said, 'yes sir, I did.' He's still looking out the window, waving at everyone down below, and he said, 'that's a big deal.' [I responded] 'Yes sir, it is.' Just then, we were passing by the Washington monument, and I'll never forget it because he looked right up into my eyes, and he said, 'I am so proud of you.' And that meant so much to me because he knew how big of a deal this was.

So my dad comes to the White House. It's Italian-American fest, okay? You've got Giuliani, and Alito, and Scalia, and Peter Pace, and I could go on. They all know me, and they're giving me hugs, and they're so excited to see me, and I think it was kind of overwhelming for my dad. He wasn't saying much. He was just observing and smiling -- trying to play it cool. We get into the line to be announced by the military aides to see the president for a photograph, and before they could say our names, the president stops them and says, 'I know who this is! Leo Perino, we have been waiting for you for years. We are so excited that you're here. Have you met Condi Rice? Do you want to meet her?' He takes my dad off my hands, and I never saw him again 'til the end of the night. The president took him to meet the Cheneys, (he sat next to them for the dinner), and [Bush] took him around to see some of the paintings and historical artifacts.

As we were leaving, my dad and I were walking on [West Executive Drive] to get to my Jeep. And I said, 'it sure is something, isn't it?' My dad said, 'yeah, it's really cool.' 

GB: Wow.

DP: It was great, and it meant so much to me because that restarted my relationship with my dad.


And the Good News Is... is available online and in bookstores everywhere; my full interview with Dana airs this weekend on my radio program in Chicago and Washington, DC.

Report: O'Malley To Officially Challenge Hillary in "Late May"

Splendid news. Progressives might finally have their Left-of-Hillary, pro-gun control, tax-and-spend liberal candidate in 2016: ex-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Politico reports:

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s supporters are getting ready for a likely presidential campaign launch in Baltimore in late May, while the candidate meets with prospective donors in the San Francisco area this week.

It’s part of a significant ramp-up in activity to take advantage of the media vacuum that���s resulted from Hillary Clinton’s status as the only declared Democrat in the presidential race. O’Malley, who left the Maryland governor’s mansion in 2015 after eight years, has recently given a handful of national interviews, including one with NPR during which he raised eyebrows — and his profile — by labeling Republican claims that regulation leads to income inequality as “kind of patently bullshit.”

Realistically, what are his chances? If, for instance, it’s only him vs. Mrs. Clinton, perhaps not zero. The safe bet is, after all, that HRC will be the nominee, period. No one can hold a candle to her infrastructure or lead in the polls. That’s especially true if no one serious puts his (or her) name forward. But after comparing resumes, O’Malley certainly has a case to make, doesn’t he?

He’s served in government (in an executive capacity) for some 16 years, and he doesn’t have the kind of baggage that Hillary has. And while he’s polling in the low single digits, it’s still early.

Question: Doesn’t he have a better argument to make than, say, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is reportedly eager to stretch his presidential legs and fill the progressive void?

The X factor here, of course, is whether or not Elizabeth Warren will take the plunge. Some say she might. If she does, all bets are off. Progressives, given the option to pull the lever for Martin O’Malley, or the progressive senator from Massachusetts, will likely choose the latter every time.

But at least to his credit, O'Malley's attacks on Mrs. Clinton are becoming increasingly more explicit. So it begins:

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) is prodding his fellow Democratic White House hopeful Hillary Clinton in a fundraising email designed to highlight his opposition to the trade deal burgeoning on Capitol Hill.

The email includes the subject line “Hard choice?” a less-than veiled reference to Clinton’s 2014 book of the same name. The reference conjures up questions about Clinton’s recent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which she’s backed away from in recent public appearances.

NYT Slams Clinton Minions For Misdirection and Obfuscation Surrounding Money Scandal

The New York Times is slamming the Clinton campaign and their allies for accusing the newspaper of outsourcing their journalism to "right-wing" authors and sources. 

"I wonder is if the Clinton message machine ever decides to kind of recalibrate and dial it back a little bit. Because right now, and this isn't all coming from the Clinton camp itself but from the orbit around them where you have these people whose main goal is to misdirect and obfuscate every time there's the slightest bit of criticism about the Clintons leadership," NYT reporter Jeremy Peters said during an interview with MSNBC. "They are definitely misdirecting here. I mean, this is what Media Matters exists to do."

Team Clinton has argued allegations Hillary Clinton traded political favors for donations to the Clinton Foundation during her time at the State Department, which are apparently detailed in the new book Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer, are simply part of a vast right-wing conspiracy. The allegations are being pursued by the New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, and Fox News Channel. 

H/T RCP

Team Clinton Gears Up To Smear Author Peter Schweizer After Attacking His Credibility

As the allegations against Hillary Clinton and her alleged trading of political favors for donations to the Clinton Foundation during her time at the State Department pile up, her team is gearing up to further go after Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer. 

As revelations in Clinton Cash were reported earlier this week by the New York Times, Reuters and Fox News, Hillary Clinton's campaign team hit the airwaves to push back, calling the allegations a "right-wing conspiracy." Clinton allies John Podesta, David Brock and Howard Dean have been on multiple national television shows not to deny the allegations, but to attack Schweizer. 

Clinton campaign:

“It is sad, but not surprising, that [the Clintons’] philanthropic work has become the subject of false, right-wing attacks,” Fallon writes in the note, which carries the subject line, “What We Already Know About ‘Clinton Cash’: Book and Author Attacking Hillary Clinton Widely Discredited.”

“These types of books are standard fare in political campaigns now, and this one is clearly part of a coordinated Republican strategy. But this is not the first work of partisan-fueled fiction about Hillary Clinton’s record, and we know it will not be the last."

Podesta: "He's [Schweizer] cherry-picked information that's been disclosed and woven a bunch of conspiracy theories about it. The facts, there's nothing new about. The conspiracy theories we'll get to judge when we read the book."

Brock: "The book isn't out yet and I haven't read it," Brock said and then went on to paint Schweizer as homophobic. 

Dean: "The author is getting money from donors -- big donors who support Ted Cruz. That has a problem."

Nina Bureleigh (reporter and woman who offered Bill Clinton oral sex so long as he keeps abortion legal): "I don't know how much time you have, but it's not good that these major newspapers had to farm out their investigative work to this right-wing hatchet man."


This is just the beginning. Smearing the sources of legitimate questions and those who expose wrongdoing is how the Clintons do business. The long-practiced Clinton tactic is to attack someone personally as a distraction so that all of the attention is placed on that person defending themselves, rather than focusing on the allegations against the Clintons themselves. 

Clinton Cash comes out on May 5.

Trey Gowdy: Madam Secretary, We Request Your Presence Before The Select Committee

In a letter sent to Clinton’s lawyers today, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, has requested former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to appear before the committee to address questions relating to her private email system and the 2012 terrorist attacks in Libya. Gowdy noted that both David Kendall–Clinton’s lawyer–and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)–the committee’s ranking member–agreed to have the former first lady appear before the Committee sometime in November of 2014. This was obviously before we knew that Clinton had used a private email address for all State Department business, had operated a personal server, and had submitted emails the former secretary of state deemed work-related; all of this was included in the letter.

“Thank goodness the Committee did not schedule Secretary Clinton’s appearance when some asked us to, or else that hearing would have been woefully and now obviously premature,” Gowdy wrote. He also reiterated how a transcribed interview, which was rejected by Clinton’s legal team, should have been an option for the former first lady–and that the Committee is willing to travel to her “if that would make the scheduling of this interview easier for the Secretary.”

Gowdy also said that if she chose to appear before the Committee, they “would anticipate the hearing lasting until all relevant questions have been asked on both sides of the aisle.” They’re hoping to have this public hearing the week of May 18.

The letter contained over 100 sample questions for Hillary Clinton regarding the use of her private email account.

He also requested the former secretary to testify twice to the Committee from the press release issued earlier today, and reiterated some of the points mentioned in the letter to Clinton’s lawyers–specifically not having Clinton appear on the original date that was set:

It is necessary to call Secretary Clinton twice because the committee needs to ensure we have a complete and responsive record and all the facts before we then substantively question her on the Benghazi terrorist attacks.

“From there, as I have said countless times before, the committee investigation will go wherever the facts may lead. I have made no presumption of right or wrongdoing on anyone’s part with respects to the Benghazi terrorist attacks.”

If the committee had called the former secretary when Mr. Cummings and Mr. Kendall first invited us to, the committee would not have had possession of the 300 emails we now have or known about her exclusive use of a personal server and email account to conduct official business,” Gowdy added. “Unlike previous investigations, this committee uncovered Clinton’s use of personal email to conduct official business and is now in possession of thousands of pages of documents from the ARB [Accountability Review Board] review and other documents no other committee has had access to. The committee also is continuing to interview eyewitnesses to the Benghazi terrorist attacks no other committee has spoken to.

Shocker: California's New Immigration Policies Are A Mess

Earlier this week, California Democrats said they’re preparing to give illegal immigrants a host of new rights and privileges, one of which flies in the face of federal law. It’s a feel good moment with zero foresight–and it does a disservice to immigrants, according to Ruben Navarrette, Jr’s. article in the Daily Beast. The Golden State has already passed measures, like granting illegals the ability to have driver’s licenses, but this goodie bag seeks to create a new state position–the Office of New Americans within the governor’s office–provide them with subsidized health care, and restrict businesses using E-Verify during their employment processes. Yes, this proposal is a train wreck waiting to happen, especially with the health care and E-Verify provisions [emphasis mine]:

At a news conference in Sacramento, a group of Democratic legislators—switching back and forth between English and Spanish—recently unveiled a package of 10 bills that would, among other things: create an Office of New Americans in the governor’s office to better serve the undocumented; provide illegal immigrants with subsidized health care by extending Medi-Cal coverage to all Californians, regardless of immigration status; limit use of “E-Verify” (the government-run database that employers use to check if prospective hires are legally eligible to work) and prevent “abuse” by employers; and ban businesses from discriminating against residents based on their immigration status, citizenship, or language.

That last one is a beauty. If it extends to hiring, it flies in the face of federal law, namely the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act that made it a federal crime to knowingly hire an illegal immigrant. Now California wants to make it a state crime to not hire one? Employers can now pick their poison: They can violate one law or the other.

...

The health care provision is the most expensive item on the menu, with a tab that was originally set at $1.3 billion. Yet no one will say where the money is supposed to come from in cash-strapped California.

Navarrette did mention that one of the bills protects immigrants from being taken advantage of by lawyers, and provides them with a toll-free number to report fraud to state bar. I agree with him that keeping predatory lawyers accountable isn’t a bad thing, but he also noted the many problems with these Democratic initiatives:

First, the undocumented never asked for these things. I’ve interviewed dozens of illegal immigrants over the years, and they always say they want three things and only three things from this country—a work permit, a driver’s license, and the ability to travel back and forth across borders to visit the families they left behind. The rest is just window dressing whipped up by politicians to serve their agendas, not those of immigrants.

Second, these kinds of legislative giveaways serve to legitimize unlawful behavior. It’s still a crime—correction, a civil infraction—to enter the United States illegally or overstay a visa and we shouldn’t be embarrassed about saying so. Every time we chip away at the infraction of trampling our borders—whether it’s by pressuring media companies to stop using the phrase “illegal immigrant,” or showering the undocumented with things they didn’t even ask for, we make it more socially acceptable to be an illegal immigrant.

How is that in the national interest? And what incentive does it provide others to come to this country legally? For that matter, what incentive does it give the undocumented to attempt to change their status if there ever is anything resembling comprehensive immigration reform? Why bother if, thanks to well-intentioned but misguided Democratic legislators in California, you’re already comfortable the way you are?

As Erika Johnsen wrote on Hot Air, California was nowhere near a balanced budget in early 2014. Moreover, we know immigrants come to America for work, not to vote. Nevertheless, it’s probably safe to assume that California Democrats want some political dividends from these initiatives. Yet, if there is no incentive to assimilate, apply for legal status, or become citizens–how will Democrats accomplish that end goal? Then again, let’s also not marginalize the fact that illegal immigrants have broken federal law. They may pay property, sales, and even income taxes in some cases through Tax Identification Numbers, but the point that Navarette makes about how this only diminishes the offense for folks who arrive illegally by “trampling our borders” is disconcerting in the extreme. One of the many functions of a nation is to protect its territorial integrity–and it seems Washington has moved sluggishly in defending that principle. And that goes for both parties. Nevertheless, save for the common sense provision that protects people from slimy lawyers, these proposals are just detached from reality.

Petraeus Sentenced to Probation and $100K Fine For Military Leak

Former CIA Director David Petraeus, whose career came crashing down after an extramarital affair with biographer Paula Broadwell, was sentenced on Thursday to two years' probation and fined $100,000 for sharing classified information with her.

The sentencing came two months after he agreed to plead guilty to a federal misdemeanor count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.

The plea agreement carried a possible sentence of up to a year in prison. In court papers, prosecutors recommended two years' probation and a $40,000 fine. But Judge David Keesler increased the fine to "reflect seriousness of the offense." He said Petraeus committed a "grave and uncharacteristic error in judgment." […]

Petraeus attorney Jake Sussman said this was not a case about the public dissemination of classified information, but the wrongful removal of materials.

But prosecutor James Melendres said, "This is a serious criminal offense. He was entrusted with the nation's most classified secrets. The defendant betrayed that trust." Melendres says Petraeus compounded that trust by lying to the FBI.

Petraeus apologized for “the pain [his] actions have caused” but said he was looking forwarding to moving on in life after the two-and-a-half year ordeal.

Another School Cancels 'American Sniper' Following Outcry

The film American Sniper has run in to controversy once again on a college campus, as a showing of the movie has been canceled at the University of Maryland following student outcry that the movie is Islamaphobic.

The university decided to cancel the screening after outcry from Muslim students on campus. The Muslim Students Association at the University of Maryland even started a petition requesting that the school pull the screening of American Sniper. In the petition, the group stated that the film “perpetuates the spread of Islamaphobia and is offensive to many Muslims around the world for good reason.”

Ironically enough, the group also requested that students “exercise their freedom of speech” by signing the petition to remove the film from campus. MSA seemingly got their wish this morning when the school decided to cancel the screening.

UMD is not the only school that has seen controversy erupt over the film. The University of Michigan initially canceled its showing of American Sniper, but reversed following an even larger outcry from upset students who wanted to see the movie. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) also delayed showing the film after complaints from the Muslim Students Association. George Mason University in Virginia has also seen students protest to ban the film from campus.

It's curious to see how quickly schools are folding on the issue of American Sniper. The petition at the University of Maryland garnered only 318 signatures--compared to the over 26,000 undergraduates enrolled at the school, that number is incredibly tiny. At Michigan, a "couple hundred" students signed a letter condemning the film before administrators folded. (A petition to bring the film back to campus, however, garnered over 600 signatures.)

When I was back in college and I didn't like a movie that was being shown or wasn't interested in an event, I simply found another activity to do that night. With thousands of undergrads, there's bound to be something else happening in College Park. Viewing American Sniper (or going to any of these random events on campus) is not a graduation requirement. It's 2015. Netflix/Hulu Plus/Amazon Prime/questionably legal online sources are all viable ways to watch a movie in ones own dorm room as an alternative to something put on by the school. Students should act like adults and trust their classmates to make their own decisions.

Momentum: Rubio Vaults to Top of GOP Field, Virtually Tied With Clinton in Q-Poll


The initial Rubio boomlet is still blossoming, according to a fresh national poll. We declared his presidential rollout a success and referenced his rising fortunes earlier in the week, and now Quinnipiac is out with a new nationwide survey that contains more good news for Team Marco:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wins the support of 15 percent of Republican primary voters and runs best against Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today. The former secretary of state tops the Democratic field with 60 percent and leads top Republican contenders, except Sen. Rubio, in head-to-head matchups, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. The Republican primary field shows Rubio with 15 percent, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 13 percent and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 11 percent. No other candidate tops 9 percent and 14 percent remain undecided. Bush tops the "no way" list as 17 percent of Republican voters say they would definitely not support him. New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is next with 16 percent who give him a definite thumbs down, with 10 percent for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Dive into the internals, and you'll find Rubio running basically even (43/45) with Mrs. Clinton in a hypothetical general election match-up, with the presumptive Democratic nominee sitting several points below the 50 percent support mark. In fact, the poll shows Hillary failing to pull away from any of her potential Republican rivals, though she's slightly better positioned against other potential opponents:

45 - 40 percent over Christie; (-5)
46 - 42 percent over Paul; (-4)
47 - 42 percent over former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (-5);
46 - 39 percent over Bush; (-7)
46 - 41 percent over Walker (-5);
48 - 41 percent over U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. (-7)

The only Republican who fails to crack 40 against HRC in this survey is the one with the most famous last name and the biggest campaign war chest.  The Q-poll also finds Hillary's personal favorability rating slightly underwater (46/47) and a 16-point majority saying that she is not honest and trustworthy (38/54), with voters supporting a Congressional investigation into her emails by a ten-point margin.  She scores well on leadership qualities, but appears to have a "caring" problem: Voters are evenly split (47/47) on whether Hillary "cares about their needs and problems."  Barack Obama rode a huge empathy gap to victory over Mitt Romney in 2012. It's also worth noting that this survey was in the field prior to any of this breaking, obviously. While the Rubio campaign must be quite pleased with these results, there may be trouble brewing on accusations immigration doublespeak and selective pandering:

It isn’t only committed Rubio donors who are swooning after hearing the candidate’s immigration spiel. During a press call in February with other pro-immigration figures in GOP fundraising, California-based fast food CEO Andrew Puzder said that regardless of whatever public murkiness might surround the senator’s position, Rubio had personally assured him he was still dedicated to the cause. “I actually have spoken with Sen. Rubio on the issue and he has not backed away from wanting immigration reform at all,” Puzder said. “He does think it’s very difficult to do it unless you address illegal immigration first so there may be a step process to doing this. But he’s still a very strong advocate for getting immigration reform that’s effective and helps people, and he’s one of the leaders in our party on this issue.”…[E]very source interviewed said that no matter how radioactive Rubio’s immigration record might be to the right, it has done nothing but help him in this early stage of the primaries, when filling the campaign war chest is the chief concern. Two Republican fundraisers who have met with Rubio — requesting anonymity to candidly assess his efforts — even expressed surprise at how enthusiastic the candidate has seemed in private to promote his work on the Senate’s immigration bill, given his strong reluctance to do so in public.

Is Rubio giving different immigration pitches to different audiences?  No way, an aide says:  “Marco gives the same speech with donors that he does in public. He doesn’t focus on immigration, but it almost always comes up in the Q&A in both public and private settings.”  Perhaps the apparent disconnect arises from tone and emphasis, rather than duplicity.  He's happy to tout his role as an immigration reformer to woo big donors and maintain a broader appeal to certain constituencies, but he doesn't want to beat that drum with GOP primary voters.  We'll see how the rest of the field hits him on it, especially with guys like Scott Walker tacking to the right on the issue.  I'll leave you with Rubio's light, savvy web video, in case you missed Christine's post on Tuesday:



May 4: Carly Fiorina To Formally Enter 2016 Sweepstakes

So we’re told. When she finally does announce, however, she will be the only female Republican candidate in the race. And while her polling numbers are perilously low, she’s made a splash criticizing the Democrats’ scandal-ridden candidate, testing her message, and touring the Hawkeye State:

Carly Fiorina plans to launch her presidential campaign on May 4, in an online announcement that dispenses with the pageantry that has become de rigueur in 2016 White House runs.

Instead, Mrs. Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co., will formally declare her Republican campaign online and hold a conference call for the national press, according to a person with knowledge of the campaign’s plans.

The Wall Street Journal also points out that Fiorina will officially enter the race the same day as Ben Carson – and not hold a rally of any kind. That’s…a curious decision. Marco Rubio, for instance, received a noticeable bump in the polls after his highly anticipated announcement – as did Ted Cruz. And they have much higher visibility and name recognition than Carly Fiorina.

Holding a public rally would have given her a rather plum platform, not to mention free media attention and a bigger microphone. So isn't this a missed opportunity, especially for someone just stepping onto the national stage?

In any case, after the announcement, the Journal reports Fiorina will drop by the major television networks to plug her message — and her brand new book. Evidently, her team knows what they're doing.

BREAKING: Loretta Lynch Confirmed Attorney General, 56-43

Loretta Lynch has been confirmed as the 83rd Attorney General of the United States (via ABC News):

The Senate narrowly confirmed Loretta Lynch as the next attorney general today, 166 days after she was first nominated for the post.

The Senate approved Lynch’s nomination with a vote of 56 to 43.

Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE: The following Senate Republicans voted 'aye' (via TPM):

In an unexpected turn, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voted with the Democratic caucus to confirm Lynch after slow-walking her nomination.

The other Republicans who voted for Lynch were Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT), Lindsey Graham (SC), Jeff Flake (AZ), Thad Cochran (MS), Susan Collins (ME), Mark Kirk (IL), Kelly Ayotte (NH), Ron Johnson (WI) and Rob Portman (OH).

UPDATE: Before the vote, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke against Ms. Lynch's confirmation, listing all the reasons why he believes she should not succeed Eric Holder as Attorney General. See the clip below.

Unfortunately, he didn't stick around to vote.

UPDATE: This is interesting. John McCain and Ted Cruz don't agree on much. But they agreed on this:

William Randolph Hearst’s Granddaughter Skewers Cosmo as a ‘Porn’ Magazine

William Randolph Hearst, the famed newspaper publisher and inspiration for the film ‘Citizen Kane,’ wouldn’t even be able to recognize his company’s Cosmopolitan magazine today. What was once an inspirational circular for women, has declined to little more than pornography. As a result, Hearst’s granddaughter, Victoria Hearst, is partnering with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation to start a national campaign to protect children from the filth.

"My family's company, the Hearst Corporation, publishes Cosmopolitan Magazine,” Hearst said. “It contains graphic adult sexual material that, under most States' Material Harmful to Minors laws, is deemed pornographic. Under these laws it is illegal for stores to sell Cosmopolitanto minors, and illegal to display the magazine where minors can see it and look at its content. Unfortunately, the people in authority at the Hearst Corporation refuse to acknowledge that Cosmopolitanis pornography, and they refuse to put a label on the magazine identifying it as 'Adult Material.'

Just one look at a recent cover of Cosmo proves she’s not exaggerating. More often than not, it’s a scantily-clad female celebrity posing provocatively, with the word ‘sex’ featured in just about every corner. It gets worse when you open it. Inside the pages of Cosmo are articles with 'sex tips' and advice for sexual experimentation. That’s why Hawkins and Hearst are asking, at the very least, for the magazines to be wrapped. That way, anyone can still buy the circular, but without children having to look at the inappropriate covers.

The Cosmo Harms Minors campaign will help expose Cosmo’s hyper sexualized agenda and try to prevent the magazine from being sold to children. Included on their campaign website is a survey that proves Americans are fully behind the effort. In a nationwide survey, 67 percent said that the magazine is not appropriate for viewers of all ages. Even more telling, 55 percent of shoppers think Cosmo should be removed from view of children.

Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of NCSE, lamented the downfall of a once creditable magazine.

Cosmopolitan Magazine has declined from a somewhat inspirational women’s magazine to a pornographic “how-to” sex guide, glamorizing topics such as group, anal, public, or violent sex acts in nearly all of their issues.”

Today, Cosmo is also infamous for promoting abortion rights and excoriating anyone who dares to have a pro-life view. The magazine recently jumped into politics and every female candidate they supported in the 2014 midterms was pro-abortion – proving that the editors’ definition of ‘women’s rights’ is horribly skewed.

Cosmo is a brainwash magazine for young women and an outright danger to children. What the magazine needs is a new editor who can overhaul what has become a pornographic page flipper. Since that is not likely to happen, at the very minimum the covers should be wrapped. Keep updated on the campaign at CosmoHarmsMinors.com.

Clinton Lawyer: Request For An Interview Denied, Mr. Gowdy.

On March 31, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC)–chairman of the House Select Committee of Benghazi–requested a transcribed interview with Hillary Clinton to answer questions regarding the use of her private email system during her tenure as Secretary of State. Yesterday, the Clinton lawyers responded by saying no (via NYT):

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s lawyer told Representative Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks, that she saw no need for a private interview over her use of a private email account while secretary of state and asked that he not delay her next appearance before the committee.

The letter from Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, comes as she is ramping up her presidential campaign and hoping to put the controversies over her email use and the attack in Libya behind her.

“There is no reason to delay her appearance or to have her testify in a private interview,” Mr. Kendall wrote, adding that she has already publicly answered questions about her email practices at the State Department.

Mrs. Clinton has testified on Benghazi before House and Senate committees, and Mr. Kendall said she would be happy to discuss her email use when she testifies before Mr. Gowdy’s panel.

On March 4, the committee issued a subpoena “for all communications of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton related to Libya and to the State Department for other individuals who have information pertinent to the investigation. The Committee also has issued preservation letters to internet firms informing them of their legal obligation to protect all relevant documents.”

On March 10, Clinton held a press conference addressing the controversy over her private email account, adding that she deleted at least 30,000 emails that were deemed personal.

Ten days later, Rep. Gowdy asked for Clinton to turn over the server to an independent third party for review. They refused, citing the emails relating to Benghazi had been turned over–and that the server had been wiped clean, along with any back-up system connected to the former first lady’s private email system.

To address the criticism that Clinton deleted emails that were under subpoena, her lawyer, Kendall, said all the emails pertaining to that order were already turned over to the committee.

Rep. Gowdy lauded the Clinton legal team for their prompt response.

“I appreciate Mr. Kendall’s timely response to our letter but respectfully disagree with his assertion former Secretary Clinton has answered all questions surrounding the unusual email arrangement she had with herself,” he said in a statement yesterday:

The press conference held by former Secretary Clinton and the subsequent efforts at clarifying her remarks served to create more questions than answers. I also would note that if the Committee had called former Secretary Clinton when Democrats and her attorney first encouraged us to, the committee would not have had possession of the 300 emails we now have or known about her exclusive use of a personal server and email account to conduct official business.

...

“Beyond that, the committee has Mr. Kendall’s letter under advisement and will issue a response tomorrow setting out a reasonable path forward with respect to Secretary Clinton's appearances to discuss both Benghazi as well as congressional efforts to ensure the public record is complete with respect to her tenure as Secretary of State.”

Carly Fiorina: Raking in Millions From Foreign Governments Behind Closed Doors Is The Clinton Way

Potential GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has never been shy about taking on Hillary Clinton. Earlier this year in Iowa, Fiorina set her sights on the Democratic presidential candidate by repeatedly pointing out that traveling around the world is an activity, not an accomplishment. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Fiorina slammed Clinton's failed foreign policy record. Now, she's taking on new allegations Hillary Clinton traded political favors for donations to the Clinton Foundation during her time as Secretary of State. 

"It's the Clinton way: raking in millions from foreign governments behind closed doors while making promises about transparency that they never intended to keep. Now they're scrambling to refile their taxes and account for her decisions as Secretary of State," Fiorina said in a statement Thursday. "The American people will have a choice. Are we going to demand trust and transparency from our leaders? Have we had enough of a ruling political class that doles out favors to the wealthy and well connected few?"

Fiorina will announce her presidential plans on May 4.

Obama: "I Profoundly Regret What Happened"

The Commander-in-Chief is regularly responsible for making life or death decisions. Oftentimes, those decisions are made with imperfect intelligence — or limited information. But they must be made anyway. It's part of the job description.

Bearing that in mind, at the White House on Tuesday, President Obama publicly apologized to the nation after announcing a recent counterterrorism operation unintentionally killed two innocent hostages abducted by al Qaeda.

“This morning I want to express our grief and condolences to the families of two hostages – one American, Dr. Warren Weinstein, and an Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto – who were tragically killed in a US counterterrorism operation.”

“Warren and Giovanni were aid workers in Pakistan, devoted to improving the lives of the Pakistani people,” he continued. “After Warren was abducted by al Qaeda in 2011, I directed my national security team to do everything possible to find him and bring him safely to his family. And dedicated professionals across our government worked tirelessly to do so.”

Unfortunately, however, the US government did not know his whereabouts, and thus he was killed (along with Lo Porto) in a drone strike somewhere along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

They were innocent casualties of war.

“Since 9/11 our counter-terrorism efforts have prevented terrorist attacks and saved innocent lives, both here in America and around the world,” he said. “And that determination to protect innocent life only makes the loss of these two innocent men especially painful for all of us.”

The president, however, is holding himself accountable for what happened.

“Today I simply want to say this: as president and Commander-in-Chief I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations, including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovanni,” he said. “I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United States government I offer our deepest apologies to the families.”