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Brexit a ‘Historic Wake-up Call’… for MORE EU, Not Less

French President Emmanuel Macron has said that Brexit is a “shock” and a “historic wake-up call” for the whole of the EU.

The French president, who is an avid supporter of the globalist-progressive European Project, made the remarks during a pre-recorded television address to the people of France, aired hours before the UK officially leaves the European Union.

“This departure is a shock,” Mr Macron said in comments reported by Ouest-France. “It is a historic wake-up call which must be heard in each of our countries, be heard by the whole of Europe, and make us think.”

However, rather than Brexit being a time for reflection and of considering returning sovereignty to the people of Europe, Mr Macron maintains that the continent needs more EU, more super-state bureaucracy, not less.

Also blaming “lies” told by Leave campaigners, the progressive French president said: “We must remember at all times what lies can lead to in our democracies.

“This Brexit is possible, has been possible, and comes into force in a few hours, because we have too often made Europe a scapegoat for our own difficulties and also because we have not changed our Europe enough. More than ever, we need Europe.”

President Macron said to those backing a Frexit (a French exit): “I would be lying to you to say this evening that the future of our country could be built on less Europe.”

The head of state insisted on the need to “rebuild a clearer European Project where the desire to leave Europe will no longer be the answer to difficulties”.

“It is a sad day, we do not hide it. But it is a day which must lead us to proceed differently, to build with even more determination a powerful and effective European Union,” he added.

If European sovereigntists and political commentators expected that Brexit would inspire EU leaders to reassess its commitment to Ever Close Union of the United States of Europe, they are sure to be mistaken.

Before the European Parliament ratified the Brexit deal on Wednesday, its chief Brexit coordinator and senior MEP Guy Verhofstadt, like Emmanuel Macron, expressed his belief that the lesson learnt is more Europe, not less.

Addressing the Brussels chamber, Mr Verhofstadt said: “This lesson, dear colleagues, is not to undo the union, as some are arguing. The lesson is to deeply reform the union. To make a real union in the coming years.

“That means a union without opt-ins, opt-outs, rebates, exceptions, and above all without unanimity rules and veto rights.”

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Adam Schiff Tries to Stop Jerry Nadler from Historic Impeachment Trial Moment

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff tried to stop House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler from having the last word in the question and answer portion of the Senate impeachment trial on Thursday.

As Senators prepared to adjourn for the night, Sen. Amy Klobuchar tried to ask the last question with a question card that got lost in the shuffle, making the moment slightly awkward.

Klobuchar walked up to the desk and re-wrote the question for Chief Justice John Roberts, which asked the House managers to respond to President Donald Trump’s team of lawyers before the night ended.

Nadler jumped out of his seat and walked toward the podium microphone as Schiff was also preparing to stand.

Nadler beat Schiff out of his seat, leaving the standing Schiff protesting as he approached the mic.

“Jerry. Jerry. Jerry!” Schiff pleaded as Nadler took the podium.

Slightly flustered, Nadler denounced the Trump lawyer response as “the usual nonsense.”

“Did the president abuse his power by violating the law to withhold military aid from a foreign country, to extort that country into helping him — into helping his reelection campaign by slandering his opponent?” he asked. “That’s the only relevant question for this trial. The House managers have proved that question beyond any doubt.”

After Nadler was finished speaking, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell adjourned the Senate until Friday afternoon at 1:00 p.m.

U.S. Senate

 

Nadler will go down in history as the House impeachment manager that concluded the question and answer period of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

The Trump campaign immediately seized on the moment, dubbing the Chariots of Fire soundtrack on the video and sharing it on social media:

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Trump Will ‘Be Acquitted Tomorrow’

On Thursday’s broadcast of the Fox News Channel’s “Ingraham Angle,” Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) predicted that President Trump will be acquitted in the Senate’s impeachment trial on Friday.

Scott said, “I believe he’ll be acquitted tomorrow. I don’t believe we’re going to see — we’re not going to vote for witnesses. The Democrats had their choice, had their time. They could have called — they wanted Bolton, they could have called Bolton back in the House, and they decided not to do it. So, I don’t think we’re going to vote for witnesses, and I think we’ll finish this up tomorrow night.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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The Trump Economy’s Expansion Defied Expert Opinion Again in 2019

The U.S. economy grew two and three-tenths percent in 2019, growing every single quarter and upending widespread predictions for a recession last year.

The risk of a recession ranked as the number one concern of corporate leaders, according to a survey of chief executives from the Conference Board released in January of 2019. But that was hardly the only recession forecast.

  • Almost half of the respondents at an executive conference held by the New York Times and the Yale School of Management in December 2018 thought the U.S. could wind up in a recession by the end of 2019.
  • Almost half of U.S. chief financial officers forecast that a recession would hit the U.S. economy by the end of 2019, according to the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook survey released December 2018.
  • On average, economists surveyed in January 2019 as part of The Wall Street Journal’s monthly poll said there was a 25 percent chance of a recession in the next year, a big jump from the prior year. The 12-month prediction climbed as high as 35 percent in August.

Bloomberg’s recession probability tracker jumped to 49 percent chance.

These recession odds were widely reported across the financial media, no doubt stirring up trepidation that a recession loomed.

Economic conditions certainly did not warrant this level of pessimism. Inflation was low and falling. Unemployment was also low and falling. The U.S. had raised tariffs on China but these were not raising prices in the U.S. or causing any serious economic dislocations. China retaliatory tariffs had very little effect outside of the agricultural sector–where the government promptly stepped in with aid dollars generated by the tariffs. The New York Fed’s tool for predicting a recession based on bond yields registered just around a 10 percent chance in January of 2019.

So what went wrong?  One thing might have been the over-confidence of the Federal Reserve that growth could continue even as rates climbed. The Fed had hiked interest rates four times in 2018 and it was projecting that the economy could grow 2.3 percent in 2019 while the Fed Funds rate climbed up to an average 2.9 percent for the year. Although the Fed turned out to be right about the growth rate, it had to cut rates three times to achieve the forecast. In actuality, the Fed Funds rate averaged 2.16 for the year.

Notably, however, many economists were in denial that the Fed’s policy was the problem. Only one-in-four agreed with President Trump’s claim that the Fed was the biggest threat to the economy.

Another source of the recession predictions was ideology. The Trump administration’s trade policies in 2019 ran counter to the desired policies of many corporate leaders and economists. So they responded by fearing that not getting the policy they liked would lead to a recession.

Whatever the reason, it is now clear that the fears were overblown. The economy grew at a solid pace in 2019, well above the level the Fed considered the longer run potential for growth.

 

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‘The Best Experts’ Are Tackling Coronavirus

President Donald Trump revealed Wednesday that he met with officials of his cabinet agencies about the coronavirus outbreak in China.

“We will continue to monitor the ongoing developments,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “We have the best experts anywhere in the world, and they are on top of it 24/7!”

The president shared photos of the briefing in the Situation Room at the White House and also noted that his administration was working closely with China to monitor and contain the virus.

Trump has stepped up concern about the virus after a growing number of Americans expressed fear that it would spread to the United States.

The president has offered China assistance in controlling the disease. Over 7,000 cases have been confirmed by Chinese officials, and at least 170 people in China have died.

“We are in very close communication with China concerning the virus,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday. “Very few cases reported in USA, but strongly on watch.”

There are 165 cases of coronavirus under investigation in the United States, but only five cases have been confirmed so far.

Some airlines have suspended flights to China as the deadly virus continues to spread.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has called for the United States to issue a targeted ban on travelers from China to prevent the virus from spreading further.

The White House has reportedly considered the idea but has not made a decision.

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NPR Reporter Barred from Traveling with Pompeo Violated Agreement

An e-mail hidden in a trove of U.S. State Department documents obtained by a so-called watchdog funded by former Obama administration officials shows that National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Michele Keleman likely shared information with colleagues that violated an off-the-record agreement she had with a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

It appears Keleman may have shared information with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly provided by Pompeo’s former adviser Mike McKinley off-the-record.

In the presence of Keleman last Friday, Kelly mischaracterized what McKinley said while interviewing the secretary of state.

Keleman also shared the off-the-record information with at least one other colleague and a State employee, the email (page 34) obtained by the Obama-linked American Oversight, along with other Ukraine-linked documents through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), shows.

Furthermore, the information Keleman obtained off-the-record directly contradicted the premise of a question Kelly asked about former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch that ultimately prompted Pompeo to end the interview.

The U.S. State Department has denied Keleman press credentials to travel with Pompeo on an upcoming trip to Europe. NPR has asked State for “clarification” on their decision. Some journalists have also condemned the move.

In an e-mail sent on October 15, 2019, Kelemen asks an unnamed department employee if he or she is willing to:

Chat on background with my colleague David Welna? Contacts below? He’s been asked to do a profile of Mike McKinley and I’m not sure where to steer him. Just FYI — I told him that when I was talking to McKinley OFF record just a few weeks ago, he was defending Pompeo’s handling of Yovanovitch to a certain extent, telling me that Pompeo delayed pulling her back and then made sure she had another option — at Georgetown. But since that was off record, I can’t use it. Though maybe you may have heard similar from him and can confirm? Or maybe he said things differently to you?

She goes on to provide Welna’s contact information, which the State Department redacted from the document. The State employee’s response to the e-mail is not available.

In the presence of Keleman, who knew that Pompeo had defended Yovanovitch, Kelly asked the secretary of state, “Do you owe Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology?”

Furthermore, Kelly completely contradicted the information her colleague Keleman had obtained from Pompeo’s former senior adviser McKinley and violated the off-the-record agreement.

Kelly insisted during the interview:

I just want to give you another opportunity to answer this, because as you know, people who work for you in your department, people who have resigned from this department under your leadership, saying you should stand up for the diplomats who work here.

“I don’t know who these unnamed sources are you’re referring to,” Pompeo replied. “I can tell you this, when I talked to my team here.”

Kelly then interrupted and outed McKinley as a source, saying:

These are not unnamed sources. This is your senior adviser Michael McKinley, a career foreign service officer with four decades experience, who testified under oath that he resigned in part due to the failure of the State Department to offer support to Foreign Service employees caught up in the impeachment inquiry on Ukraine.

Kelly claims that Pompeo berated her after the interview using profane language.

Pompeo issued a statement, calling her a liar and accusing her of violating an off-the-record agreement between them.

In the statement, Pompeo declared:

NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice. First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record. It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency. This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration. It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.

Kelly denies ever agreeing to keeping anything off-the-record.

Yovanovitch served as the American ambassador to Ukraine from August 2016 through May 20, 2019. She now serves as a State Department fellow at Georgetown University. Yovanovitch testified that she was removed from her post because President Donald Trump “lost confidence” in her.

Citing an unpublished manuscript of an upcoming book by President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton, the New York Times reported that the former official wrote that Pompeo defended Yovanovitch.

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WH Tells John Bolton Not to Publish Book Until Classified Info Removed

The White House has asked former National Security Advisor John Bolton to delay the release of his forthcoming book, citing “significant amounts of classified information” contained in the manuscript.

In a letter dated January 23, Ellen Knight — who serves as the National Security Council’s Senior Director for Records, Access, and Information Security Management — wrote to Bolton’s attorneys that the classified information contained in The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir make it unsuitable for release and requested that the sensitive details be removed.

“Under federal law and the nondisclosure agreements your client signed as a condition for gaining access to classified information, the manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information,” Knight wrote to lawyer Charles Cooper.

Knight also wrote that a preliminary review found some of the upcoming book contains “top secret” information and would provide additional guidance after the NSC concluded its ongoing examination of the text. “We will do our best to work with you to ensure your client’s ability to tell his story in a manner that protects U.S. national security,” wrote the Trump official.

The letter was sent to Cooper three days after the New York Times reported that Bolton’s book alleges President Trump wanted U.S. military aid to Ukraine to be conditional on inquiries into allegations of corruption against former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son, Hunter Biden. The president has denied the report as “false” and took aim at his former top foreign policy in a pair of tweets earlier Wednesday.

“For a guy who couldn’t get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn’t get approved for anything since, ‘begged’ me for a non Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying ‘Don’t do it, sir,’ takes the job, mistakenly says ‘Libyan Model’ on T.V., and many more mistakes of judgement [sic], gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?” the president wrote.

The development has prompted renewed calls from Democrats to call Bolton as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial, though several reports indicate that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has the votes to block additional witnesses from testifying. Some Senate Republicans are already signaling that the upper chamber may move swiftly to acquit President Trump as early as Friday.

“That’s the plan,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) replied when asked if an aquatical vote could be quickly called if Democrats fail to clinch the votes required for more witnesses. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News on Tuesday that “the president will be acquitted, and I think it will be this week.”

“This is the weakest case you’ll ever see in the history of the country in terms of impeachment,” he added.

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Giuliani Slams John Bolton — ‘Classic Backstabber’

In a sit-down interview with CBS “This Morning,” Rudy Giuliani, personal legal counsel for President Donald Trump, sounded off on former National Security Advisor John Bolton amid reports of Bolton’s leaked manuscript claiming Trump wanted to withhold aid from Ukraine.

Giuliani ripped Bolton as “a backstabber” and said he was never told he had an issue with the Trump administration putting pressure on Ukraine for investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

“The only conclusion I can come to — and it’s a harsh one and I feel very bad about it — [Bolton is] a backstabber,” the former New York City mayor told CBS News’ Catherine Herridge.

Giuliani added, “He never said to me I’ve got a problem with what you are doing in Ukraine. Never once. Never winked. Never sent me a little note. That’s classic backstabber.”

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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Establishment Media Zone in on Biden Family’s Culture of Corruption

With less than one week before the Iowa caucuses, the establishment media is zeroing in on former Vice President Joe Biden and the culture of corruption that has permeated his immediate family for decades.

On Tuesday, Politico published an in-depth exposé on the financial ties between the former vice president’s younger brother, James, and a high-powered Washington, D.C., lobbyist. According to Politico, James and his wife purchased an acre of land in the U.S. Virgin Islands for $150,000 in May 2005. A year later, James resold a third of that acre to Scott Green, a national security lobbyist who previously served as a Senate staffer for Joe Biden. Green paid $150,000 for the land, even though the tax assessed value was only $38,000.

“In effect, James and [his wife] had gotten their money back while keeping most of the land—recouping their investment in just 12 months,” the outlet reported.

Any money that Green may have lost through the deal was offset when Joe Biden became vice president. In 2010, as Politico notes, Green and members of the lobbying firm he founded, the Lafayette Group, were frequent visitors at the Obama-Biden White House.

That year, Green’s ties to the Biden clan seemed to be especially beneficial. On April 11, 2010, the Lafayette Group was awarded two taxpayer-funded contracts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The contracts, worth a total of $5.8 million, were for support services geared toward developing FEMA’s “communications strategies.”

It remains unclear what involvement Joe Biden had, if any, in the awarding of the contract to the Lafayette Group. What is clear, though, is that three days after Green’s firm received the contracts, he gave James Biden and his wife a $133,300 mortgage on their property in the Virgin Islands.

Politico’s exposé comes after Breitbart News reported last week on a series of revelations from Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America’s Progressive Elite. The book, authored by Peter Schweizer, senior contributor at Breitbart News and president of the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), offers a detailed account of the ways in which members of the Biden family have benefited from their proximity to power.

In particular, as Schweizer notes, James Biden may have benefited more than most. In 2010, fresh off a disastrous attempt at running a Wall Street hedge fund, James joined HillStone International as executive vice president. The newly founded company was setting out to pursue construction and technology projects, especially those being funded by the U.S. government in Iraq.

Hiring James, who had neither experience in construction nor in international development, seemed to be a big part of the company’s strategy to secure such projects. The strategy, as Profiles in Corruption notes, succeeded.

Six months after James was hired, HillStone received a contract, estimated to be worth upwards of $1.5 billion, to build more than 100,000 homes in Iraq. As a minority partner in the firm, James would have been eligible to split more than $735 million in profits upon the contract’s completion.

Other members of the Biden family did just as well. Joe Biden’s other brother, Frank, benefited from $54 million in taxpayer-backed loans to Caribbean nations heavily involved in real estate and solar power projects he was pursuing in the region. The loans to Frank’s connected projects came through even though he lacked a background in solar energy or international real estate development.

Similarly, the former vice president’s sister, Valerie, received millions in fees during the 2008 election. Valerie, who served as the campaign manager for her brother’s failed presidential campaign that year, paid her own consulting firm, Joe Slade White & Company, $2.5 million for its services.

Schweizer’s book also details the shadowy entities that Hunter Biden, the former vice president’s youngest son partnered with, and how, at times, those investments benefited from government programs run by his father’s advisers.

The revelations within the book have been so explosive that even the mainstream media has been forced to take notice. Last week, an opinion piece published by The New York Times begrudgingly admitted that Schweizer’s book “provides building blocks for scandals involving a number of 2020 Democratic hopefuls.”

Since the Times published the piece, a number of other mainstream outlets have begun digging deeper into the Bidens. Over the weekend, a sighting of Hunter Biden exiting his $129,000 Porsche, with pregnant wife in tow, at the Waldorf Astoria in Los Angles, California, was reported by both outlets on the left and the right. Likewise, new revelations of Hunter’s ongoing paternity suit in Arkansas were covered by CNN and other members of the mainstream media.

The increased publicity seems to be having an impact on the former vice president and his campaign, especially so close to Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus on February 3. On Monday, the campaign’s rapid response director lashed out at Breitbart News after members of President Donald Trump’s legal team delivered a compelling argument at the Senate impeachment trial regarding the Bidens’ ties to Ukraine.