Epoch Times Politics

Trump Warns Election Result Could Be Delayed for ‘Two Months’ by Mail-In Voting

President Donald Trump on Monday said the election result in November could take “two months” to complete if universal mail-in voting is used.

“We went through World War I, you went to the polls, you voted. We went through World War II, you went to the polls, you voted. And now because of the China virus, we’re supposed to stay home, send millions of ballots all over the country, millions and millions,” Trump said in an interview with Axios. “You know, you could have a case where this election won’t be decided on the evening of Nov. 3. This election could be decided two months later.”

Inauguration Day is about two-and-a-half months after November’s Election Day.

“It could be decided many months later,” Trump said. “Do you know why? Because lots of things will happen during that period of time. Especially when you have tight margins, lots of things can happen. There’s never been anything like this … Now, of course, right now we have to live with it, but we’re challenging it.”

Trump and Republicans have said mail-in voting could lead to ballot harvesting, allowing for dead people to vote, or allowing for people who have moved to fraudulently vote, as well as ballots being lost in the mail.

He was referencing lawsuits filed by the Republican National Committee to challenge some states over universal mail-in voting and similar issues.

On Monday, the president threatened legal action against a universal mail-in voting plan in Nevada.

“In an illegal late night coup, Nevada’s clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state. Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!” he wrote. He also alleged that the U.S. Postal Service could not handle the increase in mailed-in ballots.

Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, wrote that mail-in ballots are necessary because it “ensures protections for Nevadans to vote safely at the November election during the pandemic.”

“During this global pandemic, I made a commitment that we’d do all we can to allow Nevadans to safely cast a ballot in the upcoming November election,” he added.

Meanwhile, the state’s Democratic leaders condemned Trump’s remarks, saying they’re false.

“The comments made by President Trump and RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel regarding Assembly Bill 4 are disgraceful and patently false,” Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said in a statement. “This is a clear fear-mongering attempt by the GOP to suppress voters this November as part of an effort to shield themselves from the backlash of a failed administration.”

Trump Not Sure If Epstein Killed Himself

President Donald Trump said he’s among those who are unsure whether convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in jail.

Trump, during a recent interview with Axios, was asked about it when he wished Epstein’s former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell well.

Maxwell was arrested last month on child sex trafficking charges. She’s now being held in prison in New York City.

Trump said he wasn’t aware of the charges when he told reporters at the White House: “I just wish her well.”

“But I do know that her friend, or boyfriend, was either killed, or committed suicide in jail. She’s now in jail. Yeah, I wish her well, I’d wish you well, I’d wish a lot of people well. Good luck. Let them prove somebody was guilty,” he said in the new interview.

Ghislaine Maxwell, longtime associate of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, speaks at a news conference at the United Nations in New York on June 25, 2013. (UNTV via Reuters)

“Her boyfriend died in jail, and people are still trying to figure out how did it happen. Was it suicide, was he killed? And I do wish her well. I’m not looking for anything bad for her. I’m not looking bad for anybody. And they took that, and they made it such a big deal,” he added.

“But all it is is, her boyfriend died, he died in jail. Was he killed, was it suicide? I do, I wish her well.”

New York City Medical Examiner’s Office Barbara Sampson concluded through an autopsy that Epstein, 66, killed himself in prison last year.

“Our investigation concluded that the cause of Mr. Epstein’s death was hanging and the manner of death was suicide,” Sampson said in a statement.

Widespread skepticism of the conclusion was bolstered by Dr. Michael Baden, a forensic pathologist who observed the autopsy on behalf of Epstein’s brother, Mark Epstein.

Baden said Epstein’s injuries were more consistent with homicidal strangulation, pointing out three fractures bones in Epstein’s thyroid.

“Hanging does not cause these broken bones, and homicide does,” Baden told Fox News. “A huge amount of pressure was applied.”

The Metropolitan Correctional Center financier Jeffrey Epstein was being held, in New York City on Aug. 10, 2019. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Sampson said she stood by the suicide determination, adding after Baden’s remarks: “The original medical investigation was thorough and complete. There is no reason for a second medical investigation by our office.”

Mark Epstein, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Epstein’s lawyers were among others questioning the official findings.

Martin Weinberg, one of the lawyers, told a judge last year that Epstein was not despairing, despondent, or suicidal.

In addition to the two guards on duty inside Epstein’s block at the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center allegedly falling asleep and failing to conduct a series of checks on the inmate, video footage from outside the cell “no longer exists,” the government said in January, blaming the development on an accidental erasure.

A lawyer representing some of Epstein’s alleged victims told The Epoch Times in July that he’s concerned Maxwell will end up dead like Epstein.

“I have grave concerns that she doesn’t make it out of jail alive,” Spencer Kuvin said.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report. 

Revolutionary Communist Party USA Leader Endorses Biden for President

The leader of an American communist group endorsed former Democrat Vice President Joe Biden for president, portraying the 77-year-old as a better choice than President Donald Trump.

The removal of Trump from office is part of the “revolution” to overthrow the current systems governing the United States, Communist Party USA leader Bob Avakian said in a statement on the group’s website.

“Imagine what Trump will do if he is given a second-term ‘mandate’ through re-election this coming November,” he wrote.

To ensure the Republican doesn’t get re-elected, Avakian is urging fellow communists to choose Biden, even if they’re not enthused over his proposed policies, while expressing hope that Trump will be removed before the election.

“If, in spite of mass protest demanding the removal of the Trump/Pence regime, this regime remains in power when it is time for voting, then—without placing fundamental reliance on this—using all appropriate means to work for the removal of this regime must include voting against Trump (assuming the election is actually held),” Avakian said.

“To be clear, this means not a ‘protest vote’ for some candidate who has no chance of winning, but actually voting for the Democratic Party candidate, Biden, in order to effectively vote against Trump.”

President Donald Trump, right, and Vice President Mike Pence wait on the rooftop of the Operational Building at NASA before the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard the rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on May 30, 2020. (Saul Martinez/Getty Images)

In the past, voters who don’t like either major party candidate either pencil in a name or choose the nominee of a lesser party.

Biden’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on the endorsement.

The Trump campaign said in a statement that the endorsement “further demonstrates that Joe Biden is an empty vessel for the radical left,” adding later: “He’s nothing more than an empty vessel for the extremist fringe of the Democrat Party, a terrifying cabal which now includes active communist leaders.”

The campaign pointed to Biden’s reported consideration of Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) as his running mate. Bass has links to communism.

Avakian said Biden and the Democrat Party are representatives of the current system of “capitalism-imperialism” and accused Democrats of running “the same basic con game—blackmailing people who hate injustice and oppression to vote for them as the ‘lesser evil’— insisting in effect that, ‘You may not agree with everything we say, you may even have serious differences and criticisms regarding what we’re all about—but do you want them to be in power?!'”

But he reserved his harshest comments for Trump and Republicans, accusing the Trump administration of fascist actions and arguing that Biden is only better because “he is not Trump.”

Communism is a far-left ideology that advocates for near-continual revolution that often results in bloodshed. The ideology has led to tens of millions of deaths in countries that adopted it, including Russia, China, and North Korea.

Avakian did not endorse a candidate in 2016.

In Contrast to Spy Warrants on Trump Associate, FBI Finds Few Issues With Others

A Department of Justice review of 29 spy applications approved by a secret court uncovered only two material errors, a stark contrast to the 17 major errors discovered in applications to spy on former Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

The findings bolster the case that the FBI acted with bias against Trump’s campaign.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), a secret court that operates with little oversight, ordered the FBI to overhaul its spying practices after Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz uncovered the major errors in applications to surveil Page.

Earlier this year, Horowitz found the FBI failed to properly support every single application out of the 29 selected for an audit. Probing the Woods files of each application, or records that are supposed to back up assertions in the applications, Horowitz found that no Woods files existed for four of the applications while the remaining applications had “apparent errors or inadequately supported facts.”

The FISC ordered the Department of Justice to review the applications.

That review found all 29 applications contained sufficient basis for probable cause, John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement on Monday. Two material errors uncovered during the review did not invalidate the FISC authorizations. In contrast, the Justice Department conceded early this year that the errors in the Page FISA applications invalidated two of the four warrants the bureau obtained.

The findings, along with the dozens of corrective actions undertaken by the FBI and the department’s national security division, “should instill confidence” in the FBI’s use of surveillance granted through FISC, Demers said.

A voicemail left for a Horowitz spokesman wasn’t returned.

The portrayal triggered some pushback from lawmakers.

Carter Page, petroleum industry consultant and former foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential election campaign, in Washington on May 28, 2019. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times) FBI Director Christopher Wray at the Justice Department, in Washington, on Oct. 4, 2019. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

“So the FBI made 201 errors in 29 FISA warrants. But don’t worry everybody because they reviewed their own files (except the four THEY LOST) and they have assured the court that none of the errors were significant. Nothing to see here. Move along,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) said in a social media statement.

In an 88-page explanation of the review, officials said 48 of the non-material errors reflect typographical errors or misstated dates. Seventy-three others involved “non-material deviations between a source document and an application.” The source of an otherwise factual assertion was misidentified in 13 errors; the remaining four involved assertions that may be accurate, but the supporting document was missing.

Horowitz, the inspector general, instituted the broader review after finding 17 significant errors or commissions in the applications to spy on Page. Many additional errors were uncovered in the Woods files for the applications.

Horowitz concluded that the errors and other failures constitute “serious performance failures by the supervisory and non-supervisory agents.”

The Page FISA applications cited the unverified dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, without mentioning the dossier was paid for by the campaign of Hilary Clinton, Trump’s opponent, and the Democratic National Committee.

The review punctured the belief among some of Steele’s veracity, noting that he relied on second- and third-hand reporting.

Without a legal foundation to surveil Page, FBI agents were conducting “illegal surveillance,” Horowitz told lawmakers.

“There is such a range of conduct here that is inexplicable, and the answers we got were not satisfactory, that we’re left trying to understand how could all these errors have occurred over a nine month period or so, among three teams—hand-picked—the highest profile case in the FBI, going to the very top of the organization, involving a presidential campaign,” he said in an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee late last year.

Horowitz’s report “now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken,” Attorney General William Barr said after the report was released.

In a rare statement, Rosemary Collyer, the presiding FISC judge at the time, suggested the behavior of the FBI agents was so egregious that it “calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable.”

“The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Inspector General’s] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above,” she said.

Treasury Says US Will Borrow $2 Trillion in Second Half of 2020

The U.S. Treasury announced Monday it expects to borrow $2.16 trillion in the second half of 2020, with $1 trillion of that linked to anticipation that Congress will pass more legislation to fight COVID-19.

The Treasury said in a release that it expects to borrow $947 billion in the July-September quarter, and $1.216 trillion in the October-December 2020 quarter.

Borrowing for the three final quarters of the 2020 calendar year, or April-December 2020, which excludes the pre-pandemic first quarter, is expected to come in at $4.916 trillion.

The Treasury said it would be borrowing $270 billion more in the July-September quarter than it initially predicted in May. The upwards revision is mostly driven by higher expenditures, the department said, partly due to a shift from the prior quarter and partly due to anticipated new legislation.

The revised estimates “assume $1 trillion of additional borrowing need in anticipation of additional legislation being passed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” the Treasury said in the statement.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin leaves after a House Small Business Committee hearing on oversight of the Small Business Administration and Department of Treasury pandemic programs on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 17, 2020. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP)

Since March, Congress has authorized around $3.6 trillion in new spending to help American families and businesses weather the fallout from the pandemic, which has sparked an economic contraction of historic proportions.

The U.S. economy contracted by a staggering 32.9 percent annualized rate in the second quarter, more than triple the previous all-time Gross Domestic Product drop of 10 percent in the second quarter of 1958.

The unemployment rate shot up from a 50-year low of 3.5 percent in February to 14.7 percent in April, recovering to 11.1 percent in June as total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4.8 million.

Congressional leaders and the White House are in talks over the next relief package, with Democrats pushing for a broad fiscal aid bill estimated at around $3.5 trillion that includes aid for state and local governments, food stamp increases, and assistance to renters and homeowners. Many Republicans, concerned about rising levels of debt, have argued for a slimmer aid package of around $1 trillion, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin telling reporters on Sunday, “We have to be careful about not piling on enormous amounts of debt for future generations.”

Areas of agreement include another round of $1,200 direct payments to American families and changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, the small business relief measure, that will allow especially hard-hit businesses to receive more loans under generous forgiveness terms.

Multiple obstacles remain, including an impasse on extending the enhanced $600-per-week pandemic unemployment benefit, which lapsed on July 31. Republicans are broadly willing to extend a slimmed-down version for a shorter term, while Democrats have been pushing for a full extension through January 2021.

“The $600 unemployment insurance benefit is essential because there are no jobs to go back to,” House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told MSNBC on Tuesday morning. “We’ve got to help out everyday Americans. That’s a line in the sand.”

Republicans have proposed an immediate cut to $200 and then replacing the benefit with a system that would attempt to provide 70 percent of a worker’s “replacement wage.” Their concern is that the current benefit is so generous as to discourage many unemployed workers from returning to work, driving up labor costs, which disproportionately hurts small businesses.

Trump Says He’s Considering Executive Orders to Suspend Evictions, Payroll Tax

As members of Congress debate over the details of the next stimulus package, President Donald Trump on Monday evening said he is considering issuing executive orders to suspend eviction and payroll tax.

Republicans and Democrats are divided primarily over whether to extend the $600-per-week unemployment benefits provision that expired late last month. Republicans last week proposed a $200-per-week bonus before implementing a program that would pay 70 percent of a workers’ wage.

“I could do that if I want, and I want to do that. I don’t want people to be evicted,” Trump told reporters about whether he would suspend evictions. A federal moratorium on evictions, which was passed in March’s CARES Act, expired last month.

The CARES Act and other stimulus measures were passed in order to offset economic losses incurred by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.

“They’re thrown out viciously. It’s not their fault. It’s not their fault. It’s China’s fault,” Trump said, referring to the fact that the virus originated last year in mainland China. Critics have noted that the CCP attempted to censor and downplay the impact of the virus early on, while some have noted the regime has not been transparent in reporting cases.

Trump, in the news conference, said he has the authority to suspend payroll taxes.

“I can do that also through executive order, so we’ll be talking about that,” Trump said.

On Monday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday held a meeting for approximately two hours in Washington.

Pelosi told CBS News, after the meeting, that it was “productive,” telling reporters afterward that “we’re moving down the track,” without elaborating.

“We’re making some progress on certain issues, moving closer together,” Schumer also told reporters while adding that “there are a lot of issues that are still outstanding.”

Democrats and Republicans are also at odds with providing more funding to cities and states amid the economic downturn. In the HEROES Act passed by House Democrats in May, they sought to provide $1 trillion in funding, while the HEALS Act provides none.

They also have differing opinions on whether there should be liability protection for businesses, hospitals, and schools. Republicans support the measure and Democrats do not.

The White House has pushed for a temporary measure to extend the unemployment benefits for another week as negotiations continue, although Pelosi and other Democrats said they don’t want to pass a deal in a piecemeal manner.

New York Must Count Previously Invalidated Mail-In Ballots: Judge

New York election officials must count thousands of mail-in ballots that were previously deemed invalid, a federal judge ruled late Monday.

U.S. District Judge Analisa Nadine Torres, an Obama-nominee, granted the motion by plaintiffs for a preliminary injunction.

Torres ordered the commissioners of the New York State Board of Elections “to direct all local boards of elections to count all otherwise valid absentee ballots cast in the June 23 Primary.”

The two stipulations are: the mail-in ballots must have been received by June 24, with no regard to the postmark, or received by June 25, as long as the ballots are not postmarked later than June 23.

“When voters have been provided with absentee ballots and assured that their votes on those ballots will be counted, the state cannot ignore a later discovered, systemic problem that arbitrarily renders those ballots invalid,” Torres wrote in her ruling.

For voters who voted by absentee ballot, “accepting the state’s offer to vote by absentee ballot and following the state’s instructions to vote timely, nonetheless resulted in their ballots not being postmarked, and, consequently, invalidated,” she added.

“Under these circumstances, the policy embodied by the postmark rule, deliberately adopted and intentionally applied to those ballots, is sufficient to establish a violation of the Due Process Clause and the First Amendment.”

A voter stands on a Vote NYC sticker to encourage social distancing during the New York Democratic presidential primary elections in New York City on June 23, 2020. (Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images)

Absentee ballots are traditionally only available to voters who expect to be unable to vote in person because of a narrow set of criteria. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, on April 9 said any voter who is concerned about contracting COVID-19 could vote by mail. Later that month, he ordered the sending of absentee ballot applications to all eligible voters. New York state lawmakers also amended election law, allowing voters to request absentee ballots over the Internet.

Despite occurring on June 23, final results for the primary have yet to be broadcast, a failure pinned on the major increase in mail-in ballots election officials and the U.S. Postal Service saw.

On the day before the election, for example, the service received over 30,000 absentee ballots, Allen Tanko, USPS Marketing Manager for the New York District, told the court last month. Ultimately, some 1.2 million New York voters used absentee ballots in the primary—more than 10 times the number of such ballots cast in 2016.

Postal service employees are responsible for postmarking, or stamping, ballots. Despite the service’s efforts, thousands of mail-in ballots were not postmarked.

“This could be due to a number of human or mechanical errors,” Torres wrote.

A New York absentee ballot application in a file photograph. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Confusion stemmed in part from conflicting messages the New York City Board of Elections gave. The board told voters that ballots could be postmarked by June 23 to be valid but told the court that absentee ballots placed in a mailbox on Election Day after the last pick-up time would not be postmarked.

The bungled process has attracted harsh criticism. Republican President Donald Trump called it “a total disaster.”

“They’re six weeks into it now. They have no clue what’s going on. And I mean, I think I can say right here and now, I think you have to rerun that race. Because it’s a mess. Nobody knows what’s happening with the ballots and the lost ballots and the fraudulent ballots,” he told reporters at the White House on Monday.

Experts have told The Epoch Times that voting-by-mail is fraught with problems.

During hearings last month, plaintiffs provided evidence that many more ballots were invalidated in the Brooklyn borough of New York City than in other boroughs, Torres said.

Dawn Sandow, the city Board of Elections’ deputy executive director, told the court during a virtual hearing last month that “possibly” 2,000 ballots were invalidated in Brooklyn, compared to between 20 and 60 absentee ballots invalidated in the other boroughs.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) speaks to reporters in Washington on June 25, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Emily Gallagher, a candidate for state Assembly, Suraj Patel, who is challenging Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) for the congressional seat representing New York’s 12th District, and voters who felt disenfranchised.

In a statement, Patel said “every one of us should be concerned about a process that invalidated over 1 in 5 mail-in ballots” in the 12th District.

“This is a jarring statistic for any developed Democracy and a rate 50-100x higher than that of Wisconsin, Georgia, Mississippi, and dozens of other states,” he said.

Voting by mail works, he argued, but the problems must be fixed.

Remy Green, one of the lawyers who filed the suit, said the ruling “confirms that amid a pandemic, the Boards of Elections failed spectacularly to meet their commitments.”

The city and state Board of Elections haven’t responded to requests for comment.

Trump: US Should Get ‘Substantial Portion’ of TikTok Operations Sale Price

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump said Monday the U.S. government should get a “substantial portion” of the sales price of the U.S. operations of popular short-video app TikTok and warned he will ban the service in the United States on Sept. 15 without a sale.

The turnaround came after Trump on Friday said he was planning to ban the Chinese-owned video app’s U.S. operations as soon as Saturday after dismissing a possible sale to Microsoft.

“I did say that if you buy it, whatever the price is that goes to whoever owns it, because I guess it’s China essentially … I said a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen,” Trump said.

Trump later defended his push for a cut, adding, “Nobody else would be thinking about but me, but that’s the way I think.”

It was not clear how the U.S. government would receive part of the purchase price.

Trump added it “will close down on Sept. 15 unless Microsoft or somebody else is able to buy it and work out a deal, an appropriate deal so the Treasury … of the United States gets a lot of money.”

TikTok said Monday it is “committed to continuing to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform as we build TikTok for the long term. TikTok will be here for many years to come.”

Daniel Elman, analyst at Nucleus Research, said a sale “could foreshadow a growing wave of U.S. company acquisition of Chinese Internet properties, particularly if the geopolitical tensions continue to mount.”

Elman said that could impact Tencent’s WeChat.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo referenced WeChat on Sunday and said Trump “will take action in the coming days with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party.”

U.S. officials have said TikTok poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles. TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer said in a blog post last week that the company was committed to following U.S. laws and was allowing experts to observe its moderation policies and examine the code that drives its algorithms.

Trump’s comments confirmed a Reuters report Sunday that he had agreed to give China’s ByteDance 45 days to negotiate a sale of TikTok to Microsoft.

President Donald Trump participates in a roundtable discussion on donating plasma at the American Red Cross National Headquarters in Washington, on July 30, 2020. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images) Landlord-Tenant Relationship

Trump, a former New York real estate developer, compared TikTok to the landlord-tenant relationship, suggesting TikTok is like a tenant. “Without a lease, the tenant has nothing—so they pay what’s called key money or they pay something.”

He said he did not mind “whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else—a big company, a secure company, very, very American company buy it.”

Microsoft said Sunday that CEO Satya Nadella had spoken to Trump and “is prepared to continue discussions to explore a purchase of TikTok in the United States.”

Microsoft said Sunday it is “committed to acquiring TikTok subject to a complete security review and providing proper economic benefits to the United States, including the United States Treasury.”

Many prominent Republicans, including House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, issued statements in support of a Microsoft acquisition of TikTok’s U.S. operations.

Microsoft and TikTok parent ByteDance gave the U.S. government a notice of intent to explore a preliminary proposal for Microsoft to purchase the TikTok service in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also backed the sale, while a senior White House adviser raised concerns about a sale to Microsoft.

“A U.S. company should buy TikTok so everyone can keep using it and your data is safe,” Schumer said on Twitter, adding: “This is about privacy. With TikTok in China, it’s subject to Chinese Communist Party laws that may require handing over data to their government.”

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro suggested on Monday that Microsoft could divest its holdings in China if it were to buy TikTok.

“So the question is, is Microsoft going to be compromised?” Navarro said in an interview with CNN. “Maybe Microsoft could divest its Chinese holdings?”

Navarro said the Chinese regime and military use Microsoft software “to do all the things they do.”

By David Shepardson and Jeff Mason

Trump Fires Board Members of Gov-Owned Tennessee Valley Authority Over Outsourcing of US Jobs

President Donald Trump announced on Aug. 3 that he had fired two members of the the federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), saying that its chief executive Jeff Lyash is “ridiculously overpaid” and that the corporation is seeking to outsource American jobs to foreign workers.

Trump said Monday that he was formally removing TVA’s chair of the board and another board member, and warned that if the corporation continues to hire foreign labor, he would fire other members of the board too.

The president, who has the authority to appoint the TVA board, said during a meeting of technology workers at the White House that the actions of the ousted TVA members had prompted him to sign the “Hiring American” order, which requires federal agencies to prioritize U.S. labor in federal contracts, ensure only American citizens are appointed to the competitive service, and stop employers from moving H-1B workers into jobs in a way that displaces U.S. workers.

The White House said in a release that the “Hiring American” order follows a recent announcement by TVA that it plans to outsource 20 percent of its tech jobs to foreign countries. The statement said TVA’s action could lead over 200 highly-skilled American technology workers in Tennessee to lose their jobs to low-cost foreign workers hired on temporary work visas.

Created in 1933, the TVA provides flood control, electricity generation, fertilizer manufacturing, and economic development to the Tennessee Valley—a region that was hard hit during the Great Depression. The region covers most of Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and Kentucky, as well as small sections of Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia.

“TVA’s decision is also expected to cost the local economy tens of millions of dollars over the next 5 years,” the statement said, adding that Trump’s action would “combat employers’ misuse of H-1B visas, which were never intended to replace qualified American workers with low-cost foreign labor.”

TVA’s CEO, Trump claimed, had betrayed American workers. He said the TVA board must hire a new chief executive officer that “puts the interests of Americans first.”

The president said the chief executive officer earns $8 million a year.

“He gets $8 million a year so that was just a succession of deep swamp things happening and it’s a disgrace … the new CEO must be paid no more than $500,000 a year,” Trump said. “We want the TVA to take action on this immediately.”

“Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board. If you betray American workers, then you will hear two simple words: ‘You’re fired,’” Trump said, before signing the executive order.

The announcement followed calls from nonprofit U.S. Tech Workers to stop TVA from outsourcing much of its data and programming work. The group, which opposes expansion of H1-B visas to skilled foreign workers and is led by Kevin Lynn, criticized the corporation in June after it laid off 62 IT workers.

Tom Ozimek and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nevada Governor Signs Bill to Allow Statewide Mail-In Voting Despite Trump’s Lawsuit Threat

Defying the threat of a legal challenge issued by President Donald Trump, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a bill on Aug. 3 that would allow every state resident to cast a ballot via mail during the 2020 election.

The new law was rushed through the Nevada legislature in a special session called by Sisolak on July 30. Under the new law, every resident in the state can receive a ballot in the mail. A separate provision hands Sisolak, and not Nevada’s secretary of state, the power to determine how an election is run in the case of an emergency.

“This bill will help prevent Nevadans from experiencing the long lines at polling locations they faced during the Primary election, which will protect their safety, safeguard their right to make their voices heard, and help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Sisolak said on Twitter.

Read MoreSouth Korea Reports No COVID-19 Transmission From Election as Pelosi Pushes Mail-In Voting in US

President Donald Trump and Attorney General Barr have repeatedly warned that blanked mail-in voting laws like the one in Nevada would increase the risk of voter fraud. 

Trump had threatened to take the state to court the morning prior to Sisolak’s signature. 

“In an illegal late night coup, Nevada’s clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Aug. 3. “Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!”

The Department of Justice, which would be responsible for any legal challenge on behalf of the Trump administration, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Hillary Clinton won Nevada in 2016 by 2.5 points in 2016. 

Both chambers of Nevada’s state legislature are controlled by Democrats. The mail-in voting measure passed the state assembly 29-12 on July 31, and the state senate 13-8 on Aug. 2.

Republicans unanimously opposed the measure in both chambers.

Democrats generally argue that voter fraud does not exist and that Republican opposition to mail-in measures is an attempt to prevent people from participating in the election. Republicans argue that mail-in ballots open the door to a range of fraudulent schemes.

“You’ll have somebody like the governor of Nevada come out with this massive plan, out of nowhere, to take millions of ballots and send them all over the place. You’ll never know who won that state. It’ll get messed up just like New York and just like Paterson, N.J., and just like many other places,” Trump said on Aug. 3 before Sisolak signed the bill.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

The United States has had 1,290 proven instances of voter fraud, according to a database maintained by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Matthew Vadum contributed to this report.

Trump Signs Order to Expand Access to Telehealth

President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order to further expand access to telehealth services where healthcare practitioners can communicate and provide services for their patients remotely via phone calls or video calls—a move the president says will help seniors and rural Americans better access healthcare.

“Expanded access to medical care through telemedicine is essential to fighting the virus,” Trump said in a statement announcing the move.

Near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration had made telehealth criteria more flexible regarding what services qualify under telehealth, as well as the type of healthcare practitioner who may provide telehealth services, and under what circumstances telehealth can be provided.

“When the invisible enemy struck our shores, I took immediate action to eliminate regulatory barriers to telehealth, making it easier for patients to consult with doctors from safety and convenience. And really, they have great safety and great convenience right from their homes,” Trump told reporters at a press conference at the White House.

“Today I’m taking action to ensure telehealth is here to stay,” the president said. “I signed an executive order to make many of our regulatory reforms permanent.

“We worked with the leaders of major health insurance companies to ensure coverage for the telehealth visits related to coronavirus,” Trump explained about the administration’s earlier actions. “We cut red tape to allow many services to be conducted by phone, rather than video, which is much simpler, providing a much easier option for many seniors in particular.”

The president’s latest executive order builds upon such changes, including making some of the changes permanent.

“The order builds upon a series of actions we’ve all taken to make telehealth available to all,” Trump said. “We ensured that Medicare covers telehealth visits at no additional cost. That’s no additional cost. And co-payments can be waived for telehealth services.”

Trump said that the administration has now “vastly expanded coverage, allowing Medicare to cover more than 135 new services” through telehealth. The services include physical therapy, emergency department visits, home visits, mental health counseling, and substance abuse treatment.

He added that the executive order will also expand healthcare access in rural America.

In the executive order, Trump acknowledged that rural Americans face “unique challenges” accessing healthcare services, including limited transportation, shortages of healthcare workers in rural areas, and “an inability to fully benefit from technological and care-delivery innovations.”

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House in Washington, on Aug. 3, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“These factors have contributed to financial insecurity and impaired health outcomes for rural Americans, who are more likely to die from five leading causes, many of which are preventable, than their urban counterparts,” the executive order states. “That gap widened from 2010 to 2017 for cancer, heart disease, and chronic lower respiratory disease.”

Trump said that his order will direct federal agencies to “deploy strategic investments” in rural communications infrastructure to enable quick and easy access for rural Americans. He also said he will be directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Agriculture, and the Federal Communications Commission to “form a task force that will break down barriers to expanding rural healthcare.”

“Additionally, revenue for rural providers vary significantly from month to month, making it difficult for many to stay in business. Many, many are having a very difficult time,” Trump noted at the press conference. “To help fix this problem, my order will create a voluntary Medicare payment system that will give rural hospitals flexibility—really, great flexibility—and a more consistent income stream to better serve their patients.”

The executive order will direct the HHS to announce a new model to test “innovative payment mechanisms” within 30 days.

President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing with reporters at the White House in Washington, on Aug. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

According to the executive order, a report by the HHS showed that in April, 43.5 percent of Medicare fee-for-service primary care visits were provided through telehealth, compared to February’s figure of 0.1 percent, before the public health emergency was declared on the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus. Meanwhile, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) noted a jump in virtual visits for its beneficiaries from about 14,000 in a given week prior to the pandemic to some 1.7 million within just the last week of April.

Trump noted in the order that telehealth visits continued to be frequent after in-person primary care visits resumed in May, which suggests that telehealth is likely to be in more permanent demand going forward.

Trump: US-Wide Lockdown Would ‘Ultimately Inflict More Harm Than It Would Prevent’

President Donald Trump on Monday said he will not shut down the United States to curb the spread of the CCP virus, saying that doing so would cause more harm than good.

“It’s important for all Americans to recognize that a permanent lockdown is not a viable path forward producing the result that you want or certainly not a viable path forward and would ultimately inflict more harm than it would prevent,” Trump said during a White House news briefing on the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, a novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease.

Governors initially shut down states in an attempt to prevent COVID-19 patients from overwhelming hospitals and medical staff and also to allow scientists and doctors to ascertain the impact of the virus, including using treatments to fight it, the president said.

“Lockdowns do not prevent infection in the future. They just don’t. It comes back many times, it comes back,” Trump said.

On Sunday, more than 47,000 new cases of the CCP virus was reported across the United States, according to researchers. The 47,511 new cases reported by The Wall Street Journal, which cited the university’s data, is the lowest number of cases since July 6, when about 44,900 were registered. A day before that, on Aug. 1, more than 58,000 cases of the virus were reported nationwide, and on July 31, about 67,000 cases were noted.

California reported about 9,032 new cases, and Florida reported 7,084 cases on Aug. 1, according to the researchers’ data.

Trump, meanwhile, called on Americans to remain “vigilant” against the virus, while noting that 18 states have reported lower cases. They include New Jersey, Connecticut, and New York, which were once considered the CCP virus hotspots earlier this year.

“We must focus on protecting those at highest risk while allowing younger and healthier Americans to resume work and school with careful precautions,” Trump said. “Ideally we want to open those schools. We want to open them.”

A day before that, top White House COVID-19 expert Dr. Deborah Birx said that there is now widespread cases being reported.

“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas,” she said in an interview on Sunday.

Americans should follow health care professionals’ recommendations, including practicing social distancing and wearing a protective mask, she said.

“To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” Birx told CNN. “If you’re in multi-generational households, and there’s an outbreak in your rural area or in your city, you need to really consider wearing a mask at home, assuming that you’re positive, if you have individuals in your households with comorbidities.”

Trump Allows US Company to Buy TikTok, Sets September as Deadline

President Donald Trump on Monday gave the green light for a U.S. company to acquire TikTok, a short-video app owned by Beijing-based internet giant Bytedance Technology Co. used by millions of mostly young Americans.

He was called by Microsoft and allowed the company or another U.S. company to buy TikTok, the president said.

“I suggested that he could go ahead … I set a date of around September 15, at which point it’s going to be out of business in the United States,” he said. “But if somebody—whether it’s Microsoft or somebody else—buys it, that’ll be interesting.”

Microsoft confirmed on Sunday in a statement that the deal is under discussion and committed to complete the discussion no later than Sept. 15.

The company also promised that the process will be subject to a complete security review, economic benefits will be provided to the United States including the United States Treasury, and all private data from TikTok’s American users be transferred to and remain in America.

“Microsoft appreciates the U.S. Government’s and President Trump’s personal involvement as it continues to develop strong security protections for the country,” Microsoft said in the statement.

Microsoft and ByteDance have submitted a notification to the Committee of Foreign Investment in the United State (CFIUS).

In this photo illustration, a mobile phone featuring the TikTok app is displayed next to the Microsoft logo in New York City on Aug. 3, 2020. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

Trump also suggested that the buyer, Microsoft or another U.S. company, should buy the “whole thing” instead of 30 percent of TikTok.

He affirmed that a portion of the proceedings of the acquisition will go to the U.S. government.

“I said, a very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the treasury of the United States,” he said. “Because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen. Right now they don’t have any rights unless we give it to them.”

TikTok has been banned in India since June 29 amid a standoff between India and China after a gruesome border conflict which resulted in the deaths of over a dozen Indian soldiers.

Some Chinese soldiers also reportedly died during the event, but the numbers are unclear.

TikTok has come under intense scrutiny after the Trump administration confirmed that it was mulling a ban on the operation of TikTok and other Chinese apps on national security grounds. Critics warn that the app could be used as a spying tool for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and users’ content could be censored if the Party deems it politically sensitive.

The company has denied these claims and sought to distance itself from its Beijing owner, pointing to its American board members and new chief executive. It says its servers are located in the United States and Singapore, and that it would not share user data with the Chinese regime if requested.

Cathy He contributed to the report.

Amid Impasse, White House and Democrats Continue Talks on CCP Virus Relief

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday held a meeting for about two hours in Washington on a pandemic relief measure.

Pelosi told CBS News that the meeting was “productive,” telling reporters afterward that “we’re moving down the track,” without elaborating.

Schumer, meanwhile, added that “there is a desire to get something done as soon as we can,” although there are some issues that still need to be worked out.

“We’re making some progress on certain issues, moving closer together,” he told reporters while adding that “there are a lot of issues that are still outstanding.”

Among the most contentious issues is whether to continue the federal unemployment benefits program of $600 per week, which expired last week. Republicans in the Senate proposed a $200-per-week and wage replacement program in their HEALS Act last week, but Democrats said it’s not enough.

When asked Monday about the unemployment program, Schumer told reporters that Republicans are “sticking to their position.” And Pelosi told CNN earlier on Monday that the $600-per-week provision should be kept unless the joblessness rate declines.

“As the unemployment goes down, the number can go down,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor Monday that Democrats are refusing to cooperate.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) talk with reporters in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Aug. 3, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The “speaker of the House and Democratic leader continue to say our way or the highway,” he said, referring to Pelosi and Schumer.

At the White House, President Donald Trump said he considered issuing an executive order that would help those who are affected by the pandemic, such as a moratorium on evictions.

“I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders and we’re looking at that very seriously right now,” he said Monday, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Meadows told CBS News on Sunday that he is “not optimistic” that a relief package will be passed in the “very near” future.

Republicans have asserted that the $600-per-month benefits are creating a reason for people not to return back to work while Democrats have said it is needed to provide for families that are suffering during the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.

Democrats and Republicans are also at odds with providing more funding to cities and states amid the economic downturn. In the HEROES Act passed by House Democrats in May, they sought to provide $1 trillion in funding, while the HEALS Act provides none.

They also have differing opinions on whether there should be liability protection for businesses, hospitals, and schools. Republicans support the measure and Democrats do not.

House Democrats Subpoena Pompeo Aides Over Trump’s Firing of State Watchdog

House Democrats have issued subpoenas to four State Department officials, calling on them to testify as part of an investigation into the firing of a government watchdog.

The officials, senior aides to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have been requested to appear for joint depositions by Democrats on the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Oversight and Reform, an Aug. 3 release said. The move comes amid allegations that the Trump administration has been stonewalling the Democrat-led probe into the firing of former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick by President Donald Trump.

Trump said he fired Linick after losing confidence in him, while Pompeo later clarified he had asked the president to fire the watchdog because he was not contributing to the State Department the way he was instructed.

“The Administration continues to cover up the real reasons for Mr. Linick’s firing by stonewalling the Committees’ investigation and refusing to engage in good faith,” a joint statement from House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), House Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) reads.

“That stonewalling has made today’s subpoenas necessary, and the Committees will continue to pursue this investigation to uncover the truth that the American people deserve,” the bicameral group added.

The four aides targeted by the subpoenas are Undersecretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mike Miller, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Marik String, and senior adviser Toni Porter.

In Capitol Hill testimony in early June (pdf), Linick accused Bulatao of trying to bully him into dropping a probe the watchdog had launched into Pompeo’s stewardship of Saudi Arabian arms sales.

Pompeo has accused the former watchdog of undermining the State Department, saying Linick was “a bad actor in the inspector general office here,” adding that it was his “mistake” to let Linick serve in his post as long as he did.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks the press conference at the State Department in Washington on May 20, 2020. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images)

In his testimony, Linick refuted justifications for his firing but would not speculate on why he was fired, saying, “I can tell you that I don’t believe there’s any valid reason that would justify my removal.”

The subpoenas come after the Committees’ ranking members vowed to interview key officials they believe have knowledge about Linick’s dismissal and how the watchdog’s investigations may have prompted Pompeo to have him fired.

“Congress has demanded answers about the abrupt firing of the Inspector General, but Secretary Pompeo has failed to explain his actions. We call upon administration officials to comply and appear for interviews with the Committees, and for Secretary Pompeo to comply with the Committees’ investigation and not obstruct the American people from discovering the truth about his own actions,” members of the bicameral group said in a May 29 statement.

In Monday’s statement announcing the subpoenas, the lawmakers said a senior State Department official, Charles Faulkner, had testified voluntarily.

“Mr. Faulkner testified that Congress had ‘legitimate’ concerns when it was holding up these sales on humanitarian grounds and that State Department officials weren’t surprised by the Saudis’ reckless use of U.S.-built weapons and the resulting loss of innocent life. Nevertheless, the Department’s senior leadership appeared determined to see the sales go forward,” the Democrat lawmakers said in their statement.

The sale of arms to Saudi Arabia was made possible by Pompeo’s invoking, in May 2019, of a rarely used provision in federal law to bypass a congressional review.

A number of congressional Democrats objected when Pompeo last year notified Congress of the decision to use an emergency loophole in the Arms Export Control Act to proceed with the arms sales, which included precision-guided munitions, along with other bombs and ammunition.

Some 26 members of  Congress wrote a letter to Linick, urging him to review the matter, saying there were “dubious grounds” for invoking the emergency.

Facebook Labels Manipulated Pelosi Video as ‘Partly False’

Facebook on Sunday labeled an apparently manipulated video of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as “partly false information.”

“The information in this post is a mix of true and false statements or it could simply be incomplete. In some cases, the information is misleading,” the social media company said, citing fact-checks from Reuters Fact Check and Lead Stories.

The video clip contains Pelosi’s response to a question about President Donald Trump’s remarks about Joe Scarborough, the host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, during a press conference on May 20, 2020.

It was posted on Facebook by a user named “Will Allen.”

The user suggests that the video shows Pelosi “is blowed out of her mind.” However, Lead Stories said the video was slowed down.

“The short video clip … was digitally slowed down to make it appear as if Pelosi was intoxicated,” the fact-checker said. “The original video revealed she was speaking and acting normally.”

The video can still be viewed on Facebook, but the “See Video” button was put at the bottom while the “partly False Information” label was placed at the center of the screen.

More than 10,000 Facebook users reacted to and 138 comments were made on the post as of the noontime of Monday.

The flagged post will also appear lower in news feeds, according to Facebook policies.

The act of placing labels on posts by social media platforms became the center of debate in a national discussion on Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act after Twitter hid one of Trump’s posts in May.

Section 230 largely provides online platforms a shield from liability for content posted by their users. The immunity, however, does not apply for content that violates anti-sex trafficking or intellectual property laws.

The law allows companies to block or screen content “in good faith” if they consider it “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable.” The protections, however, weren’t intended to apply to services that act more like publishers than online platforms, Attorney General William Barr said in a speech in May.

A core question in this debate is: should the social media platforms be treated as publishers when they put a label on a post about its accuracy and suitability?

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump signed an executive order on May 28 directing federal agencies to develop regulations that would encourage internet companies to police content in a fairer manner lest they lose their limited liability protections under Section 230.

The Justice Department (DOJ) also proposed a series of legislative changes in June to the law that would curtail broad legal protections for online platforms in an effort to push tech companies to address illicit material while moderating content responsibly, The Epoch Times reported.

The DOJ’s proposals, which need to be considered by Congress, would “update the outdated immunity for online platforms” under Section 230, the department said.

Janita Kan contributed to the report.

Kansas GOPer Demands Planned Parenthood Return $80 Million in PPP Loans; Files Bill Banning Abortion Providers from Program

Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) wants Congress to ban abortion providers from receiving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and to require Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) offices to return the $80 million they received under the CCP Virus economic relief initiative.

“We want legislation that specifically demands that Planned Parenthood give the money back for several reasons, including the Hyde Amendment,” Marshall told The Epoch Times Monday.

“Also, they are a large association, this program was meant for businesses with 500 or fewer employees while they employee 16,000 people, and they have $2 billion in assets. This loan was not meant for them,” Marshall continued.

Marshall’s proposal—the Abortion Provider Loan Elimination Act—would extend the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding to groups that terminate unborn babies’ lives as a medical procedure, to the PPP program.

The Hyde Amendment was first adopted by Congress in 1976 and was named for then-Rep. Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican. The measure has to be attached to specific appropriation bills and in recent years has only been added to those funding federal health care programs.

Congress did not apply the Hyde provision to the PPP program when it approved it as part of the $3 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act (CARES).

“We believe it should be. Those of us who believe in life and regard the sanctity of life think it should have been. But these were federal funds and they were used as forgivable loans to abortion providers,” Marshall told The Epoch Times.

Marshall’s proposal currently has 23 co-sponsors, all Republicans. The proposal has also been endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List, National Right to Life Committee, and the Family Research Council (FRC).

“We even sent a letter to the SBA saying, ‘do not give money to Planned Parenthood’ and despite our letter telling them not to, they went ahead and did it,” he said.

Marshall was referring to an April 30 letter he and 93 Republican Senate and House colleagues sent to Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza encouraging her to not extend PPP loans to PPFA or any of its local affiliates.

They noted that the CARES measure gave SBA wide latitude in defining eligibility for the PPP loans to ensure they went to small businesses with 500 or fewer employees.

“Under these rules, PPFA, and each of its affiliates, should be deemed ‘affiliated’ due to their common management, and thereby disqualified from PPP loans based on their aggregated size of around 16,000 employees nationwide,” the letter said.

Several PPFA affiliates, however, applied for and received PPP loans totaling $80 million.

“We actually think there was fraud in what they did, it was very fraudulent, and they should be prosecuted as well,” Marshall said Monday.

“The good news is the Paycheck Protection Program was the most successful federal program we ever saw rolled out,” he continued. “But we were in such a hurry to save jobs that we had to do it quickly.

“In Kansas, it saved over 500,000 jobs, but we knew the opportunities for fraud and for grey areas would happen. Typically, when we have called out companies that took the money but shouldn’t have, they returned the money, but there are still some out there hanging on to it, including Planned Parenthood.”

Marshall said the Department of the Treasury’s Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery is conducting a broad investigation of how the PPP program is being administered.

The $670 billion PPP program has been lauded for enabling hundreds of thousands of small business to maintain payrolls during the nationwide lockdown launched in March to cope with the CCP Virus, which is also known as the novel coronavirus.

Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.) reportedly lobbied SBA to allow casinos to receive PPP loans despite the fact her husband’s company is in the casino business.

“I expect the Inspector General to investigate any case that is grey. I’m not saying that was right or wrong, but it certainly needs to be investigated,” Marshall said of the Lee case.

Individuals connected to companies that received PPP loans have contributed $52 million to candidates and advocacy groups so far in the 2020 campaign cycle, according to opensecrets.org.

Among those individuals were dozens of attorneys supporting former Vice President Joe Biden (D-Del.) and who work for big law firms in Texas and New York that specialize in class-action litigation against Fortune 500 corporations.

Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc

Governors Ask Trump to Extend Funding for National Guard Operations Amid Pandemic

The National Governors Association on Monday called on President Donald Trump to extend funding for National Guard operations in response to and recovery from the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

“While we appreciate the Administration’s support over the past few months, short-term extensions and last-minute authorizations are adversely impacting and disrupting state plans and operations,” the group said in a statement.

The current extension to Title 32 will expire on Aug. 21 but governors want Trump to act sooner rather than later.

“Duty status cannot be changed on a dime. Over the weekend, states and territories were already forced to start the transition process for guard members to ensure compliance with required quarantine policy. Likewise, states and territories will begin the paperwork and training of new guard members in state active duty starting today,” the group said.

“Any further delay will make a challenging situation more challenging.”

The title in question says the federal government can provide financial assistance to states to support activities carried out by the National Guard.

The National Governors Association, or NGA, describes itself as “the voice of the leaders of 55 states, territories, and commonwealths.” It’s headed by Democrat New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

National Guardsmen stand near the Lake St. Midtown metro station after a night of protests and violence following the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 29, 2020. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for a response to the NGA’s request.

Trump in June authorized an extension of 100 percent federal cost share for states’ and territories’ use of National Guard forces through late August.

Forty-two governors and other leaders signed a letter to Trump in May urging him to extend funding for the National Guard.

Guardsmen were going to be used in supporting operations including testing, distribution of masks and other personal protective equipment, and augmentation of staff at nursing homes, they wrote.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, took to Twitter over the weekend to say he and other governors aren’t getting what they need from the Trump administration.

“Today, our @NationalGuard begins transitioning to state status because he refuses to extend their federal mission,” he said.

Funding is necessary “likely until a vaccine is available,” the NGA said. A CCP virus vaccine is expected to be available in December or early next year.

Trump Signs ‘Hiring American’ Executive Order to Prioritize US Workers

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday that requires federal agencies to prioritize U.S. labor in federal contracts, ensure only American citizens are appointed to the competitive service, and stop employers from moving H-1B workers into jobs in a way that displaces U.S. workers.

“We believe jobs must be offered to American workers first,” Trump said in a statement.

The president signed the “Hiring American” order at a meeting of technology workers at the White House on Aug. 3, during which Trump announced that two members of the federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) had been fired for actions that prompted the order.

The White House said in a release that the “Hiring American” order follows a recent announcement by TVA that it plans to outsource 20 percent of its tech jobs to foreign countries. The statement said TVA’s action could lead to over 200 highly-skilled American technology workers in Tennessee to lose their jobs to low-cost foreign workers hired on temporary work visas.

“TVA’s decision is also expected to cost the local economy tens of millions of dollars over the next 5 years,” the statement said, adding that Trump’s action would “combat employers’ misuse of H-1B visas, which were never intended to replace qualified American workers with low-cost foreign labor.”

Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday that he fired the chair of TVA, claiming the authority betrayed American workers. He said the TVA board must hire a new chief executive officer that “puts the interests of Americans first.”

With the overarching aims of “preventing harmful outsourcing” and “preserving jobs for the American people,” the Aug. 3 Executive Order will require all federal agencies to complete an audit meant to ensure compliance with a requirement that only American citizens and nationals are appointed to the U.S. government’s competitive service. The federal workforce consists of some two million civilian employees, with around two-thirds of them in competitive service, with the remainder in two other service classifications—the excepted service and the Senior Executive Service, according to the Office of Personnel Management (pdf).

The order also calls on the Department of Labor to finalize guidance to prevent employers of H-1B workers from moving them into other jobs in a way that displaces American workers.

Trump has signed a number of executive orders in recent months that seek to prioritize American workers, including suspending the H-1B temporary work visa program at least through the end of the year.

“President Trump initiated reforms to the H-1B program to prioritize high-wage workers and close loopholes to ensure American workers are not displaced by low cost foreign labor,” the White House said.

The “Hiring American” order comes as the U.S. unemployment rate is above 10 percent, with some 30 million workers on unemployment rolls, and over 1.4 million people filing new jobless claims last week.

Trump Supporters Turned Off by Aggressive Donation Texts

Trump supporters say they’re not going to give any more money to the campaign or Republican groups after getting what they describe as spam messages urging them to donate.

Frustration with the bombardment of the messages spilled into public view in recent weeks, culminating with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and a top committee official disparaging a pro-Trump political commentator who criticized them.

The urgent tone of the messages and language attempting to guilt-trip conservatives into donating prompted critics to post screenshots of the texts along with complaints.

One message read: “We texted you TWICE. Why did you let your 500% Trump House Patriot match expire AGAIN? We’ll give you 1 more chance.”

After pro-Trump commentator Kurt Schlichter said the NRCC wouldn’t “get one freaking cent from me,” the committee and a spokesman hit back on social media.

I think it goes without saying that the NRCC doesn’t get one freaking cent from me. https://t.co/Sksi5RPylS

— Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) July 26, 2020

“Hey Kurt – our digital fundraising operation has broken every fundraising record this cycle. Maybe instead of crying about tone on Twitter you could help get some conservatives elected?” Bob Salera, the spokesman, told Schlichter.

“This text raised $198,021 toward electing conservatives to Congress. But we’ll certainly pass your complaints on to our manager, Karen,” the committee added, using what some describe as a slur.

The NRCC didn’t answer the phone or return an email on Monday. The Trump campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Lisa Banner, a Georgia-based Trump supporter, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that she receives the messages, sometimes several per day.

“It makes me insulted,” Banner said. “It makes me feel as though he underestimates his base, which I am one of and a lot of other people that I know, and I don’t know anybody this appeals to.”

The Trump campaign has sent out similar messages, including some that are purportedly from the president himself.

“Pres. Trump: I texted you. My sons texted you. Now I’m texting you AGAIN. 7 HOURS LEFT & we’re short. Will you step up? Donate for a 7X-MATCH,” one read.

Bill Supplee, a Pennsylvania-based Trump supporter, told the foundation he replied “stop” but then started to get the messages from a different number.

President Donald Trump at a Make America Great Again rally in Cape Girardeau, Mo., on Nov. 5, 2018. (Hu Chen/The Epoch Times)

“It’s crazy. I don’t know if it’s a scam or what. Nobody’s getting my money now,” he said.

CTIA, a trade group representing the U.S. wireless communications industry, said last month that campaigns are increasingly turning to text messaging, a method that’s getting negative feedback.

“Billions of texts will be sent from political campaigns of both parties, and we are increasingly hearing from customers that they are getting texts they didn’t ask to receive,” the group said in a blog post.

Consumers usually open and read text messages, making them attractive to campaigns and other organizations trying to build up enthusiasm. But consumers have a rightful expectation not to receive unwanted texts, making it imperative for senders to adopt best practices like communicating only with people who have opted in and telling consumers how to opt-out, the group said.

The Trump campaign was sued last year by three Minnesota residents who said they received unsolicited text messages, which they argued violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

The federal law “strictly forbids spam text messages exactly like those alleged in this complaint—intrusive text messages to private cellular phones,” the trio said in a court filing.

John Tunheim, chief U.S. district judge for the District of Minnesota, a Clinton nominee, in June rejected an attempt by the campaign to dismiss the suit, saying the campaign failed to show the plaintiffs entered into any type of agreement with it.

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