Obama Claims ‘Rule of Law Is At Risk’ after DOJ Drops Flynn Case

Obama made the statement to members of the Obama Alumni Association during a call.

Former president Barack Obama claimed in a private phone call last week that the “rule of law is at risk” following the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Yahoo News reported on Friday.

“The news over the last 24 hours I think has been somewhat downplayed — about the Justice Department dropping charges against Michael Flynn,” Obama told members of the Obama Alumni Association during the call, a tape of which was obtained by Yahoo.

“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free,” Obama continued. “That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk.

Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI, not perjury. However, on Thursday the Justice Department moved to end the case against Flynn, who had in January rescinded his earlier guilty plea.

Attorney General William Barr on Friday said he had concluded that the FBI set a “perjury trap” for Flynn while investigating him for suspected ties to Russia.

“They didn’t warn him, the way that would usually be required by the Department, they bypassed the Justice Department, they bypassed the protocols at the White House, and so forth,” Barr told CBS. “These were things that persuaded me that there was not a legitimate counterintelligence investigation.”

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Top White House aide admits it’s ‘scary to go to work’ during pandemic

A top White House aide admitted Sunday that it’s “scary to go to work” after two administration staffers tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

“I think that I’d be a lot safer if I was sitting at home than I would be going to the West Wing,” Kevin Hassett, a senior adviser to President Trump, told CBS TV’s “Face the Nation.” “But you know, it’s a time when people have to step up and serve their country.”

Last week, the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, as well as one of President Trump’s valets, tested positive for the contagion.

“It is scary to go to work” Hassett said. “You know the West Wing, it’s a small, crowded place. it’s a little bit risky, but you have to do it.

“There’s a lot of things that you can’t do except there, like if you’re going to have secure communications.”

He added, “That’s why the doctors are so careful about testing everyone every day.”

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Cuba’s ration book (La Libreta) stages comeback due to coronavirus pandemic

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba’s decades-old rationing system, once slated for elimination, is staging a comeback during the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to prevent Cubans from exposing themselves to the novel virus by going on frantic shopping hunts.

The Communist-run island nation last month closed its borders to travelers, shuttered schools and ordered the use of face masks in a bid to contain the novel virus, sending doctors and medical students to monitor the population.

Yet hours-long queues outside Cuban supermarkets due to widespread shortages of basic goods risk undermining the country’s response to the spread of the virus, resulting in potential hotbeds of infection.

To combat that, authorities this month added more products to Cubans’ monthly ration book — known locally as the “libreta” — and started experimenting with online commerce and delivery options.

The hope is that shoppers do not travel out of their neighborhoods to form long lines at stores because they already know they are guaranteed their rations at their local cornershop.

Cuban authorities, who have so far confirmed 1,235 cases of coronavirus and 43 deaths, simultaneously shut down some of the biggest supermarkets and suspended public transport.

“Just as it seemed like it was dying out, the libreta has managed to take a new breath of air,” said Cuban economist Omar Everleny.

Cuba introduced the “libreta” shortly after the late Fidel Castro’s 1959 leftist revolution, to ensure a survival level of heavily subsidized staples like rice, beans, sugar and coffee for everyone in the face of U.S. sanctions.

When Fidel’s younger brother Raul Castro took over as president in 2008 and started tentatively liberalizing the Soviet-style economy, he called the ration book outdated and went about cutting the number of items that were rationed.

Beyond the few remaining centrally planned economies like Cuba’s and North Korea’s, rationing is typically only used during war-time, natural disasters or specific contingencies.

Raul Castro’s aim was to eventually eliminate broad subsidies in favor of more targeted welfare.

Yet shortages of basic goods that have worsened of late due to a decline of aid from ally Venezuela and tighter U.S. sanctions have made it difficult to eliminate the libreta altogether.

Panic shopping in view of the pandemic has forced supermarkets worldwide including in some U.S. cities to introduce their own informal rationing by putting limits on the amount of basic supplies like toilet paper and hand sanitizer that shoppers can buy in one trip.

In Cuba, some products such as laundry soap and washing-up liquid are being added back on to the government-issued ration book albeit at market rather than subsidized prices while people are now allowed more rations of chicken.

“This chicken means we don’t have to go to stand in enormous queues,” said Havana resident Margarita Morejon, cutting up chicken in her kitchen. “It’s not much but it helps us get by.”

Cubans complain the rations are still insufficient and the state, which only started rolling out internet to the public a few years ago, has started opening some virtual stores as another alternative.

But its systems crashed in the first week due to the high demand and remain highly unstable even as authorities say they are working on upgrading them.

“I have been trying to pay for my shopping for 72 hours,” wrote would-be customer Claudia Valle Perez on the Facebook page of state business corporation CIMEX which runs the virtual stores.

Not all Cubans moreover have a device or the money to access the internet, especially those relying on measly state pensions or wages, like Havana resident Esperanza Moreno, 68, whose pension is equivalent to around $15 per month.

She said the old-fashioned libreta is “like a lifeline in these times of virus”.

Flynn’s lawyer accuses Obama of framing the ex-national security adviser

The lead attorney for former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Sunday accused former President Barack Obama, other top administration officials and the FBI of setting up her client.

Sidney Powell on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” cited the revelation in recently released-documents that FBI agents didn’t tell Fynn he was under investigation or that lying to them would be a federal crime.

“These agents specifically schemed and planned with each other how to not tip him off, that he was even the person being investigated,” she said.

“So they kept him relaxed and unguarded deliberately as part of their effort to set him up and frame him.”

She also pointed out that Obama knew about Flynn’s calls in December 2016 to then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak before FBI agents interviewed Flynn on Jan. 24, 2017 — a development that surprised then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates.

After a Jan. 5, 2017, meeting Obama asked then-FBI Director James Comey and Yates to “stay behind.”

He “specified that he did not want any additional information on the matter, but was seeking information on whether the White House should be treating Flynn any differently, given the information,” according to documents released last week as part of the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss the Flynn case.

“The whole thing was orchestrated and set up within the FBI, [former Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper, [Former CIA Director John] Brennan, and in the Oval Office meeting that day with President Obama,” Powell said.

Asked on the program whether the plot reached to Obama, Powell said, “Absolutely.”

Trump fired Flynn in February 2017 for lying to the FBI and to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Kislyak.

Obama knew details of Flynn’s wiretapped calls: docs

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in December 2017, but he sought to change his plea last January when he got a new legal team, accusing federal prosecutors of setting him up.

The Justice Department filed court papers last week to drop the case against Flynn, arguing that the FBI’s interview was “untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and was “conducted without any legitimate investigation.” The lead attorney for former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Sunday accused former President Barack Obama, other top administration officials and the FBI of setting up her client

Obama recently blasted the Justice Department for wanting to dismiss the case.

“And the fact that there is no precedent that anybody can find for someone who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free. That’s the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic — not just institutional norms — but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk,” Obama told supporters Friday. “And when you start moving in those directions, it can accelerate pretty quickly as we’ve seen in other places.”

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Mail-In Ballots Are a Recipe for Confusion, Coercion, and Fraud

So, naturally, Democrats are pushing to have them sent to every voter — or ‘voter.’

Mail-in ballots wait to be verified at the San Diego County Elections Office in San Diego, Calif., November 7, 2016.

So, naturally, Democrats are pushing to have them sent to every voter — or ‘voter.’

Enormous pressure is being mounted to use our current crisis as an excuse to transform how we vote in elections.

“Coronavirus gives us an opportunity to revamp our electoral system,” Obama’s former attorney general, Eric Holder, recently told Time magazine. “These are changes that we should make permanent because it will enhance our democracy.”

The ideas Holder and others are proposing include requiring that a mail-in ballot be automatically sent to every voter, which would allow people to both register and vote on Election Day. It would also permit “ballot harvesting,” whereby political operatives go door-to-door collecting ballots that they then deliver to election officials. All of these would dramatically reduce safeguards protecting election integrity.

But liberals see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sweep away the current system. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted that a mandatory national vote-by-mail option be forced on states in the first Coronavirus aid bill. She retreated only when she was ridiculed for shamelessly using the bill to push a political agenda. But Pelosi has promised her Democratic caucus that she will press again to overhaul election laws in the next aid bill.

If liberals can’t mandate vote-by-mail nationally, they will demand that states take the lead. Last Friday, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, signed an executive order requiring that every registered voter — including those listed as “inactive” — be mailed a ballot this November.

This could be a disaster waiting to happen. Los Angeles County (population 10 million) has a registration rate of 112 percent of its adult citizen population. More than one out of every five L.A. County registrations probably belongs to a voter who has moved, or who is deceased or otherwise ineligible.

Just last January, the public-interest law firm Judicial Watch reached a settlement agreement with the State of California and L.A. County officials to begin removing as many as 1.5 million inactive voters whose registrations may be invalid. Neither state nor county officials in California have been removing inactive voters from the rolls for 20 years, even though the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed last year, in Husted v. Randolph Institute, a case about Ohio’s voter-registration laws, that federal law “makes this removal mandatory.”

Experts have long cautioned against wholesale use of mail ballots, which are cast outside the scrutiny of election officials. “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud,” was the conclusion of the bipartisan 2005 Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James Baker.

That remains true today. In 2012, a Miami–Dade County Grand Jury issued a public report recommending that Florida change its law to prohibit “ballot harvesting” unless the ballots are “those of the voter and members of the voter’s immediate family.” “Once that ballot is out of the hands of the elector, we have no idea what happens to it,” they pointed out. “The possibilities are numerous and scary.”

Indeed. In 2018, a political consultant named Leslie McCrae Dowless and seven others were indicted on charges of “scheming to illegally collect, fill in, forge and submit mail-in ballots” to benefit Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris, the Washington Post reported. The fraud was extensive enough that Harris’s 900-vote victory was invalidated by the courts and the race was rerun.

Texas has a long history of intimidation and coercion involving absentee ballots. The abuse of elderly voters is so pervasive that Omar Escobar, the Democratic district attorney of Starr County, Texas, says, “The time has come to consider an alternative to mail-in voting.” Escobar says it needs to be replaced with “something that can’t be hijacked.”

Even assuming that the coronavirus remains a serious health issue in November, there is no reason to abandon in-person voting. A new Heritage Foundation report by Hans von Spakovsky and Christian Adams notes that in 2014, the African nation of Liberia successfully held an election in the middle of the Ebola epidemic. International observers worked with local officials to identify 40 points in the election process that constituted an Ebola transmission risk. Turnout was high, and the United Nations congratulated Liberia on organizing a successful election “under challenging circumstances, particularly in the midst of difficulties posed by the Ebola crisis.”

In Wisconsin recently, officials held that state’s April primary election in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. Voters who did not want to vote in-person, including the elderly, could vote by absentee ballot. But hundreds of thousands of people cast ballots at in-person locations, and overall turnout was high. Officials speculated that a few virus cases “may” have been related to Election Day, but, as AP reported, they couldn’t confirm that the patients “definitely got [COVID-19] at the polls.”

In California, the previous loosening of absentee ballot laws have sent disturbing signals. In 2016, a San Pedro couple found more than 80 unused ballots on top of their apartment-building mailbox. All had different names but were addressed to an 89-year-old neighbor who lives alone in their building. The couple suspected that someone was planning to pick up the ballots, but the couple had intercepted them first. In the same election, a Gardena woman told the Torrance Daily Breeze that her husband, an illegal alien, had gotten a mail-in ballot even though he had never registered.

“I think it’s a huge deal,” she said. “Something is definitely wrong with the system.”

The Los Angeles Times agrees. In a 2018 editorial it blasted the state’s “overly-permissive ballot collection law” as being “written without sufficient safeguards.” The Times concluded that “the law passed in 2106 does open the door to coercion and fraud and should be fixed or repealed.” It hasn’t been.

John Lieberman, a Democrat living in East Los Angeles, wrote in the Los Angeles Daily News that he was troubled by how much pressure a door-to-door canvasser put on him to fill out a ballot for candidate Wendy Carrillo. “What I experienced from her campaign sends chills down my spine,” he said.

What should also spook voters who want an honest election is a report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. It found that, in 2016, more mail ballots were misdirected to wrong addresses or unaccounted for than the number of votes separating Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. She led by 2.9 million votes, yet 6.5 million ballots were misdirected or unaccounted for by the states.

It would be the height of folly for other states to follow California’s lead. In the Golden State, it already takes over a month to resolve close elections as mail-in ballots trickle in days and weeks after Election Day. Putting what may be a supremely close presidential election into the hands of a U.S. Postal Service known for making mistakes sounds like a recipe for endless litigation and greatly increased distrust in our democracy.

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