Gorsuch named to Supreme Court

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Trump nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court


President Trump on Tuesday nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the empty seat on the Supreme Court, kicking off the biggest test of his young administration with Democratic senators already itching for a fight.

Judge Gorsuch is a favorite of conservatives, who say his legal mind and clear writing are fitting for someone picked to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The president dubbed him “the very best judge in the country.”

Liberal groups, though, demanded a battle, and Democratic senators said they’ll oblige. Only minutes after the announcement, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, announced plans for a filibuster to block the judge.

Mr. Trump, meanwhile, basked in the showmanship, keeping his pick secret until the end, and declaring Judge Gorsuch a campaign promise kept to conservative voters.

“I took the task of this nomination very seriously,” the president said as he introduced his nominee at the White House on Tuesday night. “Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline, and has earned bipartisan support.”

The pick immediately drew praise from conservatives, including an outpouring of support from Senate Republicans who said the judge’s legal record was encouraging.

“He’s awesome. He’s fantastic,” said Sen. Mike Lee, a Utah Republican who was on Mr. Trump’s list of prospective nominees for the high court.


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Pentagon State rush to fill out Trump terror plans


President Trump’s demand for a new plan to defeat the Islamic State has triggered a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity at the Pentagon and State Department, where officials are poised to propose a dramatic increase in weapons for Kurdish fighters in Syria, significantly more U.S. airstrikes against the jihadi group and an expansion of American special forces commandos operating on the ground.


Those moves, along with studying how to coordinate U.S. airstrikes with Russian forces backing Syrian President Bashar Assad, will make up the bulk of what gets presented to the White House in response to the executive order that Mr. Trump signed Friday mandating a new plan “within 30 days” to defeat the terror group also known as ISIS, officials say.

One official directly involved in the planning told The Washington Times that the proposals won’t start from scratch, but rather green-light and dramatically accelerate controversial aspects of a strategy already set in motion by the Obama administration — with the most difficult piece being the movement of more and heavier arms to the ethnic Kurdish forces without outraging NATO ally Turkey.

“The main sticking point has been Ankara,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in reference to Ankara’s anger over U.S. support for a Kurdish militia in Syria that the Turks say is a terrorist organization linked to violent Turkish Kurdish separatists.

“We’ve been working with the Turks on this,” the official said, adding that “at some point, we will have to make a decision.”

Other officials said a proposal for more U.S. Special Forces deployed inside Syria will expand the mission to train and possibly fight alongside the Kurdish People’s Protection Unit, or YPG, and other militias in the campaign to capture Islamic State’s de facto “capital” of Raqqa.


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‘Nulcear’cloud hangs over nomination


Eleven years ago this week, Democrats made history by attempting the first — and to date only — partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee.

Now, as President Trump names Neil Gorsuch to fill the empty seat on the high court, Democrats are once again grappling with making history, debating whether to mount yet another filibuster and perhaps trigger a showdown of monumental proportions.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wasted little time in laying down a marker Tuesday night, saying Democrats will filibuster Judge Gorsuch, requiring him to cross a 60-vote threshold.

“The Senate must insist upon 60-votes for any Supreme Court nominee,” the New York Democrat said in a statement just minutes after Mr. Trump and Judge Gorsuch finished speaking.

Tensions were already running high in Washington, with Democrats mounting blockades of many of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet picks and complaining about his spate of controversial executive actions. Republicans say Democrats are treating Mr. Trump worse than any other president in modern


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Democrats exploit rules to block Cabinet Votes


Democrats launched an all-out assault Tuesday on President Trump’s Cabinet picks, boycotting one committee to block the health and treasury nominees and using arcane rules to force another panel to shut down before it could vote on attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions.

The full Senate did confirm Elaine Chao, wife of the top Republican senator and a former Labor secretary, to run the Transportation Department under Mr. Trump — but spent most of the day erecting roadblocks to other picks.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos cleared the Education Committee on a party-line vote, while former Texas Gov. Rick PerryMr. Trump’s choice for energy secretary, and Montana Rep. Ryan K. Zinke, tapped to head the Interior Department, were approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Each of them did garner some Democratic support.

But Democrats’ boycott in the Finance Committee derailed planned votes on Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury nominee, and Rep. Tom Price, the Health and Human Services pick.

On Monday night the panel’s ranking Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden, had signaled he would allow the Mnuchin vote to happen — but when Tuesday dawned, he and his colleagues were nowhere to be seen, which meant the panel didn’t have the quorum needed to do business. At least one Democrat must be present to constitute a quorum for a vote.

“This is one of the most disappointing days in my 40 years in the U.S. Senate,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican and chairman of the committee.

Down the hall, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee panel conducted a filibuster of sorts, talking into the afternoon to delay Mr. Sessions’ nomination.

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Yates obeyed Obama after amnesty deemed unlawful

Former acting Attorney General Sally Q. Yates was cheered Tuesday by Democrats thrilled with her refusal to enforce President Trump’s executive order on refugees, but she wasn’t always as picky when it came to White House directives.

Ms. Yates, whom Mr. Trump fired Monday night, engaged in no such rebellion against President Obama’s order on immigration amnesty in her role as the second-ranking official in the Justice Department, even after a federal court declared it unlawful.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Mr. Obama’s executive order on amnesty in November 2015, six months after the Senate voted to confirm Ms. Yates as deputy attorney general. The U.S. Supreme Court declined in October to hear the Justice Department’s appeal.

Ms. Yates‘ decision to go to the mat for the Obama directive comes in sharp contrast to her defiance of the Trump administration, fueling accusations that she capped her 10 days as acting attorney general by crossing the line into political grandstanding.

How can a prosecutor justify as a matter of law defending one presidential order and not the other?

“You can’t,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the conservative American Center for Law and Justice.


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Washington Times 01-02-17 Front page headline stories

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