WASHINGTON TIMES front page headline stories
Sessions Promises political neutrality as head of Justice
“I believe the proper thing for me to do would be to recuse myself from any questions involving those kinds of investigations that involve Secretary Clinton,” he said during more than eight hours of questioning before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“This country does not punish its political enemies, but this country ensures that no one is above the law,” the Alabama Republican said.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, asked whether Mr. Sessions had ever chanted, “Lock her up,” a frequent refrain at Donald Trump’s campaign rallies directed at the Democratic presidential nominee.
“No, I did not. I don’t think. I heard it in rallies and so forth, sometimes I think humorously done,” said Mr. Sessions. “I think that probably is one of the reasons I believe that I should not make any decision about any such case.”
Washington Times Article
Kelly vows to turn around Obama immigration policy
Sees fast deportations from Homeland Security
Gen. Kelly said he was keeping an open mind and that Dreamers would not be top priorities for deportation.
He also declined to say whether he would use information from Dreamers’ applications to target them
or other illegal immigrants, nor would he set a target for how many of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country should be deported.
But Gen. Kelly made clear that he thinks “very large numbers” need to be deported, and quickly.
“I believe that rapidly processing and returning aliens to their countries of origin in significant numbers will help to immediately and significantly reduce the number of individuals and groups trying to enter the country illegally,” he said. “It will not be worth the investment of their life savings to get here, and it will not be worth making the dangerous trip north, if they know they will quickly be put on a bus or aircraft and returned south.”
He said the U.S. also must do more to control drug abuse. He said the national epidemic feeds the cartels and other criminal gangs that have destabilized countries to the south and caused waves of migration.
The four-star Marine general retired after tours that included leading allied forces in Iraq and then heading U.S. Southern Command, where he controlled all American forces in the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The latter experience gave him a close look at the forces driving illegal immigration and at the cartels that control migration and drug trafficking in the Western Hemisphere.
He said the porous U.S. border is the greatest threat to homeland security and that getting a handle on the problem is his top priority.
He was skeptical about a number of other Obama policies, including allowing illegal immigrants to sign up for military service, cutting back on cooperation with state and local police for enforcement of immigration laws, and broad use of “prosecutorial discretion” to avoid deporting most illegal immigrants.
“I believe that there is a role for traditional prosecutorial discretion, but we cannot refuse to enforce the laws on the books,” Gen. Kelly said.
Tug of war over Capitol artwork
The clash between members of Congress over a painting that depicts police officers as pigs boiled over Tuesday, with Republican lawmakers repeatedly taking matters into their own hands to remove the student artwork from a Capitol complex hallway and Democrats responding by rehanging the piece and defending its display.
The back-and-forth prompted Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, Louisiana Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, to warn that “we might have to kick somebody’s ass” if the pattern continued.
The drama over the painting started earlier in the day after Mr. Richmond, Rep. William Lacy Clay, Missouri Democrat, and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus restored the painting to its place on a tunnel wall inside the U.S. Capitol. They said they were striking a case for freedom of speech.
House Republicans said the artwork violates the terms of the student art competition. The office of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, signaled that he would begin the official process of removing the painting, which depicts police as gun-wielding pigs.
The painting had been on the wall since the summer. Mr. Clay chose it as the winner from his district for the 2016 art competition. But a fierce backlash culminated last week when Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, unilaterally made the decision to pull the work off the wall and return it to Mr. Clay’s office.
Obama hoped Islamic State would push Assad to talks
Well before Russia’s military came to Bashar Assad’s aid in Syria, the Obama administration calculated that the Islamic State’s expansion in the region would force the Syrian president into negotiating with Washington, according to private comments Secretary of State John F. Kerry made last fall.
Leaked audio captures Mr. Kerry’s closed-door discussion with Syrian activists on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in late September.
Although some details of the meeting have been reported, little attention has been paid to Mr. Kerry’s discussion about a strategy to use the terrorist group’s growing presence in Syria and Iraq as leverage to pressure Mr. Assad.
President Obama has said repeatedly that the Syrian leader must step down to end the country’s brutal civil war.
The State Department on Tuesday forcefully denied any suggestion that the administration ever had a policy of tolerating or trying to use the group, also known as ISIS and ISIL. But Mr. Kerry’s comments, which drew fresh scrutiny in the Arab media last week, raise questions about the extent to which the administration sought to gain from the terrorist group’s prominence to force Mr. Assad to capitulate.
“The reason Russia came in is because ISIL was getting stronger,” Mr. Kerry said on the recording, posted on the website of AMN News, an online aggregator of material focused on the Middle East. “[The Islamic State] was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus and so forth. We were watching. We saw that [the Islamic State] was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened.
Obama tells Americans his work isn’t finished
In his farewell address to the nation Tuesday night, a tearful President Obama called on Americans to keep working toward income equality, racial healing and bipartisan cooperation — the same goals he was unable to achieve over the past eight years.
With 10 days remaining in his presidency, Mr. Obama traveled to Chicago to deliver his valedictory speech to about 20,000 supporters and urge them to renew the fight for liberal values in the administration of Republican Donald Trump.
“We must forge a new social compact,” Mr. Obama said. “If we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.”
The president warned of threats facing democracy, saying race “remains a potent and often divisive force in our society.”
“If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves,” the president said. “If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children — because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce.”
Trump clemency for sailor urged as Clinton goes free
The paperwork was filed Monday with the Justice Department’s office of the pardon attorney, which now will conduct an investigation.
The case of former Machinist Mate 1st Class Kristian Saucier has become a cause celebre for conservatives. They watched the young sailor go to prison for carelessness with classified information while Mrs. Clinton avoided any punishment from the Obama administration.
The inmate’s mother, Kathleen Saucier, became his public advocate in TV interviews during the presidential campaign. She told The Washington Times that her message to Mr. Trump, who takes office Jan. 20, is: “I would like to say to Mr. Trump that I believe that he’s our hope to re-evaluate the way things are done in our government and that we, as American patriots, should never have to be in the position that myself and my family and I am sure many others have been.”
Saucier pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a charge of unauthorized retention of defense information and was sentenced Aug. 16 to a year in prison. For what he calls a “keepsake,” he took six cellphone pictures of his work area aboard the nuclear attack submarine USS Alexandria in 2009. They remained in his phone.