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Trump at CPAC: 2nd Amendment, tax cuts could be repealed if Dems take power



President Trump, in a fiery and freewheeling speech to conservative activists on Friday, implored his base to get off their “ass” and “clobber” Democrats in upcoming elections so they won’t try to repeal the Second Amendment, undo recent tax cuts and install liberal judges.

“If they get in, they will repeal your tax cuts,” Trump said during an appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington. “They will put judges in that you wouldn’t believe. They will take away your Second Amendment, which we will never allow to happen.”

Trump, in a speech reminiscent of those during the campaign, ticked off his accomplishments over the last year, including passing tax cuts, moving the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and withdrawing from the Paris climate accords.

The president also used the occasion to address the recent debate over gun control, in the wake of last week’s school shooting massacre in Florida, and call for more armed security in schools. Had teachers been armed in Florida, Trump said, “the teacher would have shot the hell out of [the attacker] before he knew what happened.”

“When we declare our schools to be gun-free zones, it just puts our students in far more danger,” Trump said. “Well-trained gun-adept teachers and coaches should be able to carry concealed firearms.”

He rebuked ex-Broward County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Scot Peterson, who was on campus at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., during the shooting but did not go inside while it was happening. Before the speech Friday, Trump suggested Peterson is a “coward.”

“You had one guard, he did not turn out to be real good, I will tell you that,” Trump said. “He turned out to be not good. He was not a credit to law enforcement, that I can tell you.”

Trump emphasized his support for NRA but said “we really do have to strengthen up” background checks for gun owners.

He also riled up the crowd by reminiscing about the 2016 election, calling Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton a “crooked candidate.” At one point, the crowd broke into “lock her up chants,” like his supporters did during the campaign.

“Boy, have they committed a lot of atrocities, when you look, right?” Trump said of the Democrats.

He emphasized to the crowd the importance of future elections, including the upcoming midterms and 2020 presidential contest, warning the crowd not be complacent. Trump expressed hope Republicans “clobber” Democrats “because everybody gets off their ass, and they work.”

“It is a natural instinct,” the president said. “You just won, and now, you’re happy and complacent. Don’t be complacent.”

Trump said of the upcoming midterms: “We have to get out there, and we have to fight in ’18 like never before.”

Amid a breakdown in negotiations over protecting illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, Trump said Democrats “totally abandoned DACA,” saying they aren’t willing to negotiate on other immigration reforms. He called for a merit-based system and expressed his opposition to the VISA lottery program, saying: “They are not giving us their best people, folks.”

The crowd at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center was packed with college students, many of whom were wearing iconic red “Make America Great Again” hats.

“By the way, you don’t mind if I go off script a little bit,” the president told the audience.

He didn’t hold back criticism of Republicans who haven’t supported his agenda – making reference to Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has been battling cancer and who voted against the Trump plan to repeal ObamaCare.

“I don’t want to be controversial so I won’t use his name,” Trump said of McCain.

The president also ripped into the media, referring to “all those horrible people back there.”

“They are going to support me,” he said. “You know why? Because if somebody else won, their ratings would go down, they would all be out of business.”

Trump acknowledged coming back to address the gathering for sentimental reasons: it was at CPAC where he said he gave his first political speech in 2011 and tested out his message to conservatives ahead of his 2016 presidential run. Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, pleased the president in his introduction by saying Friday’s audience for Trump was the biggest in CPAC history.

“Remember when I first started running because I wasn’t a politician, fortunately, but do you remember, I started running, and people would say are you sure he is a conservative? I think that we’ve proved that I am a conservative,” Trump said.

The three-day convention this year has heavy representation from the Trump administration: Vice President Mike Pence appeared Thursday, as did White House counsel Don McGahn. A number of Cabinet officials also made appearances, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Labor Secretary Alex Costa and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and U.S. Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon are speaking Friday.

At the end of the speech, Trump used the speech to announce what he referred to as the “heaviest set of sanctions ever imposed” against the North Korean regime. 

He also paid tribute to Billy Graham, the evangelist and spiritual adviser to multiple past presidents who died this week, saying “we will never forget the historic crowds, the voice, the energy, and the profound faith.”

There were also several light-hearted moments. Early in the speech, the president pointed to a large screen streaming his speech, turned around and pointed to his hair, and joked: “I try like hell to hide the bald spot, folks!”

Like he occasionally did during the campaign, he read the lyrics from the song “The Snake” to argue against allowing dangerous people into the country.

When one protester interrupted his speech, the crowd broke into “USA” chants. “How did he get in here, Matt?” Trump said, referencing Schlapp, the leader of CPAC.

“He was very obnoxious,” the president said of the protester. “It was only one person.”

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.

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Pennsylvania GOP lawmakers fostered false election allegations that fueled Capitol riot



Conspiracy theories about the counting of ballots in Pennsylvania appear to have made it the unfortunate ground zero of much of the discord the country has seen since President Donald Trump lost the November election.

Rioters who supported Trump cited false allegations about election fraud in Pennsylvania — shared by some of the state’s own Republican lawmakers, including Congressman Scott Perry and state Sen. Doug Mastriano — as a reason to “storm the Capitolon Jan. 6.

Now statehouses across the country, including the one in Pennsylvania, are bracing for additional confrontations in the coming days.

The state where the country’s democracy was founded, Pennsylvania saw members of Congress object to its electors even as broken glass still littered the floor of the Capitol hours after the riot ended, perpetuating doubts among Trump supporters about the integrity of the state’s election.

Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies said this past week that they are gearing up for potential violence in the state ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., and Gov. Tom Wolf has assigned 450 members of the state’s National Guard to protect the Pennsylvania Capitol.

“I will not allow what happened at our nation’s capital to happen here,” said Wolf, who also assigned approximately 2,000 members of the state National Guard to protect Washington.

Jack Thomas Tomarchio, who served as the principal deputy under secretary for intelligence under the Bush administration and helped set up domestic intelligence gathering networks nationwide, said Pennsylvania — where he lives — is particularly under threat because of the number of militia groups in the state and its central role in the election fraud conspiracy theories.

Tomarchio, who called claims that Pennsylvania Democrats had stolen the election “utter hogwash,” said the state faces manpower issues in protecting state and federal buildings across from being targeted by domestic extremists.

“Pennsylvania is definitely a high-profile target because it’s one of the states these groups were contesting,” he said. “At the same time, Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of having about 28 militia groups, especially in the northern tier of the state. These places harbor a lot of right-wing extremist groups, and so that’s another reason why the state has to be really careful.”

The Republican-controlled legislature has done little to lower the temperature, however.

A day prior to the riot in the Capitol, Pennsylvania Republicans refused to seat state Sen. Jim Brewster, a Democrat who won a tight race in the western part of the state by 69 votes. They also removed Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, as presiding officer of the Senate because he attempted to seat Brewster.

Brewster has since been seated after a federal judge sided with Democrats, but some state Republicans are now attempting to amend Pennsylvania’s constitution and change how state Supreme Court judges are elected after lawsuits to overturn the election and challenge pandemic safety measures were denied by the state court.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman delivers an introduction for Gov. Tom Wolf during an inaugural ceremony on Jan. 15, 2019, in Harrisburg, Pa.Mark Makela / Getty Images file

“What Republicans are planning to do with the Supreme Court is reprehensible,” said Fetterman, who Republicans voted to remove as president of the Senate last week in what state Democrats called “an attempted coup.”

“My dudes had no problem with the Supreme Court from 2002 to 2015, when it was in conservative control,” he said. “But then the Democrats hustled, we took control of the Supreme Court and now they hate that Supreme Court. They literally are going to change the constitution to try to eliminate and gerrymander the court.”

Currently, members of the state’s Supreme Court are elected to their seats in statewide elections for 10 year terms. Republicans want to confine those elections to districts that would be drawn by the state legislature.

The attempted change to the state constitution could make its way before Pennsylvania voters if passed, but Wolf, a Democrat, warned the effort was an attempt at control by “hyper-partisan” Republicans.

“I strongly oppose giving the legislature the power to gerrymander our justice system,” the governor said. “This constitutional amendment is just another effort by Harrisburg Republicans to prevent the will of the people from being heard by stopping all Pennsylvanians from having a voice in selecting judges for the highest courts in the state.”

Those efforts by Republican state lawmakers now have a months-long history: The GOP-controlled legislature refused to allow state workers to count ballots early during the election and members of the party shared election fraud falsehoods before and after the election — oftentimes parroting President Donald Trump and his lawyers.

Mastriano and Perry, both Republicans, are two Pennsylvania lawmakers who pushed election fraud conspiracy theories in their state at two levels of government.

Both are military veterans: Mastriano served as a colonel in the Army and taught at the Army War College, and Perry served as a brigadier general in the Pennsylvania National Guard. They have received numerous calls to resign for using their positions to bring the election fraud allegations to the mainstream.

Scott Perry speaks to supporters of President Donald Trump at a protest in front of the Pennsylvania Commonwealth capitol building in Harrisburg, Pa., on Nov. 5, 2020.Mark Kauzlarich / Reuters file

Perry objected to Pennsylvania’s electors after the riot occurred, along with seven other Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation. Mastriano met with Trump regarding Pennsylvania’s election at the White House and held a hearing for the president’s lawyers in Gettysburg to attempt to further legitimize the unsupported allegations.

Mastriano attended the protest in Washington last week, though he said he and his wife left before it turned into a riot at the Capitol.

Fetterman and other Democrats lay much of the responsibility for the perpetuation of the election falsehoods in Pennsylvania at the feet of Perry, Mastriano and state Republicans.

“It’s stunning,” said Fetterman, who expressed concern for his family’s safety. “Last Tuesday there were literally 200 crazy Trump protesters under my office balcony on the front steps of the state Capitol, and then we had the big conflagration in the Senate when they voted to eject me. There was no difference between Harrisburg and D.C. because it easily could’ve gone the same way in Harrisburg, and they could’ve stormed the state Capitol.”

“What I’m trying to say is, they stoked it, stoked and stoked it, and then Wednesday happened,” Fetterman added.

Neither Mastriano nor Perry responded to requests for comment about their active participation in spreading the election fraud falsehoods, their roles in undermining voters in Pennsylvania or the calls for their resignation. Both have released statements condemning the violence.

Perry also released a one-word statement in response to the demands that he leave office.

“No,” he wrote.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, attends a hearing of the Pennsylvania State Senate Majority Policy Committee, in Gettysburg, Pa. on Nov. 25, 2020.Julio Cortez / AP file

Mastriano, meanwhile, has since requested on social media that his supporters “not participate in rallies or protests over the next ten days. Let’s focus on praying for our nation during these troubling times.” The statement represents a sudden about-face in the rhetoric he previously used, such as when he told a conservative radio show host that Trump supporters are in “a death match with the Democrat party” over the election results, according to Media Matters for America.

Mastriano, who became a right-wing celebrity and saw his social media following blossom from a few thousand people to hundreds of thousands over his opposition to the state’s pandemic precautions and perpetuation of the president’s election falsehoods, also used campaign funds to rent buses for his supporters to travel from Chambersburg to Washington for the protest last week, according to NPR affiliate WHYY.

He charged $25 for an adult and $10 for a child to travel on the bus, the Facebook event shared by Doug Mastriano Fighting for Freedom said.

But the state senator — who was appointed by Republican Senate leadership to chair the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee this week — said on NewsMax that the Capitol riot was caused by only a few agitators and insinuated they were not Trump supporters.

“We were there peacefully,” he said, “99.9 percent of us, and they should not be blamed for anything.”

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SNP humiliated: Rees-Mogg dismantles Sturgeon's demands for billions in 'Brexit damages'



JACOB REES-MOGG brilliantly picked apart Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for Brexit compensation, pointing out that the UK taxpayer already foots a £8.6bn bill for Scotland.

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Nicola Sturgeon told to step down as SNP ordered to ditch 'ridiculous' plot to rejoin EU



A NIGEL Farage-backed Unionist has blasted Nicola Sturgeon’s ambitions of rejoining the EU.

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