EPA Dismisses Oversight Request On Appointee’s Chinese Ties

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is stonewalling Republican lawmakers on a request for documents and communications between Deputy Administrator for Science Policy Dr. Chris Frey and his prior Chinese employer.

Frey, a Trump critic and former employee of the agency under both the Obama and the Trump administration before he was fired in 2018, captured attention on Capitol Hill when he returned to the EPA in a senior-level position without quitting his job at a Hong Kong university. Frey’s resume also includes prior work for the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department.

“Instead of resigning his position with [Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)], he is only taking a leave of absence, indicating Dr. Frey intents to return to work for HKUST after his service in the Biden administration,” wrote a group of five House Republicans in a September letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “At a time when the Biden administration is pushing for costly climate change ‘solutions’ that benefit China, it raises questions about why a senior EPA official has such strong ties to China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases.”

The GOP lawmakers on the House Subcommittee on Environment gave the administrator a Sept. 21 deadline to respond. A spokesman in New Mexico Rep. Yvette Herrell’s office confirmed to The Federalist Thursday the agency has so far dismissed the request with no response.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced Frey’s nomination to serve as assistant administrator of the Office of Research and Development, seven months after his return to the EPA in February. The office has not had a Senate-confirmed chief in nearly a decade.

“The Biden administration has always shown little regard for America’s energy independence and national security,” Herrell told The Federalist. “Staffing the highest levels of the EPA with individuals closely tied to China continues these twin failures.”

The government watchdog Protect the Public Trust (PPT) was the first group to unearth Frey’s May 11 ethics recusal statement through a Freedom of Information Act request with the findings made public in August. EPA leadership, the group wrote, permitted Frey to maintain an affiliation with HKUST in an unpaid status “despite the Department of Justice’s determination that such relationships are akin to working for a foreign government.”

“It’s generally expected that political appointees completely break ties with private entities and foreign governments in order to serve the American public,” said PPT Director Michael Chamberlain, characterizing the university as “an arm of the Chinese government.”

While Hong Kong operated for decades as a semi-autonomous region distanced from Beijing, Chinese leaders have stripped the territory of much of its independence with an aggressive crackdown since 2019.

Larry Behrens, the communications director for the energy non-profit Power the Future, said lawmakers had all the more incentive to raise questions about Chinese influence within the nation’s pre-eminent environmental agency as the Biden administration’s energy agenda focuses on ramping up production of fossil fuels abroad while suppressing it at home.

“These leaders are doing the right thing by asking important questions because we deserve to know if there is suspicious influence impacting public officials,” Behrens told The Federalist. “There is no doubt many of the policies put forth by the Biden administration, and decisions by the EPA in particular, appear to promote foreign energy industries at the expense of our workers here at home.”





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Obama-Appointed Judge Wrongly Dismisses Defamation Suit In Hunter Biden Laptop Story

In response to Politico’s reporting Tuesday, confirming the authenticity of the most damning materials about Joe Biden found on an abandoned MacBook, an attorney for the owner of The Mac Shop told me, “I hate the fact that there are people who think this is actual news!”

Attorney Brian Della Rocca’s sentiment is understandable. Since the New York Post first broke news of the MacBook abandoned at John Paul Mac Isaac’s computer repair store, the veracity of the documents has been confirmed many times and neither of the Bidens have denied the authenticity of the documents.

Further, as The Federalist broke last month, the abandoned laptop contained a video revealing a second missing laptop — one Hunter Biden thought the Russians had stolen and that might provide fodder for blackmail. And, significantly, approximately nine months before the New York Post revealed the videos, emails, and text messages, the FBI had seized the laptop and thus had access to the video of Hunter relaying concerns about Russians pilfering his laptop.

The supposed standard-bearers of journalism, however, ignored the Post’s original story, other than to frame it as Russian disinformation, while Twitter locked the Post’s account and prevented the story from being shared. Later when the Daily Mail broke news and a video of Hunter Biden telling a prostitute that in the summer of 2018, after awaking from a near-overdose, he discovered his laptop missing, likely stolen by Russians, corporate media remained stilted in their coverage of the explosive story. They then reverted to their see-no-evil stance when confirmation came that the FBI knew about that stolen second laptop.

Yet, now that Politico’s Ben Schreckinger has a book out, “The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty-Year Rise to Power,” the media is making some noise about the scandal, albeit still muted, and while still pretending that some of the material may not be authentic.

Nonetheless, it is still a good thing for the Americans blinded by corporate and social media censorship, to finally learn the truth. But that is little consolidation to John Paul Mac Isaac, whom Della Rocca represents in the latter’s defamation case against Twitter.

In that lawsuit Mac Isaac alleged Twitter defamed him by justifying its decision to block the New York Post’s expose on the contents of the MacBook by declaring the material “hacked.” Given social and corporate media’s outing of Isaac as the owner of the store who had provided a copy of the laptop’s hard drive to Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, Twitter’s factual assertion that the material was “hacked” branded Isaac a “hacker.”

The fall-out to Mac Isaac was swift, with him receiving threats and eventually being forced out of business. In an attempt to obtain some semblance of justice, Isaac sued Twitter in a federal district court for defamation.

Unlike most of the cases against Twitter, Section 230 provides the tech giant no protection for Mac Isaac’s lawsuit. While Section 230 grants “interactive computer service” providers for immunity for information posted by users, the basis of Mac Isaac’s lawsuit is on Twitter’s own allegedly defamatory statement, namely its branding of Isaac as a hacker, and not on something a user posted.

Second, while Twitter also has immunity for the good faith censorship of users’ speech, the defamation claim against Twitter does not rest on Twitter’s banning of the New York Post and coverage of the MacBook scandal. Rather, Mac Isaac’s claim is premised on Twitter stating, as a fact, that the material included in the articles was “hacked.”

Unfortunately for Mac Isaac, a federal court dismissed his lawsuit against Twitter on August 30, 2021. The court’s decision, however, represents a misinterpretation of Florida defamation law, which the court concluded applied in this case.

Florida law is clear that an individual need not be named in a publication in order to sue for defamation. Rather, it is well established in Florida that a plaintiff not explicitly named in a publication may sue for defamation if “the communication as a whole contains sufficient facts or references from which the injured person may be determined by the persons receiving the communications.” The test is whether “the average person upon reading [the]statements could reasonably have concluded that the plaintiff[] was implicated.”

Judge Beth Bloom, a Barack Obama appointee, however, nonetheless dismissed Mac Isaac’s lawsuit, holding that because he was pursuing a “per se” defamation claim, his identity needed to be determinable solely from Twitter’s post. Bloom’s reasoning is flawed for two main reasons.

First, the case law Bloom cited did not involve the question of whether the unnamed individual could sue for defamation per se. Second, and relatedly, the concept of per se defamation involves an entirely separate element to a cause of action for defamation.

To recover for defamation, a plaintiff must allege the defendant negligently (or with malice if the plaintiff is a public figure), made a false statement of fact, of and concerning the plaintiff, that harmed the plaintiff’s reputation, and caused damages.

Defamation per se involves false statements of fact considered so bad, such as that a person committed a crime or is unfit for their profession, that the court assumes that damages result and thus no proof of damage is required. That issue is entirely distinct from the question of whether Twitter’s branding of the materials as “hacked” was “of and concerning” Mac Isaac, i.e. falsely stating he was a hacker.

The trial court’s analysis improperly conflated those elements and in doing so ignored Florida law that allows an unidentified person to sue for defamation. While the decision is flawed, no decision has been made on whether to appeal the case, Della Rocca told me. “Appeals are extremely costly and because of Twitter’s conduct, Mac Isaac is now unemployed.”

Failing to appeal, however, will be costly too because in tossing Mac Isaac’s case, presiding Judge Bloom found Isaac must pay Twitter’s costs and attorney’s fees under Florida’s anti-SLAPP statute. The anti-SLAPP statute mandates an award of attorney’s fees and costs for a defendant if the person files a lawsuit “without merit and primarily because such person or entity has exercised the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue.”

Della Rocca said they also believe the anti-SLAPP ruling is wrong on the merits. That “law was enacted to prevent the filing of frivolous lawsuits is now being used by social media titans to strong-arm the average citizen into submission,” he said.

“At this point,” Della Rocca added, “John Paul’s choices may be limited by economics instead of what is right.”

That principle seems to apply equally to the media’s decision to just now begin covering the Hunter Biden laptop scandal. There are books to sell, after all.

Margot Cleveland is a senior contributor to The Federalist. Cleveland served nearly 25 years as a permanent law clerk to a federal appellate judge and is a former full-time faculty member and adjunct instructor at the college of business at the University of Notre Dame.
The views expressed here are those of Cleveland in her private capacity.





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Jen Psaki Dismisses Question About ‘Very Bad Behavior’ By U.S.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., September 10, 2021. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday dismissed CBS anchor Gayle King’s accusation that the U.S. had displayed “very bad behavior” internationally recently, saying that the administration doesn’t see it that way.

The exchange came during Psaki’s appearance on CBS Mornings in which she described President Biden’s Tuesday address before the United Nations General Assembly as forward-looking, at which point King noted that the president can’t “ignore what has happened before.”

“We’re still getting hammered for how the withdrawal from Afghanistan happened,” King said. “Everybody knows, many people believe it was time. It’s just the way that it was done … That’s not a good look. You look at what’s happening with immigration. You look at France now saying that they’ve been betrayed by the United States. So I get that we have to look forward. But what are we doing to justify or explain what appears to be very bad behavior on our part?”

“We don’t see it that way,” Psaki said.

The interview came amid a series of failures for the Biden administration: the announcement that a recent drone strike in Kabul killed civilians instead of ISIS-K members, a rapidly worsening crisis in Del Rio, Texas where thousands of predominantly Haitian migrants have camped out under the international bridge, as well as France’s announcement that it had recalled its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia in protest of the U.S.’s agreement to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia without consulting French officials.

Psaki defended the secret negotiations with Australia during the interview on Tuesday.

“They’re displeased about that, but we have a long-abiding friendship with them that’s going to endure,” she said of France.

Psaki also rejected that the U.S. has a “dysfunctional” relationship with China, as United Nations Secretary General António Guterres claimed.

“We do see the relationship through the prism of competition. China is a competitor, but it’s not a country we want to have conflict with,” Psaki said.

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Richard Durbin dismisses overruling Senate parliamentarian on amnesty in Biden spending plan

Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin dismissed the possibility of Democrats overturning a ruling that prevents an immigration amnesty being included in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion expansion of the federal safety net.

Mr. Durbin, Illinois Democrat and the party’s chief vote counter in the Senate, said Monday that any attempt to change the chamber’s rules to pass a pathway to citizenship along party lines was likely to fail.

“I don’t believe that’s realistic,” Mr. Durbin said. “I think the votes needed on the floor are not there.”

Democrats originally hoped to include a pathway to citizenship within Mr. Biden’s $3.5 trillion welfare bill, which party leaders are preparing to pass via budget reconciliation.

The process allows spending and tax measures to avoid the 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass with a simple 51-vote majority.

Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian who referees what can go into a budget reconciliation bill, nixed the idea. In a ruling released Sunday, Mrs. MacDonough dismissed the Democratic argument for why amnesty was part of the reconciliation process.

Democrats argued the effects of an amnesty would be hundreds of billions of dollars in government revenue and benefits over the coming decades, which meant it should qualify as a budget measure.

Ms. MacDonough disagreed, arguing that by “any standard” granting a pathway to citizenship was a “new immigration policy,” rather than a budgetary one.

“The policy changes of this proposal far outweigh the budgetary impact scored to it and it is not appropriate for inclusion in reconciliation,” she wrote.

The parliamentarian’s decision quickly spared rebuke from far-left Democrats, including members of the “Squad.”

Many have called on Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer to either fire Ms. MacDonough or hold a vote on overruling her decision.

“This ruling by the parliamentarian is only a recommendation. @SenSchumer and the @WhiteHouse can and should ignore it,” Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Democrat, said on Twitter. “We can’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do the right thing.

Officially, the Senate can vote to overturn a reconciliation determination made by the parliamentarian. For such an effort to succeed, only a simple majority of the Senate is needed.

At the moment, Democrats hold 50 seats, plus the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Despite having that majority, Mr. Durbin said it was not “realistic” that every single Democrat could be counted on to support a motion to overrule the parliamentarian.

“I hope I’m wrong, but I just don’t think at this moment that’s a realistic approach,” he said.

Kery Murakami and Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.

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Jen Psaki Dismisses Questions on Why Migrants Can Enter U.S. But Unvaccinated Foreign Nationals Can’t

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki takes questions during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., September 20, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday dismissed a question about why migrants are not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering the U.S. but foreign nationals who arrive by plane are, arguing that “it is not the same thing.”

“As individuals come across the border, they are both assessed for whether they have any symptoms, if they have symptoms, the intention is for them to have to be quarantined,” Psaki said of migrants entering the U.S. “That is our process.” 

“They are not intending to stay here for a lengthy period of time,” Psaki said of foreign nationals when pressed for further explanation. “I don’t think it’s the same thing. It is not the same thing.” 

The press briefing exchange came after the White House announced on Monday that the U.S. will require all foreign nationals to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter the country. 

“With science and public health as our guide, we have developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel,” White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters. “Foreign nationals flying to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated.”

Foreign travelers will be required to provide proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test within three days prior to departure to the U.S.

Meanwhile, thousands of migrants with unknown vaccination statuses are entering the country through the southern border each day. In Del Rio, Texas, Border Patrol agents have been overwhelmed by thousands of mostly Haitian migrants who have illegally crossed the border and are camping out under the international bridge in squalid conditions. The number of migrants at the camp has exploded since Wednesday, when there were 4,000 migrants there. Since then, the number has topped 14,000 at times.

Representative August Pfluger (R., Texas) who visited the area described it as “worse than you could imagine” and said that Border Patrol agents are worried “the worst is yet to come.”

“We are expelling individuals based on Title 42, specifically because of COVID,” Psaki said Monday, referring to the public health order. “Because we want to prevent a scenario where large numbers of people are gathering, posing a threat to the community, and also to the migrants themselves.”  

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Biden Admin Dismisses Yom Kippur as ‘Local Holiday’

The State Department’s Palestinian Affairs Unit has come under scrutiny for a tweet stating that its office would be closed on Thursday for a “local holiday”—the Jewish religion’s holiest of days known as Yom Kippur.

“Our office is closed today, Thursday, September 16, for the local holiday. We will reopen for normal business tomorrow, Friday, September 17,” the bureau tweeted Thursday, on Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is commemorated by Jews across the world, not just in Israel.

The tweet generated a flurry of responses on the social media platform from Jews and others who viewed the Biden administration as attempting to downplay the holiday on a Twitter account that primarily services the Palestinian community.

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

The Biden administration has made clear that it wants to elevate relations with the Palestinian government and move away from policies implemented by the Trump administration that they view as overly deferential to Israel and its government. One of the first foreign policy moves undertaken by the Biden State Department was to restart U.S. aid to the Palestinians even as they promote violence against Israel and use international aid dollars to pay imprisoned terrorists.

The administration is also working to reopen the consulate in Jerusalem that served as an embassy to the Palestinians and was closed in 2019 by the previous administration. Critics of the move say that reopening this consulate, which was replaced with the Palestinian Affairs Unit, would reward the Palestinian government while it refuses to engage in peace negotiations with Israel. There are also concerns that reopening the consulate would walk back the Trump administration’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.





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FEC Dismisses Claims that Twitter Violated Election Law by Blocking Posts on Hunter Biden’s Laptop Computer Showing Prostitution, Drugs and Criminal Dealings




FEC Dismisses Claims that Twitter Violated Election Law by Blocking Posts on Hunter Biden’s Laptop Computer Showing Prostitution, Drugs and Criminal Dealings





















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Secretary of State Blinken dismisses report of ‘hostage-like situation’ in Afghanistan

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that he is not aware of a hostage situation in Afghanistan with Americans being prevented from leaving, a position that contradicts a report from Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) earlier this week.

“We are not aware of anyone being held on an aircraft or any hostage-like situation in Mazar-i-Sharif,” Blinken said at a joint news conference in Doha with with Qatar’s top diplomats and defense officials, The Hill reported.

He did add that the U.S. is aware of a “relatively small number” of Americans trying to leave the country from the airport, and that the Taliban “assured” the Biden administration that Americans and Afghans with valid travel documents would be allowed to leave the country.

“We’ve been able to identify a relatively small number of Americans who we believe are seeking to depart from Mazar-i-Sharif with their families. We have been assured, again, that all American citizens and Afghan citizens with valid travel documents will be allowed to leave. And again, we intend to hold the Taliban to that,” the Secretary of State said.

Blinken noted that the Taliban had upheld their “commitment” at least once in the last 24 hours, when a family was allowed to leave Afghanistan via an overland route.

McCaul, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Sunday that “six airplanes, with American citizens on them” are being held “hostage for demands right now” by the Taliban.

“[The Department of] State has cleared these flights and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport,” McCaul told Fox News Sunday. “The Taliban wants something in exchange, this is really … turning into a hostage situation where they are not going to allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.”

Following the report, the State Department told The Hill on Sunday that because it doesn’t have any ground personnel, air assets, or control over the airspace in the region, it didn’t have “a reliable means to confirm the basic details of charter flights, including who may be organizing them, the number of U.S. citizens and other priority groups on-board, the accuracy of the rest of the manifest, and where they plan to land, among many other issues.”



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Judge Dismisses Unvaccinated Jurors Who Would Determine Fate of Health Tech CEO

A new fault line has emerged in President Joe Biden’s America in which those not vaccinated against the coronavirus will be banned from participation — this time, in jury service.

This week, U.S. District Judge Edward Davila of California kicked nine unvaccinated potential jurors out of the jury pool in the fraud case of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, according to Reuters.

According to KGO-TV, Holmes is charged with defrauding investors and patients after Theranos claimed a blood test it created could diagnose a wide range of ailments.

Davila, with lawyers on both sides consenting, said he acted to protect the health of jurors in a trial that could last four months.

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But if this sets a precedent and becomes commonplace, some experts said the real loser will be justice.

Should the judge have dismissed these jurors?

“If you excuse those [unvaccinated] people, you no longer have a representative jury,” said Christina Marinakis, a jury consultant with litigation consulting company IMS.

Americans who have not been vaccinated tend to hold more critical views of the government and corporate America, she said.

“The trend we’ve found consistently across jurisdictions is that people who are unvaccinated tend to have more anti-corporate attitudes,” she said. “Those jurors tend to be distrustful of government bodies, tend to feel things aren’t always what they seem.”

Data has shown there are demographic differences between those who are vaccinated and those who are not, as well as differences in political orientation.

Valerie Hans, a professor at Cornell Law School, said the judge’s action makes sense, but the ripple effects cannot be denied.

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Firefighters and State Troopers Band Together, Sue Their Own Governor in Massive Court Case

“I think it’s a reasonable decision in the midst of the pandemic, but yes, the elimination of unvaccinated people is likely to affect the makeup of the jury pool,” she said.

Kaspar Stoffelmayr, of the law firm Bartlit Beck, said restrictions on a jury pool could lay the groundwork for an appeal, but said in this case it might not matter.

“I would not assume that demographic differences, or differences in personal beliefs and attitudes, between vaccinated and unvaccinated jurors would necessarily favor one side or the other in the Holmes case,” he said.

Some courts are taking unique approaches. In the Northern District of Mississippi, jurors are asked to volunteer their vaccination status and asked about their willingness to serve with those who are not vaccinated.

This spring, the National Center for State Courts cautioned against weeding out the unvaccinated.

“Restricting the jury pool to persons who are fully vaccinated may make it more difficult to secure enough prospective jurors to select juries. Along with the coronavirus’ differential impact on people of color, public health experts have noted ongoing challenges in making vaccine distribution accessible to these communities, including higher rates of vaccine hesitancy in these communities,” the office said.

“Excluding persons who are not fully vaccinated may make the jury pool less likely to reflect a fair cross section of the community, which in turn may also increase the risk of jury challenges.”





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Iran dismisses U.S. sanctions of Iranians over alleged kidnap plot

FILE PHOTO: Iranian American journalist Alinejad Masih shows an FBI car guarding outside her apartment in this still image from an undated social media video posted on July 14, 2021. Twitter/@ALINEJADMASIH via REUTERS/File Photo

September 4, 2021

(Reuters) – Iran on Saturday dismissed new U.S. sanctions on four Iranians over an alleged plot to kidnap an Iranian-American journalist, saying the move reflects Washington’s “addiction to sanctions”.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Friday sanctioned https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/us-sanctions-iranians-over-alleged-plot-kidnap-ny-based-journalist-2021-09-03 the four, saying they were intelligence operatives behind the failed plot.

“Supporters and merchants of sanctions, who see their sanctions tool box empty due to Iran’s maximum resistance, are now resorting to Hollywood scenarios to keep the sanctions alive,” the Foreign Ministry said in a tweet, quoting spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh.

“Washington must understand that it has no choice but to abandon its addiction to sanctions and respect Iran,” he said.

The sanctions come after U.S. prosecutors in July charged the four with plotting to kidnap a New York-based journalist who was critical of Tehran. Reuters previously confirmed she was Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad.

Iran at the time called the alleged plot “ridiculous and baseless https://www.reuters.com/world/iran-says-us-claim-kidnapping-plot-is-baseless-ridiculous-2021-07-14.”

Those sanctioned are senior Iran-based intelligence official Alireza Shahvaroghi Farahani and Iranian intelligence operatives Mahmoud Khazein, Kiya Sadeghi and Omid Noori, the Treasury Department said.

The sanctions block all property of the four in the United States or in U.S. control, and prohibit any transactions between them and U.S. citizens. Other non-Americans who conduct certain transactions with the four could also be subjected to U.S. sanctions, the department said.

(Editing by William Mallard)





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