Monday, March 8, 2021

RNC Rejects Trump's Cease-and-Desist Demand

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is Denying a Cease-and-Desist Demand from Trump’s Attorneys, who asked the Party Organization to Stop using Trump's Name and Likeness in Fundraising Appeals.

In a Letter, sent Monday afternoon, to Trump Attorney, Alex Cannon, RNC Chief Counsel, Justin Riemer, asserted that the Committee “has every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech, and it will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals.”

The Letter is a brush-back to the Trump Team, which sent a March 5th Request that the RNC “immediately cease and desist the unauthorized use of President Donald J. Trump’s name, image, and/or likeness in all fundraising, persuasion, and/or issue speech.”

Trump Attorneys sent Letters to a cadre of GOP Committees asking them Stop using Trump in Fundraising Appeals, including the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Other Groups loosely Affiliated with the Party have also received Notices.

The Dust-Up represents a rare Break between the Trump Team and the RNC, which during the 2020 Campaign worked together through a Joint Fundraising Vehicle to raise over $366 Million. The Two Sides merged their Political and Digital Operations together into a Single Operation in the Run-Up to last year's Election, and their Fundraising Activities were Closely Aligned. Trump and Ronna McDaniel, the current Committee chairwoman speak frequently, and just after the Election, he Endorsed her to serve a Third Term as Party Chair, a nod that paved the way for her Reelection.

But as he plots out his Plans to exact Revenge on his perceived Republican Enemies in the 2022 Midterm Elections, the Trump has begun to assert Greater Control over how his Name is used to generate Fundraising Dollars. Just days before the Cease-and-Desist Letters were sent, Trump delivered a Speech before the Conservative Political Action (CPAC) Conference in which he said that the “only… way” to Financially Support Trump-aligned Republicans was through Save America, his Leadership Political Action Committee (PAC).

Trump launched the PAC just after the 2020 Election, during which time it raised Tens of Millions of Dollars. Trump can use the Committee to Donate to Candidates of his Choosing and to Fund other Political activities. Separately, he has tapped Longtime Adviser, Corey Lewandowski, to Spearhead a super PAC, which will be able to Raise and Spend Unlimited Amounts of Money. Brad Parscale has Re-Entered Trump’s Orbit after being Fired as campaign Manager last summer and is helping with Digital Fundraising Efforts.

Some Senior Republicans say they believed that last week's Cease-and-Desist Demand was driven by the Advisers surrounding Trump. And most have Scoffed at the Request, asserting that they are Allowed to use Trump’s Name in Fundraising Appeals given that he is a Public Figure.

The RNC has continued to invoke Trump in several Fundraising Appeals since it Received the Cease-and-Desist Request. It sent a Pair of Trump-themed Fundraising Emails over the Eeekend, and on Monday it Emailed Donors asking them to help “defend President Trump’s legacy.”

In his Letter, Riemer writes that Trump and McDaniel “enjoy a close relationship, and we understand that President Trump reaffirmed to her over the weekend that he approves of the RNC’s current use of his name in fundraising and other materials, including for our upcoming donor retreat event at Palm Beach at which we look forward to him participating.”

Trump has long been Sensitive about People making Money off his Name. In 2019, Trump’s Campaign scolded David Bossie, a Longtime Informal Adviser to Trump, amid Allegations that he Deceptively used Trump’s Name to raise Money for an Outside Group that he was Overseeing.

While the RNC and Trump Campaign worked Closely during last year's Campaign, there were at times Tensions between the Two Sides. McDaniel and former Trump Campaign Manager, Bill Stepien, have long been seen as Rivals, and during the waning days of the Election, Communication broke down between the Committee and the Campaign. While the campaign was Skeptical of Data the RNC was providing, Committee officials were Critical of TV Advertisements the Reelection effort was airing.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Biden Administration Grants Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan Exiles

The Biden Administration, on Monday, announced it would Grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelan Exiles, fulfilling a Campaign Promise to allow them to Live and Work Legally in the U.S.

The TPS Designation offers Legal Protections for 18 months to Venezuelans Fleeing the Humanitarian Crisis brought on by Nicol├ís Maduro’s Government.

It comes after years of Democrats and Florida Republicans pushing for Granting TPS to Venezuelans, while Trump Declined to do so, and instead, Secretly Deported Venezuelans despite Safety Concerns.

Trump, on his last day in Office, used Executive Power to Shield Venezuelans from Deportation through the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) Program.

Still, Venezuelans have Remained in Limbo during the First Weeks of the Biden Administration as Officials Opted-Not to Open Applications for DED and took Steps to announce the TPS Designation.

Democrats and Florida Republicans were quick to Welcome the Biden Administration’s move to offer Relief to Eligible Venezuelans as the Country remains in Crisis.

“In standing with the Venezuelan people, we are striking a blow to the Maduro regime, which has for years deprived its own citizens of education, healthcare, basic freedoms, and even food,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who has led Multiple Efforts to Secure TPS for Venezuelans, said in a Video statement. “And we are sending a powerful signal to allies and competitors that the United States is once again committed to the cause of democracy.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a longtime Supporter of allowing Venezuelans to Live and Work Legally in the U.S., reminded that Trump had First offered Venezuelans Protection and said he was “glad the Biden administration shares that commitment.”

Last month, Colombia also Franted Temporary Legal Status to nearly 1 Million Venezuelan Migrants in the South American neighboring Country.

Extending the Status to Venezuelans would Protect about 200,000 Venezuelan Citizens in the U.S. from Deportation, according to Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

TPS is used to Protect Immigrants who come from Countries Devastated by Natural Disasters or Armed Conflict.

It’s the Same Temporary Legal Status the Trump Administration announced it would Phase-Out, in 2018, for more than 300,000 Immigrants from: El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Sudan, over the next few years.

Under Biden’s Immigration Plan, which faces an Uphill Battle on Capitol Hill, TPS Recipients would be Eligible for Automatic Green Cards.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Biden Administration Gives Major Push to Giant MA Offshore Wind Farm

The Interior Department, said on Monday, it had Completed its Environmental Review for a Massive Wind Farm off the Coast of Massachusetts, a key step toward Final Approval of the Long-Stalled Project that will play a prominent role in Biden's effort to Expand Renewable Energy in the U.S.

The Completion of the Review is a Breakthrough for the U.S. Offshore Wind Industry, which has lagged behind its European Counterparts and the U.S. Onshore Industry that has grown Rapidly, even during the Pandemic. It also marks a Key Acceleration for the Biden Administration that has Advocated Renewables Growth on Public Lands and Waters.

"This is a really significant step forward in the process for moving toward more offshore wind development in the United States," Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director, Amanda Lefton said.

"This is the day the U.S. offshore wind industry has been anxiously awaiting for years. Today's announcement provides the regulatory greenlight the industry needs to attract investments and move projects forward," said Liz Burdock, Head of the Non-Profit Group Business Network for Offshore Wind.

The Proposed 800-megawatt Project, called Vineyard Wind, would be Located approximately 12 Nautical Miles off the Coast of Martha's Vineyard and would be the First Commercial-Scale Offshore Wind Project in the Country. Two other Small Offshore Projects have been Built off the Coasts of Rhode Island and Virginia, but at 30 MW and 12 MW, respectively, are a Fraction of the Size of the Vineyard Wind Project, which needs a Final Record of Decision before Construction can begin. That Decision could come this Spring.

The BOEM Analysis' preferred Alternative would allow up to 84 Turbines to be Installed in 100 of the 106 proposed Blocks for the Facility. It would Prohibit the Installation of Wind Turbine Generators in Six Locations in the Northernmost Section of the Development area and the Wind Turbine Generators would also be required to be arranged in in a North-South and East-West Orientation, with at least 1 Nautical mile between each Turbine.

But that Preferred Alternative still anticipates Moderate impacts on Commercial Fisheries, as well as Minor to Moderate impacts on for-hire Recreational Fishing. The Fishing Industry has been among the Biggest Opponents of Wind Farms, and it has been Critical of the Biden Administration's sharp turn from the Slow-Walking approach the Trump Administration had taken.

In a statement last week, a Fishing Industry Advocacy Group, the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, said it would appear "fishing communities are the only ones screaming into a void while public resources are sold to the highest bidder."

Vineyard Wind, a Joint Venture between Avangrid Renewables and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, said Monday, it expects the Project to reach its Financial Close in the Second Half of this year and begin Delivering Electricity to Massachusetts in 2023.

"More than three years of federal review and public comment is nearing its conclusion and 2021 is poised to be a momentous year for our project and the broader offshore wind industry," Vineyard Wind CEO, Lars T. Pedersen, said in a statement. "Offshore wind is a historic opportunity to build a new industry that will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs, reduce electricity rates for consumers and contribute significantly to limiting the impacts of climate change."

Lefton hailed the Jobs that would be Created in the Construction, Maintenance, and Supply Chain of the Offshore Wind Industry, and she said those would be in Partnership with Unions and the Labor Movement "to ensure that we can realize the full potential of this industry."

The Project had Suffered Repeated Delays under the Trump Administration. BOEM initially Delayed the Project's Environmental Review in Order to Perform a more Robust Analysis of the Impacts of Offshore Wind Facilities along the East Coast.

Vineyard Wind, in December 2020, Requested to Temporarily Withdraw its Construction and operations Plan for the Project, so that it could Proceed with a Technical Review of GE's Haliade-X Wind Turbine Generators, a Request it later Rescinded. But before it Revoked that Request, the Trump Administration Terminated its Review in response.

The Biden Interior Department ultimately decided in Early February 2021 to Restart the Environmental Review and Proceed with Development of its Final Environmental Impact Statement. Last week, BOEM Published a Notice to Resume preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Biden has called for Eliminating Carbon Pollution from the Power Sector by 2035, and shortly after entering the White House, issued an Executive Order pushing the Interior Department to Increase Renewable Energy Production on Public Lands and Waters.

Vineyard Wind says the Project will provide Clean Electricity to Power more than 400,000 Homes, creating Thousands of Jobs, and Reducing Electricity Rates by $1.4 Billion over its first 20 years of operation.

"Offshore wind is a critical component of the president's executive order, and it's a really important opportunity for growth in the United States," Laura Davis, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management at the Interior Department. Davis added that the Demand for Offshore Wind has "never been greater," amid Falling Costs and Advances in Technology that make it "a really promising avenue for diversifying our national energy portfolio."

BOEM said Monday, there are approximately 1.7 Million acres Leased in the Outer Continental Shelf for Offshore Wind Development, with 16 Active Leases on the Atlantic.

The Agency announced it would Publish its Notice of Availability for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Vineyard Wind I Project on Friday.

After Publication of the FEIS, BOEM is required to Wait at least 30 days before Issuing a Record of Decision, kicking its ultimate Decision on the Plan until April 2021.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Iowa County Democrats Introduce Resolution to Replace Caucuses with Primary

A Democratic Resolution introduced in Johnson County, Iowa, says: in the Off-Year, would Replace the current Voting System, Caucus, with a Party Primary.

"People who defend the caucuses say it's a good organizing opportunity," Local Activist, John Deeth said. "But you can't organize when you're dealing with crowd control and anger management."

Opponents of the Caucus Format have long pointed out that a Requirement that Participants be Physically present can Exclude People for reasons of Disability, Work, or Lack of Transportation.

"Iowa Democrats keep saying, 'Voting should be convenient. Voting should be easy, except at the caucuses. And then you have to go and stand in the corner for three hours to vote,' " Deeth told. "That's unacceptable, and that is more important than whose turn it is to go first."

Passage of the largely Symbolic Resolution in Johnson County would Mot automatically Change the State's System, Experts noted.

Iowa's Conversion to a Primary could mean the Loss of its Position as the Nation's First Nominating Contest. New Hampshire maintains a State Law requiring it to be the First Primary in the Country, and Iowa's switch could prompt the Granite State's Secretary of State to Schedule its own Primary Earlier.

But Democrats and Elected Officials have long said Iowa is Not Diverse enough to be Representative of the Party's Voters Nationwide.

The 2020 Iowa Caucuses led to further calls to Abandon the System after the Results were Delayed for Three Days and relied on a Malfunctioning App.

The percentage of Iowans who Favor a Switch has Increased in recent years, from 39% in February 2017, to 47% in March 2020. During the same period, the percentage who said a Primary would be Worse than a caucus decreased from 43% to 30%.

"I think our move away from caucuses is inevitable," Iowa-based Democratic Strategist, Derek Eadon, said.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Supreme Court Rejects Last Trump Bid to Nullify 2020 Election Results

The Supreme Court, on Monday, Denied a Bid by Trump to Nullify his Electoral Loss in Wisconsin, Rejecting Trump's Final Pending Appeal over the Results of the 2020 Election.

In an Unsigned Order, the Justices Declined to take up Trump’s Lawsuit Alleging Wisconsin Election Officials Violated the Constitution by Expanding Absentee Voting amid the Global Coronavirus Pandemic.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

House Introduced Major Gun Safety Bill

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021( H.R. 8), introduced Mar. 1st, 2021, would require a Background Check on All Firearm Sales. Under the current Law, only Licensed Gun Dealers must Perform Background Checks for those looking to purchase a Firearm. That Excludes Gun Sales from Unlicensed Gun Dealers, Gun Shows, or Online Retailers.

Millions of Guns in America, are Sold each year with No Background Checks at all, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a Gun Safety Organization led by Former Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. “Clearly, this is the most efficient and effective way to deal with gun violence,” Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA, 5th District), the main Sponsor of the Bill, and chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Thompson said Democrats chose to Focus on Background Checks first because of its Bipartisan Support among Legislators and the General Public.

Around 93% of Democrats, and 82% of Republicans favor Background Checks for Private Gun Sales, and Sales at Gun Shows, according to the Pew Research Center. Even in the New Legislation, though, there will be Exceptions for Gifts to Family Members, Transfers for Hunting, Target Shooting, and Self-Defense.

The Universal Background Check Legislation in the House has a Bipartisan Slate of Authors: Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA, 8th District); Robin Kelly (D-IL, 2nd District); Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX, 18th District); Lucy McBath (D-GA, 6th District); Jerrold Nadler (D-NY, 10th District); Christopher Smith (R-NJ, 4th District); and Fred Upton (R-MI, 6th District).

Thompson expects the Bill to move quickly through the House, and get to the Senate by Early April.

Democratic Whip, Jim Clyburn (D-SC, 6th District) also announced, on Tuesday, that he planned to Reintroduce an Enhanced Background Check Bill that would Close the so-called “Charleston Loophole,” which currently allows a Firearm Sale to proceed if a Background Check is Not Completed in Three days.

This is Not the first time that the House has pushed for Universal Background Checks. In 2019, the same Legislation was a Top Priority for Democrats, and it Passed the House with Bipartisan Support with a Vote of 240-190. However, it Died in the Senate where then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Declined to bring the Bill up for a Vote.

This year, the Bill has a better chance of getting a Vote under Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D), but the Body’s Rules require 60 Votes for most Pieces of Legislation to Pass.

“The Senate is always a tough hurdle to clear,” said Thompson, who added that he’s hopeful that there will be Republican Senators who Vote to Support the Measure. If it passes both the House and Senate, Thompson is relying on President Biden to swiftly Sign this into Law. “He’s a good ally. He knows the issue. He’s a gun owner himself,” Thompson said. He and other Members of the House Task Force hope to Meet with President Biden “in the very near future” to Discuss Gun Safety Issues.

During his Presidential Bid in 2020, Biden touted his Voting Record on Gun Safety Measures, like Banning Assault Weapons and High Capacity Magazines. But those Regulations, Passed in 1994, have since Expired. Top White House Aides: Susan Rice, Domestic Policy Advisor, and Cedric Richmond, Public Engagement Director, met Virtually last month with Outside Groups to Discuss “the ongoing public health crisis of gun violence in America.” Those kind of moves signal that Gun Legislation will be a Priority for the New Administration.

Congressmen and Senators are also Dealing with their own Internal Struggles over Gun Control. A New Batch of Far-Right Members of Congress, coupled with a New Awareness of Violence following the Capitol Riot on January 6th, has led to Increased Tensions on Capitol Hill over firearms.

“I suspect people always brought guns on the Floor in the past in violation of the House rules, but it’s a different twist this year after Jan 6th. New members have been very, very vocal about their guns,” Thompson said.

One Campaign Ad by Republican Freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA, 14th District) shows her holding a Gun in front of a Photo of “Squad” Members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY, 14th District), Ilhan Omar (D-MN, 5th District), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI, 5th District).

Another Freshman, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO, 3rd District), declared in a Viral Video that she would Carry her Glock to Congress. She Obtained a Concealed Carry Permit to Carry one in DC.

To Stop House Members from bringing a Weapon on the Floor, a Metal Detector was installed and a Fine is Deducted from a member's salary, if they try to bypass the Metal Detector.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

Biden Nominates Female Generals Who Were Passed Over

Biden nominates Two Female Generals who were Passed Over by the Pentagon because they Feared Trump's Reaction.

Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, on Saturday, announced that Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost and Army Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, have been Nominated for Four-Star Commands pending Senate approval.

Gen. Van Ovost was Nominated to Run the U.S. Transportation Command.

Lt. Gen. Richardson, currently a Commanding General, was Nominated to Run the U.S. Southern Command in Florida.

It comes after, being Reported in February, that Mark Esper and Gen. Mark Milley, Trump's Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed to Delay the Nomination of both Leaders until Trump had left Office. Both reportedly Feared that Trump would Oppose the Nomination of any Candidates who were Not white men, and would Pick his own Candidates if he found the Nominations were discussed with him.

Esper and Gen. Milley decided, as a result, to Delay making the Nominations until after November's Presidential Election and Biden defeated Trump.

Esper said: "They were chosen because they were the best officers for the jobs, and I didn't want their promotions derailed because someone in the Trump White House saw that I recommended them or thought D.O.D. [Department of Defense] was playing politics." "This was not the case. They were the best qualified. We were doing the right thing," he said.

Esper and Gen Milley's concerns about Trump's Opposition to both promotions may have been well-founded considering the Trump made an Extensive Effort in the last months of his term to install Loyalists and Allies in Senior Pentagon Roles.

The Relationship between Trump and his Joint Chiefs of Staff had Soured in the last year of his Term as they Clashed over Numerous Issues.

Milley reportedly considered Resigning after accompanying Trump in Military Uniform to a Controversial Photo-Op in Washington, DC, in July 2020, moments after Trump had threatened to use Troops to Quell Civil Unrest in the wake of the Police Killing of George Floyd.

Trump fired Esper immediately after he lost November's Election. Esper, who had long been considered likely to be Fired, had reportedly been working Quietly with Congress to Rename Military Bases named after Confederate Leaders.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker