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John Kelly: Civil War caused by 'lack of ability to compromise'

Published: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 @ 2:40 PM

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly addresses the Center for a New American Security
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly addresses the Center for a New American Security "2017 Navigating the Divide Conference" June 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly drew criticism Monday after he suggested that the Civil War happened because of “the lack of the ability to compromise” while discussing the historical significance of Confederate memorials.

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Kelly made the comments during an interview that aired Monday night on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle.” Kelly was asked about a Virginia church that decided to move plaques that honored George Washington and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in the wake of racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, The Washington Post reported.

Kelly called Lee “an honorable man” who “gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country.”

“Now it’s different today,” Kelly told host Laura Ingraham. “But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

>> Related: Trump again blames ‘both sides’ for violence in Charlottesville

He added that it’s “very, very dangerous” for people to view historical events through the lens of modern morality.

“History’s history,” Kelly said. “I think we make a mistake … as a society, and certainly as individuals, when we take what is today accepted as right and wrong and go back 100, 200, 300 years or more and say, ‘What Christopher Columbus did was wrong.’”

His comments drew swift rebuke on social media from critics who argued that multiple attempts were made to “compromise” before the war broke out.

>> Related: Father of Charlottesville victim Heather Heyer says he forgives James Fields

“Notion that Civil War resulted from a lack of compromises is belied by all the compromises made on enslavement from America’s founding,” African-American writer Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote in a series of tweets slamming Kelly. 

“I mean, like, it’s called The three fifths compromise for a reason. But it doesn’t stand alone. Missouri Compromise. Kansas-Nebraska Act. Lincoln's own platform was a compromise. Lincoln was not an abolitionist. He proposed to limit slavery's expansion, not end it. During the Civil War, Lincoln repeatedly sought to compromise by paying reparations--to slaveholders--and shipping blacks out the country.”

The debate over Confederate monuments in America ramped up over the summer after violence broke out between white supremacists protesting the removal of a Lee statue from a park in Charlottesville and counterprotesters.

President Donald Trump was criticized for his response to the incident, which left one woman dead and dozens more injured, after he said that “both sides” were to blame for the violence. Critics questioned his unwillingness to condemn white supremacy outright.

>> Related: Heather Heyer's parents preach love, action after daughter’s death: 'You just magnified her'

Trump told a crowd gathered for a rally in Arizona in August that the removal of Confederate statues was tantamount to trying to wipe out American history.

“They’re trying to take away our culture, they’re trying to take away our history,” Trump said. “And our weak leaders, they do it overnight.”

Still, dozens of statues were taken down in cities across the country after the Charlottesville protests.

Robert E. Lee Never Wanted Confederate Monuments Built

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Trump explodes on Twitter, demands new review of 2016 investigation

Published: Sunday, May 20, 2018 @ 3:12 PM

Venting his frustration in a series of tweets on Sunday, President Donald Trump again demanded to know how the Justice Department, FBI, and Obama Administration handled questions of Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying he would request a new review specifically to see if an investigation was opened for ‘political purposes’ involving his campaign.

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” the President said.

It was one of a number of tweets where Mr. Trump flashed aggravation with the investigation into questions of Russian interference in the 2016 elections this weekend, as he repeated his charge that the feds had gone easy on Hillary Clinton and Democrats, while focusing investigative resources on his own campaign.

What seemingly set off Mr. Trump on Sunday was a report in the New York Times, which said Donald Trump Jr. had held a meeting at Trump Tower in the months before the elections, to hear an offer of help from emissaries of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

“The Witch Hunt finds no Collusion with Russia – so now they’re looking at the rest of the World,” the President tweeted.

The President’s call for a review of how the FBI handled questions about Russian interference is already the subject of a review inside the Justice Department – it wasn’t clear how this request would be dealt with by officials.

“There are rules,” said Carrie Cordero, a former Justice Department national security lawyer, who is now a professor at Georgetown University Law School.

In Congress, Democrats saw the President’s tweets as a signal of one thing – that he’s worried about what investigators are finding out about the 2016 probe, as they raised questions of whether the President is trying to exert political pressure on the Justice Department.

“The President has sent 8 tweets in 5 hours on Hillary and the Mueller investigation,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA). “He is unhinged.”

“A President who has nothing to hide would not have done another series of tweets this Sunday Morning smearing the DOJ investigation,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA).

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Farm bill derailed over House GOP battle on immigration

Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 4:13 PM

Unable to broker an agreement on a schedule for votes on bills dealing with immigration, a simmering internal fight among Republicans on that hot button issue boiled over on the House floor Friday, resulting in the defeat of a major farm policy bill, with the outcome raising the chances that the House will have a wide open showdown over DACA and illegal immigrant “Dreamers” in June.

A frustrated House Speaker Paul Ryan stood with his arms folded in the Well of the House as the 213-198 rejection of the Farm Bill was an embarrassing reminder of the inability of GOP leaders to forge an immigration bill that can pass Congress – and get the support of the President.

“I don’t know if the Freedom Caucus is ever going to say ‘yes’ to anything,” said Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), as many Republicans blamed the group of more conservative GOP lawmakers for opposing the Farm Bill, in an effort to get a vote on an immigration bill that they would support.

“We had an agreement yesterday,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA). “They pulled back off of that agreement.”

There were 30 Republicans who voted against the Farm Bill, for a mixture of reasons. Some over immigration, some because it spent too much, while there was also a group of more moderate Republicans who opposed changes in work requirements in the food stamp program.

“It doesn’t actually save money,” said Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH). “In the first five years of the bill, it spends more money.”

For others, their opposition had nothing to do with farm policy.

“I think at this point, we really just need to deal with immigration,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), the head of the House Freedom Caucus. “Hopefully we’ll fix the Farm Bill and the immigration bill.”

“My main focus was making sure we do immigration policy right,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

Those type of comments sparked finger pointing from fellow Republicans.

“When you have people like Jim Jordan taking down the Farm Bill for other issues, they’re acting just like Chuck Schumer and the Democrats over in the Senate,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH).

In the aftermath of the vote, Republicans who have pressed a ‘discharge petition’ to force action on immigration said their efforts were not over.

“What we have been working on most of the week is a timeline, a date certain, when we bring most of this up,” Rep. Denham told reporters, as he predicted there would be 218 signatures soon, which would force action on immigration.

Under the plan, four different immigration bills would be in order, giving all sides an opportunity to bring up their issues – but Denham says the final outcome must be something that allows “Dreamers” a pathway to citizenship, and includes serious border security measures.

“We are now working on the substance of that bill, and trying to come together on a 218-bipartisan bill,” Denham added, saying he was working with the White House as well.

“Ultimately we want to have something we not only put on the President’s desk, but one the President will actually support,” Denham said.

Once there are 218 signatures, that will start a clock for action in June.

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Trump expresses support for victims of Texas school shooting

Published: Friday, May 18, 2018 @ 1:13 PM

In the wake of shooting at a high school in Texas, President Donald Trump on Friday expressed the grief of the nation, telling the families of the victims, “We’re with you in this tragic hour, and we will be with you forever,” as Mr. Trump bemoaned what has become a familiar occurrence, a mass shooting involving young students.

“This has been going on too long in our country,” the President said in the East Room of the White House. “Too many years. Too many decades.”

“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools, and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others,” Mr. Trump added.

Mr. Trump’s message echoed his words after a mass shooting late last year in Parkland, Florida, which set off a loud political response.

“Everyone must work together, at every level of government, to keep our children safe,” the President said.

“I’m praying for all of the victims and their families and loved ones,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), who was seriously wounded in a gun attack last year on a group of Republican lawmakers, gathered for an early morning baseball practice outside of Washington, D.C.

“This is a senseless tragedy,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA).

News of the shooting spread as the U.S. House was wrapping up work for the week, as Democrats swiftly demanded action in the Congress on measures dealing with gun violence.

“Children’s lives are being cut short by senseless gun violence,” said Rep. Juan Vargas (D-CA). “It is past time for Congress to act to prevent more innocent deaths.”

“We have to stop this,” said Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA).

“We are not powerless,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA). “We are supposed to be leaders and take action.”

“Congress and Trump must finally have the courage to stand up to the NRA and do what the American people want,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). “Enough is enough!”

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Immigration debate roils Republicans again in Congress

Published: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 10:27 PM

An internal wrestling match over the best path forward on immigration left various factions of Republicans in the House increasingly at odds with each other Thursday, imperiling approval of a major farm policy bill, as GOP leaders struggled to prevent an arcane rules maneuver from being used to force a vote on the DACA program.

“What we’ve been trying to do is find an immigration bill that has 218 votes,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan. “We’ve been laboring to get to 218.”

“It’s clear that we don’t have 218 for a specific bill,” Ryan told reporters, the first real public admission by GOP leaders that a plan favored by President Trump is not going to make it through the House without changes.

“We’re working in earnest with our members to try to address all of their concerns,” the Speaker added, as meetings in the Capitol among various Republicans stretched into the night.

On one hand, more conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus were trying to get GOP leaders to agree to bring up an immigration bill backed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) – even though it won’t have enough votes to pass – doing all they can to avoid a vote on a plan which would allow illegal immigrant “Dreamers” to get on a pathway to citizenship in the United States, an idea that was sure to draw support from Democrats.

While over 130 Democrats on Thursday signed onto a special “discharge petition,” which would force votes on four different immigration plans, the key figure was still the number of GOP signatures, which remained at 20.

A combination of 25 Republicans – and all 193 Democrats – would set in motion a procedural push on immigration which GOP leaders want to avoid, because it might only mean a victory for a bill dealing with DACA, and not measures called for by the President on illegal immigration.

These are the 20 GOP lawmakers who have signed on so far:



One solution being floated was a minimal immigration bill dealing with DACA and border security – but the problem for the GOP in the House is fairly straightforward – if a bill does nothing on DACA it loses certain votes, and if you add DACA in, that pushes other Republicans away.

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