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On the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, President Trump plans to award the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Sgt. Major Thomas Payne for conspicuous gallantry for his role in leading a dangerous nighttime raid in Iraq that freed 75 hostages.

The White House announced that Payne would be receiving the award on Thursday, calling praising the solider for his “speed, audacity, and courage.”

“Sergeant Payne’s extraordinary heroism and selfless actions were key to liberating 75 hostages during a contested rescue mission that resulted in 20 enemy fighters killed in action,” the White House said in a statement.

Payne led an assault team during a nighttime hostage rescue mission in Iraq’s Kirkuk Province in October 2015. After he and his team cleared one building – and freed 38 hostages – the sergeant responded to call for assistance in clearing another building.

After engaging in fire with enemy combatants, he broke the lock on the door of another building, which allowed fellow soldiers to breach the room before Payne could lead the evacuation of hostages as the building was collapsing.

“Sergeant Payne knowingly risked his own life by bravely entering the building under intense enemy fire, enduring smoke, heat, and flames to identify the armored door imprisoning the hostages,” the White House said. “His courageous actions motivated the coalition assault team members to enter the breach and assist with cutting the locks.”

In this image from video provided by the U.S. Army, then-Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Payne is interviewed as a winner of the 2012 Best Ranger competition at Fort Benning, Ga., on April 16, 2012. Payne will receive the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest honor for valor in combat, for actions during a daring 2015 raid in Iraq that rescued about 70 hostages who were set to be executed by ISIS militants, The Associated Press has learned. Sgt. Maj. Payne will receive the honor in a White House ceremony on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. (Lori Egan/U.S., Army via AP)

The awarding of the Medal of Honor – the highest decoration a member of the military can be given – will be part of a busy day for Trump, who also plans to visit the site of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.

Flight 93 was hijacked by al Qaeda terrorists on Sept., 11, 2001, and is believed to have been intended to hit the U.S. Capitol building before crashing in a Somerset County field after passengers attempted to retake the aircraft.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden also plans to visit the site on Sept. 11.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: Trump to award Medal of Honor on 9/11 to soldier who rescued 75 hostages

During his interview with Chris Wallace last week, President Trump questioned whether the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden, could handle the barrage of questioning that Wallace posed to Trump.

The answer to that question – at least for now – we may never know.

Wallace on Sunday informed viewers that the Biden campaign told Fox News he was “not available” for an interview.

“In our interview last week with President Trump, he questioned whether his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, could handle a similar encounter,” Wallace said. “This week, we asked the Biden campaign for an interview and they said the former vice president was not available.”

He added, “We’ll keep asking every week.”

The Trump campaign has hit Biden for months for abstaining from holding rallies and news conferences while continuing to do interviews amid the coronavirus pandemic. While Biden recently has returned to the stump, Trump and his allies continued to mock the former vice president for “hiding” in his home in Delaware.

Biden’s reticence to do public events, however, has done little to hurt his candidacy as the latest polls had Biden comfortably ahead of Trump both nationally and in key battleground states.

Real Clear Politics averages indicated the president was down 7 points in Florida, 6.7 points in Pennsylvania, 8.2 points in Michigan and 6.4 points in Wisconsin. Trump narrowly won all four states in 2016, flipping them from blue to red as he won the White House.

The latest Fox News Polls put Biden ahead in Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania, with leads all outside the margin of error.

Polling also suggested Biden had a slight edge in Ohio, North Carolina and Arizona, three other important swing states this cycle. And, surveys indicated that once reliably red states such as Texas and Georgia were all knotted up between Trump and the former vice president.

Presidential elections in which an incumbent is running for a second term in the White House are often a referendum on that president – and that’s seen as being the case right now in the 2020 showdown between Trump and Biden. The top issues have been the coronavirus and an economy flattened by the pandemic – and the president’s performance and record on both issues.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: Biden campaign declines ‘Fox News Sunday’ interview, 1 week after Chris Wallace’s Trump sitdown

The 2020 presidential election is already getting nasty — and not just for the candidates.

The mud-slinging and smear campaigns also are being directed at supporters and donors, namely those with the temerity to back President Trump. They’re facing a revived effort by Trump critics to name and shame them, with the apparent goal of hurting their businesses.

In one of the latest examples, a Facebook post on a page called simply “Ban Kenny Chesney from Pittsburgh” threatened to make public a list of almost 100 local businesses in the Pennsylvania city that are owned by Trump supporters. While the page has since been taken down, a new website has been promised that will include “a database of Trump supporter-owned businesses in the Pittsburgh area, as well as tips for how to get those specific businesses closed down,” according to local media.

“They want to cost people their livelihoods just because you don’t agree with them politically,” Sam DeMarco, Allegheny County councilman and chairman of the county’s Republican Party, told the local CBS affiliate. “It’s not just absurd, but I believe it’s dangerous.”

DeMarco continued, “People who they just don’t agree with, they want to take and punish. I absolutely believe this is a fascist behavior, and I totally reject it.”

A similar social media-driven boycott was directed at one of Connecticut’s most popular pizza parlors.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria has faced a boycott for its co-owner’s support of President Trump. (Google Maps)

Facebook user Lorna Steele posted a message last month asking her followers to join her “in no longer funding his hate,” referring to Frank Pepe Pizzeria and co-owner Gary Bimonte, a Trump supporter. She posted her message alongside a picture of Bimonte holding a “Deplorables for Trump” sign and a message he posted thanking the president for the American steel piping being used in construction jobs.

Steele’s post stirred a fierce debate among Facebook users, with some pledging to stop frequenting the famous pizza establishment and others arguing it is unfair to boycott individual businesses just because of their owners’ political beliefs.

“If we start boycotting individuals for their political views it’s just as bad as a pharmacist who won’t give contraception because of their ‘principles,’” one Facebook commenter said, according to the Wilton Bulletin.

The push to shame Trump supporters burst into the headlines last month when Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, brother of presidential candidate Julian Castro, tweeted out a list of Trump donors and their employers.

“Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump,” Castro tweeted, along with the Twitter handles of several owners of local businesses who apparently donated to Trump. “Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

The tweet, however, backfired when it was discovered that one of the donors on the list also had contributed to Castro’s own congressional campaign.

Wayne Harwell, the owner of a local real estate development company whose name appeared on the list Castro shared, told Fox News in a phone interview last month that he donated money to Castro’s congressional campaign. But he suggested that after Castro outed him in his bid to shame Trump supporters, he would no longer be supporting Castro.

“I was also on a list of people that gave to Castro and if he dislikes me enough that he wants to put my name out there against Trump, I’m not going to give money to him,” Harwell told Fox News. “Obviously Castro feels pretty strongly against me.”

Along with local businesses, major companies have also been hit with recent boycotts.

Fitness brands like Equinox and SoulCycle were the target of calls for a boycott after it came to light that one of the companies’ biggest investors was Stephen Ross, who hosted a fundraiser for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign in early August at his Hamptons mansion.

Equinox Fitness Club and SPA, Century City, California

While the two companies – which have long tried to cultivate an inclusive image – have attempted to distance themselves from the backlash, it was reported that both faced a deluge of membership cancellations and complaints.

Other big-name brands to face a boycott backlash for having owners and CEOs who support Trump range from Home Depot and Uline to Taco Bell and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs.

Meanwhile, Hollywood has also reentered the fray after actress Debra Messing and her “Will & Grace” co-star Eric McCormack called for a media outlet to publish the names of people attending a fundraiser for Trump.

The president slammed the actress on Thursday, saying she’s being accused of “McCarthyism.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: Trump donors and their businesses face fresh wave of boycotts, public shaming

Republicans in California are crying foul over a new law that requires gubernatorial and presidential candidates to disclose tax returns in order to appear on 2020 primary ballots — worried about voter turnout implications for their party in numerous races, even though the law is largely aimed at President Trump.

The Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act – signed in late July by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom – was an obvious bid to compel Trump to make public his financial records if he wants his name on the ballot. But the president is unlikely to cave to the law’s provisos given his previous resistance to making tax returns public.

Republican leaders in the Golden State, however, argue that if the law actually keeps Trump off the March primary ballot, it would all but assure a depressed Republican turnout statewide — hurting down-ballot candidates in congressional and other races and locking many out of the general election due to the state’s unique primary system.

“We’re not talking about keeping President Trump off the ballot in the general election,” Jessica Patterson, the California Republican Party chairwoman, told Fox News. “But what this will do is make sure that Republican voters stay home for the primaries and give Democrats a big opportunity when it comes to the general election.”

Here’s why: Under California’s so-called jungle primary system, all candidates, regardless of party, vie for the same elected office and the top two vote-getters move on to the general election. Since it was implemented in California in 2010, this system has often ensured a Democrat-on-Democrat general election battle in all but California’s most conservative areas. Depressed GOP turnout in 2020 could mean even fewer Republicans move on to the general election.

The Democratic lawmakers who introduced the transparency bill balk at the notion that it is meant to hinder Republican chances of making it onto the general election ballot, however. They argue that its aim is to keep all presidential candidates honest about their income and where their money comes from.

“While Donald Trump surfaced the tax return loophole that SB 27 closes, this isn’t about Trump,” California state Sen. Scott Wiener said in a statement to Fox News. “Rather, it’s about all presidential candidates from all parties. When someone is seeking to become the most powerful person in the world, the voters deserve basic information about the person’s finances. That’s all we’re asking for.”

Wiener, along with fellow Democratic state Sen. Mike McGuire, first proposed the changes to the ballot qualifications back in May and, despite their assurances that the law is meant to monitor candidates of all political parties, both lawmakers have been adamant in their condemnation of Trump’s unwillingness to release his tax returns.

“The people are on our side, over 60 percent of Americans want President Trump to release his returns,” McGuire said in a statement. “Voters deserve to know, for example, if the president is putting America’s security at risk through his tangled web of business dealings with corporate interests and his dealings with foreign governments and foreign banks. Here’s the bottom line: What does he have to hide?”

Whether the law is actually on the books by next year’s primary election is still to be determined – as both the Trump campaign and conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch have filed separate federal lawsuits in the Eastern District of California challenging its constitutionality.

Experts say the law will have little effect on the presidential race — at this stage, Trump could lose California’s primary yet easily wrap up the nomination. Congressional and other down-ballot races, however, could feel the brunt of the legislation’s impact.

“You’re already going to see a big discrepancy in voter turnout between Republicans and Democrats because Trump is an incumbent without any real challengers in the primary,” Eric McGhee, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, told Fox News. “But if this does go through, it could have a big effect on the down-ballot races because of the top-two primary system in the state.”

Republicans see a slim silver lining. GOP officials in California say they’ll try to use the law to motivate Republicans who would normally stay home to the polls.

“We’re going to use this as a rallying cry to show Californians the arrogance of the Democratic Party in this state,” Patterson said.

Some experts, however, are skeptical – given Trump’s unpopularity in the state and the fact that California’s primary has been moved up to Super Tuesday on March 3 – that Republican efforts to expose any Democratic power play will be enough to drive a large turnout and offset what is expected to be a sizable and motivated Democratic electorate.

Paul Mitchell, a political consultant and vice president of Political Data Inc., told Politico that 2020 looks like an “asymmetric election” where Democrats will be much more driven to head to the polls than Republicans.

“This does have enough potential impact that it could impact primaries by boxing out a Republican here and there,” Mitchell said, especially if Republicans “boycott” the primary in protest over the new law. “… [I]t’s a not-trivial likelihood.”

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Fox News: California Republicans worry state’s tax return law could devastate their down-ballot hopes in 2020

DHS reports illegal immigration at highest rate since 2007

The crisis at the border appears to be reaching a breaking point.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday handed the Trump administration a victory in its battle to clamp down on illegal immigration by making it easier to detain immigrants with criminal records.

The ruling that federal immigration authorities can detain immigrants awaiting deportation anytime after they have been released from prison on criminal charges represents a victory for President Trump.

In the case before the justices, a group of mostly green card holders argued that unless immigrants were picked up immediately after finishing their prison sentence, they should get a hearing to argue for their release while deportation proceedings go forward. But in the 5-4 decision on Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled against them, deciding that federal immigration officials can detain noncitizens at any time after their release from local or state custody. The court also ruled the government maintains broad discretion to decide who would represent a danger to the community in deciding who to release or detain.

During oral arguments in October the Trump administration argued that given the limited money and manpower available, it was nearly impossible for the federal government to immediately detain every immigrant upon their release from custody.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, stating that “neither the statute’s text nor its structure” supported the immigrants’ argument. The court’s conservative justices sided with the Trump administration, which argued as the Obama administration did, against hearings for those convicted of crimes and affected by the law.

The case before the justices involved a class-action lawsuit brought by non-citizens in California and a similar class-action lawsuit brought in the state of Washington. One of the lead plaintiffs, Mony Preap, has been a lawful permanent resident of the United States since 1981 and has two convictions for possession of marijuana. He was released from prison in 2006 but was not taken into immigration custody until 2013.

Preap won in lower courts, and the government was ordered to provide him and other class members a bond hearing. Preap has since won his deportation case.

The ruling was the first in the court’s current term – which began in October – and the first for Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who, along with Chief Justice John Roberts, wrote a concurring opinion. The court’s four more liberal justices dissented, and Justice Stephen Breyer took the unusual step of reading an oral dissent from the bench.

Fox News’ William Mears and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Andrew O’Reilly

Source: Foxnews: Supreme Court hands Trump administration a victory in immigration battle

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