Education April 17, 2018: McGill professors sign an open letter supporting students over complaints of sexual misconduct

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EDUCATION

McGill professors sign an open letter supporting students over complaints of sexual misconduct

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

McGill University students are getting some support from their professors in their fight with the administration over sexual misconduct by professors in the Faculty of Arts. About 150 professors signed an open letter and sent it to administration officials on Monday, April 16, 2018, supporting the students’ grievances against the administration. The letter comes after the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) published an open letter demanding an external investigation, and staged a walkout protesting the administrations’ inaction over the misconduct of five professors in the Faculty of Arts. Tomorrow, Tuesday April 17, McGill students will be hosting a town hall meeting to discuss the issue.

The 148 professors made it clear that they support the SSMU’s call for an external investigation, their timeline to have it completed by June and the establishment of a single sexual violence policy covering both misconducts by students and faculty. The professors, who signed came from all the university’s faculties, not just Arts. They declared, “We stand in support of the students who have come forward with their experiences and with the student representatives and advocates who have supported these students.”

The professors wrote in the letter, “As teachers, we have a commitment to upholding a learning environment where students feel safe, supported and able to challenge themselves. It would be in violation of this duty for us not to add our voices to those of the students.” The professors also acknowledged that professor-student relationships should be prohibited. They wrote, “We believe that sexual relationships between students and faculty who are in a position to influence their academic and professional progress should be banned.”

The professors also reminded the administration that the issue affects the entire McGill community and the universities reputation. The professors pointed out to the administration, they have to “publicly acknowledge the fact that this issue affects the entire McGill community and the university’s reputation.”

The professors claim that the university has to keep in check professors that abuse their power because it also affects other faculty members. They indicated, “The lack of transparency concerning how complaints are handled against faculty members, who abuse their positions of power in this way, creates a toxic work and learning environment, and often places an invisible burden on other faculty members.”

History professor Shannon Fitzpatrick spoke to CBC News about the faculty’s open letter. Fitzpatrick finds it troubling that the administration is ignoring students complaints. Fitzpatrick told CBC, the administration is “actively shutting down a line of communication. That to me goes against the university’s mission of critical inquiry into social problems.”

Last Wednesday, April 11, 2018, a week after publishing an open letter to the university administration, students staged a walkout over the administration ignoring repeated calls over professors’ inappropriate and sexually violating behavior in the Faculty of Arts. McGill students were joined by neighboring Concordia University students, who have been dealing with complaints against professors in their Creating Writing program, which go back nearly 20 years. Around 1,000 students walked out of their classes at 2 p.m. and protested in front of the James Administration Building at McGill’s downtown campus in community square. The joint protest was organized by both schools students societies; Concordia Student Union and Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU).

Two weeks ago, on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, the SSMU published an open letter addressed to the administration calling for an investigation into the way the university and Faculty of Arts have been dealing sexual violence and harassment complaints against professors. The letter has been signed by over 2000 students and over 85 clubs and other student societies. The letter accuses administration officials of ignoring complaints against professors in the Faculty of Arts.

McGill students want an investigation conducted by a third-party investigation into the method McGill deals with complaints. They want the third-party to review and interview students who made informal and formal complaints to the Dean of Arts against professors for the last five years and review if tenure committees are aware of any complaints. The SSMU wants the findings by this June. They are also demanding McGill to have an inclusive sexual violence policy that addresses professor-student relationships and misconduct complaints against professors. Now the SSMU has added a threat to motivate the administration; they act by Monday, April 23, or the SSMU will file a complaint at the Quebec Ministry of Education that McGill is in violation of Bill 151, the law requiring a single sexual assault policy for Quebec universities.

For the past few years, there have been rumblings about five professors that have misused their positions among both the students and faculty. The professors are in five different departments in the Faculty of Arts; history, philosophy, political science, psychology and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Among the offenses are “holding office hours in bars with underage students, to routinely sleeping with students who are in their classes, to being in abusive relationships with students they’re supervising.” Additionally, the professors would “make sexually suggestive comments in person and in e-mails.”

Apparently, the situation with these professors is an “open secret” everyone knows what is happening, but nothing is being done to stop these professors from running amok. The McGill Daily in their article, “We have always known about McGill’s predatory professors” wrote that the survey they conducted confirmed decades of sexual misconduct and that students have used a word-of-mouth system. The Daily sent out this survey April 9, receiving “dozens” of testimonies from the word-of-mouth system going back to 2008 according to the article. Unfortunately, professors have been blurring the lines for many years before at McGill, and there have been more than the five at the heart of students’ protests now.

Students have been writing anonymous accounts of the misconduct for years in the Daily. This past year, however, the protests are louder because one of the accused professors are up for tenure, which led to student letters to his department and a grassroots protest movement this past fall semester.

Despite the knowledge of the misconduct, students, however, are and have been discouraged from filing complaints by the Faculty of Arts. The complaints process at McGill has not and still does not deal with complaints against professors, especially those who engage in relationships with students, despite a revised sexual violence policy passed in 2016.

McGill students have been looking to Concordia for inspiration and to show McGill, an investigation is needed and a policy enforced to address professor-student relationships. Seeing the quick action at Concordia, made McGill’s students take an active and official stand against the administration’s lax treatment of professors who abuse their power.

Tomorrow students are going to continue their protest with a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. The meeting will allow students “to share stories, concerns, thoughts and questions” and to discuss what else the SSMU can do to convince the administration to act. The event is closed to the public and the media, and can only be attended by current McGill undergraduate and graduate students.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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Education April 8, 2018: McGill University now has their #MeToo movement moment as students protest lothario professors 

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

EDUCATION

McGill University now has their #MeToo movement moment as students protest lothario professors

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Montreal universities are now being drawn into the #MeToo movement forced to confront years of sexual harassment and assault that was pushed under the table. First, it was Concordia University, now McGill University is getting barraged for their handling of complaints. On Thursday, April 4, 2018, the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) published an open letter calling for an investigation into the way the university and Faculty of Arts have dealing sexual violence complaints against professors. The letter has been signed by nearly 1,500 students and over 50 clubs and other student societies. The letter accuses administration officials of ignoring complaints against professors in the Faculty of Arts and they are demanding a third-party investigation. The letter and calls are a long time in the making as students and professors have been writing and commenting about the actions of these professors in the Faculty of Arts, who engaged in so called consensual and unwanted inappropriate behavior against students for years.

The president of SSMU and its societies and five vice presidents addressed the letter to Principal Suzanne Fortier, Provost Christopher Manfredi, and Dean of Students Chris Buddle. The letter recounted the situation at the university, but did not name any professors, although students have been naming the professors in unofficial capacities for years. Neither does the letter describe the professors’ actions, although the chatter is quite loud on online forums, personal blogs and the student press, everyone on campus knows who these offenders are.

The letter claims, “These professors continue to teach and to supervise, in some cases teaching mandatory first year courses, leaving vulnerable the students who have not yet been warned about the predatory behaviours of certain professors. It has also been the case that student representatives over this past year have brought up these concerns multiple times to many different members of administration. It was clear that the majority of the administration who were met with knew which professors students are concerned about. And despite our expressing anxiety over the safety and well being of a particular student in one case – no action was taken.”

Connor Spencer, vice-president of external affairs for the Students’ Society of McGill University had a press conference on Thursday, April 5, clarifying the allegations. According to Spencer there are five professors that have misused their positions. The professors are in five different departments in the Faculty of Arts; history, philosophy, political science, psychology and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Among the offenses are “holding office hours in bars with underage students, to routinely sleeping with students who are in their classes, to being in abusive relationships with students they’re supervising.” Additionally, the professors would “make sexually suggestive comments in person and in e-mails.”

Apparently, the situation with these professors is an “open secret” everyone knows what is happening, but nothing is being done to stop these professors from running amok, while students are being discouraged from filing complaints. Spencer told CBC News, “Everyone’s aware of where the problems are, and no one’s doing anything to address it, year after year.” Spencer explained to the Globe and Mail, “Everyone knows the names of the professors and it’s shared among students.” The problem has been happening for at least five years with these specific professors. Spencer recounted that female students have been warning incoming students with a list of professors “whose classes I was not to take.” Female students were warned to never be alone with these professors. Spencer told the Globe and Mail, “If she did take their courses, she was told never to go to their offices ‘if I wanted to keep myself safe.’”

Despite everyone in the university, from the students to the administration know about the problems, the administration refuses to take any actions, because of the lack of formal complaints. Spencer recounted to the Globe and Mail, “We’ve spoken about specific cases with administrators in meetings and still nothing has been done, even though they know that these are reoccurring issues.” Spencer told the Montreal Gazette the SSMU wants the university to take the problem seriously, “We are hoping with this open letter to change the culture of understanding and show (the administration) they need to investigate when there are serious problems that compromise the safety and well being of students … whether or not there are official complaints.”

The SSMU’s letter is a means to force the administration to launch an investigation. The SSMU letter also asked for a remedy to the ongoing problem, their solution a third-party investigation into the method McGill deals with complaints. They want the third-party to review and interview students who made informal and formal complaints to the Dean of Arts against professors for the last five years and review if tenure committees are aware of any complaints. The SSMU wants the findings by this June.

The SSMU made the request in their letter, “We understand that the Faculty of Arts is not the only faculty that has a problem with professors who abuse their power, and we hope that an external investigation into Arts will set a precedent so that in the future McGill will act when they become aware of departmental issues and that above all they will begin to prioritize the safety of their students before the legal liability or reputation of the institution.”

When asked to respond by the press Vice-Principal Louis Arseneault (Communications and External Relations) declined to comment. Arseneault only gave a generic politically correct response in a statement, saying, “McGill University has put in place staff, resources, policies and opportunities for individuals and groups to come forward with their concerns and complaints. These are matters we take very seriously. Every report or complaint of sexual misconduct, abuse of authority through sexual misconduct or ‘predatory behaviour’ that contains sufficiently detailed facts is investigated. If there are findings of sexual misconduct of any kind, appropriate measures are taken, following due process.” Arseneault cited privacy laws in the investigation, stating, “Because of Quebec law concerning privacy, the University cannot disclose when it is conducting investigations, nor reveal any results. Thus, the fact that results are not disclosed is not evidence that investigations did not occur or that they were faulty.”

Provost and Vice-Principal Manfredi also sent a personal responseto Spencer, insisting, “Every report and complaint of misconduct that contains sufficient details is investigated.” Manfredi told Spencer, “As you know from your own work on the Sexual Violence Policy Implementation Committee and from McGill administrators’ ongoing, direct engagement with SSMU executives – yourself included – McGill has in place extensive resources, skilled staff, and robust policies to address matters of sexual violence and to support survivors.”

Despite the university being on defensive as to investigating sexual misconduct complaints, the process deters students from filing a complaint or if they start they usually stop. As Spencer pointed out, “it’s so labour-intensive and retraumatizing.” As with women who file complaints against men in positions of power many are worried they would not be believed. The university has also in past situations attempted to discredit claims that are filed as a deterrent for students filing complaints. The complaints process is also steeped in confidentiality, it is meant to help the students, but does more to protect a an accused faculty member.

Student Geneviève Mercier-Dalphond writing in a March 2016, McGill Daily article entitled, “The vicious circle of professor-student relationships A follow-up investigation of McGill’s policies on sexual harassment” discussed the problems confidentiality in the process causes. Mercier-Dalphond explained, “On a broader level, it sends a message that normalizes student-professor relations, and sets an example for other professors that they can get away with this kind of inappropriate behaviour.”

In December 2016, McGill revised their sexual violence policy, Policy against Sexual Violence, to comply with Quebec’s new Bill 151, requiring schools to have a consolidated sexual violence policy (SVP) including addressing professor-student relationships by 2019. The new SVP deals with violence by the whole McGill community, especially students and operates under the Student Code of Conduct. The policy can “reprimand, expel or suspend a student.” The new policy was three years in the making, and was supposed to have a “survivor-centred approach.” Additionally, the policy “establishes measures that McGill will adopt with respect to prevention, education, support, and response to sexual violence.” The university also created a new sexual assault centre, “dedicated to sexual violence education and response.”

At the time the new policy was passed by the university senate; the students still had misgivings about how complaints would be handled under the new rules. Erin Sobat, the vice-president of university affairs for the SSMU during the 2016-17 academic year commented at the time to CBC News, “What it doesn’t do is address the disciplinary process past the process of filing a report.” Labour laws in Quebec, prohibit the publication of the procedures. The only way to file a complaint against a professor is by filing a complaint for” harassment, violence of coercion.”

The new policy also failed to address professor-student relationships, and complaints against professors; a central problem at the heart of the complaints against one of the professors the open letter is directed. The new SVP says very little about these relationships, writing, “an abuse of a relationship of trust, power or authority, such as the relationship between a professor and their student,” and agreeing they cannot be consensual. The only way to file a complaint against a professor is by filing a complaint for” harassment, violence of coercion.” The complaints are then processed through the Regulations Relating to Employment of Tenure Track and Tenured Academic Staff. Labour laws in Quebec, prohibit the publication of the procedures. The process is so complicated that it dissuades students from filing. Connor explained to the Montreal Gazette, “You have to consult at least six documents full of policy jargon after you’ve just experienced a trauma, and you are not really sure about wanting to do this, anyway. That would discourage anyone from coming forward.”

In December 2017, the McGill Tribune editorial board wrote an opinion piece opposing the lack of policy for such complaints entitled, “McGill’s sexual violence policy lacking on professor-student relationships.” They emphasized what an important gap this is in policy since these relationships cannot be consensual. The board pointed to the conflict of interest with such relationships, and indicated why. The board expressed, “Of more dire ethical concern is the question of consent in these relationships. The power differential between students and professors is enormous—whether acting as an intro-course lecturer or a master’s research supervisor, a professor has substantial control over their students’ success at McGill, and, by extension, their career prospects upon graduation. Given this compromised capacity to object to unwanted sexual advances, it is unethical for a professor to initiate any relationship with a student directly beneath them.”

The #MeToo movement is altering the definition of consent, especially there is a difference power between the two parties in evolved, such as professors getting involved in relationships, and sexually with their students. Students who believe they are getting involved consensually with professors seem to forget, with such a power difference, these relationships can never truly be consensual, because there is no equality. Mercier-Dolphand in the McGill Daily explained, “The student’s power in this dynamic is not comparable, and talking of equality between consenting adults in this case ignores the power differential on which the relationship is built.”

Recently, even former White House intern Monica Lewinsky in a March 2018, Vanity Fair article entitled, “Emerging from the ‘House of Gaslight’ in the age of #metoo” re-examined her relationship with former President Bill Clinton. Lewinsky persistently claimed it was consensual and she was not a victim, but she is currently reconsidering it in light of the #MeToo movement. Lewinsky expressed, “I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent. Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege. (Full stop.)”

A former Associate Dean of Arts at York University, Shirley Katz wrote a policy paper on the very issue published in University Affairs in 2000, entitled “Sexual Relations Between Students and Faculty.” To Katz there cannot be consent because of professors’ “power over students” as the nature of role. Katz concludes the power difference is always there making consent in the traditional way impossible for students. Katz wrote, “because the professor’s powers affect the student’s life in a significant way, […] the student cannot say no to the relationship, so her consent is actually coerced compliance.”

Jason M. Opal, associate professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill commented in the 2015 McGill Daily article, “Let’s talk about teacher,” a student’s anonymous recount of her sexual relationship with one of the professors accused of inappropriate behavior. Opal concurred, the power dynamic affects consent. Opal wrote there are “profound inadequacies of ‘consent’ as a moral and social category.” Continuing, he said, “consent is better than coercion: that is the best thing we can say about it. Opal concluded that the professor student relationship is “inherently problematic, usually exploitative, and often predatory.” The unequal predatory nature is the reason professors involved have to face sanctions and punishments from the university, because they have an obligation to protect their students.

Some of the accounts coming from McGill describe sexual relationships, but they are not the only inappropriate ones. Others blur the line, friendships and emotional relationships that can tether on sexual harassment or impropriety, but avoid the messy sexual dynamic that is easier to prove crossed a line. Even if broken boundaries are easily proved, the university has not been kind to students filing complaints against professors after such relationships. They are not given the same weight as unwanted and forced sexual harassment and assault committed by other students. Universities have been enacting policies that prohibit any personal relationships between students and professors, especially if they are in as position to grade them for some timer already. McGill has yet to address the issue even after revising their sexual assault policy..

Students had a right to be concerned about the revised SVP seeing what is transpiring with the five Arts professors and the way complaints have been brushed aside. The SSMU has been working on an additional policycovering misconduct from students in McGill’s clubs and societies. Closing the “loophole” would make students more comfortable making complaints against fellow students. It would allow the SSMU clubs and societies to remove or sanction someone that has a complaint filed against them, even banning them from the SSMU building. Additionally, it would provide mandatory training in defining and preventing sexual assault for all SSMU associated university clubs and societies.

For over two years there has been rumblings of complaints of transgressions by professors in the Faculty of Arts, particularly, the Department of Political Science, incidentally Provost Manfredi’s old department and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Apparently, there are claims that there is a serial sexual harasser in the department of political science and a serial lothario in the Institute of Islamic Studies. This professor in the Islamic Studies is a central reason for the students and SSMU’s uproar over the university’s mishandlings of professors’ inappropriate behavior.

Former McGill political science professor Stephen Saideman, who taught at the department from 2002 to 2012 wrote about the actions of a professor in his department. Saideman repeatedly wrote about this particular professor in a number of blog posts. In his blog post entitled, “McGill’s Shame Continues” from March 2016, he specifically revealed that this professor was teaching Middle East and peace building studies in the department. Saideman explained in his post why he did not expose the name of the professor. The former McGill professor commented, “I have repeatedly referred to a particular serial sexual harasser […] but obliquely so. Why obliquely so? Because I am not sure what the consequences are for me of violating the confidentiality agreements of a place I used to work and because I didn’t want people to speculate about who received this guy’s unwanted attention.”

A student did successfully file a complaint this particular professor; however, the so-called punishment was hardly enough to deter him from continuing harassing students. Saideman recounted, “[the University] did find in favour of the student, and the provost found that something inappropriate happened at the time, but that it did not fit the definition at the time of sexual harassment. I do believe this is a failure on the part of that provost.” All the university did was change the professor’s office to one where he can be monitored and prevented him from taking on graduate students. In barely no time, the department lapsed, he was back in his old office, and supervising graduate students, even female ones.

In 2016, Saidemen claimed the major problem with the complaints process was confidentiality and the university refusing to name guilty professors. During his time at McGill Saideman used to discourage students from studying that area, as the only means of deterrence he could do. Saideman told the McGill Daily, “The core problem is how McGill has handled it. It was all treated confidentially, which has the effect of protecting the perpetrator…. the job of the University is to protect students.” Saideman was surprised that he was still teaching, saying, “I simply don’t understand why McGill has not fired him yet.”

Another story that brought out the problem of the professor accused of sleeping with his students was an anonymous article in the McGill Daily of a student recounting her nearly two-year affair with this professor, the one supposedly from the Institute of Islamic Studies The article published in September 2015 was entitled, “Let’s talk about teacher I slept with my professor and here’s why it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.” The explicit article described how this professor-student relationship developed from office-hour meetings to a working and sexual relationship that tore this student apart with the conflicting roles they played. In her recount, the working relationship played a prominent role in their developing relationship. The work relationship was the legitimate way for them to spend time in his office behind closed doors; a common excuse professors use to justify publicly their inappropriate involvement with a student. After the second year, the student discovered he had been sleeping with other students as well she was not the only one, but one of many.

The student described this professor as she saw him after everything ended, “He was a predator. He was a manipulator. He was a liar. He was using young women as vessels for self-validation. He was abusing his power, and he had no intention of stopping.” She also discovered this professor, “slept with, propositioned, sent inappropriate emails to, or generally made uncomfortable” other female students. The complaints process was daunting and these students feared retribution and reprisals that are so common so they did file. The article published nearly three-years-ago indicated that at that time there where problems also with five professors in different departments, “who had reputations of either serially harassing or sleeping with their students.” The student recounted, “Where some professors were concerned, students spoke of the incidents like they were common knowledge.”

At that point, there were no formal complaints filed against that professor. This fall the students were fed up with this Islamic Studies’ professor at the heart of this scandal as he was up for tenure this academic year, so they initiated their own grassroots protest. At the start of this academic year, stickers were posted in the women’s bathrooms with the Islamic Studies professor’s name, warning other female students. According to the McGill Daily, “Noting that the professor is up for tenure this semester, the stickers urged students to send testimonies of abusive behaviour from faculty and staff to zerotolerance@riseup.net.” The professor in question responded with a denial, saying, “Anonymous accusations have been posted around campus about me that are categorically untrue and constitute defamation. I am deeply committed to doing my part to make every student feel safe in my classroom and on McGill’s campus.”

The university administration seemed to have backed up the professor with Angela Campbell, the Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures and Equity) writing a defending statement that admonished the students who revealed the professor publicly. Campbell stated, “The University takes all complaints of misconduct seriously.” Continuing Campbell expressed, “Survivors can and should report through the appropriate channels,” and “McGill’s administration disapproves of attempts to address such matters through anonymous posters such as [the stickers] found on campus and is taking measures to remove these.”

Additionally, in the Winter 2017 semester the 2016-2017 executive leaders of the World Islamic and Middle East Studies Student Association (WIMESSA) Sent an open letter objecting to the professor to Robert Wisnovsky, Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies. The letter read, “We (WIMESSA execs) believe that the department is partially not taking this seriously, because they don’t think many undergrads personally care,” read the preamble to the open letter. “There is also no ‘paper trail’ of student concern which makes the department less accountable to the university.” WIMESSA asked the department not to grant the professor tenure, writing, “It is disconcerting that such an abuse of power appears to be going unreprimanded. As it stands, women are at a disadvantage within the Islamic Studies department, and this inequality needs to be corrected. For these reasons, WIMESSA vehemently encourages the impending tenure committee to deny [the professor] tenure.”

The program director never publicly responded, and this year’s WIMESSA executives issued a statement. The statement backtracked and avoided mentioning the particular professor. The executives wrote, “In light of recent events regarding the Islamic Studies Institute, we want to extend our services to the community and support our students in any way we can. […] Sexual violence is a serious issue that we do not tolerate and we recognize the institutional violence that this inherently causes. […] This is a matter that we are taking very seriously and we are working as much as we can within our power to ensure transparency and accountability.”

It is too easy for the lines to be blurred in academia. For professors they are presented with wide-eyed naive students in awe, many enamored with the professors’ charm, sophistication and brilliance, and they easily take advantage of the situation. Many of the young faculty members are often less than then ten years older than the students they teach, for others they never want to see themselves as older than the students. They behave as friends, buddies cross the line into sexual harassment, sexual relationships, but the power dynamic is always there. Professors and students are never equals and it is inappropriate for them to think it is even possible.

Research has proven that power alters the minds of men, making them believe they have the right to behave in the controlling manner that leads to sexual harassment and assault. They believe they have a privilege to behave the way they do and many fail to see how wrong they are. The #MeToo movement in a short six months has swept through the entertainment industry, politics, business and journalism. The movement gave a voice and credibility to women who for years had experienced harassment, abuse and assault in the hands of men in positions of power and then suffered in silence fearing reprisals.

Now it is sweeping academia, but there are set backs. Tenure has always given professors an extra boost in their power, giving them an air of invincibility. Tenure has and is still protecting professors preventing universities from firing professors who behave inappropriately with students. Professors, however, believe universities owe their students to deal with the accused professors, not just fire them, which would allow them to continue their behavior elsewhere. The SSMU’s open letter wants an investigator to examine tenure and tenure-track professors as well, to see if complaints against professors are presented to the tenure committee and to see whether tenure status “can be reassessed following formal complaints against a faculty member.”

The students realize tenure cannot be overturned and the system changed overnight, but they do believe there should be consequences for tenured professors. Spencer commented to the Montreal Gazette, “Right now, if a prof has tenure, they are untouchable. Some of the profs (who are the subjects of repeated complaints) have tenure and some don’t. For the ones who do have tenure, why would anyone bring a complaint forward? … It’s not about, one complaint, therefore fire them, but we need to explore what a procedure for processing complaints against a tenured prof looks like.”

In Montreal, there have already been cracks in that invincibility. This past January at neighboring Concordia University, former students and graduates of the school’s creative writing program came forward against four professors without tenure with allegations going back two decades. The university acted swiftly and dismissed three of the living professors, then launched an investigation. Within two weeks the university issued guidelines on how to deal with professor-student relationships acknowledging there is a “conflict of interest” and an “imbalance of power.”

The events at Concordia inspired SSMU to take action now, and force the university to confront the way they have been dealing or not dealing with complaints against these five repeat offending professors. Spencer commented the press, “We were told that it couldn’t happen, and then we looked over at our neighbour and they were doing it, so we didn’t accept that anymore…I thought, ’If not now, then when,’ If something doesn’t happen now, I don’t know when it’s going to happen.”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education April 8, 2018: McGill University now has their #MeToo movement moment as students protest lothario professors 

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

EDUCATION

McGill University now has their #MeToo movement moment as students protest lothario professors

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Montreal universities are now being drawn into the #MeToo movement forced to confront years of sexual harassment and assault that was pushed under the table. First, it was Concordia University, now McGill University is getting barraged for their handling of complaints. On Thursday, April 4, 2018, the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) published an open letter calling for an investigation into the way the university and Faculty of Arts have dealing sexual violence complaints against professors. The letter has been signed by nearly 1,500 students and over 50 clubs and other student societies. The letter accuses administration officials of ignoring complaints against professors in the Faculty of Arts and they are demanding a third-party investigation. The letter and calls are a long time in the making as students and professors have been writing and commenting about the actions of these professors in the Faculty of Arts, who engaged in so called consensual and unwanted inappropriate behavior against students for years.

The president of SSMU and its societies and five vice presidents addressed the letter to Principal Suzanne Fortier, Provost Christopher Manfredi, and Dean of Students Chris Buddle. The letter recounted the situation at the university, but did not name any professors, although students have been naming the professors in unofficial capacities for years. Neither does the letter describe the professors’ actions, although the chatter is quite loud on online forums, personal blogs and the student press, everyone on campus knows who these offenders are.

The letter claims, “These professors continue to teach and to supervise, in some cases teaching mandatory first year courses, leaving vulnerable the students who have not yet been warned about the predatory behaviours of certain professors. It has also been the case that student representatives over this past year have brought up these concerns multiple times to many different members of administration. It was clear that the majority of the administration who were met with knew which professors students are concerned about. And despite our expressing anxiety over the safety and well being of a particular student in one case – no action was taken.”

Connor Spencer, vice-president of external affairs for the Students’ Society of McGill University had a press conference on Thursday, April 5, clarifying the allegations. According to Spencer there are five professors that have misused their positions. The professors are in five different departments in the Faculty of Arts; history, philosophy, political science, psychology and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Among the offenses are “holding office hours in bars with underage students, to routinely sleeping with students who are in their classes, to being in abusive relationships with students they’re supervising.” Additionally, the professors would “make sexually suggestive comments in person and in e-mails.”

Apparently, the situation with these professors is an “open secret” everyone knows what is happening, but nothing is being done to stop these professors from running amok, while students are being discouraged from filing complaints. Spencer told CBC News, “Everyone’s aware of where the problems are, and no one’s doing anything to address it, year after year.” Spencer explained to the Globe and Mail, “Everyone knows the names of the professors and it’s shared among students.” The problem has been happening for at least five years with these specific professors. Spencer recounted that female students have been warning incoming students with a list of professors “whose classes I was not to take.” Female students were warned to never be alone with these professors. Spencer told the Globe and Mail, “If she did take their courses, she was told never to go to their offices ‘if I wanted to keep myself safe.’”

Despite everyone in the university, from the students to the administration know about the problems, the administration refuses to take any actions, because of the lack of formal complaints. Spencer recounted to the Globe and Mail, “We’ve spoken about specific cases with administrators in meetings and still nothing has been done, even though they know that these are reoccurring issues.” Spencer told the Montreal Gazette the SSMU wants the university to take the problem seriously, “We are hoping with this open letter to change the culture of understanding and show (the administration) they need to investigate when there are serious problems that compromise the safety and well being of students … whether or not there are official complaints.”

The SSMU’s letter is a means to force the administration to launch an investigation. The SSMU letter also asked for a remedy to the ongoing problem, their solution a third-party investigation into the method McGill deals with complaints. They want the third-party to review and interview students who made informal and formal complaints to the Dean of Arts against professors for the last five years and review if tenure committees are aware of any complaints. The SSMU wants the findings by this June.

The SSMU made the request in their letter, “We understand that the Faculty of Arts is not the only faculty that has a problem with professors who abuse their power, and we hope that an external investigation into Arts will set a precedent so that in the future McGill will act when they become aware of departmental issues and that above all they will begin to prioritize the safety of their students before the legal liability or reputation of the institution.”

When asked to respond by the press Vice-Principal Louis Arseneault (Communications and External Relations) declined to comment. Arseneault only gave a generic politically correct response in a statement, saying, “McGill University has put in place staff, resources, policies and opportunities for individuals and groups to come forward with their concerns and complaints. These are matters we take very seriously. Every report or complaint of sexual misconduct, abuse of authority through sexual misconduct or ‘predatory behaviour’ that contains sufficiently detailed facts is investigated. If there are findings of sexual misconduct of any kind, appropriate measures are taken, following due process.” Arseneault cited privacy laws in the investigation, stating, “Because of Quebec law concerning privacy, the University cannot disclose when it is conducting investigations, nor reveal any results. Thus, the fact that results are not disclosed is not evidence that investigations did not occur or that they were faulty.”

Provost and Vice-Principal Manfredi also sent a personal responseto Spencer, insisting, “Every report and complaint of misconduct that contains sufficient details is investigated.” Manfredi told Spencer, “As you know from your own work on the Sexual Violence Policy Implementation Committee and from McGill administrators’ ongoing, direct engagement with SSMU executives – yourself included – McGill has in place extensive resources, skilled staff, and robust policies to address matters of sexual violence and to support survivors.”

Despite the university being on defensive as to investigating sexual misconduct complaints, the process deters students from filing a complaint or if they start they usually stop. As Spencer pointed out, “it’s so labour-intensive and retraumatizing.” As with women who file complaints against men in positions of power many are worried they would not be believed. The university has also in past situations attempted to discredit claims that are filed as a deterrent for students filing complaints. The complaints process is also steeped in confidentiality, it is meant to help the students, but does more to protect a an accused faculty member.

Student Geneviève Mercier-Dalphond writing in a March 2016, McGill Daily article entitled, “The vicious circle of professor-student relationships A follow-up investigation of McGill’s policies on sexual harassment” discussed the problems confidentiality in the process causes. Mercier-Dalphond explained, “On a broader level, it sends a message that normalizes student-professor relations, and sets an example for other professors that they can get away with this kind of inappropriate behaviour.”

In December 2016, McGill revised their sexual violence policy, Policy against Sexual Violence, to comply with Quebec’s new Bill 151, requiring schools to have a consolidated sexual violence policy (SVP) including addressing professor-student relationships by 2019. The new SVP deals with violence by the whole McGill community, especially students and operates under the Student Code of Conduct. The policy can “reprimand, expel or suspend a student.” The new policy was three years in the making, and was supposed to have a “survivor-centred approach.” Additionally, the policy “establishes measures that McGill will adopt with respect to prevention, education, support, and response to sexual violence.” The university also created a new sexual assault centre, “dedicated to sexual violence education and response.”

At the time the new policy was passed by the university senate; the students still had misgivings about how complaints would be handled under the new rules. Erin Sobat, the vice-president of university affairs for the SSMU during the 2016-17 academic year commented at the time to CBC News, “What it doesn’t do is address the disciplinary process past the process of filing a report.” Labour laws in Quebec, prohibit the publication of the procedures. The only way to file a complaint against a professor is by filing a complaint for” harassment, violence of coercion.”

The new policy also failed to address professor-student relationships, and complaints against professors; a central problem at the heart of the complaints against one of the professors the open letter is directed. The new SVP says very little about these relationships, writing, “an abuse of a relationship of trust, power or authority, such as the relationship between a professor and their student,” and agreeing they cannot be consensual. The only way to file a complaint against a professor is by filing a complaint for” harassment, violence of coercion.” The complaints are then processed through the Regulations Relating to Employment of Tenure Track and Tenured Academic Staff. Labour laws in Quebec, prohibit the publication of the procedures. The process is so complicated that it dissuades students from filing. Connor explained to the Montreal Gazette, “You have to consult at least six documents full of policy jargon after you’ve just experienced a trauma, and you are not really sure about wanting to do this, anyway. That would discourage anyone from coming forward.”

In December 2017, the McGill Tribune editorial board wrote an opinion piece opposing the lack of policy for such complaints entitled, “McGill’s sexual violence policy lacking on professor-student relationships.” They emphasized what an important gap this is in policy since these relationships cannot be consensual. The board pointed to the conflict of interest with such relationships, and indicated why. The board expressed, “Of more dire ethical concern is the question of consent in these relationships. The power differential between students and professors is enormous—whether acting as an intro-course lecturer or a master’s research supervisor, a professor has substantial control over their students’ success at McGill, and, by extension, their career prospects upon graduation. Given this compromised capacity to object to unwanted sexual advances, it is unethical for a professor to initiate any relationship with a student directly beneath them.”

The #MeToo movement is altering the definition of consent, especially there is a difference power between the two parties in evolved, such as professors getting involved in relationships, and sexually with their students. Students who believe they are getting involved consensually with professors seem to forget, with such a power difference, these relationships can never truly be consensual, because there is no equality. Mercier-Dolphand in the McGill Daily explained, “The student’s power in this dynamic is not comparable, and talking of equality between consenting adults in this case ignores the power differential on which the relationship is built.”

Recently, even former White House intern Monica Lewinsky in a March 2018, Vanity Fair article entitled, “Emerging from the ‘House of Gaslight’ in the age of #metoo” re-examined her relationship with former President Bill Clinton. Lewinsky persistently claimed it was consensual and she was not a victim, but she is currently reconsidering it in light of the #MeToo movement. Lewinsky expressed, “I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent. Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege. (Full stop.)”

A former Associate Dean of Arts at York University, Shirley Katz wrote a policy paper on the very issue published in University Affairs in 2000, entitled “Sexual Relations Between Students and Faculty.” To Katz there cannot be consent because of professors’ “power over students” as the nature of role. Katz concludes the power difference is always there making consent in the traditional way impossible for students. Katz wrote, “because the professor’s powers affect the student’s life in a significant way, […] the student cannot say no to the relationship, so her consent is actually coerced compliance.”

Jason M. Opal, associate professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill commented in the 2015 McGill Daily article, “Let’s talk about teacher,” a student’s anonymous recount of her sexual relationship with one of the professors accused of inappropriate behavior. Opal concurred, the power dynamic affects consent. Opal wrote there are “profound inadequacies of ‘consent’ as a moral and social category.” Continuing, he said, “consent is better than coercion: that is the best thing we can say about it. Opal concluded that the professor student relationship is “inherently problematic, usually exploitative, and often predatory.” The unequal predatory nature is the reason professors involved have to face sanctions and punishments from the university, because they have an obligation to protect their students.

Some of the accounts coming from McGill describe sexual relationships, but they are not the only inappropriate ones. Others blur the line, friendships and emotional relationships that can tether on sexual harassment or impropriety, but avoid the messy sexual dynamic that is easier to prove crossed a line. Even if broken boundaries are easily proved, the university has not been kind to students filing complaints against professors after such relationships. They are not given the same weight as unwanted and forced sexual harassment and assault committed by other students. Universities have been enacting policies that prohibit any personal relationships between students and professors, especially if they are in as position to grade them for some timer already. McGill has yet to address the issue even after revising their sexual assault policy..

Students had a right to be concerned about the revised SVP seeing what is transpiring with the five Arts professors and the way complaints have been brushed aside. The SSMU has been working on an additional policycovering misconduct from students in McGill’s clubs and societies. Closing the “loophole” would make students more comfortable making complaints against fellow students. It would allow the SSMU clubs and societies to remove or sanction someone that has a complaint filed against them, even banning them from the SSMU building. Additionally, it would provide mandatory training in defining and preventing sexual assault for all SSMU associated university clubs and societies.

For over two years there has been rumblings of complaints of transgressions by professors in the Faculty of Arts, particularly, the Department of Political Science, incidentally Provost Manfredi’s old department and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Apparently, there are claims that there is a serial sexual harasser in the department of political science and a serial lothario in the Institute of Islamic Studies. This professor in the Islamic Studies is a central reason for the students and SSMU’s uproar over the university’s mishandlings of professors’ inappropriate behavior.

Former McGill political science professor Stephen Saideman, who taught at the department from 2002 to 2012 wrote about the actions of a professor in his department. Saideman repeatedly wrote about this particular professor in a number of blog posts. In his blog post entitled, “McGill’s Shame Continues” from March 2016, he specifically revealed that this professor was teaching Middle East and peace building studies in the department. Saideman explained in his post why he did not expose the name of the professor. The former McGill professor commented, “I have repeatedly referred to a particular serial sexual harasser […] but obliquely so. Why obliquely so? Because I am not sure what the consequences are for me of violating the confidentiality agreements of a place I used to work and because I didn’t want people to speculate about who received this guy’s unwanted attention.”

A student did successfully file a complaint this particular professor; however, the so-called punishment was hardly enough to deter him from continuing harassing students. Saideman recounted, “[the University] did find in favour of the student, and the provost found that something inappropriate happened at the time, but that it did not fit the definition at the time of sexual harassment. I do believe this is a failure on the part of that provost.” All the university did was change the professor’s office to one where he can be monitored and prevented him from taking on graduate students. In barely no time, the department lapsed, he was back in his old office, and supervising graduate students, even female ones.

In 2016, Saidemen claimed the major problem with the complaints process was confidentiality and the university refusing to name guilty professors. During his time at McGill Saideman used to discourage students from studying that area, as the only means of deterrence he could do. Saideman told the McGill Daily, “The core problem is how McGill has handled it. It was all treated confidentially, which has the effect of protecting the perpetrator…. the job of the University is to protect students.” Saideman was surprised that he was still teaching, saying, “I simply don’t understand why McGill has not fired him yet.”

Another story that brought out the problem of the professor accused of sleeping with his students was an anonymous article in the McGill Daily of a student recounting her nearly two-year affair with this professor, the one supposedly from the Institute of Islamic Studies The article published in September 2015 was entitled, “Let’s talk about teacher I slept with my professor and here’s why it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.” The explicit article described how this professor-student relationship developed from office-hour meetings to a working and sexual relationship that tore this student apart with the conflicting roles they played. In her recount, the working relationship played a prominent role in their developing relationship. The work relationship was the legitimate way for them to spend time in his office behind closed doors; a common excuse professors use to justify publicly their inappropriate involvement with a student. After the second year, the student discovered he had been sleeping with other students as well she was not the only one, but one of many.

The student described this professor as she saw him after everything ended, “He was a predator. He was a manipulator. He was a liar. He was using young women as vessels for self-validation. He was abusing his power, and he had no intention of stopping.” She also discovered this professor, “slept with, propositioned, sent inappropriate emails to, or generally made uncomfortable” other female students. The complaints process was daunting and these students feared retribution and reprisals that are so common so they did file. The article published nearly three-years-ago indicated that at that time there where problems also with five professors in different departments, “who had reputations of either serially harassing or sleeping with their students.” The student recounted, “Where some professors were concerned, students spoke of the incidents like they were common knowledge.”

At that point, there were no formal complaints filed against that professor. This fall the students were fed up with this Islamic Studies’ professor at the heart of this scandal as he was up for tenure this academic year, so they initiated their own grassroots protest. At the start of this academic year, stickers were posted in the women’s bathrooms with the Islamic Studies professor’s name, warning other female students. According to the McGill Daily, “Noting that the professor is up for tenure this semester, the stickers urged students to send testimonies of abusive behaviour from faculty and staff to zerotolerance@riseup.net.” The professor in question responded with a denial, saying, “Anonymous accusations have been posted around campus about me that are categorically untrue and constitute defamation. I am deeply committed to doing my part to make every student feel safe in my classroom and on McGill’s campus.”

The university administration seemed to have backed up the professor with Angela Campbell, the Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures and Equity) writing a defending statement that admonished the students who revealed the professor publicly. Campbell stated, “The University takes all complaints of misconduct seriously.” Continuing Campbell expressed, “Survivors can and should report through the appropriate channels,” and “McGill’s administration disapproves of attempts to address such matters through anonymous posters such as [the stickers] found on campus and is taking measures to remove these.”

Additionally, in the Winter 2017 semester the 2016-2017 executive leaders of the World Islamic and Middle East Studies Student Association (WIMESSA) Sent an open letter objecting to the professor to Robert Wisnovsky, Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies. The letter read, “We (WIMESSA execs) believe that the department is partially not taking this seriously, because they don’t think many undergrads personally care,” read the preamble to the open letter. “There is also no ‘paper trail’ of student concern which makes the department less accountable to the university.” WIMESSA asked the department not to grant the professor tenure, writing, “It is disconcerting that such an abuse of power appears to be going unreprimanded. As it stands, women are at a disadvantage within the Islamic Studies department, and this inequality needs to be corrected. For these reasons, WIMESSA vehemently encourages the impending tenure committee to deny [the professor] tenure.”

The program director never publicly responded, and this year’s WIMESSA executives issued a statement. The statement backtracked and avoided mentioning the particular professor. The executives wrote, “In light of recent events regarding the Islamic Studies Institute, we want to extend our services to the community and support our students in any way we can. […] Sexual violence is a serious issue that we do not tolerate and we recognize the institutional violence that this inherently causes. […] This is a matter that we are taking very seriously and we are working as much as we can within our power to ensure transparency and accountability.”

It is too easy for the lines to be blurred in academia. For professors they are presented with wide-eyed naive students in awe, many enamored with the professors’ charm, sophistication and brilliance, and they easily take advantage of the situation. Many of the young faculty members are often less than then ten years older than the students they teach, for others they never want to see themselves as older than the students. They behave as friends, buddies cross the line into sexual harassment, sexual relationships, but the power dynamic is always there. Professors and students are never equals and it is inappropriate for them to think it is even possible.

Research has proven that power alters the minds of men, making them believe they have the right to behave in the controlling manner that leads to sexual harassment and assault. They believe they have a privilege to behave the way they do and many fail to see how wrong they are. The #MeToo movement in a short six months has swept through the entertainment industry, politics, business and journalism. The movement gave a voice and credibility to women who for years had experienced harassment, abuse and assault in the hands of men in positions of power and then suffered in silence fearing reprisals.

Now it is sweeping academia, but there are set backs. Tenure has always given professors an extra boost in their power, giving them an air of invincibility. Tenure has and is still protecting professors preventing universities from firing professors who behave inappropriately with students. Professors, however, believe universities owe their students to deal with the accused professors, not just fire them, which would allow them to continue their behavior elsewhere. The SSMU’s open letter wants an investigator to examine tenure and tenure-track professors as well, to see if complaints against professors are presented to the tenure committee and to see whether tenure status “can be reassessed following formal complaints against a faculty member.”

The students realize tenure cannot be overturned and the system changed overnight, but they do believe there should be consequences for tenured professors. Spencer commented to the Montreal Gazette, “Right now, if a prof has tenure, they are untouchable. Some of the profs (who are the subjects of repeated complaints) have tenure and some don’t. For the ones who do have tenure, why would anyone bring a complaint forward? … It’s not about, one complaint, therefore fire them, but we need to explore what a procedure for processing complaints against a tenured prof looks like.”

In Montreal, there have already been cracks in that invincibility. This past January at neighboring Concordia University, former students and graduates of the school’s creative writing program came forward against four professors without tenure with allegations going back two decades. The university acted swiftly and dismissed three of the living professors, then launched an investigation. Within two weeks the university issued guidelines on how to deal with professor-student relationships acknowledging there is a “conflict of interest” and an “imbalance of power.”

The events at Concordia inspired SSMU to take action now, and force the university to confront the way they have been dealing or not dealing with complaints against these five repeat offending professors. Spencer commented the press, “We were told that it couldn’t happen, and then we looked over at our neighbour and they were doing it, so we didn’t accept that anymore…I thought, ’If not now, then when,’ If something doesn’t happen now, I don’t know when it’s going to happen.”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education December 14, 2016: Harvard College’s most selective early action admissions year for Class of 2021

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EDUCATION

By Bonnie K. Goodman

harvard_shield_wreathDecember is the first time of the academic year high school senior’s heart’s get broken as they discover of they are offered early action or decision admission to the university of their choice. No colleges are more selective in the process than the Ivy League. Harvard University released their Class of 2021 data on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, announcing they admitted just 938 students or 14.5 percent of their early applicant pool.

As has been the trend, Ivy League, and elite universities are becoming more selective, and their early action admission rates are falling even though some might be accepting more students after receiving, even more, applications. This year is no different if Harvard’s numbers are an indication the Ivy League and elite universities are on track for their most selective year as they choose the Class of 2021. So much so they last year’s most selective school Stanford University refused to even release their early admissions data for the Class of 2021.

On Tuesday, Harvard announced they admitted just 938students out of 6,473 applications to their early admissions program for the Class of 2021. Their admissions represented just 14.5 percent of the applicant pool down only 0.3 percent from last year. Harvard admitted a smaller percentage of students than last year to the Class of 2021 when they admitted 914 students out of 6,167 applicants representing 14.8 percent. In total, Harvard only accepted 5.2 percent of applicants in the regular admission cycle to the Class of 2020 out of 39,000 applicants.

William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid, commented on the record number of early admissions’ applicants and the process. Fitzsimmons expressed, “Early admission appears to be the ‘new normal’ now, as more students are applying early to Harvard and peer institutions than ever before.” The Admissions Dean explained the perfect recipe for a Harvard acceptance, “At the same time, we have continued to stress to applicants, their families, and their guidance counselors that there is no advantage in applying early to Harvard. The reason students are admitted – early or during the regular action process – is that their academic, extracurricular, and personal strengths are extraordinary.”

Harvard’s Class of 2021 is even more diverse than last year. More women were accepted representing 48 percent up from last year’s 47.4 percent for the Class of 2020. More minorities were admitted as well, 12.6 percent of African-American applicants were admitted this year up last year’s 9.4 percent. Fitzsimmons commented, “It does appear, say relative to the time when we gave up early admission, that there is greater ethnic and greater economic diversity in early pools these days, and therefore, in the admitted pool.”

There were, however, a decrease in diversity among other minority groups. Only 8.8 percent of Hispanics were admitted this year while last year 9.5 percent were admitted. Only 1.1 percent of Native American and Native Hawaiian were admitted down from last year’s 1.8 percent. The largest minority group accepted last year; Asian-Americans also saw a decrease in admissions with only 24.1 percent accepted down from 24.2 percent admitted last year through early action.

Early decision is binding, meaning a student who applies and then is accepted is required to attend the university or college, while early action is non-binding, a student can be accepted and then decide against going to that particular school and can turn down their admission offer. Applying for early admission is not without its risks either, some schools have policies where if a student is rejected in the early admission cycle, cannot reapply for regular admission, however, some universities who do not accept students that applied for early admission, automatically consider them for regular admission.

Politics November 30, 2016: Nancy Pelosi to remain House Democratic Minority Leader after re-election vote

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POLITICS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 02: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), speaks to the media during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, December 2, 2016 in Washington, DC. Earlier this week Pelosi won the House Democratic Leadership election, after a challenge from Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 02: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), speaks to the media during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, December 2, 2016 in Washington, DC. Earlier this week Pelosi won the House Democratic Leadership election, after a challenge from Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH). (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D -CA) staved off challenger Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), to remain the House Democratic Minority Leader for the 115th Congress. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, House Democrats voted 134-63 in a closed-door meeting to keep Pelosi in as minority leader. The Nov. 15 elections were delayed at the closed-door meeting by request after the Nov. 8, election. Soon after Ryan, 43 announced his plans to challenge Pelosi, 76, but was unable to garner enough support to unseat her.

The Democratic caucus requested a delay in the elections of the Democratic House leadership posts at their Nov. 15 meeting. They were dissatisfied with Pelosi’s leadership and the direction of the party after their losses in the election. House Democrats picked up just six seats, lost the presidency and only picked up two Senate seats. Democrats wanted Pelosi to make changes in the leadership; she promises to every new session but never follows through. Democrats also needed time to reflect on the election and the message the American public sent the party.

Ryan announced his intention to challenge Pelosi on Nov. 17. Ryan argued the need for change after the Democrats crushing election defeat. He said the party needed a younger leadership and vision that would focus on the Democrats “economic message” and “geographic outreach.” Ryan told ABC News, “Donald Trump is the president, that is how bad we are out of touch, that the backbone of our party went and voted for Donald Trump, and I say that’s out fault. Clearly we have got to do something much different. We have to connect to these working-class voters and we have a broad coalition.” Ryan has been in the House representing first Ohio’s 13th district since he was elected in 2003.

The Ohio representative announced his candidacy with a letter to the Democratic caucus. Ryan wrote, “I have spent countless hours meeting and talking to Members of our Caucus, and the consensus is clear. What we are doing right now is not working. While having a position in Democratic Leadership has never been my life’s ambition, after this election I believe we all need to re-evaluate our roles within the Caucus, the Democratic Party, and our country. That is why I am announcing my run for Minority Leader of the Democratic Caucus and humbly request your support.” Only 11 House members publicly declared their support for Ryan.

At that point, Pelosi dismissed Ryan’s challenge telling the press, “I’ve regularly had some opponents. House Democrats must be unified, strategic, and unwavering.” Pelosi has been the Democratic House leader for 13 years, and during four of those years from 2007 to 2011, she was the first female Speaker of the House.  Previously, Pelosi served as Democratic Whip. President Barack Obama essentially endorsed Pelosi, saying, “I cannot speak highly enough of Nancy Pelosi. She combines strong, progressive values with just extraordinary political skill.”

The following is the lineup this far for the new House Democratic leadership positions:

Minority (Democratic) Leadership:
Minority Leader: Nancy Pelosi
Minority Whip: Steny Hoyer
Assistant Democratic Leader: Jim Clyburn

Democratic Leadership:
Caucus Chairman: Joe Crowley
Caucus Vice-Chairman: Linda Sánchez
Campaign Committee Chairman: Ben Ray Luján

Politics November 27, 2016: Election 2016 redux Trump calls Clinton a hypocrite for recount support

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By Bonnie K. Goodman

US President-elect Donald Trump leaves after a meeting at the New York Times on November 22, 2016 in New York. US President-elect Trump on Tuesday disavowed the white nationalist "alt-right" movement that has cheered his election, saying he did not want to "energize" them."I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn," Trump was quoted as saying in an interview with The New York Times, when pressed to comment on a conference at which his victory was celebrated with rousing Nazi salutes. / AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

US President-elect Donald Trump leaves after a meeting at the New York Times on November 22, 2016 in New York.
US President-elect Trump on Tuesday disavowed the white nationalist “alt-right” movement that has cheered his election, saying he did not want to “energize” them.”I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn,” Trump was quoted as saying in an interview with The New York Times, when pressed to comment on a conference at which his victory was celebrated with rousing Nazi salutes.
/ AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

The harsh 2016 campaign is never ending. President-elect Donald Trump has a good reason to call his former opponent and 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, a hypocrite. On Saturday evening, Nov. 26, 2016, and Sunday morning, Nov. 27, Trump went after Clinton supporting Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s filing for a recount in three battleground states. The president-elect criticized Clinton on Twitter for not wanting to accept the election results when she spent nearly two months attacking him that he would not concede and accept the election results.

On Saturday evening, Trump criticized just the Democratic Party, writing, “The Democrats, when they incorrectly thought they were going to win, asked that the election night tabulation be accepted. Not so anymore! Then Trump went after Clinton specifically, writing, “Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in. Nothing will change.”

Clinton heavily criticized Trump for refusing to agree that he would accept the election results in a response to one of the questions during the third presidential debate. Trump repeatedly said the elections were rigged against him, because of the now proved bias against him and for Clinton by both the media and the polls.

On Sunday, Trump reminded Clinton of her response attacking him for his position on election concession. On Twitter, the president-elect posted Clinton’s comments from the campaign,  “That is horrifying. That is not the way our democracy works. Been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections. We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on a – during a general election. I, for one, am appalled that somebody that is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that kind of position.”

In another post, Trump wrote Clinton called his position, “a direct threat to our democracy.” Trump also reposted a quote from Clinton’s concession speech, where she declared, “We must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”

This was the first time Trump specifically blamed Clinton for the recount effort. On Saturday, Trump disparaged just Stein and the Green Party for their “scam,” before the Clinton campaign announced they supported Stein’s efforts. President-elect said in an official Trump Transition statement, “This recount is just a way for Jill Stein, who received less than one percent of the vote overall and wasn’t even on the ballot in many states, to fill her coffers with money, most of which she will never even spend on this ridiculous recount.”

Continuing, Trump condemned the recount, “This is a scam by the Green Party for an election that has already been conceded, and the results of this election should be respected instead of being challenged and abused, which is exactly what Jill Stein is doing.” On Saturday, Trump praised Clinton for her classy concession of the election, “The people have spoken and the election is over, and as Hillary Clinton herself said on election night, in addition to her conceding by congratulating me, ‘We must accept this result and then look to the future.'” Later when Trump found out about the Democratic support, he tweeted, “The Green Party scam to fill up their coffers by asking for impossible recounts is now being joined by the badly defeated & demoralized Dems.”

On Friday afternoon, Nov. 25, just before the 5 p.m. deadline Grenn Party nominee Stein raised $4 million, enough money to file in Wisconsin for a recount of the votes. In Wisconsin, she requested a “reconciliation of paper records.” Stein promised to the same in Michigan and Pennsylvania, three battleground states that Trump turned red but usually voted Democrat. Stein claimed the voting systems in those states were hacked.

Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias announced on Medium that the Clinton campaign would support the recount. Elias said they were doing this because of the “the heartbreak felt by so many who worked so hard to elect Hillary Clinton” And the “hundreds of messages, emails and calls” from supporters requesting an investigation. Elias admitted, the Clinton campaign “quietly taken a number of steps” to investigate the results. In contradiction, New York Magazine reported this weekend, that cyber security experts convinced the Clinton campaign they had “persuasive evidence” that the votes had “manipulated or hacked.”

Elias continued, “Because we had not uncovered any actionable evidence of hacking or outside attempts to alter the voting technology, we had not planned to exercise this option ourselves, but now that a recount has been initiated in Wisconsin, we intend to participate in order to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides.” Still, the Clinton campaign intends to support all the recounts, “If Jill Stein follows through as she has promised and pursues recounts in Pennsylvania and Michigan, we will take the same approach in those states as well.”

Stein maintains, she was not doing the recount to benefit, Clinton and even criticized her as a hypocrite as well on Twitter, “Why would Hillary Clinton-who conceded the election to Donald Trump-want #Recount2016? You cannot be on-again, off-again about democracy.”

The Obama White House does not believe any hacking occurred and dismissed the recount. A senior administration official told the press, “We stand behind our election results, which accurately reflect the will of the American people. The federal government did not observe any increased level of malicious cyber activity aimed at disrupting our electoral process on election day. We believe our elections were free and fair from a cybersecurity perspective.”

The recount needs to be completed by Dec. 13, while the deadlines to apply for recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania is this upcoming week. Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump beat her in the Electoral College, she would need all three states to flip back to beat him, and that is not going to happen. The margin of victory was close but in the double digit thousands. In total Trump won 107,000 more votes in those three states than Clinton, winning by a margin of 22,000 in Wisconsin alone, “Trump won 1.404 million votes to Clinton’s 1.382 million.”

Clinton has a lead of 2.2 million votes, “64,637,140 votes nationally, compared to Trump’s 62,408,908, according to a count curated by Dave Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.” Elias touted those numbers in his post, writing, “And most importantly, we have monitored and staffed the post-election canvasses…  During that process, we have seen Secretary Clinton’s vote total grow, so that, today, her national popular vote lead now exceeds more than 2 million votes.”

Clinton is not the first candidate to lose the election but win the popular vote. Again, there are calls to change the system from Electoral votes to a popular vote, and some electors are even trying to defect from voting for Trump. Looking at the electoral map, it hard not to notice that Trump won the most regions and states, and the map is red compared to Clinton’s blue in just some major cities.

Clinton is acting like a hypocrite; she could criticize Trump all she liked when she was positive she would win, Clinton never imagined how it would feel to lose and how much of a sore loser she would be. The American public should not be surprised, Clinton did not want to concede in the 2008 Democratic primary against now President Barack Obama, and even this year, she balked at conceding election night although Obama asked her to, Clintons just hate losing.

Politics November 25, 2016: Trump adds McFarland and McGahn to the Cabinet

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Don McGahn, general counsel for the Trump transition team, gets into an elevator in the lobby at Trump Tower, November 15, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump is in the process of choosing his presidential cabinet as he transitions from a candidate to the president-elect. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 15: Don McGahn, general counsel for the Trump transition team, gets into an elevator in the lobby at Trump Tower, November 15, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump is in the process of choosing his presidential cabinet as he transitions from a candidate to the president-elect. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump is continuing to add to his cabinet. On Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, Trump announced that he is naming Fox News analyst KT McFarland as his deputy national security advisor and his lawyer throughout the campaign and transition Don McGahn as assistant to the president and White House counsel. Trump’s transition team made the announcement as the president-elect is spending the Thanksgiving holiday and weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, without giving the press access.

Trump in his official transition statement announcing the appointments commended McFarland, “I am proud that KT has once again decided to serve our country and join my national security team. She has tremendous experience and innate talent that will complement the fantastic team we are assembling, which is crucial because nothing is more important than keeping our people safe.”

Trump’s choice for national security advisor, former Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn also praised his deputy in a tweet on Friday, writing, “So proud & honored to have KT McFarland as part of our National Security team. She will help us #MAGA.”

Kathleen Troia McFarland ran in the 2006 Republican primary for a Senate seat in New York. McFarland is a Fox News national security analyst. She formerly was “an aide in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan,” and she was an adviser to Henry Kissinger on the National Security Council.

McGahn’s addition to the White House staff is even more significant, as he has been with Trump through the campaign and transition, and will be responsible for Trump handing over his business empire to his children and ensure there is no conflict of interest. McGahn currently is a partner at the Jones Day law firm and previously served as the chairman of the Federal Election Commission, where he “loosened regulations on campaign finance.”

President-elect Trump praised his lawyer profusely in his statement announcing his appointment. Trump expressed, “Don has a brilliant legal mind, excellent character and a deep understanding of constitutional law. He will play a critical role in our administration, and I am grateful that he is willing to serve our country at such a high-level capacity.”

Trump is returning Monday, Nov. 28 to New York and will continue meeting with another eight possible candidates for his cabinet. Trump is still in limbo in deciding whom he will choose for the coveted Secretary of State slot. His transition team is torn between his two major candidates, Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and 2012 GOP nominee and Trump critic Mitt Romney, with Giuliani being his team ‘s favorite because of his loyalty and views on foreign policy.

Politics November 25, 2016: First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes last Christmas tree of administration

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WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by her nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson and her dogs Bo and Sunny, receives the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House November 25, 2016 in Washington, DC. The tree, a 19 feet tall Balsam fir, arrived at the White House on Friday and will be on display in the Blue Room during the holiday season. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 25: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by her nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson and her dogs Bo and Sunny, receives the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House November 25, 2016 in Washington, DC. The tree, a 19 feet tall Balsam fir, arrived at the White House on Friday and will be on display in the Blue Room during the holiday season. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It is Christmastime at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama received the day after Thanks giving Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, the last Christmas tree she will decorate at the White House of her husband President Barack Obama’s administration. Unlike the last seven years, Mrs. Obama was not joined by her daughters Malia and Sasha, who also skipped this year’s pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Instead, the Obamas are being joined this holiday season by their youngest nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson. Along with her nephews the Obamas dogs, Bo and Sunny tagged along.

This year’s winning White House Christmas tree is “a 19-foot Balsam-Veitch fir cross. The tree’s growers are Dave and Mary Vander Velden of the Whispering Pines Tree Farm in Oconto, Wisconsin the winners of this year’s National Christmas Tree Association contest. The Association has picked the tree since 1966.

CNN reported that the Vander Veldens’s tree did not grow as large as the official tree needs to be and will be placed somewhere else within the White House decorations, and instead a tree donated from a Pennsylvania farm will be used as the official tree adorning the Blue Room of the White House. The Vander Veldens presented the tree to the First Lady at the White House’s north portico after it arrived in the traditional horse-drawn carriage. The carriage had jingle bells, while “a four-piece military band played “O Christmas Tree.”

When Mrs. Obama received the tree, she asked her nephews, “What do you think?” and then joked about her holiday substitutes, “These are our replacement kids. This is what happens when you get teenagers. One is asleep – these two are up.” The First Lady enthusiastically concluded, “Christmas begins. The holiday starts! We’re ready – our last one. We’re excited about it.”

As the First Lady looked over the tree, she said, “This is the easiest part of the holiday season.” For the entire weekend the White House staff will be decorating the executive mansion for the holidays, on Tuesday, Nov. 29 Michelle presents the finished product to the press and public. Then Thursday, Dec. 1, the Obama’s will light the National Christmas Tree in the Ellipse.

Politics November 22, 2016: Melania Trump redefining the role of the first lady away from the White House

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 By Bonnie K. Goodman

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:  Republican president-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd along with his son (L-R) Barron Trump, wife Melania Trump, Jared Kushner and Tiffany Trump during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 09: Republican president-elect Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd along with his son (L-R) Barron Trump, wife Melania Trump, Jared Kushner and Tiffany Trump during his election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of November 9, 2016 in New York City. Donald Trump defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As President-Elect Donald Trump conducts numerous meetings with potential candidates to fill cabinet posts, there is another important part of the transition process moving into the White House. On Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, the New York Post reported that First Lady Melania Trump and son Barron would not be moving into the White House after the Jan. 20 inauguration. Trump will be moving in immediately, but his wife and 10-year-old son will join him at the end of the school year.

The Trumps do not want to disrupt son Barron, who is in the middle of the fourth grade at a prestigious prep school, the Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on the Upper West Side. Throughout the campaign, Barron has been kept out of the spotlight, except Trump announcing his candidacy, the Republican National convention and election night the public has not seen Barron. Melania also has not been that visible on the campaign trail, except the convention, a few interviews and the last days of the campaign where she gave a speech and joined her husband campaigning. The future first lady, 46, is the first foreign-born one in 200 years, and her few forays into the political life has been met with criticism.

A source told the New York Post, “Melania is extremely close to Barron, and they have become closer during the campaign. The campaign has been difficult for Barron, and she is really hoping to keep disruption to a minimum.” The future first lady repeatedly said during the few interviews she participated in throughout the campaign that she is a hands-on mother, does not have a nanny, and wants to keep her son shielded from the public as possible.

Unfortunately, with staying in New York at the Trump Tower, Melania will not be able to drive  Barron around anymore to school and his activities. They will have Secret Service agents and the NYPD watching their residence, and the Secret Service will drive them around in an armored vehicle. The Secret Service has already descended at their Fifth Avenue home, with the area around closed to traffic.

Melania is committed to her duties as the first lady, and she will travel to Washington as needed. A source told the New York Post, “Melania is very supportive of her husband and is fully on board of doing everything that’s needed as first lady.” The press asked the President-elect on Sunday, Nov. 20, as he emerged from meetings at his Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey about the living arrangements and if his wife and son will be moving into the White House, Trump responded, “very soon. Right after he finishes school.”

Afterward, Trump Transition spokesman Jason Miller commented, “The Trump family is energized and excited about their new role serving the country, and specifically the President-elect’s task at hand of helping to move our country forward. No official statement has been released by the Trump family regarding transition timing, but like any parents they are concerned about pulling their 10-year-old son out of school in the middle of the year. We would also appreciate the same privacy and security considerations given to previous First Families with regard to minor children be extended to the Trumps as well.”

Although it was common for first ladies in the nineteenth century to stay home or delay moving to the White House, no first lady in modern history did not initially move into the White House after the inauguration. Ryder University First Ladies’ scholar Myra Gutin told USA Today, Melania Trump “very well may be the first telecommuting first lady.”

Gutin sees Melania’s decision to stay away from a problem for her completing her duties as the first lady and for her husband’s fledgling administration. Although the first lady is an unpaid position with no constitutional role, she maintains almost as large staff in the East Wing as the president does in the West Wing. Gutin says, “The public is split on what it wants the first lady to be,” Gutin says. “Half prefer she just serve tea and be ceremonial. The other half says you have an incredible platform here, what are you going to do with it? If we’re not seeing her, if she’s hiding away, I can’t see it as helpful (to the Trump administration).”

While Melania Trump has the style of former First Lady Jackie Kennedy, her decision to stay away from the White House most resembles First Lady Bess Truman, the wife of President Harry Truman, who served as the 33rd president from 1945 to 1953. Truman spent as much time as possible away from the White House and Washington and in their native Missouri with the Trumans’ only daughter Margret. Truman spent most of her summers at her home in Missouri. Gutin explained the primary reason Truman spent time in Missouri; it was because “Mrs. Truman wanted Margaret to have a more down-to-earth upbringing.”

Like Melania, Bess was uncomfortable with the limelight of the presidency. Despite being more reticent of the limelight, Bess Truman was a successful first lady, who lobbied and oversaw the renovation of the White House as it was stripped to its bare walls. The success of Bess Truman proves that especially now in this technologically advanced age, Melania Trump can make it work as First Lady until the end of the school year in June, as long as she eventually moves into the White House.

Politics November 21, 2016: Trump takes on Hamilton on Twitter on disrespecting the vice president and why it matters

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BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 20: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and vice president-elect Mike Pence listen to a question from the press regarding the musical 'Hamilton' before their meeting with investor Wilbur Ross at Trump International Golf Club, November 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Pence was booed when he attended the Broadway musical and a cast member read him a message after the show. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ – NOVEMBER 20: (L to R) President-elect Donald Trump and vice president-elect Mike Pence listen to a question from the press regarding the musical ‘Hamilton’ before their meeting with investor Wilbur Ross at Trump International Golf Club, November 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Pence was booed when he attended the Broadway musical and a cast member read him a message after the show. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump has done a first in history directly engage in a Twitter exchange and rant that was so common during his presidential campaign. Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning, Nov. 19, 2016, after Vice President-elect Mike Pence went to see the Broadway musical Hamilton at Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City the prior night, and he was met with boos. Hamilton Actor Brandon Victor Dixon, “who plays Vice President Aaron Burr,” acknowledged Pence’s presence at the end of the show. Dixon made a comment, a politically charged statement that Trump considered disrespectful; the president-elect demanded that the cast apologizes to Pence.

Pence attended the show “with his daughter, Charlotte, as well as his nieces and nephew” and he was “seated in the center orchestra section.” The video shows Pence entrance was met with loud boos and some cheers. Dixon said to Pence at the end of the show, “We hope you will hear us out.”  Pence was leaving as Dixon continued his statement, but stayed in the hallway to hear it.

Later Hamilton’s official Twitter account HamiltonMusical published the entire statement, saying, “Tonight, VP-Elect Mike Pence attended #HamiltonBway. After the show, @BrandonVDixon delivered the following statement on behalf of the show. pic.twitter.com/Jsg9Q1pMZs

The following is Dixon’s complete statement:
“I see you walking out but I hope you will hear us. Nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen, there’s nothing to boo here … We’re all sharing a story of love. We welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’ — we really do.We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of all of us. We truly thank you for sharing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds, and orientations.”

Trump saw the disrespect took to Twitter, his favorite platform to converse with his supporters and the public. On Saturday morning, Trump wrote, “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”  Dixon responded, writing on Twitter, “@realDonaldTrump conversation is not harassment sir. And I appreciate @mike_pence for stopping to listen.”  ‘Hamilton’ creator Lin-Manuel Miranda backed up Dixon and tweeted the President-elect, “Proud of @HamiltonMusical. Proud of @BrandonVDixon, for leading with love.  And proud to remind you that ALL are welcome at the theater.”

Still, Trump found their reaction and words unbecoming to a vice-president, and continued commenting on Twitter, writing early morning, Sunday, Nov. 20, “The cast and producers of Hamilton, which I hear is highly overrated, should immediately apologize to Mike Pence for their terrible behavior. Pence appeared later on Sunday morning on Fox News Sunday where he dismissed the events at the musical. Pence told his interviewers, “I really enjoyed watching Hamilton. It was a real joy to be there. I heard a few boos. I wasn’t offended by what was said.”

Although critics have a problem with Trump’s Twitter comments taking on a subject until he is proven right, in this instance he is correct. Even is Pence wants to dismiss this issue, the problem is greater than Trump or Pence, it is about respect for the office of the presidency and vice-presidency. Even if half of Americans are disappointed about the election outcome, afterward they have to respect the offices and the traditions that are 227 years old. Instead, they protest, harass, insult and even threaten on social media engaging in behavior far worse than anything Trump might have espoused on the campaign trail.

Entertainers have a platform, and they are overly political to the point that is insulting to those who do not agree with them, and they dismiss Trump because like them him has a background in the same industry, but used the celebrity to climb and become President. As the first citizen president, Trump’s exchanges on Twitter give the American public the unprecedented access to a president. Instead of constructively using the platform and the president-elect’s ears in a positive way, there is still too much disrespect. The country needs to deal with it whether they like it or not, Trump was elected president according to the Constitution with the support of a majority of the country’s states, they would expect the same if their candidate would have won.

Politics November 18, 2016: Trump causes controversy naming Sessions, Flynn and Pompeo to Cabinet

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By Bonnie K. Goodman

BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ - NOVEMBER 20: President-elect Donald Trump steps outside the clubhouse to greet Jonathan Gray, member of the Board of Directors at Blackstone, before their meeting at Trump International Golf Club, November 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.  (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

BEDMINSTER TOWNSHIP, NJ – NOVEMBER 20: President-elect Donald Trump steps outside the clubhouse to greet Jonathan Gray, member of the Board of Directors at Blackstone, before their meeting at Trump International Golf Club, November 20, 2016 in Bedminster Township, New Jersey. Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump is beginning to fill up his cabinet, adding three more to the two positions he has already filled. On Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, Trump named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his National Security Adviser according to sources. On Friday, Nov. 18, Trump added to his cabinet by naming Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general, and Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo as CIA Director. Sessions nomination is causing the most controversy because he had been accused of racist comments against African Americans that led him not to be confirmed for a circuit judgeship in 1986 when the President Ronald Reagan nominated him. Flynn is also causing a stir, for his racist comments against Muslims.

On Friday, Nov. 18, the Trump transition team officially released a statement announcing President-elect Trump decisions on those appointments. That included statements by the president-elect and Sessions, Flynn and Pompeo. Sessions is a member of Senate Judiciary Committee member, Flynn is “a retired United States Army Lieutenant General and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency,” while Pompeo is currently a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Sessions was an early contender for a top cabinet post since he was the first Senator to endorse Trump back in February and since then has been a loyal advisor to Trump during the campaign on immigration and Supreme Court nominations. Sessions is facing criticism for remarks that haunted his 1986 confirmation hearings by the Senate Judiciary Committee for the position of U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Alabama. Then Sessions was accused of saying the ACLU and NAACP were “un-American” and he used racially derogatory remarks to African American employees. In 1986, Sessions responded, “I am not a racist. I am not insensitive to blacks. I have supported civil rights activity in my state. I have done my job with integrity, equality, and fairness for all.”

Trump campaign manager defended Sessions against the old allegations. Conway told CNN, “We’re aware of what was said and done 30 some years ago and we’re also aware of the incredible career Jeff Sessions has had throughout his life… I think if anyone had a problem with his record they would have run against him. Senator Sessions would be qualified for any number of positions.” Senate Democrats including new minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are against Sessions being confirmed, but also one Republican, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul opposes his nomination.

Flynn is a registered Democrat, who criticized President Barack Obama’s foreign policy after leaving his post as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which he held from 2012 to 2014. Flynn also has been a loyal Trump advisor and campaign surrogate, especially on issues regarding national security, and on Trump’s Muslim ban that morphed into a ban on immigrants terrorist countries. His views and comments, however, towards Muslims, are problematic and are being criticized.

In February, Flynn tweeted, that “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL.” Flynn revealed in a New York Post op-ed that “the stand I took on radical Islam,” was the real reason for his departure from DIA. Flynn later wrote a book “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win The Global War Against Radical Islam And Its Allies” which was released earlier this year outlining his views  on the “global war against radical Islam.” Flynn is also a board member on ACT for America considered “the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America.” American Muslim groups are outraged at Trump’s appointment of Flynn. The position of National Security Advisor, however, does not require Senate confirmation.

Pompeo is the least controversial of Trump’s three appointments, but he is still facing opposition from Sen. Paul. Rep. Pompeo was a sharp “critic of President Obama’s foreign policy including the Iran deal” and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her term as Secretary of State. Pompeo was not an early Trump supporter as his other early picks; Pompeo first endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio in the primary. Pompeo has served three terms in the House and is a member of the House Energy Committee and the Intelligence Committee and a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Pompeo co-wrote a supplement to the report on the way the Obama Administration and Clinton as Secretary of State dealt with the 2012 terror attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

Previously, Trump named Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus his chief of staff and former Breitbart News executive Steve Bannon his chief strategist and senior counselor, both positions do not require Senate confirmations. Trump has spent all week and weekend meeting with prospective candidates for top White House and Cabinet posts, but he still is at the at the start of filling in these positions, with only two months to spare before Inauguration Day.

Politics November 16, 2016: Senate leadership McConnell re-elected, Democrat Schumer elected, Sanders grabs post

By Bonnie K. Goodman

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) leaves after an election meeting of Senate Democrats to elect new leadership at the Capitol November 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. Sen. Schumer was elected as the incoming Senate minority leader. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 16: U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) leaves after an election meeting of Senate Democrats to elect new leadership at the Capitol November 16, 2016 in Washington, DC. Sen. Schumer was elected as the incoming Senate minority leader. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

After the House Republicans had voted on their leadership posts, the Senate had their turn. On Wednesday morning, Nov. 16, 2016, as predicted Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) was re-elected majority leader by acclamation, while New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer was elevated to minority leader, as departing minority leader Sen. Harry Reid’s heir apparent. Vermont Sen. and 2016 Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders also grabbed his first Senate leader post as Chair of Outreach.

The Republicans retained their leaders in their election for the 115th Congress. In a meeting of the GOP conference on Wednesday morning, McConnell was re-elected “by acclimation by his colleagues with a standing ovation,” as his spokesman Don Stewart told the press. Sen. Marco Rubio (R- FL) nominated McConnell, while Sen.-elect Todd Young, (R-IN) second the motion, both were instrumental to the GOP maintaining their majority.

McConnell was expected to remain in his post, and there were no surprises in the GOP leadership votes. McConnell, 74 will be serving his second term as majority leader, previously he was minority leader for four terms, and is “Kentucky’s longest-serving senator;” he was first elected in 1984.

All the action was with the Democrats after they shook up their leadership with the retirement of longtime leader Sen. Reid. Reid already named Schumer, his successor, but Wednesday’s vote made that a reality. After the being elected Schumer expressed, “I am going to wake up every single day focused on how Senate Democrats can effectively fight for America’s middle class and those struggling to join it.” While Schumer told reporters, “We are ready to go toe to toe with Republicans.” Although the minority leader acknowledged, “When you lose an election like this, you can’t flinch. You can’t ignore it. You need to look it right in the eye and ask why, analyze it and learn from it.”

Schumer, 66 has served in the Senate since 1998, and he was in the House representing Brooklyn and Queens for 18 years before that. In 2006, Reid tapped Schumer to be the party’s number three in the Senate as vice chairman of the Democratic Conference, a position her served for ten years. When Reid announced his retirement in 2015, he made it clear he wanted Schumer to succeed him as Senate Democratic leader.

Overshadowing Schumer’s election was the addition of Sanders to the enlarged leadership team. The popular Sanders will be the outreach chairman, a newly created post within the ranks. Senate Democrats were pressured to add the formerly independent Senator to their leadership ranks after his historic run for the Democratic nomination, with a still very loyal supporter base.

After his appointment, Sanders spoke to reporters, telling them he has a “heavy responsibility to help shape the priorities of the United States government. I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that the budget that leaves the United States Congress is a budget that represents the needs of working families and a shrinking middle class and not billionaires.” Sanders will also retain his post as the senior minority member of the Budget Committee.

Otherwise, in the Democratic ranks, Sen. Dick Durbin, (D-Ill) remains minority whip. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) will be the new assistant Democratic leader, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) moves up to chair the Democratic Policy and Communications Center. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, (D-WI) becomes Democratic Conference secretary, the fourth ranking in leadership, and Joe Manchin (D-WV) takes over as vice chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

The Democrats enlarged their team from seven to 10 posts. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) now moved up to newly titled posts of vice chairs of the Senate Democratic Conference. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-MN) position title changed from chairwoman of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee to just chair of the Steering Committee.

Additionally, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-CA ) becomes the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, while longtime-Judiciary member Patrick Leahy (D-VT)  moves to the Appropriations Committee.

Politics November 15, 2016: House Speaker Paul Ryan re-elected by Republican conference

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House Speaker Paul Ryan re-elected by Republican conference

By Bonnie K. Goodman

WASHINGTON, D.C. - NOVEMBER 09: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks during a press conference after a House Leadership Election on Capitol Hill on November 15, 2016 in Washington, D.C. United States. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and GOP Conference Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) will keep their roles.(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – NOVEMBER 09: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks during a press conference after a House Leadership Election on Capitol Hill on November 15, 2016 in Washington, D.C. United States. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), and GOP Conference Chair Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) will keep their roles.(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

House Republicans have opted to re-elected Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R- WI) to a second term. On Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 15, 2016, in a closed-door session Republicans unanimously voted that Ryan should stay on as House Speaker in the 115th session.

Ryan’s re-election with support from all Republicans is surprising, but after a week of shocks, that has become the new norm for Republicans. Ryan’s speakership was in danger before President-elect Donald Trump’s shocking upset victory a week ago on Tuesday, Nov. 8. His lack of support and distancing himself from Trump after a 2005 lewd tape emerged threatened Trump’s chances of winning the presidency. The conservative Freedom Caucus and some Southerner Republicans wanted Ryan replaced.

After the FBI reopened their investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Trump rose in the polls that changed, Ryan had a change of heart, he campaigned and told Americans particularly Republicans to vote for Trump. Since Trump’s election, Ryan has been President-elect Trump’s greatest endorser on Capitol Hill. Ryan sees himself guiding policy for the administration and Republican-controlled Congress. Ryan and Trump met on Thursday, Nov. 10 and had been talking on the phone each day.

Ryan told the conference that Vice President-elect Mike Pence told him Trump supports the entire House Republican leadership’s re-election. In the spirit of their new president, GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) gave Trump campaign hats red Make America great Again hats to each member.

Also, a new leadership position was created to help the new president. Ryan appointed Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) the congressional liaison to the Trump transition team. Collins was the one to second Ryan’s re-election. Collins said, “Paul Ryan’s future is as bright as ever. He has no opposition today. I’m seconding Paul Ryan’s nomination today as a sign of Trump’s support of Mr. Ryan. This is a team effort.”

On Tuesday, the Republicans also elected Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers to helm the National Republican Congressional Committee. Stivers was in the running with Rep. Roger Williams of Texas for the post. Now Ryan has to face a full vote in the House when they convene their new session in January, but with full support from the Republican majority, Ryan is certain to coast to a second term as Speaker of the House.

Politics November 15, 2016: President-elect Trump’s potential cabinet picks

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By Bonnie K. Goodman

LAKELAND, FL - OCTOBER 12: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani campaign together during a rally at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on October 12, 2016 in Lakeland, Florida. Trump continues to campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with less than one month to Election Day. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

LAKELAND, FL – OCTOBER 12: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani campaign together during a rally at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on October 12, 2016 in Lakeland, Florida. Trump continues to campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with less than one month to Election Day. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Now that Donald Trump has been elected president, he begins his presidential transition from the election until the inauguration. The first task of newly elect president is forming his cabinet and White House team, and staffing all the departments. Trump revised his transition team on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, replacing New Jersey Governor Christie as Chairman with his Vice President Mike Pence. Trump has already appointed two key members to his White House staff.

Trump named on Sunday, Nov. 13, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will serve as White House Chief of Staff and Trump for President CEO and Breitbart editor Stephen K. Bannon will serve as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President.

The Trump team has indicated they might announce Treasury Secretary later this week, and former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani has implied he would not be Attorney General, but he is now at the top of the list for Secretary of State. While campaign surrogate and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson says he will not accept a position in a Trump cabinet.

The following is a list of prospective candidates for each post from the New York Times updated on Nov. 14 (candidate descriptions also quoted from the NYT):

Secretary of State

  •  John R. Bolton Former United States ambassador to the United Nations under George W. Bush
  •  Bob Corker Senator from Tennessee and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
  •  Newt Gingrich Former House speaker
  •  Rudolph W. Giuliani Former New York mayor
  •  Zalmay Khalilzad Former United States ambassador to Afghanistan
  •  Stanley A. McChrystal Former senior military commander in Afghanistan

Treasury Secretary

  • Thomas Barrack Jr. Founder, chairman and executive chairman of Colony Capital; private equity and real estate investor
  • Jeb Hensarling Representative from Texas and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee
  • Steven Mnuchin Former Goldman Sachs executive and Mr. Trump’s campaign finance chairman
  • Tim Pawlenty Former Minnesota governor

Defense Secretary

  • Kelly Ayotte Departing senator from New Hampshire and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee
  • Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn Former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (he would need a waiver from Congress because of a seven-year rule for retired officers)
  • Stephen J. Hadley National security adviser under George W. Bush
  • Jon Kyl Former senator from Arizona
  • Jeff Sessions Senator from Alabama who is a prominent immigration opponent

Attorney General

  • Chris Christie New Jersey governor
  • Rudolph W. Giuliani Former New York mayor
  • Jeff Sessions Senator from Alabama

Interior Secretary

  • Jan Brewer Former Arizona governor
  • Robert E. Grady Gryphon Investors partner
  • Harold G. Hamm Chief executive of Continental Resources, an oil and gas company
  • Forrest Lucas President of Lucas Oil Products, which manufactures automotive lubricants, additives and greases
  • Sarah Palin Former Alaska governor

Agriculture Secretary

  • Sam Brownback Kansas governor
  • Chuck Conner Chief executive officer of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
  • Sid Miller Texas agricultural commissioner
  • Sonny Perdue Former Georgia governor

Commerce Secretary

  • Chris Christie New Jersey governor
  • Dan DiMicco Former chief executive of Nucor Corporation, steel production company
  • Lewis M. Eisenberg Private equity chief for Granite Capital International Group

Labor Secretary

  • Victoria A. Lipnic Equal Employment Opportunity commissioner and work force policy counsel to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce

Health and Human Services Secretary

  • Dr. Ben Carson Former neurosurgeon and 2016 presidential candidate
  • Mike Huckabee Former Arkansas governor and 2016 presidential candidate
  • Bobby Jindal Former Louisiana governor who served as secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals
  • Rick Scott Florida governor and former chief executive of a large hospital chain

Energy Secretary

  • James L. Connaughton Chief executive of Nautilus Data Technologies and former environmental adviser to President George W. Bush
  • Robert E. Grady Gryphon Investors partner
  • Harold G. Hamm Chief executive of Continental Resources, an oil and gas company

Education Secretary

  • Dr. Ben Carson Former neurosurgeon and 2016 presidential candidate
  • Williamson M. Evers Education expert at the Hoover Institution, a think tank

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

  • Jeff Miller Retired chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee

Homeland Security Secretary

  • Joe Arpaio Departing sheriff of Maricopa County, Ariz.
  • David A. Clarke Jr. Milwaukee County sheriff
  • Michael McCaul Representative from Texas and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee
  • Jeff Sessions Senator from Alabama

E.P.A. Administrator

  • Myron Ebell A director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and a prominent climate change skeptic
  • Robert E. Grady Gryphon Investors partner who was involved in drafting the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990
  • Jeffrey R. Holmstead Lawyer with Bracewell L.L.P. and former deputy E.P.A. administrator in the George W. Bush administration

U.S. Trade Representative

  • Dan DiMicco Former chief executive of Nucor Corporation, a steel production company, and a critic of Chinese trade practices

U.N. Ambassador

  • Kelly Ayotte Departing senator from New Hampshire and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee
  • Richard Grenell Former spokesman for the United States ambassador to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration

Politics November 13, 2016: Trump begins cabinet picks names RNC chairman Reince Priebus as chief of staff

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By Bonnie K. Goodman

Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) Reince Priebus (R) hugs Republican presidential elect Donald Trump during election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) Reince Priebus (R) hugs Republican presidential elect Donald Trump during election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration is coming together as President-elect Donald Trump announced his first cabinet picks on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 13, 2016. As speculated Trump named Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will serve as White House Chief of Staff and Trump for President CEO Stephen K. Bannon will serve as Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor to the President. The Congressional Republicans are lauding Trump’s choice of appointing Priebus.

President-elect Trump issued a statement on his transition website announcing the appointmentsTrump expressed, “I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country. Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”

Bannon also commented in the statement, saying, “I want to thank President-elect Trump for the opportunity to work with Reince in driving the agenda of the Trump Administration. We had a very successful partnership on the campaign, one that led to victory. We will have that same partnership in working to help President-elect Trump achieve his agenda.”

While Priebus also expressed gratitude for his appointment saying, “It is truly an honor to join President-elect Trump in the White House as his Chief of Staff. I am very grateful to the President-elect for this opportunity to serve him and this nation as we work to create an economy that works for everyone, secure our borders, repeal and replace Obamacare and destroy radical Islamic terrorism. He will be a great President for all Americans.”

The statement explained that Bannon and Priebus are working as equal partners, “Bannon and Priebus will continue the effective leadership team they formed during the campaign, working as equal partners to transform the federal government, making it much more efficient, effective and productive.” They made the arrangement, as they would be working with different “constituencies” in running the White House.

Bannon is a former Navy officer and was Goldman Sachs investment banker, but recently headed conservative publication Breitbart News. He joined the Trump campaign in August and many in the feared that put Trump more to the right alienating himself from mainstream Republican and independent voters. Instead, Bannon helped keep Trump on message and disciplined on the campaign trail. Still, the party establishment did not want Bannon in the role of chief of staff, viewing him as still too controversial.

Both Priebus and Bannon were in the running for the position of chief of staff. Priebus stood by Trump throughout the campaign even through Trump’s scandals and the 2005 lewd tape revelation that caused many Republicans to bolt, distance themselves and rescind their endorsements. By the end, Priebus was on the campaign trail for the then-Republican nominee. During the campaign, Priebus served as a liaison to Trump and the establishment in the party. Priebus is one of the longest running Republican Party Chairman and is popular with all factions of the party.

Priebus was the choice of House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the role, and they let Trump know it when they met with on Thursday, Nov. 10. Ryan’s spokesman Doug Andres commented after the announcement, indicating “The speaker is very happy for his friend and ready to get to work.” Priebus negotiated Ryan’s original endorsement of the Trump; he has a longtime relationship with Ryan from his time as Chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Trump is known for rewarding loyalty, and both Priebus and Bannon have been loyal and instrumental to his election. The role of chief of staff sets the tone of the White House and administration and Trump by choosing Priebus shows that will be inclusive to all Republicans and that Trump’s presidency might far more moderate than his campaign rhetoric.

Politics November 13, 2016: Pence takes over from Christie as head of Trump transition team amid in-fighting

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Pence takes over from Christie as head of Trump transition team amid in-fighting

 

By Bonnie K. Goodman

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 10: President Elect Donald Trump, center right, walks through the halls of the U.S. Capitol for a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, center left, (R-KY) on November, 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Accompanying him are his wife, Melania, right, and Vice President Elect Mike Pence, left. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 10:
President Elect Donald Trump, center right, walks through the halls of the U.S. Capitol for a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, center left, (R-KY) on November, 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Accompanying him are his wife, Melania, right, and Vice President Elect Mike Pence, left.
(Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

From the moment, Donald Trump was elected president on early Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, all attention turned to presidential transition. On Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, President-Elect Trump tapped his running-mate Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence to run his transition team. Although the focus is now on transition since May, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie led the transition plans, but with reports of conflict between Trump’s team, the president-elect looked to someone who unifies the most important first task of the new administration. The transition team selects a cabinet and fills key positions in the White House while setting policy priorities to get the ball rolling after inauguration day.

Trump first met with his transition team on Wednesday, Nov. 9, but after just two days and a trip to Washington meeting with President Barack Obama, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Trump decided to change course. The president-elect replaced Christie with Pence while reducing Christie to one of the Vice Chairmen on the transition team.

Other vice chairmen on the transition team include close Trump campaign aides and surrogates, Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Dr. Ben Carson and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. After the announcement, Christie issued a statement, “I am proud to have run the pre-election phase of the transition team along with a thoroughly professional and dedicated team of people.”

The decision to place Pence in that position shows that the president-elect plans to give his Vice President more influence and importance, harkening back to the influence of former President George W. Bush’s VP Dick Cheney had in the White House. Pence has experience on Capitol Hill, and is respected by both parties and has connections with leadership on either side of the aisle. Trump is already tapping into that influence with Pence joining him in meetings with GOP Congressional leadership on Thursday, and calling the Democratic leadership.

Trump issued a statement on Friday announcing his entire transition team. Trump said, “Together this outstanding group of advisors, led by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, will build on the initial work done under the leadership of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to help prepare a transformative government ready to lead from day one.”  Continuing the President-elect explained, “The mission of our team will be clear: put together the most highly qualified group of successful leaders who will be able to implement our change agenda in Washington. Together, we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding this nation — specifically jobs, security and opportunity.”

The transition team will include a 16-member executive committee that includes Trump’s children, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. The following is the complete list of Trump’s revised transition team:

Pennsylvania Congressman Lou Barletta
Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
New York Congressman Chris Collins
Jared Kushner
Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino
Rebekah Mercer
Steven Mnuchin
Congressman Devin Nunes
Anthony Scaramucci
Peter Thiel
Donald Trump Jr.
Eric Trump
Ivanka Trump
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus
Trump Campaign CEO Stephen K. Bannon

Trump also announced the Presidential Transition Team’s Staff Leadership lineup:

Former Campaign Manager  Kellyanne Conway, Senior Advisor
Former deputy campaign manager David Bossie, Deputy Executive Director
Stephen Miller, National Policy Director
Jason Miller, Communications Director
Hope Hicks, National Press Secretary
Dan Scavino, Director of Social Media
Don McGahn, General Counsel
Republican National Committee chief-of-staff  Katie Walsh, Senior Advisor

Trump has been busy meeting with his transition staff and prospective cabinet members at his Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. On Friday alone according to Politico, Trump met with “former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Kushner, Anthony Scaramucci, Rudy Giuliani, digital director Brad Parscale, senior communications adviser Jason Miller, senior adviser Stephen Miller and campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks.”

Politico is also reporting that internal conflicts in the Trump camp led to Christie’s ouster, conflicts between Christie’s aides, Trump loyalists, and GOP establishment. Particularly Corey Lewandowski and RNC chairman Reince Priebus, which has been going on since the campaign, although Lewandowski denies there are any conflicts. Even after Lewandowski was fired as campaign manager, he continued advising Trump throughout the campaign. Now, Lewandowski is in the running for RNC Chair in Priebus gets tapped in the White House, a sure sign pointing to an elevated post, he resigned as a contributor to CNN on Friday.

There is also conflicts between Trump New York advisors and his Washington transition team players because very little attention was being paid towards the transition until after the election. There is a third faction on the team with allegiances to Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. Sessions is responsible for “congressional outreach and immigration policy.”

Conservatives on the team viewed Christie and his aides “as big-business-backing centrists who were insufficiently conservative on cultural issues.” Christie was also looking to reward Republicans who refused to support Trump during the campaign rather than punish them. Kushner had problems with Christie and his top deputy, Rich Bagger.

Kushner was key in replacing Christie had prejudices against the New Jersey governor, who was the district attorney that convicted his father ten- years ago. Kushner has been a close advisor to his father-in-law and came with him to the White House Thursday, where he spoke with Obama Chief-of-Staff Denis McDonough.

The compromise solution was elevating conservative Pence and his aides, as Bush did with Cheney in 2000. Still, one operative told Politico, “This is like the Oklahoma landgrab. It’s gonna get vicious the next 70 days as people try to place their people where they want them. And Christie’s people ain’t the same as [Trump campaign CEO Steve] Bannon’s people ain’t the same as Sessions’ people.”

Politics November 11, 2016: President-Elect Trump goes to Washington meets with Obama, Ryan, and McConnell

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President-Elect Trump goes to Washington meets with Obama, Ryan, and McConnell

 

By Bonnie K. Goodman

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 10: President-elect Donald Trump (L) talks after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama (R) in the Oval Office November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to meet with members of the Republican leadership in Congress later today on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 10: President-elect Donald Trump (L) talks after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama (R) in the Oval Office November 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to meet with members of the Republican leadership in Congress later today on Capitol Hill. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 10: President Elect Donald Trump, center right, walks through the halls of the U.S. Capitol for a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, center left, (R-KY) on November, 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Accompanying him are his wife, Melania, right, and Vice President Elect Mike Pence, left. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 10:
President Elect Donald Trump, center right, walks through the halls of the U.S. Capitol for a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, center left, (R-KY) on November, 10, 2016 in Washington, DC. Accompanying him are his wife, Melania, right, and Vice President Elect Mike Pence, left.
(Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

President-Elect Donald Trump is moving forward having his first official Washington meeting as the nation’s new Commander-in-Chief after an upset victory on Election Day. On Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016, Trump went to Washington meeting first with outgoing President Barack Obama in the Oval Office for the traditional transition of power meeting. Then Trump went to Capitol Hill meeting with Republican Congressional leader, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Trump’s Vice-President-Elect Mike Pence also was busy in Washington meeting with outgoing Vice President Joe Biden and joining Trump at his Congressional meetings. The new First Lady Melania Trump also was busy meeting with outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama to tour the White House residence and join her husband on Capitol Hill for his meetings.

Trump first arrived Thursday morning with some advisors for White House meeting. Trump met with Obama in the Oval Office for 90 minutes much longer than the planned 15-minute meeting. Afterward, the president and the president-elect spoke to reporters. Although they were adversaries just days before, the country’s interests rise above partisan division when it comes to the transfer of presidential powers.

Obama told reporters, “My No. 1 priority in the next two months is to try to facilitate a transition that ensures our President-elect is successful.” Continuing the president said to his successor, “If you succeed, the country succeeds.” Trump, in turn, thanked Obama for the long-running meeting, saying, “The meeting lasted almost for an hour and a half and as far as I’m concerned, it could have gone on for a lot longer.” The president-elect called Obama a “very good man” and expressed, “I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. I look forward to being with you many, many more times.”

The White House meeting was surprisingly pleasant to consider the past animosity between Obama and Trump dating back to 2011 when Trump joined the birther movement. Then Trump called for Obama to release his long-form birth certificate not believing Obama was a natural-born citizen. Obama paid Trump back at the 2011White House Correspondents dinner. The rhetoric became more heated during the campaign as Trump blamed Obama for the rise of the terrorist group ISIS, while, Obama just called Trump “unfit for the presidency” on the last day of the campaign.

While Trump met with Obama in the Oval Office, the two first ladies, future and present Melania Trump and Michelle Obama met in the White House residence. Mrs. Obama gave Mrs. Trump a tour of the residence and they had tea together Yellow Oval Room. They discussed raising children in the White House; the Trump’s have son Barron, ten who will be the only one of Trump’s children to be living in the White House. The Obamas’ daughters Malia and Sasha were 10 and 7 when they moved into the White House in 2009. Michelle also showed Melania the Truman balcony.

The two have they own problems. Although Melania has never criticized Michelle, some of her convention speech closely resembled Michelle’s 2008 speech. Mrs. Obama, however, heavily attacked Trump on the campaign trail especially after the surfacing of his 2005 lewd tape in October. All the issues seem to be put behind the Trumps and Obamas at their transition meetings. Later in the evening, Trump tweeted, “A fantastic day in D.C. Met with President Obama for first time. Really good meeting, great chemistry. Melania liked Mrs. O a lot!”

After the White House, the Trumps’ along with Vice President-Elect Mike Pence had lunch at the Capitol Hill Club. They then headed off to meet with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Ryan gave Trump a tour of the Capitol building and then met in the Speaker’s office. Ryan took Trump out to his office balcony, which has views of the inauguration spot Trump and Pence will sworn-in, the Washington Monument even Trump’s new Washington hotel. At the meeting, they discussed policy priorities for the new administration and new session of Congress.

Ryan then spoke with reporters with the Trumps and Pence. The speaker expressed, “Donald Trump had one of the most impressive victories we have ever seen and we’re going to turn that victory into progress for the American people, and we are now talking about how we are going to hit the ground running to get this country turned around and make America great again.” While Trump said, “We can’t get started fast enough. And whether its health care or immigration, so many different things, we will be working on them very rapidly.”

Trump and Ryan also shared a complicated relationship throughout the campaign, but now the Speaker has embraced the president-elect fully. Only during the last days of the campaign after the FBI first announced that they were renewing their investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and Trump rose in the polls, and Trump supporters in Congress starting threatening Ryan about possibly losing his speakership if Trump loses, did Ryan campaign for the Republican nominee. After Trump won along with the Republicans keeping both Houses of Congress, Ryan has been speaking enthusiastically about the president-elect. Ryan hopes to spearhead the administration’s policies through Congress.

President-Elect Trump capped his day in Washington by meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Trumps and Pence met with the Senate leader in his Capitol office. Pence had to leave after 20-minutes to make his meeting with his predecessor Vice President Joe Biden.  After the meeting, McConnell told reporters, “It was a first-class meeting.” McConnell stressed that they discussed “issues that we obviously agree on” and told the press the President-Elect wants “get going early, and so do we.”

After the meeting, Trump told the press, “A lot of really great priorities. People will be very, very happy. Well, we have a lot. We’re looking very strongly at immigration, we’re going to look at the borders, very importantly, we’re looking very strongly at health care and we’re looking at jobs. Big league jobs.” President-Elect Trump continued, explaining, “Quite frankly we can’t get started fast enough… whether it’s on healthcare or immigration so many different things. We’re going to lower taxes, so many different things we are going to be working on.”

Politics November 8, 2016: Clinton and Trump make closing arguments at last rallies of 2016 campaign

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Clinton and Trump make closing arguments at last rallies of 2016 campaign

By Bonnie K. Goodman

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 08: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at North Carolina State University on November 8, 2016 in Raleigh North Carolina. With less than 24 hours until Election Day in the United States, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

RALEIGH, NC – NOVEMBER 08: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at North Carolina State University on November 8, 2016 in Raleigh North Carolina. With less than 24 hours until Election Day in the United States, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

 

GRAND RAPIDS, MI - NOVEMBER 08: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump leaves his final campaign rally on November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With less than 24 hours until Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – NOVEMBER 08: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump leaves his final campaign rally on November 8, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With less than 24 hours until Election Day in the United States, Trump and his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are campaigning in key battleground states that each must win to take the White House. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

After more two years, the 2016 presidential campaign is ending. Late Monday evening, Nov. 7, 2016, into the early hours of Tuesday, Nov. 8, Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton made their final cases to the American voters at their last rallies of the campaign cycle. The candidates held a marathon number of rallies during the last days of the campaign hoping to persuade voters in battleground states that they should be the next president. Clinton ended on a positive note, Trump a more negative tone as both candidates remained close in polls that showed conflicting results entering Election Day.

Clinton made her final rally in the ever more critical battleground state of North Carolina. Clinton spoke to 6,000 supporters at the rally held at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where she had a little help from some famous friends, singers Jon Bon Jovi and Lady Gaga, who also performed. Clinton hoped to appeal to millennials to help put her over the edge.

Clinton alluded to Bon Jovi’s performance and biggest hit in her remarks. Clinton expressed,
“Well, I got to tell you this is sure worth staying you up for. And you know between now and the time that the poll closes tomorrow, we’re going to be living on a prayer.” Clinton, who ran a campaign made of attacks mostly on her opponent wanted to strike a more positive tone at the end of her historic campaign. The Democratic nominee wanted to contrast herself from Trump’s “dark and divisive vision for America.”

Clinton called on voters, “Tomorrow, we face the test of our time. So if you believe America thrives when the middle class thrives, then you have to vote… If you believe we should make the biggest investment in new jobs since WWII … you have to vote. For the last words of her campaign, Clinton concluded, “If you believe we need more fairness in our economy… If you believe in science … If you believe we need to reform our criminal justice system … If you believe we need to do more to support working families … Let’s go vote North Carolina!”

Earlier in the evening, Clinton “held her biggest rally of the cycle in Pennsylvania” accompanied by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle, her husband former President Bill Clinton, and daughter Chelsea. Clinton hosted 20,000 supporters at Independence Hall in Philadelphia where Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi performed. Clinton is keeping up with her positive message ending, apologized for the campaign’s nastiness, saying, “I regret deeply how angry the tone of the campaign became.” The Democratic nominee pointed out the negative words coming from her opponent’s campaign. Clinton then asked supporters, “Let’s show tomorrow there will be no question about the outcome of this election!”

Obama gave a resounding endorsement passing the torch to his former Secretary of State. The President expressed, “We now have the chance to elect a 45th president who will build on our progress who will finish the job … who is smart, who is steady and who is tested. She will work, she will deliver. She won’t just tweet.” Obama asked voters “America, I am betting on you one more time.” The president a notorious and energetic campaigner, who loves the game, has been a top surrogate for Clinton making arguments in Florida and Michigan.  While the First Lady who has been Clinton’s campaign secret weapon told the crowd, “We are one day away from once again from making history… This election is on us. It is in our hands. If we get out and vote tomorrow, Hillary Clinton will win.”

Meanwhile, Trump held his last of a marathon of rallies in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Midwest state has not voted Republican since 1988, but Trump’s popularity with blue-collar workers has put the state in play. Trump’s simple but full rally contrasted with the caravan of celebrities that have performed concerts and campaigned for Clinton in the final for Trump it has always been the been the supporters who have stuffed his rallies in record number that have been the most important, as the nominee himself is a one-man band. Trump had “enthusiastic crowds in his final swing state rallies in “Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Michigan.”

Trump told his supporters, “We don’t need, we don’t need Jay Z or Beyonce. We don’t need Jon Bon Jovi. We don’t need Lady Gaga. All we need is great ideas to make America great again. That’s all that we need.” Despite a close race with Clinton slightly ahead in some polls, Trump remained optimistic telling  his audience at a earlier rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, “I think we’re going to blow them out tomorrow in a lot of different ways, blow them out. No way.” In Michigan he told his supporters, “This is not the sound of a second place finisher, that I can tell you.”

Trump had what was supposed to be his campaign finale rally also earlier in the evening. Trump held a rally in Manchester, New Hampshire with his family, his three eldest children, who were his biggest campaign surrogates and his running mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence and his wife Karen as well friend and most loyal and “ardent” surrogate former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. There were no celebrities present other than the candidate, but there were laser beams and a fog machine show and 12,000 loyal supporters from the battleground state. There Trump thanked his children, “I heard about the surrogates going all over for Hillary Clinton but I had my family I had the best surrogates of all.”

Trump’s final last minute rally in Michigan, started with a large crowd but as the early morning wore on the crowds dispersed. Trump remained negative to the end, as he needed to be to fight his opponent who has been acting as the incumbent backed a president with a renewed popularity. The GOP nominee declared, “Hillary is the face of failure. She’s the face of failed foreign policy.” Trump’s running mate, Pence gave the same warning earlier in the day at a stop in Minnesota, arguing, “In one day the American people can put an end to decades of Clinton corruption. You here in Minnesota can close the history books on the Clintons once and for all.”

As the outsider, Trump concluded with that message going to the core of what his campaign has always been about those on the outside of the political establishment. The nominee expressed, “The corrupt politicians and their special interests have ruled over this country for a very long time. Today is our Independence day. Today the American working class is going to strike back, finally.”

 

 

Politics November 7, 2016: WikiLeaks CNN embroiled in Clinton bias over favors for Democratic National Committee

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WikiLeaks CNN embroiled in Clinton bias over favors for Democratic National Committee

By Bonnie K. Goodman

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 07: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally on November 7, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With one day to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 07: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally on November 7, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With one day to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Pennsylvania, Michigan and North Carolina. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Republican nominee Donald Trump likes to call CNN the Clinton News Network and he might be right. WikLeaks released over 8,000 more emails from the Democratic National Committee on Monday, Nov. 7, 2016, and among the most damaging is an email where the Clinton campaign coordinated with CNN to sabotage interviews in April with Republican candidates Donald Trump who became the nominee and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

In April the DNC “colluded” with CNN to create questions to trip Trump during a CNN interview including having the DNC choosing the CNN anchor who would interview Trump.
The email dated April 25, was a DNC staffer named Lauren Dillon who served as the DNC Research Director, her email address was DillonL@dnc.org.

The DNC staffer requested that Wolf Blitzer conduct the interview. Dillon wrote CNN, “Wolf Blitzer is interviewing Trump on Tues ahead of his foreign policy address on Wed. … Please send me thoughts by 10:30 AM tomorrow.” Dillon sent another email after CNN notified her that the interview had been canceled “as of now.”

In the second email, Dillon provided suggested questions the CNN anchor should ask Trump when the interview was rescheduled. Dillon wrote some of the questions down, suggesting CNN ask Trump “Who helped you write the foreign policy speech you’re giving tomorrow? Which advisors specifically did you talk to? What advice did they give you? Did they give you any advice that you chose not to take?”

Additionally, as the Washington Examiner noted Dillon suggested questions regarding “Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a pre-preemptive strike against North Korea and court martials for members of the military who didn’t follow orders.”

Dillon did the same when it came to interviews with Cruz and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina who Cruz at that point was choosing as running mate in unprecedented move since he was not the presumptive nominee. Dillon wrote in that third email “CNN is looking for questions” on Cruz and “maybe a couple on” Fiorina.

CNN dismissed the emails with a spokeswoman commenting, “This is completely unremarkable. We have similar communications with Republicans. When preparing for interviews we are regularly sent suggestions from rival campaigns and political parties, both solicited and unsolicited. Casting a wide net to ensure a tough and fair interview isn’t just common media practice, it’s smart.”

WikLeaks released a damaging batch of DNC emails back in July just before the Democratic National Convention revealing how much the party wanted to sabotage and work against the party’s other primary candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Then DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s damaging emails forced her to resign as the party’s head.

This is not the first time WikiLeaks unearthed CNN helping the Clinton campaign during the primaries. This first time was with interim DNC Chair woman Donna Brazile. Brazile acquired two CNN primary debate questions and handed them over to the Clinton campaign. The revelation prompted CNN to cut ties with Brazile.

WikLeaks released 50,000 hacked emails since the beginning of October in an attempt to sway the election. The majority of the emails have been from the Gmail account of Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. The emails not released in any order include both emails and internal memos and documents showing the Clintons’ used their political connections to gain favors.

The emails have shown a calculated Clinton campaign that has used the Democratic National Committee and the news media to get an advantage for Clinton in the primary and general election. The news media has downplayed the revelation but they are still damaging to the Clinton campaign and the DNC showing a manipulatively run campaign.

Politics November 7, 2016: WikiLeaks Chelsea Clinton’s husband used Clinton Foundation for hedge fund

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WikiLeaks Chelsea Clinton’s husband used Clinton Foundation for hedge fund

By Bonnie K. Goodman

HEMPSTEAD, NY - SEPTEMBER 26: (L-R) Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks on with husband and former U.S. President Bill Clinton and daughter, Chelsea Clinton after the Presidential Debate with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC's Lester Holt. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

HEMPSTEAD, NY – SEPTEMBER 26: (L-R) Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks on with husband and former U.S. President Bill Clinton and daughter, Chelsea Clinton after the Presidential Debate with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York. The first of four debates for the 2016 Election, three Presidential and one Vice Presidential, is moderated by NBC’s Lester Holt. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Another day another Clinton scandal exposed. The FBI might not be charging Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over her private email server, but does not mean the Clintons’ are not without scandal and general abuse of power privilege. On Sunday evening, Nov. 6, 2016, WikiLeaks released another batch of 8,000 emails relating to Hillary and former President Bill Clinton. Among those emails was two indicating that daughter Chelsea Clinton’s husband, Marc Mezvinsky used his connections with the Clinton Foundation to secure money for his hedge fund.

Wikileaks released two specific emails between ex-Bill Clinton aide Doug Band to Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta and long-time aide Cheryl Mills who at the time was serving as Clinton’s Chief of Staff at the State Department. There was a memo from 2011 and an email from 2012 outlining how Mezvinky used the foundation’s donors to invest his hedge fund.

Mezvinsky invited prospective donors to a Clinton Foundation poker event to “court” his potential investors and was introduced to a “billionaire foundation donor” who contributed to his fund. Chelsea was also actively involved she phoned foundation donors inquiring if they would invest in her husband’s hedge fund.

Mezvinsky was working as an investment for Goldman Sachs, and he and two others were trying to gain enough capital and investments for a hedge fund. The three called their enterprise Eaglevale Partners. As Politico pointed out in their report, “The word among rich Clinton backers on Wall Street was that the family would look favorably on investments in Eaglevale.”

The emails are a part of the 50,000 hacked Podesta emails WikiLeaks has released since the beginning of October in an attempt to sway the election. The emails have shown a calculated Clinton campaign that has used the Democratic National Committee and the news media to get an advantage for Clinton in the primary and general election. The emails not released in any order include both emails and internal memos and documents showing the Clintons’ used their political connections to gain favors.

Politics November 6, 2016: November surprise FBI’s Comey announces Clinton will still not face charges over server

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November surprise FBI’s Comey announces Clinton will still not face charges over server

 By Bonnie K. Goodman

FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2016. Comey is testifying on his July 5 recommendation that no charges be brought over US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state, saying the investigation does not support a criminal prosecution. / AFP / YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)

FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2016.
Comey is testifying on his July 5 recommendation that no charges be brought over US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, saying the investigation does not support a criminal prosecution. / AFP / YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)

In an election cycle with never ending surprise, FBI Director James B. Comey whipped up a November surprise with barely two days left to Election Day. On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 6, 2016, Comey sent another letter to the chairman of Congressional committee announcing that they have reviewed the newly discovered emails and that the FBI is standing by their July decision not to recommend any criminal charges against the former Secretary of State over her usage of a private email server. The announcement is just as interfering in the election as Comey’s first letter on Oct. 28, and it has been met with criticism from Republicans as a close campaign enters its final two days.

In Comey’s second letter, he informed Congressional leaders that the second investigation had been completed, “Since my letter, the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State.”

The FBI Director concluded, “Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.” Attorney General Loretta Lynch disagreed with Comey’s first letter, but on Sunday, the Justice Department issued a brief statement, saying, “The Department of Justice and the FBI dedicated all necessary resources to conduct this review expeditiously.”

The Clinton campaign was relieved after hearing the news but defiant. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted, “We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited. Now Director Comey has confirmed it.” While Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director told reporters, “We have seen Director Comey’s latest letter to the Hill. We are glad to see that he has found, as we were confident that he would, that he had confirmed the conclusions he reached in July and we are glad that this matter is resolved.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was equally pleased with the results of the investigation and its timing. Schiff in a statement expressed,
“While the original letter should never have been sent so close to an election, the expeditious review of these emails should put to rest — once and for all — the irresponsible speculation indulged in by the Trump campaign and others. Voters can now make their decision based on the merits, and that decision should be simple: it is the choice between a woman superbly qualified to be commander in chief, and a man patently unfit for office.”

Not all Democrats were as content one told CNN “It opened a wound that cannot be quickly healed.” Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is still angry at Comey. In a statement, Feinstein said, “Today’s letter makes Director Comey’s actions nine days ago even more troubling. There’s no doubt that it created a false impression about the nature of the agency’s inquiry. The Justice Department needs to take a look at its procedures to prevent similar actions that could influence future elections.”

The Republicans, however, were less than impressed by the November Surprise that might ruin their argument to vote Republican so close to the election. The letter seemed like another election spoiler. Trump spokesman Jason Miller commented on CNN, “We thought that Director Comey and the FBI were wrong when they made their initial recommendation in July, and we think that they’re wrong now.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan dismissed the letter, saying, “Regardless of this decision, the undisputed finding of the FBI’s investigation is that Secretary Clinton put our nation’s secrets at risk and in doing so compromised our national security,” Ryan said in a statement. “Fortunately, the American people have the opportunity to ensure Secretary Clinton never gets her hands on classified information again.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus agreed with Ryan, stating, “None of this changes the fact that the FBI continues to investigate the Clinton Foundation for corruption involving her tenure as secretary of state. Hillary Clinton should never be president.”

GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence hammered Clinton at “a rally in an airport hanger in Hickory, North Carolina,” saying, “Mishandling classified information is a crime. Hillary Clinton said that she never sent or received any classified information and the director of the FBI told the Congress classified information was sent.”

Meanwhile, Republican nominee Donald Trump spoke very little about the letter at his rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which began minutes after the news broke. The GOP nominee, however, renewed his call of a rigged system, claiming, “Well, you have to understand it’s a rigged system and she’s protected.” Top Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich concurred on Twitter, accusing, “Comey must be under enormous political pressure to cave like this.”

In July, Comey announced his decision not to prosecute Clinton after a lengthy FBI investigation. Comey said on July 5, “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” Although Comey expressed, the FBI could not “find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts,” he called Clinton’s handling of her emails “extremely careless.” Clinton has always dismissed the issue as merely a “mistake” of judgment.

Then on Friday, Oct. 28, Comey sent a letter to Congressional Committee Chairman informing them that the FBI uncovered new “pertinent” emails relating to the Clinton investigation in an unrelated case, and advised that the FBI would be reopening their investigation into Clinton’s private server. The FBI discovered 650,000 emails on the computer of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner in their investigation of his sending sexually inappropriate text messages to an underage girl.

Weiner is the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s longtime aide who was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department and is now her deputy campaign chair. Abedin also had an account on Clinton’s server. Abedin denied knowing the emails were ever on her husband’s laptop; she had been cooperating with authorities on the matter.

Initially sources claimed the emails were not duplicates of those the FBI already reviewed, but it turns out they were all copies. FBI agents knew of the emails for two weeks before notifying Comey on Thursday, Oct. 27. The Bureau was granted a warrant to search the emails on Sunday, Oct.  30. The probe was supposed not to be complete before the election, but pressure from the White House forced the FBI to complete the investigation before. The FBI used computers programs to scan and the emails and compared with those they already they had in the possession.

Initially, Comey faced praise from Trump’s campaign but was attacked and criticized by Clinton her campaign, Congressional supporters, most Democrats and President Barack Obama for the timing of the letter. Democrats in Congress even threatened to investigate Comey and the FBI for the timing of the letter, which interfered in the election a long known taboo.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder who formally instituted a policy in 2012 preventing investigations from interfering with elections wrote an editorial in the Washington Post criticizing Comey. Holder joined 100 Justice Department writing an open letter telling Comey his “letter to Congress was inconsistent with prevailing department policy, that it broke with longstanding practices followed during past elections and that they were astonished and perplexed.”

Now the Republicans and still some Democrats are criticizing Comey with good reason. Comey has played with the voters’ emotions and the election. Clinton may have received her all clear before the election, but Clinton lost her lead the contest is now close between Trump and Clinton, with Trump eclipsing Clinton is some crucial battleground states. The first letter united Republicans and saw them rallying around the nominee. The electoral map shifted in Trump’s favor after the first letter, will the second letter flip it back to Clinton or will voters remain wary of a scandal and investigation prone Clinton. Only on election night will anyone know how much Comey’s October and then November Surprises affected the 2016 election.

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Politics November 6, 2016: New scandal Clinton had her maid print classified emails documents, yet she leads in polls

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New scandal Clinton had her maid print classified emails documents, yet she leads in polls

By Bonnie K. Goodman

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 06: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during church services at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ on November 6, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With two days to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Florida and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 06: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during church services at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ on November 6, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With two days to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Florida and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is taking laziness and risking national security to a new level. On Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, the New York Post dropped a bombshell; Clinton asked her maid in her house in Washington, DC to print for her emails and documents including classified docs during her tenure as Secretary of State. The NY Post is claiming their story comes from emails and FBI memos. The news comes just two days before the election as the race is close between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump and just a week after the FBI’s Director James Comey announced they were reopening their investigation. Ironically, polls are still positive for Clinton with her lead growing in the campaign’s final days.

According to the report, Marina Santos is the maid at the center of the new controversy. Santos is a Filipino immigrant who works at Clinton’s home, Whitehaven and does not have or had a security clearance. According to the NY Post, Clinton had Santos print for her “drafts of her speeches, confidential memos and “call sheets” – background information and talking points prepared for the secretary of state in advance of a phone call with a foreign head of state.”

Emails show that Clinton routinely asked her staff and aides to forward documents to Santos so she could print them for her. Some of the examples include an unclassified email from 2011  where Clinton asked her longtime Huma Abedin, “Pls ask Marina to print for me in am.”  Abedin is the center of the FBI’s renewed investigation where all of her State Department communications that were also on Clinton’s private server were uncovered on her estranged husband’s former congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

There are also three other emails that are labeled as classified under the level of confidential in which Santos is referred to print items all come from aide, Monica Hanley. One from 2012 had to do with the new president Malawi, the other from the same year had to do with Iran both times Hanley mentioned Santos printing them, first writing, “We can ask Marina to print this,” and the other time “Marina is trying to print for you.” Hanely also mentioned a State Department fax in a 2012 email, “to see before your Netanyahu mtg. Marina will grab for you.”

The FBI’s investigation notes always pointed out that Santos had access to these documents by accessing the SCIF room (sensitive compartmented information facility) set up in Clinton’s Whitehaven home. The FBI wrote from their interview with Abedin, Santos “collected documents from the secure facsimile machine for Clinton.” Some of the documents besides emails were “the Presidential Daily Brief” on national security issues.

Despite the revelation and Santos involvement, she has not been interviewed neither has her devices been subpoenaed by the FBI for review. The FBI never asked Santos to hand over the iMac she received the emails on or the printer she used. Santos also was responsible for downloading all of Clinton’s State Department emails onto the Secretary’s Apple MacBook laptop, and USB flash drive that has become conveniently missing throughout the investigation.

The FBI noted in the case summary, “The two copies of the Clinton e-mail archive (one on the archive laptop and one on the thumb drive) were intended to be stored in Clinton’s Chappaqua and Whitehaven residences,” and that it “does not have either item in its possession.” Hanley told the FBI the devices were lost, a sadly unbelievable excuse.

What is believable that Clinton may have had her maid print out documents. The latest batch of emails released by the State Department and uncovered by the FBI during their investigation were near duplicates that usually had a “please print” added to it. Clinton said she used the private server mostly as a convenience to use one phone for both her professional and personal emails, essentially admitting laziness. If Clinton was that lazy, she had to have her information stored on the State Department server, and have an assistant with security clearance print and fetch her documents, not her maid.

Despite these reports, and the renewed FBI investigation American voters still say they are voting for Clinton. Two new polls released Sunday give Clinton comfortable leads. The ABC News-Washington Post Tracking gave Clinton a 5-point advantage 48 percent support to Trump’s 43, while the NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll has Clinton with a four-point lead, 44 percent to Trump’s 40.

In the opposite spectrum the LA Times/USC Tracking which has had an essential tie between the candidate opens up to a five-point lead for Trump, with 48 percent to Clinton’s 43 percent. The most reliable poll in 2012, the IBD/TIPP Tracking has the race at a tie, one up for Trump in a four-way race with while Clinton has the one-point advantage in a two-way race. However, the election is a four-way race with voters inevitably casting their ballots for third-party candidates.

Why would anyone want to elect a president who is extremely careless with FBI investigations over their head and a Congress that is threatening impeachment? In a recent exchange on Twitter with former Politico reporter and author of “HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton” Jonathan Allen, he claims it is a “prioritization” about voters believing “Clinton is competent to run the country and that Trump is not.”

Being politically corrupt, however, is worse than any lack of readiness for the presidency. The two last presidents Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama were criticized for not being ready enough for the presidency. Bush resolved the issue by surrounding himself with experience advisors and very hands on Vice President in the form of Dick Cheney, while Obama learned the lessons himself with the help of a Democratic Congress.

Trump too can surround himself with experienced advisors, and he has an accomplished running mate in Indian Governor Mike Pence, a veteran of Congress as well. Trump will also have a Republican Congress backing him up. As leaks from the Trump campaign’s final days prove, he can learn to listen and restrain himself. Maybe the outsider needs a learning curve, but at least he has never risked national security and classified documents as Clinton did as Secretary of State, indictment or not she was irresponsible, and that never makes anyone “competent to run the country.”

Politics November 4, 2016: State Department releases the last batch of Clinton emails before the election

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State Department releases the last batch of Clinton emails before the election

By Bonnie K. Goodman

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 04:  Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at Eastern Market on November 4, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. With less than a week to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 04: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at Eastern Market on November 4, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. With less than a week to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The State Department released the final two batches of emails from former Secretary of State and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s tenure before the election. On Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, the State Department released 357 emails or 1,250 pages while on Friday, Nov. 4 they released 74 emails or 280 pages. The emails are part of the 15,000 the FBI discovered over the course of their first investigation into Clinton potentially endangering national security by using a private server for her email communications.

The majorities of the emails released are near duplicates of the emails the State Department previously released but include another mostly insignificant chain. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner explained the emails in a statement, writing, “For instance, a ‘near duplicate’ would be substantively identical to previously released emails, but for a top email in the chain stating ‘Please print.'”

The emails are being released as part of Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Conservative group Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch was responsible for the lawsuit that forced the State Department to release the approximately 30,000 work related emails Clinton handed over to the State Department in December 2014. Clinton deleted the same amount of emails. The FBI recovered these 15,000 emails while examining the server.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg ordered the State Department to review 1,000 documents before the election. The State Department previously released “75 emails, or around 270 pages, on Oct. 7, about 112 emails or 240 pages on Oct. 21, and 357 on Thursday.” Of the 15,000 emails, 60 percent were personal emails, 37 percent, 5,600 were from her work, but many were duplicates. The State Department will review 500 pages each month after the election and then release those that are appropriate.

Politics November 4, 2016: Clinton has less than 270 Electoral College votes in latest CNN projection

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Clinton has less than 270 Electoral College votes in latest CNN projection

 
By Bonnie K. Goodman

cnn_road-to-270-battleground-map-update_11416CNN

Proving just how close this election has become CNN latest Electoral College projection has Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton dipping below the magic number of 270 in her column. CNN released their “Road to 270” map projection on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, giving Clinton 268 Electoral College votes while Republican nominee Donald Trump moved to 204 votes as more states move into the battleground column with just four days before Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

According to the latest edition of CNN’s electoral map Clinton has 268 votes from solidly Democrat or leaning Democrat states, while Trump has 204 votes from solidly Republican or leaning Republican.

In the solidly Democrat column are the following states:
California (55), Connecticut (7), Delaware (3), DC (3), Hawaii (4), Illinois (20), Maine (3), Maryland (10), Massachusetts (11), New Jersey (14), New York (29), Oregon (7), Rhode Island (4), Vermont (3), Washington (12), Minnesota (10), New Mexico (5) (200 total)

In the leaning Democrat column are the following states:
Colorado (9), Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20), Virginia (13), Wisconsin (10), (68 total)

In the solidly Republican column are the following states:
Alabama (9), Alaska (3), Arkansas (6), Idaho (4), Indiana (11), Kansas (6), Kentucky (8), Louisiana (8), Mississippi (6), Missouri (10), Montana (3), Nebraska (4), North Dakota (3), Oklahoma (7), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (3), Tennessee (11), Texas (38), West Virginia (5), Wyoming (3) (157 total)

In the leaning Republican column are the following states:
Georgia (16), Iowa (6), Maine 2nd Congressional District (1), Ohio (18), Utah (6) (47 total)

There are six battleground states; “Arizona, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and the 2nd congressional district in and around Omaha, Neb.” While three states moved into the leaning Republican column; “Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, Ohio and Utah.” Before New Hampshire was in the leaning Democrat column and has now moved into battleground territory.

This shift in the map represents changing polls nationally Clinton and Trump either tie or Clinton has a narrow lead within the margin of error, but the state polling has shown a more dramatic and concrete shift. The states’ Electoral College votes matter more than national polls on Election night, and they determine who win and become the next president. Although the change shows momentum for Trump, many predictions are still claiming Clinton will win despite the October Surprise, the renewed FBI probe over her email server as Secretary of State.

Politics November 3, 2016: Clinton related emails discovered on Weiner’s computer, not duplicates

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Clinton related emails discovered on Weiner’s computer, not duplicates

By Bonnie  K. Goodman

RALEIGH, NC - NOVEMBER 03: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek on November 3, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The U.S. presidential general election is November 8. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

RALEIGH, NC – NOVEMBER 03: Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign rally at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek on November 3, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. The U.S. presidential general election is November 8. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The emails the FBI discovered on former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s computer relate to former Secretary of State and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s tenure and are not duplicates. CBS News spoke to an official involved in the investigation and reported on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016, that the emails James B.Comey referred to his letter renewing the investigation are from Clinton’s tenure and the FBI has never seen them before.

The source told CBS generally about the emails but did provide details on the number of emails discovered that are specifically related to Clinton and if they are “significant” to their probe into whether she mishandled classified information by using a private server. According to a report conducted by CBS News’ Andres Triay, “At this point, however, it remains to be seen whether these emails are significant to the FBI’s investigation into Clinton. It is also not known how many relevant emails there are.”

On Friday, Oct. 28, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congressional Committee Chairman informing them that the FBI uncovered new “pertinent” emails relating to the Clinton investigation in an unrelated case, and advised that the FBI would be reopening their investigation into Clinton’s private server. The FBI discovered 650,000 emails on the computer of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner in their investigation of his sending sexually inappropriate text messages to an underage girl.

Weiner is the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s longtime aide who was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department and is now her deputy campaign chair. Abedin also had an account on Clinton’s server. Abedin denied knowing the emails were ever on her husband’s laptop; she has been cooperating with authorities on the matter.

FBI agents knew of the emails for two weeks before notifying Comey on Thursday, Oct. 27. The Bureau was granted a warrant to search the emails on Sunday, Oct.  30. Comey has faced praised from Trump’s campaign but criticism and attacks from Clinton her campaign and Congressional supporters and now President Barack Obama for the timing of the letter.

The investigation is not going to be complete before the election. An official spoke to USA Today and indicated that neither would the FBI provide updates throughout the investigation or give the results of their preliminary probe despite repeated calls from Democrats and Clinton’s campaign to do so. Another source told Reuters, Comey was motivated to send the letter to Congress to have control over the investigation and prevent leaks from the Bureau.

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