Donald Trump

Pam Bondi: Jared Kushner ‘one of the smartest human beings I’ve ever met’

Appearing on Fox & Friends this morning, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi expounded on her new role advocating for President Donald Trump as impeachment proceedings against him heat up, saying she’ll not only be handling not only the media, but “legal issues and just lots of stuff.”

https://video.foxnews.com/v/6101434412001/

“We’re all of course big fans of the president,” Bondi said, when asked about her and former Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh being tapped by the White House as impeachment-related aides. Impeachment hearings begin next week.

Bondi, joined the D.C. office of Tallahassee-based lobbying powerhouse Ballard Partners after she left office in January, was an early Trump adopter, backing him during the 2016 primary and cheerleading for him during the presidential campaign.

Since going to D.C., sources tell us, Bondi, a lawyer, is a frequent visitor to the White House, and has a close relationship with the president.

The Wall Street Journal’s Michael C. Bender, a former Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter, wrote yesterday that Bondi and Sayegh were enlisted to help with Trump’s efforts to battle the impeachment efforts.

The duo “would potentially be coming in to help out with, not only comms, but with special projects and legal issues and just lots of stuff with the White House,” Bondi told Fox & Friends this morning. “They’re so crazy busy and they’re all doing such great work.”

The Fox gang was in St. Pete, following last night’s award of the conservative news channel’s “Patriot Awards.”

Bondi said she’d be part of a “huge team” helping make Trump’s case, not that they’re necessary.

“The president, frankly, is his best spokesperson,” she said.

—By Dara Kam and Jim Turner.

 

It’s official: Bondi tapped as top Trump impeachment aide

Pam-Bondi-BW-1000px-v5-75p-1Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was long-rumored to be joining the White House or FOX News before she left office in January, is going to help President Donald Trump fight House impeachment efforts, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Instead of going back to her old haunt, FOX, or signing up as one of the president’s official cheerleaders, Bondi went to work for Ballard Partners after leaving office in January.

Lately, it’s been rumored that Bondi — who worked for the state attorney in Tampa and was a FOX News regular before her election as AG — would lead Trump’s impeachment efforts.

That was confirmed by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael C. Bender, a former Tampa Bay Times reporter in Tallahassee, in a tweet today.

Bender, who also worked for The Palm Beach Post, tweeted that Bondi and former Treasury spokesman Tony Sayegh were being added as White House impeachment related aides.

“Adding Sayegh & Bondi is both an acknowledgment Trump needs help coordinating a response to the House probe, & a compromise between competing factions in the White House where rivalries opened during a two week-long process deliberation over which adviser to bring inside,” Bender tweeted.

Bondi “had the backing of Stephanie Grisham and Mick Mulvaney and is also close to POTUS, but her work as a lobbyist presented snarls to tangle for her and the White House,” Bender tweeted.

Truth or Dara has been told by insiders that Bondi — and Panhandle Congressman Matt Gaetz — are regular visitors to the White House.

The move comes with House Democrats set to hold public hearings next week with key witnesses in the impeachment proceedings.

— By Jim Turner.

Florida journos embracing ‘fake news?’

focused-business-people-reading-news-smartphone_1262-14213Florida’s branch of the Society of Professional Journalists said it’s starting to send cease-and-desist letters to President Donald Trump over the use of the term “fake news.”

The society’s Florida Pro Chapter, which intends to issue the letters to Trump and other “frequent abusers” of the term, is basing its action on their pending trademark application for the term to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Of course, it’s not an application they believe will be approved.

“For what it’s worth, we don’t expect the trademark to get approved. No one can really trademark a generic term like ‘fake news,’ which started being used long before Trump even took office,” wrote Emily Bloch, the chapter president, in Teen Vogue. “What we do hope is that this idea is outrageous enough to get people to stop and think about what fake news is, and what it means to them.”

Bloch, also an education reporter for the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, wrote the action is based upon a study by the Knight Foundation and Gallup that found 40 percent of Republicans say accurate news stories that cast a politician or political group in a negative light should “always” be considered fake news.

“So yes, this is satire. It’s a joke. But it’s a joke with a point, and as any student of public discourse will tell you, a joke sometimes hits harder than the truth,” she wrote, truthfully.

Here’s the top of Bloch’s piece:

Being a journalist right now is scary. It’s frightening when sketchy videos about shooting news agencies are presented at a political conference held at a resort owned by the president. It’s terrifying when, a year after bombs were sent to CNN, a shirt suggesting reporters should be hanged is casually worn on an airplane.

But it’s also infuriating, like when our country’s own president is constantly devaluing our work and has made a habit out of brushing off dogged reporting as “fake news.”
By Jim Turner.

Luck, Lagoa on track to leave Florida Supremes

Florida Supreme Court Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck, en route to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, received a friendly vetting Wednesday by a Senate committee.

President Donald Trump tapped the two Florida justices for the Atlanta appeals court just months after Gov. Ron DeSantis named them to serve on the Sunshine State’s highest court.

“Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert J. Luck faced little pushback from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during their nomination hearing Wednesday morning, as they fielded questions about “judicial activism” and how they would approach precedent as members of the federal judiciary,” The National Law Journal reported Wednesday.

If Lagoa and Luck get the go-ahead to join the appellate court, as is widely anticipated, DeSantis will have the opportunity to appoint two new state court justices to take their place.

That would put the governor in the rare position of appointing five Florida Supreme Court justices in his first term as the state’s chief executive.

The Judicial Nominating Commission is responsible for delivering a list of names to the governor to fill the vacancies.

But that process won’t kick in until Luck and Lagoa officially leave the bench after being confirmed by the Senate, a process which could drag on until December.

Once the vacancies occur, the JNC has 60 days to give a list of possible replacements to the governor and DeSantis will have an additional 60 days to make his choices.

 

Gwen Graham tweet storm credits DeSantis ‘puppeteers’ for post-election ‘bait and switch’

Former congresswoman Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Florida governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham who last year sought the Democratic nomination for governor, went on a Twitter rant Monday morning against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and his “puppeteers.”

Graham lost a heated primary bid for the Democratic nomination to former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who was defeated by DeSantis in November.

In her first tweet storm, Graham called the legislative session that ended in May “the worst ever, if you care about the future of Florida,” hitting on voting rights, education, LGBTQ rights, guns and other issues.

Here’s the rest of Graham’s Twitter posts:

“If DeSantis actually cared about increasing the opportunities for Floridians to vote, he would have vetoed that bill. If he actually cared about our environment, he would have vetoed the toll road to nowhere. (The plastic straw veto was the “bait” on that one.)

“If DeSantis actually cared about a quality education for all students, he would have shunned the advances of @JebBush/@richardcorcoran and the for profit education industry in Florida. I was sick when I heard about Corcoran becoming Commissioner. The man hates public education.

“If DeSantis actually cared about the LGBTQ community, he would have expanded anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity. A “bait” trip to the Pulse nightclub without action is just what it is – a photo op and nothing more.

“If DeSantis was concerned about gun violence and mass shootings, he would have vetoed the @NRA bill that arms our teachers. More guns =‘s more deaths. Hard stop. But, with an NRA endorsed, A rated Gov, Marion Hammer got what she wanted. Even @SenRickScott stood up to her on that.

“If DeSantis wanted to prove that he wasn’t a Lil’ Trump, he would not have supported the unnecessary bill banning sanctuary cities. In a state as diverse as Florida, the Gov sent the message that he is okay with stoking fear, hatred and divisiveness. Just like @realDonaldTrump.

“So, to those who say, “He isn’t as bad as I thought he would be.” I say, “Congrats to the DeSantis’ puppeteers.” And, to anyone who cares about Florida and her future, stop taking their bait. What the Governor has done is far worse than bad. Tragically a lot of time to go.”

— By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.

 

Gruters — author of FL ban on “sanctuary” cities — takes immigration on the road

After successfully pushing the controversial bill that bans so-called “sanctuary cities,” the head of Florida’s Republican Party is planning a statewide “listening” tour on immigration.

Sen. Joe Gruters, who doubles as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, announced Monday that plans are in the works to hear from Floridians on immigration, a strategic issue in for the GOP heading into the 2020 presidential election.

“I don’t believe we should ever compromise when it comes to enacting common sense policies that promote public safety and uphold the laws of the land,” Gruters said, in a press release touting the Sarasota Republican’s visit to the U.S.- Mexico border .

Democrats, beware: “I want to hear straight from Floridians and listen to their ideas on what additional reforms they’d like to see the legislature address next session,” Gruters added.

On June 14, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the “sanctuary cities” bill (SB 168), sponsored by Gruters and state Rep. Coyd Byrd, who will take part in the “listening tour.”

The new law is designed to force local law-enforcement agencies to fully comply with federal immigration detainers and share information with federal immigration authorities after undocumented immigrants are in custody.

Under the law, local governments would be required to “use their best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law.”

Opponents have argued, in part, that the bill will lead to increased detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants, including people stopped by police for minor offenses.

The release from Gruters, a Sarasota Republican, says the “immigration tour” dates and locations are coming soon.

— By Jim Turner.

Que estaba pensando? De Blasio: “I learned from that mistake.”

After getting a drubbing from fellow Democrats after he quoted Che Guevara — apparently unknowingly — during a rally for Miami airport workers earlier today, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said he’s sorry.

During an interview shortly before 6:30 this evening , CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked De Blasio where he picked up the Spanish-language phrase, “Hasta la victoria siempre,” which means “Until victory, always!”

“That’s an honest mistake and I do apologize for it,” De Blasio said, after Blitzer played a clip of De Blasio speaking the quote, which drew a loud roar of support from the striking airport workers at the rally.

“The folks there … took it as just an affirmation of the strike,” De Blasio explained. “I do apologize because I didn’t understand the context, and I certainly did not mean to offend anyone.”

But Blitzer pointed out that Che Guevara is a figure despised by many of the Cuban-Americans who populate Miami.

“I understand the sensitivities. I learned from that mistake,” De Blasio said.