White House prepping Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court confirmation hearing

The White House Counsel’s Office is prepping Judge Amy Coney Barrett for her Senate confirmation hearings, where they anticipate the Supreme Court nominee will be questioned about a range of issues, including her nomination event in the Rose Garden which lead to President Trump and members of his inner circle testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

A senior administration official told Fox News that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and “constitutional experts” within the White House Counsel’s Office are preparing Barrett for the confirmation hearings, which are slated to begin Monday, Oct. 12 before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and run through Thursday, Oct. 15.

AMY CONEY BARRETT CONFIRMATION HEARING TO BEGIN OCT. 12, AS SENATE RAMPS UP COVID19 PRECAUTIONS

“Barrett will be an outstanding witness and will be confirmed,” the official told Fox News.

The official told Fox News that Cipollone and the team are prepping Barrett for questions on a range of issues — including the Sept. 26 nominating event in the Rose Garden.

After the event, the president, first lady Melania Trump, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, White House adviser Hope Hicks, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, former adviser Kellyanne Conway, director of Oval Office operations David Luna, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, and Harvest Christian Fellowship Pastor Greg Laurie all tested positive for COVID-19.

The official told Fox News that they could not preview how Barrett would respond to that line of questioning, but defended the event, saying it was “held outdoors” and “there was a lot of testing done beforehand.”

“We have to reopen our country,” the official said. “We take precautions but we have to reopen our country, we have to continue our duties, and we had to nominate this outstanding judge to the Supreme Court.”

A White House aide told Fox News that Cipollone “knows what she’ll be questioned on.”

“He’ll know ways to navigate those without telegraphing too much to get through the confirmation,” the aide said.

Meanwhile, the official said the White House anticipates Barrett will be questioned on issues and cases involving abortion, specifically Roe v. Wade, and the Obamacare case that is pending before the high court.

“They are going to try a million different ways to get her to discuss cases that may come before her,” the official said. “But, with the Ginsburg rule, she won’t be doing that.”

Ginsburg, during her confirmation hearings in 1993, chose not to answer questions that may hint at how she would rule on a future case. The practice has been informally named the Ginsburg rule.

The official added: “She’s committed to being a fair-minded judge, who will set aside her personal opinions.”

Meanwhile, senior officials told Fox News that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has been tasked with prepping Barrett and shepherding her through the Senate.

“He knows exactly the senators we’ll need to win over, and the issues that matter to them,” one senior White House official told Fox

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DEP sets public hearing date for Liberty State Park ‘interior’ plan

The state Department of Environmental Protection has set 6 p.m. Oct. 20 as the time and date for the public hearing on its proposed plan for 234 acres of currently fenced-off land in Liberty State Park.

The hearing will be conducted virtually. Anyone wishing to attend must register by Oct. 15 by going to njdepcalendar.com/calendar/events/index.php?com=detail&eID=654.

Registrants will receive more details and a link to the virtual meeting.

Designers who have been working on a proposal for the land, known as the park’s “interior,” are at the 30 percent complete mark, triggering the need for the hearing. There, the DEP will present the preliminary design proposal, and attendees will be able to submit comments and ask questions. The DEP will also accept comments via an online survey.

In a news briefing last month, DEP officials gave a broad overview of its plan to remediate the contamination that exists in the interior and restore its wetlands with passive recreation and trails to improve access to the park.

The plan has already generated heated debate over the extent of contamination cleanup envisioned and the design.

Once the public comment period ends, the DEP will be tasked with deciding the next steps.

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Justice Dept. Denies House Panel’s Request for Officials to Appear After Combative Barr Hearing

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Monday denied a congressional oversight committee’s request to hear from top officials, accusing Democrats of having “squandered” their opportunity to get relevant information from Attorney General William P. Barr this summer by instead using their time to “air grievances.”

The House Judiciary Committee had asked that Eric S. Dreiband, the head of the department’s Civil Rights Division, appear this month to discuss the division, and that Michael Carvajal, the director of the Bureau of Prisons, and Donald Washington, the director of the U.S. Marshals Service, appear for an oversight hearing on Oct. 1.

The department said in a letter to Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the committee, that Mr. Barr had been advised that he could be asked about police misconduct, voting rights, the coronavirus and federal prisons, and the civil unrest this spring and summer.

He appeared before the committee in July prepared to discuss those issues, the department said, but Democrats were more interested in “scolding and insulting” him.

“Unfortunately, when given the opportunity to obtain information from the head of the Department of Justice about precisely these matters, many committee members chose instead to use their allotted time to air grievances,” the department wrote in the letter.

“Having squandered its opportunity to conduct a meaningful oversight hearing with the attorney general, it remains unclear how further public spectacles with other department officials would now — a mere 14 legislative days since the attorney general’s hearing — advance the committee’s legitimate oversight efforts,” the department said.

A spokesman for the Judiciary Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The hearing with Mr. Barr was particularly contentious, with Democrats often refusing to let the attorney general respond to their questions or their accusations. The Democrats, in turn, were angered as Mr. Barr ignored questions about his rationale or actions, or quibbled over details.

Democrats and their allies argued after the hearing that Mr. Barr would not have answered their questions in good faith had they let him respond, and that he would have filibustered and wasted the time. Better, they said, to use the time to air their grievances.

The department argued on Monday that this did “preciously little to advance any legitimate interest” because the committee as a result of this tactic learned no new information.

“When the attorney general tried to address the committee’s questions, he was interrupted and silenced in excess of 70 times,” the department said in its letter. “One member interrupted him and admitted, ‘Well, I don’t want you to tell your story.’”

While the department was unwilling to let Mr. Dreiband, Mr. Carvajal or Mr. Washington testify this fall, it said it would share information and work to schedule future hearings if the committee committed to conducting itself in “an appropriate and productive manner.”

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House Homeland Security Hearing Examines Worldwide Threats

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (announces that he will issue a subpoena to compel acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to testify before beginning a hearing about ‘worldwide threats to the homeland’ in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill September 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. An August Government Accountability Office report found that Wolf’s appointment by the Trump Administration, which has regularly skirted the Senate confirmation process, was invalid and a violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act. Pool Photo by Chip Somodevilla/UPI

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House Hearing On Homeland Threats : NPR

FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images


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Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

A House committee has convened a hearing on threats to the homeland with top intelligence and security officials — albeit with some notable absences.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe is not appearing after recently announcing changes to how members of Congress would be briefed on election threats. In a statement on Wednesday, he reiterated that he does not intend to give broad briefings “in order to protect sources and methods,” although he said he still will talk with small groups of select lawmakers.

In August, Ratcliffe said he would not give any in-person briefings, but recently agreed to hold more limited face-to-face meetings.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday is expected to hear from FBI Director Christopher Wray and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Christopher Miller. (Follow updates on the hearing here.)

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was subpoenaed to appear, too. The department sought to send acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli instead, but the committee rejected the request.

The status and duties of Wolf and Cuccinelli have been questioned by the watchdog agency Government Accountability Office, which opined last month that neither man is serving appropriately in his ostensible role with the agency because of irregularities involved with how they were named.

Cuccinelli said on Wednesday evening that the department’s position now is that Wolf, who has been performing the duties of DHS’s secretary for months and been an important deputy to President Trump, is a “pending nominee” for his job awaiting Senate confirmation. Accordingly, it would be inappropriate for him to appear before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, Cuccinelli said.

“In light of that precedent, DHS offered to accommodate [the panel’s] request to hear about threats. I had testimony prepared and had my schedule clear to show up at this morning’s hearing,” Cuccinelli said. “Instead, the committee majority decided that they would rather put on a show for the media. Instead of serving the American people and working to keep them safe, they would rather use the American people’s time and money to stage a political spectacle.”

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Live Updates: House Hearing On Homeland Threats : NPR

FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images


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toggle caption

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray, pictured on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, is briefing House members on security threats on Thursday.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

A House committee has convened a hearing on threats to the homeland with top intelligence and security officials — albeit with some notable absences.

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe is not appearing after recently announcing changes to how members of Congress would be briefed on election threats. In a statement on Wednesday, he reiterated that he does not intend to give broad briefings “in order to protect sources and methods,” although he said he still will talk with small groups of select lawmakers.

In August, Ratcliffe said he would not give any in-person briefings, but recently agreed to hold more limited face-to-face meetings.

The House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday is expected to hear from FBI Director Christopher Wray and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Christopher Miller. (Follow updates on the hearing here.)

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was subpoenaed to appear, too. The department sought to send acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli instead, but the committee rejected the request.

The status and duties of Wolf and Cuccinelli have been questioned by the watchdog agency Government Accountability Office, which opined last month that neither man is serving appropriately in his ostensible role with the agency because of irregularities involved with how they were named.

Cuccinelli said on Wednesday evening that the department’s position now is that Wolf, who has been performing the duties of DHS’s secretary for months and been an important deputy to President Trump, is a “pending nominee” for his job awaiting Senate confirmation. Accordingly, it would be inappropriate for him to appear before the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, Cuccinelli said.

“In light of that precedent, DHS offered to accommodate [the panel’s] request to hear about threats. I had testimony prepared and had my schedule clear to show up at this morning’s hearing,” Cuccinelli said. “Instead, the committee majority decided that they would rather put on a show for the media. Instead of serving the American people and working to keep them safe, they would rather use the American people’s time and money to stage a political spectacle.”

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House Democrats subpoena DHS chief to appear at House hearing

Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee have subpoenaed Chad Wolf to testify about threats facing the nation, a request that left Wolf “very disappointed,” he said.

Chairman Bennie Thompson issued the subpoena to the acting Homeland Security Secretary attendance for a Sept. 17 hearing. The committee said Wolf reneged on a commitment to appear Sept. 8.

WOLF SAYS ‘LONE, HOMEGROWN’ TERROR THREAT IS TOP DHS FOCUS 19 YEARS AFTER 9/11 

“Nineteen years after the attacks of 9/11, we continue to face grave threats to the homeland. From the coronavirus pandemic to the rise of right-wing extremism to ongoing election interference, there are urgent threats requiring our attention,” Thompson said in a statement. “Mr. Wolf’s refusal to testify – thereby evading congressional oversight at this critical time – is especially troubling given the serious matters facing the Department and the Nation.”

Wolf pushed back, telling ‘Special Report’ late Friday that he was “very disappointed” in the move.

He said that he agreed to testify on two separate occasions in August, both about worldwide threats and civil unrest in Portland. But since then, President Trump has formally nominated him to take the job he now holds in an acting capacity.

“Since that time I have been nominated, and it has been longstanding practice that as you go up for a nomination, you don’t testify on another matter,” he told host Bret Baier.

SCHIFF REVEALS NEW WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINT ALLEGING SUPPRESSION OF RUSSIAN ELECTION INTERFERENCE INTEL REPORTS

He said that DHS offered acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli to testify in his place, and that, “I am happy to testify to the committee once my confirmation process goes through one way or another.”

“So, we have been very accommodating to the committee, and unfortunately, it has come down to this,” he said.

Meanwhile, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff announced the committee is looking into a complaint about DHS and intelligence reports on Russian election interference.

“We’ve received a whistleblower complaint alleging DHS suppressed intel reports on Russian election interference, altered intel to match false Trump claims and made false statements to Congress,” Schiff, D-Calif., tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “This puts our national security at risk.”

He added: “We will investigate.”

Wolf called the complaint “completely false” and “a fabrication.”

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“We have been very clear regarding Russia interference in our elections …” Wolf said on ‘Special Report. “We have produced over 27 different reports over the last 12 months, I believe three alone in the month of August. We provided over 40 different briefings, in-person briefings, to members of Congress … about Russian interference in our elections. I have talked about it in media appearances such as this, I have talked about it in congressional testimony and I have talked about it even this week in my state of the homeland security address.”

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and Charles Creitz contributed to this report.

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House chairman subpoenas DHS acting secretary Wolf for Sept. 17 hearing

Spivey emphasized that DHS had been willing to make Wolf’s deputy Ken Cuccinelli available to testify, which she said should have been sufficient since he’s fully versed in the same subjects as Wolf.

Thompson said in a statement that Wolf’s refusal to testify at the panel’s annual “worldwide threats” hearing was an abdication at a critical time.

“The Committee has not only the authority, but also an obligation to execute its Constitutional oversight responsibilities regarding Mr. Wolf’s decisions and the Department’s actions in securing the homeland,” Thompson said.

The subpoena is the culmination of a series of exchanges between Thompson and DHS that began in June. He said earlier efforts to schedule the hearing in June and July were unworkable for other agencies intending to participate in the hearing, including the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center. Thompson said that DHS indicated Wolf would be available on Sept. 17. Other agencies confirmed their availability for that date as well, Thompson said.

Thompson acknowledged Wolf’s expected nomination as permanent secretary but emphasized that “[s]hould you be nominated, there is no legal prohibition barring you from testifying before the Committee.”

“Moreover, while the relied upon practice may be reasonable in circumstances where the nominee has only served in an ‘acting’ capacity for a short period of time, that is not your situation. The Department has been without a Senate-confirmed Secretary for 17 months,” Thompson added.

In her reply to Thompson, Spivey said Cuccinelli is still willing to appear on Sept. 17 if the committee requests it. In her letter to the panel earlier in the week, Spivey said DHS had informed the Senate of Wolf’s unavailability for a worldwide threats hearing as well, given his pending nomination.

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Ohio House holds first House Bill 6 repeal hearing: Capitol Letter

Rotunda Rumblings

Talking it out: The Ohio House held its first hearing on Thursday for legislation that would repeal House Bill 6, the nuclear bailout bill that’s the center of a federal corruption probe. As Jeremy Pelzer reports, The Ohio House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight heard testimony from sponsors of bills to repeal House Bill 6. GOP members rejected an attempt from committee Democrats to send the Republican-backed repeal bill to the floor.

New top doc: Dr. Joan Duwve, currently director of public health for South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, will be the new director of the Ohio Department of Health, DeWine announced on Thursday. A former family physician and Ohio native, she previously worked for several Indiana governors and the Indiana University public-health school in Indianapolis. Per Tobias, Duwve is Ohio’s first permanent health director since Dr. Amy Acton resigned in June amid intensifying public criticism and harassment.

I’ll pass: Asked Thursday, DeWine avoided directly addressing the revelations from Wednesday that Republican President Donald Trump told Washington Post editor Bob Woodward on tape that he wanted to downplay the severity of coronavirus despite knowing the dangers, Seth Richardson reports. The recordings of Trump caused an uproar amongst his detractors, including Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown who – as the Columbus Dispatch’s Darrel Rowland points out is taking a bigger role in Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign – said Trump was gaslighting the public.

Summit rises: Summit County, which had been orange in last week’s coronavirus risk map, is now red, Laura Hancock reports. It joins five other counties in Level 3.

Jumping into the fray: The Trump campaign has intervened in several lawsuits over Ohio’s elections procedures, including on Thursday in a federal lawsuit challenging Ohio’s one ballot drop-box per county rule. Per John Caniglia, lawyers with Jones Day said in a court filing: “The Republican committees have a substantial interest in preventing changes to the ‘competitive environment’ at this late hour.” A judge set a Sept. 23 court hearing in the case.

Get your flu shot: DeWine, First Lady Fran DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted got poked on live TV with a flu vaccination in an attempt to spur others to get shots too. Meantime, the state reported 1,121 new coronavirus cases, higher than the 21-day average of 1,052.

Latest unemployment numbers: Both initial and continued unemployment claims fell again in Ohio last week, reports Jeremy Pelzer. For the week of Aug. 30 through Sept. 5, 17,983 Ohioans filed initial jobless claims, while 325,515 submitted continued claims.

Nay to ‘Ye: The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled against Kanye West in his effort to sue his way onto the Ohio ballot as an independent presidential candidate, Jeremy Pelzer reports. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose was justified when he rejected West’s candidate paperwork due to a signature mismatch by West’s running mate, justices unanimously ruled. Republican operatives have been trying to get West onto the ballot in Ohio and other

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House committee holds hearing on repeal of bailout law

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The alleged corruption that led to passage of a nuclear plant bailout law and questions about whether the bailout was financially necessary demand the law’s immediate repeal and replacement, Democratic and Republican lawmakers testified Thursday.

Supporters of the energy policy contained within the law who worry a repeal throws the baby “out with the bath water” overlook the enormous problems with the law, said Rep. Laura Lanese.

“I would counter that what we have now isn’t bathwater, but mud,” Lanese told the House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight, created to hear the repeal. “And once you have mud, you can’t cleanly separate the dirt from the water and still have confidence you got rid of all the dirt.”

At issue is the law passed last year and known as HB6, which would add a fee to every electricity bill in the state and direct over $150 million a year, through 2026, to the nuclear plants near Cleveland and Toledo.

The law is now at the center of a $60 million federal bribery probe that led to the ouster of former GOP House Speaker Larry Householder. Federal prosecutors in July accused Householder and four others of shepherding energy company money for personal and political use as part of an effort to pass the legislation, then kill any attempt to repeal it at the ballot.

Federal documents make clear the company was Akron-based FirstEnergy.

While FirstEnergy and its executives have denied wrongdoing and have not been criminally charged, federal investigators say the company secretly funneled millions to secure a $1 billion legislative bailout for two unprofitable Ohio nuclear plants then operated by an independently controlled subsidiary called FirstEnergy Solutions.

In addition to the corruption charges, there’s evidence that the plants didn’t need the bailout, said Lanese and fellow GOP Rep. Dave Greenspan. They noted that a FirstEnergy spinoff company announced an $800 million stock buyback in May, after the law was passed.

In addition, a portion of the bill also provided guaranteed profits for the company even if revenue dips, which could be worth $350 million to FirstEnergy and its subsidiaries, they said.

“The owner and operator of the nuclear plants has cash flow and is profitable today, months before the first cent from House Bill 6 is set to reach them,” Greenspan said.

In addition, by favoring nuclear energy over other clean energy options, the bill created winners and losers, Greenspan said.

Democratic Reps. Michael O’Brien, of Warren, and Michael Skindell, of suburban Cleveland, also testified in favor of a repeal. The effort has broad bipartisan support, including backing from Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

Householder was removed from his leadership post in a unanimous vote following his arrest. He was one of the driving forces behind the energy law.

Householder remains a state lawmaker, has pleaded not guilty to a corruption charge and says he’s innocent and will fight the charge.

Newly elected House Speaker Bob Cupp and Republican committee chairperson Rep. Jim Hoops have

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