House Releases Transcripts from Jennifer Williams and Tim Morrison Depositions….

House Democrats on Saturday released the transcripts of closed-door testimony from Jennifer Williams and Tim Morrison (both pdf’s linked below).

House Link Williams – House Link Morrison

The first transcript is from career foreign service officer and Vice President Pence staffer Jennifer Williams.

The House did not need to subpoena Williams who was willing to deliver testimony to the impeachment committee with support from the Vice-President.

Ms. Williams was among the officials actually on the July 25th call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. She is also one of the only witnesses who has testified with firsthand knowledge of the exchange.

Interestingly Ms. Williams, a senior staffer for Vice-President Pence, delivered testimony that later had to be modified.

Keeping in mind that Jennifer Williams was actually on the call with Trump and Zelensky, it is curious that Ms. Williams originally testified that President Trump brought up the company Burisma during the call… only later having to modify her testimony to state that it was Zelensky who brought up the company.  A curious mistake all things considered.

Ms. Williams delivered her testimony on November 7th. Ms. Williams corrected her testimony on November 11th. Ms. Williams is the Senior Advisor to Vice-President Pence.


CTH takes a lot of flak for pointing out inconvenient issues that make us all a little uncomfortable.  However, it would be intellectually dishonest not to be concerned about a senior staffer within the executive branch who makes a “mistake“, during a highly important deposition, that specifically undermines President Trump.

Surely one would accept that if Ms. Williams had the best interest of the executive in mind; and keeping in mind that she held her own reference notes from the phone call; and also keeping in mind Ms. Williams could easily refresh her memory from the released transcript of the phone call; well, under those circumstances such a significant mistake should be/would be very difficult to make. I digress…

Here’s the transcript:


The second transcript is from National Security Council aide Tim Morrison’s deposition to the House impeachment committee. Mr. Morrison replaced Mrs. Fiona Hill in July as the National Security Council expert on Eastern Europe

During his testimony, Mr. Morrison told impeachment investigators about concerns that President Trump withheld U.S. aid to Ukraine. Mr. Timothy Morrison also testified that Fiona Hill said she had questions about Lt. Col. Vindman’s judgment and that some people suspected Vindman of being a leaker.

It is almost certain that Lt. Col. Vindman was the source (#1) for the CIA report produced by Eric Ciaramella as part of an aligned Pentagon and CIA operation to remove President Trump from office.

Here’s the Morrison transcript:


UPDATE: Louisiana Governors Race – Election Results – Open Discussion Thread – Democrat Incumbent John Bel Edwards Wins Reelection…

Tonight is the last governors race of the year. Democrat Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is facing off against a Republican challenger Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman who emerged as the winner in last month’s nonpartisan primary.

President Trump is very popular in Louisiana and has supported Mr. Rispone in his challenge.  It is expected to be a very close race, and the media is hoping for an opportunity to frame President Trump’s reelection outcome with a loss for Mr. Rispone.

If John Bel Edwards wins, the media will joyfully proclaim the victory as overwhelming evidence of President Trump’s weakness.  If Eddie Rispone wins the media will play it down and say it means nothing.

UPDATE:  Incumbent Governor John Bell Edwards Wins by 40,000 votes.

Louisiana Secretary of State – Election Results Here

It was Democrat votes from within Orleans Parish that overwhelmingly voted for Governor John Bel Edwards (almost 90%) and eliminated any possibility for Eddie Rispone.  Orleans voted +100,000 for JBE (see graph below):

New York Times – Election Results Here

After Rep. Elise Stefanik Highlights Ambassador Yovanovitch False Statement – Stefanik Becomes a Target…

On March 20th, 2017, New York Representative Elise Stefanik first made a name for herself when she questioned FBI Director James Comey about why he purposefully did not inform congressional oversight, Gang-of-Eight, about the FBI investigation of candidate Donald Trump in 2016.   Ms. Stefanik caught Comey off-guard and his only response, albeit stuttered, was: “because of the sensitivity of the matter?”  {LINK}

Fast forward to November 15th, 2019, yesterday, and Rep. Stefanik again showed her acumen when she asked Ambassador Yovanovitch to reconcile her opening statement about not ever discussing Hunter Biden or Burisma against evidence Ms. Yovanovitch previously admitting to an extensive briefing session specifically about Hunter Biden and Burisma.  Once again, Stefanik caught a political operative in their network of lies. {LINK}

Having watched events closely it is obvious Elise Stefanik is a smart young representative with serious skills to see through the chaff, countermeasures and false narratives advanced by political left.

Hence, as if on cue, the entire apparatus of the political left began attacking their #1 new enemy.  Today the unholy alliance of corrupt political operatives and the allied media went on the attack.

Rising serpent@rising_serpent

Guess what was on the Democratic talking points memo today?

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter
237 people are talking about this
They even started posting fake pictures in an effort to make Stefanik look bad.


There is a fake picture of @EliseStefanik flipping the bird. This is the original without the photoshop.

View image on Twitter
142 people are talking about this

Rising serpent@rising_serpent

This is the original video of Rep Elise Stefanik that was altered by to make it seem that she was giving the middle finger (see next post).
George Conway retweeted it and called her trash.

Embedded video

998 people are talking about this

Svetlana Lokhova@RealSLokhova

Hilary Clinton campaign manager (and friend of Avenatti) started the attack on Congresswoman Stefanik. This is the first tweet. Then it gets worse. 

Adam Parkhomenko


Elise Stefanik is a great reminder that it isn’t just trump. All republicans are awful.

504 people are talking about this

Svetlana Lokhova@RealSLokhova

Clinton hit on Stefanik and Nunes in action—see below. Parkhomenko was Hillary’s advisor. 

Adam Parkhomenko


Is there anything sadder than Elise Stefanik wanting to be Devin Nunes? Like who looks at that bumbling kiss ass and thinks now that’s who I want to be like? 

206 people are talking about this

It is always easy to see who the left really fears by the approach they take to smearing strong and articulate people.

Indeed Ms. Stefanik is a threat to the political left and has now become their enemy.

Svetlana Lokhova@RealSLokhova

George Conway and Schiff publicly attacked a talented and beautiful Congresswoman @EliseStefanik. This means she is over the target. Good on you, Congresswoman! Keep going!

View image on Twitter
1,467 people are talking about this

Elise Stefanik


It’s VERY Clear. Far-left Dems & Never Trumpers CANNOT handle the Truth. That’s why they are launching disgusting smears & doctoring photos of me in a sick attempt to intimidate me. Thx for proving that our side is WINNING. Donate NOW to help me fight back 

Elise Stefanik for Congress

They will stop at NOTHING to impeach our President. Donate today to help us FIGHT BACK!

20.3K people are talking about this


A Seditious Conspiracy – Lt. Col. Vindman, CIA “Whistleblower” Source #1, Shaped False Summary of April Trump-Zelensky Phone Call…

Amid increased calls from House Republicans to force the testimony of the CIA “whistleblower”, today the Washington Post, the primary outlet for CIA misinformation and public relations, began shaping the “whistle-blower” as a hero.

Because the overall effort involves multiple parts of the deep state apparatus, to see through the construction it is important to note which media outlet holds equity for agency talking points within the coup.  The Washington Post is primary PR for the CIA and IC writ large. The New York Times is primary PR for the FBI; and CNN is primary PR for the State Dept.  This pattern has been consistent throughout.

Over time it has become clear the first confidential human source for the CIA Ukraine dossier, written by CIA analyst Eric Ciaramella and also known as the “Whistleblower report”, is Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman a Ukraine expert inside the National Security Council on assignment from the Dept of Defense intelligence unit.

Within his deposition the ideology of Lt. Col Vindman is clear. Vindman’s mission focus was/is to shape U.S. policy toward Ukraine (and by extension NATO) regardless of the actual policy view of President Trump.  Within his deposition Vindman admitted to giving countermanding instructions to his Ukraine counterpart two weeks after understanding opposite policy objectives from his commander-in-chief.

During his deposition Lt Col Vindman also admitted -with considerable angst and attempts to deflect from his legal advisors provided by the Dept. of Defense- that he was intentionally usurping the chain of command in an effort to follow his own ideological agenda; and perhaps that of his DoD leadership.

By itself that level of admitted and direct insubordination should be alarming for many reasons; not the least of which is his lineage within the U.S. Military.  Indeed Vindman’s intent and purpose explains why he appeared for his deposition in full military uniform.

When we consider that Lt. Col. Vindman was carrying out what he believed to be his role; and when you overlay his military purpose; and when we accept Vindman was assisting CIA agent Eric Ciaramella in constructing his dossier to remove President Trump; and when we stand back and look at the aggregate interests involved; and when we consider there was ZERO push-back from the ranks of military leadership, specifically the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and when you accept Vindman was simply allowed to return to his post inside the White House – where he remains today; well, the alarming aspect increases in direct proportion to the definition of the word: “coup”.

I would encourage all readers to think long and hard those factual data-points.

CIA Agent Eric Ciaramella never delivered his dossier briefing to the upward chain-of-command within the CIA.  Instead Ciaramella subverted the formal process and transmitted his hearsay complaint, derived from material provided by Vindman, directly to principal officials who could assist in the removal of the President.  Again, often we get caught in the weeds, but think long-and-hard about this impeachment process as it is being discovered.

Yesterday President Trump released the call transcript from an April 21st conversation with Ukraine President Zelensky.  Reporters noted there was a disconnect between the call transcript and a separate summary of the call sent to reporters in April.

[…]  In response to questions from reporters, the White House said in a Friday statement that “the NSC’s Ukraine expert” prepared the April summary.

“The president continues to push for transparency in light of these baseless accusations and has taken the unprecedented steps to release the transcripts of both phone calls with President Zelensky so that every American can see he did nothing wrong. It is standard operating procedure for the National Security Council to provide readouts of the president’s phone calls with foreign leaders,” deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said. “This one was prepared by the NSC’s Ukraine expert,” he added. (link)

That “NSC Ukraine expert” was Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman.

For emphasis let me repeat a current fact that is being entirely overlooked.  Despite his admitted usurpation of President Trump policy, Vindman was sent back to his post in the NSC with the full support of the United States Department of Defense.

The onus of action to remove Vindman from the NSC does not just lay simply at the feet of the White House and National Security advisor Robert O’Brien; and upon whose action the removal of Vindman could be positioned as political; the necessary, albeit difficult or perhaps challenging, obligation to remove Lt. Col Vindman also resides purposefully with the Dept. of Defense.

The Pentagon could easily withdraw Vindman from his position at the National Security Council; yet, it does not…. and it has not.   WHY?

There is a code within the military whereby you never put your leadership into a position of compromise; ie. “never compromise your leadership”.  In this example, President Trump cannot remove Vindman from the White House NSC advisory group due to political ramifications and appearances… The Joint Chiefs certainly recognize this issue; it is the very type of compromise they are trained to remove.  Yet they do nothing to remove the compromise.  They do nothing to assist.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman was the majority (#1) source for the material CIA operative Eric Ciaramella used in a collaborative effort to remove President Trump from office.  Let me make this implication crystal clear:

The United States Military is collaborating with the CIA to remove a U.S. President from office.

Do you see the issue now?

The Pentagon has done nothing, absolutely nothing, to countermand this implication/reality.  The Joint Chiefs of Staff have done nothing, absolutely nothing, to diminish the appearance of, nor deconstruct the agenda toward, the removal of President Trump.

Mr. President, do I have your attention?

On Tuesday, Nov. 19th, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is scheduled to appear in an intentionally shortened morning congressional session along with his ally Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence.

In the afternoon, Kurt D. Volker, the former United States special envoy to Ukraine, and Timothy Morrison, a Europe and Russia expert for the National Security Council will appear.

The timing, construct and purposeful design of Vindman’s appearance next week is being intentionally buried within the totality of the narrative that surrounds the impeachment effort.  Perhaps, just perhaps, someone reading this will start to put the purposefully obfuscated pieces of the coup puzzle together and act quickly….


Beyond the debate about the optics of the “coup“, within the testimony of Lt. Col Vindman, the witness readily admits to understanding the officially established policy of the President of The United States (an agreement between President Trump and President Zelenskyy), and stunningly admits that two weeks later he was giving countermanding instructions to his Ukrainian counterpart to ignore President Trump’s policies.

The coup against President Donald Trump went from soft, to hard. Consider…

The testimony from Lt. Col. Vindman is available here. [SCRIBD pdf below]

Borrowing from Roscoe B Davis, here are some highlights:

Representative John Ratcliffe begins deconstructing Lt. Col Vindman, while his arrogant attorneys begin trying to interfere with the questioning.

This next section is very interesting, and very important.

Congressman John Ratcliffe begins questioning Vindman from the perspective of an Article 92 violation {READ IT}, coupled with an Article 88 violation {READ IT}. President Trump, is Lt. Col Vindman’s superior. President Trump sets the foreign policy.

Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. [Article 88, UCMJ]

Two weeks after President Trump has established an agreement with Ukraine President Zelenskyy, and established the policy direction therein, Lt. Col. Vindman is now giving contrary instructions to the Ukranian government. Vindman’s lawyer recognizes where the questioning is going and goes absolutely bananas:

Here’s the Full Transcript:


A reminder from the CIA “whistleblower” attorney. January 30th, 2017, ten days after President Trump’s inauguration: the “coup has started”

AG Bill Barr Speaks About The Damage to Our Nation From The “Resistance”…

A rather lengthy speech by U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr to the Federalist Society is getting some increased attention today for the specific focus on how the executive branch has been weakened over the past several decades.

More specifically, AG Barr discusses how, in the Trump-era, the resistance movement has abdicated their legislative power and responsibility in favor of a politically motivated intent to harm the constitutional executive power.  [Video and Transcript below]


[Transcript] – Good Evening. Thank you all for being here. And thank you to Gene [Meyer] for your kind introduction.

It is an honor to be here this evening delivering the 19th Annual Barbara K. Olson Memorial Lecture. I had the privilege of knowing Barbara and had deep affection for her. I miss her brilliance and ebullient spirit. It is a privilege for me to participate in this series, which honors her.

The theme for this year’s Annual Convention is “Originalism,” which is a fitting choice — though, dare I say, a somewhat “unoriginal” one for the Federalist Society. I say that because the Federalist Society has played an historic role in taking originalism “mainstream.” While other organizations have contributed to the cause, the Federalist Society has been in the vanguard.

A watershed for the cause was the decision of the American people to send Ronald Reagan to the White House, accompanied by his close advisor Ed Meese and a cadre of others who were firmly committed to an originalist approach to the law. I was honored to work with Ed in the Reagan White House and be there several weeks ago when President Trump presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. As the President aptly noted, over the course of his career, Ed Meese has been among the Nation’s “most eloquent champions for following the Constitution as written.”

I am also proud to serve as the Attorney General under President Trump, who has taken up that torch in his judicial appointments. That is true of his two outstanding appointments to the Supreme Court, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh; of the many superb court of appeals and district court judges he has appointed, many of whom are here this week; and of the many outstanding judicial nominees to come, many of whom are also here this week.


I wanted to choose a topic for this afternoon’s lecture that had an originalist angle. It will likely come as little surprise to this group that I have chosen to speak about the Constitution’s approach to executive power.

I deeply admire the American Presidency as a political and constitutional institution. I believe it is, one of the great, and remarkable innovations in our Constitution, and has been one of the most successful features of the Constitution in protecting the liberties of the American people. More than any other branch, it has fulfilled the expectations of the Framers.

Unfortunately, over the past several decades, we have seen steady encroachment on Presidential authority by the other branches of government. This process I think has substantially weakened the functioning of the Executive Branch, to the detriment of the Nation. This evening, I would like to expand a bit on these themes.

♦ First, let me say a little about what the Framers had in mind in establishing an independent Executive in Article II of the Constitution.

The grammar school civics class version of our Revolution is that it was a rebellion against monarchial tyranny, and that, in framing our Constitution, one of the main preoccupations of the Founders was to keep the Executive weak. This is misguided. By the time of the Glorious Revolution of 1689, monarchical power was effectively neutered and had begun its steady decline. Parliamentary power was well on its way to supremacy and was effectively in the driver’s seat. By the time of the American Revolution, the patriots well understood that their prime antagonist was an overweening Parliament. Indeed, British thinkers came to conceive of Parliament, rather than the people, as the seat of Sovereignty.

During the Revolutionary era, American thinkers who considered inaugurating a republican form of government tended to think of the Executive component as essentially an errand boy of a Supreme legislative branch. Often the Executive (sometimes constituted as a multi-member council) was conceived as a creature of the Legislature, dependent on and subservient to that body, whose sole function was carrying out the Legislative will. Under the Articles of Confederation, for example, there was no Executive separate from Congress.

Things changed by the Constitutional Convention of 1787. To my mind, the real “miracle” in Philadelphia that summer was the creation of a strong Executive, independent of, and coequal with, the other two branches of government.

The consensus for a strong, independent Executive arose from the Framers’ experience in the Revolution and under the Articles of Confederation. They had seen that the War had almost been lost and was a bumbling enterprise because of the lack of strong Executive leadership. Under the Articles of Confederation, they had been mortified at the inability of the United States to protect itself against foreign impositions or to be taken seriously on the international stage. They had also seen that, after the Revolution, too many States had adopted constitutions with weak Executives overly subordinate to the Legislatures. Where this had been the case, state governments had proven incompetent and indeed tyrannical.

From these practical experiences, the Framers had come to appreciate that, to be successful, Republican government required the capacity to act with energy, consistency and decisiveness. They had come to agree that those attributes could best be provided by making the Executive power independent of the divided counsels of the Legislative branch and vesting the Executive power in the hands of a solitary individual, regularly elected for a limited term by the Nation as a whole. As Jefferson put it, ‘[F]or the prompt, clear, and consistent action so necessary in an Executive, unity of person is necessary….”

While there may have been some differences among the Framers as to the precise scope of Executive power in particular areas, there was general agreement about its nature. Just as the great separation-of-powers theorists– Polybius, Montesquieu, Locke – had, the Framers thought of Executive power as a distinct specie of power. To be sure, Executive power includes the responsibility for carrying into effect the laws passed by the Legislature – that is, applying the general rules to a particular situation. But the Framers understood that Executive power meant more than this.

It also entailed the power to handle essential sovereign functions – such as the conduct of foreign relations and the prosecution of war – which by their very nature cannot be directed by a pre-existing legal regime but rather demand speed, secrecy, unity of purpose, and prudent judgment to meet contingent circumstances. They agreed that – due to the very nature of the activities involved, and the kind of decision-making they require – the Constitution generally vested authority over these spheres in the Executive. For example, Jefferson, our first Secretary of State, described the conduct of foreign relations as “Executive altogether,” subject only to the explicit exceptions defined in the Constitution, such as the Senate’s power to ratify Treaties.

A related, and third aspect of Executive power is the power to address exigent circumstances that demand quick action to protect the well-being of the Nation but on which the law is either silent or inadequate – such as dealing with a plague or natural disaster. This residual power to meet contingency is essentially the federative power discussed by Locke in his Second Treatise.

And, finally, there are the Executive’s powers of internal management. These are the powers necessary for the President to superintend and control the Executive function, including the powers necessary to protect the independence of the Executive branch and the confidentiality of its internal deliberations. Some of these powers are express in the Constitution, such as the Appointment power, and others are implicit, such as the Removal power.

One of the more amusing aspects of modern progressive polemic is their breathless attacks on the “unitary executive theory.” They portray this as some new-fangled “theory” to justify Executive power of sweeping scope. In reality, the idea of the unitary executive does not go so much to the breadth of Presidential power. Rather, the idea is that, whatever the Executive powers may be, they must be exercised under the President’s supervision. This is not “new,” and it is not a “theory.” It is a description of what the Framers unquestionably did in Article II of the Constitution.

After you decide to establish an Executive function independent of the Legislature, naturally the next question is, who will perform that function? The Framers had two potential models. They could insinuate “checks and balances” into the Executive branch itself by conferring Executive power on multiple individuals (a council) thus dividing the power. Alternatively, they could vest Executive power in a solitary individual. The Framers quite explicitly chose the latter model because they believed that vesting Executive authority in one person would imbue the Presidency with precisely the attributes necessary for energetic government.

Even Jefferson – usually seen as less of a hawk than Hamilton on Executive power – was insistent that Executive power be placed in “single hands,” and he cited the America’s unitary Executive as a signal feature that distinguished America’s success from France’s failed republican experiment.

The implications of the Framers’ decision are obvious. If Congress attempts to vest the power to execute the law in someone beyond the control of the President, it contravenes the Framers’ clear intent to vest that power in a single person, the President. So much for this supposedly nefarious theory of the unitary executive.

♦ We all understand that the Framers expected that the three branches would be jostling and jousting with each other, as each threatened to encroach on the prerogatives of the others. They thought this was not only natural, but salutary, and they provisioned each branch with the wherewithal to fight and to defend itself in these interbranch struggles for power.

So let me turn now to how the Executive is presently faring in these interbranch battles. I am concerned that the deck has become stacked against the Executive. Since the mid-60s, there has been a steady grinding down of the Executive branch’s authority, that accelerated after Watergate. More and more, the President’s ability to act in areas in which he has discretion has become smothered by the encroachments of the other branches.

When these disputes arise, I think there are two aspects of contemporary thought that tend to operate to the disadvantage of the Executive.

The first is the notion that politics in a free republic is all about the Legislative and Judicial branches protecting liberty by imposing restrictions on the Executive. The premise is that the greatest danger of government becoming oppressive arises from the prospect of Executive excess. So, there is a knee-jerk tendency to see the Legislative and Judicial branches as the good guys protecting society from a rapacious would-be autocrat.

This prejudice is wrong-headed and atavistic. It comes out of the early English Whig view of politics and English constitutional experience, where political evolution was precisely that. You started out with a King who holds all the cards; he holds all the power, including Legislative and Judicial. Political evolution involved a process by which the Legislative power gradually, over hundreds of years, reigned in the King, and extracted and established its own powers, as well as those of the Judiciary. A watershed in this evolution was, of course, the Glorious Revolution in 1689.

But by 1787, we had the exact opposite model in the United States. The Founders greatly admired how the British constitution had given rise to the principles of a balanced government. But they felt that the British constitution had achieved only an imperfect form of this model. They saw themselves as framing a more perfect version of separation of powers and a balanced constitution.

Part of their more perfect construction was a new kind of Executive. They created an office that was already the ideal Whig Executive. It already had built into it the limitations that Whig doctrine aspired to. It did not have the power to tax and spend; it was constrained by habeas corpus and by due process in enforcing the law against members of the body politic; it was elected for a limited term of office; and it was elected by the nation as whole. That is a remarkable democratic institution – the only figure elected by the Nation as a whole. With the creation of the American Presidency, the Whig’s obsessive focus on the dangers of monarchical rule lost relevance.

This fundamental shift in view was reflected in the Convention debates over the new frame of government. Their concerns were very different from those that weighed on 17th century English Whigs. It was not Executive power that was of so much concern to them; it was danger of the legislative branch, which they viewed as the most dangerous branch to liberty. As Madison warned, the “legislative department is everywhere extending the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex.” And indeed, they viewed the Presidency as a check on the Legislative branch.

The second contemporary way of thinking that operates against the Executive is a notion that the Constitution does not sharply allocate powers among the three branches, but rather that the branches, especially the political branches, “share” powers. The idea at work here is that, because two branches both have a role to play in a particular area, we should see them as sharing power in that area and, it is not such a big deal if one branch expands its role within that sphere at the expense of the other.

This mushy thinking obscures what it means to say that powers are shared under the Constitution. Constitution generally assigns broad powers to each of the branches in defined areas. Thus, the Legislative power granted in the Constitution is granted to the Congress. At the same time, the Constitution gives the Executive a specific power in the Legislative realm – the veto power. Thus, the Executive “shares” Legislative power only to the extent of the specific grant of veto power. The Executive does not get to interfere with the broader Legislative power assigned to the Congress.

In recent years, both the Legislative and Judicial branches have been responsible for encroaching on the Presidency’s constitutional authority. Let me first say something about the Legislature.

• As I have said, the Framers fully expected intense pulling and hauling between the Congress and the President. Unfortunately, just in the past few years, we have seen these conflicts take on an entirely new character.

Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called “The Resistance,” and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his Administration. Now, “resistance” is the language used to describe insurgency against rule imposed by an occupying military power. It obviously connotes that the government is not legitimate. This is a very dangerous – indeed incendiary – notion to import into the politics of a democratic republic. What it means is that, instead of viewing themselves as the “loyal opposition,” as opposing parties have done in the past, they essentially see themselves as engaged in a war to cripple, by any means necessary, a duly elected government.

A prime example of this is the Senate’s unprecedented abuse of the advice-and-consent process. The Senate is free to exercise that power to reject unqualified nominees, but that power was never intended to allow the Senate to systematically oppose and draw out the approval process for every appointee so as to prevent the President from building a functional government.

Yet that is precisely what the Senate minority has done from his very first days in office. As of September of this year, the Senate had been forced to invoke cloture on 236 Trump nominees — each of those representing its own massive consumption of legislative time meant only to delay an inevitable confirmation. How many times was cloture invoked on nominees during President Obama’s first term? 17 times. The Second President Bush’s first term? Four times. It is reasonable to wonder whether a future President will actually be able to form a functioning administration if his or her party does not hold the Senate.

Congress has in recent years also largely abdicated its core function of legislating on the most pressing issues facing the national government. They either decline to legislate on major questions or, if they do, punt the most difficult and critical issues by making broad delegations to a modern administrative state that they increasingly seek to insulate from Presidential control. This phenomenon first arose in the wake of the Great Depression, as Congress created a number of so-called “independent agencies” and housed them, at least nominally, in the Executive Branch. More recently, the Dodd-Frank Act’s creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Branch, a single-headed independent agency that functions like a junior varsity President for economic regulation, is just one of many examples.

Of course, Congress’s effective withdrawal from the business of legislating leaves it with a lot of time for other pursuits. And the pursuit of choice, particularly for the opposition party, has been to drown the Executive Branch with “oversight” demands for testimony and documents. I do not deny that Congress has some implied authority to conduct oversight as an incident to its Legislative Power. But the sheer volume of what we see today – the pursuit of scores of parallel “investigations” through an avalanche of subpoenas – is plainly designed to incapacitate the Executive Branch, and indeed is touted as such.

The costs of this constant harassment are real. For example, we all understand that confidential communications and a private, internal deliberative process are essential for all of our branches of government to properly function. Congress and the Judiciary know this well, as both have taken great pains to shield their own internal communications from public inspection. There is no FOIA for Congress or the Courts. Yet Congress has happily created a regime that allows the public to seek whatever documents it wants from the Executive Branch at the same time that individual congressional committees spend their days trying to publicize the Executive’s internal decisional process. That process cannot function properly if it is public, nor is it productive to have our government devoting enormous resources to squabbling about what becomes public and when, rather than doing the work of the people.

In recent years, we have seen substantial encroachment by Congress in the area of executive privilege. The Executive Branch and the Supreme Court have long recognized that the need for confidentiality in Executive Branch decision-making necessarily means that some communications must remain off limits to Congress and the public. There was a time when Congress respected this important principle as well. But today, Congress is increasingly quick to dismiss good-faith attempts to protect Executive Branch equities, labeling such efforts “obstruction of Congress” and holding Cabinet Secretaries in contempt.

One of the ironies of today is that those who oppose this President constantly accuse this Administration of “shredding” constitutional norms and waging a war on the rule of law. When I ask my friends on the other side, what exactly are you referring to? I get vacuous stares, followed by sputtering about the Travel Ban or some such thing. While the President has certainly thrown out the traditional Beltway playbook, he was upfront about that beforehand, and the people voted for him. What I am talking about today are fundamental constitutional precepts. The fact is that this Administration’s policy initiatives and proposed rules, including the Travel Ban, have transgressed neither constitutional, nor traditional, norms, and have been amply supported by the law and patiently litigated through the Court system to vindication.

Indeed, measures undertaken by this Administration seem a bit tame when compared to some of the unprecedented steps taken by the Obama Administration’s aggressive exercises of Executive power – such as, under its DACA program, refusing to enforce broad swathes of immigration law.

The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of “Resistance” against this Administration, it is the Left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law. This highlights a basic disadvantage that conservatives have always had in contesting the political issues of the day. It was adverted to by the old, curmudgeonly Federalist, Fisher Ames, in an essay during the early years of the Republic.

In any age, the so-called progressives treat politics as their religion. Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the State to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection. Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursing a deific end. They are willing to use any means necessary to gain momentary advantage in achieving their end, regardless of collateral consequences and the systemic implications. They never ask whether the actions they take could be justified as a general rule of conduct, equally applicable to all sides.

Conservatives, on the other hand, do not seek an earthly paradise. We are interested in preserving over the long run the proper balance of freedom and order necessary for healthy development of natural civil society and individual human flourishing. This means that we naturally test the propriety and wisdom of action under a “rule of law” standard. The essence of this standard is to ask what the overall impact on society over the long run if the action we are taking, or principle we are applying, in a given circumstance was universalized – that is, would it be good for society over the long haul if this was done in all like circumstances?

For these reasons, conservatives tend to have more scruple over their political tactics and rarely feel that the ends justify the means. And this is as it should be, but there is no getting around the fact that this puts conservatives at a disadvantage when facing progressive holy far, especially when doing so under the weight of a hyper-partisan media.

• Let me turn now to what I believe has been the prime source of the erosion of separation-of-power principles generally, and Executive Branch authority specifically. I am speaking of the Judicial Branch.

In recent years the Judiciary has been steadily encroaching on Executive responsibilities in a way that has substantially undercut the functioning of the Presidency. The Courts have done this in essentially two ways: First, the Judiciary has appointed itself the ultimate arbiter of separation of powers disputes between Congress and Executive, thus preempting the political process, which the Framers conceived as the primary check on interbranch rivalry. Second, the Judiciary has usurped Presidential authority for itself, either (a) by, under the rubric of “review,” substituting its judgment for the Executive’s in areas committed to the President’s discretion, or (b) by assuming direct control over realms of decision-making that heretofore have been considered at the core of Presidential power.

The Framers did not envision that the Courts would play the role of arbiter of turf disputes between the political branches. As Madison explained in Federalist 51, “the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others.” By giving each the Congress and the Presidency the tools to fend off the encroachments of the others, the Framers believed this would force compromise and political accommodation.

The “constitutional means” to “resist encroachment” that Madison described take various forms. As Justice Scalia observed, the Constitution gives Congress and the President many “clubs with which to beat” each other. Conspicuously absent from the list is running to the courts to resolve their disputes.

That omission makes sense. When the Judiciary purports to pronounce a conclusive resolution to constitutional disputes between the other two branches, it does not act as a co-equal. And, if the political branches believe the courts will resolve their constitutional disputes, they have no incentive to debate their differences through the democratic process — with input from and accountability to the people. And they will not even try to make the hard choices needed to forge compromise. The long experience of our country is that the political branches can work out their constitutional differences without resort to the courts.

In any event, the prospect that courts can meaningfully resolve interbranch disputes about the meaning of the Constitution is mostly a false promise. How is a court supposed to decide, for example, whether Congress’s power to collect information in pursuit of its legislative function overrides the President’s power to receive confidential advice in pursuit of his executive function? Nothing in the Constitution provides a manageable standard for resolving such a question. It is thus no surprise that the courts have produced amorphous, unpredictable balancing tests like the Court’s holding in Morrison v. Olson that Congress did not “disrupt the proper balance between the coordinate branches by preventing the Executive Branch from accomplishing its constitutionally assigned functions.”

Apart from their overzealous role in interbranch disputes, the courts have increasingly engaged directly in usurping Presidential decision-making authority for themselves. One way courts have effectively done this is by expanding both the scope and the intensity of judicial review.

In recent years, we have lost sight of the fact that many critical decisions in life are not amenable to the model of judicial decision-making. They cannot be reduced to tidy evidentiary standards and specific quantums of proof in an adversarial process. They require what we used to call prudential judgment. They are decisions that frequently have to be made promptly, on incomplete and uncertain information and necessarily involve weighing a wide range of competing risks and making predictions about the future. Such decisions frequently call into play the “precautionary principle.” This is the principle that when a decision maker is accountable for discharging a certain obligation – such as protecting the public’s safety – it is better, when assessing imperfect information, to be wrong and safe, than wrong and sorry.

It was once well recognized that such matters were largely unreviewable and that the courts should not be substituting their judgments for the prudential judgments reached by the accountable Executive officials. This outlook now seems to have gone by the boards. Courts are now willing, under the banner of judicial review, to substitute their judgment for the President’s on matters that only a few decades ago would have been unimaginable – such as matters involving national security or foreign affairs.

The Travel Ban case is a good example. There the President made a decision under an explicit legislative grant of authority, as well has his Constitutional national security role, to temporarily suspend entry to aliens coming from a half dozen countries pending adoption of more effective vetting processes. The common denominator of the initial countries selected was that they were unquestionable hubs of terrorism activity, which lacked functional central government’s and responsible law enforcement and intelligence services that could assist us in identifying security risks among their nationals seeking entry.

Despite the fact there were clearly justifiable security grounds for the measure, the district court in Hawaii and the Ninth Circuit blocked this public-safety measure for a year and half on the theory that the President’s motive for the order was religious bias against Muslims. This was just the first of many immigration measures based on good and sufficient security grounds that the courts have second guessed since the beginning of the Trump Administration.

The Travel Ban case highlights an especially troubling aspect of the recent tendency to expand judicial review. The Supreme Court has traditionally refused, across a wide variety of contexts, to inquire into the subjective motivation behind governmental action. To take the classic example, if a police officer has probable cause to initiate a traffic stop, his subjective motivations are irrelevant. And just last term, the Supreme Court appropriately shut the door to claims that otherwise-lawful redistricting can violate the Constitution if the legislators who drew the lines were actually motivated by political partisanship.

What is true of police officers and gerrymanderers is equally true of the President and senior Executive officials. With very few exceptions, neither the Constitution, nor the Administrative Procedure Act or any other relevant statute, calls for judicial review of executive motive. They apply only to executive action. Attempts by courts to act like amateur psychiatrists attempting to discern an Executive official’s “real motive” — often after ordering invasive discovery into the Executive Branch’s privileged decision-making process — have no more foundation in the law than a subpoena to a court to try to determine a judge’s real motive for issuing its decision. And courts’ indulgence of such claims, even if they are ultimately rejected, represents a serious intrusion on the President’s constitutional prerogatives.

The impact of these judicial intrusions on Executive responsibility have been hugely magnified by another judicial innovation – the nationwide injunction. First used in 1963, and sparely since then until recently, these court orders enjoin enforcement of a policy not just against the parties to a case, but against everyone. Since President Trump took office, district courts have issued over 40 nationwide injunctions against the government. By comparison, during President Obama’s first two years, district courts issued a total of two nationwide injunctions against the government. Both were vacated by the Ninth Circuit.

It is no exaggeration to say that virtually every major policy of the Trump Administration has been subjected to immediate freezing by the lower courts. No other President has been subjected to such sustained efforts to debilitate his policy agenda.

The legal flaws underlying nationwide injunctions are myriad. Just to summarize briefly, nationwide injunctions have no foundation in courts’ Article III jurisdiction or traditional equitable powers; they radically inflate the role of district judges, allowing any one of more than 600 individuals to singlehandedly freeze a policy nationwide, a power that no single appellate judge or Justice can accomplish; they foreclose percolation and reasoned debate among lower courts, often requiring the Supreme Court to decide complex legal issues in an emergency posture with limited briefing; they enable transparent forum shopping, which saps public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary; and they displace the settled mechanisms for aggregate litigation of genuinely nationwide claims, such as Rule 23 class actions.

Of particular relevance to my topic tonight, nationwide injunctions also disrupt the political process. There is no better example than the courts’ handling of the rescission of DACA. As you recall, DACA was a discretionary policy of enforcement forbearance adopted by President Obama’s administration. The Fifth Circuit concluded that the closely related DAPA policy (along with an expansion of DACA) was unlawful, and the Supreme Court affirmed that decision by an equally divided vote. Given that DACA was discretionary — and that four Justices apparently thought a legally indistinguishable policy was unlawful —President Trump’s administration understandably decided to rescind DACA.

Importantly, however, the President coupled that rescission with negotiations over legislation that would create a lawful and better alternative as part of a broader immigration compromise. In the middle of those negotiations — indeed, on the same day the President invited cameras into the Cabinet Room to broadcast his negotiations with bipartisan leaders from both Houses of Congress — a district judge in the Northern District of California enjoined the rescission of DACA nationwide.

Unsurprisingly, the negotiations over immigration legislation collapsed after one side achieved its preferred outcome through judicial means. A humanitarian crisis at the southern border ensued. And just this week, the Supreme Court finally heard argument on the legality of the DACA rescission.

The Court will not likely decide the case until next summer, meaning that President Trump will have spent almost his entire first term enforcing President Obama’s signature immigration policy, even though that policy is discretionary and half the Supreme Court concluded that a legally indistinguishable policy was unlawful. That is not how our democratic system is supposed to work.

To my mind, the most blatant and consequential usurpation of Executive power in our history was played out during the Administration of President George W. Bush, when the Supreme Court, in a series of cases, set itself up as the ultimate arbiter and superintendent of military decisions inherent in prosecuting a military conflict – decisions that lie at the very core of the President’s discretion as Commander in Chief.

This usurpation climaxed with the Court’s 2008 decision in Boumediene. There, the Supreme Court overturned hundreds of years of American, and earlier British, law and practice, which had always considered decisions as to whether to detain foreign combatants to be purely military judgments which civilian judges had no power to review. For the first time, the Court ruled that foreign persons who had no connection with the United States other than being confronted by our military on the battlefield had “due process” rights and thus have the right to habeas corpus to obtain judicial review of whether the military has a sufficient evidentiary basis to hold them.

In essence, the Court has taken the rules that govern our domestic criminal justice process and carried them over and superimposed them on the Nation’s activities when it is engaged in armed conflict with foreign enemies. This rides roughshod over a fundamental distinction that is integral to the Constitution and integral to the role played by the President in our system.

As the Preamble suggests, governments are established for two different security reasons – to secure domestic tranquility and to provide for defense against external dangers. These are two very different realms of government action.

In a nutshell, under the Constitution, when the government is using its law enforcement powers domestically to discipline an errant member of the community for a violation of law, then protecting the liberty of the American people requires that we sharply curtail the government’s power so it does not itself threaten the liberties of the people. Thus, the Constitution in this arena deliberately sacrifices efficiency; invests the accused with rights that that essentially create a level playing field between the collective interests of community and those of the individual; and dilutes the government’s power by dividing it and turning it on itself as a check, at each stage the Judiciary is expressly empowered to serve as a check and neutral arbiter.

None of these considerations are applicable when the government is defending the country against armed attacks from foreign enemies. In this realm, the Constitution is concerned with one thing – preserving the freedom of our political community by destroying the external threat. Here, the Constitution is not concerned with handicapping the government to preserve other values. The Constitution does not confer “rights” on foreign enemies. Rather the Constitution is designed to maximize the government’s efficiency to achieve victory – even at the cost of “collateral damage” that would be unacceptable in the domestic realm. The idea that the judiciary acts as a neutral check on the political branches to protect foreign enemies from our government is insane.

The impact of Boumediene has been extremely consequential. For the first time in American history our armed forces is incapable of taking prisoners. We are now in a crazy position that, if we identify a terrorist enemy on the battlefield, such as ISIS, we can kill them with drone or any other weapon. But if we capture them and want to hold them at Guantanamo or in the United States, the military is tied down in developing evidence for an adversarial process and must spend resources in interminable litigation.

The fact that our courts are now willing to invade and muck about in these core areas of Presidential responsibility illustrates how far the doctrine of Separation of Powers has been eroded.

♦ In this partisan age, we should take special care not to allow the passions of the moment to cause us to permanently disfigure the genius of our Constitutional structure. As we look back over the sweep of American history, it has been the American Presidency that has best fulfilled the vision of the Founders. It has brought to our Republic a dynamism and effectiveness that other democracies have lacked.

At every critical juncture where the country has faced a great challenge –

– whether it be in our earliest years as the weak, nascent country combating regional rebellions, and maneuvering for survival in a world of far stronger nations;

– whether it be during our period of continental expansion, with the Louisiana Purchase, and the acquisition of Mexican territory;

– whether it be the Civil War, the epic test of the Nation;

– World War II and the struggle against Fascism;

– the Cold War and the challenge of Communism;

– the struggle against racial discrimination;

– and most recently, the fight against Islamist Fascism and international terrorism.

One would have to say that it has been the Presidency that has stepped to the fore and provided the leadership, consistency, energy and perseverance that allowed us to surmount the challenge and brought us success.

In so many areas, it is critical to our Nation’s future that we restore and preserve in their full vigor our Founding principles. Not the least of these is the Framers’ vision of a strong, independent Executive, chosen by the country as a whole.


President Trump Delivers Remarks on Healthcare Price Transparency Initiative – Video and Transcript

Earlier today President Trump gave remarks and held a brief White House presser on the topic of healthcare pricing transparency. [Video and Transcript Below]


[Transcript] – THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, everybody. It’s a great honor. The stock market is up big today. It set a new record. I think it’s the 22nd time this year, and it’s over 100 times for the time that we’re in office. We’ve set over 100. I think it’s substantially more than 100. We’ll get the exact number because I know you wouldn’t want me to have that wrong. They don’t like that.

But we’re up over 100 times for the stock market. And that means jobs. That means companies are moving back into the United States that left. We have many, many companies coming back.

The employment numbers are at a record. The — or very close. And we just got a new number on African American employment. It’s the best it’s ever been. You could say employment or unemployment — they’re the best numbers they’ve ever been.

So we’re very proud of what’s happened with our economy. A few months ago, you were predicting a recession. Perhaps someday there will be a recession, but we have a long way to go. The consumer has never been stronger, and we’re going to make the consumer even stronger yet, with transparency, because they’re going to get much better pricing at hospitals. So I think we can probably add this to the number.

You saw median household income — for President Bush, eight years — was $450. For President Obama, for eight years — eight years, think of that — was $975. For President Trump — a little over two and a half years — when they did the final number, it was $5,000. And they add to that $2,000, thanks to Kevin and everybody. Thank you, Kevin. You’re behind me someplace, right? Add $2,000 or $2,500, Kevin. What would you say?

REPRESENTATIVE BRADY: Yeah. Right about there, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Right there? So let’s add $2,000, and then add $3,000 for regulation, and add something for the energy savings. So you have $10,000. So it’s $400 and $975 — that’s for eight and eight. And then, for two and half years, it’s $10,000. That’s not bad. But the consumer is very powerful, and this is going to make them more powerful.

So, welcome, everyone. This afternoon, we celebrate something that I’m very proud of: another major victory in our mission to deliver great healthcare at a price that you can afford. This will have a tremendous impact on prices.

A certain gentleman, who is in the room — who will say a couple of words — actually said this is more important than healthcare. And when he said that, my ears really perked up, and I listened. And they were right, and they gave me plenty of examples. And that person recently got the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His name is Art Laffer, and he’s a very talented guy.

Where is Art? Is he here? Yes?

DR. LAFFER: I’m sort of short today. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Art. I didn’t see you. I didn’t see you back there. All right, stand up here. A great gentleman. And you brought a man here who’s the king of that world. And — hello. How are you? That’s the guy. And you made that statement to me: “More important than healthcare.” That was a big statement. As soon as I heard that, I said, “That sounds good to me.” It’s transparency.

So I signed, as you know, an executive order — historic. And we’re requiring price transparency in healthcare, forcing companies to compete for your business. It’s a very important thing that we’ve done here. I don’t think it’ll be covered by you, but it will be in the years to come.

Our goal was to give patients the knowledge they need about the real price of healthcare services. They’ll be able to check them, compare them, go to different locations, so they can shop for the highest-quality care at the lowest cost. And this is about high-quality care. You’re also looking at that. You’re looking at comparisons between talents, which is very important. And then, you’re also looking at cost. And, in some cases, you get the best doctor for the lowest cost. That’s a — that’s a good thing.

Today, I’m proud to announce two new actions implementing that order. First, we are finalizing a rule that will compel hospitals to publish prices publicly online for everyone to see and to compare. So you’re able to go online and compare all of the hospitals and the doctors and the prices, and, I assume, get résumés on doctors and see who you like.

And the good doctors — like, I assume these two guys are fantastic doctors, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. (Laughter.) And the bad doctors, I guess they have to go and hide someplace. I don’t know. Maybe they don’t do so well. I don’t know. But if they’re not good, we — we are more interested in the good ones. It’s called “rewarding talent.”

Second, we’re putting forward a proposed rule to require health insurance providers to disclose their pricing information to consumers. We’re giving American families control of their healthcare decisions. And the freedom to choose that care is right before them on the Internet and elsewhere, but on the Internet. Very, very open. Very transparent. That’s why it’s called transparency.

And this has been done on a small basis, on individual hospitals. In fact, Art, you were telling me about that, with your hospital, that you’re on the board of a hospital that did this.

I’d like you to actually — before I go further, I’d like you talk about that just for a second. Art Laffer. Art, just mention that, if you could.

DR. LAFFER: Yeah. You’ve got to lower it really far. (Laughter.) Sorry about that.

Let me, if I can, just say I was the chairman of the board of Centennial Hospital. We had some problems. But when you look at this, this is the biggest revolution I’ve seen in generations. I mean — and as opposed to most revolutions, this revolution saves lives; it doesn’t cost lives.

And, in this revolution, it saves money. You don’t have to spend money. And what you’ve seen here before is that we have no transparency whatsoever in medical. It’s like the hermit kingdom of industries. You don’t know what the price is. You don’t know what the outcome is. And you don’t know what the inputs are.

What this does is this pulls away the veil and allows people to see exactly what they can and what they do. And if I can say, I think this will lead to a phenomenal change in the U.S. outcome of employment output production. It’s just one of the industries that desperately needs this.

I’ll stop about here, but the last one I can remember being involved with was with Lady Thatcher when she privatized coal, steel, and the railroads. I mean, the changes there with Sir Keith Joseph. And this outdoes all of those revolutions, sir. It’s the most amazing of all time.

And it takes real leadership to do it and real practitioners to be able to get it through. And Secretary Azar is a great practitioner, and my buddy Larry Ku- — Larry Van Horn is also a great practitioner — as well as Larry Kudlow, by the way. (Laughter.) Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: And I’d like to have Larry maybe say a few words and explain what this is that we’re being — for the public.

DR. VAN HORN: Sure, Mr. President. This is a momentous day. Americans, year over year, have been faced with higher and higher healthcare costs, facing higher and higher obligation to pay for those out of their own wallets without information around the price and the quality associated with that.

The charges that have been put out are fictitious. Nobody pays the charges. This effort is to make real prices transparent. The net allowed amounts that drive the decision-making for patients every day will now be in their hands. They can make better trade-offs and have, hopefully, more money in their wallets and their paychecks to pay for all of the goods and services they need to live their lives.

So this is a very momentous day. And I appreciate the efforts of the administration all the way through in terms of being able to follow through and execute this.

THE PRESIDENT: And it we did max, right? We didn’t do a smaller version?

MR. VAN HORN: We did it max.


MR. VAN HORN: It’s A-plus.

THE PRESIDENT: I kept saying —

MR. VAN HORN: A-plus. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: There are versions of this. I said, “No, I don’t want the C or the D. I want the A-plus.” And we did it the A-plus, so I’m very happy with that. And I think you’re going to see things. It’s kicking in immediately. It’ll kick in as of today, but it’s going to really start going during the course of the year, the following year — this year coming. And you’ll see some results that are going to be actually incredible in terms of costs coming down and, I think, in terms of the quality of the care because you’re picking people that you’d want to be with.

This afternoon, we’re grateful to be joined by Secretary Steve Mnuchin — wherever you may be, Steve. Where is Steve?



Secretary Gene Scalia. And I hear you’re really doing a job over there. Huh?

SECRETARY SCALIA: We’re doing our best.

THE PRESIDENT: Labor is doing okay. Your numbers are certainly doing very good. It’s a good time to be Department of Labor. Right? This is a —

SECRETARY SCALIA: A great story to tell.

THE PRESIDENT: Right. Thank you very much. Good.

Secretary Alex Azar. Thank you, Alex. Thank you. Thank you, Alex.

And Administrator Seema Verma. Thank you very much, Seema. Where’s Seema? This is an unusual group today. They’re spread all over the place.

I also want to welcome Representatives Kevin Brady, Michael Burgess, and Greg Walden. They’ve been so fantastic on getting us to a really good position with the taxes.

We’re going to be doing a major middle-income tax cut if we take back the House. And we’ll talking about that sometime later. But we’re going to be doing a very major middle-income tax cut, mostly devoted to middle income who have really been big beneficiaries of the tax cut we did, which was the largest in the history of our country. But we’re doing a major tax cut for the middle income, and that’ll be subject, obviously, to take — taking over the House, because Democrats like tax increases, not tax cuts.

I also want to thank our state leaders. We have a lot state leaders here today at the highest level, and I want to thank them for being here. And a special thanks again to highly respected economists, Dr. Art Laffer and Dr. Larry Van Horn.

And, really, it was those two people that came to my office. We were talking about Art, and we were all congratulating him because he did an incredible job over a lot of years with Ronald Reagan and beyond. And when I said, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom,” which is the highest civilian award you can get, he told me this little story about a certain hospital he was involved with where they did this. And every hospital has had just incredible experience with it. And I said, “Tell me more.” And then we got involved with Larry and Larry Kudlow also, by the way. And we had a little group of four people that talked about it a lot. And I think it’s going to have a tremendous impact.

And again, the statement was made: “This is bigger than healthcare.” And I think it will be. I think it’ll be more meaningful, in many ways. You’ll save so much money and you’ll get the care that you want, and you’ll choose the doctor you want, which was not possible despite the many pleas. You know, “You can have your plan and you can have your doctor.” Well, they turned out to be untrue statements about Obamacare.

For decades, hospitals, insurance companies, lobbyists, and special interests have hidden prices from consumers so they could drive up costs for you. And you had no idea what was happening. You’d get bills that were unbelievable and you have no idea why.

For example, researchers found that for the same MRI at the same hospital, patients were charged anywhere from $248 to $2,500. So, 10 times more, at the same hospital. I assume that would be different doctors within the same hospital. I don’t know if the hospitals are going to like me too much anymore with this, but that’s okay, right? That’s okay. I think the doctors are going to, actually.

In the Boston area, the price of delivering a baby can cost anywhere from roughly $4,700 to nearly $16,000. One survey found that within a single metro area, the highest negotiated price for a simple blood test was roughly 40 times more than the lowest price. They were given exactly the same service — in some cases, sent them to the same labs — and were charged 40 times more money.

Under the new price transparency rule we are finalizing today — and it will be all finalized — it is finalized; it’ll be put out today — all of that will change. Hospitals will soon be required to publish the price of everything from individual medical supplies to the total cost of common procedures.

Next, we will bring much-needed price transparency to insurance companies. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled. This will allow you to see your out-of-pocket costs and other vital price information before you go in for treatment. So you’re going to know what it’s going to be and you’re going to be able to have lots of choices, both in terms of doctors, hospitals, and price. And we’re stopping American patients from just getting, pure and simple — two words, very simple words: ripped off. Because they’ve been ripped off for years. For a lot of years.

With us today is Melissa Ural who works for a company that benefits from price transparency. And, Melissa, could you come up and say a few words?

MS. URAL: Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Great. Thank you, Melissa. Thank you very much.

MS. URAL: Thank you, Mr. President. My name is Melissa Ural, and I am the vice president of human resources for HB Global. We are an employee-owned mechanical contracting company.

Transparent pricing initiative aligns with our ownership model because it allows employees to get the care that they need at the cost that they want.

Currently, we are partnering with a broker to work and negotiate prices for surgeries and other procedures at local surgical centers. This allows our employees to know what the procedure or what the cost will look like when they walk through the door.

This also allows our employees to get great care at a fraction of the cost, with the same quality and standard of care that they would have gotten, and they won’t receive any surprise bills.

Right now, we have some price transparency behind the scenes, but with full price transparency up front, our employees can make the best decisions possible.

We wouldn’t expect our employees to go buy a car or a house without knowing the price up front. Why should their healthcare be any different?

I want to thank the President for bringing this important initiative to the front. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Melissa. (Applause.)

MS. URAL: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good job, Melissa.

We’re also joined by Kara Boeckel, who works for the same company and benefitted when her employer shopped for the best price on a surgery — a surgery that she needed. And I’d like to have Kara come up and please tell us about it. Kara? Please.

MS. BOECKEL: Thank you.


MS. BOECKEL: My name is Kara Boeckel and I work for HB Global, along with Melissa. And in January of this year, I had surgery on my ankle. I’m the sole provider of my two-year-old son, so this impact was huge for his and my day-to-day life.

When I initially went to an orthopedic urgent care, I had no idea what I was going to pay, no idea what the costs were going to be. I just know that I needed to get help. I ended up with a bill for over $1,000. This was an unexpected expense that my family now had to endure, and it had a huge impact on us.

I would — it was a huge stresser to know that I needed surgery and not know what the cost was going to be and how it was going to impact my life.

Thankfully, my company was able to work with a brokerage firm and shop around to know what prices were going to be beforehand. With insurance, the claim my company would have paid was $19,500, and we wouldn’t have known that cost until afterwards. By shopping around beforehand, we knew the claim was going to be $7,800, which is a 60 percent price difference. And it was at zero cost to me. I was even able to get the care out of the same facility that I was going to go to if I would have used my insurance.

I want to thank the President for making healthcare more transparent so that others in my situation don’t have to have these unexpected financial surprises and hardships.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

MS. BOECKEL: Thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Kara. Also with us is Dr. Rick Schultz, Chief Medical Officer at Texas Free Market Surgery. Doctor, I’d like to have you come up and say a few words about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. Thank you, Dr. Rick.

DR. SCHULTZ: Thank you. Well, thank you very much for having us here today. This is a very exciting day. I’d like to take a minute to talk about stewardship.

First, I’d like to thank Jesus for allowing me the opportunity and charging me with being a good steward of the opportunity and the abilities to practice orthopedic surgery in Texas for the last 20 years.

I’d also like to thank the President for his leadership and stewardship in this effort and the fact that, since he’s been elected, he trusts Americans to be courageous and make smart decisions with their own money and their own healthcare. And he knows that we’re smart enough to make good decisions now.

This policy — this transparency will be the fuel for healthcare innovation very similar to what we’re doing with Texas Free Market Surgery and Texas Medical Management. Right now, every day, we take good care of patients at a very fair price, and it’s completely transparent. This is not something in the future; this is something we’re doing today. If you don’t believe me, just check out our website.

Finally, I’d really like to challenge the Americans that this is a right that you’re getting back, to know the price of your healthcare. This is going to be a fight. This is very disruptive. The people who are currently making a lot of money off of us are going to fight this tooth and nail. If you aren’t ready to fight for this, then don’t complain when it gets taken away from you.

Mr. President, thank you for stepping into the gap, taking the slings and arrows, and helping to get this going.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you.

DR. SCHULTZ: Thank you. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I think, if I could, I’d like to have Kevin Brady come up just for a second and talk about what we’ve done with the individual mandate and how that’s just a part of our — a small part, but it’s a very big part in terms of healthcare; what we did with respect to our tax cuts and our reforms. And you might want to discuss the individual mandate. Getting rid of it was such a big deal. Thank you.

REPRESENTATIVE BRADY: So thank you — thank you, Mr. President. So, first, thank you for being the President who led on letting people keep more of what they earn so they can afford healthcare costs, utility costs, college costs, all of which has seemed to go up.

Secondly, thank you for — when we saw the failings of the Affordable Care Act, especially forcing average Texans, average Americans, into buying healthcare they couldn’t use and couldn’t afford, you stepped forward with Congress to eliminate, effectively, that mandate. So — which was another tax cut on the American people.

You’ve also created association health plans. Because if you’re in a small business — if you work for a small business or have one, you’ve been left behind under the Affordable Care Act. Your plans that allow our small businesses to join together to afford healthcare the way the big companies do — they’re cutting prices 30 and 40 percent, making healthcare affordable again. Hugely helpful.

And then, today, as Art Laffer has pointed out — and you too, Mr. President — look, patients are confused. Families don’t know what things cost. You can’t shop around and don’t understand the price. This, pulling back the curtain on healthcare prices, will help competition occur; give us, as families and patients, choices ahead of time; and will ultimately lower the healthcare costs.

And I’ll close with this: It’s easy to have quality care or affordable care. The goal is to have both. Making these prices transparent allow our families and our businesses to have quality care and affordable at the same time. This really is transformational. Thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. It all, sort of, fits in. It’s like a puzzle. And I see my friend, Greg. I can’t believe you’re going to be leaving Congress one of these days. I was so disappointed to see that, but you’re fantastic. And we all work together with everybody — all of us.

Come on up here, the two of you. I’d like you to discuss Right to Try a little bit. And, I mean, you think about — it’s really a very important part of healthcare.


THE PRESIDENT: The ultimate part of healthcare. And for 45 years, they’ve been trying to get it passed and they couldn’t do it. And Greg Walden, the three of us plus a lot, we’ve got it done.


THE PRESIDENT: Congressman, thank you very much.

REPRESENTATIVE WALDEN: Hear, hear. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. Please.

REPRESENTATIVE WALDEN: Well, thank you, Mr. President. We’ve never had a President lean further, farther forward on behalf of patients than President Donald Trump. (Applause.) And we finally got into law — we finally got into law Right to Try. Now you’re going to get in place “Right to Know.” (Laughter.) We should have the right to know what these things cost.

This is — I was here with you when you talked about surprise medical billing. And we are very close to legislating on that, Mr. President. And that is a huge win for consumers. This is a huge win for consumers. You’re doing the right thing. And Dr. Mike Burgess, who was my Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health Care, now the top Republican on healthcare, has really been a leader in this effort as well, Mr. President.

And your team, working with the Secretaries and Seema and others, have been at the forefront of this. And Americans are benefitting. And the one thing I hear about is what Kevin Brady talked about: We want affordable care, we want innovation, but we have to be able to afford it. And you can’t know what things cost if they won’t tell you. And it’s all hidden back behind the curtain.

So, Mr. President, thanks for your leadership and your team’s leadership.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Michael, say a few words, please.

REPRESENTATIVE BURGESS: Well, what I hear from constituents all the time — I practiced medicine for 25 years — they’re concerned with the cost and complexity of healthcare. This is a major step — major step — in delivering on that promise for patients.

Look, there’s another party in town that just wants to take away all your choices and give you one choice. This President is trying to expand your choices. That’s a better choice.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Michael. (Applause.)


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much.

So the actions that we’re announcing today are only the latest steps in our campaign to deliver great healthcare for American patients. Our efforts to reduce the price of prescription drugs — and I don’t know if you know that, but this is the first time, Secretary Azar, I think in 51 years, that prices have actually gone down —


THE PRESIDENT: — for prescription drugs. So, that’s quite an achievement.

And if we had the help of the Democrats, which we don’t — it’s a shame, because we could knock drug prices down so low. We will be giving states the right to go to other countries to buy their drugs, because other countries — because they don’t have these crazy, arcane rules that we could fix so quickly if we had the help of the Democrats. But they want the price of drugs to say high, I suppose.

But we brought it down the most in 51 years, and we’re very proud of that. But we can bring them down much more. And one of the things I’m doing is, as an example, Canada will pay much less for drugs because they don’t have to pay for research and development, so their pricing is much cheaper. So we’ll buy — I’m working with Ron DeSantis in Florida and some other governors — great governors. And they’re going to buy from other countries and skip all of the nonsense. And I think, ultimately, what that’s going to do is the drug companies will bring the price of their drugs down, or they’ll buy from other countries. That’s okay, too.

The same pill, made in the same factory, made by the same company, sells for 50, 60, and 70 percent less in one country than it does in another. And we’re always the high country. So, I’m going to be giving governors the right, very shortly, to buy — I’ve already given some the right — to buy their — their prescription drugs from other countries. And we avoid — we skirt a lot of — a lot — that probably sounds like a pretty good idea to you. What do you think, huh?

DR. LAFFER: We love it. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: You, as the great economist. So, anyway.

So, the actions that we’re announcing today are the latest steps. Our efforts to reduce the price of prescription drugs — we’re going to have some tremendous results. We could do it so simply if we had any kind of help from the Democrats. But they’re doing so many other things, namely one: wasting a lot of time. And very bad for our country, what they’re doing.

And they should approve USMCA. By the way, it’s the greatest trade deal ever made. (Applause.) And they should stop playing games. And, you know, Mexico signed it many months ago. Canada keeps calling me: “When is this deal going to happen? Is this deal going to happen?” And it’s sitting on Nancy Pelosi’s desk for about three months, four months. Nervous Nancy — she needs a little nervous energy to get it done because all she has to do is put it up. She’s got plenty of Democrat votes. A lot of Democrats are pushing her, but she doesn’t want to do it because she doesn’t want to have a victory for the American people. And that’s all it is. So either she does it or she doesn’t do it.

But Mexico wants to know what’s happening. Canada wants to know what’s happening. They could live without it. Because it’s a great deal for us. They could live without it. And they want to know what’s going on.

We eliminated the Obamacare individual mandate penalty, and we’re expanding affordable alternatives which cost up to 60 percent less than Obamacare plans. And it could be even quite a bit higher than that, in some cases. And we will always protect patients with preexisting conditions, and, as I’ve been saying lately, and also patients with preexisting physicians. (Laughter.) I thought that was good. I made it in one speech. I said, “You know, people like that.” But it’s true, because you didn’t have your doctor, you didn’t have your plan. And now you have the plan and you have the doctor. So, it’s pretty good.

In everything we do, my administration is fighting for the rights of American consumers, the wellbeing of American patients, and the health of American people. We’re taking on the bureaucrats in more ways than one. You probably notice that, right? We’re taking on a lot bureaucrats. We’re taking on the insurance companies, and we’re taking on the special interests.

And that’s one of the difficulties I have in Washington because I’ve taken on a lot of the establishment. And a lot of the politicians are taken care of by the establishment, and they don’t like that I take on the establishment. But I’m taking it on for the consumer, for the American people. And that’s why you see prices going down. And you haven’t seen anything yet. Things are going to happen that will be shocking. But there are people in Washington — as I say, there are people in the swamp that don’t like what I’m doing for that reason.

We will not rest until every American has access to the highest quality, most affordable healthcare anywhere in the world.

And, again, I want to thank you all. And I’d like to ask Secretary Azar to come up and say a few words. Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

SECRETARY AZAR: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. And thank you for your leadership. You asked us, as you said earlier, to deliver “A-plus” transparency in healthcare. Well, right now, our system wouldn’t even get a passing grade on transparency. Patients are at the mercy of a shadowy system with no control over their care. But thanks to your leadership and your transparency executive order, we’re changing that.

The changes you described, what we’re doing at HHS, will be revolutionary to our healthcare system — perhaps the biggest single change that President Trump has made to Americans’ healthcare experience. More than 70 percent of the most common hospital services are shoppable. We’re delivering American patients the information they need to make the right choices for themselves.

That’s crucial to the kind of system that we’re building for American patients with affordable, personalized, patient-centric care that puts you in control and treats you like a human being and not like a number.

So thank you, Mr. President, for delivering American patients the affordability that you need, the options and control that you want, and the quality that you deserve.

A key leader in this work has been Administrator Verma, who will now say a few words. Seema. (Applause.)


First of all, I want to thank the President because people have been talking about price transparency forever. We all know that what’s been going on in the healthcare system has been wrong. It’s not fair that patients don’t know the cost of the services that they’re going to get. But only one man has been willing to stand up to special interests and do what’s right for patients and put them back in control of their healthcare. So, thank you, President Trump.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

ADMINISTRATOR VERMA: Really appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

So, after many, many years, we finally have transparency. It’s going into effect today. It will have a tremendous impact. It will, sort of, go in sections and stages, but it all begins today. And within about 12 months, I think it’ll be fully implemented — and, we can even say, probably a shorter period of time than that. Some of it’s complex and some of it’s very easy. But it’s all very good. It’s — there’s never been anything like this.

So the word is “transparency,” and I love transparency in many ways. And this is going to be something that’s going to be — it’s going to be incredible for the consumer, for the patient. I think it’s going to be really good for the good doctors, maybe not so good for other doctors. I think it’s going to be really good for the great hospitals, frankly. And it’s very exciting.

And it’s something that again, Art, I want to thank you very much because you really did bring it to my attention and I appreciate it very much. Thank you very much.

Yeah, please.

Q Mr. President, what do you say to Democrats that say you were witness tampering this morning when you made that tweet (inaudible) Ambassador Yovanovitch?

THE PRESIDENT: You don’t want to talk about transparency?

Q Well, (inaudible).

THE PRESIDENT: You know, I’ll talk about transparency. I like transparency here. And I’m the most transparent President in history.

And I’ll tell you about what tampering is. Tampering is when a guy like Shifty Shift [sic] doesn’t let us have lawyers. Tampering is when Schiff doesn’t let us have witnesses, doesn’t let us speak. I’ve been watching today. For the first time, I started watching and it’s really sad when you see people not allowed to ask questions. It’s totally — nobody has ever had such horrible due process. There was no due process. And I think it’s —

Q Republicans have been asking questions all day.

THE PRESIDENT: — I think it’s considered a joke all over Washington and all over the world. The Republicans are given no due process whatsoever. We’re not allowed to do anything. It’s a disgrace what’s happening. But you know what? The American public understands it. And that’s why the poll numbers are so good. And that’s why other things are so good. What they’re doing in Washington with that hearing — and, by the way, it’s a political process. It’s not a legal process.

So if I have somebody saying, I’m allowed to speak up. If somebody says about me, we’re not allowed to have any kind of representation, we’re not allowed to have almost anything. And nobody has seen anything like it. In the history of our country there has never been a disgrace like what’s going on right now. So, you know what? I — I have the right to speak. I have freedom of speech, just as other people do. But they’ve taken away the Republicans’ rights.

And I watched today, as certain very talented people wanted to ask questions, and they weren’t even allowed to ask questions — Republicans. They weren’t allowed to ask questions. It’s a very sad thing.

Go ahead.

Q Why did you attack her?

Q Sir, with your freedom, were you trying to intimidate Ambassador Yovanovitch?

THE PRESIDENT: I just want to have a total — I want freedom of speech. That’s a political process. The Republicans have been treated very badly. And I watched a little bit of it today. I wasn’t able to yesterday because we had the President of Turkey here, and I wasn’t able to watch much. I watched some of it this morning. I thought it was a disgrace.

When we have great Republican representatives — people elected by the people — and they’re not allowed to even ask a question, they’re not allowed to make a statement; we’re not allowed to have witnesses; we’re not allowed to have legal counsel, White House Counsel — it’s a disgrace and it’s an embarrassment to our nation.

Q Do you believe your tweets and your words can be intimidating, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes — go ahead, please.

Q Sir, do you believe your tweets and words —

THE PRESIDENT: Quiet. Quiet.

Q — can be intimidating, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Quiet. Please.

Q Sir, do you believe your tweets and words can be intimidating?

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think so at all.

Go ahead.

Q Mr. President, do you think you’re going to get impeached?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I shouldn’t be. In fact, I thought, last night, it ended. Because last night, I was in Louisiana, where we’re going to hopefully elect a great governor — a Republican governor. And I was getting off the plane, and they handed me a statement that was just made by the Foreign Minister and President of the Ukraine.

And Ukraine — they came out loud and clear that there was no linkage whatsoever, not even a little bit. And you saw it. You all saw it. I said, “Oh, well, that ends the impeachment.” And you people don’t even report it.

Look, the press is unbelievably dishonest. That was a major statement put out last night by the Foreign Minister of Ukraine and also by the President of Ukraine, and you don’t even report it. It’s a disgrace. Because it’s sad. There was absolutely no linkage. We had a perfect conversation.

And I also, because of transparency — whether it’s medical transparency or just transparency, generally — I also put out, today, a statement. And in the statement, we released — and then Congressman Nunes read — a call that I had with the President of Ukraine. And it was a great call. It was a very nice call. Everybody said it was perfect. I always say it was equally as good as the other call.

And I put it out today, and nobody even wants to report it. Because it was so good, they don’t want to report it.

Look, if we had an honest press in this country, we would be so well served. And you know what? When I look at your approval numbers, they’re the worst they’ve ever been in the history of our country. The media, the approval numbers — they are horrible. And you ought to get yourself back and you ought to put yourself back in a position where people respect the media again.

And I know some great journalists, I know some great people in the media, but there aren’t enough of them. There’s a lot of dishonesty. And many of you, I just consider members of the Democrats, and it’s a shame.

Okay. Thank you all very much. Thank you. (Applause.)

END 2:47 P.M. EST


Jim Jordan and Elise Stefanik Lead a Republican Press Conference….

Representatives Jim Jordan (OH) and Elise Stefanik (NY) delivered some of the most powerful congressional questioning today during day-two of the House impeachment hearings.  At the conclusion of the hearing the two leaders were joined by Republican members for a press briefing.  WATCH:

It is clear why Jim Jordan was added to the GOP team for the impeachment hearings. Additionally, Ms. Stefanik is not only a sharp representative, her disposition has made her the greatest threat to the Pelosi, Schiff and Lawfare impeachment effort.

Jim Jordan:


Elise Stefanik



Ms. Yovanovitch opening statement is in direct contradiction to her testimony under oath. 

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Secretary Wilbur Ross Discusses Status of China Deal, 5G Tech and USMCA Ratification…

Earlier today Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appeared for an interview with Maria Bartiromo on the status of phase-one for the U.S-China trade deal, Huawei and ZTE national security concerns, and Speaker Pelosi blocking ratification of the USMCA agreement.

Secretary Ross cautions the Chinese deal is contingent on some very particular and important enforcement details. Additionally Ross discusses the potential national security issues with 5G network and AG Bill Barr having strong concerns about Huawei and ZTE.

Lying to Congress – Marie Yovanovitch Was Prepped by Obama Administration About Issues With Hunter Biden and Burisma…

Representative Elise Stefanik brought to light interesting information today surrounding how the Obama administration was concerned about issues surrounding Vice-President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his connection to a corrupt Ukraine company Burisma.  This revelation directly contradicted the Yovanovitch opening statement.

During questioning Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch admitted the Obama White House spent time briefing her on how to respond to congress if questions about Hunter Biden and Burisma were raised.  This testimony highlights the concerns by the Obama administration about a clear issue with the Biden family and corrupt Ukraine interests.


This admission by former Ambassador Yovanovitch directly contradicted her testimony that was made only minutes before the admission.  From her opening statement:

[Yovanovitch Opening Statement November 15th, Page #8]

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Contrary to her opening statement, former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch later admitted under questioning that Obama-Biden officials prepared her to answer questions about Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma during her 2016 confirmation hearing.

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Roger Stone Convicted on All Seven Counts – Sentencing in February, Faces 20 Years in Federal Prison…

Following a week-long trial a federal jury in Washington, D.C., has convicted Roger Stone, 67, on five felony counts of lying to investigators, one of obstructing a congressional probe and one of witness tampering. Sentencing will be February 6th, 2020.  [Article]

Judge Berman Jackson has kept the gag order on Roger Stone barring him from discussing his conviction until he is remanded to federal prison next year.

(IG Report Outlining Andrew McCabe Conduct – pdf)