The law repairs the Department of Veterans Affairs government agency that provides health care and other services to millions of U.S. veterans. The bill was prompted by a scandal at the Phoenix VA medical center where some veterans died waiting for care while on secret wait lists and some were prescribed the wrong medications.
A VA accountability measure passed the House in 2014 but it met its fate in the Senate while former-President Barack Obama threatened to veto the bill if it went to his desk, siding with the unions that represent VA employees.
Pete Hegseth, a U.S. Army veteran and co-host of Fox News Channel’s top-rated morning show “Fox & Friends,” collaborated on the VA accountability bill over several years to ensure veterans receive the care they deserve without lengthy weight times and poor health care caused by government bureaucracy.
What’s In the Law:
The legislation would cut the 30-day advance notice to 10 days. It advances the appeals process that employees use to appeal any disciplinary action against them. It also reduces the evidentiary standards required to terminate an employee and it allows the VA secretary to recoup bonuses and relocation expenses in certain situations.
“Under the current disciplinary process, it takes an average 51 days to remove an employee, largely due to a 30-day notice period,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin.
It also allows the VA secretary to directly appoint directors to lead VA hospitals and integrated service networks, instead of going through lengthy hiring processes. There are approximately 350,000 employees in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
True to the law’s name, it will give protection to employees who disclose poor practices and criminal activity at VA hospitals.
On March 30, Fox News reported on retaliation at the Missouri VA in which Dr. Dale Klein was punished for speaking out about long wait times at the VA hospital. Dr. Klein, a highly rated pain management specialist at the Southeast Missouri John J. Pershing VA, is being paid $250,000 a year to sit in his office and do nothing. The government prevented him from seeing veteran patients in need after serving our country because the doctor revealed sinful practices at the Missouri VA.
Stars and Stripes published a story on June 21 about U.S. Army Veteran Mike Verardo who lost a leg and an arm in an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2010. After receiving treatment at military hospitals, which included over 100 surgeries, he returned home in 2013, but “waited 57 days for his prosthetic to be repaired, with no backup, and even longer for a neurological appointment.”
Sergeant Verardo and his wife, Sarah, were present for Friday’s signing at The White House and was introduced by Secretary Shulkin. Verardo shared his emotional story at the East Room podium and thanked President Trump for his leadership in listening and acting on veterans’ needs. Verardo criticized the Obama Administration for turning a blind eye to soldiers who returned to the U.S.
President Trump gave Mr. Verardo the pen he used to sign the bill into law.
The Verardos sat in Mr. Trump’s VIP box with the Trump family during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July. The New York Times featured Verardo in a story about vets who supported Trump for president.
In 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes. Some sources suggest that this rate may be undercounting suicides.
In 2014, an average of 20 veterans died from suicide each day. 6 of the 20 were users of VA services, according to Veterans Affairs. Vets accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults in 2014, while veterans constituted 8.5 percent of the U.S. population. In 2010, Veterans accounted for 22 percent of all deaths from suicide and 9.7 percent of the population.
There is continued evidence of high burden of suicide among middle-aged and older adult veterans. In 2014, approximately 65 percent of all vets who died from suicide were aged 50 years or older. There’s also a correlation between age of veterans and homelessness that is on the rise.
President Trump Keeps His Promise:
As a candidate, Mr. Trump promised to fire VA employees “who let our veterans down.” Secretary Shulkin has touted the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act bill.
“So to every veteran who is here with us today, I just want to say two very simple words: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You are the warriors and heroes who have won our freedom and we will never forget what you have done for all of us, ever.” – President Donald J. Trump, The White House, June 23, 2017
The bill cleared the House last week by a vote of 368-55, and passed the Senate unanimously by a voice vote.
In April, President Trump signed bipartisan legislation, eliminating an expiration measure enacted by the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act. It ensures that veterans do not have to travel long distances to receive care at VA hospitals, and it expands the private-sector health program for vets. It also authorizes the sharing of certain medical records across the governmental and private sector health care systems. Mr. Trump promised that those who serve our country would be able to receive health care at any U.S. hospital – private or public – at the government’s expense and by signing this executive order, President Trump kept that campaign promise.
In June, President Trump approved a measure giving priority for federal grants to those federal and state law enforcement agencies that hire and train veterans.
According to CNN exit polls, veterans voted at a 2-1 ratio for Mr. Trump over Democrat opponent Hillary Clinton. In Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, battleground states rich with military history, several counties voted for Trump at higher numbers than GOP candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney had over former-President Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Featured Image: U.S. President Donald Trump holds up the bill after signing the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017, on June 23, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images)
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) is in critical condition after being shot in the hip while practicing baseball early Wednesday morning in Alexandria, VA for the next day’s Congressional charity game that is played annually at Nationals Park in the nation’s capital.
MedStar Washington Hospital Center tweeted about Scalise’s updated condition at 2:29 PM ET. Initial reports were that the Louisiana representative was stable.
Rep. Scalise was critically injured and remains in critical condition. The other patient is in good condition.
“This is a result, I believe, of political rhetorical terrorism. That has to stop,” Rep. Davis said.
“We have to have unity in this country. We are the United States of America. We are great,” Davis said. “We have to bind together as Americans, not as Republicans and Democrats.”
Rep. Ron DeSantis, (R-FL), told Fox News as he walked to his car, a man asked him if it was Republicans or Democrats on the baseball field. About 3 minutes later, at about 7:15 AM, the shooting began, DeSantis said. The shooting reportedly lasted about 10 minutes with Congressmen and Congresswomen and staffers taking cover in the first base dugout.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) told Fox News he “felt like I was in Iraq, but without my weapon.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) described, in excruciating detail, his perspective of the harrowing experience on “The Fox News Specialists,” after calling into “Fox & Friends” as the situation unfolded.
Hodgkinson’s Facebook profile’s background photo is a portrait of Sanders and the profile picture states, “Democratic Socialism explained in 3 words: ‘We The People.'”
In one Facebook post, Hodgkinson called Trump a “traitor” and wrote “It’s time to destroy Trump & Co.”
Hodgkinson, who was once arrested for battery, subscribed to a Facebook group called “Terminate the Republican Party,” writing incendiary, vitriolic posts about Republicans.
Partisan Death Threats
Multiple members of Congress say they have received threatening emails and calls on Wednesday including an email to Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) that stated “one down, 216 to go” – a clear reference to the Republican members of Congress who were targeted Wednesday morning.
“Did you NOT expect this?” continued the email sent to the office of Rep. Tenney. “When you take away ordinary peoples very lives in order to pay off the wealthiest among us, your own lives are forfeit. Certainly, your souls and mortality were lost long before.”
Rep. Tenney’s office reported the email to Capitol Police.
Congressmen and Congresswomen from both sides of the political aisle have said they have received death threats.
Politically-Charged Drivel in the Wake of this Incident is Wrong
Longtime Clinton aide and Democratic strategist Virginia Governor Terry McAullife exploited the assassination attempt to push his gun control agenda.
“There are too many guns on the street. We lose 93 million Americans a day to gun violence. I’ve long talked about this; background checks, shutting down gun-show loopholes. That’s not for today’s discussion, but it’s not just about politicians, we worry about this every day for all of our citizens,” said McAullife.
Some liberals have been taking to Twitter in the aftermath calling for stricter gun laws. Illionois, where the shooter is from, has the strictest gun laws in the country and its City of Chicago is home to the most gang-related violence in the U.S.
Virginia: No background checks No licensing No registration No permit req’d for concealed carry of long guns Open carry long guns & handguns
Within moments of the shooting, unhinged liberal activists who claim to be tolerant celebrated the attack on Twitter with some labeling Rep. Scalise as a racist member of the Ku Klux Klan and inappropriately using the opportunity to attack the GOP’s healthcare plan.
So Rep. Steve Scalise, who once spoke at a white supremacist event sponsored by David Duke (google it) was SHOT today in Alexandria.
Other left-wing extremists described the shooting as an act of “karma” because of Rep. Scalise’s support for the National Rifle Association, saying, “The GOP deserves everything it has coming their way.”
I would feel bad for Scalise if he wasn’t a white supremacist. Karma is a bitch and the GOP deserves everything it has coming their way.
— PualBearersGhost (@Carichampionsoc) June 14, 2017
Another individual described the event as “karma for the gun loving right.”
HA @SteveScalise shot with an automatic weapon possibly an AK. STILL want everyone to have a gun? Karma for the gun loving right.
Griffin, who teaches Media Arts and Animation at the Art Institute of Washington, just outside of the nation’s capital, lambasted Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare on May, posting on Facebook his suggestion to shoot Republican House members.
Last month a professor called for the public assassination of the GOP house
Griffin used inflammatory language in another post referring to the GOP.
“Republicans are a f***ing joke and their voting block runs the gamit [sic] from monstrous to ignorant,” Griffin wrote.
Griffin apologized after her posts were reported in online media publications.
Our society should not accept the promotion of violence against anyone, including people with whom we strongly disagree.
Let’s be clear and blunt: This is the shooter’s fault, not the gun’s fault. He sought out GOP Congress members and Capitol Police, according to eyewitnesses.
Two Capitol Police officers, Krystal Griner and David Bailey – the first responders – were Scalise’s security detail; if the House Majority Whip was not present, this situation could have been a massacre in an open baseball field. The armed security detail saved lives.
The FBI is investigating the incident to determine if it was an act of terror and the defined motives of the shooter.
Let’s stand together as a nation on this Flag Day and seek better political discourse following this horrific incident. No political disagreement is worth anyone’s life. That is why vicious, incendiary “jokes” about assassinating President Trump, “blowing up the White House” (Madonna), threats against people for their political beliefs, Republicans being shunned and silenced on college campuses, and similar hostilities that have ramped-up after the election are heinous and should be investigated by the Secret Service and Homeland Security so it doesn’t inspire people to execute such acts.
“We may have our differences, but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country,” remarked President Trump.
God Bless Rep. Scalise and his family, all the victims, our law enforcement officers who save lives every day and the United States of America.
I came across an article in The New York Times this morning and I wanted to share it with you as a prime example of why people do not trust the mainstream media.
This utterly biased article centers around a Trump supporter in the media (yes, there are some but they aren’t treated kindly or with respect from so-called journalists), labeling him as a “conspiracy theorist.” The Times clearly does not like Jack Posobiec because he is a young man (33-years-old) with a different perspective and has been granted access to the The White House press briefings. Even Donald Trump Jr. reads his materials and Retweets Posobiec from time-to-time.
The article is dripping with condescension that only legacy media outlets should have access to the almighty press briefings and The People’s House that is supposed to represent a government of the people, by the people and for the people who are given First Amendment rights, including freedom of the press. Note that “freedom of the press” does not mean freedom of some press outlets. Freedom of speech does not mean only speech that agrees with a liberal, anti-Trump agenda.
Another example of this bias from the Sunday shows today is on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” where Stephanopoulos interviewed former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara. While it is tradition that U.S. attorneys offer their resignation when a new administration enters The White House, Bharara refused, taunting President Donald J. Trump to fire him as the Chief Executive ultimately did on March 11 after serving while Barack Obama was president.
Today, Bharara, in his first television interview since he was terminated, told Stephanopoulos, former White House communications director for former-President Bill Clinton, that ex-FBI Director James Comey’s leaking of his own memos to the media “sounds more like a distraction” than a legal issue. A man of the law is denying that leaking sensitive information is not legally questionable at least. This is absolute spin. When an FBI director is found to be a leaker, that is alarming. It is like a fireman who sets arson fires.
Bharara, without pushback, said there’s “absolutely evidence” to begin an obstruction of justice case against President Trump. The fact is, there is no evidence of obstruction. A former U.S. attorney should know better. The President has a different legal standard plus it is Comey’s word against Mr. Trump’s word. This is another sour grapes political actor who is seeking revenge after being fired for just reasons by President Trump.
To summarize The Times’ piece: Trump supporters are insane and need to be lectured and stopped (so much for free speech) and liberal activists are honest, working to destroy President Trump and his agenda for a just cause.
This “news” article is exactly what is wrong with the mainstream media today. They tell you “All the news That’s Fit to Print” their agendas, offering contempt in what reads like scolding lectures of what to believe and what not to trust, otherwise, you will be brainwashed by “right-wing” lunatics; however, brainwashing is exactly what some media outlets are doing by publishing this type of drivel.
They distract, like House and Senate Democrats, from the legislative agenda millions of Americans, from all walks of life and all parties and different ideologies, voted for on November 8, 2016 – repeal and replace of ObamaCare with a free market approach to healthcare, individual and corporate tax reform, repair of the crippling infrastructure, easing the regulatory burden on small businesses, cutting the deep state bureaucracy that works in their self-interest instead of the interests of the American people, enforcing immigration laws and keeping the nation safe from terror, putting American interests first and refusing to apologize for our strong stance on human rights and democracy, growing the economy and creating jobs for blue collar workers who have been left out of the labor force, taking care of our veterans and our soldiers who have sacrificed everything for our freedom, renegotiate trade deals to our benefit, moving towards energy independence, and nominate conservative justices to the Supreme Court and lower courts to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
Our democracy is founded on free speech and unity not political divisiveness that hurts our own, especially in today’s age of terror when radical jihadists seek vulnerabilities to infiltrate democratic nations and institute Sharia Law. And when peaceful protesters speak out against Sharia Law, the radical faction of Islam that indoctrinates and imposes the enslavement of women and persecution of homosexuals, Christians and Jewish people in some Muslim-majority nations such as Iran, Saudia Arabia and Qatar, leftists label protesters as having “Islamophobia.”
While one may not agree with everything President Trump or one’s family members, friends and acquaintances say, we should all be able to agree on the fact that we are blessed to be in a country in which we can have political disagreements without fear. The problem is, the hypocritical left, the snowflakes, have a gripe with free speech when they do not agree with someone’s political views. They spark riots on college campuses, places that are supposed to be beacons of debate and dialogue, in order to prevent people of different perspectives from speaking. These snowflakes believe it is their obligation to silence Conservatives and Trump supporters. That is un-American.
Former FBI Director James Comey testified in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and national television, on Thursday, providing insight into his side of the story as it relates to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s correspondence with President Donald J. Trump.
Comey divulged he leaked the memos he wrote about his conversations with President Trump to the media. He said he decided to leak his memos to the press via a third-party friend, a “professor at Columbia Law School,” later identified as Daniel Richman, after waking up in the middle of the night worried that his side of the story would not get out in the public sphere. The disgraced ex-FBI Director felt it was his obligation, like other Washington, D.C. political actors who leak, to release this information which is being debated as official, sensitive U.S. Government information and personal notes. This is also raising credibility concerns that Comey could have been leaking classified information throughout his tenure to fit a personal agenda, like politicians do anonymously to hurt political opponents or push a political narrative.
Comey said he hoped that by leaking his own memos a special counsel would be appointed. A special counsel, headed by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, was appointed by the Justice Department on May 17 to ensure independence over the investigation into Russia interference of the U.S. election. President Trump had fired Comey 8 days earlier.
According to Fox News sources and other media organizations, President Trump’s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz will file a complaint with the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s Office and the Senate Judiciary Committee after Comey said he leaked the private conversation he had with the Commander-In-Chief in order to prompt the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian interference. It is not clear whether Kasowitz will file the complaint, but it is expected.
During the hearing, Comey claimed that he never saw any memoranda regarding Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from all matters involving the investigation into Russian interference of the election and any possible relation with the Trump campaign. However, the Department of Justice released a statement Thursday evening accusing the ex-FBI head of providing false testimony. DOJ Spokesman Ian Prior wrote that Comey received an email on March 2, attached on the Justice Department site, “specifically informing Mr. Comey and other relevant Department officials of the recusal and its parameters, and advising that each of them instruct their staff ‘not to brief the Attorney General *** about, or otherwise involve the Attorney General *** in, any such matters described.'”
Ironically, the only thing that wasn’t leaked to media, as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) pointed out in the hearing, that was discussed in Comey’s testimony was that there has never been an investigation of Mr. Trump. Comey confirmed he told President Trump that he was not under investigation on three separate occasions, as Trump wrote in his letter of termination. Comey also established many media reports chronicling the investigation into Russia interference in the last U.S. election have been false.
As all intelligence chiefs have confirmed under oath, Comey reiterated that there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The ex-FBI Director also said, like all other intelligence officers, he never felt pressure to end the investigation. To the contrary, Comey revealed President Trump encouraged him to pursue the facts of whether or not Trump’s campaign officials communicated inappropriately and/or illegally with Russian officials. Mr. Trump wanted the investigation to be conducted independently, accurately and swiftly.
In 2004, Comey and Justice Department officials threatened to resign over a dispute about former President George W. Bush’s surveillance program. Comey said he never considered resigning from his post under the Trump Administration despite the “awkward” conversations and disagreements he had with the President – most of which has been publicized after Comey was fired.
The ex-FBI leader said former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, an Obama appointee, directed him to call the criminal investigation into 2016 Democrat Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server a “matter.” The FBI director reports directly to the attorney general and both serve at the pleasure of the president.
Comey made a public announcement on July 5, 2016 highlighting the crimes Mrs. Clinton committed but concluded that “no reasonable prosecutor” would take the case, relieving Attorney General Lynch of making a tough decision on prosecuting the Democratic nominee days after meeting with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, on the Phoenix tarmac while his wife was under a criminal investigation.
Despite his concerns about Obama Administration officials, Comey only took notes on Mr. Trump and did not pursue a special counsel appointment for the Clinton investigation.
240 Character Commentary and Analysis:
3.6 million Tweets were sent between 7 AM-1:30 PM ET, discussing former FBI Director Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Here, we compile a series of facts, intelligent comments, perceptive analyses and statements stemming from Thursday’s hearing in reverse chronological order, starting with President Trump’s reaction on Twitter on Friday morning.
Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication…and WOW, Comey is a leaker!
Former FBI Director James Comey says President Donald J. Trump never obstructed justice. ABC News reports exclusively that Comey “will stop short of saying Trump obstructed justice.”
On Thursday, it is expected the disgraced ex-FBI director will murk the waters without providing any evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia because he has testified under oath that there is none. Comey has also said, Trump and his team have not impeded the investigation.
And as a point of clarity: All intelligence officials and politicians from both parties have concluded there is no evidence of collusion or change of votes at the ballots on November 8, 2016.
Last July, Comey revealed the laws that Hillary Clinton broke by illegally using a private email server. He then went above his duty to say that “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue criminal charges. This abnormal press conference occurred three days after former Attorney General Loretta Lynch met President Bill Clinton on the Phoenix tarmac to discuss “grandkids.”
Lynch refused to recuse herself from the investigation, rather said she would take Comey’s recommendation, putting the onus of the Clinton investigations on someone who has inserted himself into the public political conversation since former President Barack Obama appointed him to the post.
President Trump fired Comey, which he has the unfettered Constitutional authority to do. What has followed has been a series of insider leaks and stories portraying Comey as a victim. The New York Times even published a report that Comey wrote memos contrary to his public testimony that allegedly shows Trump tried to influence the investigation. The Times did not even read the memos for itself, publishing unverified claims.
Now, House and Senate Intelligence Committees want to view all memos, if it exists, going back to the Obama Administration that could shed light on Comey’s decisions not to prosecute Clinton or pursue the IRS targeting scandal even leakers and any insight into Comey’s relationship with President Trump.
The long-term fallout from this entire politicization of intelligence is the lack of trust with our allies in terms of intelligence sharing that is essential to preventing terror attacks. A mantra in World War II is “loose lips sink ships,” meaning our intelligence is critical to our national security advantages. Leaking and politicizing intelligence will put us at a disadvantaged position to prevent attacks, even cyber, on our nation especially when it involves ongoing investigations. Furthermore, glorification of leaking will harm U.S. national security by encouraging more traitors to leak classified information for what they deem justifiable such as bringing down our President.
Featured Image Courtesy: Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images.