Mark Meadows: Ryan, McConnell ‘Can Probably Keep Their Jobs’ if They Execute President’s Agenda During Critical September Window

By Alexander Bolton and Scott Wong  |  23 Aug 2017

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) is warning that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “could lose their jobs” if they fail to deliver President Donald Trump’s campaign promises, according to The Hill’s Alexander Bolton and Scott Wong.

Republicans infighting between moderates and conservatives is “at the brink of breaking out into open warfare” just ahead of a critical month for Congress and Trump’s agenda.

During a rally Tuesday night, Trump threatened a government shutdown over funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall, as tensions between Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continue to escalate.

From The Hill:

The Republican Party is at the brink of breaking out into open warfare with itself after months of straining to keep its internal divisions under control.

After shaking up his own leadership team out of frustration with its performance, Trump is firing warning shots at Capitol Hill and openly criticizing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Speaking at a rally in Phoenix Tuesday evening, Trump ramped up pressure on congressional leaders to deliver on one of his top campaign promises: a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he told the crowd.

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who was close to Trump during the 2016 campaign, is warning that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and McConnell could lose their jobs if they fall short on tax reform and funding the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“Bottom line: if Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell can get the president’s agenda done, they can probably keep their jobs,” Meadows said in an interview.

“If Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell can’t get the president’s agenda done, I don’t know that they get to keep theirs, nor do I know if I get to keep mine. We’ve got to deliver. It’s critically important we do that in a way that conservatives have long espoused,” he said.

GOP leaders, meanwhile, are scrambling to deflect blame.

Ryan is highlighting the number of bills the House GOP has passed, a tacit complaint that it is the Senate where Republican legislation is dying.

The House is focused on getting the Republican agenda executed, Ryan said at a town hall event on Monday.

“I wish I could say the Senate was moving as fast. Of the 300-plus bills we passed out of the House, 260 are still sitting in the Senate,” Ryan said. “So we got a ways to go. And we’ve got to get more work done.”

McConnell, behind the scenes, has been critical of Trump, who has unleashed a torrent of controversies since moving into the White House. In an explosive story published Tuesday, The New York Times reportedthat McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty over whether Trump can salvage his presidency.

Tensions between McConnell and Trump are at a boiling point.

Trump yelled at McConnell in a profanity-laced phone call on Aug. 9, during which he blamed the GOP leader for failing to pass a ObamaCare repeal bill and for not curbing congressional investigations into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, according to The Times.

Trump has also taken shots in recent weeks at Republicans who oppose his agenda, namely Arizona Sens. John McCain, who voted against the healthcare bill, and Jeff Flake, who disagrees with him on trade and immigration.

The president complained at the Phoenix rally that the ObamaCare repeal bill fell one vote short of advancing, a clear reference to McCain, and attacked Flake as “weak on borders, weak on crime,” without naming him specifically.

All of the friendly fire comes after one of the most difficult weeks of Trump’s presidency, in which he came under fire for saying both sides deserved blame for the violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacists and those protesting them clashed.

And it comes ahead of a difficult month for Republicans that promises to divide them further.

Republicans must approve legislation raising the nation’s borrowing limit by Sept. 29, a battle that appears set to pit conservatives such as Meadows against both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who wants a clean debt bill, and congressional GOP leaders, who are inclined to go along with him.

The administration says Congress should approve a “clean” hike to the borrowing limit, while conservatives want to add provisions to cut or restrict future spending.

“Why would we put a clean debt ceiling increase with absolutely no reforms whatsoever on the desk of a Republican president when we wouldn’t even do that with a Democratic president?” conservative Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) told The Hill on Tuesday.

Congress also must approve legislation to keep the government funded to prevent a shutdown by the end of September.

Most Republican lawmakers want to avoid a shutdown, but Trump has suggested it could be helpful to have one. He also sees the government-funding bill as a way to secure funds for the border wall — a proposal that is backed by Ryan but has its critics in the GOP.

All Republicans are facing pressure to score some wins this fall.

After Republicans won control of both Congress and the White House, Ryan vowed to go big and bold.

“The opportunity is now here. The opportunity is to go big, go bold and to get things done for the people of this country,” he said.

Yet besides the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, GOP leaders have accomplished little on Trump’s wish list during his first 200 days in office.

The lack of progress has been felt in the West Wing, where chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Stephen Bannon and press secretary Sean Spicer have all lost their jobs.

The question looming over Congress is whether the axe will start falling on Capitol Hill after another half-year of legislative disappointments.

No Republican in the House has the support to defeat Ryan, and Meadows is not putting himself forward as a candidate.

Ryan and Meadows also speak frequently, and the Freedom Caucus leader was careful to note that he himself could be replaced if there are not successes this fall.

A Ryan spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

But a top House GOP source said the lower chamber has passed a number of bills this year with little media coverage or fanfare. Many of those, including bills overhauling ObamaCare, the Dodd-Frank law and partial funding for Trump’s border wall, have been ignored by the Senate, the source said.

House Republicans have created a website to highlight their work during the first seven months of the Trump administration: Didyouknow.gop.

In the Senate, McConnell appears safe. Republican lawmakers largely rallied to his defense after Trump tweeted criticism of their leader.

McConnell’s allies say he has rock-solid support in the Senate GOP conference. Even after the contentious healthcare debate, which left a few senators — such as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) — frustrated over the process, no one openly called for him to step down.

Similarly, Trump’s attacks on Flake, who is up for reelection next year, have not gone over well with the GOP conference.

A McConnell spokesman declined to respond on the record.

Still, there’s no question Republicans are feeling the heat.

The Times reported Tuesday that Trump and McConnell have not spoken to each other in the weeks since the president punched back at McConnell for suggesting he had “excessive expectations” about the legislative process.

TAGS MITCH MCCONNELL STEVEN MNUCHIN RON JOHNSON JOHN MCCAIN JEFF FLAKE PAUL RYAN

UN criticizes Trump for ‘failure’ to unequivocally condemn racist speech

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) has said that the US leadership failed to unconditionally condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville and across the country.

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The body has criticized the US “failure at the highest political level to unequivocally reject racist violent events,” the UN said in a statement Wednesday.

Under its “early warning and urgent action” procedure, the committee has called on US leaders to clearly “condemn racist hate speech and crimes in Charlottesville and throughout the country.”

CERD also called on the US government to “ensure that the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are not exercised with the aim of destroying or denying the rights and freedoms of others.”

Although the statement does not mention President Donald Trump by name, it appears to refer to his initial response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, where white supremacists clashed with counter-protesters.

One woman was killed and 19 people were injured when a car driven by an alleged white supremacist slammed into a group of counter-protesters later in the day.

Before the fatal incident, Trump called the fighting an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” including the counter-protesters armed with bats, sticks and pepper spray. Trump later condemned white supremacists but maintained that there was “blame on both sides” for the violence, sparking further media outrage.

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At his rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Wednesday, the president accused the media of misreporting his remarks about Charlottesville and ignoring the parts where he condemned the white supremacists.

“I hit ‘em with neo-Nazi,” he said. “I hit ‘em with everything. I got the white supremacist, the neo-Nazi. I got ‘em all in there. Let’s see. KKK? We have KKK. I got ‘em all. So they’re having a hard time. So what did they say, right? ‘It should have been sooner. He’s a racist,’” Trump said at the rally.

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Last week, five armed services chiefs — of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines and the National Guard Bureau — issued statements condemning racism and stating that diversity makes their forces stronger.

“In no way can we accept or apologize for racism, bigotry, hatred or violence,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last Wednesday.

“We condemn racism. We condemn bigotry in all of its forms. Racism is evil. It is antithetical to American values. It’s antithetical to the American idea,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated on Friday.

That day, all but one member of the President’s Committee to the Arts and Humanities resigned in protest over President Donald Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville.

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A number of business executives had earlier left the president’s advisory councils for the same reason. Trump then announced that he was disbanding the councils.

“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump tweeted.

*(FROM THE RELIGION OF PEACE) – Imam suspected of organizing Spain attacks avoided deportation, was labeled ‘no threat’ – reports

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The Moroccan man who allegedly instigated the attacks in and around Barcelona last week escaped expulsion from Spain in 2015 after serving a sentence for drug trafficking, local media report. The imam posed “no real threat,” the judge ruled back then.

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Albdelbaki Es Satty, one of the deceased members of the Islamist cell which is said to have carried out the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, was ordered to leave Spain in 2014 at the end of his jail term for drug trafficking, according to El Mundo, which obtained access to judicial documents.

Two members of that cell called Es Satty the key organizer of the plot, as the four surviving suspects gave statements at the high court in Madrid on Tuesday.

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Although Es Satty’s role is yet to be defined, Catalan police chief Joseph Lluis Trapero indicated that investigators are working on a hypothesis that the imam radicalized the group’s members, La voz de Galicia reports. Earlier, however, a police spokesperson said they “can’t compromise evidence or leads, or give unreliable information” concerning Es Satty.

The Moroccan-born preacher was detained in 2010 on charges of committing crimes against public health, and was sentenced to four years and one month behind bars. He served time from 2012 to 2014, El Mundo reports, without detailing why the term was reduced.

According to Spanish media, during his time at the Castellon prison, Es Satty made contact with Rachid Aglif, one of the jihadists behind the Madrid train bombings in 2004.

Shortly after being released from prison, Es Satty was ordered by the local authorities to leave Spain and was banned entry for five years, based on the Aliens Act, which allows the deportation of foreigners charged with willful misconduct and who are serving custodial sentences of more than a year.

Es Satty’s lawyer appealed the decree, however, stating it would infringe the defendant’s international rights. The judge, Pablo de la Rubia, sided with the appeal and ruled that the Moroccan was no danger and showed “efforts of integrating into Spanish society,” despite being charged with a serious offense, El Mundo reports.

READ MORE: Barcelona attack suspect reveals bigger attack with explosives was planned

The Moroccan imam died in an accidental blast in a house in Alcanar, where the cell allegedly tried to manufacture explosives a day before the attacks.

In 2016, the Belgian authorities requested information from the Spanish security forces on whether Es Satty had links with Islamist terrorism after suspicions emerged during his stay in the Belgian city of Vilvoorde that year, El Pais reports, citing the city’s mayor, Hans Bonte.

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The head of Vilvoorde’s mosque voiced his concerns after Es Satty “turned up unannounced and said he wanted to be an imam because he had no future in Spain,” Bonte says.

According to the official, the Spanish authorities replied that there was no indication of Es Satty being engaged in radical Islam. Both Belgian and Spanish authorities refused to comment to El Pais, only saying that the imam’s background wasn’t suspicious and they don’t normally share sensitive intelligence.

Es Satty is also believed to have traveled to France on several occasions to take “courses” on bomb-making, La Razon reports.

During Tuesday’s hearing in Madrid, one of the suspected assailants, Mohamed Houli Chemlal, admitted the group planned a larger attack with explosives, according to media citing unnamed judicial officials. On Wednesday, police revealed they had found a belt with real explosives at the house in Alcanar, as well as more than 100 butane canisters, 500 liters of acetone and nails, as AP reports.

READ MORE: Terror timeline: How attacks unfolded in Barcelona & Cambrils

On Thursday, a rented van careened through the crowds at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100. Another man was stabbed to death, as the alleged driver, Younes Abouyaaqoub, made his escape on foot. Just hours later in Cambrils, five other men drove their car into pedestrians and went on a stabbing spree, leaving one woman dead.

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It is not the first time a person with a criminal record has escaped deportation, only to appear later as a suspected terrorist having slipped off the radar of law enforcement.

In a similar case, the perpetrator of the Berlin attack last year, Anis Amri, faced deportation from Italy and Germany, but a lack of necessary papers impeded the procedures. With authorities apparently being warned about a possible threat, the Tunisian drove a truck into crowds at a Christmas market, killing 12 people and injuring dozens of others.

Elsewhere, more than 40 convicted terrorists remain in the UK, as they continue to evade deportation to their home countries through the Human Rights Act, according to the Telegraph, citing an unpublished report by the Home Office. Among them is Baghdad Meziane, convicted of funding Al-Qaeda, who remains in Britain due to fears of being tortured in his native Algeria.Safety fears prevented two others from being removed, including Ismail Abdurahman and Siraj Yassin Abdullah Ali, who were convicted of aiding the London bombings in 2005.