Jan 6th Comes into Focus

Jan 6th Comes into Focus 

Trump Says China ‘Biggest Winner’ of US National Defense Bill, Vows to Veto

December 13, 2020 Updated: December 13, 2020

President Donald Trump said that he will veto the defense bill that passed with bipartisan support in Congress last week.

“THE BIGGEST WINNER OF OUR NEW DEFENSE BILL IS CHINA!. I WILL VETO!” the president declared on Twitter on Dec. 13.

The Senate on Dec. 11 passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in an 84–13 vote, after the president said he would veto the measure. The House had earlier approved the bill by a 335–78 vote.

“I hope House Republicans will vote against the very weak National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which I will VETO,” the president wrote on Dec. 8. “Must include a termination of Section 230 (for National Security purposes), preserve our National Monuments, & allow for 5G & troop reductions in foreign lands!”

For months, the president has railed against Section 230, a federal law that provides blanket liability protections for social media and tech companies. Trump and Republicans have said the bill allows those companies to essentially make discretionary choices about what content should be allowed, adding that the companies have unfairly targeted conservatives.

The NDAA bill also doesn’t support Trump’s efforts to draw down troops in Afghanistan and Germany.

“Today, we passed the 60th annual National Defense Authorization Act,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said in a statement on Dec. 11 following its passage. “NDAA keeps America safe by giving troops a well-deserved raise, providing them with cutting-edge technology, [and] funding important defense projects.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said, “This legislation is a vital step in the process of funding America’s defense to provide protection for our country and care for our troops.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the bill will “keep our forces ready to deter China and stand strong in the Indo-Pacific,” and provides “more than $740 billion for the training, tools, and cutting-edge equipment that our service members and civilian employees need to defend American lives and American interests.”

One of those who voted against the measure, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), said he doesn’t support a bill that limits Trump’s actions in drawing down troops from Germany and Afghanistan.

Should Trump veto the bill, some lawmakers said they believe they will be able to override it.

“I think we can override the veto, if in fact he vetoes,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on Dec. 8. “I hope he does not veto, I hope he reconsiders. And I think he will get substantial pressure, advice (from Republicans) that, you know, you don’t want to put the defense bill at risk.”

House Votes to Override Trump’s Veto of 2021 Defense Policy Bill

December 28, 2020 Updated: December 28, 2020

The House voted late Monday to override President Donald Trump’s veto of a defense spending bill for 2021.

The override measure, passed by a 322-87 vote, is now headed to the Senate for consideration, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated that his chamber would vote on Tuesday to override Trump’s veto. The override would need a two-thirds majority to succeed.

“In the event that the president has vetoed the bill, and the House has voted to override the veto, the Senate would have the opportunity to process a veto override at that time,” McConnell previously said on Dec. 22.

The bill, the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), outlines the national security policy for the Department of Defense in 2021 and authorizes $740 billion in spending. It passed the House on Dec. 8 by a vote of 335–78, and later passed the Senate on Dec. 11 by a vote of 84–13.

Trump vetoed the bill on Dec. 23, saying that it fails to remove Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act, among other reasons. Section 230 provides blanket liability protections for social media and tech companies.

“Unfortunately, the Act fails to include critical national security measures, includes provisions that fail to respect our veterans and our military’s history, and contradicts efforts by my Administration to put America first in our national security and foreign policy actions,” the president said in a Dec. 23 statement. “It is a ‘gift’ to China and Russia.”

There’s no mention in the NDAA defense bill of Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act, he noted. Trump said the 1996 law “must be repealed,” as it facilitates “the spread of foreign disinformation online,” making it a “serious threat to our national security and election integrity.”

Both Republicans and Democrats have called for Section 230 to be repealed. Conservatives have said it enables social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook to make discretionary choices in censoring dissenting views, while some progressives have said the law fails to take “hate speech” posted on those platforms into account.

Trump, in his statement, noted that the NDAA doesn’t support his ability to “withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Germany, and South Korea.”

“Not only is this bad policy, but it is unconstitutional. Article II of the Constitution makes the President the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States and vests in him the executive power. Therefore, the decision regarding how many troops to deploy and where, including in Afghanistan, Germany, and South Korea, rests with him. The Congress may not arrogate this authority to itself directly or indirectly as purported spending restrictions.”

The House late on Monday also voted to increase COVID-19 relief direct payments from $600 to $2,000, a measure supported by the president.

Jack Phillips contributed to this report.

Follow Mimi on Twitter: @MimiNguyenLy

Zero Day

Zero Day


Senate Committee Plans First Federal Hearing on Election ‘Irregularities’

December 10, 2020 Updated: December 10, 2020

The Senate will hold a hearing next week on irregularities that took place during the 2020 presidential election.

“I am mindful that many of the issues that have been raised have been, and will continue to be, appropriately resolved in the courts. But the fact remains that a large percentage of the American public does not view the 2020 election result as legitimate because of apparent irregularities that have not been fully examined. That is not a sustainable state of affairs for our country,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

“The only way to resolve suspicions is with full transparency and public awareness. That will be the goal of the hearing.”

The committee will hold the hearing on Dec. 16. Additional details, including witnesses, will be made available next week. The hearing is not yet listed on the committee’s calendar.

According to officials, witnesses, whistleblowers, and data experts, some level of fraud and other irregularities occurred during the 2020 election. The level is disputed. Democrats and many officials argue it wasn’t enough to alter the election results, while President Donald Trump and Republicans say it does look like it was enough, considering how close the election was, according to the current results.

Epoch Times Photo
Gwinnett County workers begin their recount of the ballots in Lawrenceville, Ga., on Nov. 13, 2020. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has declared victory in the election but Trump and others are contesting results in key battleground states in court. The Epoch Times is not calling the race at this time.

Attorneys from Wisconsin and Nevada are among the witnesses who lawmakers will hear from, Johnson told Fox News’ “Hannity” on Wednesday. In Nevada, he said, 42,000 people voted twice and dead people voted, referencing charges made by Trump lawyers.

“We’re going to ask these questions, what about this truckload of ballots from Great Plains, New York, headed toward Philadelphia? How do you explain that type of thing? So we’re going to hold that hearing and we’re going to ask those questions and we’re going to ask for explanations. Because the American people deserve to know what happened,” he said.

“This is a terrible state of affairs that you have a great percentage of the American public that don’t view this election as legitimate, because the Democrats pushed the envelope; they did everything they could to make this a suspicious result.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), the ranking member of Johnson’s committee, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Lawyers for President Donald Trump
Lawyers for President Donald Trump and members of the Arizona Legislature hold a public hearing on election integrity in Phoenix, Ariz., on Nov. 30, 2020. (Mei Lee/The Epoch Times)

The Dec. 16 hearing will be the first at the federal level examining accusations of fraud and other irregularities. Hearings have been held in Georgia, Michigan, and Pennsylvania featuring poll workers, experts, and Trump lawyers on the matters.

Trump’s campaign is trying to convince state legislatures to take back the power to select electors in a bid to upend the current results, alleging that the level of fraud that occurred makes the atypical scenario necessary.

Johnson earlier Wednesday indicated he may support a secondary path to victory that would be triggered on Jan. 6, 2021, when a joint session of Congress is scheduled to count electoral votes.

A representative and two representative-elects are planning to file objections during the vote counting on that day. They need at least one senator to join them to make the objections legitimate, under congressional rules.

Johnson told reporters in Washington when asked if he’d challenge the results that it depends on what lawmakers find out.

Epoch Times Photo
Pro-President Donald Trump rally-goers during a “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington on Nov. 14, 2020. (Jenny Jin/The Epoch Times)

“I need more information. The American people need more information. I’m not ready to just close and slam the book on this thing and go ‘OK, let’s walk away from it,’” he said.

The Epoch Times reached out to the offices of all Republican senators and senators-elect to inquire whether the lawmakers had been in touch with the group planning to file objections, and whether they would consider joining them.

The only on-the-record response was from a spokeswoman for Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who referred to comments the senator made to reporters earlier this week.

Romney had called the planned objections “madness.”

“It would be saying, ‘Look, let’s not follow the vote of the people, let’s instead do it [sic] what we want.’ That would not be the way a democratic republic ought to work,” Romney added.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber

‘Bought by Beijing’: Pompeo Warns of China’s Threats to US Colleges

December 9, 2020 Updated: December 9, 2020


American colleges are becoming “hooked on Chinese Communist Party cash,” while Beijing works to siphon cutting-edge U.S. research to China, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned on Dec. 9.

“So many of our colleges are bought by Beijing,” Pompeo said during a speech at the Georgia Institute of Technology, outlining Beijing’s aggressive efforts targeting U.S. research institutions. He added that the Chinese regime’s influence on American academics and students jeopardizes academic freedom, as it seeks to suppress critical voices on campus.

“Americans must know how the Chinese Communist Party is poisoning the well of our higher education institutions for its own ends, and how those actions degrade our freedoms and American national security. If we don’t educate ourselves, if we’re not honest about what’s taking place, we’ll get schooled by Beijing,” Pompeo warned.

The state secretary cited a recent investigation by the Department of Education, which found that universities received almost $1.5 billion in contracts and gifts from China from 2014 to 2020.

“We cannot allow this tyrannical regime to steal our stuff to build their military might, brainwash our people, or buy off our institutions to help them cover up these activities,” Pompeo said.

He used the case of Vera Zhou to highlight Beijing’s influence on American colleges. Zhou, a U.S. resident, was a student at the University of Washington and also a Hui Muslim ethnic minority. While on a visit back to China in 2017, she was placed in a “reeducation camp” for five months after she was caught using virtual private network (VPN) software to circumvent China’s firewall and access the U.S. university’s website. Her mother and a Chinese rights activist pleaded with the university for help.

“But the University of Washington, a woman named Sarah Castro, head of the Federal Relations Office, said that the university wouldn’t help because of a multi-million dollar deal with China,” Pompeo said.

The university has previously denied that its relationship with China affected their actions on Zhou’s case.

Zhou was eventually released and allowed to return to the United States, “but no thanks to the University of Washington,” Pompeo said.

“What more bad decisions will schools make because they are hooked on Chinese Communist Party [CCP] cash? What professors will they be able to co-opt or to silence? What theft and espionage will they simply overlook?” he added.

The state secretary also said that institutions often censor themselves out of fear of offending China, adding that MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) wasn’t interested in hosting this speech, implying his “arguments might insult their ethnic Chinese students and professors.”

“You would think at freedom-loving places like Georgia Tech—and institutions and scholars all across the world, administrators, school faculty—would be more up in arms about the Chinese Communist Party’s outright theft and flagrant violation of freedoms that I’ve described, but we see it too seldom,” he said.

Silencing Dissent

Chinese students studying at American colleges are also targeted by Beijing, in what Pompeo described as a campaign of “repression.”

For instance, in 2017, Yang Shuping, a Chinese student at the University of Maryland, was pilloried on the Chinese internet after she praised “the fresh air of free speech” found in the United States but not enjoyed at home, during a commencement speech.

“She was so demonized and harassed by CCP propaganda outlets. I promise you, while I cannot tell you everything, that was no coincidence,” Pompeo said. Yang ended up apologizing for her remarks.

In another case in 2018, a Chinese student at Georgia University described being targeted by secret police, who pressured him to spy on other students who were critical of the CCP.

“They have harassed me repeatedly and asked me to give them information about the activities of overseas democracy activists and dissidents. They are particularly interested in the activities of Uyghurs and Tibetans,” the student told Radio Free Asia at the time.

Meanwhile, Chinese consulates control and fund Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSAs) “to keep tabs on students and to press pro-Beijing causes,” Pompeo said. CSSA chapters are present at more than 100 U.S. colleges.

Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes, which sit on dozens of American campuses, are also deployed to influence American students, professors, and administrators, the state secretary said.

The regime knows “that left-leaning college campuses are rife with anti-Americanism, and present easy targets for their anti-American messaging,” he added.

Tech Theft

Pompeo also referred to the case of professor Fei-Ling Wang, an academic specializing in China at Georgia Tech. Wang was detained and interrogated by Chinese security agents for two weeks while on a trip to China a few years ago. The agents wanted information about his research on China and his time teaching at the West Point military academy in New York, according to Pompeo.

“They thought they could intimidate him or perhaps recruit him because he’s ethnically Chinese,” Pompeo said.

The state secretary’s remarks underscore the Trump administration’s efforts at cracking down on Beijing’s attempts to steal American technology and influence academia.

In recent years, the Justice Department has brought charges against Chinese and American researchers over alleged intellectual property theft or for failing to disclose funding from China. Earlier this year, the former chair of Harvard University’s chemistry department was indicted on charges relating to lying about his ties to Chinese talent programs.

The State Department also designated the Confucius Institute U.S. Center in Washington as a foreign mission, recognizing its role in promoting CCP propaganda on American campuses.

Follow Cathy on Twitter: @CathyHe_ET
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