Kellogg Replaces Flynn Who Resigns as National Security Advisor

On February 13th, General Michael Flynn resigned as National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump over his phone talks with the Russian ambassador, according to the latest White House documents released. Media reports from leaked information accuse Flynn of allegedly discussing the U.S. sanctions with Russia before Donald Trump took office. He is said to have misled officials about his call with Russia’s ambassador before his own appointment, BBC reported.

Under the law, private citizens cannot conduct US diplomacy. It is an illegal activity, BBC reported, citing U.S. code for Private correspondence with foreign governments.

“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both,” according to the law.

Initially, Flynn denied having discussed sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak. According to other media reports, the White House had been warned by the justice department about Flynn misleading senior officials and being vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Flynn, in his letter of resignation, said he had “inadvertently briefed the vice-president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador.”

The White House announced that it has named Lt. Gen Joseph Keith Kellogg as Flynn’s interim replacement.

Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin does not want to comment on Flynn’s resignation. “This is the internal affair of the Americans, the internal affair of the Trump administration,” Peskov said. “It’s nothing to do with us.”

However, some Russian lawmakers have defended Flynn. Senator Alexei Pushkov said on Twitter that Flynn had been “forced to resign not because of his mistake but because of a full-fledged aggressive campaign”. He tweeted that “Trump is the next target”.

Flynn advocated for a softer policy on Russia. He was criticized by democrats and questioned were raised for his perceived closeness to Moscow. Senior Democrat Adam Schiff said that Flynn’s departure would not end questions about contacts between Trump’s election win and Russia. Congressional democrats John Conyers and Elijah Cummings want the justice department and FBI to give a classified briefing to Congress on Flynn.

“We in Congress need to know who authorized his actions, permitted them, and continued to let him have access to our most sensitive national security information despite knowing these risks,” the democrats said in a statement.

Trump Meets Big Pharma, Signs Executive Order Reducing Regulations, Regulatory Costs

On January 31st, President Donald Trump met with major pharmaceutical company executives, and signed an executive order on reducing regulation and controlling regulatory costs, the White House said in a press statement.

The president had a meeting with executives from Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Celgene, Amgen, Eli Lilly, and the PhRMA trade group. The meeting was also attended by Greg Walden, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Trump praised pharmaceutical firms’ efforts to cut drugs prices. But he also insisted that there is more work to be done in the pricing area. The president promised to continue reducing the burdensome regulations that raise the cost of doing business in the United States.

The president signed the executive action, titled Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Cost, during the last week. The main purpose of this order is “to manage the costs associated with the governmental imposition of private expenditures required to comply with Federal regulations.”

“It is the policy of the executive branch to be prudent and financially responsible in the expenditure of funds, from both public and private sources. In addition,… it is essential to manage the costs associated with the governmental imposition of private expenditures required to comply with Federal regulations,” the order states.

The order outlined two key changes. First, it requires that, for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations must be identified for elimination, and that the “cost of planned regulations is prudently managed and controlled through a budgeting process.” There will be a cap on the cost of new regulations. The total incremental cost of all new regulations, including eliminated regulations, to be finalized this year should be $0.

The order also requires the director of the Office of Management and Budget to provide the heads of agencies with guidance on implementing this policy change.

For the fiscal year 2018, and for each fiscal year thereafter, the head of each agency will identify, for each regulation that increases incremental cost, the offsetting regulations and provide the agency’s best approximation of the total costs or savings associated with each new regulation or repealed regulation.

Moreover, no regulations exceeding the agency’s total incremental cost allowance will be allowed in that fiscal year, unless required by law or approved in writing by the director. The total incremental cost allowance may allow an increase or require a reduction in total regulatory cost.

The order does not include regulations issued with respect to a military, national security, or foreign affairs function of the United States; regulations related to agency organization, management, or personnel; or any other category of regulations exempted by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

President Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch to Replace Scalia on Supreme Court

President Donald Trump on January 31 announced that Neil Gorsuch is his nominee for the Supreme Court. He has been selected for the position of Associate Justice to replace the late Justice Scalia.

Gorsuch is a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, Colorado. He was appointed in 2006 to the 10th Circuit by then-President George W. Bush.

Gorsuch’s nomination was sent to the Senate on Feb. 1. If confirmed, he will replace Scalia who died last year. At 49, Gorsuch is the youngest Supreme Court nominees, and, if confirmed, he would be the youngest sitting Supreme Court justice since Clarence Thomas. Additionally, he would be the first Protestant on the court since John Paul Stevens’s retirement in 2010.

Gorsuch is a graduate of Columbia, Harvard, and Oxford. He served as the U.S. Department of Justice as the principal deputy associate attorney general in 2005. He assisted in managing major aspects of the agency’s work in areas such as constitutional law, counterterrorism, environmental regulation, and civil rights.

From 1995 to 2005, Gorsuch worked as an associate and partner at the law firm of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, PLLC. He also clerked for Justice Byron White and Justice Kennedy of Supreme Court of the United States and Judge David Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Gorsuch attended Harvard Law School as a Harry Truman Scholar and graduated with honors in 1991. He graduated with honors from Columbia University in 1988, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After law school, he attended Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar and received his Doctorate in Philosophy in 2004.

“Judges should instead strive, if humanly and so imperfectly, to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be,” Gorsuch said in his speech at Case Western Reserve University.

He also published a book titled The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in 2006. He opposed assisted suicide, stating that “all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

In related news, Gorsuch criticized Trump’s tweet targeting federal district court judge James Robart. A spokesman of the Supreme Court nominee confirmed to The Guardian that Gorsuch called the president’s tweet “disheartening and demoralizing.” He criticized the president’s remark on the judiciary in a private meeting with Senator Richard Blumenthal, the spokesman said.

However, Trump said that reported comments from his Supreme Court nominee were misrepresented.

Protests at Berkeley Stop Conservative Speech from Milo

A talk by Milo Yiannopoulos scheduled on the 1st of February at UC Berkeley ended up in a protest by hundreds of students. A crowd of more than 1500 students gathered outside the UC Berkeley campus. Protesters were against Milo’s speech in UC Campus. They started breaking windows, throwing smoke bombs in campus and sparked bonfire outside the building. Due to safety concerns by the crowd gathered for the event, UC Berkeley canceled the event two hours before the event started.

Milo’s visit to UC Berkeley was sponsored by the campus Republican club. Mr. Yiannopoulos after the cancellation of an event told to Fox news, “obviously it’s a liberal campus so they hate any conservatives who dare to express an opinion on their campuses.” Further, Milo added, “They particularly don’t like me.”

Nicholas Dirks, UC Vice Chancellor gave his statement in Berkeley news, “What happened tonight was very unfortunate.”

Dirks added to his statement, “It was against the fundamental values of the university. We are and will remain in favor of free speech as essential to the educational mission and a vital component of the identity of the University of California.” For more information, see Berkeley’s statement here: http://news.berkeley.edu/2017/02/02/campus-condemns-violence-defends-free-speech/

Dan Moulof, the university spokesperson said, “They were a small group of Hijackers in black masks, who were breaking windows and throwing smoke bombs.”

Protest organizer Yvette Felarca described, “The actions of protestors were of self-defense. She said we have the right to save ourselves.”
She further added “Shutting down the Milo was necessary. And we can do anything to shut him down.”

Margo Bennet, Police chief UC Berkeley stated, “a small group of protestors started throwing smoke bombs and flares. These protestors were wearing black hooded sweatshirts.”

Bennet said “at some time they were unable to guarantee the security and canceled the event. The spokesperson was evacuated from the building”.

The protest prompted President Trump’s views on free speech. Mr. Trump wrote a tweet questioning the university on handling this incident. He also threatened to cut off school’s federal funds.

He tweeted “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

A spokesman for the Berkeley College Republicans, Pieter Sittler said, “The Republican club off campus does not support everything that Milo says.”

Pieter further added, “Milo gives voice to the repressed conservative thought on American colleges.”

Pranav Jandhyala, a student eyewitnesses the incident and said, “It’s horrible; it’s disgusting what’s going on. It’s one thing to protect someone’s right to come here and speak, but it’s another thing to create this much amount of destruction and violence.”

Colin Duke, another student said “I just came to see if I could get into the Milo event. I support free speech. And it just got canceled by a bunch of people in black clothes.”