Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Monday, March 30, 2020
John Yoo, "Pandemic Federalism"
Large parts of the nation’s response can be undertaken only by the states.
As the nation enters its second month of the coronavirus pandemic, criticism of Trump’s lackluster response has reached a crescendo. In late February, House speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that the White House’s response was “opaque and often chaotic” and accused the administration of “playing politics” while “lives were at stake.” After Trump’s widely panned address to the nation last week, in which the president misdescribed his own policies, the White House and congressional leadership are now seeking to correct course with a $1 trillion stimulus bill.
But under our federal system, Washington, D.C., has only limited powers to respond to a pandemic. The Constitution grants the national government a limited set of enumerated powers. Stopping the spread of disease is not among them. Instead, Congress must resort for a cure to its powers to “regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states” and to tax and spend for “the common Defense and general Welfare.” Nor does the president possess any explicit power to protect health and safety. He instead must invoke his power to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” and to wield “the executive power” of the United States.
Under these powers, the federal government can play only a limited role in fighting the pandemic. It can bar those who might have the coronavirus from entering the United States or traveling across interstate borders. It can provide critical supplies, such as medical equipment, intensive-care units, and drugs. It can transfer money to states and cities or private entities, such as hospitals, to help pay for the costs. It can help disseminate information on the disease, fund research on a vaccine and cure, and coordinate the efforts of public and private institutions with guidance for best practices. While Washington, D.C., controls the national borders and regulates interstate traffic, such as the airlines and highways, that power can do little now that the coronavirus has reached every state.
Instead, under our constitutional system, the primary authority to fight the pandemic rests in the hands of our state governors, such as Gavin Newsom here in California and Andrew Cuomo in New York. States possess the “police power,” which gives them the authority to regulate virtually everything within their territory. As the Supreme Court has long recognized, the most compelling use of state power is to protect public health and safety. Under their police power, only the states can impose quarantines throughout an entire population, close institutions and businesses, and limit movement and travel. Only the states can impose the draconian shelter-in-place order that has brought the Bay Area’s economic and social activity to a complete halt.
Some might incorrectly analogize the pandemic to a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 or Hurricane Sandy in 2012, when presidents have sent in military troops to assist in mitigation and relief. But an epidemic is a different kind of challenge than a natural disaster. A hurricane or earthquake is fixed in time and space. Under federal laws, the president can flood the zone with personnel and resources, even troops, at the request of a state governor. But the government can no longer limit the pandemic to a fixed geographic location where a surge of federal resources can end the crisis. No federal agency has enough manpower to enforce a quarantine within a large state such as California or New York, not to mention the nation as a whole. The quickly spreading nature of the disease requires the full powers that only a state government, with all of its personnel and resources, can bring to bear on an entire population. The New York City Police Department, for example, has more sworn officers than the FBI’s entire workforce.
Our Constitution’s division of the authority may lead to a slow initial response, as Washington and the states jostle for authority or wait for the other to act. But that is by design. The Founders recognized that the states would exercise primary authority over most aspects of daily life, while the federal government would protect national security, conduct foreign relations, and handle truly national problems. The states have better information, can shape policies to local conditions, and can experiment on best practices. Some states may initially suffer while others succeed. But state diversity also introduces a resiliency in our system that makes it less likely that the nation will suffer from a failure by any single leader, such as the president.
Ironically, the pandemic therefore places Trump’s political future in the hands of his most dire rivals: Newsom, Cuomo, and the governors of other populous blue states. The president’s reelection this November depends on the nation’s success in responding to the pandemic. The very purpose of the presidency is to act quickly and decisively in the face of crisis. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 70, “energy in the Executive is a leading character in the definition of good government.” A successful executive, he observed, would display “decision, activity, secrecy, and dispatch.” Our greatest presidents, such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, pressed their constitutional power to the limits to confront crisis, emergencies, and war when others could not or would not act.
But in this case, Trump tarried while the pandemic began its deadly spread. The real saviors of the nation now will be different executives, those of the states. To the extent that their drastic responses force the pandemic to recede, they will end up saving Trump from his initial lack of executive leadership. It will be their success, or lack thereof, that will determine whether the country feels secure enough to reelect Trump or replace him with new leadership.
Sunday, March 22, 2020
Coronavirus, True Pandemic or Just the Latest Manufactured Excuse to Rob the Public Treasury and Bail Out Corporate Globalists?
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The coronavirus economic relief bill being finalized by the U.S. Congress will include a one-time $3,000 payment for families and allow the Federal Reserve to leverage up to $4 trillion of liquidity to support the nation's economy, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday.Would you double the national debt for a one-time $3,000 payment to YOUR family? I've got a feeling that the American taxpayer is once again being taken for a globalist ride.
Mnuchin, speaking on the "Fox News Sunday" television program, said the additional liquidity measures would allow the U.S. central bank to help a broad base of businesses to get through next 90 to 120 days.
Trump administration officials hoped to finalize the legislation on Sunday and see a vote on Monday, Mnuchin said, adding that further steps could be taken if the crisis did not abate in 10 to 12 weeks.
Mnuchin said the U.S. economy would clearly take a hit from the health crisis, but should rebound once the new coronavirus has been contained.
"We need to get the money into the economy now. If we do that, we think we can stabilize the economy," he said.
Nearly one in four Americans, or 80 million people, were under orders to close up shop and stay home as New York, California, Illinois, Connecticut and New Jersey instituted statewide lockdowns to try to contain the rapid spread of the highly contagious respiratory illness.
Mnuchin downplayed a question about a possible recession, calling it a "technical question" that was not "terribly relevant" in the current situation since the government was effectively shutting down large parts of the economy to slow the virus."
"When people focus on recessions, it's normally because of a prolonged economic environment," Mnuchin said. "This is a very unique situation that we've never had before. This is the government has self-imposed shutting down large parts of the economy. And as soon as we can get the medical situation under control, we're going to reopen it."
Mnuchin declined to comment specifically about a Washington Post report that the Trump administration did not act on repeated warnings about the potential impact of the coronavirus from the U.S. intelligence community, but said no one expected the crisis to escalate as quickly as it had.
"I don't think that anybody should second guess the government's actions," Mnuchin said. "This has been moving very quickly and I think we've responded appropriately."
Many critics have said the administration has been slow in both its preparation and response to the crisis as President Donald Trump for weeks played down the situation before changing his tone more recently.
Friday, March 20, 2020
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) unloaded upwards of $1.56 million in stock after receiving confidential briefings regarding the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
Burr, who is the senior senator from North Carolina and plans to retire in 2022, dumped thousand of dollars worth of stock on Feb. 13—less than a week before the stock market sharply dropped because of the coronavirus pandemic. The senator’s timely decision to sell, which was first reported by ProPublica, netted him between over $580,000 and $1.56 million.
Much of those shares are now worth a fraction of their price when Burr opted to sell. For instance, the prior investment Burr had in Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, which was worth upwards of $150,000, is now valued at two-thirds that price. Similarly, the nearly $100,000 worth of stock in Extended Stay America that Burr disposed of in February is now estimated to be worth over 50 percent less.
Those transactions, 29 in total, that Burr conducted came as the intelligence committee was receiving daily briefings on the spread of the coronavirus. During February, in particular, Burr and his colleagues on Capitol Hill were closely monitoring the situation unfolding.
It remains unclear if the senator was briefed on the growing pandemic directly or preceding his decision to sell. On the day in question, though, deaths resulting from the Coronavirus grew to more than 1,400, and the Centers for Disease Control warned the ailment could be spread from those not exhibiting symptoms—developments unlikely to have escaped the intelligence committee’s notice.
More troubling is that the senator’s private actions differed from his public statements on the coming pandemic. Less than a week before Burr shed investments likely to lose value because of the virus, the senator penned an op-ed urging voters to have trust in the federal government’s preparedness.
“No matter the outbreak or threat, Congress and the federal government have been vigilant in identifying gaps in its readiness efforts and improving its response capabilities,” Burr wrote with his colleague, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
The revelations come as the senator faces criticism for other private actions he took in the weeks leading up to the pandemic reaching crisis level. Most notably, Burr came under fire Tuesday after it emerged he’d warned North Carolina business leaders not to take the virus lightly during a closed door meeting in Washington, D.C.
“There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history,” the senator said on Feb. 27, according to a recording obtained by NPR. “It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”
Wednesday, March 18, 2020
Whether you are black, and have a 79 IQ, or white, and have a 79 IQ, you WILL be discriminated against. Nobody should say that you are "under-represented" amongst a population of neuro-surgeons. But if you are one to make such judgements based upon skin colour, national origin, or ethnicity alone, you are apt to be talking out of your ass. For there are also profound differences in group distribution of IQ amongst such factors, and you can infer nothing about a single individual's intelligence from their group's average IQ.
Sunday, March 15, 2020
Maryland Democrats advanced tax increases and a multi-billion dollar education bill Saturday as the public is barred from the statehouse and the legislative session is ending early due to the coronavirus.
The Maryland Senate gave preliminary approval Saturday to an education plan that would cost $4 billion annually to reform the state’s public school system. To fund the plan, Democrats gave preliminary approval to tax increases on tobacco products and digital downloading, a move Republicans said is unpopular, as the economy is expected to struggle in the coming months of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m shocked that Democrats are moving forward with taxes,” Maryland Senate Minority Leader J. B. Jennings told the Daily Caller. “Now is not the time to pass tax increases.”
The state legislature announced Sunday that it will be ending its session Wednesday in response to the coronavirus. Normally, the session is from January to April. The legislature announced Thursday that there would be no public gatherings at the statehouse, meaning lobbyists, activists, and concerned citizens are unable to attend hearings.
“We should be walking to the floor dealing with legislation about the coronavirus,” Maryland Senate Minority Whip Steve Hershey told the Daily Caller. “Either bring the public in or go into recess.”
Hershey called it “damaging” for the Democratic-led legislature to push through such an expensive plan during a state of emergency. He said the Senate is currently understaffed due to concerns over the coronavirus making it difficult to go over all the proposed amendments to the education plan.
Members of the Democratic leadership in the Maryland Senate did not respond for comment. Democrats have a veto-proof majority in the House of Delegates and Senate.
Marylanders gathered in Annapolis in early March to protest potential tax increases to fund the education plan.
The education plan, which was recommended by the Kirwan Commission, spends nearly $3 billion on raising teacher wages from the current mark of slightly under $70,000 to more than $90,000 by 2029. The proposal also increases funding for child services in poor communities and overall vocational training.
Five Maryland school districts ranked in the top 10 per-student spending in the country for fiscal year 2016. Baltimore city’s school system is currently the third highest funded per-student among the largest 100 districts in the nation despite ranking the third lowest in performance among the 21 largest systems.
Jennings said he’s “split” on the Senate Democrats’ decision to push through the legislation prior to the potential suspension of the statehouse. He said that there are some aspects of the bill that are needed but that the timing of such a historically expensive education bill could further damage the economy.
“They got the votes so they’re gonna do it,” he told the Caller. “I can’t stop the train. All I can do is steer it in the right direction.”
One aspect regarding the education proposal that Republican leadership expressed optimism in is the changes established in Senate committee hearings that altered the Maryland House of Delegates version of the bill that passed last week. These changes included setting financial and performance based expectations to ensure future funding of the education reforms.
“This is different than the House bill,” Hershey told the Caller. “The most important issue was that we were fairly successful in making changes through the committee process.”
The third reading for the Kirwan plan is scheduled for Sunday and is expected to pass.
Hershey said the majority leadership had “misplaced priorities” when deciding to focus on the Kirwan recommendations in recent weeks rather than Gov. Larry Hogan’s crime bill package that was largely rejected.
Gov. Hogan released a statement Friday encouraging the legislature to focus on passing the budget, confirming his appointee for superintendent of the Maryland State Police, and passing emergency legislation to address the coronavirus.
Peter Franchot, the Maryland Democratic Comptroller and leading 2022 candidate for governor, urged the legislature Thursday to avoid raising taxes due to the crippling economic impact of the coronavirus.
Maryland currently has 26 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The state’s public schools are canceled for the next two weeks.
Surrounded by amulets of the coronavirus crisis, I stare out my window at a city that may or may not be on the verge of disaster. To my right is a case of canned pasta. To my left are cartons of corned-beef hash from New Jersey and bottled water from Maine. I’m ready for whatever comes.
Except, I’m not ready. In fact, even at my advanced 80-something age, I find the whole COVID-19 panic to be strange and troubling. I’ve lived through epidemics before, but they didn’t crash the stock market, wreck a booming economy, and shut down international travel. They didn’t stop the St. Patrick’s Day parade or the NCAA basketball tournament, and they didn’t drop the curtain on Broadway shows. Will these extreme measures have any real effect on the spread of COVID-19 in New York, or America? We’re about to find out.
My first encounter with a global pandemic came in October 1957, when I spent a week in my college infirmary with a case of the H2N2 virus, known at the time by the politically incorrect name of “Asian flu.” My fever spiked to 105, and I was sicker than I’d ever been. The infirmary quickly filled with other cases, though some ailing students toughed it out in their dorm rooms with aspirin and orange juice. The college itself did not close, and the surrounding town did not impose restrictions on public gatherings. The day that I was discharged from the infirmary, I played in an intercollegiate soccer game, which drew a big crowd.
It’s not that Asian flu—the second influenza pandemic of the twentieth century—wasn’t a serious disease. Worldwide, this flu strain killed somewhere between 1 and 2 million people. More than 100,000 died in the U.S. alone. And yet, to the best of my knowledge, governors did not call out the National Guard, and political panic-mongers did not blame it all on President Eisenhower. College sports events were not cancelled, planes and trains continued to run, and Americans did not regard one another with fear and suspicion, touching elbows instead of hands. We took the Asian flu in stride. We said our prayers and took our chances.
Today, I look back and wonder if an oblivious America faced the 1957 plague with a kind of clueless folly. Why weren’t we more active in fighting this contagion? Could stricter quarantine procedures have reduced the rate of infection and lowered the death toll? In short, why weren’t we more afraid?
It’s hard to answer that question without explaining what it was like to grow up in an age of infectious illness. My mother once showed me a list of the contagious diseases she survived before the age of 20. On the list were the usual childhood illnesses, along with deadly afflictions like typhoid fever, pneumonia, diphtheria (it killed her older brother), scarlet fever, and the lethal 1918–19 Spanish flu, which took more than 50 million lives around the world.
For those who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s, there was nothing unusual about finding yourself threatened by contagious disease. Mumps, measles, chicken pox, and German measles swept through entire schools and towns; I had all four. Polio took a heavy annual toll, leaving thousands of people (mostly children) paralyzed or dead. There were no vaccines. Growing up meant running an unavoidable gauntlet of infectious disease. For college students in 1957, the Asian flu was a familiar hurdle on the road to adulthood. For everyone older, the flu was a familiar foe. There was no possibility of working at home. You had to go out and face the danger.
Today, thanks to vaccines, fewer and fewer people remember what it was like to survive a succession of childhood diseases. Is the unfamiliar threat of serious sickness making us more afraid of COVID-19 than we need to be? Does a society that relies more on politics than faith now find itself in an uncomfortable bind, unable to lecture, browbeat, intimidate, or evade the incorrect behavior of a dangerous microbe?
When the coronavirus finally runs its course, one of the most important tasks for health-care officials will be to determine whether the preventive measures we’re taking today were effective. Did deploying the National Guard save lives, or did it simply expose the soldiers to an infection that, in the end, could not be stopped? Did we pay too high a price for tanking our economy and disrupting our society?
Or did we get it right, acting quickly and decisively to slow the virus, shutting down possible pathways of infection? By comparing the 2020 data with information from 1957, we’ll also be able to find out if the strange people who lived in that distant year—and I remember them well—could have done more to reduce the death toll of the Asian flu. The more answers we get, and the sooner we get them, the better it will be for everyone. When the curtain goes up on Broadway again, somewhere in a faraway continent to be named later, we can be sure that new viruses will be waiting in the wings.
Friday, March 13, 2020
Ben Mathis-Lilley, "Joe Biden Has Cured Democrats of Their Belief in a Savior President"
Joe does NOT have this without everyone else’s help.
There is a long-standing critique of the Democratic Party—of both its leaders and its voters—that says it has been self-destructively obsessed with the goal of installing a savior figure in the presidency. This obsession, the theory goes, comes at the expense not just of winning congressional and statewide legislative races but of keeping voters usefully engaged during the time between elections. (Think of the power that highly motivated NRA members exert over members of Congress, despite usually holding what public opinion polls say are minority positions on gun legislation.) In 2008, Barack Obama—a messianic figure if there ever was one!—won 69 million votes nationally; in the 2010 midterms, Democratic House candidates received fewer than 40 million. The party lost nearly 1,000 state legislative seats during Obama’s term, the campaign mailing list that could have been deployed to create grassroots pressure on moderates during Affordable Care Act negotiations was ignored, etc. As one of the individuals running for the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee in 2017 put it, Dems have a habit of “treating the presidency like it’s the only office that matters.” (That individual—Pete Buttigieg—announced his campaign for president less than two years later.)
Donald Trump’s election did a great deal to change this perspective. The Women’s March and the travel ban protests spawned activist groups and inspired many Dems to run for office for the first time—often successfully. (There were 60 million votes for Democratic House candidates in the 2018 midterms.) But the savior complex around the presidency persisted in the shooting-star candidacies of young, Obama-lite figures such as Beto O’Rourke and Buttigieg; in the speculation about landslide-triggering runs by liberal superstars like Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey; and even, as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Tuesday night, the idea that Bernie Sanders could beat Trump with a popular wave of first-time voters.
Well, Joe Biden has effectively sealed his status as the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, and no one is expecting or has expected him to save anything, including his own campaign.
Choosing Biden was based entirely on a theory of necessity. His flaws are evident, which is why he finished fourth and fifth in Iowa and New Hampshire. He’s still capable of delivering inspiring rhetoric but talks over himself, makes errors, and even becomes agitated when required to get into details. He’s enthusiastic when talking about Obama’s accomplishments, but presents almost no vision of what his own administration’s achievements might look like. (During a recent rally in Detroit, the section of his speech about the tangible things he’d use the presidency to do, once you subtract the parts about restoring Obama initiatives like participation in the Paris climate accords, was about as long as the one about childhood bullying under Trump.) But voters and party leaders were unable to settle on any of the many available non-Biden, non–Bernie Sanders candidates—too young, too female, too not an actual Democrat—and have decided Sanders himself is too risky despite widespread sympathy for his goals. So it’s Uncle Joe by a nose, thanks in part to the goodwill he built up under Obama and in part to all the other horses having died.
The understanding that Biden can’t get this done by himself was implicit in his surge. He got a crucial, late endorsement from South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, who continued providing assistance Tuesday night by suggesting that the Democratic Party cancel any potential Sanders-Biden debates. He won Texas and a number of other Super Tuesday states after another wave of endorsements—most prominently from Buttigieg, O’Rourke, and Amy Klobuchar, who all appeared with him at a lively election-eve rally in Dallas. At that rally, neither Buttigieg nor Klobuchar mentioned any part of Biden’s platform. Instead they described his character, using words like decent, decency, empathy, and dignity—portraying him as, in essence, an American Queen Elizabeth who will project our values gracefully as head of state.
After that triumph, Biden didn’t appear in public until Saturday. Tuesday’s biggest primary was in Michigan, where Sanders held four rallies in the past week, giving speeches that lasted up to 45 minutes; the Vermont senator also spoke at large outdoor events in Chicago and St. Louis, appeared on three Sunday talk shows, and held a town hall event on Fox News. Biden, in total, held events in Detroit, Missouri, and Mississippi at which he spoke for 15 to 20 minutes. But he also added endorsements from Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and ended the day having widened his delegate lead over Sanders.
The Biden 2020 campaign isn’t about following its nominal leader, or even listening to him; it’s about the party pushing him over the line collectively—and about making plans to give him the necessary support once he’s in office, as Booker’s endorsing statement alluded to in references to “winning races up and down the ballot” and thinking of a presidential victory as the “floor” rather than the “ceiling” of Democratic Party potential. Biden’s sudden viability coincided with popular Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s announcement that, after fending off months of entreaties to enter his state’s Senate race, he will go ahead and attempt to flip the seat, while Arizona and Maine flip-aspirants Mark Kelly and Sara Gideon have also expressed a preference for running down ballot of Biden rather than Sanders. Progressives eulogizing Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign have emphasized the prominent role that she can still play, going forward, in the Senate.
On Monday, Axios published a list of figures, compiled via Biden “confidants,” that he’s said to be considering for Cabinet positions. The list made no sense ideologically—Warren and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon are both under consideration to run Treasury, apparently, while both Warren and the avowedly moderate Amy Klobuchar are in the mix for vice president—but made a lot of sense as a signal that the prospective nominee’s camp knows he’ll be judged by the helping hands he surrounds himself with, and that he’ll need to maintain a connection to all the party’s factions, if he reaches the Oval Office. It’s not him, in other words—it’s us.
Thursday, March 12, 2020
Monday, March 9, 2020
•A consulting firm linked to Hunter Biden and Burisma Holdings registered in 2017 to lobby on behalf of a shadowy Ukrainian organization accused of smearing a non-profit group that investigates corruption in the eastern European country.A Democratic consulting firm linked to Hunter Biden and Burisma Holdings registered to lobby in 2017 for a Ukrainian organization that has been accused of smearing an anti-corruption group in the eastern European country, according to government records.
•Blue Star Strategies registered as a lobbyist for the National Interest of Ukraine in Sept. 2017.
•Hunter Biden reportedly put Blue Star in contact with Burisma, the Ukrainian energy firm that has been dogged for years by allegations of corruption.
Blue Star Strategies, which was co-founded by two veterans of the Clinton administration, registered to lobby in September 2017 for National Interest of Ukraine (NIU), a shadowy organization linked to the People’s Front, a political party that promotes Ukrainian nationalism.
Daria Kaleniuk, the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, or AnTac, has recently alleged that NIU hired Blue Star Strategies to “discredit” her group.
“Blue Star Strategies — this is the PR firm from the United States, which had an order to discredit our organization,” Kaleniuk said in an interview on Jan. 27.
“Shamefully Blue Star was spreading fakes against @ANTAC_ua in 2017,” she tweeted on Nov. 17.
In one of several odd twists involving Ukraine-related matters, Joe Biden’s presidential campaign cited Kaleniuk in a video supporting the former vice president against allegations leveled by Trump allies that he improperly intervened to help Burisma Holdings on behalf of his son.
But Kaleniuk has also criticized Hunter’s role with the Ukrainian energy firm given its reputation for corruption.
“I think Hunter Biden did a very bad thing and he was very wrong. He allowed his name to be abused,” she said in a June 20, 2019 interview with ABC News.
Hunter, who joined Burisma’s board in April 2014 along with his business partner, Devon Archer, is said to be the connection point between the company and Blue Star Strategies. The New York Times reported last year that Hunter and his partners brought in Blue Star to help Burisma fight off corruption investigations.
Blue Star Strategies is owned by Karen Tramontano and Sally Painter, two former Clinton administration officials. Painter was on the board of directors with Hunter on the Truman National Security Project, a liberal national security think tank.
There is no indication that Hunter was aware of Blue Star’s work for NIU. It is also unclear what work Blue Star did for NIU. Tramontano and another associate of the firm did not respond to requests for comment.
AnTac has alleged on its website that NIU began retaliating against the group because it was calling for corruption investigations against lawmakers associated with the People’s Front. NIU in turn began questioning AnTac’s non-profit status, and pushed for investigations of the group.
Freedom House, a pro-democracy think tank, has criticized the NIU as a “fake” non-government organization.
“The criminal probe against AntAC was initiated by a fake NGO created and influenced by political interests,” reads a report that Freedom House issued in 2018.
“This fake NGO, National Interest of Ukraine, was registered in 2017—its Facebook page appeared just a day before the investigation into AntAC was announced—and was mainly used to discredit civil society activities.”
The Freedom House report said that NIU is closely associated with leaders in the People’s Front, which has been under investigation for corruption.
Kaleniuk has not released specifics on how the firm targeted AnTac. She did not reply to emails seeking comment for this article.
Blue Star registered as a lobbyist for the group on Sept. 11, 2017, according to documents filed with Congress.
The registration filing says Blue Star would work for NIU to “[r]aise awareness within USG of [non-governmental organization’s] work to promote rule of law & civil rights in Ukraine.” The lobbying disclosure forms do not show that Blue Star was paid by NIU. Blue Star submitted a termination form on Nov. 28, 2017.
Senate Republicans investigating Hunter’s work for Burisma Holdings have in recent months turned their attention to Blue Star Strategies.
On Sunday, Sen. Ron Johnson said that he plans to subpoena a former consultant for Blue Star named Andrii Telizhenko.
State Department emails show that Painter and Tramontano sought meetings with multiple State Department officials to discuss Burisma and other Ukraine-related matters.
On June 27, 2016, Sally Painter emailed State Department official Bill Russo seeking a follow-up meeting with Tony Blinken, who then served as deputy secretary of state.
Painter said in the email that she had talked with Blinken about “troubling events” in Ukraine at an event hosted by the Truman National Security Project.
Blinken is now a foreign policy adviser to Biden’s campaign. Russo is a top Biden campaign official.
Tramontano also contacted State Department officials regarding Burisma. She sent an email on Feb. 24, 2016, seeking a meeting with Catherine Novelli, formerly the undersecretary of state for energy issues, in hopes of “getting a better understanding of how the U.S. came to the determination that [Burisma] is corrupt.”