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DeSantis jabs Trump's leadership style and character, says there is 'no daily drama' in governor's office

2 hours, 23 minutes ago

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis cast himself as a pragmatic leader whose no-nonsense style could propel him to the White House, dismissing former President Trump's recent criticisms as nothing more than "background noise" that isn't worth engaging. 

The comments came during a wide-ranging interview with Piers Morgan, another frequent target of Trump's derision, that will air on Fox Nation this Thursday. 

"In terms of my approach to leadership, I get personnel in the Government who have the agenda of the people and share our agenda. You bring your own agenda in you’re gone. We’re just not gonna have that," DeSantis said, as Morgan detailed in a preview of the interview in the New York Post

"So, the way we run the Government I think is no daily drama, focus on the big picture and put points on the board and I think that’s something that’s very important."

The interview took place on Monday just hours after DeSantis addressed a potential indictment of Trump in New York related to hush-money payments that the former president allegedly made to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. 

DeSantis ripped into Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as a "Soros-funded prosecutor" who is "pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office," but also took a subtle shot at Trump for the actions underlying the potential legal trouble. 

"I don't know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair — I just I can't speak to that," DeSantis said at a press conference earlier on Monday. 


DeSantis doubled down on those comments in the interview with Morgan. 

"Well, there’s a lot of speculation about what the underlying conduct is. That is purported to be it, and the reality is that’s just outside my wheelhouse," DeSantis told Morgan. "I mean that’s just not something that I can speak to."

The Florida governor, who is yet to announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election but told Morgan to "stay tuned," also said that "truth is essential" and personal integrity matters for anyone in a position of power. 

"At the end of the day as a leader," DeSantis told Morgan. "You really want to look to people like our Founding Fathers, like what type of character, it’s not saying that you don’t ever make a mistake in your personal life, but I think what type of character are you bringing? So, somebody who really set the standard is George Washington because he always put the Republic over his own personal interest. When we won the American Revolution, Washington surrendered his sword."


Trump took to TRUTH Social to criticize DeSantis after the initial comments at Monday's press conference. 

"Ron DeSanctimonious will probably find out about FALSE ACCUSATIONS & FAKE STORIES sometime in the future, as he gets older, wiser, and better known, when he's unfairly and illegally attacked by a woman, even classmates that are 'underage' (or possibly a man!)," Trump posted, alluding to unsubstantiated claims about DeSantis. "I'm sure he will want to fight these misfits just like I do!"

DeSantis dismissed the name-calling as "background noise," telling Morgan that it's "not important for me to be fighting with people on social media."

"I don’t know how to spell the sanctimonious one. I don’t really know what it means, but I kinda like it, it’s long, it’s got a lot of vowels. We’ll go with that, that’s fine," DeSantis told Morgan. 

"I mean you can call me whatever you want, just as long as you also call me a winner because that’s what we’ve been able to do in Florida, is put a lot of points on the board and really take this State to the next level."

Others in the former president's orbit criticized DeSantis on Tuesday for doubling down on the criticism of Trump, with Donald Trump Jr. tweeting that DeSantis is running "to the liberal media on orders from his RINO establishment owners to attack my father."

Taylor Budowich, a former spokesperson for Trump who now runs a super PAC supporting his 2024 bid, tweeted on Tuesday that "DeSantis is choosing to go off half-cocked and take shots on some low-rent vlog."

"DeSantis’ terrible political instincts are being reflected in all the public polls as he flames out faster than [Piers Morgan's] ratings," Budowich tweeted. 

Trump has gained ground on DeSantis recently among Republicans, according to a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday, which found that 41% of GOP voters would like to see Trump as the 2024 nominee and 27% favor DeSantis. The two were tied at 33% in February, while DeSantis had a 13% lead in December. 

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Trump forcefully disputes ‘fake’ ABC News report he 'misled' his attorneys concerning classified documents

2 hours, 39 minutes ago

Former President Donald Trump lashed out at ABC News on Tuesday over what he said was a "fake" report that he "deliberately misled" his attorneys about his handling of the classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago home last year.

"Shame on Fake News ABC for broadcasting ILLEGALLY LEAKED false allegations from a Never Trump, now former chief judge, against the Trump legal team. This disinformation is on par with their breathless Russia, Russia, Russia, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, and ‘no-collusion’ Mueller speculation, all of which were totally disproven," Trump said in a statement shared on Twitter by spokesperson Liz Harrington.


"These leaks are happening because there is no factual or legal basis or substance to any case against President Trump. The deranged Democrats and their comrades in the mainstream media are corrupting the legal process and weaponizing the justice system in order manipulate public opinion, because they are clearly losing the political battle," he said.

"The real story here, that Fake News ABC SHOULD be reporting on, is that prosecutors only attack lawyers when they have no case whatsoever. President Trump is the only leader fighting for the Constitution in order to protect the American people from being abused by a crooked system," he added.


ABC's Tuesday report said that sources told the outlet that a former federal judge wrote last week in a sealed filing that prosecutors presented "compelling preliminary evidence" that Trump "knowingly and deliberately misled his own attorneys about his retention of classified materials after leaving office." 

According to the report, former U.S. Judge Beryl Howell, who stepped down as the Washington, D.C. district court's chief judge on Friday, wrote that prosecutors investigating the classified documents found at Trump's home, made a "prima facie showing that the former president had committed criminal violations," and that "attorney-client privileges invoked by two of his lawyers could therefore be pierced."

The report said that Howell found prosecutors sufficiently showed Trump "intentionally concealed" the existence of classified documents from his lawyer, Evan Corcoran, and put him "in an unwitting position to deceive the government." It also said that Howell agreed prosecutors sufficiently showed Trump committed crimes, but that they "would still need to meet a higher standard of evidence in order to seek charges against Trump, and more still to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

The ongoing investigation into Trump’s alleged mishandling of classified documents began last year and is being headed by special counsel Jack Smith, who was appointed by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. Smith is also investigating Trump's alleged involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

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Georgia lawmakers pass bill banning gender-transition treatments for minors now heads to Gov. Kemp's desk

3 hours, 3 minutes ago

Georgia Republican state senators approved a bill on Tuesday that restricts minors from getting gender transition treatments and threatens doctors who perform such actions with civil and criminal penalties.

In a vote of 31-21, SB 140 was passed and is now heading to Gov. Brian Kemp, who is expected to sign the bill into law.

The bill would ban most gender-transition surgeries and hormone therapies for transgender individuals under the age of 18 in Georgia, although doctors could still give prescriptions for puberty blockers.


One of the bill’s primary sponsors, Republican state Sen. Ben Watson, spoke on the bill before the senate voted on its approval.

"What we’re doing here is we’re preventing minors under 18 years old from having irreversible changes in their lives," he said.

State Sen. Carden Summers, also a Republican, said he was compassionate about protecting the lives of children by not offering life altering drugs and surgeries that are completely irreversible, adding that he looked forward to looking people in the eye to share his compassion.

Democratic state Sen. Kim Jackson, though, requested her colleagues vote no on the bill because of a change made at by House representatives.


Jackson said the bill that was sent to the house provided immunity to doctors and medical personnel who provided access to hormone treatment necessary to treat gender dysphoria.

But the House removed that line, she said, and the bill now holds doctors and medical professionals criminally and civilly liable, "simply for doing their jobs," and following medical advice that has been peer-reviewed by standards shared across the U.S.

Another Democratic state senator, Elena Parent, told the Senate she has been against the bill since its first reading, agreeing with Jackson that the doctors should not be held liable for doing their jobs.

Parent also charged the Republican majority with talking out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to parents being entrusted with making decisions for their own children.


"The rule does seem to be that we are for parental rights when those parents make decisions we agree with," she said. "And when we don’t like the decisions they make, then we intend to outlaw those decisions."

Ultimately, Democrats like Parent and Jackson were outnumbered, and the bill was passed.

Georgia Equality, an organization that promotes the advancement of fairness, safety and opportunity for LGBTQ Georgians responded to the decision on social media.

"We are saddened by the Senate passage of SB 140 today," Executive director Jeff Graham said. "Parents, working in collaboration with their medical teams and adhering to standards of care, should be able to make decisions regarding their child’s healthcare."

The director’s statement continued by saying the bill threatens an already serious shortage of healthcare workers by holding the doctors accountable, and he called on Gov. Kemp to veto the legislation.

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Former Florida state lawmaker pleads guilty to laundering COVID relief money, could face 35 years in prison

3 hours, 18 minutes ago

Former Florida state Representative Joseph Harding pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements for COVID-19 relief money, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The disgraced ex-lawmaker faces up to 35 years in prison.

Harding, a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2020 until his resignation in 2022, is accused of seeking COVID relief loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) in 2020.

According to an indictment, the 35-year-old allegedly filled out two applications for COVID-19 relief money for fabricated businesses — Vak Shack Inc. and Harding Farms. 


Harding stated in an application for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) that the two businesses had over a half a dozen employees and gross revenue of more than $800,000 from the previous year. However, according to the indictment, the companies had no employees, and they had been dormant for months before the applications were filed.

Harding applied for $150,000 in loans "he was not entitled" to, according to the DOJ. After receiving the proceeds, while he was still in office, Harding allegedly made three illegal monetary transactions, each totaling more than $10,000. 


The former state representative transferred the money to his joint bank account, transferred money into a bank account of a third-party business and made a payment on a credit card bill, the indictment says.

Harding's sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 25, 2023, at 11 a.m. at the United States Courthouse in Gainesville, Florida. Harding faces prison time for wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements.

Harding and his lawyers did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital's request for comment. 

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Oklahoma Supreme Court greenlights life-of-mother exception to abortion law

3 hours, 25 minutes ago

A divided Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a portion of the state’s near total ban on abortion, ruling women have a right to abortion when pregnancy risks their health, not just in a medical emergency.

It was a narrow win for abortion rights advocates since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

The court ruled that a woman has the right under the state Constitution to receive an abortion to preserve her life if her doctor determines that continuing the pregnancy would endanger it due to a condition she has or is likely to develop during the pregnancy. Previously, the right to an abortion could only take place in the case of medical emergency.


"Requiring one to wait until there is a medical emergency would further endanger the life of the pregnant woman and does not serve a compelling state interest," the ruling states.

In the 5-4 ruling, the court said the state law uses both the words "preserve" and "save" the mother’s life as an exception to the abortion ban.

"The language ‘except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency’ is much different from ‘preserve her life,’" according to the ruling.

"Absolute certainty," by the physician that the mother's life could be endangered, "is not required, however, mere possibility or speculation is insufficient" to determine that an abortion is needed to preserve the woman’s life, according to the ruling.

The court, however, declined to rule on whether the state Constitution grants the right to an abortion for other reasons.

The court ruled in the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, Tulsa Women's Reproductive Clinic and others challenging the state laws passed after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

"People’s lives have been endangered by Oklahoma’s cruel abortion bans, and now doctors will be able to help pregnant people whose lives they believe are at risk," Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement after the ruling.


"We are disappointed that the Court declined to rule whether the state Constitution also protects the right to abortion outside of these circumstances," Northrup said.

"This ruling leaves out too many Oklahomans. Oklahomans shouldn’t have to travel across state lines just to reach an abortion clinic, and it is heartbreaking that many will not be able to do so," said Dr. Alan Braid, an abortion provider and plaintiff in the case said in a statement.

Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Great Plains called the ruling a small step toward restoring the right to abortion.

"The Oklahoma Supreme Court recognized one fundamental truth: patients must be permitted to access critical care to save their lives," she said. "But the right recognized today is so limited that most people who need abortion will not be able to access it."

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Missouri Legislature latest to join tax relief bandwagon

3 hours, 33 minutes ago

Just six months after passing what was billed as the largest tax cut in Missouri history, the Republican-led state House voted Tuesday for an even bigger income tax cut that could return over $1 billion annually to individuals, corporations and retirees.

The Missouri legislation is the latest in a series of aggressive tax reductions that swept across U.S. states last year and have continued into 2023 — even as some warn that it might be wise for states to hold on to record large surpluses amid economic uncertainty.

"Wouldn’t it be a good idea for us to all just pause for a year?" Democratic state Rep. Deb Lavender asked rhetorically before her Republican colleagues endorsed the tax cut on a 109-45 party-line vote.


The Missouri legislation still has a ways to go — it needs a second House approval before it can move to the Senate and then to the governor. But legislatures and governors in several states already have given final approval to tax cuts and rebates in the first few months of this year. In some states, those tax breaks have been pushed by Republicans, but in others by Democrats.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, signed legislation Tuesday that will lower the state’s sales tax for a four-year period, though she had originally wanted the GOP-led Legislature to eliminate the sales tax on groceries.

In Montana, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte last week signed a $1 billion package of bills passed by the GOP-led Legislature that will provide both income and property tax rebates, reduce the top income tax rate and increase income tax credits for lower-income working families.

In Michigan, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill passed by the Democratic-led Legislature that provides tax relief to retirees and to lower-income families.

And in West Virginia, Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed a measure passed by the GOP-led Legislature that reduces the income tax rate while also enlarging an income tax credit to offset personal property taxes paid on vehicles. The tax cut package is expected to return more than two-thirds of the state's record $1.1 billion surplus to taxpayers, as opposed to spending it on state programs.

Nationwide, states' total financial balances reached a record $343 billion at the end of their 2022 fiscal years — up 42% from the previous year, according to a recent report by The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Two-thirds of states approved some sort of tax relief last year, according to an analysis by The Associated Press.

Those surplus-induced tax breaks were enabled by stronger than expected state tax collections and an influx of federal pandemic aid both directly to states and to businesses and individuals that, in turn, injected more spending into the economy. But those federal payments are winding down, inflation remains persistently high and new challenges in the banking sector have raised questions about the overall economy.

"This extraordinary chapter in state finances appears to be coming to an end," said Justin Theal, an officer with Pew's State Fiscal Policy Project.

"Tax cuts or new spending initiatives aren’t inherently bad or uncommon during good budgetary times," Theal said. But "if policymakers aren’t careful, these long-term commitments can place them in a more vulnerable fiscal position when the economy inevitably turns."

In Missouri, some Republican lawmakers argued that more tax cuts ultimately would give residents more money to spend and lead to continued growth in state tax revenues.


Last October, Republican Gov. Mike Parson signed legislation cutting the top individual income tax rate from 5.3% to 4.95% effective Jan. 1 and allowing for an eventual reduction to 4.5% if revenues continue to grow. This year's bill doesn't wait to see whether that growth occurs. Instead, it would cut the individual income tax rate to 4.5% beginning in 2024 while also reducing taxes on corporations and Social Security benefits and enabling even more income tax cuts if future revenue targets are met.

"This is not reckless. This is a meaningful step," Republican state Rep. Doug Richey said in response to critics. "This is simply slowing down the rate of growth for tax revenue."

Other states also are following last year's tax breaks with even more this year.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat up for re-election this year, signed a plan passed by the Republican-led Legislature to cut the state's individual income tax rate to 4% effective in 2024. That comes on the heels of a tax overhaul passed last year, which lowered the income tax rate from 5% to 4.5% in January.

In 2022, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia suspended the state motor fuel tax for 10 months, and lawmakers approved a $1 billion income tax refund worth $250 to $500 for most tax filers. Earlier this month, Kemp signed an additional $1 billion income tax refund. He also signed a budget bill that includes nearly $1 billion for a property tax break.

Tax cut proposals are awaiting action elsewhere.

New Mexico's Democratic-led Legislature recently passed a $1.1 billion tax relief package that includes $500 individual rebates, tax credits of up to $600 per child and a gradual reduction in taxes on sales and business services. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has until April 7 to sign or veto bills.

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Nebraska Legislature's debate on youth sex change ban gets heated

3 hours, 35 minutes ago

Debate that began Tuesday on a Nebraska bill to ban gender-affirming care for minors, which led one lawmaker to stage an epic weekslong filibuster, quickly grew contentious, with supporters and opponents angrily voicing their frustration and admonishing each other for a lack of collegiality.

Sen. John Lowe, of Kearney, cited an activist group's claim that gender dysphoria in youth "is just temporary," while Sen. Brad von Gillern, of Omaha, compared gender-affirming treatment to shock treatments, lobotomies and forced sterilizations of years' past. Bellevue Sen. Carol Blood countered that if lawmakers really cared about medical procedures affecting children, "how come we're not talking about circumcision?"

And that was only the first three hours of an eight-hour Senate debate expected to stretch into Thursday.


The bill introduced by Republican Sen. Kathleen Kauth, a freshman lawmaker in the officially-nonpartisan state Legislature, would outlaw gender-affirming therapies such as hormone treatments, puberty blockers and gender reassignment surgery for those 18 and younger.

The proposal had already caused tumult in the legislative session, cited as the genesis of a nearly three-week filibuster carried out by Omaha Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh over her opposition. Cavanaugh had followed through on her vow in late February to filibuster every bill before the Legislature — even those she supported — declaring she would "burn the session to the ground over this bill."

She stuck with it until an agreement was reached late last week to push the bill to the front of the debate queue. Instead of trying to eat time to keep the bill from getting to the floor, Cavanaugh decided she wanted a vote to put on the record of which lawmakers would "legislate hate against children."

Lawmakers convened Tuesday to begin that debate with the understanding that the bill didn't have enough votes to break a filibuster. But Kauth introduced an amendment to drop the restriction on hormone treatments, instead banning only gender reassignment surgery for minors. That amendment, she said, does have enough votes to advance.

Cavanaugh has said if the bill advances on a vote expected Thursday, she will resume filibustering every bill through the end of the 90-day session in early June.

The hard feelings by lawmakers on both sides of the bill emerged almost immediately Tuesday, with Kauth calling Cavanaugh’s filibuster "self-serving and childish." Kauth said the purpose of her bill is to protect youth from undertaking gender-affirming treatments they might later regret as adults, citing research that says adolescents' brains aren't fully developed.

Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt called out that argument as hypocritical, noting that Kauth supports an abortion ban bill introduced this session that would also affect adolescents.

"In a couple of weeks, she's going to turn around and vote for a bill that would force 12-year-olds to have a baby," Hunt said. "She thinks they're mature enough for that."


Cavanaugh called the trans treatment bill "an assault on individuals that members of this body love," and appealed to Republican members of the body to get back to their core principles of getting government out of people’s lives.

"So many of you have talked to me about government overreach time and time again," she said. "This bill stands in opposition to the tenets that many of you have expressed to me are the foundation of why you are here."

The Nebraska bill, along with another that would ban trans people from using bathrooms and locker rooms or playing on sports teams that don’t align with the gender listed on their birth certificates, are among roughly 150 bills targeting transgender people that have been introduced in state legislatures this year.

Bans on gender-affirming care for minors have already been enacted this year in some Republican-led states, including South Dakota, Utah and Mississippi. Arkansas and Alabama have bans that were temporarily blocked by federal judges. Other states legislatures have given final approval to measures similar to the Nebraska bill, with Georgia sending to the governor Tuesday a bill that would ban most gender-affirming surgeries and hormone replacement therapies for transgender minors.

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Biden admin concerned about Mexican military seizure of American company's property, warns of trade impacts

3 hours, 55 minutes ago

The Biden administration expressed its concern Tuesday over the Mexican military's seizure of an American company's property in Mexico, and suggested the situation could lead to negative impacts on the ability of the country to do business.

According to Vulcan Materials, a Birmingham, Alabama-based company and the largest producer of construction aggregates in the U.S., members of the Mexican navy, local state police, along with federal investigators, entered the quarry just south of Playa del Carmen in Mexico's Quintana Roo state in the early morning hours of March 14 and has remained since.

The company said the seizure was likely due to the breakdown of contract negotiations between it and CEMEX, a Mexican materials company with which it had previously provided services, and ongoing tensions with the Mexican government over its mining operations.


In a statement to Fox News Digital, a spokesperson for the State Department said the administration was concerned about the treatment of American companies in Mexico, and that they speak regularly with Mexican officials about the expectation that they are treated fairly and in accordance with trade obligations.

The spokesperson noted that such obligations provide trade and investment certainty within Mexico, and said that cases like these have the potential to impact the ability of the U.S. to achieve its shared vision with the Mexican government for improving the livelihoods of the country's economically disadvantaged regions.

They added that the situation could also impact Mexico's efforts to attract future investments.


The spokesperson also told Fox that the U.S. Embassy in Mexico and the State Department were actively engaged on the issue.

The seizure of Vulcan's property sparked outrage among U.S. government officials, including Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who represents the state in which Vulcan is based.

"For more than 30 years, Vulcan Materials Company has operated a limestone quarry in Mexico that has created good jobs both in Mexico and in Alabama," he said in a statement. "Yet time and again, President López Obrador and the Mexican government have undermined Vulcan’s ability to operate in Mexico."


Tuberville said he urged President Biden to confront Mexico's president about its aggression toward Vulcan last year, but that Biden "buried his head in the sand."

"President Biden’s failure of leadership has only emboldened Mexico to continue taking hostile action against Vulcan that puts employees at risk and jeopardizes our supply chains in the southeast region of the United States. The illegal seizure of Vulcan’s port facility is just the latest example of the Mexican government exploiting President Biden’s weakness, and the situation will only get worse until the President addresses it head on," he said.

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US regulators delay decision to license New Mexico nuclear facility

4 hours, 12 minutes ago

U.S. regulators say they need more time to wrap up a final safety report and make a decision on whether to license a multibillion-dollar complex meant to temporarily store tons of spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants around the nation.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a new schedule Monday, citing unforeseen staffing constraints. The agency was initially expected to issue a decision by the end of March. It will now be the end of May.

The announcement comes just days after New Mexico approved legislation aimed at stopping the project. It’s expected that supporters of the storage facility will take the fight to court, but New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday asked the NRC to suspend its consideration of the license application.


New Jersey-based Holtec International already has spent an estimated $80 million in its pursuit of a 40-year license to build and operate the complex in southeastern New Mexico. Company officials said Tuesday that the delay in licensing would have only a minimal impact on the original timeline.

"With a project of this complexity, we understand the need for the regulating and licensing authority to have all the time and resources necessary to issue a licensing decision," Holtec spokesman Patrick O'Brien said in an email.

Holtec, elected officials from southeastern New Mexico and other supporters have been pushing hard to offer what they call a temporary solution to the nation's problem of spent nuclear fuel, which has been piling up at commercial reactors for years.

Since the federal government has failed to build a permanent repository, it reimburses utilities to house the fuel in either steel-lined concrete pools of water or in steel and concrete containers known as casks at sites in nearly three dozen states. That cost is expected to stretch into the tens of billions of dollars over the next decade.

The legislation signed by Lujan Grisham last week requires that the state provide consent for bringing in such radioactive material. Consent from the Democratic governor would be unlikely, as she has argued that without a permanent repository, New Mexico stands to be the nation's de facto dumping ground.

She reiterated her opposition in the letter to NRC Chairman Christopher Hanson.

"Thank you for respecting the state of New Mexico's laws and the voices of our citizens, tribes and pueblos who overwhelming(ly) supported this legislation," she wrote.

Similar battles have been waged in Nevada, Utah and Texas over the decades as the U.S. has struggled to find a home for spent fuel and other radioactive waste. The proposed Yucca Mountain project in Nevada was mothballed and a temporary storage site planned on a Native American reservation in Utah was sidelined despite being licensed by the NRC in 2006.

That project would have been located on land belonging to the Skull Valley Band of Goshute. Utah's governor at the time — Republican Mike Leavitt — was among those fighting the effort. He and others were successful in getting Congress to amend a defense spending bill, essentially landlocking the site by creating the Cedar Mountain Wilderness and blocking a rail spur that would have delivered casks.

But it was only six weeks later that the NRC issued a license for the project.


Don Hancock with the nuclear watchdog group Southwest Research and Information Center pointed to the Utah case.

"If congressional action doesn’t affect NRC decision making, there’s no reason to think that New Mexico action has an effect," he said in an email Tuesday.

Elected leaders in Texas also were unsuccessful in keeping a similar project from being licensed by the NRC in 2021. Integrated Storage Partners LLC's initial plans call for storing up to 5,512 tons of spent fuel and about 254 tons of low-level radioactive waste for 40 years. Future phases could boost that capacity to 44,092 tons of fuel.

Holtec officials are disappointed in the New Mexico legislation and argue that their project is safe, would be an economic boon for the region and would not affect ongoing operations in the Permian Basin, which is one of the world's most productive oil and gas plays.

"Passing a bill that is pre-empted by federal law and will be adjudicated accordingly in the courts is a counterproductive action that inhibits the state's growth in the area of clean energy," O'Brien said, adding that local support has solidified the company's belief that the project is still viable.

President Joe Biden has received dueling letters from supporters of the project and from Lujan Grisham and others in opposition. The administration has acknowledged the role nuclear power will have to play in reaching its carbon emission goals and earlier this year put up $26 million in grants for communities interested in studying potential interim storage sites.

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House Judiciary report: 'No legitimate basis' for Biden admin to target parents at school board meetings

4 hours, 57 minutes ago

EXCLUSIVE: Subpoenaed documents showed there was "no legitimate basis" for the Biden administration to use federal law enforcement and counterterrorism resources on school board-related threats, the House Judiciary Committee claimed in its interim report on the controversial issue exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital.

The House Judiciary Committee and its subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government completed an interim staff report in its investigation, which alleges the Biden administration targeted parents at school board meetings who were "voicing concerns about controversial curricula and education-related policies."

The GOP-led committee subpoenaed Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and members of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) for documents related to the investigation.

"From the initial set of material produced in response to the subpoenas, it is apparent that the Biden administration misused federal law-enforcement and counterterrorism resources for political purposes," the report states.


The report said DOJ's "own documents demonstrate that there was no compelling nationwide law-enforcement justification for the Attorney General’s directive or the Department components’ execution thereof."

The committee was referring to Garland’s October 2021 memo, which directed the FBI to partner with local law enforcement and U.S. attorneys to discuss parental threats at school board meetings against faculty and "prosecute them when appropriate."

Garland's memo came after a September 2021 NSBA letter to President Biden requesting federal law enforcement assistance to target parents.


"After surveying local law enforcement, U.S. Attorney’s offices around the country reported back to Main Justice that there was no legitimate law-enforcement basis for the Attorney General’s directive to use federal law-enforcement and counterterrorism resources to investigate school board-related threats," the report said.

The report said the FBI acknowledged that it opened "25 ‘Guardian assessments’ of school board threats." 

A guardian assessment is a tip or information received by the FBI. The information, once received, is passed along to determine next steps. 

The report states that six of the 25 guardian assessments were "run by the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division."

The Committee said the FBI documents revealed that none of those assessments "resulted in federal arrests or charges," which the report says "highlights the political motives behind the Attorney General’s actions."

During an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier last month, FBI Director Wray said that when it comes to "violence, threats of violence, we are going to do like we always have: work with our state and local law enforcement partners to deal with violence." 

"But we are not in the business of policing speech of parents at school board meetings or anywhere else," Wray said.

Meanwhile, the report claims the Biden administration’s "goal" was to silence the critics of "its radical education policies and neutralizing an issue that was threatening Democrat Party prospects" ahead of the close Virginia gubernatorial election in November 2021.

"This weaponization of law-enforcement powers against American parents exercising their First Amendment rights is dangerous," the report saId. "The Justice Department subjected moms and dads to the opening of an FBI investigation about them, the establishment of an FBI case file that includes their political views, and the application of a ‘threat tag’ to their names as a direct result of their exercise of their fundamental constitutional right to speak and advocate for their children."

The committee has previously called on Garland to rescind his October 2021 memo, but lawmakers said Garland has "refused to do so."


"From the documents and information received pursuant to the subpoena, it is crystal clear that Attorney General Garland should rescind his unwise and unsupported directive to insert federal law enforcement into local school board matters," the report said.

Garland, at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month, testified that his October 2021 memo "was aimed at violence and threats of violence against a whole host of school personnel." 

"It was not aimed at parents making complaints to their school board," Garland said. "And it came in the context of a whole series of other kinds of violent threats and violence against other public officials." 

The committee's report cited evidence showing there was no actual sign of rising threats against school board members when the initiative began.

"If the Justice Department performed due diligence before promulgating the Attorney General’s memorandum, the Department would have learned it lacked a legitimate predicate," the report added, saying there was "no ‘distributing spike’ in alleged threats and violence at school board meetings."

The report cited an email from a chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana’s Criminal Division, Brian Frazier, in which he said he met with FBI representatives to "ensure coordination, if needed, on any violence or threats related to school board proceedings."

"The FBI representatives acknowledged that DOJ has seen fit to elevate perceived school board security issues to a national level," Frazier wrote in the email, adding, that, "nevertheless they did not see any imminent threats to school boards or their members … nor did they ascertain any worrisome trends in that regard."


The committee said "other reported threats were too vague to be independently substantiated or so innocuous as to not be of any real concern."

Another email from a U.S. attorney acknowledged that officials "could remember only one incident" regarding an "irate parent, who was upset about mask mandates," and who "had to be removed from a school board meeting by the school resource officer." That U.S. attorney clarified that "no threats were made to board members or school staff."

The committee said the Biden administration "acted out of political motivations rather than for law-enforcement reasons" and said, because of that, "parents around the country had FBI ‘assessments’ opened into them."

The committee said its work "is not complete" and that it will continue to conduct its oversight as the Biden administration continues to produce responsive documents.

The committee also slammed the FBI for producing "only fourteen pages of documents" in response to the subpoena issued earlier this year. A footnote in the report said, however, the FBI has provided "in camera access to an additional 346 pages of documents," but did not physically produce the material. 

The committee said it also has outstanding subpoenas for testimony from NSBA officials Chip Slaven and Viola Garcia, who signed the initial letter to Biden in September 2021.

"Until all responsive documents are produced and interviews with the necessary parties take place, the Committee and Select Subcommittee will continue its oversight to uncover facts that will inform potential legislative reforms," the report said.

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