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Guns and Crime

Is Operation Choke Point making a comeback in GOP-controlled Washington?

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In 2013, Barack Obama and Erik Holder launched Operation Choke Point (OCP), an initiative that gave the government power to use banks and financial institutions to track down companies suspected of illegal activities.

Like just about everything else Obama did, OCP violated our Constitutional rights—in this case the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. However, the community organizer also used OCP as a back-door method to dismantle the Second Amendment by using banks to shut down “risky” gun dealers by denying them bank services. In 2015, a gun store in Hawkins, WI, was driven out of business when their bank closed their account simply because they sold guns and ammo.

Obama’s dictatorial use of OCP eventually led to the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act (FICPA) in 2016. Co-sponsored by Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, the bill was designed to prevent the government from using banking services to target firearms businesses for doing nothing more than exercising their Constitutional rights.

FICPA was revived in 2017 in the House, and while it hasn’t become law yet, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last summer that he was committed to ending the unconstitutional program.

But all of this transpired before the high school shooting in Parkland, FL. Since that tragedy, there’s been a new willingness by Trump and the GOP to abandon liberty in the name of safety. Gone is the commitment to protect the Constitution. Instead, a Dianne Feinstein-friendly approach to chipping away at the Second Amendment has taken its place.

Already on record as being in favor of denying due process rights in order to seize our guns, Trump has joined hands with Republicrats, Trumplicans, and Democrats—sorry if that was being redundant—to advance a host of anti-Second Amendment schemes.

One such scheme is a proposal known as “Fix NICS.” Though supposedly an improvement to background checks, this bill is so flawed that it would give government the power to seize guns simply for having unpaid parking tickets. Bad news, right? That’s not the worst of it. Fix NICS is part of the new Omnibus bill to finance the government for the rest of the year.

Since we’re talking about gun control and finances once again, it looks like Operation Choke Point could be on the way back. Citigroup announced yesterday that they will cease doing business with firearms dealers unless they adopt a host of anti-gun proposals, such as not selling guns to anyone under 21.

According to Citigroup’s head of global public affairs, Ed Skyler, this new policy isn’t intended to “rid the world of firearms.” However, it should be noted that Skyler served under former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for eight years. As you’re probably aware, Bloomberg is the founder of Everytown for Gun Safety, a major player in the anti-Second Amendment movement.

Will Trump and the GOP keep OCP from making a return? Will they stop people like Bloomberg? Or will they cave to anti-gun hysteria and welcome them into their Constitution-killing fold. Based on recent history, the answer to these questions aren’t looking too good.


Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is nationally syndicated with Salem Radio Network and can be heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

Foreign Affairs

Saudi foreign minister does damage control on American press

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Saudi foreign minister does damage control on American press

The foreign relations mess stemming from Jamal Khashoggi’s murder continues to grow more chaotic despite Saudi Arabia’s attempt to cover it up with regularly changing stories. The latest attempt at damage control comes from Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

Fox News’ Bret Baier him, pressing multiple times about Mohammad bin Salman’s role in or knowledge of the operation that led to Khashoggi’s murder. The blame is being placed on the individuals who carried out the operation; as much space is being created between the direct actors and Saudi leadership as possible.

One important note in the interview was when al-Jubier said they do not believe the entire 15-man “kill team” was at the consulate where when Khashoggi was killed there. He admitted he did not know whether Turkey really had a recording of what happened during the incident, nor whether the United States had intelligence that contradicted the Kingdom’s story.

The responses from the foreign minister were in stark contrast to the indignation exuding from the Kingdom for two weeks following the initial report of Khashoggi’s disappearance.

My Take

As I wrote last week, Saudi Arabia gravely underestimated the international response to this incident. They thought they could get rid of a dissident as they have done in the past and the response would be muted. They didn’t take into account his American ties and the desire of the Turks to expose them at every turn.

How is this going to end? It won’t, at least not for a while. Unlike other international news stories of similar magnitude, this one has multiple forces bent on keeping the story going until a satisfactory resolution is reached. It won’t be reached. The White House and the Kingdom will do whatever they can to sweep this under the rug and make people forget.

This stinks, but here’s the sad reality: “Justice” will not be delivered the way it should and the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States will return to the status quo in a few months.

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Foreign Affairs

First charge filed against Russian for interfering with elections

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First charge filed against Russian for interfering with elections

Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova is allegedly part of Project Lakhta, a Russian operation intended to sow political division ahead of the midterm elections as well as other elections around the world. She has been charged by the Justice Department for interfering with the United States political system.

Here is the press release from the DOJ:

Russian National Charged with Interfering in U.S. Political System

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/pr/russian-national-charged-interfering-us-political-system“The strategic goal of this alleged conspiracy, which continues to this day, is to sow discord in the U.S. political system and to undermine faith in our democratic institutions,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This case demonstrates that federal law enforcement authorities will work aggressively to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of unlawful foreign influence activities whenever feasible, and that we will not stand by idly while foreign actors obstruct the lawful functions of our government. I want to thank the agents and prosecutors for their determined work on this case.”

According to allegations in the criminal complaint, Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, 44, of St. Petersburg, Russia, served as the chief accountant of “Project Lakhta,” a Russian umbrella effort funded by Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Viktorovich Prigozhin and two companies he controls, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, and Concord Catering. Project Lakhta includes multiple components, some involving domestic audiences within the Russian Federation and others targeting foreign audiences in the United States, members of the European Union, and Ukraine, among others.

My Take

This story will be spun from its surface assertion of Russian interference helping President Trump and other Republicans win in 2016. That assertion is inaccurate as the DOJ release indicates, but it won’t stop mainstream and leftist media from calling this the smoking gun against Trump’s presidency.

What this project allegedly did was push forth divisive messaging that was intended to affect people on both sides of the political aisle. This is important to understand because it wasn’t intended to drive one candidate or another. It was designed to take whatever political position any given person has and amplify their anger towards the opposing side.

Russia knows if they push the far right further to the right and the far left further to the left, our own anger will fuel the division. They are taken advantage of our freedom.

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Guns and Crime

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards charged for leaking financial data on Robert Mueller’s targets

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Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards charged for leaking financial data on Robert Muellers targets

Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of leaking financial documents to BuzzFeed. These documents contained information about some of Robert Mueller’s targets in his probe of Russian election meddling, including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, Maria Butina, and the Russian Embassy.

Natalie Edwards: Treasury FinCEN official charged with leaking financial records in Russia probe

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/natalie-edwards-treasury-fincen-employee-charged-with-leaking-financial-records-in-russia-probe/U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement that Edwards “betrayed her position of trust by repeatedly disclosing highly sensitive information.”

“SARs, which are filed confidentially by banks and other financial institutions to alert law enforcement to potentially illegal transactions, are not public documents, and it is an independent federal crime to disclose them outside of one’s official duties,” Berman said.

My Take

There has never been a presidency that had so many government employees attempting to derail it. For a senior Treasury Department employee to be willing to go to jail to help a leftist media outlet post some stories exemplifies how unhinged President Trump’s opponents can be.

Trust of public employees is extremely important and, anecdotally, at an all-time low. It isn’t just people in the White House. There are clearly an large number of unhinged activists working for the federal government.

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