NoKo failed missile is KN-17, new type of Scud, US officials tell Fox

By Lucas Tomlinson

U.S. officials tell Fox News the failed North Korean missile was a KN-17, a new type of Scud, which could be used to target ships similar to the one launched earlier this month days before Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.

“The only way a Scud gets a new designation is if it is substantially different,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a scholar at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

The KN-17 is a single-stage, liquid-fueled missile -- not the three-stage, solid-fuel missile that North Korea successfully tested back in February, which caused more concern among Pentagon officials.

Monday, the Pentagon announced it was conducting a new nuclear posture review, two days after North Korea failed to launch a new type of ballistic missile, which exploded four seconds after launch.

The latest failed test over the weekend occurred hours before Vice President Pence touched down in Seoul. On Monday, he visited the Demilitarized Zone on the border between North and South and warned the rogue communist regime against conducting further tests.

"There was a period of strategic patience. But the era of strategic patience is over. President Trump has made it clear that the patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out, and we want to see change,'' Pence said.

Aside from the rumblings out of North Korea, Russia recently deployed a ground-based, nuclear-capable cruise missile in violation of a decades-long arms treaty between Washington and Moscow, drawing condemnation from Capitol Hill lawmakers. The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and the then-Soviet Union required complete “destruction” of ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 310 and 3,418 miles and support equipment by 1990. 

On Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Deputy National Security Adviser KT McFarland on “Fox News Sunday” if the U.S. played a role in North Korea’s failed test launch over the weekend.

“You know we can't talk about secret intelligence and things that might have been done, covert operations that might have happened. So, I really have no comment on that, and nor should I,” McFarland said.

She added, “I do think we are entering a whole new era, not just with North Korea, but with everybody, with any country, major country, we are entering a cyber platform, a cyber battlefield.”

North Korean Nuclear Threat

By Jake Smith

In 80 days of the Trump Administration, the regime of North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un has launched about half a dozen missiles. In response to the latest test, the USS Carl Vinson has navigated from its destination in Australia to the waters off of the Korean Peninsula.

“Carl Vinson Strike Group, including Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), will operate in the Western Pacific rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia,” according to a release by Admiral Harry Harris, Commander United States Pacific Command.

President Donald Trump has called on Chinese President Xi Jinping to assist in diminishing the threat from North Korea. Trump on Tuesday said North Korea “is looking for trouble” and has vowed to “solve the problem without” China.

“I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem,” Trump tweeted hinting that a favorable US-China trade agreement could emerge if cooperation between the two powers to de-escalate the North Korean threat is successful.

China has responded by placing a total of 150,000 troops along the Chinese-North Korean border, signaling Chinese officials are attempting to deter a strike against the regime similar to the Syrian airstrike committed last week by the US, according to reports.

This all comes after President Trump’s exclusive interview the Financial Times last month where he said, “China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Trump said. “And if they do, that will be very good for China. And if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone. If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”

"Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the U.S. invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theater but also in the U.S. mainland," North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said to the country in response to the USS Carl Vinson.

Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korea’s acting President, has warned Pyongyang will “wage greater provocations such as a nuclear test timed with various anniversaries.” The next nuclear test could happen as soon as April 15, the anniversary of the communist country’s founding according to reports by The Wall Street Journal. 

Neil Gorsuch is expected to be confirmed by the Senate on Friday to become the 113th justice on the Supreme Court. Here is a look at what happens next:

From Bill Mears, Fox News Producer

With the Senate vote, would Gorsuch now officially become a justice?

No, the final step in the confirmation process involves President Trump issuing a written commission to his nominee, who then must take two oaths of office before assuming his official duties.

What is the wording of the oaths?

The Constitutional Oath is required of all federal employees. That includes members of Congress, and top executive branch and judicial officers. State legislators, governors, and judges take a similar oath to uphold and support the U.S. Constitution. The President has a separately worded oath, specifically written in the Constitution. Here is the oath Gorsuch will take:

"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

The second, Judicial Oath, is mandated in the Judiciary Act of 1789, which reads, "the justices of the Supreme Court, and the district judges, before they proceed to execute the duties of their respective offices" must take this affirmation. Now, every federal judge takes this oath, including those in appeals, magistrate, and bankruptcy courts. This oath has been revised over the years. The current version passed by Congress in 1990 took out the phrase "according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably to the Constitution," and replaced it with "under the Constitution."

"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God."

Who administers the oaths of office?

The Chief Justice of the United States (that's his official title) traditionally administers the oaths, but almost any federal, state, or local officer can perform the duty, including clerks of court. The law makes no special mandate. In 1789, Justice James Wilson was sworn in by the mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the high court first sat. Thurgood Marshall, the nation's first African-American justice, took the Constitutional Oath in 1967 from Associate Justice Hugo Black, an Alabaman. Marshall later took the Judicial Oath in the courtroom, from the clerk of court.

Are there any special traditions surrounding the ceremonies?

Some swear-in ceremonies are private, some public. Some happen inside the court's building on Capitol Hill, some at the White House. We should know shortly the timing and location of Gorsuch's oaths.  Often, a public reception hosted by the President is held days later at the White House, attended by family and friends.

Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to swear in Gorsuch. The current Chief took his oaths at the White House, with Justice John Paul Stevens doing the honors. Current Justices Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were also sworn in with nationally televised White House ceremonies, as was Antonin Scalia, whom Gorsuch will replace on the bench.

Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito took their initial oaths at the court. Justice Stephen Breyer, interestingly, first took his oaths in rural Vermont in early August, where Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who did the honors, had a vacation home. That was so Breyer could begin his judicial duties immediately while the court was still in recess. The oaths were retaken for posterity in a public ceremony at the White House nine days later.

One special tradition involves the historic chair used by Chief Justice John Marshall, who served from 1801 to 1835. Every justice since Lewis Powell and Rehnquist in 1972 has sat in that chair before taking their oaths or at a subsequent investiture ceremony. In a rare twist, both men took office that same day, but by tradition, Powell gained all-important seniority because he was older than then-Associate Justice Rehnquist by 17 years.

Does the president have to attend any of the official or ceremonial swear-ins?

No, but it has become a recent tradition. For the first 150 years, there was almost no presidential involvement. The first swear-in ceremony at the White House was in 1940, when President Franklin Roosevelt invited Justice Frank Murphy. Every president since has attended an oath ceremony for at least one of his appointees. And every current member of the court except Sotomayor has had an oath ceremony at the White House. Several of these were symbolic, since the justices may have already been sworn in officially earlier, so they could begin their work right away.

There sure are a lot of ceremonies surrounding the court. Is that it for Gorsuch?

Not for an institution built on tradition and ceremony. While most new justices will have already begun their judicial duties, a separate investiture is often held, where colleagues formally welcome him to the bench. This is pure ritual, and is not required. The "special sitting" as they call it, is held in the courtroom, often several days or weeks after the official oaths are taken. The new justice sits in the Marshall Chair just off the bench and the chief justice reads a proclamation. Gorsuch would then walk up to the bench, shake his colleagues' hands, and then take his seat on the far right end of the long dais. Presidents Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama have all attended at least one investiture ceremony at the court. President Truman was the first to attend an investiture of his nominee, for Justice Harold Burton in 1945. Gorsuch's  investiture has not yet been scheduled.

One other informal ceremony familiar to many viewers is the traditional walk down the exterior, marble-columned Supreme Court steps by the chief justice and the new justice.  That usually happens after an investiture or court oath ceremony. The newest court member smiles for the cameras, but rarely says anything beyond a simple "hello" or "thank you."

Any other interesting tidbits?

In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman on the high court. President Reagan, who made the historic appointment, attended the private oath ceremony at the court. It was also the first time such a private ceremony was photographed.

Scalia in 1986 took his two oaths from two different chief justices. At the White House, the retiring Warren Burger first administered the Constitutional Oath to Rehnquist -- his replacement -- then to Scalia. Later that day in a special sitting of the court, Burger delivered the separate Judicial Oath to Rehnquist, who then, in his first act as the new chief justice, did the same to the first Italian-American on the high court.

The soon-to-be justice traditionally places his left hand on a Bible and raises his right hand during the oaths. The spouse of the nominee usually holds the Bible. Bachelor David Souter in 1990 relied on the teenage daughter of his good friend Thomas Rath to handle the job. Sotomayor's mother, Celina, did the same for her in 2009. Using the holy book is not necessary, according the court curator's office. A copy of the Constitution, another religious text, or no document at all can be used.

The first justice to be fully vested as a member of the court was Justice James Wilson in 1789.

It is customary for the justice, judge, or official who administers the oaths to sign the back of the accompanying paper commission, issued by the president and certifying the nominee was duly confirmed by the Senate. The commission in past years was often read out loud at the oath or investiture ceremonies.

 

Congress Battles To Avoid Government Shutdown

By Jake Smith

As Republicans in Congress and the President are licking their wounds from a defeat on repealing and replacing Obamacare, a government shutdown is looming over Congress.

April 28 is the day, non-essential federal government offices close their doors due to lack of funding for the upcoming fiscal year. Both parties in the House and Senate are negotiating a spending package that will prevent those offices from closing.

President Trump has asked Congress to cut $18 billion in domestic discretionary spending while requesting $30 billion in extra defense funding and $3 billion for border defense, $1.5 billion of that for the border wall. Although, Democrats have vowed to oppose any legislation that will fund the US-Mexico border wall.

President Trump is unlikely to get the funding for his border wall, because Republicans lack the Senate votes to silent a Democratic filibuster, meaning any government funding bill will have to be a bipartisan effort.

Funding the government will be the first major legislation the Republicans and Democrats are attempting after Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was forced to pull the American Health Care Act – the Republican Obamacare replacement plan – from the House floor on Friday.

Ryan told reporters Tuesday the Republican leadership will not use the government funding bill to defund Planned Parenthood. “We think reconciliation is the tool, because that gets it into law,” Ryan suggesting using a separate bill to defund the organization. This may come as a surprise to more conservative members of the Republican Party who would want to use government funding to defund Planned Parenthood.

 “It would put the lives of the men and women serving in the military in greater danger because they can't train, and, therefore, they are not ready to fight,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told Arizona Republicans over the prospects of a government shutdown, “And we are fighting, as you know.”

Any spending bill would only keep the doors open through September 30, the federal government’s end of fiscal year 2017.

House and Senate Appropriation Committee members anticipate they will have a bill ready the week of April 24, days before the shutdown.

 

Tax Reform Next On The Trump Agenda

By Jake Smith

After a bruising defeat on the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, the White House and Congressional Republicans set their sights on the first revitalization of tax reform in three decades.

"I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform. That will be next," President Donald Trump told reporters in the Oval Office after the decision to pull the healthcare bill from the House floor.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan encouraged President Trump to address healthcare first, if passed it would make tax reform easier. "Yes, this does make tax reform more difficult. But it does not, in any way, make it impossible. We will proceed with tax reform," Ryan told reporters last Friday.

The administration’s plan is to “lower rates for Americans in every tax bracket, simplify the tax code, and reduce the U.S. corporate tax rate.”

Cutting the effective corporate tax rate to 20 percent, down from 35 percent, has been proposed by the White House to boost economic growth to four percent GDP growth per year.

President Trump has yet to commit to the border adjustment tax propelled by House Republicans, which would raise more than $1 trillion from taxing imports and exports.

Trump may not see the same fight from the House Freedom Caucus as he did during healthcare. “Does it have to be fully offset? My personal response is no,” House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina said on Sunday suggesting he is open to cut taxes even if it raises the deficit.

 “We’re driving the train on this,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday concerning the White House’s involvement in the tax cuts efforts. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin has estimated a bill for tax reform will be ready around August. 

Comey calls impending terrorist diaspora from ISIS territory the "ghost of Christmas future"

By DOJ Producer Matt Dean

Speaking this morning at a national security summit at UT Austin, FBI Director Comey repeated his concerns over a "terrorist diaspora" that he believes will occur once ISIS territory in Iraq and Syria is "crushed" by coalition forces. 

He said that he expects these individuals to flow outward largely to Western Europe, Southeast Asia, and North Africa.

Labeling the impending phenomenon the "ghost of Christmas future," Comey used his remarks to urge government leaders and intelligence officials in Western Europe to "break down the barriers" in the EU and share intelligence and critical information in an effort to crack down on the terrorism threat. He did not make any references to Wednesday's attack in London. 

Comey compared Europe's need to unite on security issues to the United States' national security 180 that followed the 9/11 attacks. He described Western Europe as FBI's front lines in preventing those individuals from committing violence outside of the so-called caliphate.

In speaking to trend shifts the FBI has seen domestically with ISIS followers, Comey said that the foreign traveller issue that peaked during the summer of 2015 "hit the floor" in 2016 and has since stayed there. While ISIS's capacity to direct people to travel to the caliphate has dropped, the FBI chief called the ability of terrorists to use social media and the internet to inspire and enable individuals toward violence a "lingering phenomenon."

Comey said that the FBI currently has in the area of 1,000 open homegrown terrorism cases in the U.S. trying to determine where people are on the spectrum of "consuming poison and acting on that poison." 

Speaking to the difficult nature of the current threat environment, the Director said these consumers of ISIS propaganda are people "of all backgrounds." Comey said that FBI's terrorism-related cases have spanned the age range of roughly 15-60, adding that there is no one particular "hot spot" in the U.S. for extremist activity because a lot of the recruitment and inspiration continues to happen online. 

Notably, Comey acknowledged instances where individuals who had prior contact with the FBI went on to carry out attacks in the U.S. Specifically, he mentioned Orlando Pulse Nightclub attacker Omar Mateen and the fact that the Bureau had already done a months long investigation on him that "produced nothing to incapacitate him on." 

Comey said that he personally reviewed the case file and called the work a "quality investigation," adding that he believes Mateen radicalized closer to the actual attack. 

Asked during the Q&A portion of the event whether his public statements on the findings of the Clinton email investigation had any bearing on his decision Monday to publicly acknowledge the existence of an FBI counterintelligence investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russian officials, Comey playfully said "I'm not gonna talk about it." 

American man and wife among victims of London terror attack

 

Melissa & Kurt Cochran were victims in the London terror attack on March 22, 2017.   They were among the first hit by the vehicle on the Westminster bridge.  Kurt was killed in the attack and his wife, Melissa, was seriously injured. She is currently being treated at a hospital in London. 

The couple was in Europe celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Wednesday was to be the last day of the trip following a visit to see Melissa's parents who are serving as missionaries in the London LDS temple.

Melissa's brother, Clint Payne, issued a family statement through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

"Our family is heartbroken to learn of the death of our brother- and son-in-law, Kurt W. Cochran, who was a victim of Wednesday's terrorist attack in London. Kurt was a good man and a loving husband to our sister and daughter, Melissa. They were in Europe to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, and were scheduled to return to the United States on Thursday. Melissa also received serious injuries in the attack, and is being cared for in the hospital. We express our gratitude to the emergency and medical personnel who have cared for them and ask for your prayers on behalf of Melissa and our family. Kurt will be greatly missed, and we ask for privacy as our family mourns and as Melissa recovers from her injuries."

Melissa & Kurt are self-employed, having built a recording studio business from the ground up over the last 10 years.  During that time they donated their recording and sound skills to the Summerfest celebration in Bountiful, Utah, to local school productions, and many other worthy causes. 



Melissa's family is seeing funds to help cover her regular monthly expenses and loss of income.  This fund is administered by her brother who is the family spokesman in this tragedy. He will deliver the funds to her.

For more on how you can help please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/melissaandkurt

 

NUNES/TRUMP: The search for a "smoking gun" at NSA

By James Rosen

Capitol Hill sources tell Fox News that the classified intelligence that Chairman Nunes has seen and only vaguely described in his public appearances over the past twenty-four hours came to him from multiple sources; corroborated information about surveillance of the Trump team that had been known to the chairman even before the president’s now-famous tweets of March 4; and leaves no doubt that the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on the president-elect.

The key to the last conclusion is the unmasking of selected U.S. persons whose names appeared in the intelligence, the sources said, adding that the documentary trails leaves no other conceivable purpose for the unmasking to have been done other than for its fruits to be used selectively against Mr. Trump.

The FBI has not been responsive to the House Intelligence Committee’s request for documents, but the National Security Agency is expected to produce documents to the committee by tomorrow (Friday). The NSA document production is expected to provide more than that which Chairman Nunes has been describing, including what one source described as a potential “smoking gun” establishing the spying. The materials will take time to be assessed properly, with the result that congressional investigators and attorneys won’t have a solid handle on their contents, and their implications, until early next week or mid-week.

Because Nunes’s intelligence came from multiple sources over a span of weeks, and he has not shared the actual materials with his colleagues, he will be the only committee member in a position to know whether NSA has turned over some or all of the intelligence he is citing. However, Fox News is told that Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff has been briefed on the basic contents of Nunes’s intelligence, so he can no longer truthfully state that he has no idea what Nunes is talking about.

Fox News is further advised that CIA Director Mike Pompeo is sympathetic to the effort to determine, with documentary evidence, the extent of Obama administration spying on the Trump team, if any, in its final days.

 

Senate Judiciary Committee Considers Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

By Jake Ryan

President Trump’s nominee to the United States Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch appeared in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee today to provide an open testimony on his long road to fill the vacant seat of the late Antonin Scalia.

Judge Neil Gorsuch – who is currently a Judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals – intently listened as all 11 Republicans and nine Democrats of the committee laid out the case for and against him becoming the next SCOTUS Justice.

Democrats claim Neil Gorsuch should never have been brought in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee because former President Obama’s replacement, Chief Justice Merrick Garland of the 13th Circuit, was denied the opportunity for a hearing.

Much of Monday’s opening statements by Democrats referenced the lack of consideration by Senate Republicans for Nominee Merrick Garland.

Gorsuch is set for a long week, Tuesday and Wednesday will be reserved for at least 50 minutes of questioning from Senate Judiciary Committee members and Thursday will conclude with a witness panel speaking for or against Gorsuch.

To be the next Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Neil Gorsuch will need all 52 Republicans and eight Democrats for a total of 60 votes. Although, Senate Republicans can perform the “nuclear option,” which would change Senate rules to confirm a Supreme Court nominee with a simple majority of 51.

Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck E. Grassley (R-Iowa), vows to refer Neil Gorsuch to the full Senate by April 3.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says the Senate will “confirm him before the April recess.”

Judge Neil Gorsuch attended Columbia University, Harvard Law School, and obtained his Ph.D. in Law from University College, Oxford, and received the highest rating of “well-qualified” by the American Bar Association. 

Comey, Rogers Testify to House Intelligence Committee

By Jake Smith

FBI Director James Comey and NSA Chief Michael Rogers testified before the House Intelligence Committee today regarding Russian interference into the 2016 election and President Trump’s accusations of “wiretapping” of Trump Tower by the Obama Administration.

In a rare circumstance, Director Comey confirmed an on-going investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election – “I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI -- as part of our counterintelligence mission -- is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.”

Comey said the investigation “includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government.”

President Trump took to Twitter this morning to say, “James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!” James Clapper is the former Director of National Intelligence under President Barack Obama.

The United States 17 intelligence agencies agree that the Russian government – directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin – interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump.

Although, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes says there is currently no evidence of collusion by the Russian government and the Trump campaign and he “doubts any evidence exists.”

Chairman Nunes pushed Admiral Rogers on whether the Russian interference could have affected vote tallies in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, or Ohio. Rogers answered “no” to the Russians being able to interfere in vote tallies in any of those states.

The FBI head says he has “no information” to support the claim by President Trump that wiretapping of Trump Towers took place during the election.

Comey told the Committee, “With respect to the president's tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets.”

Chairman Nunes said in his opening statement, “we know there was not a physical wiretap of Trump Tower. However, it is still possible that other surveillance activities were used against President Trump and his associates.”

This hearing was just the beginning of long political and legal battles of the Russian interference into the 2016 election and the allegation of surveillance of Trump Tower. 

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