Lawmakers Say Documents Show DHS Secretary Mayorkas Misled Congress About Disinformation Board, Demand Hearing
Several Republican senators are demanding a hearing saying they received documents from a Department of Homeland Security whistleblower about the agency’s new disinformation governance board that allegedly show DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas misled a Senate committee when he testified about the board last month.
The lawmakers sent a letter this week to Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee asking for a hearing on the issue where Mayorkas could come back for questioning.
“We write to request you convene a hearing with Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas as soon as possible to answer critical questions about apparently misleading testimony before the Committee on May 4 on the Department of Homeland Security Disinformation Governance Board (the Board),” the letter said. “We are deeply concerned that documents recently obtained by Senators Josh Hawley and Chuck Grassley contradict the Secretary’s testimony and public statements about the Board.”
This kerfuffle is the latest in a string of disputes around the board, not the least of which included Nina Jankowicz’ resignation from leading the board after controversial social media videos surfaced.
The Republican senators published the DHS documents online purporting to show documented evidence that Mayorkas misrepresented the purpose of the board.
“Responding to a question from a reporter ‘Will American citizens be monitored?’ Secretary Mayorkas responded unequivocally ‘No,’ adding that ‘We at the Department of Homeland Security don’t monitor American citizens,’” the letter said. “He went on to suggest the Board would be concentrating on foreign threats – ’addressing the threat of disinformation from foreign state adversaries [and] from the cartels.’ Yet talking points prepared by Ms. Jankowicz, the Board’s then–Executive Director appear to show that the Department does in fact monitor American citizens and that the Board’s work is concentrated on domestic threats.”
The documents also give evidence that the federal agency has been working on the disinformation board longer than Mayorkas let on in his testimony.
“At the May 4 hearing, Secretary Mayorkas testified that the Board ‘has not yet begun its work,’” the letter said. “Yet the documents indicate the Secretary had stood up the Board on February 24, 2022 – more than two months earlier. The Board’s charter, signed by the Secretary, required the Board meet ‘regularly’ and ‘no less than once per quarter.’ Another document dated only six days before Secretary Mayorkas appeared before the Committee provides preparatory materials for a meeting between Under Secretary for Policy Robert Silvers and Twitter. The document was prepared by Ms. Nina Jankowicz in her capacity as ‘Executive Director DHS Disinformation Governance Board,’ clearly evidencing that the Board had already begun its work.”
After the board was announced, critics quickly raised concerns about its implications for free speech and the Constitution.
“Any regime with an organized disinformation effort directed at its own people is one that is moving away from self-government and toward state control of the most basic aspects of liberty,” said Matthew Spalding, Constitutional expert and Dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of Government for Hillsdale College.
Now, the lawmakers are calling for a hearing, but whether that hearing will actually happen remains to be seen.
“The American public deserves transparency and honest answers to important questions about the true nature and purpose of the Disinformation Governance Board and it is clear that Secretary Mayorkas has not provided them – to the public or this Committee,” the letter said. “Therefore, we request you hold a hearing with Secretary Mayorkas and join us in insisting that all records related to the Board be provided to the Committee prior to the hearing.”
Sen. Peter’s office and the DHS did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol published official data Thursday for apprehensions and encounters May: the highest monthly total in recorded U.S. history of 239,416.
CBP published the data after The Center Square published preliminary numbers received from a Border Patrol agent.
Official numbers include both Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations data of people entering the U.S. illegally at all ports of entry.
Despite President Joe Biden, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and CBP Chief Chris Magnus arguing that the border is closed, that Title 42 is being enforced, and that it is complying with the Remain in Mexico policy, more people entered the U.S. illegally in May 2022 than an any month recorded in U.S. history.
And the numbers are only going up.
In April, CBP reported 235,478 total encounters/apprehensions; in March, 222,239; in February, 165,902; in January, 154,816.
The last two months alone equals roughly the size of the population of Montana.
The southern border sectors that saw the most traffic last month, as in nearly all months, were in Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio sectors.
The numbers are broken down by BP sector and categories, including apprehensions, turn backs, non-violations, outstanding, no-arrests, got aways (known/recorded), and deceased. Here are the numbers based on the preliminary data obtained by The Center Square.
Apps - 46,527TBs - 4,284Got Aways (known/recorded) - 4,378Unresolved Detection - 133No Arrest - 2,887Deceased - 15Non-violation - 261Outstanding - 18
Del Rio Sector
Apps - 45,662TBs - 193Got Aways (known/recorded) - 15,006Unresolved Detection - 168No Arrest - 3,736Deceased -26Non-violation -176Outstanding -58
Apps - 36,568TBs - 204Got Aways (known/recorded) - 3,007Unresolved Detection - 20No Arrest - 62Deceased - 9Non-violation -54Outstanding - 63
El Paso Sector
Apps - 35,650TBs - 3,104Got Aways (known/recorded) - 9,856Unresolved Detection - 31No Arrest - 225Deceased -0Non-violation -104Outstanding -25
Apps - 27,554TBs - 995Got Aways (known/recorded) - 18,612Unresolved Detection - 1,655No Arrest - 3,344Deceased - 12Non-violation - 202Outstanding - 399
San Diego Sector
Apps - 17,797TBs - 756Got Aways (known/recorded) -5,437Unresolved Detection - 4No Arrest - 5,301Deceased - 1Non-violation - 7Outstanding - 150
Apps - 12,297TBs - 2,601Got Aways (known/recorded) - 3,113Unresolved Detection - 45No Arrest - 1,134Deceased - 11Non-violation - 246Outstanding - 0
El Centro Sector
Apps - 7,264TBs - 407Got Aways (known/recorded) - 679Unresolved Detection - 4No Arrest - 5Deceased - 0Non-violation - 2Outstanding - 5
Big Bend Sector
Apps - 3,309TBs - 54Got Aways (known/recorded) - 1,521Unresolved Detection - 41No Arrest - 184Deceased - 5Non-violation - 22Outstanding - 69
Apprehensions include those in the U.S. illegally who surrender or are caught by BP officers. Turn backs include those who entered illegally but returned to Mexico.
The categories of "no arrests" and "unresolved detection" aren’t part of 6 U.S. Code, which classifies how encounters are to be reported. These categories are used as a way to lower the number of got-aways being reported, the BP officer says.
No arrests mean someone “was detected in a non-border zone and their presence didn’t affect Got-Away statistics,” according to the official internal tracking system definition used by agents to record data. "Unresolved detection" means the same thing, but the officers, for a range of reasons, couldn’t determine citizenship.
Non-violations are “deemed to have committed no infraction and don’t affect Got-Away statistics,” according to the tracking system definition.
The categories of non-violations, no arrests and unresolved detection should actually be categorized as got-aways, the BP officer says, assuming all non-arrests were of non-citizens.
Preliminary data in other sectors show more than 1,600 people were apprehended in May, with Miami apprehending the most.
(The Center Square) – It’s not quite time for rolling blackouts, but an alert issued Tuesday by the Midcontinent Independent System Operators, which serves much of Illinois, could be the first step in preparing for such actions.
MISO’s “maximum generation alert” was issued for Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m for the market footprint, which also includes Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and North Dakota, most of Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana and South Dakota, and parts of Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana and Texas. A similar alert was sent Monday for the south region of MISO. The nation is split among several regional energy grids.
“The reason for the Event is because of Forced Generation Outages, Above Normal Temps, High Congestion,” the alert notification said Tuesday.
The announcement is just an advisory and is not the elevated “warning” or “event” stage. But the next advisories could require electric utilities to request energy conservation or implement rolling blackouts and power outages.
Springfield’s municipally owned City Water Light and Power said if “MISO upgrades its emergency and requests additional action, up to and including load reduction, CWLP will then issue a ‘Conserve Alert’,” which would ask utility customers to voluntarily reduce energy consumption during certain peak times to avert service disruptions.
Last month, CWLP chief engineer Doug Brown said such announcements prompt the utility to inform customers of how to conserve energy, and prepare them for the next possible phases.
“The rolling blackout is definitely a last resort,” Brown told WMAY last month. “It’s something that we don’t want to do but in order to support the regional grid, we’re really required to do that.”
There are several things that are causing coal-fired power plants to close, Brown said, adding to the energy crunch.
“When you have to invest over $50 million into those units to make them compliant with environmental regulations, that’s what happened,” Brown said. “Regulation after regulation has basically shut down coal plants and we’re starting to see those effects rather rapidly."
Gov. J.B. Pritzker contended last week that the green energy law he signed in Illinois last year that requires coal fired power plants in the state to close by 2045 isn’t the culprit. He said the law is meant to bring about more energy through investing in alternatives.
“So what we’re talking about this summer is the challenge of making sure that we bring online as much energy as possible,” Pritzker said at a political event. “We also are talking about other states, surrounding states, that aren’t producing enough energy.”
Here are some conservation steps CWLP electric customers could implement for energy emergencies during peak hours and hot temperatures:
Set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher;Use floor or ceiling fans to cool off in occupied rooms;Turn off lights where not needed and postpone major appliance use, such as with washing machines, dryers and dishwashers;Turn off and disconnect electronics not in use such as computers, printers, copiers, coffee makers, televisions and charging devices;Shade west-facing windows in the afternoon to reduce solar heat gain.
Most of Illinois geographically is covered by MISO. The northern part of the state is covered by PJM, or the Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland grid. PJM issued a “Hot Weather Alert” for its western region through Wednesday.
“A Hot Weather Alert helps to prepare transmission and generation personnel and facilities for extreme heat and/or humidity that may cause capacity problems on the grid,” the alert said.
(The Center Square) – Asking questions is not bullying, and pointing out the law does not constitute creating chaos.
And no one supported the threats made against Kiel Schools.
Rick Esenberg with the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty responded to claims that his group bullied Kiel school leaders over its misgendering investigation into three middle school boys, and unleashed a national campaign of chaos that led to a wave of threats against the school district.
“Putting aside the unresolved question of whether Title IX even covers gender identity or whether the First Amendment even permits such a charge to be based on the refusal to say what the government wants you to say, the mere use of disfavored pronouns does not create an environment ‘so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to education, which is a precondition to a charge of harassment under Title IX,” Esenberg wrote in a weekend op-ed at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Esenberg responded to criticism from Journal Sentinel opinion columnist Kristen Brey who essentially blamed WILL for the threats and anger toward the school district.
“While Brey insinuates that there would have been no threats had we not ‘unleashed’ a national campaign (I wish we had that power to dictate what news organizations will cover), this is true only in the very quotidian sense that, if no one knew about what the district was doing, then no one would have done anything,” Esenberg wrote. “Unlike much of what is routinely reported, our public commentary was as accurate and complete as we could make it, was well within the bounds of civility, and carefully pointed out why we thought the district was legally wrong.”
Kiel Schools announced last week that it closed its investigation into the three boys, citing the threats to the school district and the community.
Kiel Schools, however, did not say what the investigation found or what happened to the three boys.
“Brey says it is ironic that we ‘use’ the chaos caused by whomever made these threats to ‘bully’ the school district in a dispute about bullying. I don’t know how to put this nicely. She’s making it up. We never used this ‘chaos’ to ‘bully’ anyone. In fact, we told the district that we did not expect it to change its position in light of threats,” Esenberg wrote at the end of his op-ed.
“But we could not stand down either – any more than the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel would cease reporting on allegations of, say, racism in a public school or any more than Brey would withdraw her less than fully-informed criticism of WILL.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dismissed concerns regarding President Joe Biden's possible reelection bid.
In an interview with CNN's Don Lemon late Monday, Jean-Pierre responded to a question concerning Biden's potential inability to run again in 2024.
"Does the President have the stamina, physically and mentally, do you think to continue on even after 2024?" Lemon asked.
"Don, you're asking me this question? Oh my gosh, he's the president of the United States," Jean-Pierre replied. "That is not a question that we should be even asking."
These comments come after a New York Times article reporting Democrats' hesitancy to endorse Biden, who is 79, for a 2024 run.
"That article that we're talking about is hearsay," Jean-Pierre said. "That's not what we care about; we care about how are we going to deliver for the American people, how are we going to make their lives better."
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., declined to endorse Biden's potential running in 2024 during a different CNN interview.
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Ocasio-Cortez said. "We'll take a look at it."
Biden's approval ratings also show Democrats' wavering support of the President. His approval rating sits at 41%, according to Reuters.
Specifically, voters claim that inflation is the most pressing issue, according to a poll by Quinnipiac University, with 64% disapproving of his handling of the economy.
When asked by a reporter on Monday about the issue of inflation, Jean-Pierre responded, "we know families are concerned about inflation and the stock market. That is something that the president is – is really aware of. And so, look, we face global challenges. We've talked about this. This is – we're not the only country dealing with what we're seeing at the moment as it relates to inflation."
Defending her previous statements on the matter, Jean-Pierre has come out saying that Biden does indeed plan to run in 2024 on her Twitter account.
"To be clear, as the president has said repeatedly, he plans to run in 2024," she said.
Newly released polling data shows that several key markers don't look good for Democrats, even as the Biden administration works overtime to rebuff criticism over soaring inflation and record high gas prices.
Gallup released its survey data Tuesday which reported that “the current Democratic congressional majority is facing an extremely unfavorable election environment.”
The party of the incumbent president traditionally loses seats in Congress during the midterm elections, as former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump experienced.
That momentum, combined with President Joe Biden’s low approval rating and several other data markers, “predict a greater-than-average loss of seats for the Democratic Party this fall,” according to Gallup.
“Gallup's latest data, from a May 2-22 survey, finds 41% of Americans approving of the job President Joe Biden is doing, 18% approving of the job Congress is doing, 16% satisfied with the way things are going in the U.S., and a 32-percentage-point deficit in positive (14%) versus negative (46%) ratings of current economic conditions,” Gallup said. “Each of those metrics is at least 10 points lower than the historical average at the time of past midterm elections, and most are on pace to be the worst of such readings.”
The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates this year, which has many economists fearing a recession could be on the horizon. As The Center Square previously reported, Conference Board’s Measure of CEO Confidence released in May found that the majority of CEOs expect the U.S. to enter a recession.
“Nearly 60% of surveyed CEOs expect inflation will come down over the next few years,” the report said. “However, they also believe that the Fed’s interest rate hikes will cause a brief recession. Sixty-one percent of CEOs said economic conditions were worse than six months ago, up from 35% in the first quarter. Thirty-seven percent of the CEOs said conditions in their own industries were worse than six months ago, up from 22% in the first quarter.”
Meanwhile, American consumers are growing increasingly pessimistic about the economy and report inflation as a top concern. That economic pessimism is translating into political dissatisfaction with the Biden administration.
“Biden's current 41% approval rating puts him in the lower tier of all prior presidents' job approval ratings taken just before past midterm elections,” Gallup said. “Biden currently has the same approval rating that Donald Trump did at the time of the 2018 elections, when the GOP lost 40 House seats, and similar to Ronald Reagan's 42% in October 1982, before the Republicans lost 26 seats. Only one president, George W. Bush, had a lower rating than Biden does today, and his 38% rating in November 2006 was associated with a 30-seat loss.”
Majority of Americans Use Savings to Cover Inflation Costs as Stagflation Concerns Mount, Reports Say
The majority of Americans’ finances are worse than they were a year ago and they’re blowing through savings to make ends meet as record-high inflation has caused prices to skyrocket, several reports indicate.
At the same time, financial experts argue stagflation warnings are surfacing as the White House says it hasn’t “missed much” on inflation and boasts of economic growth.
Roughly 70% of Americans are using their savings to cover the higher costs of goods that are blowing through their budgets, a recent survey of 2,000 adults conducted by Forbes found. According to the survey, 67%, or “a full two-thirds of Americans say they’re raiding their savings as prices for goods and services spike.”
Among them, 8% said they’ve completely drained their savings; 23% have depleted a substantial amount and 36% have spent a small amount solely because of inflation. Older Americans are faring better, with 67% of those 77 or older saying they haven’t touched their savings.
But as real wages have dropped and consumer debt has increased, savings are shrinking for most Americans. According to a Bureau of Economic Analysis report, the personal savings rate for April 2022 was 4.4%, the lowest level since September 2008.
Likewise, a New York Federal Reserve “Survey of Consumer Expectations” found the majority surveyed said their finances are worse today than they were a year ago. Spending growth expectations increased sharply in April to 9%, the Fed reported, “the fifth consecutive increase and a new series high.”
Those impacted the most are between the ages of 40 and 60 and without a college education, the survey found.
Concerns about stagflation are also increasing, the Fed found. Stagflation occurs when rising interest rates, increased unemployment and slowing economic growth occur at the same time. While inflation is at a 40-year high and the Fed is expected to raise interest rates later this week, unemployment numbers are going down, not up.
Recently surveyed economists also agree the U.S. is likely to hit a recession in 2023, according to a report by the Financial Times. One third said the recession could hit by the second half of next year; 40% said it would happen during the first or second quarters.
As inflation rose by 8.6% in May from last May, the highest since 1981, consumer confidence also fell. According to the Consumer Confidence Board, consumer confidence dropped to a three-month low in May – a key indication that a recession is near.
When evaluating consumer data, “70% of our GDP is consumer spending, and consumers are about as gloomy as they’ve ever, ever been,” George John, a University of Minnesota professor, told WCCO Sunday Morning. “So that tells me consumer spending is not going to continue, and that’s when you get a recession.”
Rick Rieder, BlackRock’s CIO of global fixed income, echoed a similar sentiment. “More and more corporate announcements and earnings releases (or warnings) are reflecting a consumer that is now in a terrible mood given the decline in net disposable income, and consequently, these consumers are dramatically slowing spending on the backside of it,” he wrote, as reported by CNBC.
Economists surveyed by the Consumer Confidence Board “do not foresee the economy picking up steam in the months ahead,” it found. “Looking ahead, expect surging prices and additional interest rate hikes to pose continued downside risks to consumer spending this year,” the board warned.
The Fed is expected to raise interest rates this week by half a point or 75 basis points to offset inflation.
Some economists expect the economy to slow as the Fed raises interest rates, MarketWatch reports, and “some companies have already cut back on their hiring plans, and even rescinded some offers,” it notes.
Bank of America’s chief investment strategist Michael Hartnett warned that the U.S. economy is already in a “technical recession” and Phil Orlando, Federated Hermes’ chief equity market strategist said consumers at the margins aren’t “going to be able or willing to continue to pay” skyrocketing prices, creating a “greater stagflationary risk,” CNBC reported.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden last month boasted that his administration created a record 6.7 million jobs and in his first year in office, the U.S. saw “the fastest economic growth in any year in nearly four decades.”
A member of his Council on Economic Advisors, Jared Bernstein, told MSNBC that he didn’t believe the White House "missed much" on inflation. He also blamed inflation on Russia invading Ukraine and coronavirus variants, even though inflation hit a 40-year high before Russia invaded Ukraine and the U.S. has been dealing with the coronavirus for more than two years.
“Inflation is historically elevated everywhere,” Bernstein said. “So it is certainly not just one country’s fiscal or monetary policy.
"I don't think the White House missed much at all in the following sense,” he added. “We don't sit on our hands and hope that these forecasts for stable growth and inflation slowing down come true."
Diesel and regular gasoline prices hit a new all-time high Tuesday as they continue their rapid climb in recent weeks.
Diesel, up to $5.78 per gallon, has hit a new record almost every day this month.
Regular unleaded gas continued to extend its record, reaching $5.02 nationally. Several states have surpassed the $5 mark, and many are drawing nearer every day.
California leads the nation by far with the highest prices. On Tuesday, the average price for unleaded gas in California was $6.44. Georgia has the lowest prices at $4.49 per gallon.
Recent polling shows many Americans are cutting back on driving and summer vacation plans because of higher costs.
Republicans have hammered Democrats on gas prices, which have soared since President Joe Biden took office.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., took to Twitter, writing, "When the people in charge won’t produce more oil, put criminals in jail or enforce our immigration laws you end up with historic gas prices, a violent crime wave & a border crisis".
(The Center Square) – There is a call for more gender, harassment, bullying, and Title IX investigations in Wisconsin schools.
The group Fair Wisconsin, which calls itself the leading statewide organization advocating for LGBTQ+ people, on Thursday said local schools need to be supported after what happened with the misgender/sexual harassment investigation into three middle schoolers in Kiel.
“Young people in Wisconsin are facing a spike in antitransgender harassment this spring. Anti-transgender extremists in Kiel have even threatened to bomb schools and libraries following a Title IX investigation into an incident of anti-trans bullying and harassment in a local middle school. These threats come amid a nationwide trend in harmful rhetoric and extremist political attacks on transgender students, from curriculum censorship laws to health care bans to sports participation bans,” the group said in a statement.
Kiel Schools closed their investigation into the three eighth-grade boys last week. The decision came after a week of bomb threats to the local school district and even a death threat case that saw a California man arrested by the FBI.
“We urge our elected officials and school leaders to counter these attacks by enforcing existing comprehensive non-discrimination policies, continuing active investigations into these incidents, and investing in additional support for young people facing discrimination and harassment,” Fair Wisconsin’s Executive Director Megin McDonell said Thursday.
Kiel Schools are not the only school district to deal with anger about questions of gender in their classrooms.
A Waukesha County judge last week allowed a lawsuit from two pairs of parents in Kettle Moraine Schools to move forward over the district’s secret-gender policy, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court is weighing a challenge to Madison School’s policy that allows students to transition at school without letting parents know.
“We can all agree that kids deserve to feel safe at school. Students should be able to focus on learning, without fear of being treated differently, bullied, or even bombed. But right now, anti-trans extremism is putting young people in harm’s way – from school staff perpetuating harmful anti-transgender rhetoric to vigilante extremists threatening violence. These extremists don’t represent the majority of us in Wisconsin who strongly support equal rights and opportunity for everyone, including LGBTQ+ people,” McDonell added.
(The Center Square) – Abortion is once again front and center in Wisconsin’s race for governor.
Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday called the Republican-led legislature into a special session on June 22 to “repeal Wisconsin’s criminal abortion ban.”
“I’ve said all along I’ll never stop fighting to defend reproductive rights and safe, legal access to abortion as long as I’m governor, and today, I’m asking Wisconsinites to join us by making your voices heard.”
That drew immediate reaction, and condemnation, from the Republicans running for governor.
Kevin Nicholson was first to react.
“You ignore record murder on our streets and call a special session to encourage the continuation of a practice that has killed 500K+ Wisconsin children and 60M+ American children since #RoeVWade,” Nicholson said on Twitter.
Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said Republican lawmakers in Madison need to hold the line.
“Tony Evers wants abortion without restrictions. Republicans should reject his special session,” Kleefisch said in her own tweet.
Candidate Tim Michels fired-off a string of tweets in response to the governor’s call to “get to work.”
“Yes Tony, let’s get to work. But here’s what must be done if you’re going to recall the legislature: Fix the tragic mess at the Union Grove Veterans Home by the 4th of July. Pass and sign into law the Parental Bill of Rights. Ban Zuckerbucks,” Michels tweeted. “Oh, and you could fire John Chisholm today.”
Wisconsin is one of more than two dozen states where abortion will become illegal if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to do that any day now.
Abortion is a divisive issue in Wisconsin and in the race for govenror.
The latest Marquette Law School Poll from last month shows not quite half (48%) of Democrats believe it is one of the most important issues, while nearly a third (31%) of Republicans, and 38% of independent voters say the same thing.