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Tag: President Biden

‘Unintentional Ripple:’ Biden to Keep Wray, Says White House Press Secretary

Christopher Wray is sworn in as the new FBI director. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

Let’s try that again. 

A day after the new White House press secretary told reporters she was unsure if President Biden had confidence in FBI Director Christopher Wray, Jen Psaki circled back with an unequivocal response. 

“I caused an unintentional ripple yesterday so wanted to state very clearly President Biden intends to keep FBI Director Wray on in his role and he has confidence in the job he is doing,” Psaki wrote on Twitter on Thursday. 

Former President Trump appointed Wray to a 10-year term in 2017 after firing then-FBI Director James Comey, a move that prompted the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel. 

Wray and Trump had a rocky relationship because the FBI director refused to peddle unfounded claims about widespread fraud in the election. Wray also denied the Mueller probe was a “witch hunt,” as Trump often claimed. 

Biden has pledged to restore faith in the Justice Department’s independence. 

Sen. Hawley Blocks Fast-Tracked Confirmation of Biden’s Homeland Security Pick

Alejandro Mayorkas

By Steve Neavling

Sen. Josh Hawley blocked the fast-track confirmation process for President-elect Joe Biden’s Homeland Security director pick Alejandro Mayorkas. 

“I cannot consent to skip the standard vetting process and fast-track this nomination when so many questions remain unanswered,” the Missouri Republican said in a statement, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Hawley said he had concerns with Biden’s immigration proposal. 

“Mr. Mayorkas has not adequately explained how he will enforce federal law and secure the southern border given President-elect Biden’s promise to roll back major enforcement and security measures,” Hawley said. “Just today, he declined to say he would enforce the laws Congress has already passed to secure the border wall system.”

When Biden announced his nominee in November, he said Mayorkas “will play a critical role in fixing our broken immigration system and understands that living up to our values and protecting our nation’s security aren’t mutually exclusive — and under his leadership, they’ll go hand-in-hand.”

Biden was hoping for a quick confirmation because of the numerous national security issues facing the country.

Mayorkas, 61, is poised to become the first immigrant and Hispanic to lead the department. 

Mayorkas served as deputy homeland security secretary from 2013 to 2016 under President Obama. A former U.S. attorney in California, Mayorkas also served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during Obama’s first term. 

Born in Cuba, Mayorkas and her family arrived as refugees in the 1960s, settling in Southern California. His mother was a Holocaust survivor. Mayorkas graduated from the University of California-Berkeley and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School. 

Alejandro Mayorkas Will Pledge to Thwart Future Assaults on U.S. Institutions

Alejandro Mayorkas

By Steve Neavling

Alejandro Mayorkas, who is President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, plans to tell lawmakers today that one of his top priorities is preventing attacks similar to the Capitol siege, POLITICO reports.

Mayorkas, 61, is to make the pledge during his appearance before the Senate Homeland Security Committee.  

“If I should have the honor of being confirmed, I will do everything I can to ensure that the tragic loss of life, the assault on law enforcement, the desecration of the building that stands as one of the three pillars of our democracy, and the terror felt by you, your colleagues, staff, and everyone present, will not happen again,” Mayorkas, 61, plans to tell lawmakers in his opening statement.

Senate Democrats are hoping to get Mayorkas confirmed as early as this week because of the national security threats. 

Mayorkas is poised to become the first immigrant and Hispanic to lead the department. 

Mayorkas served as deputy homeland security secretary from 2013 to 2016 under President Obama. A former U.S. attorney in California, Mayorkas also served as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during Obama’s first term. 

Born in Cuba, Mayorkas and her family arrived as refugees in the 1960s, settling in Southern California. His mother was a Holocaust survivor. Mayorkas graduated from the University of California-Berkeley and earned a law degree from Loyola Law School. 

“The love for this country that I learned from my parents made the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol all the more horrifying,” Mayorkas plans to tell senators.

FBI Vetting National Guard Troops Who Are Securing Inauguration

U.S. Capitol

By Steve Neavling

The FBI is vetting all 25,000 National Guard troops who are coming to Washington D.C. to secure the inauguration because defense officials are worried about an insider attack. 

The extraordinary undertaking follows the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and reflects the high level of concern over extremism in the military ranks. 

The Army is coordinating with the FBI to vet the service members, The Washington Post reports.

It’s unclear how extensive the vetting will be. 

“There is no place for extremism in the military and we will investigate each report individually and take appropriate action,” the Army said in the statement. “The Army is committed to working closely with the FBI as they identify people who participated in the violent attack on the Capitol to determine if the individuals have any connection to the Army.”

D.C. Mayor Urges Homeland Security to Take Extra Measures Ahead of Inauguration

By Steve Neavling

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is urging the Department of Homeland Security to take extra measures to protect the capital ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. 

In a letter to acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf, Bowser called last week’s insurrection an “unprecedented terrorist attack” and outlined additional steps to secure the area between Jan. 11-24.

“While I will be reaching out to a broad range of local, regional and federal partners to enhance cooperation among our bodies, I strongly urge the United States Department of Homeland Security to adjust its approach to the Inauguration in several specific ways”, Bowser wrote in the letter.

The mayor is calling for steps beyond the ones taken during previous inaugurations. 

“We believe strongly that the 59th Presidential Inauguration on January 20 will require a very different approach than previous inaugurations given the chaos, injury, and death experienced at the United States Capitol during the insurrection,” Bowser wrote.

She also urged the acting attorney general to direct the FBI to “provide an intelligence and threat briefing on a daily basis” during the extended period.

In addition, Bowser is requesting coordination between federal law law enforcement agencies to protect federal buildings so that D.C. police can respond to issues throughout the city that are unrelated to the inauguration. 

The violence led to the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer. 

Biden to Nominate Merrick Garland as Attorney General

Judge Merrick Garland, via White House.

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Merrick B. Garland, a widely respected federal judge, as attorney general.

Garland, 68, rose to national prominence in 2016 when President Obama nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Republicans denied him a hearing. 

With Democrats poised to take control of the U.S. Senate, Republican won’t be able to block his nomination to serve as attorney general.  

Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. 

Garland is a graduate of Harvard University’s college and law school.