Trump rages at Democrats as investigations advance on multiple fronts

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 01:34

President Donald Trump has spent weeks insisting that Democrats and the country need to move on from the Mueller report and questions about Russian influence over his 2016 campaign.

But a day of anger and drama at the White House on Wednesday was a stark reminder that the various investigations the subject has spawned threaten to swamp the rest of Trump’s first term.

Its public centerpiece was a hastily-arranged Rose Garden monologue in which Trump declared that he would refuse to work with Congressional Democrats unless they abandon talk of inquiries and impeachment. “You can go down the investigation track, and you can go down the investment track, or the track of ‘Let’s get things done for the American people,’” Trump told a crowd of reporters who’d been hustled together for the impromptu event.

Although White House aides later downplayed the notion that Trump would cut off all cooperation with Democrats, it was the president’s starkest expression of anger to date about the Democratic-led investigations pressuring his presidency. Trump’s remarks came after he upended a White House meeting with Congressional Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who earlier in the day had accused Trump of waging a “cover-up.”

It also arrived during a week — ostensibly dedicated to the bloodless topic of infrastructure, the subject of his aborted meeting with Democrats — in which the president has increasingly come under siege.

New York lawmakers, for instance, passed a bill on Wednesday allowing New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance to share politicians’ state tax returns with congressional committees – a move that ultimately could help Democrats as they attempt to learn more about the president’s finances.

And earlier in the week, a federal judge ruled that Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars, must turn over records and communications from its work for Trump, his businesses, and his foundation from 2011 to 2018, landing another blow to the president’s efforts to stonewall various congressional inquiries and subpoenas.

In the ruling, the judge said the Constitution clearly gives Congress the power to investigate the president for unlawful conduct regardless of any alleged political motivations. Trump’s lawyers quickly promised to appeal the decision.

The result is a president facing multiple angles of attack as he tries to pivot to a busy summer of foreign policy trips and his own re-election bid.

Trump’s response — a declaration that he can’t work with Democrats who are pursuing him — is also a break from past presidents who have tried to present an image of carrying on with the nation’s business amid partisan harassment.

“The president arguing that he is under investigation and cannot govern is basically saying that he can’t work for the American people, and I think voters will think differently about that,” said Joe Lockhart, White House press secretary for President Bill Clinton from 1998 to 2000. Clinton repeatedly shrugged off questions about White House scandals by saying he was focused on his policy agenda, and Lockhart noted that Clinton managed to strike deals with House Republicans.

White House aides were quick to modulate the president, arguing behind closed doors that Trump would not stop all legislation, or end all cooperation with Democrats, despite his Rose Garden outburst and several ensuing tweets warning Democrats, in part, that “[y]ou can’t investigate and legislate simultaneously.”

Officials still expect Republicans and Democrats to work together this summer to pass the recently-negotiated USMCA trade deal. Similarly, the two parties are expected to raise the debt ceiling and come to some spending agreement to both keep the financial markets intact heading into 2020 and to take pressure off of senators facing re-election next year.

“There are a number of other things, under the radar, that we’re working on and can get done,” said one White House official. “His comments were more directed at infrastructure, I think.”

When Clinton faced vigorous investigations during his 1996 re-election campaign of subjects that included his political fundraising, Lockhart says that he still managed to work with Republicans to pass legislation that raised the minimum wage, reformed welfare, and made significant changes to health care.

“He had the exact opposite approach than President Trump on every level. He never complained publicly. He never made himself the victim, and his job was to work for American people even if Republicans were investigating,” Lockhart said.

He noted that Clinton even hosted Republican Rep. Tom DeLay – one of the architects of the impeachment proceedings — at the White House for an event on adoption during the investigations.

President Richard Nixon similarly tried to continue to govern even as the Watergate proceedings ramped up. During the Senate hearings on the scandal, Nixon tried to work on major health care legislation and economic measures to deal with stagflation, said Timothy Naftali, at New York University professor and founding director of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.

As the Watergate investigation wore on, Nixon turned to foreign policy as a refuge, attending a summit in the Soviet Union and visiting the Middle East in the summer of 1974, said John Aloysius Farrell, a presidential historian and author of Richard Nixon: The Life, a biography of the 37th president.

The lessons for Trump in Nixon’s experience, Farrell said, are to buy time by casting the investigations as partisan and run out the clock until the election, if possible.

“They survived Mueller without there being a smoking gun in terms of public opinion, and they can play that hand out. They don’t have that much longer to go,” Farrell added.

“The Watergate investigation started in June ‘72, but Nixon did not resign until August 1974. These things do not happen quickly – if they happen at all,” he said.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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Girl, 10, 6th known child to die after US border detention

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 01:32

HOUSTON (AP) - U.S. authorities say a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador died last year after being detained by border authorities in a previously unreported case.

The death marks the sixth known case in the last year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday that she died ...

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New York Puts Democrats a Step Closer to Trump Tax Returns

This news was published by : US Politics exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 01:20
New York lawmakers gave final passage to legislation Wednesday that would allow President Donald Trump's state tax returns to be released to congressional committees that have, so far, been barred from getting the president's federal filings.  The Democrat-led Senate and Assembly both approved the measures Wednesday, sending them to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat. A spokesman has said the governor supports the principle behind the legislation but will review the bill carefully before deciding whether to sign it. The legislation doesn't target Trump by name, but it would allow the leaders of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation to get access to any New York state tax returns filed by elected officials and top appointed officials. The legislation would apply to personal income tax returns, as well as business taxes paid in New York.  An earlier version of the proposal that passed the state Senate two weeks ago would have allowed congressional committees to get any New Yorker's returns, regardless of whether they held public office. Lawmakers later narrowed the legislation to address concerns that it went too far, prompting the Senate to hold a second vote on the new language Wednesday.  New York Republicans have railed against the bill. John Flanagan, who leads the Senate GOP, called the legislation "troubling" and "bad public policy." Fellow GOP lawmakers said the new proposal's narrower focus shows Democrats went too far with their first proposal, which would have required state tax officials to hand over any New Yorker's state tax returns. "This bill is nothing more than political showmanship, and we all know it," said Assembly Andrew Goodell, who represents a mostly rural western New York district. Republicans also blasted Democrats for going after the president instead of focusing on challenges closer to home. "The fact that we're talking about taxes in this house is ironic because we're not talking about the taxes that New Yorkers pay, which are the highest in the nation," said Rob Ortt, a senator from the Buffalo area. But the proposals' Democratic sponsors — Sen. Hoylman, of Manhattan, and Assemblyman David Buchwald, of Westchester County — said the legislation promotes government transparency at a time when Americans need to know whether their elected leaders are putting the public's interest first. "We are affirming Congress' role as a co-equal branch of government and the sacred constitutional principle that nobody is above the law, not even the highest elected official in the land," Hoylman said. The proposed changes to state law were made amid a battle going on in Washington over Trump's federal returns. Democrats are seeking six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns to aid a committee investigation into whether the IRS is doing its job properly to audit a sitting president and whether the law governing such audits needs to be strengthened.   Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he wouldn't comply with a congressional subpoena seeking six years of Trump's tax returns, in part because the request "lacks a legitimate legislative purpose." U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has threatened to go to court to get the administration to comply.  New York is Trump's home state and headquarters of many of his business enterprises. Much of the information on his state returns would mirror the information included on a federal return, giving the Democrats a potential end run around the IRS if they wished to take it. If Congress does request and obtain Trump's state tax returns, that doesn't mean the public gets to see them. Under federal law, the confidential information in the returns is supposed to be for the committee's eyes only.  The New York bills have no time limitation on the tax filings that could be shared with Congress. They require that the returns be requested "for a specified and legitimate legislative purpose," wording that could ostensibly give state officials the ability to refuse some requests they felt were primarily political in nature.  The New York bills would become law immediately upon being signed by Cuomo, though it could be delayed by a court challenge. Passage of the legislation came just a few hours before a federal judge in Manhattan refused to block congressional subpoenas seeking financial records from two banks that did business with Trump. The judge said subpoenas from lawyers for the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees have "a legitimate legislative purpose" in their investigation into Trump, his family and his company's dealings with Deutsche Bank and Capital One.
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Infrastructure Week dies — again

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 01:05

So much for Infrastructure Week.

Hopes for a grand $2 trillion infrastructure deal were rapidly vanishing even before Wednesday’s White House meeting blew up in a cloud of recriminations between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats.

One big reason: Neither party has offered a serious way to pay for one.

Not Trump, who put out a $1.5 billion proposal 15 months ago that would have laid the burden on states, cities, private investors and politically unpalatable federal budget cuts. But also not the Democratic leaders, whose own 35-page plan from a year ago would rely on reversing Trump’s 2017 tax cuts for the wealthy — a non-starter for the GOP.

Meanwhile, prospects have been fading that House lawmakers will meet even their own target of getting an infrastructure bill onto the floor before the August recess — the unofficial deadline for achieving serious legislation before the 2020 election season consumes the Capitol.

Wednesday was far from the first time one of Trump’s planned infrastructure milestones has veered off the rails. Infrastructure was, after all, the intended topic of the August 2017 news conference where the president defended the “very fine people on both sides” of that weekend’s deadly white-supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Va.

But to infrastructure advocates, Wednesday’s aborted meeting was yet another letdown for hopes of a bigger federal investment in roads, bridges, tunnels, railroads and airports — not to mention schools, water supplies, broadband networks, veterans’ hospitals and all the other needs that lawmakers of both parties have mentioned among their priorities.

“Sadly, it appears political theatrics won the day,” Dave Bauer, CEO of the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. He urged Congress to continue to work “on the big and bold transportation infrastructure investment package that the U.S. economy, motorists and business community deserve.”

Each side quickly cast blame Wednesday, with Democrats accusing Trump of blowing up the meeting because he had no real plan to discuss.

Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) opened a House Transportation Committee hearing later Wednesday by accusing Trump of showing “that apparently he’s not very serious” about infrastructure — “unless Congress ignores its constitutional responsibility to carry out oversight of the administration.”

“If the president wants to hold good-paying jobs hostage, that’s his choice, but it certainly isn’t mine,” she said.

But Trump said Democrats had foiled infrastructure’s chances by pursuing what he has called an “illegal witch hunt” investigating his business dealings and his 2016 campaign. And Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, the transportation committee's top Republican, said Speaker Nancy Pelosi had invited the confrontation when she accused Trump earlier in the day of engaging in a “cover-up.”

“I don’t really blame the president for what he did given what she said this morning,” Graves told POLITICO. “She’s throwing out outrageous allegations and then turns around and tries to play nice.”

The idea of a grand infrastructure bargain faced daunting odds anyway, even though infrastructure has repeatedly surfaced as a top Trump talking point since the eve of his presidential campaign.

“The only one to fix the infrastructure of our country is me — roads, airports, bridges,” Trump tweeted in May 2015, a month before starting his White House run. “I know how to build, pols only know how to talk!”

He first proposed a $500 billion-plus cash infusion during his campaign, highlighted his infrastructure pledge during his victory speech in November 2016 and put out a $1.5 trillion blueprint in early 2018 that would have included $200 billion in new federal money, offset by cuts to existing spending.

But the White House plan never went anywhere in Congress, which then was controlled entirely by Republicans. Current and former Trump advisers have since spread the word that he never much liked the plan and might be open to a much bigger federal investment — the kind of plan Democrats could accept.

His late April meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer briefly raised hopes — at least in public — that the two sides could come together on a $2 trillion plan. But the White House quickly moved to reassure conservatives that the most obvious way of paying for an infrastructure boost was off the table: Trump was not planning to hike the federal gasoline tax, despite telling Bloomberg two years ago that “it’s something that I would certainly consider.”

Democratic leaders weren’t rushing to fill the void either, making it clear they expected Trump to offer a funding proposal before they would take the political risk of endorsing one. Instead, Pelosi said at a news conference Wednesday, “He just took a pass.”

Still, Democrats have had a long time to advance their own big-sky proposals and have little to show for it so far. The Senate Democrats’ $1 trillion proposal from March 2018 has yet to receive even a committee markup in the Republican-controlled Senate, for example.

A few lawmakers have come out in favor of a gas tax hike, including House Transportation Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), while Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has said he’d be willing to consider one if Trump was publicly on board. But their parties’ leaders have yet to endorse the idea — and neither did former President Barack Obama, whose own infrastructure proposals included funding sources such as the savings from winding down wars and rhetoric about “working with Congress” on unspecified methods.

Congress is still free to pursue smaller-bore infrastructure packages, however — and Democrats said Wednesday that they plan to work with Republicans on pursuing those. For instance, DeFazio and Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, both said they will continue to work on a successor to the existing five-year, $305 billion highway and transit law that expires at the end of September 2020.

“While we go through this — I don’t know what to call it, this thing with the president and Nancy and Chuck — the serious work that needs to be done is being done,” Carper said.

Such a bill — the kind Congress passes every few years — wouldn’t exactly match the rhetoric of Trump’s campaign proposals, which called for a “bold, visionary plan. … in the proud tradition of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.” But it would represent some progress.

Graves, the Missouri Republican, said he is on board with the traditional approach as well.

“That charade that Schumer and Pelosi are playing is one thing, but Peter and I are going to continue to work on this,” Graves said. “There wasn’t going to be a $2 trillion deal anyway.”

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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Theresa May faces pressure after Andrea Leadsom resigns

This news was published by : BBC POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 01:01
The Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, stepped down over the PM's Brexit policy.
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European elections 2019: Polls to take place across the UK

This news was published by : BBC POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 01:01
UK voters will send 73 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to Brussels and Strasbourg.
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DCCC chief cancels fundraiser in snub to anti-abortion Democrat

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:52

The head of the House Democrats’ campaign arm has cancelled plans to fundraise for Rep. Dan Lipinski — one of the party’s last remaining anti-abortion stalwarts — after facing fierce backlash from the party’s left flank.

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) announced Wednesday that she is pulling out of next month’s fundraiser in her home state, as a slew of new anti-abortion laws in predominantly Republican states have catapulted the issue to the forefront of national politics and, likely, the 2020 election.

“I’m proud to have a 100 percent pro-choice voting record and I’m deeply alarmed by the rapidly escalating attacks on women’s access to reproductive care in several states,” Bustos said in a statement. “I’ve determined that I must cancel my participation in this event."

The abrupt course reversal by the first-term chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is a sign of the enormous weight that the House’s progressive wing carries — as well as the fragile balance for House Democratic leaders as they attempt to preserve a sprawling new majority made up dozens of centrists.

It also demonstrates the key role that abortion rights will play in the next election, with a potential Supreme Court challenge of Roe v. Wade on the line during a presidential contest.

Lipinski (D-Ill.), who had helped push for Bustos to become the campaign chief, said in a statement that it became clear that her participation in the fundraiser had “become a distraction.”

“We agree that it is in the best interest of House Democrats that she does not attend the event,” Lipinski said.

Still, Bustos — who, like Lipinski, serves in a GOP-leaning district — signaled that the Democratic campaign arm would still offer financial resources to Lipinski for reelection.

“This does not change how I will work as DCCC Chair to protect our big tent Democratic caucus,” she said. “Even though we may not agree with each other 100 percent of the time, it’s a fact that every dollar spent trying to defeat one of our Democratic incumbents is a dollar that we cannot spend defeating Republicans.”

The decision, which was first reported by the New York Times, is a clear nod to progressive members and outside groups, who have also criticized Bustos for codifying a DCCC policy that prohibits vendors and consultants from working with candidates challenging incumbents since March. Her decision to fundraise with Lipinski added more fuel to the fire.

Bustos stands by the policy and has given no indication that she will reverse course, which has continue to irritate the caucus's left flank, particularly lawmakers who, themselves, ousted more moderate incumbent Democrats.

“It’s a smart move and I’m glad she listening to progressive voices,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who has sharply criticized Bustos’ for her handling of the vendor policy. “I appreciate that Cheri has shown a willingness to listen and change. I hope she’ll take the same approach on the vendor blacklist issue. I remain committed to sitting down with her and seeking a principled compromise.”

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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USDA relocates economists whose work challenges Trump policies

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:40

The Agriculture Department is moving nearly all its researchers into the economic effects of climate change, trade policy and food stamps – subjects of controversial Trump administration initiatives – outside of Washington, part of what employees claim is a political crackdown on economists whose assessments have raised questions about the president’s policies.

Since last year, employees in the department’s Economic Research Service have awaited news of which members of their agency would be forced to relocate, after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stunned them by declaring he was moving most of the agency to a location outside the capital. The announcement sparked claims that Perdue was trying to pressure economists into leaving the agency rather than move their families.

On March 5, the department began notifying people who were allowed to stay in Washington, but didn’t provide a comprehensive list, only telling employees in person if they made the cut.

But current and former employees compiled one anyway, covering all 279 people on staff, 76 of whom are being allowed to stay in Washington.

The current and former employees, all of whom requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation, say the specialties of those who are being asked to move corresponds closely to the areas where economic assessments often clash with the president’s policies, including tax policies, climate change, and the farm economy. The list, shared exclusively with POLITICO, shows a clear emphasis was placed on keeping employees whose work covers relatively non-controversial issues like crop planting over those whose research focused on areas sensitive to the administration.

“This was a clear politicization of the agency many of us loved for its non-partisan research and analysis,” a current ERS employee told POLITICO, claiming that department leaders picked those whose work was more likely to offend the administration and forced them to move “out or quit.”

A former researcher who left last month in anticipation of being moved put it this way: “You can draw the conclusion that these are the less valued activities that are undertaken by ERS. They view ERS as being useful in that it produces data and statistics that can inform policy but the research that’s done by the economists and geographers and statisticians at ERS is less valuable and that they’re not concerned with a significant deterioration in ERS’ ability to do research.”

A USDA spokesman declined to directly address the employees’ allegation of political bias, but provided a written statement from Perdue saying that the moves were not prompted by the work being done by ERS

“None of this reflects on the jobs being done by our . . . employees, and in fact, I frequently tell my Cabinet colleagues that USDA has the best workforce in the federal government,” Perdue said. “These changes are more steps down the path to better service to our customers, and will help us fulfill our informal motto to ‘Do right and feed everyone. . .”

“We don’t undertake these relocations lightly, and we are doing it to improve performance and the services these agencies provide. We will be placing important USDA resources closer to many stakeholders, most of whom live and work far from Washington, D.C. We will be saving money for the taxpayers and improving our ability to retain more employees in the long run. And we are increasing the probability of attracting highly-qualified staff with training and interests in agriculture, many of whom come from land-grant universities.”

But employees claim the department’s leadership, including Perdue, turned against the research service after an estimate early last year suggested that the Republican-backed tax plan would largely benefit the wealthiest farmers.

Perdue’s decision to move ERS came after several months after news outlets highlighted the USDA study on the Republican tax changes. In response to Perdue’s move, cities from all over the country submitted bids to host the ERS and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which will also move. The finalists, announced May 3, were the greater Kansas City area, North Carolina‘s Research Triangle Park and multiple locations in Indiana.

Accompanying his announcement of a final selection, which is expected as early as this week, Perdue has promised to provide Congress with a cost-benefit analysis detailing why USDA says the move makes financial sense.

The impending announcement comes as pressure builds on Capitol Hill to stop the move. On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider a spending bill that includes a provision barring the Agriculture Department from moving the two agencies out of the national capital zone. It also would block Perdue’s decision to put ERS under the control of USDA’s chief economist, a move that placed oversight of the agency closer to the secretary’s office.

Employees said that moving nearly all researchers out of Washington would have a clear impact on the agency’s work. Researchers said they usually draw on information from other USDA divisions, members of Congress and Washington-based stakeholder groups, which would be more difficult from a remote location. Allowing 76 members of the agency to stay in Washington while the other left also impacts morale, they said, and limits collaboration.

Among the employees staying in Washington are senior analysts who conduct global market and crop-outlook estimates and administrative personnel. According to the list, approximately 49 percent of agricultural economists will be allowed to remain in Washington, compared with 14 percent of researchers.

Rumors had been swirling among staff for months about who would be allowed to remain in Washington when all ERS employees were called into an auditorium in March to be briefed by Acting Administrator Chris Hartley. He then read aloud the names of those who qualified to stay. But it wasn’t until employees compiled a full roster of who was staying and going that they got a clear picture of how the agency would be split up.

Decisions on who would stay in Washington were made by ERS leadership and approved by Perdue, according to a “Frequently Asked Questions” document distributed at the March meeting. The FAQ states that “every ERS employee had the ability to provide input” on the move. Senior managers “proposed critical ERS functions” that they believed needed to remain in Washington.

Some employees said that description of the decision-making process validates their concerns that Perdue was behind the move.

“They went in and handpicked who they wanted and called them ‘critical,’” said a current ERS employee.

Neil Conklin, a former senior administrator at ERS under the George W. Bush administration, said the agency stands to be fundamentally changed by the relocation.

“This is going to be very destructive of the agency, as certainly as we’ve known it,” Conklin said.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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Why Pelosi is so good at infuriating Trump

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:37

Something about Nancy Pelosi just gets under Donald Trump's skin.

On Wednesday, for the third time in barely six months, a meeting between Trump, the speaker and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer blew up in a spectacular fashion.

And in each case, Trump handed Pelosi a huge gift, a priceless moment that helped unify the Democratic Caucus behind her at a crucial time.

“She’s smarter than him, and she’s tougher than him, and I think that bothers him,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), a Pelosi ally. “It's hard to get inside that head of his and figure out what drives him, other than an oversized ego and an undersized sense of ethics.”

Trump doesn’t have a condescending nickname for Pelosi as he does for other Democrats. He even appears to have a grudging respect for the first woman speaker and treats her like a peer who commands her chamber with a firm hand. Trump knows she can deliver on votes, and he knows she is willing to call any bluff at any time.

The latest episode of “Trump vs. Pelosi” featured Trump storming out of a planned White House meeting with Pelosi, Schumer and other top Democrats over a proposed $2 trillion infrastructure package.

It was just the type of explosion that allows Democrats to portray the president as unreliable, tempestuous and impossible to negotiate with. And Trump's refusal to cut any deals with Democrats while they engage in oversight — something every president has to live with — backs up what Democrats have said since the 2016 campaign: Trump is only out for Trump, not the American public.

“Guess what? He behaves like a child. This is what we have in the White House now,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who served under Pelosi in the House. “I’m used to it. I’m not expecting a grown-up any longer. I’m not expecting him to grow into the role.”

And for Pelosi, the timing is perfect. As the drumbeat for impeachment grows within her caucus, she can argue that what they’re doing is already working. Trump clearly doesn’t know how to respond to the barrage of Democratic investigations; they’re winning in the courts and he’s throwing fits. So why bother with impeachment, especially when Democrats know that a GOP-run Senate isn’t going to remove him from office?

Meanwhile, the Trump-Pelosi confrontations are getting to be recurring spectacles, and even Republicans know it hurts the president's image.

"It's a disaster," said a senior Republican who asked not to be named. "It plays right into her hands."

Last December, Trump clashed with Schumer and Pelosi over his border wall in front of the TV cameras. Then during talks to end the ensuing government shutdown in January, Trump slammed his hand on the table and walked out when Pelosi refused to yield on funding for the wall.

“It seems like anytime she strikes a nerve... he freaks out,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). “I think he realizes the walls are closing in on him."

Wednesday’s blow-up also has very real implications for the president's near-term agenda.

Democrats and Republicans were nearing a two-year budget deal with the White House; Pelosi and Schumer had been in general agreement with Trump on the need to do infrastructure; and the president was beginning an urgent campaign to get his new trade agreement through Congress. All these efforts could be stalled if Trump follows through on his threat to refuse any deal-making — which would only damage the president's own reelection campaign.

Still, the collapse of yet another infrastructure week wasn’t a complete surprise.

It was clear by Tuesday night that Trump was having second thoughts about the gathering, which grew out of a surprisingly cordial White House meeting several weeks ago in which the president rebuffed some of his own advisers to set a massive, $2 trillion goal with Democrats.

Trump warned in a letter that night that he would only do an infrastructure deal if Congress first passed the new North American trade agreement he negotiated with Mexico and Canada. Pelosi and other Democrats have serious concerns about the USMCA, so they were already wary about a potential Trump ambush as they headed to the White House on Wednesday.

Republicans, who were excluded from the infrastructure talks, have been playing down Trump and Democratic leaders’ bipartisan aspirations for weeks.

“Meetings that don’t include the leadership of both parties are unlikely to go anywhere but take a negative turn,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)

But what actually set Trump off Wednesday was a comment from Pelosi earlier in the day. Coming out of a closed-door session with fellow Democrats where she argued against beginning an impeachment inquiry against Trump, Pelosi said the president “is engaged in a cover-up” of improper behavior.

That was all the president needed to torpedo the Cabinet Room session. An angry Trump accused Pelosi of saying “horrible, horrible things” and being “disrespectful,” then stormed out of the room for a Rose Garden press conference.

“It is the nature of this president’s temperament to blow up with frequency. And perhaps Nancy and Chuck are catalysts of that from time to time,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who was present for Wednesday's drama.

After Trump said he wouldn't discuss infrastructure or any other legislative priorities until the investigations ended, the meeting ended with a pointed exchange between Pelosi and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, according to two people familiar with the meeting.

Conway asked the speaker to respond to Trump, who had already left the room.

“I’m responding to the president, not staff,” Pelosi said.

Conway countered sarcastically: “That’s really pro-woman of you.”

Out in the Rose Garden, Trump railed against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, then took a shot at Pelosi. “This whole thing was a take-down attempt of the president of the United States,” Trump declared.

"I don't do cover-ups," Trump added.

Pelosi punched back when she returned to Capitol Hill, saying she prays for Trump and the entire country.

“For some reason, maybe it was lack of confidence on his part that he couldn’t match the greatness of the challenge we have… he just took a pass,” Pelosi said at a press conference.

Trump’s Republican allies, meanwhile, quickly fell in line behind the president, at least in public, in the latest sign that Pelosi’s probes have zero support on the other side of the Capitol.

“Ridiculous. To accuse the president of the United States of a cover-up is absolutely inappropriate,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.).

“The president’s just tired of getting verbally assaulted every day. … To have her continue that kind of slander is probably hard to take,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Pelosi, though, knows that Trump can rail against her on TV and Twitter, but he still needs her to do anything important, including keeping the federal government open or raising the nation’s debt limit.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had urged a speedy conclusion to budget negotiations, perhaps in an acknowledgment of how critical it was to seize the bipartisan moment given the up-and-down nature of Trump’s relationship with Democrats.

Now some on Capitol Hill worry that the president will disengage from spending negotiations, too, since House Democrats have no intention of breaking off their investigations.

“Whether he likes it or not, sequestration is coming roaring back. We have a debt ceiling we’ve got to raise. And we have a budget deal we’ve got to reach. Or we face a real risk,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) “Robust congressional oversight is part of the structure and history of our country. And he’s going to have to answer some questions.”

Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.

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Kris Kobach turned down Homeland Security position, says only 'czar' can solve border crisis

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:25

Kris Kobach said Wednesday he turned down an immigration advisor's position at Homeland Security because it doesn't carry enough weight to be able to solve the border crisis.

Mr. Kobach, in an exclusive interview with The Washington Times, said only a position inside the White House, a "czar"-style post, would ...

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Dutch prime minister, populist leader clash in Europe debate

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:23

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch prime minister clashed Wednesday with the leader of a right-wing populist party over immigration and whether the Netherlands should remain in the European Union in a debate on the eve of European Parliament elections.

The debate in Amsterdam between center-right Prime Minister Mark ...

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Pentagon to put up shelter for at least 7,500 migrants

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:23

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon says it will build temporary shelter at the U.S.-Mexican border for at least 7,500 adult migrants who have been turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

The Pentagon announced Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security made the request, and it was approved by ...

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Donald Trump associates weigh defamation lawsuits over Russia probe

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:19

Some Trump associates are contemplating lawsuits against the people who they believe defamed them in the Russia election collusion investigation.

A possible road map: the successful lawsuit of wrongly suspected biological weapons scientist Steven Hatfill, who accepted a multimillion-dollar settlement in 2008.

Several former Trump campaign officials are in early ...

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The Harriet Tubman $20 Bill Won’t Arrive Until 2028, If It Ever Comes at All

This news was published by : TIME POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:19

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday the redesign of the $20 bill to feature 19th century abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman has been delayed.

The decision to replace Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, with Tubman on the $20 bill had been made by Mnuchin’s predecessor, former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who had served in the Obama administration.

Tubman’s fate had been in doubt since the 2016 campaign based on critical comments by then-candidate Donald Trump, who branded the move an act of “pure political correctness.”

Mnuchin, however, said the delay in unveiling a $20 redesign had been prompted by the decision to redesign the $10 bill and the $50 bill first for security reasons. He said those bills will now be introduced before a redesigned $20 bill.

Mnuchin made the announcement of the delay in response to questions from Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., during an appearance before the House Financial Services Committee.

The unveiling of the redesigned $20 bill featuring Tubman, famous for her efforts spiriting slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, had been timed by the Obama administration to coincide with the 100th anniversary in 2020 of passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.

“Currently our currency does not reflect the diversity of people who have contributed to our great American history,” Pressley told Mnuchin.

Mnuchin would not say whether he supported keeping Tubman on the redesigned $20. He said under the revised timeline, that decision will be left to whoever is Treasury secretary in 2026.

Mnuchin said the redesigned $20 bill will not come out until 2028 which he said means that a final design for that bill will not be announced until 2026.

He said the redesign of the bills was being done to introduce new security features to make it harder for the bills to be counterfeited. Based on the security issues, it had been decided to introduce redesigned $10 bills and $50 bills ahead of the $20 bill.

“It is my responsibility to focus on the issue of counterfeiting and the security features,” Mnuchin said.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump had praised Jackson for his “history of tremendous success” and suggested that Tubman could be placed on a different bill such as the $2 bill.

Lew had arrived at the decision to displace Jackson on the $20 bill after first generating a loud outcry with his initial proposal to put a woman on the $10 bill, replacing Alexander Hamilton. Fans of Hamilton, a group that had grown with the popularity of the hit Broadway musical, felt it would be wrong to take him off the nation’s currency.

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Inside the Beltway: The political peril of impeachment chatter

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:17

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden has tried very hard in recent weeks to MAGA-fy his campaign by playing off President Trump's enormously successful "Make America Great Again" motto — universally recognized by the acronym "MAGA," now emblazoned on a million red baseball caps, this according ...

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How the BBC reports polling day

This news was published by : BBC POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:15
The BBC is not allowed to report details of campaigning while the polls are open.
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Tennessee leader says he believes sex assault allegations

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:12

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A key Republican leader who is next in line to take over the Tennessee House says he believes the women who have accused a Republican member of sexual misconduct.

Speaker Pro Tem Bill Dunn said Wednesday it is the speaker's responsibility to investigate the claims three ...

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Which House Democrats support impeachment?

This news was published by : WASHINGTON POST POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:04
A running list.
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Which House Democrats support impeachment?

This news was published by : WASHINGTON POST POLITICS exactly at Thu, 05/23/2019 - 00:04
A running list.
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California Senate panel OK's $214 billion spending plan

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 23:55

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California wants to give more benefits to people living in the country illegally as lawmakers in the state Senate advanced a $214 billion spending proposal Wednesday that would expand health coverage and tax credits for immigrants.

The proposal would let low-income immigrants living in the country ...

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HUD moves to allow discrimination against homeless transgender people

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 23:51

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is moving to roll back protections for homeless transgender people by enabling HUD-funded providers of shelters to consider a person’s sex or gender identification in determining whether they can be admitted.

The proposal, included in the department’s spring rule list out Wednesday, contradicts a pledge that HUD Secretary Ben Carson made to lawmakers just yesterday.

It would turn back requirements under an Obama-era rule that operators of single-sex shelters who receive HUD funding “provide equal access to programs, benefits, services, and accommodations in accordance with an individual's gender identity.”

Carson told lawmakers on Tuesday that he was “not currently anticipating changing” the Equal Access Rule under questioning from Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.).

“Yesterday, I asked Secretary Carson directly if he was anticipating any changes to HUD’s Equal Access Rule, and he said no,” Wexton told POLITICO. “The announcement today that HUD will now allow anti-trans discrimination in shelters demonstrates that he either lied to Congress or has no idea what policies his agency is pursuing. Either way, it’s unacceptable.”

HUD said the proposal would give more leeway to shelter providers on the admission of people who “may misrepresent their sex.”

“Later this year, HUD will be proposing a change to the 2016 rule that will offer local homeless shelter providers greater flexibility when making decisions about individuals who may misrepresent their sex to access sex-specific shelters,” a spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “HUD is, and will always be, committed to ensuring that every person accessing its programs can do so without discrimination.”

The proposal says shelter providers “may establish a policy, consistent with state and local law, by which such Shelter Provider considers an individual’s sex for the purposes of determining accommodation within such shelters and for purposes of determining sex for admission to any facility or portion thereof.”

Providers would be able to “consider a range of factors in making such determinations, including privacy, safety, practical concerns, religious beliefs, any relevant considerations under civil rights and nondiscrimination authorities, the individual’s sex as reflected in official government documents, as well as the gender which a person identifies with,” according to the proposal.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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Democrats slam McConnell for delay on domestic violence bill

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 23:46

WASHINGTON (AP) - Frustrated Democrats ramped up their rhetoric Wednesday as they pressured the Senate's Republican leader to allow a vote on a bill that helps victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the bill to renew the Violence Against Women Act was the latest ...

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Bernie Sanders inches toward backing impeaching Trump

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 23:41

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday inched closer to supporting impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, saying "it may be time" for the House Judiciary Committee to determine whether to start the process.

“I do understand where House members are coming from. And you've got this guy who is refusing to respect the Constitution, equal powers, and is rejecting requests for members of the administration to come forward,” the 2020 Democratic White House hopeful said on CNN.

“So, you know, I think it may be time at least to begin the process through the Judiciary Committee to determine whether or not there are impeachment proceedings.”

Calls by Democratic lawmakers to launch an impeachment inquiry have ramped up since Monday, when the administration directed former White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to testify publicly and produce documents related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The White House has attempted to block Democrats’ inquiries into Trump, including his financial records and actions detailed in Mueller’s report.

While White House contenders such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have called for Trump’s impeachment, Sanders has been more cautious, as have House leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Sanders said Wednesday that if Trump "continues to not understand the Constitution of the United States, the separation of powers, the fact that the Congress has every right to subpoena," it might be time to start the impeachment process.

Sanders, a Vermont Independent, also said House Democrats must remain focused on progressive legislative priorities.

“The House has got to continue going forward, raising the minimum wage to a living wage, making sure that all of our people have health care, dealing with climate change, dealing with voter suppression,” Sanders said. “If all we talk about is Trump, Trump, Trump, I think he benefits.”

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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A Trump Twitter-style diatribe — live from the Rose Garden

This news was published by : WASHINGTON POST POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 23:32
The president angrily shuts down infrastructure talks after Pelosi accused him earlier in the day of managing a ‘coverup’ in probes of his conduct and administration.
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Jay Inslee, Washington governor, signs sanctuary state law

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 23:26

SEATTLE — Washington is on track to become a sanctuary state, adding to a West Coast wall of states with such policies.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill on Tuesday creating new rules.

Police officers in the state will be restricted from asking about immigration status except in limited circumstances, ...

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Are Americans as interested in impeachment as the media is?

This news was published by : WASHINGTON POST POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 23:25
A look at media metrics -- and what regular people are doing.
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Nicaragua warns banks of sanctions if they join strike

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 23:22

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) - Nicaragua's finance minister warned banks Wednesday that the government will sanction those that participate in a general strike scheduled for Thursday to pressure for the freeing of political prisoners.

Iván Acosta said the banking system has a responsibility to the public sector to be open because ...

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Q&A: The Democratic debate over impeaching President Trump

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 23:16

WASHINGTON (AP) - An increasing number of House Democrats say they want an impeachment inquiry. But most of them say they aren't ready to seek President Donald Trump's removal from office.

Confused? You aren't alone. The two-dozen or so Democrats who support the move are working overtime to explain to ...

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs sanctuary state law

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 23:16

SEATTLE (AP) - Washington is on track to become a sanctuary state, adding to a West Coast wall of states with such policies.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill on Tuesday creating new rules.

Police officers in the state will be restricted from asking about immigration status except in limited ...

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Years in the Making, a Rancorous Washington Moment

This news was published by : US Politics exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 23:01
The memories of the tumultuous 2016 U.S. presidential election, contentious political squabbling between Republican President Donald Trump and top Democratic congressional leaders, and the shadow of months of unending investigations all came to rancorous confrontation Wednesday in Washington. Trump abruptly called off a White House meeting with Democrats a short time after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused him of engaging "in a cover-up" by refusing to cooperate with Democratic-led investigations of his business affairs and the aftermath of Russian intrusion in the election. "I don't do cover-ups," Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden, adding that he would not negotiate with Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer and others over policy issues while congressional investigations of him are ongoing. "You can't do it under these circumstances," he said. "What they've done is abuse. Let them play their games." But the spat, partly played out on national television, was borne of Trump's growing anger and frustration at congressional oversight instigated by Democratic lawmakers who took control over the House of Representatives in January after two years of Republican dominance and virtually no oversight of their political colleague in the White House. Trump has vowed to combat all Democratic subpoenas for information linked to his business affairs, taxes and more congressional testimony stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller's 22-month investigation of Trump campaign links to Russia in the presidential contest three years ago and whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to thwart the Mueller probe. With one exception, Trump has held Democrats at bay in their pursuit for information and public oversight that could, when broadcast on live television, damage his chances for winning re-election in November 2020. Some House Democrats, and a lone Republican congressman, have called for the start of impeachment hearings against Trump, even though the Republican-controlled Senate is highly unlikely to remove him from office. Pelosi, the leader of the majority Democrats in the House of Representatives, wants the investigations to continue, but so far has resisted the calls for an impeachment inquiry. "In any event, I pray for the president of the United States, and I pray for the United States of America," she said after the aborted White House meeting. Congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday his panel has won an agreement from the Justice Department to turn over 12 categories of counterintelligence and foreign intelligence information that had been collected as part of Mueller's investigation into the Russian election interference and whether Trump, as president, obstructed justice by trying to block the probe. The House Intelligence panel had subpoenaed the information and Schiff said the subpoena "will remain in effect, and be enforced" if Justice fails "to comply with the full document request." Other House committees, however, have not been successful in retrieving information and testimony they have demanded from Trump and his administration. Mueller's report concluded that Trump had not colluded with Russia to help him win the election. But it cited 11 instances of possible obstruction of the investigation by the president, saying that "while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." But Attorney General William Barr and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein subsequently decided that obstruction of justice charges against Trump were not warranted. Barr, however, has refused to turn over an unredacted copy of the Mueller report to the House Judiciary Committee, with the Democrat-controlled panel then overriding Republican objections and voting to hold him in contempt of Congress. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected a request to turn over six years' worth of Trump's tax returns. Despite a 1924 law saying that the government "shall" turn over the tax returns to key congressional leaders, Mnuchin said Democratic lawmakers lacked "a legitimate legislative purpose" for the information. Trump directed Donald McGahn, his former White House counsel, to defy a subpoena and refuse to testify Tuesday before the Judiciary committee about McGahn's claim that Trump ordered him to oust Mueller and then, when a news story recounted Trump's directive, to publicly lie that the conversation never occurred. McGahn, according to the Mueller report, ignored Trump's order to get rid of Mueller and refused his request to discount the accuracy of the news report. Trump also is fighting a House bid for his financial records compiled by an accounting firm. A judge in Washington this week ordered the accountants to turn over the records, but the president called the decision "crazy" and is appealing the ruling. Meanwhile, Trump has unleashed almost daily attacks on the House Democrats' investigations. In another tweet, Trump said:
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Kim Reynolds, Iowa governor, vetoes bill to block AG Tom Miller's anti-Trump lawsuits

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 22:36

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds vetoed a measure Wednesday intended to stop the state's Democratic attorney general from filing or joining lawsuits challenging President Donald Trump's policies, but she did so only after gaining an assurance the state's participation in such actions would end.

Reynolds had been ...

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Judge sides with Democrats in Trump bank subpoena fight

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 22:34

A federal judge on Wednesday allowed the House to move ahead with subpoenas seeking years of President Donald Trump’s financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, dealing the second blow in a matter of days to Trump's legal strategy of stonewalling Democrats’ investigations.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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DeVos family ends financial support for Rep. Amash

This news was published by : WASHINGTON POST POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 22:33
But they say it’s not related to his calls for President Trump’s impeachment
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Judge rejects Trump’s request to halt congressional subpoenas for his banking records

This news was published by : WASHINGTON POST POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 22:28
A federal judge on Wednesday said Deutsche Bank and Capital One may hand over the president’s financial records to Democrats in the House.
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'FBI Lovebirds': Trump ally bringing Strzok-Page texts to the theater stage

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 22:15

A new theatrical production in Washington is aiming to be “Hamilton” for the Make America Great Again crowd.

The same documentary filmmakers who convinced the White House to host a recent screening of an anti-abortion movie have planned a live stage reading next month based on thousands of anti-Trump text messages recovered by the FBI last year from the cellphones of the former Trump-Russia investigators Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, three people familiar with the project told POLITICO.

And they’re hoping President Donald Trump will attend.

“We’re lobbying the White House hard,” said a person directly involved with the production. “We are being told the president loves the idea of exposing this.”

The Trumpian production, entitled “FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers,” will be directed by Phelim McAleer, a conservative provocateur who has co-written and produced a handful of political films about abortion, fracking and environmentalism with his wife, Ann McElhinney. Dean Cain, a Trump supporter who played Superman in the television series "Lois & Clark" and who starred in the anti-abortion film, “Gosnell” has agreed to play Strzok, according to McAleer.

Actress Kristy Swanson, known for her lead role in the 1992 cult film “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” will portray Page, who engaged in an extramarital affair with Strzok during and after the 2016 election when they were colleagues at the law enforcement agency.

Reached by phone on Tuesday, Swanson confirmed her involvement and said she and Cain had already read through a script, which draws verbatim from Strzok’s and Page’s texts, as well as from closed-door testimony that Strzok gave to the House Judiciary Committee last June. A transcript of the interview was released earlier this year by Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking Republican on the House panel.

“We are going to show the mainstream media and Hollywood that they can no longer push the Russia collusion hoax and force them to acknowledge how the Deep State, DC Swamp tried to destroy the Trump candidacy and presidency,” reads a crowdfunding page named after the production that McAleer set up to help cover related costs.

The page aims to raise $95,000 in one month (an event contract reviewed by POLITICO listed McAleer’s theater rental cost as $5,620) and offers “perks” such as a signed playbill or VIP performance pass for different contribution levels.

McAleer, who participated in a White House meeting last fall with other anti-abortion groups and worked closely with Trump aides to screen “Gosnell” in April, declined to say which officials he’s spoken with about his latest project. A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

The Studio Theater, a non-profit theater company located just one mile from the White House, confirmed to POLITICO on Wednesday that McAleer had rented one of their four theaters to use for the production on June 13. McAleer in a phone interview said he is willing to take a loss on the project if he fails to reach his fundraising goal, though he cited the prior success of his crowdfunding campaign for “Gosnell,” which raised $2.3 million in 45 days.

Strzok and Page became household names in early 2018, months after Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team when it became clear that he’d been romantically involved with Page and some of their anti-Trump text messages had surfaced. Both Strzok and Page had been under investigation by the agency’s inspector general for potential political bias, including whether Strzok’s anti-Trump opinions played a role in the bureau’s decision to launch the Russia investigation in 2016.

In one of his messages to Page from 2016, Strzok described the probe as an “insurance policy” in case Trump defeated then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the general election. In another text after Trump won the presidency, Strzok wrote to Page, “OMG I am so depressed.”

Trump and his allies have repeatedly cited Strzok and Page as evidence of a “deep state” scheme inside the Justice Department to subvert his presidency and cast doubt on the 2016 election. “More text messages between former FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page are a disaster and embarrassment to the FBI & DOJ,” the president tweeted on Sept. 13, 2018.

During a contentious congressional hearing last July, Strzok said he “very much” regretted his text messages with Page, but maintained that they did not impact his or her work at the FBI. Strzok also played a role in the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Despite Trump’s interest in the pair of ex-FBI investigators, it would be unusual for him to promote the stage reading or attend the event. Though he has previously used his Twitter feed to recommend books by many of his allies, he has rarely endorsed other projects or personally attended controversial events. Trump did not attend the screening of “Gosnell” at the White House, nor did he join several of his top aides and Vice President Mike Pence in publicly praising another anti-abortion film, “Unplanned,” when it was released in late March.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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International asylum law is getting in the way of Trump's immigration goals

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 22:13
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Edgardo Ramos, federal judge, refuses to block Donald Trump bank subpoenas

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 22:08

A federal judge in New York is refusing to block congressional subpoenas seeking financial records from two banks that did business with President Donald Trump.

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos said during a hearing Wednesday that Trump and his company were unlikely to succeed in a lawsuit arguing that the ...

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Sen. John Kennedy on Congress: ‘We have done nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada.’

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 22:05

Sen. John Kennedy called on the Senate Wednesday to do more than confirm nominations and lambasted Congress for its lack of legislative accomplishments.

Kennedy’s criticism comes as the Senate has picked up the pace of confirming President Donald Trump’s executive and judicial branch nominees, thanks to a recent rules change that reduces debate time on certain nominees.

While the Louisiana Republican acknowledged that confirming nominees to the executive and judiciary branches is a priority, he said more legislation needs to come to the floor.

“We have done nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy criticized the Democratically-controlled House for passing “messaging” bills that are dead on arrival in the Senate and accused House leadership of harassing President Donald Trump. As for the Senate, Kennedy praised the nominees confirmed, who he described as “very fine men and women.”

“I’m not saying we haven’t done anything,” he said. “I’m saying we need to do more.”

Kennedy proceeded to list off bipartisan legislation that the Senate could bring to the floor, including bills addressing the cost prescription drugs, ending government shutdowns and reforming the process for declaring a national emergency.

“I don’t care whether we move a bill through committee or whether we bring a bill directly to the floor of the Senate,” he said. “I’m in labor, not management. That’s above my pay grade, but we need to try.”

Kennedy is not the first to call on the Senate to act. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Democrats have also dubbed the body a “legislative graveyard.”

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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The Latest: Judge refuses to block Trump bank subpoenas

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 22:05

NEW YORK (AP) - The Latest on President Donald Trump's efforts to block congressional subpoenas seeking records from his banks (all times local):

4 p.m.

A federal judge in New York is refusing to block congressional subpoenas seeking financial records from two banks that did business with President Donald Trump.

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New York Set to Limit Trump’s Pardon Power on State Crimes

This news was published by : TIME POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 22:00

(ALBANY, N.Y.) — A presidential pardon won’t be enough to clear someone associated with the commander-in-chief of similar state charges under legislation approved by New York state lawmakers Tuesday.

The bill, which now moves to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, revises the exceptions to the state’s double jeopardy law in an effort to ensure the state’s ongoing investigations into the Republican president and his associates can’t be derailed by a White House pardon.

Attorney General Letitia James had pushed for the law, which she said will eliminate a “gaping loophole” that could have allowed someone pardoned by Trump to argue similar state charges should be dismissed.

“This loophole, which effectively allows the president to pardon state crimes, must be closed,” James, a Democrat, told reporters after the bill passed the Assembly Tuesday. She said presidential pardons shouldn’t “be used as a get-out-of-jail-free card.”

Republicans argued the bill is a partisan attack on Trump and accused Democrats of trying to rewrite the law to prepare for hypothetical pardons that may never be issued.

Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, called the measure “a sharp poke in the eye” of the president. He said his Democratic colleagues were using the bill “to express a political statement about our current president, about things he hasn’t done.”

Democrats said the bill isn’t designed to target a particular president, but to safeguard the state’s ability to enforce its own laws.

“We’re trying to root out corruption and abuse of presidential power,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol, D-Brooklyn.

Still, some lawmakers made it clear that they had a specific commander in chief in mind when they voted yes Tuesday.

“We are dealing with a criminal in the White House,” Assemblyman Michael Blake, D-the Bronx, said of Trump.

Twenty-four states already have laws making it clear that presidential pardons do not cover state charges, according to Sen. Todd Kaminsky, D-Long Island and the bill’s Senate sponsor.

The new exception wouldn’t apply to all presidential pardons. Instead, the legislation spells out several categories of people for whom presidential pardons would not be sufficient: members of a president’s family, their government and campaign staff, employees of a president’s private business or nonprofit, as well as anyone else who prosecutors believe may have conspired with an associate of the president.

Prosecutors in New York are in the midst of several investigations related to Trump and his associates, including Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, who is now serving time in federal prison for tax and bank fraud.

A message left with the White House was not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

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Democrat Cautions About Trump's July 4th Extravaganza

This news was published by : US Politics exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 21:52
President Donald Trump's planned July Fourth extravaganza on the National Mall sounds like it could become a giant Trump rally on the taxpayers' dime, a Democratic senator cautioned Wednesday.   But Interior Secretary David Bernhardt defended Trump's still-vague Independence Day plans for Washington, D.C., in response to questioning by Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.   Udall expressed concern that Trump tweets heralding his planned appearance at an amped-up version of this year's fireworks and festivities signaled the president planned to take a "nonpartisan celebration and turn it into a de facto political rally."   Citing the specific statute prohibiting use of federal agencies for "publicity or propaganda activities," Udall asked Bernhardt to guarantee that no taxpayer money "will be spent on activities that are partisan or serve purely to aggrandize this president."   The president has made rallies with ardent, conservative Trump fans a staple of his presidency, regularly traveling to parts of the country where he enjoys strong support to spend hours talking to his cheering base.   Bernhardt, whose job includes oversight of the National Mall and other public lands nationwide, promised to watch every dollar spent.   "I think it's fantastic that the president might take time to join folks" on the National Mall to celebrate Independence Day, Bernhardt said.   "It's a celebration about America," Bernhardt said. "Frankly, if any president were spending the Fourth of July celebrating America, I think we should be positive."   The exchange was one of the first public discussions of the administration's Fourth of July planning since Trump tweeted in February that he planned a special celebration featuring an address "by your favorite President, me!''   "HOLD THE DATE!" Trump tweeted then. "We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It will be called "A Salute To America" and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!''   White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said last month at a mock briefing for children who were brought to work by their parents that Trump loves July Fourth. ``He's been working on planning a big celebration for our country for that day, with lots of fireworks and music and all kinds of great stuff. So I think that would pretty fun,'' she said.   The administration has yet to announce any specifics for any changes in the ceremony, now just weeks away. Hundreds of thousands of visitors typically come to Washington for an annual fireworks show, traditional holiday parades and an evening concert on the Capitol's West Lawn.   At the congressional hearing Wednesday, Bernhardt said the administration "can do it in a way that won't conflict with the Capitol concert and things like that."   He also said some reconfiguring of the usual arrangements could allow more people to see fireworks from the Mall.   Udall warned Bernhardt to keep track of the financial costs of adding Trump and his plans to the annual Fourth of July plans.   "Just be careful," Udall said, suggesting the Cabinet secretary consider his job security in the planning. "We want you to be here for a while," he said.   Interior spokesman Alex Hinson said the agency had no further comment on the plans for now.   A professed admirer of France's highly militarized Bastille Day celebrations, Trump had also wanted to see tanks and other military hardware rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue on Veterans Day last year, but senior administration officials halted planning after seeing the estimated $92 million price tag.  
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Mnuchin: $20 bill redesign with Harriet Tubman on hold

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 21:42

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday said a redesign of the $20 bill, expected to feature famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman, is unlikely to come out before 2028, drawing a sharp response from a lawmaker who pressed him on the issue.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) repeatedly questioned Mnuchin on his timetable for redesigning the bill, asking if it was still on track for 2020, as Mnuchin's predecessor had once said.

Sort of, Mnuchin said.

“The primary reason we’ve looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues,” he told Pressley at the House Financial Services Committee hearing, adding that there would be a “security feature redesign in 2020.”

“It is my responsibility now to focus on what is the issue of counterfeiting and the security features,” he said. “The ultimate decision on the redesign will most likely be another secretary’s down the road” — in 2028.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump said putting Tubman, a former slave, on the $20 bill, would be "pure political correctness" — and suggested instead that her likeness could go on the $2 bill.

The $20 bill currently features the image of Andrew Jackson, one of Trump's favorite presidents.

In April 2016, then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said he asked the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to accelerate work on the new $20 bill with Tubman on the front. He said he expected the final concept design for the new $20 bill and other bills to be unveiled in 2020 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.

Pressed further by the congresswoman, Mnuchin said he has made no decision on whether Tubman should be put on the bill. “The imagery feature will not be an issue that comes up until most likely 2026,” he said.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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Trump, Pelosi and Schumer infrastructure meeting gets dramatic

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 21:39
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Former congressman convicted of corruption seeks pardon

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 21:29

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Former U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi who was convicted of corruption, money laundering and other charges is seeking a pardon from President Donald Trump.

The Arizona Daily Sun reported Wednesday that a lawyer for the former Republican congressman from Arizona sent a letter to the U.S. Justice ...

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Joe Biden camp reacts to North Korea calling him a 'fool': 'No surprise' regime favors Trump

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 21:23

Joseph R. Biden's 2020 presidential campaign responded to North Korea's criticism Wednesday, saying it's "no surprise" that the regime would prefer President Trump over the former vice president.

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency published a commentary piece earlier Wednesday blasting Mr. Biden as a "fool of low ...

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FBI search warrants detail new Michael Cohen Russia ties

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 21:17

Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer, was in constant contact with — and received thousands of dollars from — a Russia-linked firm starting on Election Day in 2016, newly unsealed court documents show.

The transactions soon caught the attention of investigators, as the FBI zeroed in on what it considered to be suspicious emails and bank transfers from Cohen’s accounts — including his Trump Organization email account. With special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in full swing, authorities filed a series of search warrants between July and November 2017 to investigate whether the exchanges violated foreign agent laws and constituted wire fraud and money laundering.

The search warrants were unsealed as part of a case brought by several media organizations, including POLITICO.

Much of what the warrants reveal has already been well-documented — Cohen is now serving three years in prison for making false statements to Congress, as well as tax and bank fraud. But the warrants document how focused agents with Mueller’s team were in the early stages of its investigation on tracking the foreign entanglements of Trump’s most loyal fixer.

At the heart of investigators’ interest in Cohen was a company he set up in October 2016 called Essential Consultants, LLC. Cohen told the bank that the company was a real estate consulting firm whose clients would be “high-worth domestic individuals,” and used his Trump Organization account as a point of contact, according to the search warrants. One of the warrants sought permission to look at Cohen’s Trump Organization email account.

Soon after Essential Consultants was opened, the FBI found, the company's bank account began receiving large deposits from a New York City investment manager firm, Columbus Nova, connected to the influential Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

And starting on Election Day, Cohen began direct communications with the founder of Columbus Nova, Vekselberg’s cousin Andrew Intrater. Between Election Day and July 14, 2017, the two exchanged over 230 phone calls and 950 text messages, according to one of the search warrants. Another search warrant said the contacts continued until at least November 2017.

Cohen told lawmakers earlier this year that he signed a $1 million contract — of which he only got about $416,000 — with Columbus Nova, whose largest client is Vekselberg’s Renova Group. The plan was to “put together an infrastructure fund” that would be financed by overseas investors, Cohen testified. But he downplayed Vekselberg’s interest in the deal, telling Congress that the Russian oligarch was only a “minimal” investor in Columbus Nova when they started working together in January 2017.

Emails obtained by the FBI and described in the search warrant for the first time, however, show that Vekselberg met with Cohen and Intrater 11 days before Trump’s inauguration. At that gathering, the three discussed a lobbying group based in Moscow that promotes Russian business interests, called the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

And according to the court documents, Cohen also remained in touch with Vekselberg and scheduled a meeting with him in March 2017 at Renova headquarters — while Columbus Nova was still paying Cohen.

The meeting was of interest to lawmakers because Cohen had met in late January of that year with his longtime acquaintance Felix Sater and the Ukrainian lawmaker Andrei Artemenko to discuss a Russia-Ukraine “peace plan” that would involve lifting sanctions on Russia. The FBI wanted to know whether Vekselberg was paying Cohen to promote the sanctions-lifting plan, which would have benefited the Russian oligarch. Vekselberg has been doing business in the United States since at least 1990, when he co-founded the conglomerate Renova Group as a joint U.S.-Russian venture.

No evidence has emerged of such a quid-pro-quo, and Columbus Nova has denied participating in anything related to a Ukranian peace plan. But the FBI did reveal some new details about the episode in the search warrants unsealed on Wednesday.

According to phone records investigators reviewed, “a call was exchanged” between Cohen and soon-to-be White House national security adviser Michael Flynn on Jan. 11, 2017, just days before Trump's inauguration. A New York Times report said Cohen had delivered the sanctions-lifting plan to Flynn, but Cohen later told lawmakers that he threw the plan in the trash and never delivered it to the White House.

The FBI also found that Cohen continued speaking to Sater, a Russian-born businessman who helped Cohen negotiate a Trump Tower Moscow deal during the election, well after the peace plan meeting. Records they obtained showed approximately 20 calls exchanged between them from Jan. 5, 2017 to Feb. 20, 2017.

Sater on Wednesday told POLITICO he couldn't remember the exact substance of the calls but said they likely had to do with the New York Times’ story about the “peace plan” meeting, which was published on Feb. 19.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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The various coverups of Donald ‘I don’t do coverups’ Trump

This news was published by : WASHINGTON POST POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:53
From Stormy Daniels to invoking executive privilege over public testimony, Trump likes to stay in the shadows.
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Will the Supreme Court take up a Roe v. Wade showdown in 2020?

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:45

The Supreme Court may well be headed for an election-year fight over abortion rights, but it’s not likely to be a blockbuster showdown over Roe v. Wade.

Courtwatchers anticipate that the justices will agree to take one or more cases related to abortion restrictions in the coming term, drawing attention to the polarizing issue as the 2020 presidential campaign moves into a critical phase.

Further stoking the speculation is the passage of sweeping new abortion limits in several states that are largely designed to trigger a Supreme Court battle, with Republican lawmakers hoping that a high court transformed by President Donald Trump’s judicial picks will bring down the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed abortion rights nationwide.

These lawmakers have helped pass new laws in Mississippi and Georgia banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — about six weeks into pregnancy. And just last week, Alabama went even further, passing a near-outright ban on all abortions at any time during pregnancy, even in cases of rape or incest.

The deliberate escalation by the states has led to talk that a head-on challenge to Roe could be before the justices in their next term, which opens in October and typically produces its most hard-fought decisions in the following June. That would be June 2020, weeks before the Democratic and Republican Conventions and just months before Trump and a Democratic nominee are likely to square off at the polls.

A potential repeal of Roe amid a presidential campaign could have a dramatic and destabilizing effect on the race — and that’s at least in part why legal experts on both sides of the abortion divide say they don’t see it happening, at least not in the near future.

“The most likely and correct path is for these bans to be blocked by lower courts and the Supreme Court will not even step in,” said Julie Rikelman of the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“I think Chief Justice John Roberts would probably prefer that they not get into that in the middle of an election,” said Caroline Fredrickson of the American Constitution Society, a liberal legal group.

Pro-life lawyer James Bopp Jr. said he doesn’t think a case squarely aimed at eliminating Roe will ever be taken up by the high court. “I think it extremely unlikely the court will ever take a direct attack on the Roe case,” said Bopp. “The court just doesn’t operate that way….This idea that you’re going to force them to reconsider Roe v. Wade is just absurd.”

Bopp favors overturning Roe, but he’s dismissive of the new laws that seek to ban abortion of a fetus before it has attained viability. “There’s a lot of ill-informed hype on both sides about these measures….They’ll never go into effect,” he said.

Bopp said he believes at least two justices, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, have no desire to be involved in a frontal attack on Roe. The pro-life advocate noted that last December both men appeared to side with the court’s Democratic appointees in declining to hear a case about the rights of states to curtail funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions as well as an array of other health services.

“Roberts and Kavanaugh refused to take up a case that only involved state funding of Planned Parenthood, so to think from that we’re going to infer that they’re anxious to overturn Roe v. Wade?...That’s light years away,” Bopp said. “Not that I don’t want that [but] there’s no indication whatsoever of that.”

Another obstacle to the Supreme Court considering the new abortion bans anytime soon is the rhythm and pace of the federal court system. Cases typically take months to be decided in a trial court, then proceed to an appeals court, where many more months can pass before a decision is made by a three-judge panel. Sometimes there are efforts to get the full bench of an appeals court to take the case.

At the Supreme Court, cases usually need to be in the pipeline by October to stand a chance of being heard in the spring and decided by June.

“There really isn’t enough time for any of these bans to get to the court in the next term,” Rikelman said.

But the likely absence of the strictest measures from the high court’s docket doesn’t mean abortion will be entirely off the agenda. Abortion-related cases could reach the justices in the form of emergency stay applications, although those don’t usually garner the attention of a fully briefed and argued Supreme Court case. And challenges that don’t squarely attack Roe but involve laws regulating abortion facilities and providers are either currently before the justices for potential review or could be in that position by fall.

Perhaps the most likely issue for the Supreme Court to take up is a case over a Louisiana law requiring physicians who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. In 2016, the court struck down a similar Texas law by a 5-3 vote in a case known as Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

However, one member of the majority in that case — Justice Anthony Kennedy — has since left the court and been replaced by Kavanaugh. And the vacant seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia has been filled by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

It would be unusual for the Supreme Court to take up such a similar case so soon after deciding an earlier one, but in February the justices voted, 5-4, to put the Louisiana law on hold. Usually, when the court steps in under such circumstances, it eventually grants review in the case.

Rikelman says she hopes the court will do that this fall, but will find the case so close to the earlier one that it skips over full briefing and argument and simply reverses the 5th Circuit decision that turned down a challenge to the law.

One thing prompting chatter among courtwatchers is the indecision that seems to have infected the court’s consideration of abortion-related cases in recent months.

Last Friday, the justices had their 14th closed-door conference where they were set to discuss a case challenging an Indiana law regulating disposal of fetal remains and prohibiting abortions based on race, sex or disability of the fetus. Again, the justices punted, putting the case down again for this Friday.

A challenge to another Indiana law requiring an ultrasound test at least 18 hours before an abortion will be on conference for a 2nd time this Friday, while an Alabama law banning what the state calls “dismemberment abortions” was scheduled for five court conferences and pulled each time.

Some lawyers say the unusual delays suggest some horse-trading may be underway among the court’s conservatives. The votes of only four justices are needed to take up a case. Sometimes repeated conferences mean a dissent from the denial of review, or certiorari, is being written. But 15 conferences for the same case is rare.

“It’s puzzling, to be honest,” said Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler, an expert on the history of abortion law. “If they aren’t going to hear these cases, why don’t they just deny cert. If they are, they’re just pushing it closer and closer to the election and probably engendering maximum controversy….There’s something going on behind the scenes.”

“I think there’s a lot of negotiation going on internally among the right-wing justices about how to do this in a way that doesn’t give those who believe in women’s access to health care a campaign issue,” said Fredrickson.

Fredrickson said she fears the various regulations effectively making abortion impossible without ever triggering the uproar that would accompany overturning Roe. “When you shut down all the clinics in a state, it’s a ban even if it’s not called that,” she said.

Regardless of what the Supreme Court does, litigation over new abortion laws seems certain to continue to play out as the presidential race heats up. Just Tuesday, lawyers were before a federal judge in Jackson, Miss., jockeying over the law that state enacted in March that bans abortion at the time a fetal heartbeat is detected, sometimes as early as six weeks.

U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves said the state’s move “smacks of defiance” against a ruling he issued last year blocking a ban on abortions before 15 weeks, CNN reported. A federal appeals court is likely to hear arguments about that ruling later this summer, keeping attention on the issue even without a high court fight.

A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released Tuesday shows Americans still divided on the abortion issue, but with a majority appearing to favor maintaining Roe. About 55 percent of voters said abortion should be legal in all circumstances or up to the point of viability, while 42 percent say it should always be illegal or limited to cases of rape, incest or risk to the mother. And roughly half of voters said they think it’s not likely the Supreme Court will overturn Roe.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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Federal judge tosses out libel lawsuit against Project Veritas; Supports 'the marketplace of ideas'

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:43

A federal judge dismissed a woman's libel lawsuit against conservative advocacy group Project Veritas and its founder James O'Keefe Wednesday regarding the depiction of her assault during a 2016 President Trump campaign rally.

"While the internet has broadened the number and the variety of available voices in the marketplace of ...

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Election fraud? Florida won’t pledge to look for voters registered in multiple states

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:41

DAYTONA BEACH — An effort to clamp down on potential voter fraud in Florida has been bogged down by an unlikely source: the state’s Republican-controlled administration.

More than a year ago, Florida legislators gave permission to the nation’s third-largest state to join a multistate partnership to flag people registered to vote in more than one state.

Florida, a haven for semi-residents who trek yearly from the North and Midwest, has long been hit with reports of people possibly voting in more than one state. Republicans — including President Donald Trump — have complained about voter fraud despite a lack of evidence.

A top state election official who works for Gov. Ron DeSantis told local election supervisors on Wednesday that it wasn’t clear when — or if — the state would become a member of the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC. Member states exchange voting information and look for duplicate registrations.

On Wednesday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said his state had joined the partnership, bringing total participants to 26 states and Washington, D.C.

“In addition to enhancing the accuracy of our voter rolls, ERIC will help our office better identify, contact, and offer eligible but unregistered citizens the opportunity to register to vote,” Georgia Elections Director Chris Harvey said in a written statement. “We are continuing to expand our efforts to increase voter registration and participation — bringing more Georgians to the voter lists and out to the polls.”

Florida's reluctance to act, which began under former Gov. Rick Scott and has continued under DeSantis, has angered local election supervisors who say they regularly are accosted by residents.

“Voter fraud being on the minds of many, it’s very frustrating to us to not have access to that tool,” Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said. “I’m really sorry to see the state take a pass on this year after year.”

Wendy Link, the newly-installed elections supervisor for Palm Beach County, called joining the partnership the “best thing to protect ourselves heading into 2020.”

Maria Matthews, the director of Florida’s Division of Elections, said a package of election laws passed by the Legislature this spring and the partnership‘s requirements made it difficult to say when the state would join the group.

“There’s a lot of moving parts and pieces to this,” Matthews said today a meeting of Florida elections supervisors.

Under one requirement of the partnership, the state would have to commit to reaching out to an estimated 4.2 million people who are eligible to vote but have not registered. Florida would have to promise to educate residents on the “most efficient means to register to vote.”

Responding to a wave of questions, Matthews said there was a “carrot and stick” to participating in the partnership. That remarks drew disapproval from supervisors, who bristled at the idea that reaching out to unregistered voters should be viewed as some sort of punishment.

Matthews would not answer questions from reporters after his remarks.

Sarah Revell, a spokesperson for Secretary of State Laurel Lee, gave no indication of whether the nation’s biggest battleground state would join the partnership.

“The Legislature passed a bill last year that permits the Department to join ERIC,” Revell said in an email. “The department is in the process of reviewing the requirements to join ERIC and there are a variety of factors that must be considered before a decision is made.”

Lori Edwards, the supervisor of elections for Polk County who criticized Matthews’ carrot-and-stick comment, was perplexed by the state’s position.

“It’s probably our best opportunity to have accurate voter rolls in Florida,” Edwards said. “I’m really disappointed that the Secretary of State’s office says they are too busy and it’s too much work to try to have accurate voter rolls.”

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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Michael Avenatti charged with defrauding Stormy Daniels

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:41

NEW YORK — Attorney Michael Avenatti has been charged with ripping off porn star Stormy Daniels, the client who made him famous.

The allegations against Avenatti were revealed in charges filed Wednesday in New York.

Federal prosecutors say Avenatti took money Daniels was supposed to get from a book deal.

Daniels isn't named in the court filing, but the details of the case make it clear that she is the client involved in the case.

Avenatti rocketed to fame representing Daniels when she sued to be released from a non-disclosure agreement involving an alleged tryst with President Donald Trump.

Avenatti was previously charged in New York and Los Angeles with trying to extort money from Nike and stealing millions of dollars from clients.

He has denied all the allegations.

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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Leadsom resigns as Commons leader

This news was published by : BBC POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:40
Andrea Leadsom resigns cabinet role saying she no longer believes government's approach will deliver Brexit
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Ben Carson took to Fox Business to explain why he thought he was asked about Oreos

This news was published by : WASHINGTON POST POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:39
Ben Carson mixed up a real estate term with an Oreo cookie. "I was having difficulty hearing," he explained.
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Justice Dept. to give less-redacted Mueller report to Senate Intelligence Committee

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:32

The Justice Department intends to make a minimally-redacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's available to all members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, according to a Wednesday court filing.

Federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., revealed the plan in a court filing in their case against longtime Republican strategist Roger Stone. ...

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‘Very, Very, Very Strange.’ How Nancy Pelosi’s Meeting With Trump Went Down

This news was published by : TIME POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:32

Nancy Pelosi began her day preparing to talk infrastructure with President Donald Trump. By the afternoon, it was clear that was not going to be the subject of the day.

On Wednesday morning, the House Speaker met with fellow Democrats in a closed-door session, telling them they had power only in staying united and asking for them to stay the course on their efforts to hold the Trump Administration accountable.

Although Pelosi has urged Democrats to stay away from impeachment talk for now, she did tell them that that Trump’s all-out fight against congressional oversight and other actions seemed to her to amount to a “coverup.”

That struck a nerve at the White House, where the President is particularly sensitive to any discussion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation or other scandals.

A short time later, Pelosi was left waiting for 15 minutes in the White House’s Cabinet Room, along with her colleagues from the House and Senate. The plan was to meet with Trump about a $2 trillion infrastructure plan. Instead, Trump roared into the room, didn’t greet the individuals gathered and declared any cooperation with the Democratic-led House was dead until Democrats ended their investigations. The meeting lasted, according to a Democratic aide, “no more than three minutes.”

Trump then headed to the Rose Garden, where reporters had gathered with little advance notice. In a brief statement, he said he had told the Democrats that he couldn’t work with them “under these circumstances.”

That didn’t seem to affect Pelosi. Appearing midday at a policy conference organized by a liberal think tank, she offered her version of events. “It was very, very, very strange,” Pelosi told a Center for American Progress confab.

In Pelosi’s telling, she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer arrived at the White House prepared to negotiate the details of a major overhaul of the nation’s roads, bridges and airports. Under terms that had been worked out through back channels, the federal government would pick up 80% of the bill, with state and local governments picking up the rest. Likening it to Teddy Roosevelt’s big lift in creating the national park system, Pelosi said she was ready to give Trump a once-a-century win.

“We want to give this President the opportunity to do something historic for our country,” Pelosi said. “I pray for him and I pray for the United States of America.”

But Pelosi showed no signs of backing down from her assessment or agenda.

“The fact is, in plain sight, this President is obstructing justice and is engaged in a coverup — and that could be impeachable,” Pelosi said to thunderous applause from the liberal audience. “As they say, the coverup is frequently worse than the crime.”

Still, Pelosi is facing some rumbling inside her Democratic caucus. While five of the six chairs of committees investigating Trump have said impeachment remains off the table, some rank-and-file lawmakers are slowly heeding activists’ calls for the start of impeachment. Over the weekend, Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan became the first Republican to join that camp.

Trump is doing himself few favors. After he stormed out the Cabinet Room, Trump called reporters to the Rose Garden for a 10-minute diatribe against the investigations he has faced. With a “no obstruction, no collusion” placard on his podium, Trump lashed out at Democrats. “Instead of walking in happily to a meeting, I walk into to look at people who said I was doing a coverup,” Trump said.

He followed up with a string of tweets following that assertion.

So sad that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer will never be able to see or understand the great promise of our Country. They can continue the Witch Hunt which has already cost $40M and been a tremendous waste of time and energy for everyone in America, or get back to work….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 22, 2019

Schumer said after Trump’s Rose Garden meltdown that “to watch what happened in the White House would make your jaw drop.”

For her part, Pelosi remains focused on the big picture. When asked at the Center for American Progress event about impeachment, Pelosi urged measured restraint. “I’m not sure we get more information if we do an impeachment inquiry” versus the current oversight efforts, she said. It’s an argument she made at the start of her day, too. And, at least for now, most her caucus seems to be standing by her.

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Howard Stern says interviewing Hillary Clinton 'could have made a difference' for failed 2016 bid

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:31

President Trump could have lost the 2016 presidential race to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had she appeared on Howard Stern's radio show, the shock jock suggested Tuesday.

"I went out on an all-out campaign to get Hillary to come on the show because I think it could have made a ...

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An Iowa town hall shows promise for Beto O’Rourke, as well as challenges ahead

This news was published by : WASHINGTON POST POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:25
The former Texas congressman has turned to cable television to help jump-start his presidential campaign.
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Carson on Oreo gaffe: 'I was having difficulty hearing' Katie Porter; 'I'm very familiar' with REOs

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:23

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson responded to criticisms Wednesday of a viral exchange when he misheard Rep. Katie Porter as mentioning "Oreos" while she was asking questions about REOs, a term used in the real estate industry to refer to properties owned by banks or other lenders after ...

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Unsealed court filings reveal how Mueller quickly zeroed in on Michael Cohen

This news was published by : WASHINGTON POST POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:19
Prosecutors took an early interest in the companies seeking to leverage Cohen’s access to President Trump and the White House, documents show.
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Bill de Blasio: Democrats became 'party of the elite' to too many Americans

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:08

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday said the Democratic party has become the "party of the elite" to too many people and that he fears Democrats don't emphasize the needs of working people enough.

"What the Democrats have not done well enough in recent years is be ...

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New York Legislature passes bill to share Trump’s state taxes with Congress

This news was published by : POLITICO TOP PICKS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:04

ALBANY — The New York Assembly passed legislation Wednesday that will let New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance share political officials’ state tax returns with congressional committees, giving Democrats new ammunition in their attempt to obtain more information about President Donald Trump’s finances.

“It is extremely important that we have transparency when it comes to tax returns,” said Assemblyman David Buchwald (D-White Plains), the bill’s sponsor. “No one should be above the law.”

The state Senate passed the bill two weeks ago. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has said he is “supportive” of the proposal, is expected to sign it.

The legislation was introduced as part of long-standing Democratic efforts to obtain more information about Trump’s financial situation. Once it becomes law, the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee or Joint Committee on Taxation would be able to obtain most of the president’s state returns by submitting a written request.

The unofficial 84-53 tally in the Assembly was an uncommonly narrow margin in a legislative chamber with 107 Democrats and 43 Republicans.

The Democrats who voted "no" mostly held their tongues, but Assemblyman Michael Benedetto (D-Bronx) received applause when saying he was “extremely troubled” by the proposal.

“Make no mistake, I have complete disdain with what is going on in this administration in Washington,” Benedetto said. “But when I see a couple of bills coming to us which the purpose is obviously political in nature, then it gives me pause. We are traveling down a path that we should not be traveling down: No Legislature should craft legislation for political reasons just to get a few people they consider their enemies.”

Both the Assembly and Senate also passed on Wednesday a second bill that makes technical changes to the first. Most significantly, it changes the original bill to limit Congress to requesting the returns of New York taxpayers who serve in high-level office at the federal, state or local levels of government.

Congress, of course, would need to request the records to obtain them. The bill has been backed by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). But the one House Democrat with the power to obtain them under New York’s new law, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), has been less enthused. A spokesperson of his recently told Bloomberg that the state forms aren’t what he’s focused on.

Buchwald, for his part, expressed optimism that the new law will be helpful to Neal’s committee.

“The House Ways and Means Committee is already on record as having interest in those returns,” Buchwald said after the vote. “They’ve made those requests to the commissioner of Internal Revenue and the Department of Treasury. They’ll obviously evaluate upon the enactment of this law whether this course is right for them, though I think if they are not successful elsewhere, they should avail New York’s opportunity.”

Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine

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New York moves to expose Trump taxes

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:04

New York's legislature approved a bill Wednesday that would give Congress access to President Trump's state tax returns, setting up a backdoor method for Democrats to get ahold of information Mr. Trump has refused to release.

The legislation doesn't name Mr. Trump, but it applies to top elected and appointed ...

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GOP leaders: Mississippi rep should resign if he hit wife

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:02

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi's governor and two other top Republicans say a state lawmaker should resign if he punched his wife.

Second-term Republican Rep. Doug McLeod of Lucedale was arrested during the weekend and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence.

George County sheriff's deputies say McLeod bloodied his wife's nose ...

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#BBCAskThis: Clive Myrie speaks to Adam Price

This news was published by : BBC POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 20:00
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price answers questions sent in by BBC News viewers ahead of the European Parliamentary elections.
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Pregnant woman seeks deportation asylum in Chicago church

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 19:51

CHICAGO (AP) - A pregnant woman is seeking asylum in a Chicago church after she says she received a deportation order and must leave the U.S.

WBEZ radio reported Tuesday that Adilene Marquina has a high-risk pregnancy and is afraid to travel back to Mexico. She is staying at ...

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New York legislature approves bill giving Congress access to Trump’s state tax records

This news was published by : WASHINGTON POST POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 19:51
New York state’s legislature on Wednesday approved a bill to allow the state to give Congress President Trump’s state tax returns, which could allow House lawmakers to review portions of the president...
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Nancy Pelosi's 'cover-up' accusation upsets delicate balance with White House

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 19:46

Wednesday's blow-up between President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was dramatic on its own, but it was all the more strange because the two sides had just taken a significant step toward cooperation hours before they opened fire on each other.

Just minutes before Mrs. Pelosi accused Mr. Trump ...

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Oregon population will grow through migration as births drop

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 19:33

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A new report from the state says that in future years, Oregon's population will mostly grow through people moving into the state rather than from new births.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports Wednesday that the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis predicts the state will see deaths outnumber ...

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Nancy Pelosi: 'I pray' for Donald Trump

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 19:25

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she is praying for President Trump after she accused him of covering up wrongdoing, and he retaliated by shutting down a meeting with her.

Mrs. Pelosi, who often talks about her Catholic faith, didn't discuss the specifics of the exchange she had with Mr. ...

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Editorials from around Oregon

This news was published by : WASHINGTON TIMES POLITICS exactly at Wed, 05/22/2019 - 19:11

Selected editorials from Oregon newspapers:


The Corvallis Gazette-Times, May 22, on letting voters decide on capital punishment:

A bill before the state Legislature that would dramatically curtail the cases in which the death penalty could be applied passed the state Senate on Tuesday and now heads for the House.

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