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Grab your popcorn 😁! Trump gives Barr green light to declassify 2016 campaign surveillance documents; I’m Excited Are You?!
Trump gives Barr green light to declassify 2016 campaign surveillance documents; Travel ban over abortion law
Friday, May 24, 2019
Trump gives Barr the green light to unseal documents on the 2016 surveillance of the Trump campaign
President Trump on Thursday night issued a memo giving Attorney General William Barr the … See More authority to declassify any documents related to surveillance of the Trump campaign in 2016. Trump also ordered the intelligence community to cooperate with Barr. U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, blasted the move as an attempt to “weaponize law enforcement and classified information.” Trump has long claimed his campaign was the victim of “spying,” though the intelligence community has insisted it acted lawfully in following leads in the Russia investigation.
Last month, Barr ran into a buzz saw of criticism from Democratic lawmakers and media figures for testifying that “spying did occur” against the Trump campaign. But despite the backlash, the attorney general appeared to be referring to intelligence collection that already has been widely reported and confirmed.
Alleged Trump ‘cover-up’: A second generation of the ‘Russia witch hunt’
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claim of a presidential “cover-up” is the second generation of the Russia collusion “witch hunt,”according to a White House spokesman. Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley made the claim Thursday on “The Story with Martha MacCallum,” describing the continuing Democrat push for further investigations as “the Russia collusion hoax witch hunt 2.0.” Gidley’s comments came asTrump and Pelosi and other Democrats continued to snipe at each other over Wednesday’s scuttled meeting on infrastructure. White House officials insist Trump was calm when he cut short the meeting with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Pelosi and Schumer insist Trump was agitated and threw the equivalent of a presidential temper tantrum when he abruptly ended the session. The president has demanded Democrats end their “phony investigations” before he negotiates with them on issues like infrastructure. Meanwhile, Wells Fargo, TD Bank Thursday turned over Trump’s financial records to Democrats in the House Financial Services Committee led by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif.
Theresa May says she’ll quit as Conservative leader June 7
British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Friday that she will resign — ending her months-long struggle to keep her job despite seething anger from her own Conservative Party over her handling of Brexit. “I believe it was right to persevere even when the odds against success seemed high. But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new prime minister to lead that effort,” she said outside 10 Downing Street.
LA lawmakers approve Alabama travel ban over new abortion law
Los Angeles County’s Board of Supervisors voted this week to enact a one-year ban on official travel to Alabama over that state’s controversial abortion law, which all but outlaws the procedure. Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who co-authored the motion with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, called the law an “attack not only confined to the residents of those states but an act of aggression upon all of us.” The motion prohibits officials conducting business on behalf of the county from traveling to Alabama except for emergency response, training or assistance or “legally required matters where the failure to authorize such travel would seriously harm the County’s interests,” Solis said in a statement.
Pete Hegseth op-ed: Let’s stop second-guessing our war heroes
In a feature on FoxNews.com, “Fox & Friends” weekend co-host and Iraq war veteran Pete Hegsethexplains why he wants critics to stop questioning the tactics U.S. troops employ on the battlefield. He writes the following: “We send men to fight on our behalf, and too often second-guess the manner in which they fight. Count me out on the Monday-morning quarterbacking — I’m with the American warfighter, all the way. … I’m not talking about massacres or sheer recklessness. None of us ever contemplated the killing of women and children for sport. We didn’t shoot innocent civilians for fun. There may be a few deranged combat troops, and they will get their due. Yet, too often, when warfighters come home they are second-guessed. Prosecuted by lawyers who never left their air-conditioned offices or politicians with ulterior motives.”
CLICK HERE to read Hegseth’s commentary and tune in to “Fox & Friends” today, between 6 and 9 am ET, where he will further explain his point of view.
$44M #MeToo settlement for Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein, the former movie mogul accused of sex crimes by multiple women, hasreached a tentative $44 million settlement to resolve lawsuits filed against him by his accusers, creditors and board members of his former film studio, according to multiple reports Thursday night. Under the proposed settlement, which has not been finalized, $30 million would be paid to the plaintiffs — including former employees of Weinstein Co. — and $14 million would go to pay legal fees, with the funds coming from insurance policies, the Wall Street Journal reported.
‘Ingraham Angle’ Exclusive: Homeland Security boss defends against family-separation accusations at border.
Dionne Warwick says she doubts Beyoncé will reach icon status.
Dr. Drew Pinsky warns Los Angeles could be at risk of a deadly epidemic this summer.
MINDING YOUR BUSINESS
Trump rolls out second aid package for farmers worth $16B amid US-China trade war.
House passes major retirement reform bill: What it means for your 401(k), IRA.
McDonald’s not ready to jump on the plant-based meat bandwagon yet.
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Legislation to stop tech companies from tracking users online is finding new momentum as Congress seeks to crack down on big tech’s privacy practices.
On Tuesday, Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHillicon Valley: FCC Republicans backing T-Mobile, Sprint merger | Tech giants to testify on election security | GOP senator offers ‘Do Not Track’ bill | Researchers find coordinated anti-Trump campaign on Instagram GOP senator announces bill to block companies from tracking online activity Hillicon Valley: WhatsApp issues fix after spyware breach | Pompeo warns Russia against interference | Florida gov confirms election hacking | Federal labor board’s lawyer calls Uber drivers contractors | Graham zeroes in on 5G security MORE (R-Mo.) unveiled a “Do Not Track” bill with tough penalties for companies who break its protections, reviving a debate over whether users should be allowed to opt out of the tracking and data collection that comprise the core of many top tech companies’ business models.
Efforts to create a Do Not Track registry have hit roadblocks for more than a decade, but consumer advocates and tech industry critics say Hawley’s bill could find better traction amid a larger backlash against tech behemoths including Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO and founder of privacy-oriented browser DuckDuckGo, told The Hill Americans are more concerned about privacy issues than they were a decade ago, when the first conversations about a Do Not Track registry gained prominence.
He said those efforts occurred before privacy became “mainstream,” pointing to a spate of highly public surveillance- and privacy-related scandals over the past decade.
“There’s a pressure to pass something this year, I think, because there’s a will from people to do something,” Weinberg said.
DuckDuckGo earlier this month released a Do Not Track proposal of its own, calling for legislation that would legally require websites to stop collecting data on users who opt out of certain kinds of “non-essential” tracking.
The Do Not Track registry would be modeled after the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “Do Not Call” list, which allows people to say they no longer want to receive telemarketing calls.
Weinberg said he was approached by Hawley’s office, as well as a few other lawmakers, shortly after putting out the proposal, and supports the freshman Missouri Republican’s bill.
Hawley’s bill breaks with DuckDuckGo’s proposal on some points, but the basic idea is the same: It would allow Americans to opt out of companies collecting their data beyond what is “necessary” for those services to run. And companies would face steep penalties if they fail to respect that decision.
“It’s very simple: It just says that a consumer can make a one-time choice not to be tracked, not to have her data sent to these companies and to stop them from then selling that data to other companies,” Hawley said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday. “I think we should make it compulsory and we should give it the force of law. … This puts the ball in consumers’ court, gives them ownership over their own data, gives them the right to control it.”
Hawley’s bill would put the force of law behind the list, threatening companies with fines of up to $1,000 per person for “willful or reckless” violations and $50 per day for “negligence.”
Advocates have long pushed for a Do Not Track database.
In 2010, the FTC endorsed a Do Not Track initiative, and lawmakers including Rep. Jackie SpeierKaren (Jackie) Lorraine Jacqueline SpeierGOP senator announces bill to block companies from tracking online activity Mueller mystery: Will he ever testify to Congress? The Hill’s Morning Report — Dem ire at Barr intensifies MORE (D-Calif.) introduced legislation that would have empowered the FTC to create the list.
The efforts to create a federally enforced registry, though, never panned out amid enormous pressure from industry representatives, who could not come to an agreement over what “tracking” means in the first place. The working group tasked with coming to an agreement on how to implement the pro-privacy registry was ultimately unable to come to a consensus after years of wrangling.
Weinberg said that at the time, the tech industry was singing a different tune on privacy. For the most part, the top companies were resistant to any form of federal regulation.
But this year, Hawley is introducing the bill as companies like Google and industry trade groups are getting behind the calls for privacy legislation, seeking to get a seat at the table as efforts to craft a comprehensive privacy law ramp up on Capitol Hill.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), an ad business organization, was one of the most fervent opponents of previous Do Not Track efforts. The group, which represents advertising and marketing technology companies, sought to quash the effort entirely.
But IAB last week put out a blog post calling for “Do-Not-Track Plus,” meaning broader federal privacy legislation that imposes “penalties, civil and criminal, for illicit uses of data.” The group noted that they still believe a federal Do Not Track list would promote “an incorrect, noxious notion that consumers are de facto victimized by the use of their data,” but said broader regulations are needed to address the issue.
But there are still questions about the path ahead. Some expected allies to Hawley’s push have not yet gotten on board.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), one of the leaders of the push to implement a registry in 2011, said they are still reviewing Hawley’s bill and declined to comment on Tuesday.
Marc Rotenberg, the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), in an emailed statement to The Hill called the Do Not Track concept “a straightforward approach to a real problem,” but noted that implementation can be “very tricky.” EPIC helped pioneer the “Do Not Call” registry.
Joe Jerome, a policy counsel with the Privacy and Data Project at Georgetown University’s Center for Democracy and Technology, told The Hill that he and other privacy activists think Do Not Track legislation would be a “good step forward,” but the conversation about privacy has expanded exponentially. He mentioned that advocates will want bills that deal with third-party data brokers, internet-connected devices and the larger “non-browser” tech environment.
Do Not Track proposals have typically revolved around internet browsers.
“Do Not Track could be a really useful user control but it doesn’t really solve the entire problem,” Jerome, a leading voice on privacy, told The Hill. “It’s something we should’ve been doing 10 years ago. The fact we didn’t means we have a whole lot of other problems.”
“I don’t think a federal Do Not Track solution is comprehensive enough to deal with all of the other political issues at play in the national privacy debate right now,” Jerome continued. “I don’t think it addresses some of the overarching data security, anti-discrimination, dark-pattern [concerns].”
And it’s unclear whether other lawmakers will get on board with Hawley’s proposal.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a tech critic, and Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerSenate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law Hillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group Senate Commerce chair to renew push for regs on self-driving vehicles MORE (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, told The Hill that Hawley had not yet approached them about the legislation. The Commerce Committee would likely have some jurisdiction over the bill, as the panel oversees the FTC.
A spokesman for Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenIRS audit rate down in fiscal 2018 Oregon man sentenced after threatening to chop off Dem senator’s tongue House to vote on retirement bill next week MORE (D-Ore.), who included Do Not Track provisions in his draft data privacy legislation released last year, said the office is still reviewing Hawley’s bill.
Blumenthal said he would be open to collaborating with Hawley, noting that he’s also supported Do Not Track efforts in the past, and Wicker said he is interested in it as well but hasn’t heard about it.
Hawley’s office said they would have updates in the future about co-sponsors.
Advocates, though, are hopeful for the effort, even as they caution that it is just one step in addressing privacy issues.
“I do think, again, a Do Not Track proposal with some teeth could make a meaningful difference for consumers’ privacy,” Jerome said.
“I don’t think it’s the end of the conversation.”
FILE PHOTO: China’s ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai responds to reporters questions during an interview with Reuters in Washington, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo
May 21, 2019
By David Lawder and Makini Brice
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said on Tuesday that Beijing was ready to resume trade talks with Washington, but blamed the U.S. side for frequently “changing its mind” on tentative deals to end U.S.-China trade disputes.
“China remains ready to continue our talks with our American colleagues to reach a conclusion. Our door is still open,” Cui said in an interview on Fox News Channel.
No further trade talks between top Chinese and U.S. negotiators have been scheduled since the last round ended in a stalemate on May 10, the same day U.S. President Donald Trump sharply increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and took steps to levy duties on all remaining Chinese imports.
Negotiations between the United States and China have soured dramatically since early May, when Chinese officials sought major changes to the text of a proposed deal that the Trump administration says had been largely agreed.
Asked about this reversal, Cui turned the tables and said it was U.S. negotiators that had abruptly backed away from some previous deals that had been tentatively agreed over the past year.
“It’s quite clear it is the U.S. side that more than once changed its mind overnight and broke the tentative deal already reached.” Cui said. “So we are still committed to whatever we agree to do, but it is the U.S. side that changed its mind so often.”
In June 2018, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross held negotiations with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on an offer by China to increase its purchases of U.S. goods by around $70 billion, U.S. officials said at the time. But U.S. President Donald Trump did not accept the offer, choosing instead to begin imposing tariffs on Chinese goods.
The United States is seeking sweeping changes to China’s trade and economic policies, including an end to forced technology transfers and theft of U.S. trade secrets. Washington also wants curbs on subsidies for Chinese state-owned enterprises and increased access to U.S. markets.
Cui told Fox News Channel that U.S. restrictions on Chinese telecom equipment company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd announced last week “are without any foundation and evidence” and could undermine the normal functioning of markets.
“Everybody knows Huawei is a privately owned company. It is just a normal Chinese private company,” Cui said. “So all the action taken against Huawei are politically motivated.”
(Reporting by David Lawder and Makini Brice; Additional reporting by Eric Beech; editing by Grant McCool)
Shipping containers are seen at a port in Shanghai, China July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song
May 21, 2019
(Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump says China pays the tariffs he has imposed on $250 billion of Chinese exports to the United States.
But that is not how tariffs work. China’s government and companies in China do not pay tariffs directly. Tariffs are a tax on imports. They are paid by U.S.-registered firms to U.S. customs for the goods they import into the United States.
Importers often pass the costs of tariffs on to customers – manufacturers and consumers in the United States – by raising their prices.
U.S. business executives and economists say U.S. consumers foot much of the bill through rising prices.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow has acknowledged that “both sides will suffer on this,” contradicting the president.
The tariff bill is set to rise further. Trump this month directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to launch the process of imposing tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of goods from China. That includes products ranging from cellphones to baby pacifiers.
That would mean almost all imports from China would be subject to a 25 percent import tax.
U.S. COMPANIES SEE RISING CONSUMER PRICES
A growing number of U.S. companies has warned about the negative impact of the tariffs on U.S. consumers.
Nike Inc and 172 other footwear companies have urged Trump to remove footwear from a list of imports facing a proposed extra 25% tariff, warning the move could cost consumers an additional $7 billion a year.
Walmart Inc, the world’s largest retailer, and department store chain Macy’s Inc have warned that prices for shoppers will rise due to higher tariffs on goods from China.
WHAT THE ‘TARIFF MAN’ SAYS
Trump, who has called himself the “Tariff Man,” has often repeated that China pays for U.S. tariffs on its goods.
“We have billions of dollars coming into our Treasury — billions — from China. We never had 10 cents coming into our Treasury; now we have billions coming in,” he said on Jan. 24.
On May 5, he tweeted: “For 10 months, China has been paying Tariffs to the USA.”
As well as imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, Trump has also imposed a tax on global steel and aluminum imports and shipments of washing machines and solar panels.
HOW TARIFFS REALLY WORK
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) collects the tax on imports. The agency typically requires importers to pay duties within 10 days of their shipments clearing customs.
Through May 1, Washington has assessed $23.7 billion in tariffs since early 2018, according to data from the CBP.
Total tariff revenue – including levies that pre-dated Trump – shot up by 89% in the first half of the current fiscal year starting Oct. 1, to a total of $34.7 billion, according to U.S. Treasury data.
Every item imported into the United States legally has a customs code. Importers are expected to check the tariffs and other taxes and duties due on the goods they bring in, calculate what they owe, and pay it.
U.S. Customs reviews payments and sends importers a fresh bill if it detects underpayment.
Importers also have to post payment guarantees, or import bonds, with customs. The costs of these bonds have risen with tariffs, an additional burden on U.S.-based firms importing goods from China.
DO CHINESE SUPPLIERS BEAR THE COSTS OF U.S. TARIFFS?
Chinese suppliers do shoulder some of the cost of U.S. tariffs in indirect ways. Exporters sometimes, for instance, are forced to offer U.S. importers a discount to help defray the costs of higher U.S. duties. Chinese companies might also lose business if U.S. importers find another tariff-free source of the same goods outside China.
And outside of tariffs, the Trump administration’s decision to add China’s Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker, to a trade blacklist, has hit that company hard.
But U.S.-based importers are managing the higher tax burden in a number of ways that hurt U.S. companies and customers more than China.
Such strategies include accepting lower profit margins; cutting costs – including wages and jobs for U.S. workers; deferring any potential wage hikes, as well as passing on tariff costs through higher prices for U.S. consumers or companies.
Most importers use a mix of such tactics to spread the higher costs among suppliers and consumers or buyers.
HIGHER PRICES FOR TRACTORS, WASHING MACHINES
Higher duties on imports of metals and Chinese products, for example, increased Caterpillar’s production costs by more than $100 million last year. In response, the heavy-duty equipment maker increased prices for its products.
Tractor manufacturer Deere & Co estimates a $100 million increase in its raw materials costs this year because of Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports. Deere has cut costs and increased prices to protect its profits.
A Congressional Research Service report in February found that the tariffs boosted washing machine prices by as much as 12%, compared to January 2018, before tariffs took effect.
Steel and aluminum tariffs increased the price of steel products by nearly 9% last year, pushing up costs for steel users by $5.6 billion, according to a study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
U.S. companies and consumers paid $3 billion a month in additional taxes because of tariffs on Chinese goods and on aluminum and steel from around the globe, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Princeton University, and Columbia University. Companies shouldered an additional $1.4 billion in costs related to lost efficiency in 2018, the study found.
WHAT DO COMPANIES IN CHINA PAY?
China has retaliated against U.S. tariffs by imposing its own tariffs on imports from the United States.
Most importers in China are Chinese. So in the same way the U.S. government collects import taxes on Chinese goods from U.S. importers, the Chinese government takes in taxes on U.S. goods from Chinese importers.
As with tariffs in the United States, Chinese firms can seek to pass on the costs to U.S. exporters. Some U.S. interests have lost business, such as U.S. soy farmers.
Chinese buyers have cut billions of dollars of soybean purchases from the United States because China’s tariffs have made U.S. supplies more expensive than beans from competitors such as Brazil.
(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh and Andrea Shalal, Editing by Simon Webb, Brian Thevenot and Susan Thomas)
President Donald Trump on Tuesday appealed a federal judge’s ruling against his attempt to block a House of Representatives committee from seeking his financial records, according to a court filing.
Lawyers for Trump and his company filed the appeal in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia one day after a U.S. district judge backed the House Oversight Committee’s subpoena for Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm Mazars LLP.
The lower court’s decision on Monday handed an early setback for the Republican president in his legal battle with congressional Democrats as lawmakers investigate various aspects of his administration.
The House Oversight Committee has said it needs Trump’s financial records to examine whether he has conflicts of interest or broke the law by not disentangling himself from his business holdings, as previous presidents did.
Trump’s lawyers argue the panel’s demand exceeded Congress’s constitutional limits. Mazars has said it will comply with its legal obligations but has taken no sides as the case plays out in court.
A real estate developer and former reality television star, Trump still owns the Trump Organization but has said he would leave its day-to-day operations to his eldest two sons while in office. Unlike previous modern U.S. presidential candidates, he did not disclose his tax returns during his run for the White House.
The nameplate of former White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who was scheduled to appear at a House Judiciary Committee hearing titled “Oversight of the Report by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III,” is seen inside the committee room where McGahn failed to appear on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 21, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
May 21, 2019
By Sarah N. Lynch and Jan Wolfe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives committee that would handle any impeachment of President Donald Trump briefly convened and then adjourned a hearing on Tuesday with another empty chair at the witness table, as former White House counsel Don McGahn did not show up to testify.
In a further escalation of a constitutional struggle between Trump and Congress over its power to investigate him, the White House on Monday told McGahn, who left his post in October, to disregard a subpoena from the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee to appear at the hearing.
“When this committee issues a subpoena, even to a senior presidential adviser, the witness must show up. Our subpoenas are not optional,” committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said at the beginning of the hearing.
“Mr. McGahn has a legal obligation to be here for this scheduled appearance. If he does not immediately correct his mistake, this committee will have no choice but to enforce this subpoena against him,” added Nadler, who called McGahn’s failure to appear part of the Republican president’s “broader efforts to cover up his misconduct.”
Doug Collins, the panel’s top Republican, accused Nadler of engaging in a political “circus.” Echoing Trump’s own language, Collins said the 448-page Mueller report found no collusion by Trump with Russia and no obstruction of justice by the president. “Now the Democrats are trying desperately to make something out of nothing,” Collins said.
But Nadler said, “Let me be clear: this committee will hear Mr. McGahn’s testimony, even if we have to go to court to secure it.” Panel Democrats voted to adjourn the hearing after roughly a half hour.
The panel is investigating Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian election meddling. Attorney General William Barr on May 2 also snubbed the committee, which later voted to hold him in contempt of Congress for not handing over an unredacted copy of Mueller’s final report.
At the hearing that Barr skipped, an empty witness chair figured prominently and a Democratic committee member put a ceramic chicken on the table in front of it for the cameras. There was no sign of a repeat chicken appearance on Tuesday.
In the Mueller report, McGahn was a key witness regarding possible obstruction of justice by Trump. Career prosecutors who are not involved in the case have said the report contained strong evidence that Trump committed a crime when he pressured McGahn to fire Mueller and later urged him to lie about it.
Trump is stonewalling numerous congressional inquiries into himself, his turbulent presidency, his family and his sprawling business interests, which he did not divest or put into a blind trust when he took office in January 2018.
Trump and most fellow Republicans in Congress dismiss the inquiries as political harassment ahead of the 2020 elections.
However, House Republican Justin Amash, a frequent Trump critic and outspoken Michigan conservative, said over the weekend that the president “has engaged in impeachable conduct.”
Counter-punching in his usual style, Trump told reporters on Monday outside the White House that Amash is “a loser.”
Any impeachment effort would begin in the House, led by the Judiciary Committee, before action in the Republican-led Senate on whether to remove Trump from office.
Late on Monday, the Department of Justice issued a legal opinion saying McGahn did not need to appear at the hearing, while McGahn’s lawyer, William Burck, wrote that his client would not testify before the committee unless it reached an agreement with the White House.
In a letter sent to McGahn, committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler told the former White House counsel that he would “risk serious consequences” if he failed to show up to testify.
“Should you fail to do so, the committee is prepared to use all enforcement mechanisms at its disposal,” Nadler wrote.
On another front, in a legal setback for Trump, a U.S. judge on Monday ruled against him in a case involving another House panel. The House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed Trump’s financial records from his long-time accounting firm Mazars LLP.
In an unusual move, lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization, his company, last month sued to try to block the subpoena. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington ruled against Trump and denied his request for a stay pending appeal.
Early on Tuesday, Trump appealed the judge’s ruling, challenging “all aspects” of Mehta’s decision.
As the confrontation between Trump and Congress has intensified, Democrats have raised growing concerns about the president’s conduct, especially since the mid-April release of the Mueller report.
“We simply cannot sit by and allow this president to destroy the rule of law … If Mr. McGahn doesn’t testify tomorrow, I think it is probably appropriate for us to move forward with an impeachment inquiry,” Democratic Representative David Cicilline, a Judiciary Committee member, told MSNBC on Monday.
The redacted, 448-page report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, 22 months in the making, showed how Moscow interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in Trump’s favor and detailed Trump’s attempts to impede Mueller’s probe.
The report found there was insufficient evidence to allege a criminal conspiracy between Moscow and the Trump campaign. It made no recommendation on whether Trump obstructed justice, leaving that question up to Congress.
Trump earlier this month cited the controversial doctrine of executive privilege to block the Judiciary Committee’s subpoena seeking an unredacted version of Mueller’s final report.
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by David Morgan. Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh)
FILE PHOTO – U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the National Association of Realtors’ Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, U.S., May 17, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
May 20, 2019
By Jan Wolfe
(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Monday ruled in favor of a U.S. House of Representatives committee seeking President Donald Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm, dealing an early setback to the Trump administration in its legal battle with Congress.
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington also denied a request by Trump to stay his decision pending an appeal.
Last Tuesday Mehta heard oral arguments on whether Mazars LLP must comply with a House of Representatives Oversight Committee subpoena.
Mehta said in Monday’s ruling that the committee “has shown that it is not engaged in a pure fishing expedition for the President’s financial records” and that the Mazars documents might assist Congress in passing laws and performing other core functions.
It was the first time a federal court had waded into the tussle about how far Congress can go in probing Trump and his business affairs.
A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump is refusing to cooperate with a series of investigations on issues ranging from his tax returns and policy decisions to his Washington hotel and his children’s security clearances.
The standoff deepened on Monday when Trump told former White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a subpoena to testify about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation before a different congressional committee.
Trump’s lawyers argued that Congress is on a quest to “turn up something that Democrats can use as a political tool against the president now and in the 2020 election.”
Mehta’s ruling will almost certainly be appealed to a higher court.
The House Oversight Committee claims sweeping investigative power and says it needs Trump’s financial records to examine whether he has conflicts of interest or broke the law by not disentangling himself from his business holdings, as previous presidents did.
Lawyers for Trump and the Trump Organization, his company, last month filed a lawsuit to block the committee’s subpoena, saying it exceeded Congress’ constitutional limits.
Mehta was appointed in 2014 by Democratic former President Barack Obama, who was often investigated by Republicans in Congress during his two terms in office.
Mazars has avoided taking sides in the dispute and said it will “comply with all legal obligations.”
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Writing by Jan Wolfe and Howard Goller; Editing by Dan Grebler and Grant McCool)
FILE PHOTO – White House Counsel Don McGahn listens during U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
May 20, 2019
By Sarah N. Lynch, David Morgan and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday told former White House counsel Don McGahn to defy a subpoena to testify about the Russia investigation before a congressional committee, deepening a fight between the administration and Democratic lawmakers.
In a letter to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee’s Democratic Chairman Jerrold Nadler, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said that McGahn should not appear due to both “constitutional immunity” and “in order to protect the prerogatives of the Office of the Presidency.”
The committee is investigating whether Trump illegally obstructed the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
McGahn figured prominently in a report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller about the Russia probe and whether Trump committed obstruction of justice.
The report cites McGahn as saying that Trump called him several times in June 2017 to tell him to direct the Justice Department to remove Mueller because of conflicts of interest.
McGahn did not carry out Trump’s order, the report said. Later, when news articles about the incident surfaced, McGahn told Mueller’s investigators that Trump tried to get him to dispute the accuracy of the reports. McGahn again refused.
Many Democratic lawmakers, as well as many former prosecutors not involved in the investigation, have said that the alleged order by the president to fire Mueller and attempt to coerce McGahn to lie about it could amount to committing the crime of obstruction.
Trump has denied asking McGahn to have Mueller removed.
House Democrats have sought McGahn’s cooperation as part of their investigation of possible corruption and obstruction of justice by Trump. Trump denies wrongdoing.
Congressional aides said on Monday that the committee has not yet been formally notified by McGahn and his attorney about whether he will attend the proceedings, though Nadler intends to still go ahead with the hearing regardless.
An attorney for McGahn could not be reached for comment. It was not immediately clear whether McGahn could still appear in front of the panel, but decline to answer questions. McGahn might be held in contempt of Congress if he refuses to testify.
Mueller’s report described numerous links between Trump’s 2016 campaign and various Russians but did not find sufficient evidence to establish there was a criminal conspiracy with Moscow.
The report also described numerous attempts by Trump to impede Mueller’s investigation, but stopped short of declaring the president had committed a crime.
Attorney General William Barr determined after reviewing Mueller’s findings that there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal obstruction charges against the president.
Nadler’s committee has been locked in multiple battles with the Trump administration over access to information contained in the Mueller report.
Trump said following the release of the Mueller report in March that it showed he was exonerated of colluding with Russia and obstruction justice.
But since then he has hardened his administration’s position of defying the legal demands of Democrats in Congress who want more information on the Russia investigation and Trump’s taxes and business dealings.
Earlier this month, the committee voted to hold Barr in contempt after he defied a subpoena seeking an unredacted copy of the Mueller report and its underlying investigative materials.
Nadler also issued a subpoena last month compelling McGahn to testify on Tuesday, and he has previously said he would hold the attorney in contempt if he did not show up.
Congressional aides said Tuesday’s hearing date for McGahn would enable Democrats to mark up a contempt citation against him as early as Thursday.
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, meanwhile, issued an opinion on Monday that gave legal cover to the decision to block McGahn from testifying.
In it, Justice Department Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel wrote that, “Congress may not constitutionally compel the President’s senior advisers to testify about their official duties.”
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Sarah N. Lynch, David Morgan and Tim Ahmann; writing by Mohammad Zargham; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Alistair Bell)
On Saturday, Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was recently acclaimed as an even better leader than the legendary Steve Jobs, carved out a morning from his very busy schedule to deliver a commencement speech for the 2019 graduates of Tulane University in New Orleans.
Back in February, when Tulane confirmed Cook as its commencement speaker for this year, the university’s president Mike Fitts touted that the Apple CEO, who enjoys the reputation as one of the world’s most workaholic bosses, “represents the kind of success we hope all of our graduates can attain.”
But as soon as Cook stepped up to the podium on Saturday, his message to Tulane’s graduates became the very opposite of what was expected of him—instead of presenting himself as a role model for the young graduates in the audience, Cook encouraged them to challenge older generations’ successes and to find their own.
“In some important ways, my generation has failed you,” Cook said. “We spent too much time debating, too focused on the fight and not enough on progress.”
“You don’t need to look far to find an example of that failure,” he continued, pointing to an example that no one understands better than those living in the natural disaster-dogged New Orleans: climate change.
“This problem doesn’t get easier based on who wins an election. It’s about who has one life’s lottery and has the luxury of ignoring this issue, and who stands to lose everything. The costal communities, including some right here in Louisiana, that are already making plans to leave behind the places they’ve called home for generations and head for higher ground… When we talk about climate change, I challenge you to look for those who have the most to lose and find the real, true empathy that comes from something shared. When you do that, the political noise dies down and you can feel your feet planted on solid ground.”
Cook’s most important message actually went beyond climate change. Expanding the discussion to how young people can filter out the “political noise” and find their real goals, he encouraged them to fight against what today’s tech giants—including Apple—want them to see and regain their own perspective.
“If you find yourself spending more time fighting than getting to work, stop and ask yourself, ‘Who benefits from all the chaos?’” Cook said. “There are some who would like to believe that the only way you can be strong is by bulldozing those who disagree with you… We forget sometimes that our pre-exiting beliefs have their own force of gravity. Today, certain algorithms pull toward you things that you already know, believe or like. And they push away everything else. Push back! It shouldn’t be this way.”
Below is Cook’s full speech from Tulane University on Saturday.
A month into former Vice President Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential primary campaign and President Donald Trump already is calling a top challenger “history.”
The slam on Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a candidate he once praised in 2016 for creating a “movement,” came via Twitter on Monday morning:
“Looks like Bernie Sanders is history. Sleepy Joe Biden is pulling ahead and think about it, I’m only here because of Sleepy Joe and the man who took him off the 1% trash heap, President O! China wants Sleepy Joe BADLY!”
President Trump’s rip into “Sleepy Joe” comes after reports Biden and his son Hunter had ties to business deals with China.
Amid a trade war with China, the world’s second-largest economy and a country with a population almost four times the United States, Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore warned Sunday of the dangers of putting a “China apologist” in the White House.
Still, Biden leads Sen. Sanders by almost 20 percentage points in RealClearPolitics national average of polls. A field of around two dozen Democratic primary candidates are jockeying for position to face off against Biden, former President Barack Obama’s running mate.