US Politics in Trump era
Senate Confirms Controversial Judicial Nominee, Flipping Court That Will Decide Trump Subpoena Cases
The Senate confirmed Steven Menashi to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday by a vote of 51–41. Every Republican present except Sen. Susan Collins supported Menashi; every Democrat present opposed him. With this confirmation, Donald Trump has flipped the 2nd Circuit to a majority of Republican appointees—a momentous shift in the balance of power that could help the president shield himself from criminal liability and congressional scrutiny in a jurisdiction, New York, which he previously called home.
When President Trump announced on Sunday morning that Islamic State founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died during a U.S. military operation in Syria, he thanked the Russians for their help while explaining that he kept Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the dark because he was afraid of leaks.
The House is legally engaged in an impeachment inquiry, a federal judge ruled on Friday, delivering a major victory to House Democrats and undercutting arguments by President Trump and Republicans that the investigation is a sham.
In the first skirmish in what promises to be an epic impeachment struggle between the executive and legislative branches, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at three congressional committees that are seeking to depose diplomats involved in American policy toward Ukraine, calling their demands for confidential interviews “an act of intimidation.”
President Trump on Monday questioned whether the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff, should be arrested for treason for his description of a phone call Mr. Trump had with the president of Ukraine during a recent congressional hearing.
After months of caution, Ms. Pelosi has become convinced that Mr. Trump’s reported actions, and his administration’s refusal to share details about the matter with Congress, left the House no alternative but to move forward with an inquiry that has the potential to reshape his presidency and cleave an already divided nation just a year before he plans to stand for re-election.
Last week, CNN published an explosive story related to the Trump-Russia case that raised important new questions about ties between Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Russia. The report said that CNN had obtained hundreds of pages of surveillance reports compiled for the Ecuadorian government by a Spanish security company, which showed that Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, received “in-person deliveries, potentially of hacked materials related to the 2016 U.S. election, during a series of suspicious meetings” while he lived in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Donald Trump has vetoed a trio of congressional resolutions aimed at blocking his administration from selling billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, last month cited threats from Iran as a reason to approve the $8.1bn arms sale to the two US allies in the Gulf.
AIPAC, which for years had strong support from both political parties, has seen its influence dip in the Democratic Party as its increasingly hard-line approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict pushes it in an ever more aggressive direction.
Administration officials are briefing Congress on what they say are ties between Iran and Al Qaeda, prompting skeptical reactions and concern on Capitol Hill that the White House could invoke the war authorization passed in 2001 as legal cover for military action against Tehran.
The Trump administration is threatening to furlough — and possibly lay off — 150 employees at the federal personnel agency if Congress blocks its plan to eliminate the department. The Office of Personnel Management is preparing to send the career employees home without pay starting on Oct. 1, according to an internal briefing document obtained by The Washington Post. The employees could formally be laid off after 30 days, administration officials confirmed.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee is quietly amassing documents on allegations of politically-motivated retaliation at the State Department; it’s looking into whether Trump has violated foreign emoluments and conflict of interest rules; and lawmakers are working to find out more about the president's relationship with Vladimir Putin and how he leads American foreign policy behind the scenes — all without the fanfare associated with the other committees’ work.
A House committee voted on Wednesday to recommend that the House hold two cabinet secretaries in contempt of Congress, hours after President Trump invoked executive privilege to block disclosure of crucial documents on the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
The Justice Department, after weeks of tense negotiations, has agreed to provide Congress with key evidence collected by Robert S. Mueller III that could shed light on possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Trump, the House Judiciary Committee said on Monday.
The Trump administration chose the Friday afternoon before Memorial Day weekend to invoke an obscure state-of-emergency provision that would allow it to sell billions of dollars in weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates without giving Congress a chance to block the sale.
Donald F. McGahn II, the former White House counsel, defied a House subpoena on Tuesday under order of the White House, stoking outraged Democrats to contemplate anew punitive measures, including opening an impeachment inquiry, to try to enforce Congress’s oversight powers.
President Trump said on Sunday that the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, should not testify before Congress, setting up another confrontation with Democrats over presidential authority and the separation of powers.
President Trump vetoed a bipartisan resolution on Tuesday that would have forced an end to American military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s civil war in Yemen, rejecting an appeal by lawmakers to his own deeply rooted instincts to withdraw the United States from bloody foreign conflicts.
The House voted overwhelmingly and in bipartisan fashion to urge the Justice Department to publicly release the entirety of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, once completed. The move is an attempt to “send a clear signal both to the American people and the Department of Justice” that lawmakers expect to see the full account of Mueller’s work, according to the House Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.).
Eight members of Congress have taken a pledge to work to bring ongoing U.S. global military conflicts to a “responsible and expedient” end, the result of a first-of-its kind lobbying effort by military veterans on Capitol Hill. The pledge was written and organized by a group called Common Defense, made up of veterans and military families, which advocates for scaling back U.S. military commitments overseas.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee delivered a flurry of document demands to the executive branch and the broader Trump world on Monday that detailed the breadth of the Democrats’ investigation into possible obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power by President Trump and his administration.
Michael D. Cohen, the former personal lawyer and fixer for President Trump, has indefinitely postponed his congressional testimony, his lawyer said in a statement on Wednesday, citing Mr. Trump’s verbal attacks on Mr. Cohen’s family in the days since he scheduled his appearance on Capitol Hill.
Voted Down on Tuesday Night, McConnell Raises Alarm by Forcing Second Vote on ‘Unconstitutional’ Anti-Boycott Bill
Less than 24 hours after Senate Democrats successfully voted down a motion to proceed to legislation that would give states and localities more power to punish pro-Palestinian boycotts of Israel, rights groups raised alarm and urged Americans to call their senators immediately on Wednesday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) moved to bring the bill up for yet another procedural vote.
A pro-Israel activist group is quietly pushing lawmakers on Capitol Hill and key officials in the White House to embrace a plan that would entail paying Palestinian residents in the West Bank to move abroad. The plan is a bid to reshape the ethnic and religious population of territories controlled by Israel, according to the head of the group, called the Alliance for Israel Advocacy.
The Senate voted resoundingly on Thursday to withdraw American military assistance for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen, issuing the latest in a series of stinging bipartisan rebukes of President Trump for his defense of the kingdom amid outrage in both parties over Riyadh’s role in the killing of a dissident journalist.
Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin is making a behind-the-scenes push to slip an anti-boycott law into a last-minute spending bill being finalized during the lame-duck session, according to four sources familiar with the negotiations. The measure, known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, was shelved earlier amid concerns about the infringement of free speech, after civil liberties groups argued that the original version would have allowed criminal penalties for Americans who participate in a political boycott of Israel.
A just-released Midterm Elections Scoreboard shows that Israel partisans have dominated Congress over the past 10 years, despite the preference of American voters, who consistently wish evenhanded policies and feel the U.S. gives Israel too much money. The detailed scoreboard on candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives* shows that 28 pro-Israel PACs and numerous pro-Israel individuals have given candidates millions of dollars in campaign contributions. There are currently no pro-Palestine PACs (although one of the pro-Israel PACs supports some Palestinian positions).
California professor Christine Blasey Ford, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about sexual assault allegation
Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. Since Wednesday, she has watched as that bare-bones version of her story became public without her name or her consent, drawing a blanket denial from Kavanaugh and roiling a nomination that just days ago seemed all but certain to succeed.
The U.S. Senate passed a measure that would codify into law the $38 billion defense aid package for Israel over 10 years that was negotiated in the final days of the Obama administration. The U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act of 2018 approved Wednesday gives the defense package the imprimatur of Congress, which would keep any future president from reneging. The $38 billion deal negotiated in 2016 is the most generous ever to Israel.
With little debate or public attention, the Senate just followed the House in approving $717 billion for the nation’s military, meaning the bill is headed for the president’s signature. The passage is no surprise. The National Defense Authorization Act is one of the few pieces of federal budget legislation that sails through every year, without fail, on a bipartisan basis.
When I visited McConnels library at the university of Louisville while researching my 2014 biography on McConnell, I was struck by what was missing: exhibits on actual governing accomplishments from the Senate majority leader’s four decades in elected office. That absence confirmed my thesis that McConnell, far more even than other politicians, was motivated by the game of politics — winning elections and rising in the leadership ranks, achieving power for power’s sake — more than by any lasting policy goals.
As Schweizer tells it, the Chao family fortune derives from the Foremost Group, a shipping company that Chinese native James Chao, a classmate of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin at Jiao Tong University, founded in New York in 1964.
The Senate on Wednesday passed the biggest loosening of financial regulations since the economic crisis a decade ago, delivering wide bipartisan support for weakening banking rules despite bitter divisions among Democrats.
The Democratic advantage on the generic congressional ballot has slipped over the last few weeks.But Republicans have gradually lost advantages of their own. Slowly but surely, the considerable structural advantages — like incumbency, geography and gerrymandering — that give the Republicans a chance to survive a so-called wave election are fading, giving Democrats a clearer path to a House majority in November.
While no one really truly “wins” when the government shuts down — especially in the real world, where people's lives are tangibly affected — this two-day shutdown, which is on its way to ending after senators reached a deal, did have some clear political winners and losers.
In a statement to the media after the vote, Booker’s office said he supports the importation of prescription drugs but that “any plan to allow the importation of prescription medications should also include consumer protections that ensure foreign drugs meet American safety standards. I opposed an amendment put forward last night that didn’t meet this test.” This argument is the same one offered by the pharmaceutical industry.The measure introduced by Bernie Sanders would have passed without Democratic defections.
At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Trump’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, claimed that she couldn’t remember what word Trump used to describe Haiti and African countries in an Oval Office meeting last week. According to Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Dick Durbin, Trump derided those nations as “shithole countries.”
The head of the research firm behind a dossier of allegations against Donald Trump told congressional investigators that someone inside Trump’s network had also provided the FBI with information during the 2016 campaign. It was released by the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. Feinstein said she released the transcript to set the record straight. “The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice,’’ she said.
Trump insisted his assault on government programs would not have any negative ramifications. “We’re going to be doing smart budget cuts, budget cuts that will make it just as good or better than it is right now but for a lot less money,” he vowed. Congress has not yet enacted his massive budget cuts, but that has not stopped the administration from dispatching a team of domestic policy aides to push for cuts, unilateral executive actions, and conservative actions across the federal government.
President Trump over the summer repeatedly urged senior Senate Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, to end the panel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, according to a half dozen lawmakers and aides. Mr. Trump’s requests were a highly unusual intervention from a president into a legislative inquiry involving his family and close aides.
On Monday, the Senate Banking Committee announced that it struck a rare bipartisan deal to deregulate banks. The deal would gut several of the protections enacted in 2010 in response to the financial crisis as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, most notably a key rule requiring that “Too Big To Fail” banks—those with more than $50 billion in assets—undergo stricter oversight.
The Senate Judiciary Committee seemed to prove this week that it will rubberstamp any judicial nominee President Donald Trump sends over, no matter how unqualified. On a party-line vote, the panel said this past week that Brett J. Talley should have a lifetime appointment to the federal bench in Alabama. It apparently made no difference to the Republicans on the panel that Talley, 36, never tried a single case and has been a lawyer for only three years.
Congressional Democrats are whipping their GOP counterparts in fundraising heading into the 2018 elections, a key sign that a wave election may be building.In both the Senate and House, Democrats are pulling money hand-over-fist in many of their most important races, according to campaign finance reports recently filed with the Federal Election Commission. Many Republicans are struggling to keep up — including some key incumbents in both chambers.
Mr. Flake made his announcement in an extraordinary, 17-minute speech on the Senate floor, in which he challenged not only the president but also his party’s leadership. He deplored “the casual undermining of our democratic ideals, the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedom and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency” that he said has become so prevalent in American politics.
For 100 years the Senate has allowed home-state senators to play a central role in approving nominees for federal judgeships in their states. For a judicial nomination to move forward, both senators from a nominee’s state must return a “blue slip” that signals their agreement that that nominee should receive a hearing in the Judiciary Committee.
The White House has blown by an October 1 deadline for beginning to implement new sanctions targeting Russia, drawing concern in Congress that President Donald Trump is planning to ignore parts of a bill he grudgingly signed in August.
The regretful Republicans of Kansas have a message for the tax-cutting Republicans of Congress: Don’t follow our lead. If states are, as Justice Louis Brandeis famously called them, the laboratories of democracy, then Kansas’s experiment in conservative tax reform set off an explosion of red ink. Steep cuts for businesses and individuals failed to produce a promised economic boom, and busted the state’s budget instead. Now, the GOP legislators that oversaw—and ultimately cancelled—that fiscal study are increasingly worried that Washington will ignore its central finding.
The latest Obamacare repeal plan, known as Graham-Cassidy after the senators who proposed it, fundamentally does two big things: It cuts federal funding for health insurance, versus Obamacare, and takes money from the states that best implemented the Affordable Care Act and gives it to the states that obstructed the law.
The U.S. House of Representatives quietly passed a spending bill on Thursday that could transform churches and other houses of worship into entities more closely resembling SuperPACs.
The Justice Department is reportedly blocking Senate investigators from speaking with FBI officials who may provide first-hand testimony about Donald Trump's firing of ex-FBI chief James Comey. It is the latest sign that Special Counsel Robert Mueller could be investigating the sacking as part of his Russia-related probe.
Congress has rejected President Trump’s plan to cut funds for biomedical research and would instead increase spending by the National Institutes of Health. The appropriations committees in both houses rejected Mr. Trump’s proposal to slash payments to universities for overhead — the “indirect costs” of research financed by the health institutes. These include the cost of utilities, internet service, data storage, the construction and upkeep of laboratories and compliance with federal rules protecting human subjects of clinical research.
The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.
President Donald Trump is suggesting that the Senate’s top Republican should step aside if he can’t pass Trump’s legislative agenda. Trump says, “You can ask the question” about whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should remain in his position if he cannot pass a plan to repeal and replace health care, change the tax code and move an infrastructure proposal.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin Allegedly Lied Under Oath. Will the Justice Department Investigate?
A watchdog organization has asked the Justice Department to investigate Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for allegedly making repeated false statements to Congress about the conduct of OneWest Bank, where he served as CEO and later chair between 2009 and 2015. ”Mnuchin has repeatedly denied that his former bank engaged in robosigning foreclosure documents. The evidence is overwhelming that it did.
Russia seizes American property in Moscow and cuts US diplomatic staff in retaliation to fresh sanctions
Russia has ordered America to cut the number of diplomatic staff it has in the country and has seized a dacha compound and warehouse used by US officials in retaliation for new sanctions against Moscow. Embassy staff must leave the country by 1 September, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, in a move triggered by the US Senate’s near unanimous vote to slap new sanctions on Russia, further hurting its fragile economy.The number of American diplomats in Russia will fall to 455 under the plan Reuters
Democratic members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday asking why the Department of Justice settled a major money-laundering case involving a real-estate company owned by the son of a powerful Russian government official whose lawyer met with Donald Trump Jr. last year.
Senate Republicans are driving at a breakneck speed to abolish Obamacare and throw more than twenty million people off their health insurance coverage. The damage will be far greater when you figure in the loss of protections for people with pre-existing conditions and those who’ve benefited from various other Obamacare regulations. Senate Republicans’ main weapon in this effort has been total secrecy, which has had the effect of killing debate and discussion since there’s actually nothing concrete – no specific CBO score or legislative text or even outline – to discuss.
Senators have struck a deal to put a comprehensive Russia sanctions bill on the floor this week, according to those negotiating the legislation. The measure, which will be attached to a bill to stiffen Iran sanctions that is under consideration, incorporates proposals to codify existing Russia sanctions, introduce punitive measures against Moscow in light of Russia’s aggressive activities in Ukraine, introduce measures addressing Syria and the realm of cyberhacking, and give Congress the power to review efforts by the administration to scale back sanctions against Russia before they can go through.
Whether or not the president’s actions ultimately rise to “obstruction” according to Mueller’s investigation, however, it’s clear these are serious allegations that suggest a kind of lawlessness in the White House, from a president with little regard for the norms that govern conduct in the Oval Office. Trump’s alleged demand for Comey’s personal loyalty—in a government where officials pledge allegiance to the Constitution, not the president—would itself be a profound attack on the rule of law. In an ideal world, or at least a more functional one, lawmakers on both sides would see and treat this as a crisis that demands resolution, lest it corrode American democracy.
Former FBI director James B. Comey said in dramatic testimony Thursday he could not trust President Trump to tell the truth, leading him to take extraordinary steps to document their private conversations, and to make public the details to spur the appointment of a special counsel to probe the a1dministration over possible links to Russia.
Less than 48 hours before former FBI Director James Comey’s testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee and detailed a January dinner during which he claims President Trump asked him to pledge personal loyalty, two Republican members of committee dined with Trump at the White House. Those members — Marco Rubio (FL) and Tom Cotton (AL) — then spent Thursday’s hearing trying to exonerate Trump of wrongdoing
Jared Kushner is now under congressional and F.B.I. scrutiny after his meeting with a close ally of Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. Here’s how the Russian banker Sergey N. Gorkov could benefit from meeting President Trump’s senior adviser.
Congressional Republicans knew their plan was potentially explosive. They wanted to kill landmark privacy regulations that would soon ban Internet providers, such as Comcast and AT&T, from storing and selling customers’ browsing histories without their express consent. So after weeks of closed-door debates on Capitol Hill over who would take up the issue first — the House or the Senate — Republican members settled on a secret strategy, according to Hill staff and lobbyists involved in the battle. While the nation was distracted by the House’s pending vote to repeal Obamacare, Senate Republicans would schedule a vote to wipe out the new privacy protections.
Forty Republican representatives who voted for the American Health Care Act held shares in health-care companies valued at $23 million and earned more than $2 million off those investments, a Daily Beast review of the most-recent financial records found.
Quotes from a number of Republican senators, congressman, and GOP officials regarding the conduct of Bill and Hillary Clinton when the shoe was on the other foot. Thank God for our truth-seeking patriots in the G.O.P.!
Adam Davidson writes that a Senate panel’s request for information from a Treasury enforcement unit suggests a broader scope to its investigation. The FinCEN request is particularly interesting because the unit enforces money-laundering laws and is familiar with Donald Trump’s holdings, specifically the Taj Mahal casino, in Atlantic City. Trump opened the Taj Mahal in 1990. He sold half of his shares in 2004, as part of a bankruptcy settlement, but remained a minority owner. In 2015, the Taj Mahal admitted to “willfully” violating the law by letting many suspicious transactions go unreported to the authorities, and agreed to pay a ten-million-dollar fine—one of the largest ever for a casino.
In voting to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, House Republicans finally delivered on a key Trump administration goal and on a campaign promise that they have made for the better part of a decade — but at a potentially steep price. By leaning on members to vote for a bill that many fear will take too much health care from too many people, Mr. Ryan has exposed moderate Republicans to withering political attack, especially in the roughly two dozen districts where Hillary Clinton prevailed, but also in places where the Affordable Care Act’s popularity has been increasing.
The distinctive feature of these bleak times is the lack of institutional capacity on the left – the absence of a political party that swings free of Wall Street and speaks to the dire circumstances of poor and working people. As the first 100 days of the plutocratic and militaristic Trump administration draw to a close, one truth has been crystal clear: the Democratic party lacks the vision, discipline and leadership to guide progressives in these turbulent times.
Lawmakers said they came away convinced that the Trump administration recognized the urgency of the mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula, where Pyongyang conducted a failed missile test last week and drew international condemnation for the launch. But several members of Congress said the administration remained vague about its efforts to confront Pyongyang beyond tougher talk from Trump.
Are Richard Burr’s financial ties to Russian oil why he’s holding up the Trump-Russia investigation?
Over the past few days various reports have surfaced asserting that Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr is sabotaging his own committee’s investigation into Donald Trump’s Russia scandal by refusing to sign off on vital documents. It’s led some to ask if Burr is strategically trying to protect Trump and/or Russia. Now comes the revelation that Burr has an investment in an oil drilling company that partners with a major Russian oil company.
Nearly three weeks after ordering a cruise missile attack against one of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s airfields, Donald Trump has yet to explain how that was legal without congressional authorization. Two Democratic members of Congress are demanding that Trump offer some sort of legal justification beyond off-the-cuff remarks from administration officials.
Days after a lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution’s “emoluments clause” added more plaintiffs, the House Oversight Committee is requesting the Trump Organization turn over documents detailing what processes Trump’s business has implemented, if any, to make sure the president isn’t profiting from foreign governments who want to curry favor with him.
Republicans may now hold the House, the Senate and the White House, but their failure to mobilize early and follow through on long-held campaign pledges has political observers wondering: can a unified GOP government actually govern?
The unassuming California congressman is one of the president’s biggest media nemeses. Since the beginning of the year, followers of his personal @tedlieu account have exploded, going from fewer than 10,000 to more than 122,000.His frequent barbs have gotten the far right’s attention. Breitbart News has wondered whether, as a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, he could be court-martialed for persistent criticism of the commander in chief. (He can’t be, and he doesn’t tweet on duty.)
Just over two months into the Trump administration, Republicans in Congress have undone numerous regulations put in place by former President Barack Obama. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill — along party lines — that would allow Americans’ internet histories to be bought and sold by large telecom companies like Comcast (Xfinity), Verizon and AT&T, without their knowledge or consent. The U.S. Senate did the same thing a week ago.
Sally Yates’s tenure as the Trump administration’s acting attorney general was short-lived but eventful. A holdover from the Obama Justice Department, Yates didn’t make it two weeks before she was dismissed for refusing to defend Trump’s first travel ban. But before she departed, she warned White House counsel Donald McGahn that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had misled his superiors about his preelection conversation with the Russian ambassador to the United States. Weeks later, word of that warning leaked to the press — and Flynn promptly resigned.
Republican lawmakers reined in regulations — including some on testing — that they criticized as heavy-handed.With all the attention paid to President Trump’s lightning-rod secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, and her advocacy for private school vouchers, little public notice has been paid to the action on education in Congress — where lawmakers have broader power than Ms. DeVos to make changes to the nation’s school system.Now, Congress has done exactly that, voting to repeal crucial regulations associated with the Every Student Succeeds Act, one of President Barack Obama’s final legislative achievements.
China approves Donald Trump-branded spas, escort services, hotels and massage parlours without US Congress permission
Chinese authorities have granted preliminary approval for dozens of Trump-branded businesses, expanding his commercial empire and raising further conflicts of interest, say lawyers. The 38 trademarks include new hotels, spas, escort and concierge services, massage parlors, personal security services and insurance, according to public documents
The signature blueprint of any US president is the federal budget. Donald Trump is giving us an insight into how he views the world and what resources he intends to employ in advancing US interests abroad. The FY 2018 defense budget proposal alters the way the United States projects its power while offering no levelness between defense and diplomacy. However, the chances that the current version of the proposal will pass through the US Congress are slim; a prominent Republican Senator called it “dead on arrival.”
Jason Chaffetz said he would investigate Flynn and Russia – but he’s investigating media leaks instead
Amid a series of controversies around Russia-US links, the Republican-led House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has vowed to take action, but has ended up investigating freedom of the press instead. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the committee, proudly tweeted on Friday that his team was "taking the lead" on Russia intelligence, as well as the "mishandling of classified material" and issues surrounding former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
For political and moral reasons, it is important to remember that very little of what the President is now doing is possible without a compliant Congress. Executive orders in most cases fill in the blanks that legislation leaves to the President's discretion. So this isn't just a matter of the sway a Congress of the President's party can exercise over him, which is substantial. In many or most cases, Executive Orders and Actions can literally be overruled with new legislation.
The move by emboldened Republicans on the eve of a new Congress would strip power and independence from an investigative body and give lawmakers control over ethics inquiries. In place of the office, Republicans would create a new Office of Congressional Complaint Review that would report to the House Ethics Committee, which has been accused of ignoring credible allegations of wrongdoing by lawmakers.
As soon as Congress scrapped the public funding for conventions in 2014, both the Democratic and Republican parties asked the FEC to dramatically increase the contribution limits for people who wanted to help fund conventions. The FEC granted their request, and instead of an annual limit of $33,000, individuals can now give up to $133,600 each year to fund the conventions.
Want to see how giant corporations try to rig the system in their favor? Look at what ExxonMobil is doing to try to intimidate Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office is one of several AGs who are investigating whether ExxonMobil broke state consumer and investor protection laws by knowingly misleading people about climate change since the 1970s.