All posts by MPolitics

Senator: Trump May Use Iran Threat to Sell Bombs to Saudis

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration plans to use a loophole and rising tensions with Iran to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia, even though Congress blocked such sales for months over concerns about civilian deaths in the war in Yemen, Senator Chris Murphy said Wednesday.

Congressional aides said there are provisions of the Arms Control Act, which sets rules for international arms transactions, that would allow a president to approve a sale without congressional review in case of a national emergency.

In this case, they said the Republican president would cite rising tensions with Iran as a reason to provide more military equipment to Saudi Arabia, which he sees as an important U.S. partner in the region. Trump has touted arms sales to the Saudis as a way to generate U.S. jobs.

Trump previously declared an influx of immigrants a national emergency to bypass Congress and get $6 billion to build his wall along the Mexican border. Both Democrats and his fellow Republicans voted to block the move, forcing Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency.

​Resistance in Congress

It was not immediately clear what equipment would be sold to Saudi Arabia or when any sale might go ahead.

However, any such plan would run into resistance in Congress, from Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats like Murphy, even in the Senate, where Republicans have a slim majority.

A handful of Republicans recently voted with Democrats in a failed effort to override Trump’s veto of a resolution that would have ended U.S. support for the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen’s devastating civil war. 

Many lawmakers from both parties have also expressed anger over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest congressional allies, told CNN he would oppose the administration if it decided to go around Congress, citing Khashoggi’s killing.

“We are not going to have business as usual until that issue is dealt with,” Graham said.

The State Department declined comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Defensive weapons

The top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees, who review major international weapons deals, have been approving sales of defensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

But they have been blocking the sale of offensive weapons like bombs, anti-tank missiles, small-diameter rockets and large mortars.

Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Foreign Relations Democrat, has been blocking the sale of Raytheon Co’s precision-guided munitions (PGMs) to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for about a year over concerns about the war in Yemen.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Senator: Trump May Use Iran Threat to Sell Bombs to Saudis

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration plans to use a loophole and rising tensions with Iran to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia, even though Congress blocked such sales for months over concerns about civilian deaths in the war in Yemen, Senator Chris Murphy said Wednesday.

Congressional aides said there are provisions of the Arms Control Act, which sets rules for international arms transactions, that would allow a president to approve a sale without congressional review in case of a national emergency.

In this case, they said the Republican president would cite rising tensions with Iran as a reason to provide more military equipment to Saudi Arabia, which he sees as an important U.S. partner in the region. Trump has touted arms sales to the Saudis as a way to generate U.S. jobs.

Trump previously declared an influx of immigrants a national emergency to bypass Congress and get $6 billion to build his wall along the Mexican border. Both Democrats and his fellow Republicans voted to block the move, forcing Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency.

​Resistance in Congress

It was not immediately clear what equipment would be sold to Saudi Arabia or when any sale might go ahead.

However, any such plan would run into resistance in Congress, from Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats like Murphy, even in the Senate, where Republicans have a slim majority.

A handful of Republicans recently voted with Democrats in a failed effort to override Trump’s veto of a resolution that would have ended U.S. support for the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen’s devastating civil war. 

Many lawmakers from both parties have also expressed anger over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest congressional allies, told CNN he would oppose the administration if it decided to go around Congress, citing Khashoggi’s killing.

“We are not going to have business as usual until that issue is dealt with,” Graham said.

The State Department declined comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Defensive weapons

The top Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees, who review major international weapons deals, have been approving sales of defensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

But they have been blocking the sale of offensive weapons like bombs, anti-tank missiles, small-diameter rockets and large mortars.

Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Foreign Relations Democrat, has been blocking the sale of Raytheon Co’s precision-guided munitions (PGMs) to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for about a year over concerns about the war in Yemen.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Accord on Appeals Schedule Reached in Trump Financial Records Case

The House Oversight Committee has reached an agreement with President Donald Trump’s attorneys to seek an expedited appeal in a court case in which lawmakers are seeking the U.S. leader’s financial records from his 

accounting firm, the panel said in a statement Wednesday. 

A U.S. judge ruled Monday that the Mazars accounting firm must turn over the documents to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, but the president had appealed the decision. 

The panel said in a statement that under the schedule, written arguments could be submitted as early June 12, with briefings completed by July.

The court has yet to approve the accelerated schedule. 

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

House Hearing Grows Heated Over Migrant Children’s Deaths

A Democratic lawmaker on Wednesday blamed the Trump administration’s border policies for the deaths of migrant children, an accusation the acting head of the Homeland Security Department called “appalling.”

The brouhaha came at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the budget for the sprawling law enforcement department, which has seen major upheaval over the past two months following a White House-orchestrated shake-up. Kevin McAleenan, the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, was named to lead the department temporarily following the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

At the hearing, Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., questioned McAleenan about what he knew of the psychological problems migrant children face when they are separated from their parents.

Policy stopped

Last year, the administration separated more than 2,500 children from parents as part of a policy to prosecute anyone caught crossing into the United States illegally, but that practice was stopped. Border agents are still allowed to separate children at the U.S.-Mexico border if the adult has a criminal history or there is concern for the health and welfare of the children.

Underwood told McAleenan that “at this point, with five children dead and thousands separated, it’s a policy choice being made by this administration, and it’s inhumane.”

McAleenan responded by calling that an “appalling accusation.”

The committee’s top Republican, Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, accused Underwood of saying the administration was intentionally murdering children.

“I did not say murder,” said the first-term lawmaker, who also is a nurse. “I said five children have died as a result of a policy choice.”

The squabbling continued. After a brief recess, Republicans on the Democratic-run committee were able to push through a vote to admonish Underwood. Her statement was stricken from the official hearing record, and she was barred from talking during the rest of the session.

Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said Underwood’s statements were appropriate.  

McAleenan testified that more money was needed to help manage the immigration crisis, where vast numbers of Central American families are entering the U.S., straining resources. There have been more than 100,000 border crossings per month the past two months, a 12-year high. The families crossing require different care from single adults and can’t be easily returned over the border. 

“We continue to face tragedies on the border,” McAleenan said. He also cited the recent deaths of two teenagers and the drowning death of a 10-month-old baby who was on a raft trying to cross the Rio Grande with his parents when it overturned. Border Patrol agents pulled some of the group to safety.

​False claims alleged

Rep. Nanette Barragan, D-Calif., said the separation of families, and what she described as false claims by administration officials about the practice, and other border policies have helped foster the notion that what is happening is intentional.

“It’s a belief based on all the lies that have been out in the public,” she said.

She said McAleenan should not be proud of the work his agencies are doing. 

“Look at all the lies. Look at all the harm done to children and their mental health. Look at the children that are dying under your watch,” she said. “You should not be proud of a record of having five children die under your watch.” 

The U.S. government has faced months of scrutiny over its care of children it apprehends at the border. On Wednesday, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and 23 other Democratic or independent senators asked the International Committee of the Red Cross and Homeland Security’s inspector general to investigate the conditions of facilities.

On Monday, a 16-year-old Guatemala migrant died after being held for six days — twice as long as federal law generally permits.

A 2-year-old child died last week after he and his mother were detained by the Border Patrol. The agency said it took the child to the hospital the same day the mother reported he was sick, and he was hospitalized for several weeks.

Another teenager died April 30 after officials at a Health and Human Services Department detention facility noticed that he was sick.

Two small children, ages 7 and 8, died in December in separate incidents.

Following those deaths, Homeland Security ordered medical checks of all children in its custody and expanded medical screenings. 

Sixth death

Meanwhile, in a previously unreported case, U.S. officials said Wednesday that a 10-year-old girl from El Salvador died last year after being detained by border authorities.

 

That death marked the sixth known case in the last year.

 

HHS officials said the girl died Sept. 29 at an Omaha, Neb., hospital of fever and respiratory distress.

 

Spokesman Mark Weber said the department began caring for the unidentified girl in March 2018. Weber said the girl was “medically fragile,” with a history of congenital heart defects.

 

He did not say when she entered the U.S. or whether a parent or adult accompanied her. HHS provides care to children the government considers unaccompanied.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

AG Barr Says Nationwide Rulings Hampering Trump’s Agenda

Attorney General William Barr is taking on another item from President Donald Trump’s agenda, railing against judges who issue rulings blocking nationwide policies. 

 

In a speech Tuesday night, Barr took aim at the broad judicial power, arguing that federal judges who have issued the so-called nationwide injunctions are hampering Trump’s efforts on immigration, health care and other issues with “no clear end in sight.”

It is the latest example of Barr moving to embrace Trump’s political talking points.

The attorney general is traditionally expected to carry out the president’s agenda as a member of the Cabinet while trying to avoid political bias. Democrats have cast Barr as an attorney general who acts more like Trump’s personal lawyer instead of the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.

 

At a re-election rally earlier this month, Trump railed against “activist judges who issue nationwide injunctions based on their personal beliefs,” which he said “undermine democracy and threaten the rule of law.” 

Administration officials have often complained about the proliferation of nationwide injunctions since Trump became president. Vice President Mike Pence said a few weeks ago that the administration intends to challenge the right of federal district courts to issue such rulings. 

 

“The legal community and the broader public should be more concerned, particularly about this trend of nationwide injunctions,” Barr said.

DACA

Barr highlighted the legal fights that have happened in federal courts across the country over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that shields young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children but don’t have legal status to protect them from deportation.

The Justice Department, under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, argued that the Obama administration acted unlawfully when it implemented DACA. Texas and other Republican-led states eventually sued and won a partial victory in a federal court in Texas.

 

Civil rights groups, advocates for immigrants and Democratic-led states all have sued to prevent the end of the program. A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the administration decision to end DACA was arbitrary and capricious.

Barr said Trump “lost much of his leverage” in negotiations with congressional Democrats, who were pushing for a permanent solution for DACA recipients, after one district court judge issued an order forcing the administration to maintain the program nationwide. 

 

“Unsurprisingly, those negotiations did not lead to a deal,” Barr said. 

‘Unprecedented power’

 

In his speech to the American Law Institute, Barr argued it isn’t about partisanship and said the approach taken by judges who issue these nationwide rulings departs not only from the limitations of the Constitution, but also from the “traditional understanding of the role of courts.” The Justice Department will continue to oppose such rulings, he said. 

 

“Nationwide injunctions not only allow district courts to wield unprecedented power, they also allow district courts to wield it asymmetrically,” Barr said. 

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

AG Barr Says Nationwide Rulings Hampering Trump’s Agenda

Attorney General William Barr is taking on another item from President Donald Trump’s agenda, railing against judges who issue rulings blocking nationwide policies. 

 

In a speech Tuesday night, Barr took aim at the broad judicial power, arguing that federal judges who have issued the so-called nationwide injunctions are hampering Trump’s efforts on immigration, health care and other issues with “no clear end in sight.”

It is the latest example of Barr moving to embrace Trump’s political talking points.

The attorney general is traditionally expected to carry out the president’s agenda as a member of the Cabinet while trying to avoid political bias. Democrats have cast Barr as an attorney general who acts more like Trump’s personal lawyer instead of the nation’s chief law enforcement officer.

 

At a re-election rally earlier this month, Trump railed against “activist judges who issue nationwide injunctions based on their personal beliefs,” which he said “undermine democracy and threaten the rule of law.” 

Administration officials have often complained about the proliferation of nationwide injunctions since Trump became president. Vice President Mike Pence said a few weeks ago that the administration intends to challenge the right of federal district courts to issue such rulings. 

 

“The legal community and the broader public should be more concerned, particularly about this trend of nationwide injunctions,” Barr said.

DACA

Barr highlighted the legal fights that have happened in federal courts across the country over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era program that shields young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children but don’t have legal status to protect them from deportation.

The Justice Department, under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, argued that the Obama administration acted unlawfully when it implemented DACA. Texas and other Republican-led states eventually sued and won a partial victory in a federal court in Texas.

 

Civil rights groups, advocates for immigrants and Democratic-led states all have sued to prevent the end of the program. A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that the administration decision to end DACA was arbitrary and capricious.

Barr said Trump “lost much of his leverage” in negotiations with congressional Democrats, who were pushing for a permanent solution for DACA recipients, after one district court judge issued an order forcing the administration to maintain the program nationwide. 

 

“Unsurprisingly, those negotiations did not lead to a deal,” Barr said. 

‘Unprecedented power’

 

In his speech to the American Law Institute, Barr argued it isn’t about partisanship and said the approach taken by judges who issue these nationwide rulings departs not only from the limitations of the Constitution, but also from the “traditional understanding of the role of courts.” The Justice Department will continue to oppose such rulings, he said. 

 

“Nationwide injunctions not only allow district courts to wield unprecedented power, they also allow district courts to wield it asymmetrically,” Barr said. 

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Trump to Democrats: Pass Trade Deal, Then Infrastructure

President Donald Trump is telling Democratic leaders that he believes Congress should first pass a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico before taking up a bill to boost the nation’s infrastructure.

The president made his request in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer before a White House meeting Wednesday.

The Democratic leaders and Trump are aiming for a $2 trillion bill to address roads, bridges and other priorities.

Trump says he remains committed to passing a bill, but he wants Pelosi and Schumer to spell out their priorities and how much money they would provide to each. He says Democrats have “expressed a wide-range of priorities, and it is unclear which ones have your support.”

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Trump to Democrats: Pass Trade Deal, Then Infrastructure

President Donald Trump is telling Democratic leaders that he believes Congress should first pass a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico before taking up a bill to boost the nation’s infrastructure.

The president made his request in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer before a White House meeting Wednesday.

The Democratic leaders and Trump are aiming for a $2 trillion bill to address roads, bridges and other priorities.

Trump says he remains committed to passing a bill, but he wants Pelosi and Schumer to spell out their priorities and how much money they would provide to each. He says Democrats have “expressed a wide-range of priorities, and it is unclear which ones have your support.”

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Two 2 More Former White House Officials Subpoenaed

The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed two more former top White House officials after ex-White House Counsel Donald McGahn ignored his subpoena to testify about President Donald Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice.

Democratic chairman Jerrold Nadler says the committee wants to hear from former communications director Hope Hicks and McGahn’s former chief of staff Annie Donaldson.

They have been ordered to provide documents and summoned to appear before the lawmakers next month.

Shortly before she resigned in March 2018, Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee that she sometimes told “white lies” for Trump.

As McGahn’s second-in-command, Donaldson is believed to have pages and pages of notes related to Trump and his reaction to the Mueller investigation.

​Contempt of Congress

Meanwhile, Nadler is threatening to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress for his refusal to testify Tuesday, after Trump told him to ignore the subpoena and the Justice Department said he cannot be forced to appear. 

“Our subpoenas are not optional,” Nadler said as he sat just a few meters from McGahn’s empty witness chair. “Let me be clear: this committee will hear Mr. McGahn’s testimony even if we have to go to court to secure it…we will not allow the president to stop this committee’s investigation.”

Nadler said McGahn’s testimony was essential after the Mueller report recounted that Trump ordered McGahn to get rid of Mueller and then lie about it to the press. McGahn refused to carry out Trump’s orders.

The Mueller team interviewed McGahn for 30 hours about his interactions with Trump.

​GOP sees a ‘circus’

The leading Republican Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins, attacked Democrats for staging the short hearing without McGahn, calling it “a circus.”

“The Democrats are trying to make something out of nothing,” noting that Mueller concluded that Trump did not collude with Russia to help him win the White House.

Trump tweeted Tuesday “The Democrats were unhappy with the outcome of the $40 million Mueller Report, so now they want a do-over.”

Mueller reached no decision whether Trump obstructed justice by trying to thwart his investigation.

Attorney General William Barr and former deputy Rod Rosenstein concluded there there weren’t sufficient grounds to charge Trump with obstruction of justice.

​Lawmakers not satisfied

Nadler’s committee voted two weeks ago to hold Barr in contempt of Congress after he refused to turn over an unredacted copy of Mueller’s 448-page report into whether Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia.

But congressional Democrats, along with several Republicans are not satisfied by Mueller’s stated inability to reach a conclusion about obstruction allegations, and his statement that he could not exonerate the president.

A Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, David Cicilline, told MSNBC television that if McGahn listened to Trump and defied the subpoena, an impeachment inquiry against the president should be started.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!

Two 2 More Former White House Officials Subpoenaed

The House Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed two more former top White House officials after ex-White House Counsel Donald McGahn ignored his subpoena to testify about President Donald Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice.

Democratic chairman Jerrold Nadler says the committee wants to hear from former communications director Hope Hicks and McGahn’s former chief of staff Annie Donaldson.

They have been ordered to provide documents and summoned to appear before the lawmakers next month.

Shortly before she resigned in March 2018, Hicks told the House Intelligence Committee that she sometimes told “white lies” for Trump.

As McGahn’s second-in-command, Donaldson is believed to have pages and pages of notes related to Trump and his reaction to the Mueller investigation.

​Contempt of Congress

Meanwhile, Nadler is threatening to hold McGahn in contempt of Congress for his refusal to testify Tuesday, after Trump told him to ignore the subpoena and the Justice Department said he cannot be forced to appear. 

“Our subpoenas are not optional,” Nadler said as he sat just a few meters from McGahn’s empty witness chair. “Let me be clear: this committee will hear Mr. McGahn’s testimony even if we have to go to court to secure it…we will not allow the president to stop this committee’s investigation.”

Nadler said McGahn’s testimony was essential after the Mueller report recounted that Trump ordered McGahn to get rid of Mueller and then lie about it to the press. McGahn refused to carry out Trump’s orders.

The Mueller team interviewed McGahn for 30 hours about his interactions with Trump.

​GOP sees a ‘circus’

The leading Republican Judiciary Committee, Doug Collins, attacked Democrats for staging the short hearing without McGahn, calling it “a circus.”

“The Democrats are trying to make something out of nothing,” noting that Mueller concluded that Trump did not collude with Russia to help him win the White House.

Trump tweeted Tuesday “The Democrats were unhappy with the outcome of the $40 million Mueller Report, so now they want a do-over.”

Mueller reached no decision whether Trump obstructed justice by trying to thwart his investigation.

Attorney General William Barr and former deputy Rod Rosenstein concluded there there weren’t sufficient grounds to charge Trump with obstruction of justice.

​Lawmakers not satisfied

Nadler’s committee voted two weeks ago to hold Barr in contempt of Congress after he refused to turn over an unredacted copy of Mueller’s 448-page report into whether Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia.

But congressional Democrats, along with several Republicans are not satisfied by Mueller’s stated inability to reach a conclusion about obstruction allegations, and his statement that he could not exonerate the president.

A Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, David Cicilline, told MSNBC television that if McGahn listened to Trump and defied the subpoena, an impeachment inquiry against the president should be started.

$1*/ mo hosting! Get going with us!