Posts tagged with "Democrats"

House Democrats file suit in federal court for President Trump’s tax returns

July 3, 2019

It has been nearly two months since Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), evaded Democrats’ request for President Trump’s tax returns—facetiously saying that the financial information could not be released in light of “serious issues” about whether their demand was proper.

A May subpoena from the panel also was treated as inconsequential.

As of July 2, Neal said he had no choice but to file suit in federal court in order to compel the Internal Revenue Service to turn over the records.

“In refusing to comply with the statute, Defendants have mounted an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS, and the tax laws on behalf of the American people,” the lawsuit (Case No. 1:19-cv-1974)—filed against the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service, Steven T. Mnuchin, and IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia— says.

Neal is seeking the President’s tax returns using an arcane IRS provision known as 6103, which allows the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee to request and obtain an individual’s tax information for a legitimate legislative purpose.

According to a report by Politico, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow had a terse response to the suit.

“We will respond to this latest effort at presidential harassment in court,” he said.

And that may be sooner than he thinks: While the fight over Trump’s taxes could be lengthy, with the administration likely to try to drag out the proceedings beyond next year’s elections, Politico said that “some see signs the courts are trying to move quickly on the oversight challenges.”

“They’re not unaware the administration is throwing up roadblocks at every conceivable opportunity and I think they understand that the system itself is under stress,” Kerry Kircher, who was the House’s general counsel from 2011 to 2016 and deputy counsel from 1996 to 2010, told the political news outlet, adding, “The judiciary is aware of the need for some expedition here, and that we can’t go through the usual processes where it takes a couple years for these cases to work themselves out.”

Neal asked the court for a speedy decision, reminding it that sessions of Congress only run two years.

“If this Court does not redress Defendants’ noncompliance quickly, the Committee will be unable to fulfill its essential role of overseeing the Executive Branch or to carry out its constitutional obligation to legislate,” the suit says.

Research contact: @politico

‘Who’s gonna pay for the wall?’

December 13, 2018

The answer to the question above? Apparently, not Mexico—which was what President Donald Trump repeatedly promised during the 2016 campaign. And probably not Congress either.

During a surreal meeting in the Oval Office on December 11, The New York Times reports, President Donald Trump engaged in an argument in front of reporters with two Democratic leaders, Representative Nancy Pelosi (12th District, California) and Senator Chuck Schumer (New York), over the his own threats to shut down the government unless he gets $5 billion to build a border wall.

During what the news outlet characterized as “an extraordinary public airing of hostilities that underscored a new, more confrontational dynamic in Washington,” the president vowed to block full funding for the government if Democrats refused to allocate money for the wall on the southwestern border, saying he was “proud to shut down the government for border security.”

He repeatedly told Pelosi that he “only need[ed] ten Democratic votes in the House” to pass the funding for the wall. In turn, she replied that he didn’t have the votes—and would not have them in the future.

According to the Times report, the two Democratic leaders took issue with the president’s position and his false assertions about the wall—which he claimed was already under construction—in front of a phalanx of news cameras, imploring him repeatedly to continue the tense conversation without reporters present.

However, the news outlet said, “Trump insisted on a conspicuous clash that undercut Republican congressional leaders and his own staff working to avoid a shutdown at all costs, or at least to ensure that Democrats would shoulder the blame for such a result.”

“If we don’t have border security, we’ll shut down the government — this country needs border security,” Mr. Trump declared as the diatribe unfolded, and Schumer reminded the president repeatedly that he had called several times for a shutdown, appearing to goad him into taking responsibility.

 “You want to know something?” an infuriated Trump  finally said. “I’ll tell you what: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck.”

“I will take the mantle,” Mr. Trump went on. “I will be the one to shut it down — I’m not going to blame you for it.”

Ultimately, the discussion again raised doubts about whether Trump and the Congress could reach agreement by a December 21 deadline to keep much of the government open, appearing to harden diametrically opposed positions on the wall.

Research contact: @nytimes

In effort to intimidate voters, Trump and Sessions warn of fraud at polls

November 7, 2018

On the day before the midterm elections, November 5, President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued strong warnings about the threat of voter fraud —echoing what the Washington Post characterized as “the president’s baseless claims that massive voter fraud marred his 2016 election and prompting accusations that his administration is trying to intimidate voters.

In a tweet early Monday, Trump said that law enforcement has been “strongly notified” to watch for “ILLEGAL VOTING.” He promised that anyone caught voting improperly would be subjected to “Maximum Criminal Penalties.”

Sessions, in a statement laying out the Justice Department’s plans to monitor ballot access on Election Day, said “fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.

In remarks to reporters on his way to a campaign rally in Cleveland, Trump also falsely claimed that voter fraud is commonplace, the Washington Post said.

“Just take a look,” he said. “All you have to do is go around, take a look at what’s happened over the years, and you’ll see. There are a lot of people—a lot of people—my opinion, and based on proof—that try and get in illegally and actually vote illegally. So we just want to let them know that there will be prosecutions at the highest level.”

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the United States, the Post reported, noting that the president had formed a commission to study the issue shortly after he took office that was disbanded without finding evidence of fraud after states refused to turn over voter data.

Voting rights advocates denounced Trump’s remarks as a blatant attempt to intimidate voters on the eve of Election Day—and part of a pattern among Republicans, they said, to curtail voting access with strict rules that disproportionately affect voters of color who tend to vote Democratic.

“I find this kind of conduct incredibly anti-patriotic,” Kristen Clarke, who leads the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a voting rights group that has successfully challenged several new voting restrictions across the country this year, told the Post. “At a time when we need our White House and Justice Department speaking out against the relentless campaign of voter suppression in this election cycle, it defies reason.”

Research contact: amy.gardner@washpost.com

Democrats hold narrow edge in battleground states

October 9, 2018

Following a standoff on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that only widened the fissure between America’s two major political parties, likely voters who live in 69 battleground House districts nationwide narrowly prefer Democratic candidates, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School survey. That’s bad news for Republicans, given that the overwhelming percentage of these districts currently are in GOP hands, the Washington Post reported on October 8.

The survey of 3,407 registered voters—including 2,672 likely voters—by the Post and the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University found that, 50% of voters in these districts favor Democrats and 46% prefer Republicans. By way of comparison, in 2016 the same districts favored Republican candidates over Democrats by 15 percentage points—56% to 41 %.

With just a month to go before the mid-term elections and with early voting set to begin in many states, the new poll highlights the challenge for Republicans as they seek to maintain their House majority at a time when President Trump’s approval rating remains below 50%.

Women are driving Democratic support in the battleground districts, the Post reported—favoring the party’s candidates by 54% to 40%. Men in these districts favor Republicans by 51% to 46%. That gender difference continues a pattern that has been seen throughout the year in other polls and in special elections.

Democrats need to pick up a net of 23 seats to gain control of the House in November, which means they must win fewer than half of the battleground districts included in the new survey. The fact that, overall, voters in these districts are relatively evenly divided in territory that has been favorable for Republican House candidates in the past underscores why many GOP strategists are pessimistic about their prospects for holding the House.

The survey also highlights the growing split between white voters with college educations and those without a college degree—something that is especially acute among women, the Post noted. This educational divide has been growing since Trump was elected.

White voters overall, regardless of educational level, are divided almost evenly in the battleground districts, with 49% saying they support the Republican and 47 % saying they favor the Democrat. Among nonwhites, Democrats hold a big advantage—64% to 29%. In these battleground districts, nonwhites make up a smaller portion of the population than they do nationally.

Looked at on the basis of educational achievement, 55% of white college graduates say they favor the Democratic candidate in their district, compared with 42%t who say they back the GOP nominee. Among whites without college degrees, the numbers are almost the opposite, with 53% backing the Republican candidate and 42% supporting the Democrat.

The poll also asked respondents to rate eight issues—from “extremely important” to “very important” to “somewhat important” to “not so important.” The issue that drew the most “extremely important” rating, at 64%, was the Supreme Court and judicial nominations, the issue that dominated the news during the time the survey was conducted. Second in the “extremely important” ranking was President Trump himself, at 60%.

A 57% majority rated healthcare as extremely important, with 55% rating the economy as extremely important and 52% saying the same for immigration.

When pushed as to the single most important issue influencing their vote, a different order of significance emerged. In that case, Trump led the list, with 26% saying he was the most important of all the issues or factors, followed by the economy at 19% and the Supreme Court and other judicial nominations at 16%, the news outlet reported.

Research contact: @sfcpoll ‏

Dems draw up an emergency plan to protect Mueller

August 24, 2018

Following a week during which the Russia investigation raised the level of rage and resistance at the White House, Congressional Democrats have drafted a wide-ranging contingency plan, should Special Counsel Robert Mueller be fired—or should President Donald Trump take other steps to quash the inquiry, such as firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein or pardoning key witnesses, NBC News reported on August 22.

It would start within minutes of Special Counsel Robert Mueller being axed—a cascade of activity emanating through the halls of Congress and over television airwaves, as well as citizen protests being prepped from the Virgin Islands to Alaska, the news outlet said.

Of top concern within the first 24 hours after such a move would be preventing Mueller’s documents from being destroyed and his team disbanded, according to the network’s interviews with nearly a dozen lawmakers, congressional aides, Democratic operatives, and attorneys involved in the planning.

Almost immediately, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer would consult with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while Democrats would demand a floor vote on a bill retroactively protecting Mueller and protecting his materials.

In both the Senate and House, rank-and-file Democrats would contact a list of sympathetic Republicans who have signaled privately that they’d be willing to act, should Trump pull the trigger, NBC said.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about how exactly and who and when and where,” Senator Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told NBC News. “There have been several moments when it seemed imminent.”

And in cities across the country, rallies would be hastily scheduled for 5 p.m., if Mueller is fired before 2 p.m. on any given day. If he’s fired in the late afternoon or evening, the protests would be set for noon the following day.

The Democratic group MoveOn.org has been organizing 933 such rallies, NBC reported, with locations picked out and sponsors enlisted to handle logistics. The list includes rallies in big cities like Los Angeles, along with protests in more remote areas, such as the federal buildings in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Hilo, Hawaii.

Any success in protecting Mueller would depend heavily on a sudden change of heart by Republicans and their leaders, who have largely defended Trump and, to date, have clapped back, refusing to allow a full Senate vote on legislation to protect the investigation.

Still, Democrats are hoping that a Mueller firing would be considered so egregious that even Trump’s fellow Republicans would be pushed past a tipping point.

To speed up the response, congressional aides said language has been drafted for letters that House Democratic leaders would send to committee chairmen demanding hearings; to inspectors general demanding investigations; and to White House Counsel Don McGahn and the Justice Department demanding information about their communications before the firing.

Different Democrats have laid out different red lines for what actions by Trump would trigger a full-blown crisis response, NBC detailed. In December, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Trump would be breaching a red line if he removed Mueller from his job, pardoned key witnesses or shut down the investigation. MoveOn has added replacing Rosenstein or repealing the special counsel regulations to the list, but notes that firing Sessions—who remains recused from the Russia probe—would “be one step short of the break glass moment.”

The most likely legislative vehicle for trying to protect Mueller after the fact would be a compromise bill co-sponsored by Senators Chris Coons and Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), along with GOP Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. That bill would put in statute that the special counsel could challenge his firing in U.S. District Court, and would require his “personnel, documents and materials” to be preserved in the meantime.

The bill specifically states that it’s retroactive — meaning that it could be passed after Mueller was fired and still protect him.

A poll of registered voters released by Fox News on August 23 shows approval of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is at 59%, up 11 points from July.What’s more, 40% expect the probe will find President Donald Trump committed criminal or impeachable offenses.

Research contact: @foxnewspoll 

Schumer: ‘Mainfestly unfair’ not to share Kavanaugh documents with entire Senate

August 22, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Charles (Chuck) Schumer (D-New York) said on August 20 that he is demanding that documents from SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh‘s White House tenure under President George W. Bush as Staff Secretary that currently are marked “committee confidential” should be shared with the entire Senate.

“I will … be submitting a request to the chairman and the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee for access for all senators to all of the Kavanaugh documents in the possession of the committee,” Schumer said, according to a report by The Hill on Monday.

He added that “withholding documents from the Senate and the American people under the bogus label of committee confidential is a dark development for the Senate.”

As the legal team for former President George W. Bush hands over documents on Kavanaugh’s work at the White House to the Judiciary Committee, the paperwork is initially marked “committee confidential.” The documents are then reviewed to determine which can be released publicly, The Hill said.

Democrats estimate that roughly 33% of the documents handed over by the Bush legal team to Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are still marked “committee confidential”—preventing them being released publicly.

“It’s outrageous. Now, Chairman Grassley is usually a fair-minded man. …But when it comes to this area, Chairman Grassley’s actions are manifestly unfair, not typical of his character. I understand the pressure he is under, but that doesn’t forgive the result,” Schumer added.

In a strictly partisan move, Republicans have dismissed the attacks, arguing that Democrats have focused on Kavanaugh’s paperwork because they’ve struggled to find a policy issue that could sink his nomination.

Grassley called out Schumer in a tweet saying any senator was able to stop by the Judiciary Committee to review the documents.

A spokesperson for Grassley also called accepting documents as “committee confidential” an “old hat.”

“Now, as in the past, the committee has agreed to accept material at least initially on a committee confidential basis in order to facilitate timely access and review. Doing so ensures that members of the committee have access to records that presidents may otherwise privilege. This procedure is old hat and the Democrats know it,” the spokesperson added.

According to a CNN poll released on August 16, only 37% of Americans say they’d like to see the Senate vote in favor of his confirmation. Kavanaugh’s support is the lowest in polling dating back to Robert Bork’s nomination by President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Research contact: @jennagiesta

Democrats break barriers in August 14 primaries

August 16, 2018

When Democrats broke through barriers to elect Barack Obama to be the 44th U.S. president in 2008, that was only the beginning. Democratic voters selected a diverse array of history-making candidates in primaries across four states on August 14—including nominating a transgender woman for governor of Vermont, Politico reported.

Christine Hallquist, a former energy executive at Vermont Electric Coop, would be the first openly transgender governor in America if she defeats GOP Governor Phil Scott in November. Meanwhile, former high school teacher Jahana Hayes is poised to become the first African-American Democrat to represent Connecticut in Congress after winning her primary in the 5th District; and in Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, a Muslim and a Somali immigrant who had been a state legislator, won the Democratic nomination for the 5th Congressional District.

The night of firsts came as Democrats also hope to rebuild their party in the Midwest, Politico said—especially in Wisconsin, where voters selected state education official Tony Evers to take on two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker in the fall.

“It’s a classic midterm election where the ‘out’ party has a terrific opportunity to win,” Democratic pollster Paul Maslin told the political news outlet. “That’s what happened the other way in 2010 and 2014. Now it’s our turn. We don’t want to go overboard but I think we are very hopeful of reversing a lot of the Republican gains over the last several cycles.”

According to a poll taken by Gallup in June, the Democratic edge in party affiliation over the GOP has grown to seven percentage points-the largest it has been in over two years. During the late summer and fall of 2016, Democrats averaged a three-point advantage.

Research contact: datainquiry@gallup.com

Few Americans read Trump’s tweets directly on Twitter

May 21, 2018

While 76% of Americans ultimately hear about @realDonaldTrump’s  tweets and the news they generate, few Americans say they read the POTUS’s tweets unfiltered, directly from Twitter (8%). Instead, most appear to read or learn about them indirectly, through either other social media or the broader news media, based on findings of a poll conducted by Gallup and released on May 16.

Trump views his use of Twitter as a way of sending unfiltered opinions and views directly to the public. In June 2017, Trump tweeted: “The FAKE MSM [mainstream media] is working so hard trying to get me not to use Social Media. They hate that I can get the honest and unfiltered message out.”

However, just 26% of Americans have a Twitter account, and 30% of that group—or 8% of the overall U.S. population— personally follow the president’s official Twitter account.

The corollary of the finding that relatively few Americans read Trump’s tweets directly on Twitter is that most of those who say they see, read or hear a lot or a fair amount about his tweets (69%) are getting their information from a secondary source. Some of their access to his tweets could be relatively straightforward, such as when a friend forwards a tweet or when a tweet is reprinted directly in a publication and the person reads only the tweet. But Americans’ awareness of Trump’s tweets is more commonly the result of an indirect, filtered dissemination.

Interestingly enough, Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they see, read, or hear a lot about Trump’s tweets (64% vs. 50%, respectively). Democrats also edge out Republicans when including those who read a fair amount of his tweets: 84% of Democrats see, read or hear about at least a fair amount of the president’s tweets, compared with 77% of Republicans (and 71% of independents).

The major difference between Republicans and Democrats is among those following Trump’s tweets without having a Twitter account.

In some ways, then, Twitter functions for Trump much like an old-fashioned press release or press conference statement. Few Americans see or read his tweets directly, but many ultimately hear about them via media coverage or other means.

Research contact: datainquiry@gallup.com

Americans see Trump as ‘impulsive’

March 9, 2018

Americans don’t perceive a lot of careful thought in President Donald Trump’s decision-making process—at least when it comes to his public statements—and there has been little, if any, improvement in this viewpoint since last July, based on the findings of an Economist/YouGov poll  released on March 7.

A total of 81% of voters—and more specifically, 66% of Republicans and 89% of Democrats—believe the POTUS should think before he speaks.

Indeed, the researchers established that a majority of Americans— Republicans and Democrats alike—believe that Donald Trump speaks without prior consideration most of the time; and often doesn’t listen to his advisers (49% total, 35% Republicans, 75% Democrats) .

What’s more, American voters catch Trump out, at least some of the time, they claim—saying things that are incorrect. They believe that the POTUS either is wrong or is lying all of the time (25%), often (23%), or sometimes (28%). Only 12% say he rarely or never strays from the truth, while 8% are not so sure.

In the last week, the President has changed his public stance on gun control and the National Rifle Association (NRA), and has surprised GOP Congressional allies with his proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

He also lost Communications Director Hope Hicks, one of his longest-serving staff members and confidants. Hicks, the fourth communications director in the Trump administration’s first year, admitted to the House Intelligence Committee that she sometimes had to tell “white lies” in her job. That is behavior the public finds inappropriate.

It is no surprise that Democrats are especially critical, but nearly half of Republicans agree Hicks’ statement that she told “white lies” was inappropriate. Where Republicans draw the line, however, is whether Hicks “lied about substantive issues on behalf of President Trump.” Twice as many Republicans say she did not as think she did, but more than a third say they aren’t sure what she did.

Public questioning of the President’s decision-making comes at a time when public opinions of his advisers— even some relatives—have declined since the start of his term.

The last week found two of the President’s most trusted advisers, his daughter and his son-in-law, slipping in public confidence. When Donald Trump’s term began, Ivanka Trump was viewed favorably by the public. Now, opinion is closely divided. As for her husband, Jared Kushner, he began 2017 with Americans divided in their opinion of him, but now evaluations of Kushner are decidedly negative.

Kushner’s lost his

Photo source: Alternet.org

top-secret security clearance last week, and the public isn’t sure he can do his job without it. Just 22% think he can, while 40% think he can’t.

Research contact: kfrankovic@yahoo.com

Democrats in Congress rain on—and want to rein in—Trump’s parade

February 9, 2018

Congressional Democrats are largely opposed to President Donald Trump’s request to hold a military-style parade, while Republicans appeared to have mixed feelings on the subject, CNN reported on February 7, following an informal poll of the federal legislators.

The Washington Post first reported that Trump told top Pentagon brass last month he wanted a military parade similar to the one he had viewed as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron on Bastille Day last July 14. At that time, he called the procession “one of the greatest parades” he had ever seen.

“I think a parade showcasing our military and the sacrifices they make to our country would be appropriate as a way to say thank you,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told CNN. “But I am not interested in a military hardware display that would be cheesy and project weakness.”

Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi was not on-board with the idea at all: “It hadn’t been a priority at all,” he told CNN. “If it would save money not to do it, we probably ought to look at that.”

Meanwhile, Democrats told the news network that they were skeptical about the proposal, arguing it was a waste of money and a vanity exercise for Trump.

“I was stunned by it, to be quite honest. I mean, we have a Napoleon in the making here,” Representative Jackie Speier of California told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on February 6.

The Senate Democratic Whip, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said he wouldn’t attend such a parade. “I believe that spending millions, maybe more, on the President’s amusement is a colossal waste of funds that should be spent to make sure our troops are ready for battle and come home safely, their families receive all the support they deserve and that the waiting lines at V.A. facilities be reduced,” Durbin told CNN. “That’s how we can honor our veterans. Not with a parade for the president.”

Predictably enough, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Independent from Vermont, said that “what [Trump] should have learned from France is about their healthcare system—not about their military parades.”

“We have the mightiest military on the planet and we don’t need a parade to prove that,” tweeted Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii.

The Pentagon is exploring the idea of holding the parade in November, in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11, 1918, a spokesperson said. There also has been some consideration of staging a parade on July 4.

The Post said shipping tanks and military  hardware into Washington could cost millions of dollars and that military officials said they were unsure how to pay for it.

And the Washingtonian magazine reported that, “if history is any guide, the costs could quickly pile up”—noting, “The last big military parade, in June 1991, featured 8,000 troops and lineups of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 72-ton M1 Abrams tanks crawling along 200,000 spectators on Constitution Avenue. While organizers originally estimated the day would cost $8 million, with $5 million coming from private donors, the final tab climbed to $12 million, with taxpayers footing the balance.”

Like the wall on the southern border, this may be a project that the president must find funding for, himself.

Research contact: @KilloughCNN