Posts tagged with "Politico"

Brinksmanship: Unable to cut deal, Nadler soon may subpoena Mueller to testify before U.S. public

June 12, 2019

When and if former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before Congress, his face will be familiar—but the story he tells won’t be, according to findings of a CNN poll fielded in May, which found that fully 75% of Americans have not read the Mueller report on Russian interference into the last presidential election and obstruction of justice by the Trump administration.

Most legislators have failed to read the 448-page document, either.

But that doesn’t include House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York)—who  told Democratic leaders at a closed-door meeting this past week that he could issue a subpoena to within two weeks to Mueller, if he is unable to reach an agreement to secure the former special counsel’s public testimony, according to two sources familiar with the meeting, Politico reported.

Nadler’s comments clarified whether the chairman had considered compelling Mueller’s attendance at a public hearing. The committee is still negotiating with Mueller, who, according to Nadler, is thus far only willing to answer lawmakers’ questions in private—a nonstarter for most House Democrats.

The sources cautioned the news outlet that the committee has not settled yet on a timetable for a potential subpoena to Mueller. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) hosted the meeting, and four other committee chairs were in attendance.

However, according to Politico’s sources, Nadler told reporters that he was “confident” Mueller will appear before his panel, and that he would issue a subpoena “if we have to.”

“We want him to testify openly. I think the American people need that,” Nadler added. “I think, frankly, it’s his duty to the American people. And we’ll make that happen.”

This week, the committee began to hear testimony related to the report, in an effort to educate the American public.

In addition, Nadler said that, with the threat of a civil contempt citation from the committee hanging over his head, Attorney General William Barr had agreed to release the underlying documents to the report, which had been requested by the House Judiciary Committee back in April.

However, on June 11, word came out that the White House would work with the Department of Justice to decide exactly how much (and what type of) material would be released—leaving the actual evidence that the committee would be permitted to see in question yet again.

Research contact: @politico

House Dems to hold contempt vote against Barr and McGahn on June 11

June 5, 2019

The House will vote next week on a resolution to hold Attorney General William Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt of Congress, Politico reports.

Barr—who misrepresented the findings of the Mueller report to Congress and the U.S. public, according to the investigators—also has failed to comply with a subpoena for a fully unredacted copy of the report and underlying evidence; McGahn balked at a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

According to Politico, the resolution, to be introduced on June 11, would clear the way for the House Judiciary Committee to take Barr and McGahn to court to enforce their subpoenas; and would enable Democrats to set in motion their obstruction of justice investigation against President Donald Trump.

“This Administration’s systematic refusal to provide Congress with answers and cooperate with Congressional subpoenas is the biggest cover-up in American history, and Congress has a responsibility to provide oversight on behalf of the American people,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement.

The vote also will offer broad authority for congressional committees to take legal action against the Trump administration in future subpoena fights, Democratic sources told the news outlet.

The vote—which is supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hoyer, and other top members of House leadership—will authorize the House to hold the two men in civil contempt. Democrats will forgo an effort to hold them in criminal contempt—which Democratic sources described as an empty gesture because Barr, in particular, would never face charges from his own Justice Department.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said on June 1 that he was pressing for a floor vote on contempt for Barr as quickly as possible so that the committee could take Barr to court and attempt to enforce its subpoena.

The move comes as a growing number of House Democrats are calling for Trump’s impeachment—and they may not be satisfied with a slap at his attorney general, Politico said.

Meanwhile, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are threatening to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena seeking information about efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Research contact: @politico

Trump disagrees with allies and advisers on North Korea

May 29, 2019

President Donald Trump seems to be distancing himself from friends and foes, alike. He is isolating himself from the nation’s longtime allies abroad—and even from his own advisers—regarding America’s relationship with North Korea, as he avidly insists that his denuclearization talks with Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un will prevail going into his 2020 reelection bid.

The widening gap was apparent on Monday morning, May 28, Politico reported, when Trump disagreed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a joint news conference, when asked about recent North Korean missile tests.

Abe had called the tests of several short-range ballistic missiles “quite a regrettable act,” that violated a United Nations Security Council resolution; echoing language that Trump’s own National Security Adviser, John Bolton, had used on Saturday,.

However, Politico noted, the president on Monday, at the end of his short trip to Japan to meet the new emperor, insisted that he was not “personally” bothered by the tests and was “very happy with the way it’s going” in his efforts to engage North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Notably, Trump said he did not think the tests violated the U.N. resolution.

“My people think it could have been a violation,” Trump said. “I view it differently.”

It was a striking break that revealed Trump’s desire to retain a talking point he has long used at rallies—that he’s responsible for pulling America back from the brink of nuclear war with North Korea, the political news outlet said. It’s a stance that has been increasingly difficult to maintain as talks between Washington and Pyongyang appear to have broken down after two summits between the two countries’ leaders.

It’s also clear, Politico reported, that Trump sees the issue almost singularly through the lens of his personal relationship with Kim.

Kim, Trump said, “is looking to create a nation that has great strength economically. … He knows that, with nuclear, that’s never going to happen. Only bad can happen. He understands that. He is a very smart man. He gets it well.”

North Korea’s missile tests were the first since 2017 after Trump threatened “fire and fury” if Pyongyang didn’t stop its nuclear weapons tests.

Since then, North Korea has paused its nuclear weapons testing, pushing the United States to ease up on sanctions in exchange for the minimal steps it has taken to denuclearize. Trump balked at such a deal in February and ended his second summit with Kim early.

Fearful of the threat that North Korea’s missiles posed to Japan, Abe has long courted Trump on the issue. On Monday, Abe praised Trump for breaking “the shell of distrust” with Kim and announced that he, too, would hold a summit with the North Korean leader. But even after saying the United States  and Japan were “the same” on North Korea, he reiterated that North Korea had violated a U.N. Security Council resolution. “It is of great regret,” he said.

The divergent remarks came after Trump on Sunday appeared to brush back his own national security adviser on Twitter.

“North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me,” the tweet read.

The tweet came shortly after Bolton had confirmed for the first time that the administration had “no doubt” the missile tests violated international resolutions.

In recent weeks, Trump has privately joked about Bolton’s hawkish impulses: As a private citizen, Bolton advocated for a preemptive strike on North Korea and advocated for regime change in Iran. Publicly, Trump has even said that he “tempers” Bolton’s more aggressive instincts.

Trump will return to Japan next month for a meeting of the world’s top economies.

Research contact: @politico

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Schiff says Barr misled the American public and ‘should step down’

May 2, 2019

The attorney general of the United States is a liar and he should resign. So said the Chairman Adam Schiff  (D-California) of the House Intelligence Committee on May 1, following the release to The Washington Post of a March 25 letter written by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

In that correspondence, the Russia investigator voiced grave concerns about the nature of the four-page summary of his team’s report written by AG William Barr and released the day before.

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller wrote in the letter, which he also saved to his files for posterity.

“We communicated that concern to the Department on the morning of March 25,” Mueller continued, noting, “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

The special counsel went on to urge the attorney general to distribute the executive summaries of the report prepared in advance by his team. “Release at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would anser congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation,” he said.

Mueller also followed up his correspondence with a call to Barr, during which he expressed similar concerns.

However, not only did Barr refuse to release the executive summaries in a “piecemeal” fashion, but, according to a May 1 report by the Post, “he disclaimed knowledge of the thinking of Special Counsel Robert Mueller” during two separate, back-to-back hearings on April 9 and April 10.

“No, I don’t,” Barr said, when asked by Representative Charlie Crist (D-Florida) whether he knew what was behind reports that members of Mueller’s team were frustrated by the attorney general’s summary of their top-level conclusions.

“I don’t know,” he said the next day, when asked by Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) whether Mueller supported his finding that there was not sufficient evidence to conclude that President Trump had obstructed justice.

Now, Schiff has a case against AG Barr:  “I think his statement is deliberately false and misleading, and yes, most people would consider that to be a lie,” Schiff said on CBS This Morning, as reported by The Hill.

“Look, there’s no sugar- coating this, I think he should step down,” Schiff said. “It’s hard, I think, for the country to have confidence in the top law enforcement official in the country if he’s asked a direct question as he was and he gives a directly false answer, so this is serious business.”

“After two years and work and investigation implicating the president of the United States, for the attorney general to mislead the public for an entire month before releasing that report is inexcusable.” 

Schiff is the highest-ranking Democrat on Capitol Hill so far to call for Barr to step down. He follows Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s call for Barr to resign.

Tuesday’s revelation upped the ante for Barr’s appearance Wednesday morning in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and led to a cavalcade of criticism from House and Senate Democrats, The Hill reported.

“The Special Counsel’s concerns reflect our own. The Attorney General should not have taken it upon himself to describe the Special Counsel’s findings in a light more favorable to the President. It was only a matter of time before the facts caught up to him,” Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Tuesday, demanding that Barr hand over Mueller’s letter to Congress by 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

According to Politico, in a separate statement on Wednesday, on CNN claimed Barr’s statements might be considered perjury “for an ordinary citizen.”

“It’s worse when it comes from the attorney general of the United States because it means the public cannot have confidence in what he says,” Schiff said. “It means that we cannot have confidence in how he administers justice.”

And in a separate tweet, Schiff wrote, “No one can place any reliance on what Barr says. We need to hear from Mueller himself.”

Research contact: @RepAdamSchiff

Nadler pulls rank on Barr on terms of testimony

April 30, 2019

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-New York) has cautioned Attorney General William Barr—who has more than proven himself to be a Trump acolyte during his first six weeks in office—not to try to dictate the terms of his testimony on the Russia investigation on May 2.

“The witness is not going to tell the committee how to conduct its hearing, period,” Nadler told CNN on Sunday.

Barr is scheduled to testify to the committee on Thursday about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report on the probe—which he had thoroughly redacted before releasing it to a limited number of Congressional leaders earlier this month.

He also is expected to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 1, according to a report by Politico.

Nadler wants to allow each committee member a five-minute round of questioning. A key point of contention has arisen over Nadler’s wanting to allow for another round of questioning of 30 minutes for each party’s committee counsels, the political news outlet said. The chairman also proposed that the panel go into closed session to discuss the redacted sections of the report.

Barr has rejected both proposals, according to CNN, which cited an unidentified committee source.

Representative Madeleine Dean (D-Pennsylvania), a member of the Judiciary Committee, told Politico that Nadler’s proposed structure for the hearing was “not unprecedented.”

“It is not up to Attorney General Barr to tell our committee how to operate, and will I be puzzled if he actually decides not to show,” Dean said Sunday on CNN Newsroom With Fredricka Whitfield.

If Barr doesn’t appear on Thursday, Dean said, the committee is ready to “fully use our subpoena power.”

“The chairman has subpoena power, and we’ll have to go to a court of law and either hold him in contempt or have him come in, but I hope that cooler heads prevail,” Dean said.

Nadler has subpoenaed the Justice Department to provide an unredacted version of Mueller’s report, along with its underlying grand jury evidence and testimony, by May 1. He also sent a letter to Mueller asking the special counsel to testify before the Judiciary Committee by May 23.

Research contact: @politico

Poll: Buttigieg feels the love in Iowa

April 15, 2019

He had virtually no name recognition just a few months ago (and those few who knew his surname could not pronounce it), but Pete Buttigieg is now a rising star among the growing ranks of Democrats who have announced for the 2020 presidential race.

In fact, the only two Democrats who are doing better are the elder statesmen of the party, former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont).

Biden leads the 2020 Democratic presidential field in Iowa, according to findings of a poll released April 11 that also suggests Pete Buttigieg—a small-city mayor from Indiana is gaining significant traction with likely caucus-goers, Politico reported.

The Monmouth University poll shows that Biden, who hasn’t officially entered the race, is the first choice of roughly one-quarter of likely caucus-goers, at 27%. He’s followed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with 16%; and Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, with 9%.

That very unexpectedly places Buttigieg marginally ahead of a handful of candidates who entered the race with more established profiles: Sensators Kamala Harris (D-California) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) are at 7 %, former Representative has 4% of the vote; and Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey.) is bringing up the rear at 3%.

The last nonpartisan poll in Iowa—conducted a month ago for CNN, the Des Moines Register, and Mediacom, a local cable company — also had Biden atop the field with 27%. Sanders was closer, with 25% of the vote. But Buttigieg was an also-ran in that survey, with just 1%.

In the interim, however, Buttigieg has been headlining the news due to a fracas with Vice President Mike Pence, whom the candidate worked with as governor of Indiana before the 2016 elections.

Pence, who comes from the ranks of the religious right, is not a supporter of gay unions. Buttigieg, who is gay and married, recently said, “”If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade. And that’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you [have] got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me — your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.”

Not only did voters seem to like that argument, but they like the fact that Buttigieg, the first Millennial to run for president (at age 37), has been a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, a graduate of Harvard University, and a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve who served in Afghanistan,  in addition to the mayor of South Bend.

According to Politico, Buttigieg still lags most of the other major candidates in name recognition, the poll shows. Nearly a quarter of caucus-goers (24%) say they haven’t heard of the mayor of the nation’s 301st-largest city; compared to 3%percent who haven’t heard of Warren, 7% who haven’t heard of O’Rourke, 10%  percent for Harris and 11 % for Booker. (Biden and Sanders have universal name-ID among Democrats.)

But Buttigieg has his fans: 45 percent of caucusgoers view him favorably, while 9 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. The remaining 22 percent say they have heard of Buttigieg but don’t have an opinion of the 37-year-old candidate.

The Monmouth poll was conducted April 4-9, among 351 likely Democratic caucus-goers.

Research contact: @politico

House Democrats move to stop Barr from ‘running out the clock’

April 3, 2019

House Democratic leaders are desperately trying to stop Republicans from “running out the clock.”

As it stands now, the GOP is focused on delaying the release of the full Mueller report until the American electorate can be cajoled by the president and his party’s leaders into accepting that Attorney General William Barr’s four-page analysis of the findings is a fait accompli.

On April 2, Politico reported, Democrats called for Barr to appear immediately for a hearing to explain his decision last month to release the top-line summary without unveiling the full report.

Barr’s four-page memo asserted that the special counsel did not find a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow to sway the 2016 presidential election in his 400-page report—but it also said that Mueller did not exonerate the president on obstruction of justice. However, Barr added that he would not charge the president with obstruction of justice. Trump has touted the letter as a complete vindication.

The chairmen of six House committees, including Judiciary’s Jerry Nadler, said in their letter sent Monday to Barr that he should testify “as soon as possible — not in a month, as you have offered, but now” to discuss his rationale.

In their letter and an accompanying nine-page memo to Barr, the Democrats also quibbled with the potential edits and modifications that could limit their ability to see the full Mueller report.

But Barr said before he releases the Mueller report, he would remove four categories of sensitive information: materials gathered during the grand jury process, which are protected by law; classified information dealing with intelligence sources and methods; information tied to ongoing investigations; and anything harmful to “reputational interests of peripheral third parties.”

Democrats pushed back, urging Barr to ask a federal district court judge to give DOJ permission to release materials otherwise protected under grand jury secrecy rules. And they argued that Barr has no authority to hold back information that could harm someone’s “reputational interests,” including materials related to Trump family members who work in the White House.

The Democrats also called on Barr to make a “detailed log of each redaction and the reasons supporting it” in case there are fights later with lawmakers.

Separately, Politico noted, the letter previewed another major moment ahead, calling on Barr “to refrain from interfering with Special Counsel Mueller testifying before the Judiciary Committee — and before any other relevant committees —after the report has been released regarding his investigation and findings.” No date has been scheduled for a Mueller hearing in the House, although Democrats have long signaled plans to call the special counsel in for testimony if they don’t get a complete look at his findings.

Originally, Nadler had set an April 2 deadline for Barr to hand over Mueller’s report and its underlying evidence. His Democratic-led panel plans on Wednesday to vote on authorizing the use of a subpoena to compel its release “in unredacted form.”

Research contact: @politico

‘Let’s just get the goods’: Pelosi rallies dispirited Democrats

March 27, 2019

As spirits flagged following the completion of the Mueller report—and the announcement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he would block a resolution to release the full document to Congress—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) sought to rally her caucus behind closed doors Tuesday morning.

Be calm. Take a deep breath. Don’t become like them. We have to handle this professionally, officially, patriotically, strategically,” Pelosi said during a closed-door meeting with House Democrats, referring to Republicans.

“Let’s just get the goods,” she said of Mueller’s report, according to an account released by Politico.

Pelosi’s comments came after the chairs of six key House committees  sent a letter on March 25 to Attorney General William Barr—who had provided them only with a four-page letter that outlined the “highlights” of the report and ruled out any consideration of charges of obstruction of justice.

It is vital for national security purposes that Congress be able to evaluate the full body of facts and evidence collected and evaluated by the Special Counsel,” the chairs said in the letter, advising Barr that, “We look forward to receiving the report in full no later than April 2, and to begin receiving the underlying evidence and documents the same day.”

The signatories of the letter included Representatives Jerrold Nadler (Judiciary Committee), Adam Schiff (Intelligence), Richard Neal (Ways and Means), Elijah Cumming (Oversight), Maxine Waters (Financial Services) and Eliot Engel (Foreign Affairs).

According to Barr, Mueller was unable to establish that Trump associates conspired with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign, and he left unresolved the key issue of whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice.

“The president was not exonerated,” Pelosi told Democrats, according to Politico, referring to Trump’s claim on Sunday, March 24, that Mueller’s report amounted to a “total exoneration.”

Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have suggested that the panel would move to issue a subpoena for the Mueller report if Barr refuses to turn it over by next Tuesday. Lawmakers said that they expect Barr to send Congress a heavily redacted version of the highly anticipated report.

They also highlighted the fact that Barr declined to recommend a criminal prosecution against Trump for obstruction of justice, noting his previously held view that a president could not obstruct justice.

“We have not seen the report. We’ve only gotten a summary that was created by a man who was appointed by the president, who clearly said before his appointment that he didn’t believe a sitting president could be charged, if you will, with obstruction of justice,” said Representative Val Demings (D-Florida), a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Research contact: @heathscope

Swalwell: Congress is working to extend criminal statute of limitations for sitting presidents

March 20, 2019

Representative Eric Swalwell (D-California) revealed during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on March 19 that House lawmakers are penning legislation to extend the statute of limitations for crimes committed by presidents—allowing them to be charged once their terms end, Politico reported.

With the Russia investigation expected to wrap up in the coming weeks, Swalwell told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mica Brzezinski that Congress is preparing for the prospect that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s much-awaited report will conclude that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia.

“I don’t think any person should be above the law,” Swalwell said, adding, “What concerns me is that right now the president may escape criminal liability because he could win a reelection and the statute of limitations could run” out.

Indeed, freezing the statute of limitations during a president’s term—a move that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) said he was considering last year—could allow for prosecution once a president leaves office.

When asked whether he is writing the proposed legislation, Swalwell said it is “in the works,” according to Politico.

“But I do believe there are indictments waiting for this president,” said Swalwell, a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.

The statute of limitations in most federal cases is five years, a deadline that could play a role, Politico said, in any case involving Trump.

Swalwell — who is mulling a 2020 presidential run — said he believes circumstantial evidence of collusion exists and that he feels confident the public will see Mueller’s report once the probe is complete.

Research contact: @politico

Pelosi urges House members on both sides of aisle to terminate Trump’s ‘national emergency’

February 22, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is backing a legislative effort to block President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration.

A week ago, on February 15, the president proclaimed a national emergency in order to secure more funding for his southern border wall— but admitted that it was not a truly urgent situation, saying, “I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster.”

Now, Democrats are bringing a bill to the floor intended to terminate he emergency mandate—and Pelosi is urging House colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support the resolution, according to a letter obtained by Politico on February 20.

“I write to invite all Members of Congress to cosponsor Congressman Joaquin Castro’s privileged resolution to terminate this emergency declaration,” Pelosi wrote, noting that the House will “move swiftly to pass this bill.”

“The president’s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated,” she added.

“We have a solemn responsibility to uphold the Constitution, and defend our system of checks and balances against the President’s assault,” Pelosi wrote.

According to the Politico report, aides for Castro circulated an email Wednesday afternoon, announcing plans to introduce the resolution of disapproval after Trump’s declaration was published in the Federal Register this week.

Word-of-mouth is that the resolution will be introduced on the House floor today. As soon as the House votes on the resolution, the clock starts for Senate GOP leaders, who are required under law to put the measure to a vote within 18 days.

It would take just four GOP senators to join with Democrats to approve the resolution, which appears quite plausible, given Republican concern with Trump’s emergency declaration, Politico said.

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Wednesday became the first GOP senator to publicly say she would support the Democratic resolution, according to the AP. Speaking at a Coast Guard ceremony in her state, Collins said Trump’s move “completely undermines” the role of Congress.

Trump would be certain to issue the first veto of his presidency over the measure, Politico says. To override him in the House, more than 50 Republicans would need to join with Democrats to secure the needed 288 votes.

Research contact: @heatherscope