Posts tagged with "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

16 states file suit in California to block Trump’s national emergency declaration

February 20, 2019

A coalition of 16 states—led by California—filed suit on February 18 to block President Donald Trump’s ploy to fund a southern border wall by declaring a national emergency.

In addition to California, the other states that joined the lawsuit are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia.

The plaintiffs called Trump’s declaration—which side-stepped a firm “no” to his request for $5 billion in funding for the wall from Congress— a “flagrant disregard of fundamental separation of powers principles,” Politico reported.

The complaint (State of California et. al. v. Trump et. al.)—which requested injunctive relief from the U.S. District Court for Northern California under proceeding #3:19-cv-00872—is the third in a string of legal challenges already launched against Trump’s use of emergency powers since he announced the move during a meandering White House news conference on January 15, the political news outlet said.

Public Citizen, a liberal advocacy group, along with Frontera Audobon Society of South Texas, also filed a suit (Case No. 19-ev-404) late Friday—this one, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia— on behalf of three Texas landowners who would be impacted by the construction of a wall along the border.

“Rather than responding to an emergency requiring immediate action, the Declaration seeks to address a long-running disagreement between the President and Congress about whether to build a wall along the southwestern border and Congress’s refusal to appropriate funds for that purpose,” the complaint said.

“However,:” it continued, “under our Constitution, built on the principle of separation of powers, a disagreement between the President and Congress about how to spend money does not constitute an emergency authorizing unilateral executive action. The Declaration and the planned expenditure of Department of Defense funds for construction of the wall exceed President Trump’s authority under the National Emergencies Act, other statutes invoked by the President as authority to fund the wall, and the Constitution. The invocation of emergency powers and exercise of those powers, and the diversion of funds to build a wall, are thus contrary to law.”

And Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics—a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC— has filed a motion against the Department of Justice demanding that the agency provide documents pertaining to the legal justification of the president’s emergency declaration.

Americans deserve to know the true basis for President Trump’s unprecedented decision to enact emergency powers to pay for a border wall,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder, in a release from the group, adding, “We’re suing because the government has so far failed to produce the requested documents or provide an explanation for their delay.”

The states that filed against the president on February 18 argued that Trump engaged in an “unlawful scheme” when he “used the pretext of a manufactured ‘crisis’ of unlawful immigration to declare a national emergency and redirect federal dollars appropriated for drug interdiction, military construction, and law enforcement initiatives toward building a wall on the United States-Mexico border,” according to a copy of the complaint obtained by Politico.

“It’s kind of awkward to say that on Presidents’ Day we’re going to be suing the president of the United States, but sometimes that’s what you have to do,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said during a Monday appearance on CNN, after telegraphing for weeks that he was prepared to take swift legal action if Trump followed through on his repeated vows to invoke an immigration emergency to justify diverting wall funding.

Becerra, who is leading the states coalition, alleges that Trump “has veered the country toward a constitutional crisis of his own making” despite a refusal by Congress refusing to allocate the funds needed to start construction. It cites his remarks in the Friday news conference that he “didn’t need to do this” as evidence his emergency declaration was without merit.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

Research contact: @priscialva 

House puts spotlight on secret Trump-Putin summits

February 19, 2019

What happened—in Hamburg in July 2017 and in Helsinki in July 2018—will remain there, if it’s up to the two global leaders who participated in those meetings: Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Apparently there are secrets that the American president has gone to great lengths to suppress—confiscating his translator’s notes of the Hamburg meeting; and allowing no detailed records of his private Helsinki sit-down , according to a recent report by Politico.

But with that silence comes an opportunity for coercion by Putin, who holds Trump’s secrets close at a cost: Intelligence officials fear that Putin may have compromised the American president, who could be following the Russian’s dangerous agenda out of fear of exposure and reprisals.

Now, all that is about to change, as House Democrats prepare to take their first meaningful steps to force Trump to divulge information about those private conversations.

The chairmen of two powerful congressional oversight panel—Representative Adam Schiff (D-California) of the Intelligence Committee and Representative Eliot Engel (D-New York) of the Foreign Affairs Committeetold Politico late last week that “they are exploring options to legally compel the president to disclose his private conversations with the Russian president.

The two lawmakers told the political news outlet that they are “actively consulting” with House General Counsel Douglas Letter about the best way to legally compel the Trump administration to come clean.

“I had a meeting with the general counsel to discuss this and determine the best way to find out what took place in those private meetings — whether it’s by seeking the interpreter’s testimony, the interpreter’s notes, or other means,” Schiff, told Politico in an interview.

According to the February 16 story, the move underscores the seriousness with which Democrats view Trump’s conciliatory statements and actions toward Moscow; and its place as a top House priority as the party pursues wide-ranging investigations into the president and his administration.

Specifically, Politico reported, Democrats want a window into the Helskini meeting last summer, during which Trump put himself at odds with the U.S. intelligence community and declared—while standing next to the Russian president—that the Kremlin did not interfere in the 2016 elections.

“I don’t see any reason why [Russia would interfere with the 2016 election],” he said at the extraordinary news conference following the private confabulation.

Trump’s remark prompted Democrats to call for Marina Gross, the State Department translator who was the only other American present for the Trump-Putin meeting, to share her notes with Congress and testify in public.

Getting Gross’s notes and testimony may be a challenging task, Schiff admitted—noting possible legal roadblocks, including executive privilege.

“That’s a privilege that, based on first impression, is designed to facilitate consultations between the president and members of his staff and Cabinet — not to shield communications with a foreign leader,” Schiff said. “But that’s just a preliminary take. And once we get the studied opinion of the general counsel, then we’ll decide how to go forward.”

For his part, Engel told Politico, “I’m not saying that I’m in favor of interpreters turning over all their notes, but I do think that it shouldn’t be up to the president to hide the notes.”

The White House is expected to fight divulging the details of the discussions every step of the way.

Research contact: @desiderioDC

House Dems to probe Trump White House security clearance process

January 24, 2019

House Democratic investigators formally launched a probe on January 23 into how the White House “finessed” security clearances for staffers, including those for short-term National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Senior Adviser (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner—accusing the Trump administration of playing fast-and-loose with the nation’s most guarded secrets, according to a report by Politico.

Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) laid out several lines of inquiry on the matter in a letter to the White House, specifically naming Flynn and other top officials whom he says should have raised red flags.

“The Committee on Oversight and Reform is launching an in-depth investigation of the security clearance process at the White House and Transition Team in response to grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump administration,” Cummings aid in the letter to the White House, obtained by NBC News.

The panel will press the White House to provide Congress with information about how and why it issued some security clearances, which Democrats note is required under federal law, Politico said. Democrats say the White House has so far refused to provided that information. Several inquiries on the same issue went unanswered by the administration last year.

The goals of this investigation are to determine why the White House and Transition Team appear to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information, evaluate the extent to which the nation’s most highly guarded secrets were provided to officials who should not have had access to them, and develop reforms to remedy the flaws in current White House systems and practices,” Cummings wrote.

Cummings specifically cited former Chief of Staff John Kelly’s acknowledgment of “shortcomings” in the security clearance process — and Kelly’s statement that the Trump administration “take a hard look” at how the White House handles clearances, Politico reported.

In addition to Flynn and Kushner, Cummings is requesting information on any problems or issues that arose in the security clearance processes for multiple individuals, including: former Deputy National Security adviser K.T. McFarland; National Security Adviser John Bolton; Rob Porter, the ex-White House staff secretary who left amid allegations of spousal abuse; former National Security Council Senior Director Robin Townley; and ex-deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka.

Research contact: @rachaelmbade

Trump: ‘I don’t care’ if Putin conversation becomes public

January 16. 2019

Following media reports that he squelched access to transcripts of his talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin—and welshed on any promises to share them with his top aides—President Donald Trump on January 12 said he would be willing to release the details of the leaders’ private conversation in Helsinki last summer, Politico has reported.

“I would. I don’t care,” Trump told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro in a phone interview. “I’m not keeping anything under wraps. I couldn’t care less.”

The president’s remarks came hours after a report by The Washington Post stating that Trump “has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal details” of his talks with Putin. The Post also reported that there is no detailed record of Trump’s interactions with Putin at five locations over the past two years, according to U.S. officials.

The president referred to his roughly two-hour meeting with Putin in Helsinki — at which only the leaders and their translators were present — as “a great conversation” that included discussions about “securing Israel and lots of other things,” Politico said.

“I had a conversation like every president does,” Trump told Pirro. “You sit with the president of various countries. I do it with all countries.”

House Republicans in July blocked an attempt by Democratic lawmakers to subpoena Trump’s interpreter in Helsinki. Politico previously had reported that Putin raised the subjects of nuclear arms controls and weapons prohibitions in space during the one-on-one conference, according to a Russian document.

Asked by Pirro if he’d ever worked on behalf of Russia, Trump did not directly answer the question, calling a New York Times report of an FBI counterintelligence investigation on him “insulting.”

Trump also evaded a question on whether the administration was seeking to keep special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report on the Russia probe from the public, saying only that the investigation was a “hoax.”

Research contact: @QuintForgey

Former Bernie Sanders campaigners say #MeToo

January 2, 2018

More than two dozen women and men who worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign are seeking an in-person meeting with the senator and his top political advisers to “discuss the issue of sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign, for the purpose of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle,” according to a copy of letter obtained by Politico.

“In recent weeks there has been an ongoing conversation on social media, in texts, and in person, about the untenable and dangerous dynamic that developed during our campaign,” they wrote.

Organizers of the effort said they did not intend for the letter to become public, but they confirmed that they sent it to senior Sanders officials on December 30. The signatories (whose names were deleted from the copy of the letter that went public) range from field organizers to some of the top officials on the 2016 campaign, according to multiple people involved in the effort, Politico reported. Some of the former aides do not expect to join any 2020 campaign while others are open to joining a potential Sanders 2020 bid.

In the letter, the Bernie “alumni” were particular intent on talking to both Sanders and Jeff Weaver—the campaign manager for the Senator’s 2016 presidential push , on a short-term basis, the president of Our Revolution, a nonprofit established by Sanders.

People involved in the effort said they signed the letter before Sanders (I-Vermont) officially launched a 2020 presidential bid in the hopes that it would lead to real action if and when the senator begins assembling his team. Organizers wrote they wanted the meeting to produce a plan for “implementing concrete sexual harassment policies and procedures; and a commitment to hiring diverse leadership to preempt the possibility of replicating the predatory culture from the first presidential campaign.”

“This letter is just a start,” said one of the organizers who declined to be named. “We are addressing what happened on the Bernie campaign but as people [who] work in this space we see that all campaigns are extremely dangerous to women and marginalized people and we are attempting to fix that.”

Friends of Bernie Sanders, the senator’s principal campaign committee, responded to the letter in a statement to Politico: “We thank the signers of the letter for their willingness to engage in this incredibly important discussion,” the statement reads. “We always welcome hearing the experiences and views of our former staff. We also value their right to come to us in a private way so their confidences and privacy are respected. And we will honor this principle with respect to this private letter.”

The committee said that it had established “a third-party hotline’ in order to handle reports of sexual harassment and administer mandated training.

The letter continued, “Harassment of any kind is intolerable. Having the experiences and thoughts of individuals who worked on Bernie’s 2016 campaign is a vital part of our commitment to work within our progressive community to improve the lives of all people. And that’s why we will continue to examine these policies and processes, with feedback welcome.”

Research contact: @AlxThomp