Posts tagged with "The Hill"

Scaramucci says he’ll recruit former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump

August 20, 2019

He’s not invoking Constitutional Amendment 25, but former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci said on August 19 that he, nonetheless, believes it is time to remove the president: According to a report by The Hill, Scaramucci has said he intends to assemble a coalition of former Cabinet members to speak out against President Donald Trump in an effort to find a Republican challenger to the president in 2020. 

Under Amendment 25, ‘Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

While the amendment provides an immediate (and dramatic) means of removal, Scaramucci is looking toward “primarying” the president out in 2020. There already are two Republicans who have said they are in the running: Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld and former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

“I’m in the process of putting together a team of people who feel the exact same way that I do. This is not a ‘Never Trump’ situation, this is not just screeching rhetoric. This is, ‘OK, the guy’s unstable, everyone inside knows it, everyone outside knows it, let’s see if we can find a viable alternative,’” Scaramucci said Monday on CNN’s “New Day.”

“Moreover, I’ve got to get some of these former Cabinet officials in unity to speak up about it.” 

Scaramucci would not reveal names of former officials that he said feel that Trump is unstable. But he said he expects more to come out publicly in upcoming months.

“I predict in middle or late fall there will be a trove of people who will come together in unity to say this is what’s going on. This is how the person’s acting. This is why there’s nobody inside the White House he’s taking any advice from,” Scaramucci said.

He also did not disclose names of possible candidates he’s looking to back along with the team he’s looking to assemble.

“I don’t think it’s fair to those people,” he said.

Around the same time Scaramucci spoke on CNN, Trump renewed an attack on his former staffer. He tweeted that Scaramucci is a “nut job” whom he “barely knew.”

“He was a mental wreck. We didn’t want him around. Now Fake News puts him on like he was my buddy!” Trump tweeted. 

Trump also tweeted that there is “great cohesion” inside the Republican Party.

Scaramucci had long defended Trump but in recent weeks has spoken out against the president’s rhetoric and actions, The Hill said.

Research contact: @thehill 

Trump intervenes with Netanyahu, blocking Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel

August 19, 2019

“I don’t know why they would,” President Donald Trump said last week, when asked whether he thought that Israel should provide entrance to two U.S. Democratic representatives for a fact-finding visit.

The freshman lawmakers—Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota—are Muslims who have been disparaged, even by many of their fellow Democrats, for their posture on Israel; including their support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a global campaign designed to press Israel on human rights issues surrounding the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Nonetheless, it has been Israel’s position, as a close ally of the United States, to allow members of Congress to freely visit the nation—including the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The visit of the two lawmakers would have followed a visit by the largest-ever U.S. delegation—a group of 41 Congressional Democrats and 31 Congressional Republicans—who traveled to Israel to express solidarity with the Jewish state, following what they characterized as anti-semitic remarks by Tlaib and Omar.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump intervened to urge Israel to block the upcoming admission of the two Muslim observers.

According to a report by The Hill, President Trump “broke new ground [last] Thursday when he urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deny two Muslim congresswomen entrance to the country for a fact-finding visit, accusing them of harboring hatred toward “Israel & all Jewish people.”

The move reverberated across Washington, as pro-Israel groups condemned the president for threatening U.S.-Israel relations; foreign policy experts chimed in with warnings of frayed diplomatic ties; and stunned Democrats issued waves of statements denouncing Trump for pressuring a foreign government to deny his American political opponents rights of free passage.

Indeed, in a surprise response on August 16, even BDS condemned the move. The  statement from the opposition organization left no doubt that even the Palestinians object to the U.S. president’s unprecedented intervention.

“The Palestinian-led BDS movement condemns the far-right Israeli government’s McCarthyite decision to prevent Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar from visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territory over their support for Palestinian freedom. We call for cutting US military aid to Israel,” BDS said in its official release, adding, “Israel’s far-right government, with Trump’s collusion, has again put itself on par with apartheid South Africa in the past, and other rogue regimes in the present.”

The statement ended with kudos for the two Muslim lawmakers. “We salute Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and we call for escalating pressure on Congress to implement the Leahy Law, which conditions U,S, military aid to other governments on their respect for human rights, by cutting U,S, military aid to Israel.”

 “I can’t think of any other president, Democrat or Republican, doing something as outrageous as this,” Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Hill on August 15 during a phone interview. “If this is just providing cover for Netanyahu, that’s wrong. If this is Donald Trump playing politics, that’s wrong.

“Once again, Donald Trump is denigrating the office of the presidency,” he added.

Some Republicans also broke ranks to criticize the president’s intervention. “Israel is a U.S. ally and a thriving bastion of democracy and hope for freedom-loving people of the world. It would benefit all of us for Reps. Tlaib and Omar to see that firsthand,”  Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said to Reuters’s Patricia Zengerle.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), a staunch ally of Israel who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, called Israel’s decision a “mistake,” while Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) singled out the Trump administration for urging Israel to deny the women entry.

Research contact: @thehill

Stacey Abrams for VP? Popular Georgia public servant says she’d accept an offer

August 15, 2019

Stacey Abrams, who lost her 2018 gubernatorial race in Georgia by a narrow margin to Republican Brian Kemp, said she would be “honored” to be considered as a running mate for any of the two dozen hopefuls who are making a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination next year, The Hill reported on August 14.

“I would be honored to be considered by any nominee,” she said in an interview with The New York Times that was published Wednesday. 

Abrams already had announced on August 13 that she would not throw her hat into the presidential race-but that she would work instead to combat voter suppression and increase participation in the 2020 census.

However, her personal charisma and political acuity are not to be ignored: As another option, she said she would privileged to be chosen as the vice presidential candidate, should the nominee approach her.

According to The Hill, the Georgia Democrat has cited voter suppression as a reason for her defeat, noting the removal of thousands of people who had failed to cast ballots in recent elections from voting rolls and hours-long lines at some precincts.

I’ve been thinking about this for the last few weeks, an I’ve just come to the decision that my best value add, the strongest contribution I can give to this primary, would be to make sure our nominee is coming into an environment where there’s strong voter protections in place,” she told the Times.

Abrams added that she did not want to wage a campaign “simply because the office is available” and that she’s “been pleased with the direction of the field,” urging all the candidates to also prioritize voter suppression and campaign in Georgia.

Several Democratic presidential candidates already have vowed to (or suggested they might) pick a female running mate if nominated. Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey)  vowed in April to pick a woman as his vice president, while former Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said in March it would “very difficult not to select a woman” as his running mate.”

Research contact: @thehill

Scaramucci: Trump’s time in the White House is almost up!

August 13, 2019

The GOP needs a new presidential candidate for 2020, according to former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci—who is, perhaps, best-known for the amount of time he spent in the Trump administration (11 days).

Scaramucci told Axios on Sunday that President Donald Trump’s time in the White House is just about up, comparing it to a cable movie currently streaming on TV. “We are now in the early episodes of ‘Chernobyl’ on HBO, where the reactor is melting down and the apparatchiks are trying to figure out whether to cover it up or start the clean-up process,” Scaramucci told the news outlet.

“A couple more weeks like this and ‘country over party’ is going to require the Republicans to replace the top of the ticket in 2020,” he said.

Scaramucci, a prominent Republican donor, said that if Trump “doesn’t reform his behavior, it will not just be me, but many others will be considering helping to find a replacement in 2020.”

“Right now, it’s an unspeakable thing,” he continued. “But if he keeps it up, it will no longer be unspeakable. The minute they start speaking of it, it will circulate and be socialized. We can’t afford a full nuclear contamination site post 2020.”

Scaramucci’s comments to Axios came after he called Trump’s visit to El Paso following mass shootings last week a “catastrophe.”

Trump fired back soon after, saying that Scaramucci “knows very little about me other than the fact that this Administration has probably done more than any other Administration in its first 2 1/2 years of existence. Anthony, who would do anything to come back in, should remember the only reason he is on TV, and it’s not for being the Mooch!”

Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld currently is the only Republican to announce a challenge to Trump for the nomination.

According to The Hill Any challenger would likely face long odds in a primary bid. The Republican National Committee already has voted to express its “undivided support” for Trump as its 2020 nominee, and Trump’s reelection campaign has staffed up with party insiders.

Research contact: @axios

Senior federal judge challenges AG Barr’s handling of Mueller findings

August 7, 2019

A senior federal judge pressed Department of Justice attorneys in a Washington, D.C., courtroom on August 5 to explain why the American public shouldn’t be allowed to see redacted portions of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference into the 2016 elections—suggesting that he might be willing to consider releasing at least some of the restricted information, The Hill reported.

Judge Reggie Walton, who was appointed to the bench in 2001 by President George W. Bush, posed the questions during a hearing on a couple of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits seeking the redacted portions of the report.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold filed the lawsuits earlier this year. The cases have since been consolidated, and attorneys for each party split the arguments during Monday’s hearing, The Hill said.

During more than two hours of arguments, Judge Walton voiced his concerns—not only about the redactions, but about the conduct of Attorney General Bill Barr immediately following the release of the report.

I do have some concerns, because it seems to me difficult to reconcile the contents of the Mueller report and statements made by the attorney general [about the report],” Walton said of Barr’s four-page summary of the Mueller report—which asserted there had been “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia; and no obstruction of justice.

“It’d seem to be inconsistent with what the report itself said,” Walton said, adding that Barr’s summary “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance” of the report.

Mueller has since stated that his office did not investigate collusion but instead whether any Trump campaign officials conspired with Russians in 2016. And the former special counsel has repeatedly stated that his report does not exonerate President Donald Trump.

DOJ lawyer Courtney Enlow pushed back—saying that Barr was not required to release the report under the special counsel regulations, but did so anyway. She said the attorney general’s actions were in “good faith.”

However,attorneys for those seeking the unredacted portions of the report urged the judge to read the disputed redactions privately so that he could review them and determine if any of the information was already publicly available and no longer needed to redacted.

Enlow argued that rulings in previous FOIA cases mean that the administration doesn’t necessarily have to make that information publicly available.

However, Walton appeared skeptical. At several times throughout the hearing, he noted the high level of public interest in the redacted versions of the documents.

Mathew Topic, who was arguing on behalf of Leopold in court, also noted that releasing more details of the report could help resolve disputes about the origins of the Mueller investigation.

Topic pointed to Trump repeatedly referring to the probe as a politically motivated “witch hunt” and said that making the investigators’ findings fully available could help affirm or disprove those claims, The Hill reported.

Among the redacted information in the report being sought in these cases is grand jury information. The House Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Jerrold Nadler (New York), also filed an application in court last week seeking the grand jury materials.

But Enlow, in arguing that Walton should not make the information public, cited an opinion from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down earlier this year that found a court doesn’t have the inherent authority to release grand jury materials.

Judge Walton did not provide a date for when his decision might be disclosed, saying that he is facing a “heavy” caseload at the moment. But he noted the high level of public interest in the case—and the inevitable prospect that whatever ruling he issues will be appealed—in saying he will work to make a decision soon.

Research contact: @thehill

Schumer to Trump: Order McConnell to hold vote on background check bill

August 6, 2019

It’s a vicious cycle in the United States: A mass murder, prayers and vigils, a demand for background checks on gun transactions, a mass murder ….

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) called on President Donald Trump on August 5 to tell Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) to bring a stand-alone background check bill for gun sales up for a Senate vote—dismissing Trump’s suggestion of tying it to immigration reform, The Hill reported.

Just after noon on Monday, Schumer tweeted, “… McConnell has called himself the ‘grim reaper’ and refuses to act on this bipartisan legislation. It is incumbent upon the Senate to come back into session to pass the House-passed Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 immediately.”

Following two mass shootings over the past weekend—one in El Paso, Texas, and one in Dayton, Ohio, that killed a total of nearly 30 people and injured many more—Schumer tweeted, “Instead of flailing around blaming everything under the sun, if the president is serious about ‘strong background checks’ there’s one thing he can do: Demand Senator McConnell put the bipartisan, House-passed universal background checks bill up for a vote.”

Trump, himself, said on Monday that he wanted legislation providing “strong background checks,” including potentially linking it to long-stalled immigration reform.

However, it didn’t take long for the president to backtrack. By 12:21 p.m. on Monday, Schumer had tweeted, “It took less than three hours for President @realDonaldTrump to back off his call for stronger background check legislation. When he can’t talk about guns when he talks about gun violence, it shows the president remains prisoner to the gun lobby and the NRA.”

The Senate left for the five-week August recess on August 1 and are out of session until September 9. A spokesperson for Schumer did not respond immediately to a question from The Hill about if Democrats will try to clear a bill by unanimous consent during pro forma sessions this week. The request would likely be blocked by a GOP senator.

Senator Chris Murphy (Connecticut) echoed Schumer’s demand in a tweet on Monday morning—saying Trump asking McConnell to bring up a bill would ensure its passage.

“Background checks has already passed the House—w Republican votes. If Trump asked McConnell to support it, it would pass in a week. FYI – he won’t do that,” he tweeted.

Research contact: @thehill

Despite chilling warnings from Mueller, GOP blocks election security bills

July 26, 2019

America is under attack. That was the biggest takeaway from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s testimony on Capitol Hill on July 24—not that President Donald Trump may have obstructed justice, although that’s what most people continue to argue about, CNN reported this week.

“In your investigation,” Representative Will Hurd (R-Texas) of the House Intelligence Committee asked Mueller, “did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election? Or did you find evidence to suggest that they will try to do this again?”

Mueller responded, with a chilling effect:  “No, it wasn’t a single attempt.” And he was quick to note that the Russians still are working to influence U.S. elections—predicting that their influence will be felt when Americans go to the polls in 2020.

“They’re doing it as we sit here,” Mueller testified. “And they expect to do it during the next campaign.”

He then warned that America’s intelligence agencies must find a way to coordinate better in order to assure secure elections going forward.

In his report, the former special counsel disclosed that Russian hackers had compromised local election systems of two Florida counties in 2016—a development later confirmed by Florida’s Republican  Governor Ron DeSantis, although he said no votes were changed. And while Mueller did not bring conspiracy charges, it’s been well documented that Russians in 2016 were doing their best to help Trump, not Clinton, win.

“Did your investigation find that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from one of the candidates winning?” Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-California) of the Judiciary Committee entreated him.

“It did,” Mueller replied.

Lofgren then asked for specificity: “Which one?”

“Well,” Mueller said, “it would be Trump.”

Yet despite Mueller’s testimony, his report, and alarming statements from elsewhere in Washington, public urgency on addressing Russian interference for the 2020 election appears lacking.

Indeed, according to a report by The Hill, Senate Republicans blocked two election security bills and a cybersecurity measure on Wednesday, July 24,  in the wake of former special counsel Robert Mueller warning about meddling attempts during his public testimony before congressional lawmakers.  

Democrats tried to get consent to pass two bills that would require campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission about foreign offers of assistance, as well as a bill to let the Senate Sergeant at Arms offer voluntary cyber assistance for personal devices and accounts of senators and staff.

But Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi) blocked each of the bills. She didn’t give reason for her objections, or say if she was objecting on behalf of herself or the Senate GOP caucus. A spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

Under Senate rules, any one senator can ask for consent to pass a bill, but any one senator is able to object.

What’s more,  election interference bills face an uphill climb in the Senate, where Republicans aren’t expected to move legislation through the Rules Committee, the panel with primary jurisdiction, and have warned about attempts to “federalize” elections. 

Democrats cited Mueller as they tried to get consent on Wednesday evening to pass their bills.

Mr. Mueller’s testimony should serve as a warning to every member of this body about what could happen in 2020, literally in our next elections,” said Senator Mark Warner (D-Virgina), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. 

He added that “unfortunately, in the nearly three years since we uncovered Russia’s attack on our democracy, this body has not held a single vote on stand-alone legislation to protect our elections.” 

Research contact: @thehill

Lindsey Graham blames media for downfall of British ambassador

July 11, 2019

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) “blamed the messenger” on July 10 —the news media—for forcing British Ambassador to the United States Sir Kim Darroch to step down following the leak of his secret cables.

Graham tweeted that the diplomat who infuriated the Trump administration “got a raw deal” from the press, according to a report by The Hill.

The ambassador’s sudden comeuppance—which was covered by U.S. and global media outlets—followed the disclosure of his opinions about the Trump administration, made in a report to the British government.

In that report, which was leaked to the UK’s Mail on Sunday newspaper, the British ambassador called Trump “inept,” “insecure,” and “incompetent”—and noted that the White House is currently “uniquely dysfunctional.”

The ambassador also noted that he did not have much hope for the rest of the U.S. president’s term in office. “We don’t really believe the administration is going to become substantially more normal, less dysfunctional, less unpredictable, less faction riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.”

After the comments became public, Trump immediately clapped back—escalating the situation in a July 8 tweet: “I do not know the Ambassador, but he is not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him.”

Early on July 9, the president tweeted again, “The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy….I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.”

As the situation continued to deteriorate, the ambassador made his decision.

In his letter of resignation, issued on Wednesday morning, Darroch said, “Since the leak of official documents from this Embassy, there has been a great deal of speculation surrounding my position and the duration of my remaining term as ambassador. I want to put an end to that speculation. The current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like.”

Therefore, he remarked, “Although my posting is not due to end until the end of this year, I believe in the current circumstances the responsible course is to allow the appointment of a new ambassador.”

Although Graham pointed a finger at the press to protect the president after the resignation became public, it is clear that the “current circumstances” were caused by Darroch and Trump—and not the members of the press who reported on it.

The ambassador will stay on until a replacement is identified.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump on accusation of sexual assault: E. Jean Carroll is ‘totally lying’ and ‘not my type’

June 26, 2019

Talking to anchor Billy Bush on ‘Access Hollywood” in a decade-old videotape released by his political opponents in 2016, then-Presidential candidate Donald Trump said,” You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women]—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything….Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

And interestingly enough—faced with current accusations of sexual assault—the president does not bother to deny that he is capable of such an act.

Instead, as The Hill reported after an exclusive interview with the president, Trump said on June 24 that New York-based writer E. Jean Carroll was “totally lying” when she accused him of raping her more than two decades ago, adding that she is “not my type.”

“I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?” Trump told the Hill newspaper in an interview.

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday night, Carroll responded: “I love that I’m not his type. Don’t you love that you’re not his type?”

She pointed out that Trump has denied all the accusations from women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. “He denies, he turns it around, he threatens and he attacks,” Carroll said.

Carroll’s account of the alleged incident was detailed in an excerpt of her forthcoming book published June 21 in New York Magazine. The excerpt included a photo that identified Carroll, Trump, his then-wife, Ivana Trump, and Carroll’s then-husband, John Johnson, attending the same party around 1987.

Trump dismissed the photo on June 22, telling reporters, “Standing with my coat on in a line—give me a break—with my back to the camera. I have no idea who she is.”

Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, alleged in her book that she ran into Trump at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City during fall 1995 or spring 1996. The two recognized each other and Trump asked her for advice on purchasing a gift for a woman, Carroll told The Hill.

After she suggested buying a handbag or a hat, Carroll said that Trump turned his attention to lingerie. The two joked that the other should try the clothing on before they eventually made their way to the dressing room, she said in her account.

Once inside, Trump allegedly lunged at her, pushed her against a wall and kissed her before pulling down her tights and raping her. Carroll wrote that she fought Trump off and then ran out of the dressing room. She said the alleged incident lasted no more than three minutes.

Explaining why she didn’t come forward until now, Carroll wrote about the retribution and dismissal she expected to receive and called herself “a coward.”

Carroll denied that politics played any role in her decision to speak out. “I’m barely political. I can’t name you the candidates who are running right now,” she told CNN. “I’m not organized . . . I’m just fed up.”

President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: the complete list

She plans to continue speaking out about the alleged assault by Trump, she told The Hill. “We have to hold him accountable — not only him but a lot of guys,” she said.

Research contact: @thehill

Pelosi meets with caucus to discuss strategies on Trump and impeachment

May 22, 2019

Following former White House counsel Don McGahn’s failure to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on May 21, Congressional Democratic leaders said they had worn out their patience—and that President Donald Trump had exhausted his options for stonewalling legislators.

Outraged over White House obstruction of their investigative efforts, House Democrats began urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) to address the looming Constitutional crisis by launching impeachment proceedings immediately.

“We are confronting what might be the largest, broadest cover-up in American history,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters. If a House inquiry “leads to other avenues, including impeachment,” the Maryland Democrat said, “so be it,” according to a report by Stars and Stripes.

Representatives Joaquin Castro of Texas and Diana DeGette of Colorado added their voices to the chorus. “It’s time for Congress to open an impeachment inquiry. There is political risk in doing so, but there’s a greater risk to our country in doing nothing,” Castro said on Twitter. “This is a fight for our democracy.”

Indeed, according to a report by The Hill, all told, at least 25 Democrats are now on record supporting the start of proceedings to oust Trump. That list includes several committee chairs and members of the Speaker’s own leadership team.

While Pelosi had hoped for a slower, more orderly process, she recognizes that starting an inquiry may be the only way for House Democrats to obtain the documentation and testimony on Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and obstruction of justice by the administration.

In a sign that she may be reaching her tipping point, Pelosi invited some members of the House Democratic Caucus to a meeting on Wednesday, May 22, to assess strategy, Stars and Stripes reported.

“This isn’t about politics, it’s not about passion, it’s not about prejudice,” she said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday. “It’s about patriotism and it’s about the presentation of the facts, so that the American people can see why we’re going down a certain path.”

Research contact: @starsandstripes