Posts tagged with "The Hill"

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

Kudlow gets castigated by president after telling truth about tariffs

May 16, 2019

Truth-teller Larry Kudlow is in the administration doghouse this week. Donald Trump reportedly castigated his chief economic adviser after Kudlow contradicted the president publicly on Fox News Sunday—saying everyday Americans would be hurt by tariffs the extra $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods that the White House imposed on May 10, The Hill said.

An unidentified White House official told The Washington Post that the president and Kudlow spoke after the aide’s talk show appearance.

“Trump called Larry, and they had it out,” said the official, according to the newspaper, which added that two other sources described the exchange as cordial.

Other sources recounted that Trump repeatedly told Kudlow during the conversation  “not [to] worry about” the consequences of tariffs on U.S. businesses.

Kudlow’s remarks contradicting the president came during an interview with Fox News host Chris Wallace, who pressed him about the impact of tariffs.

“In fact, both sides will pay in these things, and of course it depends,” Kudlow told Wallace.

“The Chinese will suffer [gross domestic product] losses and so forth with respect to a diminishing export market and goods that they may need,” Kudlow added.

Trump, however, has publicly defended his trade strategy, writing on Twitter that there is “no reason” U.S. consumers should feel the effect of tariffs.

Their [sic] is no reason for the U.S. Consumer to pay the Tariffs, which take effect on China today,” he said on Twitter. “This has been proven recently when only 4 points were paid by the U.S., 21 points by China because China subsidizes product to such a large degree. Also, the Tariffs can be completely avoided if you [buy] from a non-Tariffed Country, or you buy the product inside the USA (the best idea).”

Research contact: @thehill

California Senate passes measure to keep Trump off 2020 ballot unless he releases tax returns

May 6, 2019

The California State Senate has passed a bill  that would require candidates appearing on the presidential primary ballot—including President Donald Trump, who is gearing up to run in 2020—to release five years’ worth of income tax returns.

The Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act (SB-27) was approved in a 27-10 vote in the State Senate, The Hill reports. The act would require California’s Secretary of State, within five days of receiving the returns, to make redacted versions of the returns available to the public on his or her website.

According to The Hill, the bill represents a response to the president’s continuing refusal to release his tax returns as presidential candidates traditionally have done, claiming he is under audit.

“We believe that President Trump, if he truly doesn’t have anything to hide, should step up and release his tax returns,” said State Senator Mike McGuire (D), who co-authored the bill. 

All ten Republicans in the State Senate voted against the bill’s passage.

“I get that playing the resistance card may be good politics for the majority party, but I would submit that it’s bad policy for Californians,” Senator Brian Jones (R) told the Associated Press. 

Other presidential candidates would also be subject to the bill, but several 2020 Democrats already have released their tax returns.

Similar bills are making their way through the Washington State and New Jersey State legislatures, The Hill said.

Research contact: @thehill

Speaker Pelosi says AG Barr perjured himself before Congress—and reprisals are required

May 3, 2019

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is outraged over the Attorney General’s obfuscations—in his written summary of the Mueller report; in his characterization of his communications with the special counsel; and in his congressional testimony.

Pelosi said on Thursday, May 2 that AG William Barr  had committed a crime by lying to lawmakers during his testimony on Capitol Hill, The Hill reported.

“What is deadly serious about it is the attorney general of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States. That’s a crime,” Pelosi said during a press conference in the Capitol.

The remarks came as Democrats on Capitol Hill are increasingly lashing out at Barr for his handling of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s election interference.

Some lawmakers are pressing for Barr to resign; others have floated the idea of impeachment; and still others—chief among them, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler (D-New York)—are weighing whether to bring contempt of Congress charges against AG, who refused an invitation to testify before the House panel and its counsels on Thursday.

Pelosi, who has been cautious to date about escalating the standoff between her caucus and the GOP, declined to say how—or if—Democrats would challenge Barr’s actions, deferring those decisions to the committee heads. But she strongly suggested some response is forthcoming.

Pelosi cited a recent statement from Representative Nadler, which warned that “Barr’s moment of accountability will come soon enough.”

“I think that probably applies,” Pelosi said. Asked if jail time is appropriate for Barr, she again punted to the committees.

“There’s a process that’s involved here,” she said, according to The Hill. “The committees will act upon how we will proceed.”

Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, May 1, Barr was grilled by panel Democrats, who accused him of misrepresenting the Mueller team’s findings for the political purpose of protecting President Donald Trump, the news outlet said.

The Democratic rebukes were fueled by revelations that Mueller had written to Barr on March 24 and called him directly on March 25, expressing concerns over the nature of the attorney general’s four-page summary of Mueller’s report.

In that letter, which became public just hours before Wednesday’s Senate hearing, Mueller said ““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.”

Barr, after receiving the letter, testified to Congress that he was ‘”not aware”of any reservations from Mueller or his team regarding the summary letter.

According to the Hill, Pelosi said she “lost sleep” Wednesday night watching replays of Barr’s testimony.

“How sad it is for us to see the top law enforcement officer in our country misrepresenting—withholding—the truth from the Congress of the United States,” she said.

Asked directly whether Barr committed a crime, Pelosi didn’t hesitate.

“He lied to Congress; he lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime,” Pelosi said.

“Nobody is above the law; not the president of the United States, and not the attorney general.”

Research contact: @thehill

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

Dems demand Trump tax returns from IRS—forcing Mnuchin to choose between fealty and duty

April 8, 2019

Although President Donald Trump claims that nobody’s interested in his tax returns—and that they are under audit anyway, so they cannot be released—House Democrats are through taking “no” for an answer—and last week, they set the stage for a major face-off with both the White House and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) formally requested President Trump’s personal and business tax returns on April 3, setting up what will likely become a protracted and high-profile legal battle between the administration and Congressional Democrats, The Hill reported.

Specifically, in a letter to the IRS, Neal requested Trump’s personal income taxes from 2013 to 2018, as well as the tax returns associated with eight of his business entities, and cited his oversight role to justify the request.

“Under the Internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws,” Neal wrote in the letter, which was first obtained by CNN. “It is necessary for the committee to determine the scope of any such examination and whether it includes a review of underlying business activities required to be reported on the individual income tax return.”

Mnuchin—a loyal Trump insider—now “will have to balance his loyalty to Trump against a request that many experts say leaves him little wiggle room,” The Hill noted. As head of the department that comprises the IRS, Mnuchin will face pressure from Trump and congressional Republicans to push back on Democrats’ request.

“[The] request tests Mnuchin’s oath of office—whether Mnuchin will faithfully execute the laws of the United States, or whether Mnuchin will bend to the will of the president,” commented Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, who testified before Congress in February about the need to request Trump’s tax returns.

Trump — the first president in decades to not voluntarily disclose any of his returns—quickly indicated his disdain for the request. “Until such time as I’m not under audit I would not be inclined to do that,” he said  last Wednesday.

When asked on April 4 if he would direct the IRS to not disclose his returns, Trump said, “They’ll speak to my lawyers and they’ll speak to the attorney general.” 

As is to be expected, Republicans leaders are critical of the request. The top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), argued in a letter to Mnuchin on April 3 that the request is “an abuse of the tax-writing committees’ statutory authority,” and he said it weakens Americans’ right to have their personal information kept private, The Hill reported.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the next day that courts have ruled that congressional requests for information need to have legitimate legislative purposes, and that he believes the Democrats have fallen short on that front.

“They don’t have a purpose,” he said, according to The Hill. “All they have are a lot of excuses.”

Mnuchin said at a Ways and Means Committee hearing last month that the Treasury Department would “follow the law and we will protect the president as we would protect any individual taxpayer under their rights.”

The Treasury Department has not commented on the tax returns request since it has been issued.

“Secretary Mnuchin should have no involvement in responding to Chairman Neal’s request for President Trump’s tax returns,” Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said in a statement on April 4, adding, “Tax returns are held at the IRS and it is Commissioner [Charles] Rettig’s job to fulfill the agency’s legal obligations. If Secretary Mnuchin inserts himself that would be blatant political interference.”

Both Mnuchin and Rettig are scheduled to testify at congressional hearings this coming week, and lawmakers are likely to press them about their response to Democrats’ tax-return request. Democrats and supporters of the request say there’s no good reason for the administration to not comply.

Democrats also took issue with Trump’s comments about not providing his returns while under audit, arguing that the statute under which they requested the tax returns doesn’t leave the matter up to him.

“With all due respect to the president, we did not ask him for the tax returns, we asked the commissioner of the IRS,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), a Ways and Means Committee member, told The Hill on Thursday.

Republican strategists predict that Mnuchin will get involved and that it will be an easy decision for him to reject Democrats’ request.

“You’ve never seen a Cabinet secretary at that level not fight for the administration,” GOP strategist Ford O’Connell told The Hill. He predicted that Mnuchin is likely to let the issue end up in the courts.

Research contact: @thehill

Dems deride Barr’s obstruction of justice conclusion; demand full Mueller report

March 26, 2019

When President Donald Trump’s personally selected and nominated attorney general, William Barr, quickly decided this past weekend that there had been no obstruction of justice during the Russia investigation, Democrats had their doubts.

After all, before his nomination, Barr had deeply damaged his credibility by sending an unsolicited memo to the Justice Department and the White House on June 8 of last year, arguing that Special Counsel Robert Muellershould not be permitted to demand that the President submit to interrogation about alleged obstruction.”

Barr noted at that time, “I know you will agree that, if a DOJ investigation is going to take down a democratically elected President, it is imperative to the health of our system and to our national cohesion that any claim of wrongdoing is solidly based on evidence of a real crime—not a debatable one. It is time to travel well-worn paths; not to veer into novel, unsettled or contested areas of the law; and not to indulge the fancies by overly zealous prosecutors.”

Did Robert Mueller get that message before he decided to demur? And who can blame Democrats for wondering whether—when Barr said the special counsel had not reached a conclusion on obstruction of justice—he was merely grabbing the opportunity that he had hoped to take advantage of all along?

Indeed, Democrats accused Barr of putting his own finding on Mueller’s report, noting that Mueller himself did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice, even if he did not explicitly state that Trump had committed obstruction, The Hill reported. 

“A sanitized summary from Trump’s handpicked bodyguard is not acceptable,” said Representative Bill Pascrell (D-New Jersey). “Barr has his finger on the scale to protect Trump. The full report should be released immediately.”

From day one, Trump obstructed this investigation and refused to cooperate. Several of his top aides have been convicted in court. If Trump’s AG won’t hold him accountable for his crimes, it’s up to Congress to investigate,” Pascrell continued, adding that “the ball is now squarely in our court.”

Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to run against Trump in 2020—including Senators Cory Booker (New Jersey)Kirsten Gillibrand (New York)Kamala Harris (California), and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts)—also called for the full report to be released, The Hill said.

“The American public deserves the full report and findings from the Mueller investigation immediately—not just the in-house summary from a Trump Administration official,” Booker tweeted.

In her call for the full report, Warren cited a House measure earlier this month in which lawmakers unanimously voted for the special counsel’s entire report to be made public.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) said his panel would be calling on Barr to testify, the news outlet reported.

“In light of the very concerning discrepancies and final decision-making at the Justice Department following the Special Counsel report, where Mueller did not exonerate the President, we will be calling Attorney General Barr in to testify before House Judiciary in the near future,” he said.

Trump and the White House seized on Barr’s letter summarizing Mueller’s report as a vindication. “No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” Trump tweeted on March 24 at 4:42 p.m.

Research contact: @the hill

Before entering 2020 race, Biden ruminates over naming Abrams as running mate

March 22, 2019

He’s an elder statesman at a time when Millennials will be a major factor in winning the popular vote. Therefore, advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden, age 76, reportedly are considering adding somebody less “seasoned” to the ticket before he announces his run for the presidency in 2020.

Indeed, Axios reported on Thursday that Biden’s aides are considering pairing him with Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is only age 45 and is a dynamic rising star in the Democratic party.

Although Abrams ultimately lost to Republican Brian Kemp in the 2018 state gubernatorial race—edged out by fewer than 55,000 votes—she won support across America and has maintained a national profile since the midterm elections.

In fact, she was chosen by the party to deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in February.

According to Axios, Biden’s staff currently is calculating the political consequences of such an announcement. Would it reassure the U.S. electorate about the vitality of the candidacy—or would it be perceived as a cynical political ploy? Could it even expose Biden to criticism that he is overlooking his fellow Democratic candidates as possible VPs?

The former vice president’s office declined to comment to Axios.

The Hill reported on March 21 that Biden and Abrams had met earlier in the month, as rumors swirled of both candidates entering the race. However, Abrams also has met with a number of other 2020 Democrats, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, (Massachusetts ), Kamala Harris (California) and Cory Booker (New Jersey).

Based on the same news story, Abrams said earlier this month that under a previous career plan, 2028 had been the earliest she would consider a run for president. She quickly added that a run in 2020 is “definitely on the table.”

Research contact: @axios

Trump calls House Democrats’ anti-bigotry resolution ‘a disgrace’

March 11, 2019

On March 8, the House passed a resolution (H.R. 183), by a vote of 407-23, condemning “anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry,” The Hill reported. Nearly two dozen Republicans voted against the measure.

The measure was brought to the floor after remarks by Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) about the so-called “dual-loyalties” of Israel supporters unleashed a torrent of debate. “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country,” Omar said in late February.

In reaction to the passage of the resolution, President Donald Trump commented, that “… the House vote on an anti-hate resolution shows the Democrats have become an ‘anti-Israel’ and ‘anti-Jewish party,’ the political news site reported.

The president further asserted that, since the resolution did not specifically denounce Omar by name, it “ was “a disgrace.”

According to The Hill, the vote had been delayed earlier in the week as Democrats fought over what should be included in the measure, with additional tweaks— to condemn bigotry against Muslims as well as “Latinos, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the LGBT”—being made as late as the afternoon of March 7.

It also includes language condemning Japanese internment camps in World War II, the century-old Dreyfus affair in France, former President John F. Kennedy being questioned over Catholicism; and the white supremacist events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017

Some Democrats feared that the original resolution would have played into Republican efforts to use Omar to stoke divisions on the left, the political news outlet said.

Trump, himself, has repeatedly faced backlash for his own incendiary comments about white nationalists and Jews. Most notably, the president said in August 2017 there was blame on “both sides” of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, where a demonstrator killed a woman when he rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

“You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people [who] were very fine people on both sides,” Trump said.

White supremacist marchers carried Nazi banners and chanted “Jews will not replace us.”

Research contact: @thehill

Trump lashes out, refusing to reply or comply with Democratic probes

March 6, 2019

President Donald Trump lashed out on March 5, indicating that the White House would not comply with a deluge of document requests sent out this week by the House Judiciary Committee—and last week, by the House Oversight Committee, The Hill reported.

The president accused Democrats in the House of launching the probes to hurt his chances of winning reelection in 2020.

“It’s a disgrace to our country. I’m not surprised that it’s happening. Basically, they’ve started the campaign. So the campaign begins,” Trump told the media at a White House event, adding, “Instead of doing infrastructure, instead of doing healthcare, instead of doing so many things that they should be doing, they want to play games.”

Trump suggested that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, would have done the same. However, Obama did turn over more than 1,000 documents in April 2016 related to a controversial federal gun trafficking investigation.

“They didn’t give one letter. They didn’t do anything,” Trump said, adding, “ They didn’t give one letter of the requests.”

The president’s remarks suggest the White House could invoke executive privilege or take other measures to shield internal documents or discussions from Democratic-led panels investigating Trump’s administration, campaign, and businesses, The Hill reported.

In a letter released earlier on March 5, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone rejected House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings’s (D-Maryland) March 1 request for documents related to security clearances for White House personnel.

Cipollone called Cummings’s demands “unprecedented and extraordinarily intrusive demands” and said the chairman “failed to point to any authority establishing a legitimate legislative purpose” for the request.

In return, Cummings issued the following statement: “The White House appears to be arguing that Congress has no authority to examine decisions by the Executive Branch that impact our national security—even when the President’s former National Security Adviser has pleaded guilty to lying about his contacts with foreign government officials.  There is a key difference between a president who exercises his authority under the Constitution and a president who overrules career experts and his top advisers to benefit his family members and then conceals his actions from the American people.  The White House’s argument defies the Constitutional separation of powers, decades of precedent before this Committee, and just plain common-sense.”

While the White House has yet to formally respond to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s (D-New York) sweeping demands, the letter and Trump’s remark signal the White House could take a similarly adversarial approach.

Trump on March 4 used a more conciliatory tone in his first response to Nadler’s investigation, telling reporters that “I cooperate all the time with everybody.”

But by March 5, The Hill reported, his tone had changed. In a tweet, he accused Nadler and other Democratic chairmen of having “gone stone cold CRAZY” and attempting to “harass” dozens of “innocent people” who have worked in the White House and the Trump Organization with their document requests.

Research contact: @Jordanfabian