Committee chairman seeks six years of personal returns and some business returns, calling for ‘accountability’
That’s it for me tonight! Here’s what happened Wednesday evening in politics:
The President’s son-in-law has been identified as the “Senior White House Official” who appeared in reports to the House Oversight Committee, the Washington Post reports. The documents were released this week after whistleblower Tricia Newbold shared concerns with the committee, over Trump overriding career intelligence officers to grant clearances despite “significant disqualifying factors”.
Kushner was flagged for significant issues raised during his background investigation, including his potential to be swayed by foreign influence, his personal conduct, and business conflicts of interest.
The new details about the internal debate over Kushner’s clearance revives questions about the severity of the issues flagged in his background investigation and Kushner’s access to government secrets.
Last year, President Trump directed his then-chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to give Kushner a top-secret security clearance, despite concerns expressed by career intelligence officers”.
On Twitter it is being called the “empty chair” hearing. Despite no reported scheduling conflicts and with controversy mounting over a yet-to-be explained attempt to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross declined to attend both invitations from the House and the Senate to appear.
For the second day in a row, his seat sat empty, as the appropriations subcommittee declined to admit officials sent by the Department in Ross’s stead.
Some Democrats said they had planned to grill Ross on the citizenship question, as well as his financial disclosures.
‘His absence disrespects this committee and the appropriations process as a whole,’ said Rep. Nita Lowey, chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee. Rep. Grace Meng agreed, calling Ross’s refusal to testify ‘an abandonment of his responsibilities’ as the Commerce secretary. ‘It is an insult and an attack on transparency and trust,’ the New York Democrat added”.
Empty chair at empty table… https://t.co/m8hYNHe8Gw
Officials working for the special counsel have expressed concerns over how Attorney General William Barr classified the findings in the Mueller report, the New York Times is reporting.
In his summary, the anonymous investigators say, Barr mischaracterized the results of their investigation. They believe it boded worse for the president than portrayed.
At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public”.
Democratic senators have pressed Stephen Moore for detailed information on his finances over the past decade, after the Guardian revealed he owed $75,000 in federal taxes and was held in contempt of court over unpaid debts.
Moore, the economics commentator chosen by Donald Trump for a seat on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, was warned in a letter that he may need to provide a full tax return to senators preparing to consider his nomination.
Even though House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal gave the IRS until April 10 to comply with his request for Trump’s tax returns, the president is telling reporters he isn’t concerned.
Trump, per WH pool, says he’s
“not inclined” to adhere to the new demand by House Ways and Means that he release six years of tax returns.
We are well aware that the President is not inclined to be transparent, but this is not up to him.
Federal law is clear that our Chairman has the legal authority to request and receive these returns and the Administration has no legal basis to refuse to comply with this request. https://t.co/gW4GOQfmUp
Amidst calls from Congress for an investigation into the security breach at the President’s Palm Beach estate, Trump has responded telling reporters that it was “a fluke” and used it as an opportunity to commended the Mar-a-Lago front desk worker.
President Trump calls security breach at Mar-a-Lago “a fluke.”
“No, I’m not concerned at all, we have very good control,” Trump said. “The person sitting at the front desk did a very good job.”
On Cindy Yang, who was selling access to Trump and his club: “Who is that?”
Nabil Erian, a former Marine and government counterintelligence officer, said guarding Mar-a-Lago is a ‘nightmare’. That’s because unlike previous presidential vacation homes like Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s ranches or George H.W. Bush’s seaside vacation home in Maine, Mar-a-Lago is open to members who pay $14,000 annual dues after a $100,000 or $200,000 initiation fee. They expect access to the facility and want to host their equally affluent guests — and they are used to getting their way”.
House Democrats have formally demanded Donald Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service, marking a major bid to obtain information about the president’s finances and business dealings.
Richard Neal, the chairman of the House ways and means committee, issued the request on Wednesday evening, stating: “It is critical to ensure the accountability of our government and elected officials.”
Republicans used the politically controversial “nuclear option” today — changing the Senate rules with a majority vote —fast-tracking confirmation of Trump’s nominees by bypassing debate from minority opposition.
This vote today was a pretty big deal. Trump will probably get a lot more judges as a result of the sped up confirmations. Maybe dozens. There may not be many vacancies for Democrats at the District level, and McConnell already filled almost all the Circuit Courts.
McConnell trashed Democrats’ ‘systematic obstruction’ as he stumped for his effort on the Senate floor. His move is particularly consequential in divided government when much of the Senate’s time is now spent confirming executive nominees and lifetime judicial appointments. Under the change, debate time on District Court nominees and subcabinet executive nominees is slashed from 30 hours to 2 hours, a shift that will allow Republicans to fill dozens more vacancies over the coming months”.
Today the @senatemajldr changed the rules for partisan gain and chipped away yet again at our institutions. We must rise above this and preserve the independence of our judiciary. pic.twitter.com/LOp8hxokho
Gabrielle Canon here, taking over for Erin Durkin.
House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings told reporters today, that Mazars USA, a tax accounting firm that has over 10 years of Trump’s financial documents has agreed to turn them over to the committee if they receive a subpoena, Politico reports.
Per the letter Mazars sent Oversight, they weren’t exactly asking for a subpoena but did lay out several laws & rules that barred them from turning over Trump’s financial info UNLESS they get one
A group of CEOs warned Donald Trump that shutting the US-Mexico border would do serious damage to the economy.
“Shutting down the U.S-Mexico border or slowing cross-border trade would severely damage the operations of American businesses and hurt American workers,” the Business Roundtable wrote in a letter, the Hill reports. “Closing the border would back up thousands of trucks, impact billions of dollars of goods each day, cripple supply chains and stall U.S. manufacturing and business activity.”
Joe Biden, when he was a senator in 1977, was the only member of the Judiciary Committee to vote against the first black head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, and a black nominee for solicitor general, the Huffington Post reports.
Biden was adamantly opposed to busing to desegregate schools, and wanted two two nominees to firmly oppose a court-ordered integration plan in Wilmington, Delaware, which they declined to do.
The House Intelligence Committee has asked one of the top contractors for Donals Trump’s inauguration to provide it with documents about the event, the New York Times reports.
The committee requested documents and an interview from Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a close friend of First Lady Melania Trump who planned parties around the inauguration.
It’s not clear why the intelligence committee has gotten involved, but in the past it has said it would investigate any “financial or other leverage” that “foreign actors” might have over Mr. Trump and his administration. @maggieNYT @benprotess https://t.co/ciNX9b0znR
Rep. Robert Aderholt will introduce legislation this week to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco nationwide form 18 to 21.
“It’s these enterprising 18-year-olds that are selling to minors, and increasing the age to 21 will make it harder for this type of activity,” the Alabama Republican said Wednesday, the Hill reported.
Senate Republicans used a tactic called the “nuclear option” and voted to change the body’s rules Wednesday to make it easier to confirm Donald Trump’s nominees.
Senators voted 51-48 to reduce the amount of debate required to two hours for executive branch nominees below the Cabinet level, from thirty hours currently. The vote was 51-48, according to the Hill.
Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren today introduced legislation that would make it easier to criminally prosecute and jail corporate executives.
The Corporate Executive Accountability Act would allow the criminal prosecution of an executive found to be negligent while leading a company with more than $1 billion in annual revenue, if that company is found guilty of a crime or found liable for a civil violation that affects the health, safety, or finances of at least 1% of the population of a state.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, leaving a meeting with Donald Trump at the White House, said the “option remains on the table” to close the US-Mexico border, Newsday reports.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, departs WH meeting with Trump, said the “option remains on the table” to close US/Mexico border as Trump has threatened. Ducey says: “Border security comes first.” pic.twitter.com/CLfdTqdzSW
The House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on the Justice Department to drop its push to get Obamacare overturned in the courts.
The resolution passed by a vote of 240 to 186, with eight Republicans joining Democrats in voting for it, according to the Washington Post.
Senate Democrats are asking the FBI to investigate potential security vulnerabilities at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida after the arrest of a woman carrying two Chinese passports and a device containing computer malware. From the Associated Press:
Chuck Schumer of New York and other Democrats wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Wednesday. They said the incident, in their words, “raises very serious questions regarding security vulnerabilities at Mar-a-Lago, which foreign intelligence services have reportedly targeted.” The woman, Yujing Zhang, briefly gained access to the club after lying about why she was there.
The Democrats previously asked Wray to investigate a Trump campaign donor from Florida who is the founder and onetime owner of a spa that has been implicated in an alleged human-trafficking ring. They said the FBI hasn’t responded.
Former President Barack Obama congratulated Lori Lightfoot on her victory as Chicago mayor. “Chicago’s best days are still ahead,” he said.
Great to see Chicago’s historic mayoral race between two highly qualified candidates. Congrats to our next mayor, Lori Lightfoot—and Toni Preckwinkle campaigned hard and did us proud. I know that with our city’s heart and Lori’s leadership, Chicago’s best days are still ahead.
Former Vice President Joe Biden says he will “be more mindful about respecting personal space” in the future.
Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it. pic.twitter.com/Ya2mf5ODts
Senator Lindsey Graham defended former Vice President Joe Biden amid accusations of inappropriate touching.
The South Carolina Republican said Biden is a a “glad-handing politician” who meant no harm, according to the Huffington Post.
The Secret Service will brief leaders of the House Oversight Committee Thursday on the recent security breach at Mar-a-Lago, chairman Elijah Cummings tells the Washington Post.
.@RepCummings says the Secret Service will brief the leaders of the House Oversight Committee on Thursday morning about the security breach in Mar-a-Lago
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has refused a request to testify before a House committee at a hearing on his department’s budget.
Mr. Secretary, government funding IS the business of the Appropriations Committee. pic.twitter.com/OACWJxdE5w
White House adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump is planning a trip to Africa to promote a global women’s initiative she’s leading. From the Associated Press:
President Donald Trump’s daughter will visit Ethiopia and Ivory Coast over four days this month. The White House says her schedule includes a women’s economic empowerment summit in Ivory Coast, as well as site visits and meetings with political leaders, executives and female entrepreneurs in both countries.
Joining her on the trip will be Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Beto O’Rourke raised $9.4 million for his presidential bid in the first three months of the year.
NEW: .@BetoORourke has raised $9.4 million from 218,000 contributions since launching his campaign 2.5 weeks ago. His campaign says 98% are donations under $200 and 99% came from online fundraising and that a “majority” of donors did not give to his senate race in 2018
Lots of dramatic language in an email sent to Department of Homeland Security staffers last night by Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen looking for volunteers to go to the southern border, obtained by BuzzFeed.
“If you haven’t already done so, please consider volunteering to support our frontline agencies — Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE — during this critical time,’ the email continues.
Two more women have said former Vice President Joe Biden touched them in a way that made them feel uncomfortable.
From the New York Times in a story published Tuesday night:
Caitlyn Caruso, a former college student and sexual assault survivor, said Mr. Biden rested his hand on her thigh — even as she squirmed in her seat to show her discomfort — and hugged her “just a little bit too long” at an event on sexual assault at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She was 19.
Ms. Caruso, now 22, said she chalked up the encounter at the time to how men act, and did not say anything publicly. But she said it was particularly uncomfortable because she had just shared her own story of sexual assault and had expected Mr. Biden — an architect of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act — to understand the importance of physical boundaries.
Tech billionaire Mark Cuban calls current US immigration policy “really, really, really stupid.”
“Right now, we’re being really, really, really stupid by taking really, really, really educated people who could do a lot for our really, really important economy and sending them home,” he said at Dallas Startup Week, the Dallas Morning News reports.
Republican state lawmakers in Georgia are proposing to create a journalism “ethics board,” and force news organizations to give copies of photographs and audio and video recordings to subjects who request them, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.
Media outlets could be fined for not turning over the documents.
The White House has not explained why Donald Trump has falsely and repeatedly claimed his father was born in Germany.
President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum on Wednesday to rein in what the administration calls the “Wild West” of online trafficking in counterfeit goods. From the Associated Press:
The memorandum is aimed at stopping the sale of counterfeit products on sites like Amazon, Ebay and China’s e-commerce leader, Alibaba.
“This president has decided that it’s time to clean up this Wild West of counterfeiting and trafficking,” said Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council.
Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax released the results of polygraph tests Wednesday which he says support his denials of sexual assault allegations by two women.
“I knew that the allegations made against me were false from the moment I first heard them,” he said, according to Politico. “That is why I denied them.”
Republican New York Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis has raised $300,000 to run for Congress against Rep. Max Rose, who flipped the seat to Democratic control last year, her campaign said.
Several leading Republicans have donated to the campaign, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s Leadership PAC contributed the maximum $10,000.
Thank you to everyone who contributed during the first 2 months since I announced my intention to run for Congress! With your help, I’m reporting an impressive $300k in my first filing. This is just the beginning, so please continue to share my website! https://t.co/IQWQsvnP22
The Commission on Presidential Debates identified six cities that have applied to host 2020 presidential debates.
The commission will pick spots from among the following contenders:
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has a book coming in the fall, per the Washington Post.
Inbos: Justice Gorsuch publishing a book in the fall: A republic, If You Can Keep It. Personal stories and 8 original essays pic.twitter.com/runtuXHn26
President Donald Trump’s Senate GOP allies, frustrated by delays in confirming dozens of lower-profile nominees, are forcing through a rules change to cut back debate on most of his picks. The Associated Press reports:
The GOP plan is to indefinitely restore rules in place during the first few years of President Barack Obama’s second term. Those rules have lapsed, allowing any senator to force 30 hours of debate on a nominee.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who’s no stranger to obstructionist tactics himself, says the situation has gotten out of hand, with the Senate taking 128 votes to end debate on Trump’s nominees during his first two years in office, far more than under other presidents.
The New York Post has quite the front page today on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s warning to Joe Biden to keep his hands to himself.
New York Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition of other states have sued the Trump administration over its move to weaken nutritional standards for school meals.
California, Illinois, New Mexico, Vermont and Washington DC have joined New York in the suit.
New York City voters are overwhelmingly uninterested in seeing Mayor Bill de Blasio run for President, a new poll finds.
They say he shouldn’t run by a 76% to 18% margin in the new Quinnipiac Poll.
“De Blasio should not run for president, New York City voters say 76 – 18 percent. Every listed party,
gender, racial, borough and age group agrees that the mayor should not hit the campaign trail.” — new @QuinnipiacPoll today
Democratic presidential contender Julian Castro brought up reparations in his speech to the National Action Network, saying, “Our country will never truly heal until we address the original sin of slavery,” according to a Newsday reporter.
Castro also pitched policies universal pre-kindergarten and legalizing marijuana, per WNYC.
.@JulianCastro is first of 3 prez candidates speaking so far at NAN to bring up reparations w/o being asked about it. “Our country will never truly heal until we address the original sin of slavery,” he says. “You got my vote,” woman in back shouts.
“Smartest, healthiest, most prosperous nation on earth,” @JulianCastro says repeating the line for emphasis before running the policies that support that description: universal pre-k, guaranteed healthcare, criminal justice reform including legalizing marijuana
Former Attorney General Eric Holder is pushing Democratic presidential candidates to get more involved in local legislative and court elections, and is crafting a pledge for them to promise to do so, the Washington Post reports.
NEWS: Eric Holder tells me that he wants 2020 Dems to get more involved in state legislative and court elections. Crafting a pledge for them about their commitment, reaching out to campaigns.
Fox News will be hosting a town hall with Sen. Bernie Sanders later this month, according to TVNewser.
Inbox: “Fox News Channel will present a town hall with @BernieSanders on Monday, April 15th. Co-anchored by Special Report’s @BretBaier and The Story’s @marthamaccallum, the town hall will focus on the economy and jobs.”
House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, speaking on MSNBC Wednesday morning, said it’s “inevitable” that special counsel Robert Mueller will be called to testify before Congress.
He said the American people “have every right” to see the Mueller report. “Indeed I think they have a need to see it, and we’re going to have this fight if we have to.”
Andrew Yang, in his NAN remarks, said he would pardon everyone locked up for marijuana offenses and “high five them on their way out of jail,” according to the Daily Beast.
Yang says he would pardon everyone in jail on marijuana offenses and release them on April 20, 2021 and “high-five them on their way out of jail.”
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is speaking to the National Action Network convention.
Some highlights via Newsday:
“While I had words working against me, you have something much more cruel, you had numbers working against you,” @AndrewYang says, of incarceration, joblessness rates.
Separate from reparations, @AndrewYang wants to put $1,000 a month in the hands of every adult
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan announced he is running for an open New Mexico Senate seat.
Lujan, a Democrat, is hoping to succeed fellow Democrat Sen. Tom Udall, who recently said he would not run for re-election in 2020.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, chair of the Judiciary Committee, says he will move in “very short order” to subpoena the Mueller reports if the Justice Department doesn’t hand it over in full, according to CNN.
“We’re going to work with the AG for a short period of time …if that doesn’t work out, in very short order, we’re going to issue subpoenas” –@RepJerryNadler Chmn of House Judiciary
Beto O’Rourke, speaking at the National Action Network, said he would sign a bill to establish a commission to study reparations for slavery, Newsday reports.
Would you bring back consent decrees to cities and towns where they are needed to oversee police departments that have found to abuse use of force?
Yes, @BetoORourke says.
First applause lines about 10 minutes into the speech, as Beto calls for new voting rights legislation.
A Senate committee approved a bill Wednesday to fine companies that spam Americans with illegal robo-calls, the Hill reports.
The bill would give the federal government the power to slap offenders with fines of up to $10,000 per call. The Senate Commerce Committee voted unanimously to advance it.
The House Judiciary Committee has voted to authorize a subpoena for the Mueller report. The vote was 24-17, along party lines, per CNN.
Committee chairman Jerry Nadler has said he’ll give Attorney General William Barr some time to turn over a full, unredacted version of the report before serving the subpoena. He says he’s prepared to go to court if the Justice Department does not comply.
Donald Trump is now back to threatening to close the US-Mexico border, this time if Congress does not act on immigration.
Congress must get together and immediately eliminate the loopholes at the Border! If no action, Border, or large sections of Border, will close. This is a National Emergency!
The House of Representatives is expected to pass a resolution Wednesday calling on the Justice Department to halt its effort to get Obamacare overturned in the courts, the Washington Post reports.
The resolution calls the move “an unacceptable assault” on Americans’ health care. It is non-binding.
Here’s Rep. Jerry Nadler’s opening statement at the House Judiciary Committee hearing on subpoenas for the Mueller report.
Several Democratic presidential candidates are speaking today at Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention.
Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Yang, and Julian Castro are scheduled to speak today.
Beto O’Rourke is speaking soon at the @NationalAction conference, and NYC comptroller Scott Stringer is goofing on him: “I was going to stand on a table, but there’s someone else who does that.”
Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, called it “reckless” and “irresponsible” to subpoena the Mueller report, per the Washington Post.
.@RepDougCollins opens accusing Dems of just trying to dig up dirt on Trump: “This is reckless its irresponsible and disingenuous,” he says of the Mueller report subpoena.
The House Judiciary Committee is currently meeting to discuss a resolution that would authorize subpoenas for special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report.
The committee is expected to authorize subpoenas for the report and to five individuals, the Wall Street Journal reports: former White House counsel Don McGahn, former White House communications director Hope Hicks, former White House aide Steve Bannon, former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, and Ann Donaldson, former chief of staff to the White House counsel.
Three Democratic senators will introduce legislation Wednesday to allow young immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to work jobs on Capitol Hill, CNN reports.
The DACA program gives the immigrants, who were brought to the country illegally as children, authorization to work legally in the United States. But a little known law says only US citizens and legal permanent residents can get jobs and paid internships in Congress, according to CNN. Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada and Dick Durbin of Illinois will introduce legislation that would allow DACA recipients, often called Dreamers, to get paid.
Donald Trump says he was “was never planning a vote prior to the 2020 Election” on a healthcare plan to replace Obamacare.
Trump’s administration has asked the courts to strike down the Affordable Care Act. He first claimed that Republicans would come up with a great plan to replace it, but later acknowledged no such plan exists and no effort will be made to get one through Congress until after the 2020 election.
I was never planning a vote prior to the 2020 Election on the wonderful HealthCare package that some very talented people are now developing for me & the Republican Party. It will be on full display during the Election as a much better & less expensive alternative to ObamaCare…
A Republican group is launching an ad campaign against Rep. Ilhan Omar, CNN reports.
American Action Network, a conservative advocacy group, will spend six figures on ads going after the Minnesota Democrat over her controversial statements about Israel, an official told the network. The ads charge that Omar “keeps hurling anti-Semitic slurs” and say House Democrats should “stand up to hate” and remove her from the Foreign Affairs Committee.
At least 14 major donors to Donald Trump’s inaugural committee got nominations to be US ambassadors, NBC News reports.
None have diplomatic experience. The nominee for ambassador to the Bahamas, Doug Manchester – who gave $1 million to the inaugural – was even unaware the island nation he was picked for is an independent country. He incorrectly told Congress during his confirmation hearing that it was a US protectorate, which has never been the case. The Bahamas was formerly a British possession, but has been independent since 1972. Manchester’s nomination has been stalled for two years, according to NBC.
Catching up on some election results from last night: Lori Lightfoot has been elected mayor of Chicago. She’s the first black woman to hold the job, and the first openly gay person. Her election is also remarkable because she is a political outsider who has never held elected office.
Meanwhile, a conservative candidate beat the favored liberal in crucial state supreme court election in Wisconsin, which is being seen as an ominous sign by Democrats there, Talking Points Memo reports.
As Donald Trump pushes anti-immigration policies on multiple fronts, his son in law Jared Kushner has been quietly working on a plan to increase legal immigration to the United States, Politico reports.
Kushner, a senior adviser at the White House, has been working for months on the proposal, which would increase permitted numbers of both high-skilled and low-skilled workers.