Connect with us

Politics

Trump undecided on deal to avert another government shutdown

Published

on

Trump undecided on deal to avert another government shutdown

FILE PHOTO: Workers and U.S border patrol officers stand next to an excavator working in a section of the new wall between El Paso, Texas, in the United States and Ciudad Juarez as seen from the Mexican side of the border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, February 5, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he has yet to decide whether to support an agreement reached by congressional negotiators to avert another partial government shutdown that includes no funds for his promised U.S.-Mexican border wall.

“I have to study it. I’m not happy about it,” Trump told reporters at the White House about the funding deal that would need to be passed by the Democratic-led House and Republican-controlled Senate and signed by him.

He said another partial government shutdown appeared unlikely.

Democratic and Republican negotiators hammered out a deal on Monday night on border security provisions and money to keep several government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department, funded through Sept. 30, the end of the current federal fiscal year. Temporary funding for about a quarter of the government is due to expire on Friday.

Congressional Republicans have shown little appetite for another shutdown after taking heavy criticism over the prior one. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments on the Senate floor touting the tentative agreement reached on Monday night left little doubt that the top Republican in Congress wants Trump to support it.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer was more direct, saying, “I strongly urge the president to sign this.”

The Republican president triggered the 35-day partial government shutdown – the longest in U.S. history – with his December demand for Congress to give him $5.7 billion to help build the border wall, which Democrats oppose.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell; additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and Steve Holland in Washington and Roberta Rampton in El Paso, Texas; writing by Will Dunham; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Politics

Democrats to press star witness of Mueller report to repeat performance in Congress

Published

on

By

Democrats to press star witness of Mueller report to repeat performance in Congress

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald McGahn, the former White House counsel described in the Mueller report as repeatedly standing up to President Donald Trump, could become a star witness again if congressional Democrats get their way in their investigation of whether Trump used his office to obstruct justice.

FILE PHOTO: White House Counsel Don McGahn sits behind U.S. President Donald Trump as the president holds a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S. June 21, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Since the April 18 release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and any ties to Republican Trump’s campaign, Democrats have seen McGahn as someone who could be as important as Mueller himself, according to a source familiar with the matter.

But the Democrats are likely to face Trump’s resistance. The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the White House planned to oppose a subpoena by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee for McGahn to testify.

Mueller’s 448-page partially blacked out report portrayed McGahn as one of the few figures in Trump’s orbit to challenge him when he tried to shut down the investigation that has clouded his more than two years in the White House.

“Mr. McGahn has been touted as a man of integrity and he is a major witness in the Mueller report,” said Sheila Jackson Lee, a member of the judiciary committee.

The White House did not immediately comment on the Washington Post report, which said Trump will claim executive privilege, a legal doctrine allowing the president to withhold information about internal executive branch deliberations from other branches of government.

McGahn’s attorney, William Burck, did not respond to requests for comment.

Democrats are particularly interested in hearing McGahn describe in his own words and in Congress an account in the Mueller report in which McGahn refused Trump’s instructions.

In June 2017 Trump called McGahn to say he should tell Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to remove the special counsel because he had conflicts of interest, the report said.

Trump also failed to get McGahn to dispute media reports that the president tried to fire Mueller, the report said.

“That, in itself, could be an obstruction of justice, as Mr. McGahn would be able to testify – that he was asked to do it and then asked not to tell anyone what he’d been asked to do,” Lee said.

Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who has subpoenaed the U.S. Department of Justice to provide the unredacted Mueller report and underlying evidence, issued a subpoena on Monday for McGahn to provide the committee with documents by May 7 and testify on May 21.

But it was not clear that McGahn would comply, especially if the White House asserts executive privilege. Nor could Democrats predict how much the former White House counsel would be willing to discuss, even if he does testify.

On Tuesday evening, Nadler said, “The moment for the White House to assert some privilege to prevent this testimony from being heard has long since passed.”

The House of Representatives has the sole power under the U.S. Constitution to impeach the president, and any effort would be led by the judiciary panel.

Mueller’s report concluded that there was not enough evidence to establish that Trump’s campaign engaged in a criminal conspiracy with Moscow. However, the report outlined multiple instances where Trump tried to thwart Mueller’s probe.

Mueller stopped short of concluding whether Trump could be prosecuted for obstruction of justice, a criminal charge that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

But such a high standard would not apply to Democrats if they decided to bring impeachment proceedings.

In the days following the Mueller report’s release, McGahn came under attack from Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani who called into question the veracity of his statements to Mueller’s team of prosecutors.

“I would ask which of the three versions is McGahn standing by. There are three versions he gives of that account,” Giuliani told CNN over the weekend. “I’m telling you, he’s confused.”

A prominent elections lawyer, McGahn served as Trump’s campaign counsel before being named White House counsel in November 2016.

He played a pivotal role in helping Trump reshape the federal judiciary in a conservative direction and roll back regulations on a range of industries.

Reporting by David Morgan, Karen Freifeld and Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool

Continue Reading

Politics

Kamala Harris calls for third gender option on federal IDs

Published

on

By

Harris joins Elizabeth Warren’s call for impeachment

HANOVER, N.H. – Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris says she supports putting a third gender option on federal identification cards.

The Democrat from California backed the idea when asked about it during a town hall Tuesday in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire.

“It’s a simple point. There needs to be another category. And I’m open to the idea of doing that. And I think that it’s a good idea,” Harris told Fox News and New Hampshire’s Concord Monitor during an interview later in the day.

HARRIS JOINS WARREN IN CALLING FOR IMPEACHMENT PROCESS TO BEGIN

Harris, a former California attorney general and San Francisco district attorney, has long fought for LGBTQ rights, including refusing to defend a ban on same-sex marriages.

Harris joins 2020 Democratic nomination rival Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York in pushing for a third option on IDs. Four states – California, Oregon, Washington, and New Jersey – have embraced nonbinary IDs – as has New York City.

HARRIS PLEDGES EXECUTIVE ACTION ON GUNS

One day after unveiling her plan to implement stricter background checks on gun sales with or without action from Congress, Harris highlighted her plan at town halls at Keene State College and Dartmouth College.

“One very reasonable approach is that we need to have background checks,” Harris told Fox News, as she vowed to take action as president if Congress failed to act

Harris said that if a bill from Congress did not make it to her desk, she would unilaterally mandate background checks for customers purchasing firearms from any dealers who sell more than five guns a year.

Dealers who violate the law, she said, would have their licenses revoked. The other executive orders would prohibit fugitives from purchasing a firearm or weapon, as well as closing the loophole allowing some domestic abusers to purchase firearms if the victim is an unwedded partner.

Harris pointed to a lack of congressional action after mass shootings across the country the past decade.

“There’s so many examples of absolute tragedies and yet Congress has not acted. So, my point is this – when elected, I’ll give Congress the opportunity, but if they don’t act, I’ll act. And, I believe that is reflective of where the American public is. They want reasonable gun safety laws,” she stressed.

Asked how such a move would be received in a state such as New Hampshire, where the rights of gun owners are well guarded, Harris explained she believed “most people understand – gun owner or not gun owners – that we need reasonable gun safety laws in our country. That’s what this is targeted at.”

She continued, “I’m very clear in my mind – I think most people are – that it’s a false choice to suggest that you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away.”

Harris is now calling on the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives to launch impeachment proceedings following the release last week of the report by Special Counsel Robert Muller on the Russia investigation.

“I believe the process should begin. Where it ends up, I don’t know, but there’s no question that the Mueller report, what we know of it, has outlined facts that leads one to reasonably believe that obstruction occurred,” Harris said.

Asked if such a move would bolster President Trump’s claims that impeachment would be a purely political move by Democrats, which could potentially help his re-election effort, Harris said, “I don’t know what his playbook is.”

LATEST 2020 POLLS IN CRUCIAL PRIMARY STATE

Harris’s return to New Hampshire marked her second visit to the crucial early voting state since she launched her presidential campaign last January. It comes as South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg – a one-time 2020 long-shot – has surged over the past month and soared above Harris in many public opinion polls – including two of the most recent in New Hampshire.

Asked if she was concerned, Harris said, “the only polls that matter are on Election Day. Period.”

Harris was interviewed before the town hall at Dartmouth. She spoke and took questions from a capacity crowd of more than 400. Minutes earlier, the senator went outside to a speak with an overflow crowd of a couple hundred.

Harris stopped in Claremont on her way from Keene to Hanover. The brief visit included a stop at the Uptown Bakery, where the candidate chatted with employees and customers and bought donuts and pastries for her staff.

BUTTIGIEG TO TAKE PART IN FOX NEWS TOWN HALL IN NH MAY 19

Claremont is the location of next month’s Fox News town hall with Buttigieg.

Continue Reading

Politics

Treasury’s Mnuchin misses congressional deadline to hand over Trump tax returns

Published

on

By

Treasury's Mnuchin misses congressional deadline to hand over Trump tax returns

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to meet a final congressional deadline on Tuesday for turning over President Donald Trump’s tax returns to lawmakers, setting the stage for a possible court battle between Congress and the administration.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the “State of the International Financial System” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

The outcome, which was widely expected, could prompt House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal to subpoena Trump’s tax records as the opening salvo to a legal fight that may ultimately have to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Neal set a final 5 p.m. (2100 GMT) deadline for the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury to provide six years of Trump’s individual and business tax records. But the deadline passed without the panel receiving the documents.

After the deadline lapsed, Mnuchin released a letter to Neal in which he pledged to make “a final decision” on whether to provide Trump’s tax records by May 6. It was the second time the administration had missed a House deadline for the tax returns since Neal requested them on April 3.

“Secretary Mnuchin notified me that once again, the IRS will miss the deadline for my … request. I plan to consult with counsel about my next steps,” Neal said in a statement.

In his letter, Mnuchin said he was still consulting with the Justice Department about Neal’s request, which he termed “unprecedented.”

“The department cannot act upon your request unless and until it is determined to be consistent with the law,” the Treasury secretary told Neal.

Democrats want Trump’s returns as part of their investigations of possible conflicts of interest posed by his continued ownership of extensive business interests, even as he serves the public as president.

Republicans have condemned the request as a political “fishing expedition” by Democrats.

Trump broke with a decades-old precedent by refusing to release his tax returns as a presidential candidate in 2016 or since being elected, saying he could not do so while his taxes were being audited.

But his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told a House panel in February that he did not believe Trump’s taxes were under audit. Cohen said the president feared that releasing his returns could lead to an audit and IRS tax penalties.

‘NOT UP TO THE PRESIDENT’

Earlier on Tuesday, the White House said Trump was unlikely to hand over his tax returns. “As I understand it, the president’s pretty clear: Once he’s out of audit, he’ll think about doing it, but he’s not inclined to do so at this time,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told Fox News in an interview.

“This is not up to the president. We did not ask him,” said a Democratic committee aide, who cited a law saying the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” taxpayer data upon request from an authorized lawmaker.

Neal informed IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig earlier this month that failure to comply with the deadline would be viewed as a denial.

Legal experts said House Democrats could vote to hold Mnuchin or Rettig in contempt of Congress if they ignored a subpoena, as a pretext to suing in federal court to obtain Trump’s returns. Experts say administration officials could ultimately risk financial penalties and even jail time by defying the committee.

As Ways and Means chairman, Neal is the only lawmaker in the House of Representatives authorized to request taxpayer information under federal law. Democrats say they are confident of succeeding in any legal fight over Trump’s tax returns.

“Secretary Mnuchin is again choosing to violate the law to keep Trump’s records hidden away. This administration’s contempt for rule of law is without peer,” Representative Bill Pascrell, who has been leading the Democratic push for Trump’s tax records, said in a statement on Twitter.

“I stand beside @RepRichardNeal as he continues the crusade to impose plain oversight on this corrupt administration.”

Slideshow (2 Images)

Despite the law’s clarity, Democrats have long acknowledged that the effort would likely result in a legal battle that could end up with the Supreme Court.

“If the IRS does not comply with the request, it is likely that Chairman Neal will subpoena the returns,” Representative Judy Chu, a Democratic member of the Ways and Means Committee, told Reuters.

“If they do not comply with that (subpoena), a legal battle will begin to defend the right of oversight in Congress,” she said.

Reporting by David Morgan; Additional reporting by Makini Brice and Jan Wolfe; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Peter Cooney

Continue Reading

Categories

Recent Posts

Like Us On Facebook

Trending