By Robert A. Vella
Fight over Mueller report
WASHINGTON, March 25 (Reuters) – U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell on Monday blocked a second attempt by Democrats to pass a measure aimed at prodding the Justice Department to release to the public Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives voted 420-0 in favor of making the report public, with no Republican opposition.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is asking Attorney General William Barr to hand over special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report on the Russia probe by April 1.
Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent Barr a letter on Monday giving the attorney general a week to hand over the report, which details Mueller’s two-year investigation and findings, to Democrats on the panel.
In addition to Feinstein’s April 1 deadline, top House Democrats have asked Barr to hand the Mueller report over to Congress by April 2, next Tuesday. The six House committee chairs, in a separate letter on Monday, said Barr’s initial summary “leaves open many questions.”
Sater’s money laundering
(Bloomberg) — New York developer Felix Sater is due to testify before Congress about his role in Donald Trump’s attempt to build a luxury tower in Moscow. A lawsuit filed Monday may provide new fodder for his inquisitors, with its claim that Sater, a longtime associate of Trump’s, sought to use money stolen from a bank in Kazakhstan to help develop the building.
The suit by BTA Bank JSC alleges that Sater and the wealthy Kazakh businessman Ilyas Khrapunov explored financing the tower deal in 2012 with some of the $4 billion stolen a decade ago by Khrapunov’s father-in-law, ex-BTA Chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov. While the Moscow plan fizzled, other transactions tied to Sater helped launder the purloined cash, the bank says.
Trump attacks ACA and abortion
The Trump administration told a federal court late Monday that it would ask judges to toss out the entire Affordable Care Act, a decision that cast further uncertainty over the future of a federal law that has extended health insurance to millions of Americans.
Justice Department attorneys said in a letter filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans that a lower court’s ruling the health law is unconstitutional “should be affirmed” and that the “United States is not urging that any portion of the district court’s judgement be reversed.”
A coalition of Republican-led states brought a lawsuit, Texas v United States, arguing the entire health law should be tossed out.
WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Tuesday expanded its anti-abortion policies, prohibiting U.S.-funded organizations from supporting other groups that support abortion and forbidding the use of U.S. tax dollars to lobby for or against abortion.
In 2017, Trump reinstated a policy known by critics as the “global gag rule,” which requires foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that receive U.S. family planning funds to certify they do not provide abortions or give abortion advice.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday the United States will expand the policy by cracking down on NGOs that fund other groups that support abortion.
WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday prevented American sailors injured in the deadly 2000 al Qaeda bombing of the Navy destroyer USS Cole from collecting $314.7 million in damages from the government of Sudan for its alleged role in the attack.
In a 8-1 decision, the justices overturned a lower court’s decision that had allowed the sailors to collect the damages from certain banks that held Sudanese assets.
Sudan was backed by President Donald Trump’s administration in the case.
WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled for the second time in three years in favor of an moose hunter over his challenge to a federal ban on hovercraft on National Park Service land in Alaska in a case involving federal control of public lands.